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

by Logan Scisco

Michael Cole
narrates a video package that recaps last night’s Unforgiven pay-per-view.  Tonight, Vince McMahon will make a decision
about WWF Champion Steve Austin’s future
.
Jim Ross and Michael
Cole are in the booth and they are live from Hampton, Virginia.
Footage of
D-Generation X preparing for their “invasion” of WCW Monday Nitro, who are
running Nitro in Norfolk tonight, which is about fifteen minutes from where Raw
is being hosted, is shown.

Opening
Contest:  Ken Shamrock & Owen Hart
wrestle The Rock & Mark Henry (w/The Nation of Domination) to a no contest
at 1:43:
Shamrock and Owen had teamed for a few weeks on the house
show circuit prior to this RAW and they were a ranked tag team in the Apter
magazines, so I was excited to see them wrestle here.  However, Owen turns on Shamrock and ditches
his lackluster four month run as a face. 
Owen works better as a heel, so I fully approve of this move.  Owen Pillmanizes Shamrock’s ankle, which
works to write Shamrock out of next month’s pay-per-view.  The beatdown, which extends to Steve Blackman
and Faarooq when they try to make saves, was excellent. (1 for 1)
Dude Love hosts the
Love Shack and gloats about beating Steve Austin last night.  He proposes stripping Austin of the title and
having the WWF put him against Shawn Michaels for the title or hosting a
tournament or just giving it to him. 
Very solid promo work for Foley, which included some classic heel
cockiness.  2 for 2
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to find out if a new manager is headed to the WWF!
D-Generation X
declares war against WCW in Norfolk.  WCW
fans cheer when Triple H asks them if Eric Bischoff sucks.
#1 Contender’s
Match for the WWF Tag Team Championship: 
Terry Funk & 2 Cold Scorpio beat The Headbangers via
disqualification when Thrasher pushes the referee at 3:14:
It seems weird that the winner of this match gets a WWF
tag team championship opportunity since neither team has accomplished much of
note in recent weeks, but the WWF tag ranks are really thin at this point.  This match is non-stop action from the bell,
with Funk moonsaulting the other three men as they brawl on the arena floor.  The finish is lackluster, but both teams keep
fighting after the bell and at least this match made the tag team titles seem
important.  Rating:  ** (3 for 3)
Triple H asks if
any of the WCW fans got free tickets for tonight’s Nitro.  X-Pac says high to Scott Hall and Kevin Nash
and Triple H demands that they let them go.
Steve Austin tossing
Dude Love off of Sawyer Brown’s stage at Unforgiven last night is the
Cinnaburst Rewind segment.
Vince McMahon
walks out and says he knows Austin was trying to hit him with the chair at the
end of last night’s Unforgiven pay-per-view, which draws a huge cheer from the
crowd.  He says he is not going to fire
Austin yet and that Austin will defend the WWF title tonight against Goldust
with Gerald Brisco as the guest referee. 
McMahon announces that if Austin lays a finger on Brisco that he will be
fired and stripped of the WWF title. Brisco says he will be impartial tonight
and is not afraid of Austin.  McMahon
closes by saying that any wrestler in the company would be a better
representative with the title than Austin right now.  It’s a McMahon promo, so does it really need
a rating?  4 for 4
WCW closes the
gate to the arena to keep D-Generation X from entering the arena with their
vehicle.  I wish WCW had let them in and
then had Scott Norton and Meng and kick their ass.
Segments of Jeff
Jarrett’s “musical performance” and altercation with Steve Blackman at
Unforgiven last night are shown.
Bradshaw beats Double
J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) via disqualification when Kamikaze interferes
at 1:14
Bradshaw doesn’t sell any of Jarrett’s offense and has
the upper hand until Kamikaze hits the ring and attacks him.  Taka Michinoku tries to make the save, but
also gets beaten down.  This time a
fourth man is with Kamizake, but he is masked and his identity is unknown.
Jerry Lawler comes
out to replace Cole on commentary for hour two.
Kevin Kelly
interviews Dude Love, who is irate that he has not been given the title.  Love confronts McMahon, who doesn’t
appreciate Kelly and the camera man being around and goes all Ronald Reagan on
them by saying that he is paying for the equipment and for them to shut it off.
Non-Title
Match:  The Disciples of Apocalypse (w/LOD
2000, Chainz & Sunny) beat The New Age Outlaws (WWF Tag Team Champions
w/D-Generation X) when 8-Ball pins Billy Gunn after an illegal switch at 3:35:
It’s like night and day having Ross and Lawler
back-and-forth in the booth versus the awful Ross-Cole team and it’s amazing
that it took so long for the WWF to just ditch Cole off the RAW
broadcasts.  Even more surprising that
they kept him around as Ross’s replacement. 
The DOA dominate much of the match and when Billy Gunn hits Skull with a
piledriver, 8-Ball makes an illegal switch and gives the DOA their first win in
ages.  To show how much heat the Outlaws
generated up to this point, the crowd goes nuts for the victory.  Rating:  *½ (5 for 5)
The Undertaker
beats Barry Windham with the Tombstone in 59 seconds:
And here I thought that Barry Windham was gone from the
company by this point.  The sad thing is
that THIS would’ve been a RAW main event if this was 1996.  It shows you how far the company has come
since then.  The Undertaker sends Barry
off to WCW with this squash.
After the match,
the Undertaker calls out Kane, who comes out after the commercial break with
Paul Bearer.  Bearer begs the Undertaker
for a truce and as he recounts the events of last night he reveals that Kane is
his son.  Excellent promo work from
Bearer here and I always say he doesn’t get the credit he deserves for his part
in this feud in 1997-1998.  6 for 6
The Undertaker’s
plancha on Kane and Vader at Unforgiven is the Castrol GTX Slam of the Week.
Kevin Kelly
interviews The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust and Luna Vachon.  Goldust says that he is a pure man that would
be a great representative of the company. 
Dude Love ambushes Goldust yelling “That’s my shot!” and WWF officials
have to pull him off of Goldust.
D-Generation X
comes back out and Triple H tells DOA that no one steals his buzz.  As Scott would say, “I love shoot comments
that aren’t supposed to be…”  Triple H
issues an open challenge to any member of the locker room that wants to face
him for the European title.  Skull walks
out, but Dan Severn walks past him and into the ring as Jim Cornette tries to
convince him not to fight Triple H. 
Cornette makes the mistake slapping Severn, which leads to Cornette being
placed in an armbar and choke. 
Unfortunately, this allows Triple H to get away.  This could’ve MADE Severn, but they pulled
back.  This makes Severn a face now.
WWF Champion Steve
Austin tells Michael Cole that he’ll defend the WWF title and says that Vince
McMahon isn’t going to get rid of him.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your copy of the WrestleMania XIV video tape and a lifesize Steve Austin
poster for $44.95 (plus $9 shipping & handling)!
The new Val Venis
vignette says that all men have “Venis envy” when compared to him.
Marc Mero walks
out and calls Sable to the ring.  Mero
says that Sable humiliated him at Unforgiven last night when Luna took her
evening gown off.  Sable counters that
she enjoyed the experience and she challenges Mero to a match on RAW in two
weeks.  She leaves before Mero answers
her challenge.  This was pretty poor
considering the past segments between these two, but that’s because they let
Sable dominate all the mic time.  6 for 7
Vince McMahon
shakes Gerald Brisco’s hand backstage and says that he will enjoy watching him
referee tonight’s main event.
WWF Championship
Match with Gerald Brisco as Guest Referee: 
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin (Champion) and The Artist Formerly Known as
Goldust (w/Luna Vachon) wrestle to a no-contest at 8:40:
Before the opening bell, McMahon jogs out and replaces
the timekeeper to further stack the deck against Austin.  Brisco dares Austin throughout the match to
hit him and counts quick falls for Goldust, but Austin resists and proceeds to
wrestle one of the faster-paced 1990s Goldust matches you will ever see.  Ross actually acknowledges that if Austin
loses the title that the crowd will riot, to which Lawler has a funny jab about
being there for crowd control.  Austin
hits a Stunner after a mule kick, but Brisco pulls a Nick Patrick and stops at
two because something is allegedly in his eye. 
Dude Love then runs in and brawls with Austin.  McMahon tries to take advantage of the
opportunity in a brilliant callback to the previous evening by trying to hit
Austin with the WWF title belt, but ends up KO’ing Brisco and that ends the
match.  This is one of those
underappreciated gems from the Attitude Era, but it’s a wild and fun match that
foreshadowed the Austin-Dude Love rematch that is to come at Over the Edge.  It’s also Goldust’s best match in ages.  Rating:  *** (7 for 8)
The Final Report Card:  This show had a little too much D-Generation
X and their “invasion” of WCW has been overhyped by subsequent WWE videos about
the Monday Night Wars.  However, some of
the segments were funny, like having a WCW fan claim that he didn’t pay for his
ticket and then asking for the company to free Scott Hall and Kevin Nash.  The main event was fantastic as well and
Austin really had his working boots on in his first run with the title.  The only missed opportunity was sidestepping
a Honky Tonk Man moment with Triple H and the European title with Dan Severn,
but you can’t always get what you want.
Monday Night War Rating:  5.7 (vs. 1.72 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Unforgiven 1998 – In Your House

by Logan Scisco

With some of my graduate work behind me, I finally had
time to devote three hours to this show and continue my reviews of the World
Wrestling Federation in 1998.  Before
academic responsibilities got in the way, Steve Austin and Vince McMahon’s feud
started moving to another level and ended WCW Monday Nitro’s 82-week winning
streak.  Dude Love, Austin’s former tag
team partner, was inserted into the angle as McMahon’s alleged representative.  However, that match on this show is
overshadowed by the Inferno match booked between the Undertaker and Kane.  Meanwhile, Ken Shamrock and Faarooq have
joined forces because they hate the Rock and Triple H has dominated his feud
with Owen Hart.  The Legion of Doom have
been rechristened “LOD 2000” and given Sunny as a manager, but it’s sort of
like putting lipstick on a pig and their best days are behind them.  Still, their victory in the WrestleMania XIV
tag team battle royal gives them a title shot on this show against their rivals
the New Age Outlaws.  Finally, Sable is
becoming the top diva in the company and Luna Vachon has threatened to rip her
clothes off in the first Evening Gown match in WWF history.  Got all that?
Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are broadcasting from Greensboro,
North Carolina.  They speculate on what
Vince McMahon means when he says something “catastrophic” is going to happen
tonight.

Opening
Contest:  Ken Shamrock, Faarooq &
Steve Blackman beat The Rock, Mark Henry & D-Lo Brown (w/Kama Mustafa) when
Faarooq pins the Rock with a Dominator at 13:35:
Faarooq is wearing his usual ring gear here, which does
not quite fit his face turn.  He does get
a big pop for whipping D-Lo with a belt in the early going, though.  Amazingly, Ross is able to restrain himself
and not discuss the football credentials of some of the participants until nine
minutes in.  A pretty dull opener that
quiets a hot crowd, but its booking follows logical wrestling principles as
Faarooq pins the Rock to make him seem like a credible challenger for the Rock’s
Intercontinental title and set up a one-on-one match between the two in the
near future.  Rating:  **
Michael Cole
interviews the winning team and Faarooq says this was the opening shot of a
long war that he is going to wage against the Nation.
WWF Champion Steve
Austin comes out and throws the timekeeper into the ring.  Austin interrogates him over why he rang the
bell to prematurely end the Dude Love-Steve Blackman match on the previous RAW
and makes it clear that if Vince McMahon tries to screw him out of the title
that he is going to give the timekeeper the beating of a lifetime.  Nice thread of storyline continuity here.
The announce team
recaps the Triple H-Owen Hart feud.
European
Championship Match with Chyna Suspended in a Cage Above the Ring:  Triple H (Champion) pins Owen Hart after
X-Pac hits Owen with a fire extinguisher at 12:27:
One fan has the ability to predict the future in the
audience tonight, carrying a sign that reads “Playboy needs Chyna.”  Commissioner Slaughter being an antagonist
for D-Generation X has lost much of its luster, as the arrival of Vince McMahon
as the owner of the company makes him look very weak on the totem pole, but it
is still a lot clearer than the five or six authority figures roaming around
the “WWE Universe” today.  Owen has lost
a lot of heat since starting this feud in January, illustrating why wins and
losses matter.  This is a good match, but
it lacks the atmosphere of their WrestleMania encounter and the focus is more
on Chyna bending the bars of the cage she is in, dangerously hanging onto it
while she is trying to escape, and then having the Road Dogg lower the cage so
she can get to the ground.  The ensuing
chaos allows Triple H to get another controversial win over Owen when logic
dictated that Owen goes over here.  This
did have a somewhat logical payoff, although that would require an Owen turn
and we’ll get to that in future reviews. 
Rating:  ***
Cole interviews
Owen Hart, who lets us know that “enough is enough and it’s time for things to
change around here.”
NWA Tag Team
Championship Match:  The New Midnight
Express (Champions w/Jim Cornette) defeated The Rock N’ Roll Express when
Bodacious Bart pinned Robert Gibson after a Bombastic Bob bulldog at 7:22:
This is a bonus match, which illustrates the lack of
depth in the company at the time, but we are in NWA country so the Rock N’ Roll
Express get a decent pop while the Express are greeted with silence.  God bless Ross as he tries to hype put over
the Rock N’ Roll and this match, but his historical references go over the head
of most of the audience since the WWF rarely emphasized wrestling history at
this time.  Referee Tim White and
Cornette have a funny showdown where Cornette dares White to fight him and
White scares him off.  You might assume
this would be decent, but there is more stalling than action and the match
moves very slowly.  The Express hit their
double dropkick on Bart, but shenanigans ensue and the Express retain the
titles, which no one cares about.  Rating: 
Dok Hendrix
interviews Goldust and Luna Vachon and Luna emphasizes that she wants to strip
Sable of all her clothes.
Evening Gown
Match:  Luna Vachon (w/Goldust) beats
Sable at 2:34:
Marc Mero does not come down to the ring with Sable
because he is allegedly humiliated by Sable’s recent antics.  Maybe he meant her promos.  The crowd chants for Sable, which makes sense
if you consider her the face, but little sense in terms of the match since they
want to see her without her clothes. 
Since we’re getting more Russo booking around this time it is not
surprising that this ends with a screwjob, as Mero shows up, distracts Sable,
and allows Luna strips Sable of the top of her dress.  After the match. Sable strips off Luna’s
dress and then takes off the rest of her clothing underneath the ring.
Vince McMahon, Pat
Patterson, and Gerald Brisco walk to the ring and McMahon reiterates that “anything
can happen in the World Wrestling Federation.” 
McMahon debunks that a conspiracy is in the works tonight and that he is
just going to be at ringside because he was born in North Carolina.
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear from the winners and losers of tonight’s matches!
WWF Tag Team Championship
Match:  The New Age Outlaws (Champions) defeat
LOD 2000 (w/Sunny) when Road Dogg pins Hawk at 12:21:
LOD 2000 did not get a lot of airtime before this match,
which is as close to a vote of no confidence from WWF management as you can
get.  Sunny’s dress is nowhere near as
eye catching as her WrestleMania XIV attire. 
The LOD get a nice nostalgia pop, but after that there’s not much to see
except some token power moves.  Animal does
a good job staying in peril, which was appropriate because Hawk botches several
moves throughout.  The finish makes
little sense, as the referee says Hawk does not lift his shoulders on a German
suplex, but Road Dogg never lifts his shoulders to earn a victory.  After the match, the LOD give the referee a
Doomsday Device and the referee does a stretcher job.  Thankfully, this is the end of the
Outlaws-LOD issue.  This was also Sunny’s
last WWF pay-per-view appearance.  Rating: 
¾*
Jeff Jarrett “sings”
with Sawyer Brown, a country music group. 
The crowd is so enamored with this performance that they chant “We want
Flair!”  It always baffles me that the
WWF brass thought this stuff was going to get Jarrett over.  At the end of the performance, Steve Blackman
attacks Jarrett, but after he puts Jarrett in a submission move, Tennessee Lee
blasts Blackman with a guitar.
A video package
hypes the Inferno match between the Undertaker and Kane.  Lawler has a hot dog ready to roast at
ringside.
Inferno Match:  The Undertaker beats Kane (w/Paul Bearer) at
16:02:
I’m really surprised that they did not make this the main
event of the pay-per-view considering how low key the Steve Austin-Dude Love
title match was, but maybe they were afraid of these two putting on a
less-than-stellar match like WrestleMania. 
This match is one of those that sounds good in theory, but is terrible
in execution because it is very difficult to build drama and this quickly
becomes a kick-and-punch affair.  Things
pick up after the Undertaker throws Kane over the top rope and Kane goes to
leave, which does not make a lot of sense for Kane’s character, but Vader makes
a surprise return to a big pop and fights Kane back to ringside, where the
Undertaker hits a plancha.  The
Undertaker destroys Bearer on the Sawyer Brown stage and knocks Kane’s arm into
the fire to win.  Things really didn’t
look good for Kane at the time, as he lost his second consecutive match, this
one definitively, to the Undertaker.  It’s
quite amazing that he maintained his upper midcard standing as a character
after this.  Rating:  *½
A video package
recaps the Steve Austin-Vince McMahon/Dude Love feud.
WWF Championship
Match with Vince McMahon at Ringside: 
Dude Love defeats “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (Champion) via
disqualification at 18:48:
The big story of this match is whether Love and McMahon
are working together and if McMahon is going to screw Austin out of the title
by intimidating the timekeeper.  McMahon
waits to come out until eight minutes into the match and Pat Patterson
hilariously carries the folding chair for McMahon to sit in.  I always wondered during this feud why
McMahon favored Love.  Was he that much
better of an alternative?  Would you want
your company led by a man who’s stuck in the 1960s/1970s?  McMahon tries to get the timekeeper to ring
the bell when Love applies an abdominal stretch, but the timekeeper doesn’t
budge and the match continues.  The
referee eventually gets bumped, which causes him to miss Love applying the
Mandible Claw (or Love Handle if you prefer) and the battle spills to the floor
where Austin knocks McMahon out with a chair to a HUGE pop.  Austin counts his own fall and his music
plays, but we eventually hear from Howard Finkel that Love is the winner by
disqualification since Austin hit a WWF official.  McMahon does a stretcher job as well.  Love took some nasty spills in this match as
per usual and the brawling was technically proficient.  I’m not really a fan of the ending, but in
storyline terms it worked out for the best since McMahon wanted to make it
certain that Austin would lose the title at the next pay-per-view by stacking
the deck against him.  Rating: 
***½
The Final Report Card:  This show illustrates that most of 1998 was
Steve Austin and not much else.  His match
was the most exciting on the show and the midcard had lots of weird things
happening like the LOD getting another push, the Rock N’ Roll Express getting a
WWF pay-per-view match in 1998, and Jeff Jarrett feuding with Steve Blackman
for lack of something better to do.  The
main event is exciting and Triple H-Owen is their usual solid outing, but
compared with WrestleMania XIV this show did not blow you away or even make you
feel satisfied.  Owen loses again, the
Outlaws kept the belts in a match finish that made no sense, the Inferno match
was nothing special, and the main event had an inconclusive finish.  Some of these things, like the Owen loss and
the inconclusive main event finish, led to greater things down the road and those
shows will be the ones that will get a thumbs up rating, not this outing.
Attendance: 
21,427
Buyrate: 
0.85 (+0.35 over previous year)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – April 20, 1998

by Logan Scisco

A video package recaps the Steve
Austin-Vince McMahon interaction on last week’s show, where their WWF title
match was interrupted by Dude Love
.
Jim Ross and
Michael Cole are in the booth and they are taped from Long Island, New York
.
Kevin Kelly gives
us a report from the Undertaker and Kane’s parents grave, where they will be
facing each other tonight.

Dude Love hosts
the Love Shack and it does not take long for Vince McMahon to crash the
party.  McMahon tells Love that is being
fined $5,000 and warns him not to interfere with his business again before
leaving.  Love says he attacked Steve
Austin because he attacked him from behind, but that he may not face him at
Unforgiven if Austin grovels at his feet by the end of the show.  It always amazes me how easily Foley can
modify his promos for each of his characters. 
1 for 1
Opening Long
Island Street Fight:  Faarooq beats Kama
Mustafa with a spinebuster at 5:52:
The Nation is nice enough to bring lots of weapons to
ringside, the most impressive of which is a beer keg that Mark Henry carries in
from the audience.  However, the allies
of both men are barred from ringside. 
Impressively, Ross holds off until four minutes in to remind us of
Faarooq’s All-American roots.  Kama
dominates much of the match, which largely ignores the stipulation, and Faarooq
blasts Kama with his boot to avoid a Kama hammer attack and pick up the
win.  Cole makes so many errors in
calling this match, one of which is screaming “DOMINATOR” after Faarooq hits
the spinebuster.  Rating:  ¾* (1 for 2)
D-Generation X is
seen admiring footage of them relieving themselves on the Disciples of
Apocalypse’s motorcycles weeks ago. 
Billy Gunn dares Triple H to expose himself and urinate on tonight’s
crowd.
A video package
hypes Jeff Jarrett’s musical performance with Sawyer Brown at Unforgiven.
D-Generation X
comes out and Ross tells us that when Triple H and Owen Hart face off at
Unforgiven that Chyna will be suspended above the ring in a cage.  Triple H and the New Age Outlaws comment on
their opponents at Unforgiven and Triple H’s urinating prank sees him take a
giant squirt gun and blow it into the audience. 
LOD 2000, Owen Hart, and Sunny appear on the ramp and start heading
toward DX, but Sergeant Slaughter intervenes and books a match between them for
later tonight.  I was just not a fan of
DX’s juvenile antics in this segment and we’ve really heard everything they
have to say against their opponents, although that is more of a fault with
repetitive booking than anything else.  1 for 3
Dan Severn UFC
clips are the 10-321 Rewind segment
.
Kelly lets us know
that the Undertaker is minutes away from the cemetery!
Dan Severn (w/Jim
Cornette) defeats Mosh (w/Thrasher) via submission to an armbar at 2:40:
I don’t know why the WWE does not bother to use tag team
wrestlers in singles competition against non-tag team wrestlers much anymore
because it is an easy way to give singles stars victories while not harming the
reputation of a tag team, since the announcers can always point out that the
losing tag wrestler was not competing with their partner and they were out of
their element.  Severn easily squashes
Mosh here with a few suplexes and an awkward looking armbar.  This match should’ve been shorter and Mosh
should have received no offense, but since Severn is part of this NWA faction
the booking team doesn’t care that much about him.
The Undertaker
appears at the cemetery and chokes Kelly, who screams like a little girl.  Kelly says after the commercial break that
the Undertaker may be heading back to the arena after not finding Kane.
Before the next
match, Luna Vachon promises to strip Sable of her soul and all of her clothes
at Unforgiven.
Bradshaw defeats
The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust (w/Luna Vachon) by disqualification when
the Kamikaze Club interferes at 4:50:
After months of wearing weird outfits, Goldust is back to
wearing his more traditional attire here. 
Both of these guys are in need of some direction and Bradshaw gets
something when the Kamikaze Club interferes and lays him out before
escaping through the crowd.  This was
good when Bradshaw was using his stiff-looking offense, but we did not get
enough of that.  Rating:  * (1 for 4)
Vince McMahon
slapping Steve Austin is last week’s M&M Slam of the Week.
Jerry “the King”
Lawler joins Ross for the second hour on commentary.
WWF Champion Steve
Austin comes out and alleges a conspiracy between Vince McMahon and Dude Love
to take the WWF title from him and he vows to kick ass tonight.  He teases going after a photographer, a
cameraman, and a timekeeper before heading to the locker room.  A simple filler promo and segment to keep the
wheels turning toward Unforgiven.  1 for 5
A hearse is shown
arriving at the arena.  Is it the
Undertaker?
Non-Title
Match:  Terry Funk & 2 Cold Scorpio
beat The New Midnight Express (NWA Tag Team Champions w/Jim Cornette & Dan
Severn) when Scorpio pins Bombastic Bob with the 450 splash at 7:07:
Scorpio, having a new lease on creative life by going
back to his old name, is the only one that doesn’t phone it in for this
match.  You would think that two former
tag wrestlers in Bart Gunn and Holly would work well as a team, but they do not
show much of it in this match.  Scorpio
hits a crazy plancha when the Express beat on Funk on the outside and picks up
another victory for his team with the 450. 
Severn doesn’t let Scorpio gloat, though, as he walks into the ring and
gives him a belly-to-belly suplex. 
What’s funny is that Severn starts walking into the ring after the 450,
so you think a disqualification is coming, but he walks in so slow that the
referee finishes the three count before he can get to Scorpio.  Some stablemate, eh?  Rating:  * (1 for 6)
The new Val Venis
vignette has him in the shower and warning women to get their rest.
Cole interviews
Sable, who says she does not care if Luna Vachon strips her naked at
Unforgiven.  That claim is interesting in
retrospect because having that booked to happen on RAW a year later is what led
Sable to leave the company and sue them. 
Whoever arranged this segment was smart because they kept Sable’s
talking limited to that one line.
Paul Bearer and
Kane greet the hearse that has shown up to the arena.
Call 815-734-1161
to get the Steve Austin “Hell Yeah!” t-shirt for $25 (plus $6 shipping &
handling)!
Vince McMahon
tells Cole that he is ready to fight Austin if he dares to confront him.
Triple H &
The New Age Outlaws (w/X-Pac & Chyna) beat Owen Hart & LOD 2000
(w/Sunny) when Billy Gunn pins Animal after a piledriver at 8:27 shown:
Ross chooses to talk about his past NWA experiences
during this match by mentioning how the Horsemen were no match for the
Legion of Doom and that Greensboro, North Carolina, where Unforgiven will be
held, is Ric Flair country.  The LOD’s
role in this match is limited, but they aren’t showing anything special, which
their new gimmick cannot mask.  In fact,
this match is a lot like the tag match with Funk and 2 Cold Scorpio earlier in
that Owen completely carries his team’s side of the contest.  The Road Dogg gets hit with a Doomsday
Device, but Chyna picks up Sunny and that creates enough of a distraction that
enables X-Pac to hit Animal with a chair and produce the finish.  At least Owen didn’t eat the pin.  Rating:  ** (2 for 7)
Paul Bearer and
Kane are shown wheeling a dirty casket backstage as Bearer sings about “digging
up bones.”  The hearse driver cracks me
up as he just watches all of this unfold with a stoic look like all of this is
just another day at the office.
Kane and Paul
Bearer come out and there are two caskets on the stage, which Bearer says are
the dug up graves of the Undertaker’s parents.  Bearer says that the Undertaker can pay his respects since
he didn’t go to their funeral.  He adds that he (Bearer) buried them in the cheapest caskets possible.  The Undertaker appears through the crowd and
as he charges ramp, Kane pours gasoline on one of the caskets and Bearer sets it
alight.  Kane then chokeslams the Undertaker into the other, which is the casket
of his mother.  In a nice attention to
detail, they made sure to put bones and worms in the casket the Undertaker was
thrown into.  Great segment that was much
better than having the men fight at the cemetery.  3 for
8
Cole tells us that
Kane and Paul Bearer have left the arena and the Undertaker is with whatever is
left of the remains.
Vince McMahon
walks out to do commentary for the next match. 
Lawler welcomes him back “like good old times.”  Storyline continuity is a nice thing.
Dude Love beats
Steve Blackman via submission to an abdominal stretch at 3:57:
Lawler constantly sucks up to McMahon at the booth and
snitches on all the bad thing Ross has said about him over the last couple of
weeks.  McMahon laments that he and
Austin could have had a “classic” on last week’s show and promises to be close
to the ring during the WWF title match at Unforgiven.  I would almost prefer they not call Love the
number one contender for Austin’s title since he has not beaten anyone to
immediately get a title shot.  Anyway,
after some brief action, Love puts Blackman in an abdominal stretch and the
bell mysteriously rings, thereby making this the “Long Island Screwjob” I
suppose.  Rating:  * (3 for 9)
After the bell,
Blackman interrogates the timekeeper and hiptosses him on the arena floor.  McMahon is outraged at all of this and as he
tends to the timekeeper, Steve Austin runs out, grabs McMahon, and hiptosses
HIM.  Austin and Love brawl on the floor
and Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco get Stone Cold Stunners as McMahon
flees.  Really fun closing segment that
sent the crowd into a frenzy.  4 for 10
The Final Report Card:  Fun ending aside, this was a very dry episode
of RAW relative to the last few weeks.  The
second hour was where all of the action was, but very little was entertaining
outside of Austin-McMahon and the Undertaker-Kane angle.  The Terry Funk & 2 Cold Scorpio tag team
had potential, so I am not sure why they abandoned it so quickly in 1998, but
it was good to see Scorpio being used as more than a jobber for a change.
Here is our final Unforgiven card:
WWF Championship Match:  Steve Austin (Champion) vs. Dude Love with
Vince McMahon at ringside
WWF Tag Team Championship Match:  The New Age Outlaws (Champions) vs. LOD 2000
European Championship Match:  Triple H (Champion) vs. Owen Hart with Chyna
suspended above the ring in a cage
Inferno Match:  The Undertaker vs. Kane
Evening Gown Match:  Sable vs. Luna Vachon
The Nation of Domination vs. Ken Shamrock,
Steve Blackman & Faarooq
Monday Night War Rating:  4.4 (vs. 5.1 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

The SmarK Rant for WWE NXT–02.12.14

The SmarK Rant for WWE NXT – 02.12.14 Happy Valentine’s Day! Or as most wrestling fans know it, Friday. I have to say, I’m starting to get a real bad feeling about the direction of this show ever since the main WWE monkeys noticed that it’s a thing that exists and is airing on their new network. Nothing good ever comes from that, but hopefully it’s an aberration that ends once they get it out their system with the live show next week. Taped from Orlando, FL. Your hosts are Tom Phillips, Alex Riley & William Regal Natalya, Bayley & Emma v. Alicia Fox, Summer Rae & Sasha Banks Emma gets a sunset flip on Summer for two, and she runs away from Nat and brings in Sasha. Sasha gets a kick out of the corner, but Nattie takes her down with a suplex for two and follows with a dropkick. The announcers have a wonderfully wacky conversation about how Alex would marry Emma and take her last name, and Tom incredulously notes “She doesn’t have a last name!” That was pretty funny. Even better is Renee Young’s disgust with the whole deal, and then fawning over Regal immediately after. The characterization on the announce team is even better than most of the characters on RAW right now. The heels take over on Bayley and we go to a break. Back with Summer working Bayley over and Fox coming in with a lengthy facelock to build the heat, and Summer chokes her out while doing stretches on the ropes. Summer boots her down for two, but Summer fights back with a suplex and it’s hot tag Emma. Alicia wants no part of this action, but the BFFs walk out on her and the EmmaLock finishes at 12:05. Perfectly Acceptable Wrestling. **1/2 Aiden English v. Colin Cassady Cassady slams English out of the corner while Regal now fawns over Aiden with a man-crush. “Look at his body…it’s like he’s carved out of ONYX!” And yet we still get JBL on two of the main shows. English misses a legdrop and Cass makes the comeback with the SAWFT forearm smash, but English takes out the knee and finishes with the Director’s Cut at 2:21. Cass should really do a running forearm and call it the SAWFT Touch. So English wins this feud, and it was fine for a time-filling deal. * Sami Zayn joins us, and the Antonio Cesaro loss is EATING HIM ALIVE. So Mr. Cesaro comes out for his reply, and notes that Zayn can look forward to a great career…down here. (Crowd: “Oooooooooh!” What is this, a Chuck Lorre sitcom?) Sami reiterates how far back they go and how cool it is that Cesaro spends time in NXT when he doesn’t have to…but he’s kind of a coward for not fighting him. Cesaro is curious about the state of Sami’s knee, because he doesn’t want there to be any excuses this time. The crowd wants a pinky promise, so Sami obliges…and then Cesaro kicks him in the knee anyway and still refuses. And then HHH comes out and ruins all the fun by being deus ex machina and forcing Cesaro into the match. What a buzzkill. I watch this show to AVOID omnipotent authority figures coming out and making matches. See, this kind of thing is exactly what I mean by a bad feeling about the direction of the show, as they were having a great back-and-forth segment and then HHH came down from the mountain to just settle things for them like they were children or something. And isn’t JBL supposed to be the GM on the show? It’s bad enough we have to wade through the layers of fake authority figures on RAW as it is, now we have to add NXT to the giant convoluted flow chart that is the WWE chain of command, too. Tye Dillinger v. CJ Parker CJ gets a quick senton and airplane spin, and finishes with the Third Eye at 1:19. Just pull the plug on this guy already. Parker cuts an angry promo afterwards about how he recycles and loves the environment in his fuel-efficient car and the crowd is incapable of love. That’s a start. The angry pretentious environmentalist hipster douchebag is actually a surprisingly untapped resource for wrestling heels. I feel like a better direction would be if he started acting all passive-aggressive as well, but this is a start and at least it’s a real character. The Wyatt Family v. I Dunno, Some Guys. Harper finishes one of the geeks with a lariat at 0:50, as you’d expect. Oddly enough, the new episode of New Girl featured Jess’s sister…Abigail! COINCIDENCE? Probably. Or maybe THAT’S WHAT THE MACHINE WOULD HAVE YOU BELIEVE. The Pulse Man, HHH really harshed my buzz, as CJ Parker would say. OK show otherwise, although obviously they’re just going all in with the live special and basically cruising through the buildup to it.

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – April 13, 1998

by Logan Scisco

A video package
recaps Steve Austin ripping off his corporate suit on last week’s show
.
Jim Ross and
Michael Cole are doing commentary and they are live from Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania
.

WWF Champion Steve
Austin comes out and calls out Vince McMahon under threat of holding the show
hostage again.  McMahon hesitantly walks
out with Gerald Brisco, Pat Patterson, and two police officers in riot
gear.  Austin demands to know who he is
facing at Unforgiven and McMahon says that he hasn’t decided that yet.  Austin asks McMahon if he wants to be WWF
champion since his version of a title holder is himself and when McMahon looks
puzzled, Austin announces that he will defend the WWF title tonight against
him.  McMahon’s reaction to the challenge
is priceless and Austin tells McMahon that he can’t leave the arena because he beat up his
limo driver and cut all of his tires. 
Austin gives McMahon thirty minutes to think over his challenge before
he takes a cameraman backstage and whips his ass.  This was a nice setup for tonight’s big angle
and it covered the scenario of McMahon trying to run away.  1 for
1
McMahon is shown
talking with Patterson and Brisco backstage, who urge him to face Austin and they give him a pep talk.
Opening Tag Team
Chain Match:  The Disciples of Apocalpyse
(w/Chainz) wrestle Savio Vega & Jose to a no contest at 2:15:
Although the stipulation might imply that this is a big
deal, both teams get the jobber entrance and D-Generation X comes out and lays
out Chainz, who does a stretcher job.  DX
then beats up Skull and 8-Ball before turning on Savio and Jose.  Ross insists that this is a no contest
because you cannot have a disqualification in a chain match.  This was fine with me because it puts DX over
two of the old gang warz factions that have hardly done anything since 1997.
Shane McMahon is
shown backstage talking with his father, Brisco, and Patterson and Shane tries
to convince his father not to face Austin.
Call 815-734-1161
to get the Steve Austin “Hell Yeah!” t-shirt for $25 (plus $6 shipping &
handling)!
Vince McMahon
walks out, recaps his family’s history with the company, and reluctantly
announces that he will accept Austin’s challenge for a match tonight.  Brisco and Patterson come out to give McMahon
a high five and Ross says they have lost their minds and leaves the booth to
try to talk some sense to McMahon backstage.
Right after Ross
leaves, the lights go out and without anyone to hold him back, Cole refuses to
stop talking as the Undertaker walks out and destroys Aguila, El Pantera, and
Scott Taylor who are scheduled for a tag team match tonight.  The Undertaker gets on the mic and says that
it is time for Kane to come out of the darkness.  Cole just rants about how the Undertaker’s
attack is not justified and while true, it just comes off as whiny.  1 for
2
Steve Austin
giving McMahon a Stone Cold Stunner two weeks ago is the Starburst Slam of the
Week
.
Kevin Kelly
reports from outside McMahon’s locker room and shows a piece of footage of
Brisco, Patterson, Ross, and Shane arguing. 
Vince tells Shane to get his gym bag and blows Ross off and tells him to
go back and do his job
.
Taka Michinoku
beats Jeff Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) by disqualification when Club Kamizake
interferes at 2:27:
Flyers fall from the sky which hype Jarrett performing with
Sawyer Brown at Unforgiven.  The flyer
idea isn’t well thought out, though, because they fall into the ring, making
this match seem like a bonus feature on the DVD of Newsies.  Both men briefly exchange moves before the
Japanese wrestlers that attacked Michinoku on last week’s show appear and
attack him again.  Ross and Cole call
them Club Kamikaze, but they would eventually become Kaientai.
Austin tells Jim
Ross from the locker room that he is not surprised McMahon accepted his
challenge and he will settle his issue with McMahon once and for all tonight.
Patterson and
Brisco give McMahon advice on how to counter the Stone Cold Stunner.
Faarooq walks out with taped ribs and says
that he is going to give the Nation of Domination another chance to kick his
ass.  The Rock debuts his “do you smell
what the Rock is cooking” line as he runs down Faarooq, but Faarooq gives the
Nation salute, which signals Ken Shamrock and Steve Blackman to run out and
help him ambush the Nation.  WWF
officials have to separate everyone as the crowd works up a HUGE “Rocky sucks!”
chant.  This is setting up a six man tag
at Unforgiven.  2 for 3
Mick Foley
retiring the Cactus Jack character last week is the 10-321 Rewind segment
.
Jerry “the King”
Lawler comes out early to do commentary for tonight’s show, but Cole is still
with us.
Terry Funk &
2 Cold Scorpio beat The Quebecers when Scorpio pins Pierre with a 450 splash at
2:14:
Funk has abandoned the Chainsaw Charlie character,
realizing three months too late that it was a bad idea.  Funk says that although Cactus Jack quit last
week he is not quitting and he is forming a new team with a man that Vince
McMahon has not given a chance and that new partner is Flash Funk, who Ross
makes sure we know is “2 Cold.”  This is
a good place to repackage Flash Funk into 2 Cold Scorpio since they are in ECW
country and the crowd works up a loud “ECW” chant.  Of course, Cole the idiot doesn’t take the
hint and keeps calling him Flash Funk. 
The Quebecer Crash misses and Scorpio wins the bout for his team in an
abbreviated match that could have been something really good if it was given
five more minutes.
Luna Vachon walks
out and continues a trend tonight by calling out Sable.  However, the Artist Formerly Known as
Goldust, dressed as Sable and mocks her bad promo skills.  They enact the way the Evening Gown Match is going
to go with Luna ripping Goldust’s dress off. 
This is quite disturbing until Sable runs in and briefly brawls with
Luna, which excites the crowd.  3 for 4
Non-Title Match:  The New Midnight Express (NWA Tag Team
Champions w/Jim Cornette & Dan Severn) wrestle Ken Shamrock & Steve
Blackman to a double disqualification at 3:45:
Before the match, Shamrock and Severn go eye-to-eye for a
few seconds before the referee orders Severn to the locker room.  This is a decent, but uninspiring match where
both teams keep brawling after the hot tag and the referee gets tired of trying
to control the action so he just disqualifies everyone.  I really hate that finish.  Rating:  *½ (3 for 5)
Kelly asks Vince
if he is scared of facing Austin, to which he says he was not afraid of the
U.S. federal government and is not afraid of Ted Turner, so he is not afraid of
Steve Austin.
The Headbangers
are in the ring for the next match, but the Undertaker comes out again.  The Headbangers try to defend themselves, but
he proceeds to destroy them.  The lights
go out and Kane and Paul Bearer come out to a big pop.  Bearer says that next week the Undertaker
will face Kane, but they will meet in the cemetery on their parents’ grave and
not in the ring.  Bearer’s rants against
the Undertaker are usually fun and this was no exception.  4 for
6
The latest Val
Venis vignette, which catches him in the middle of casting for his next film
“Lust in Space.”
Owen Hart (w/LOD
2000 & Sunny) defeats Billy Gunn (w/D-Generation X) with a schoolboy at
6:19 shown:
The commentary team announces that Owen Hart will meet
Triple H for the European title at Unforgiven. 
This match is booked as Owen facing a chosen DX member, which Triple H
says was chosen based on an essay writing contest.  For backup in this match, Owen brings LOD
2000 and Sunny.  X-Pac has a funny jab at
Ross on commentary by asking if Owen is a “twelve –time All-American.”  Triple H also makes jokes about Sunny’s
skanky nature.  Billy dominates a lot of
the action that happens over the course of two commercial breaks, which makes
this a snoozer until Owen wins when Billy prematurely celebrates.  Rating:  *¼ (4 for 7)
WWF Championship
Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
(Champion) and Vince McMahon (w/Pat Patterson, Gerald Brisco, Shane McMahon
& Sergeant Slaughter) never compete:
Vince is dressed for this fight like Keith Hackney of the
original UFC, towel included.  Ross makes
a good point about this match by saying that if McMahon is hurt then it could
harm the prospects of the company.  Vince
slaps Austin and one hand is tied behind Austin’s back since Austin says he
could beat Vince with one arm in the opening promo.  In a nice piece of storytelling, McMahon has
Austin’s “Stunner arm” tied.  While
having these two engage in battle would be an awesome moment at the time,
logical booking prevails and before the bell, Dude Love comes out to veto the
match in the name of love.  McMahon
pushes Love down and Love tries to attack him with the Mandible Claw.  When Austin tries to get Love out of the ring
so he can face McMahon, Love puts the Mandible Claw on him and McMahon angrily
leaves, feeling Love stole his moment.  5 for
8
The Final Report Card:  Since I came to Scott’s blog in 2010 and
recapped RAW, beginning with March 1996, the WWF has usually lost the Monday Night
Wars against WCW.  For eighty-two
straight weeks, Nitro defeated RAW in the ratings with an average margin of
victory of 1.2 or higher.  However, after
Decemer 22, 1997 RAW’s ratings rose above 3.0 and would never dip lower and
THIS was the RAW that finally slaughtered the Nitro juggernaut.  It was unclear at the time whether this would
be a one-off victory or the beginning of a trend, but with the benefit of
hindsight this was like the Entente forces stopping the Germans at the Second
Battle of the Marne in August 1918. 
Although Nitro would win a few more victories over RAW after this night,
this show marked a shift in momentum in the Monday Night Wars and by the end of
the year Nitro was on the defensive.
As for the show itself, the Austin-McMahon
interaction was great and although viewers were disappointed about
Austin-McMahon not happening, it was the correct booking choice to continue a
red hot feud.  This show was all
storyline driven, as the in-ring product was poor, but it made two hours fly by
and it is still an entertaining show sixteen years later.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.6 (vs. 4.2 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

The SmarK Rant for WWE NXT–02.05.14

The SmarK Rant for WWE NXT – 02.05.14 Christ, even Microsoft Word is nagging me about the “no double spaces after a period” thing. Why is this suddenly the cause celebre among internet nerds and grammar nazis? Where were all these people when I learned to type that way TWENTY FIVE YEARS AGO? Trust me, there’s literally no way I’m going to be able to retrain my fingers not to do it now, so everyone can please leave me alone about it forever. DOUBLE SPACE. Taped from Orlando, FL Your hosts are Bryon Saxton, Tensai & Tom Phillips Sin Cara v. Alexander Rusev So with Rusev on his way to the main roster, along with Summer Rae going to Total Divas, and Emma doing whatever the fuck she’s doing now, the roster is getting a bit gutted and hopefully some quick elevations will be in order. Kind of weird that Hunico just kind of switches gimmicks now after weeks of being himself. Rusev overpowers him, but a bit of high-flying turns the tide, until Rusev dropkicks him right out of the air for one. He stomps Cara down in the corner and puts him down with a high kick for two. Sin Cara comes back with a crossbody for two and springboard elbow for two. He tries a victory roll and Rusev drops him on his face and finishes with the Accolade at 4:44, however. Usual Rusev squash, although Hunico shows more personality in the role than Mistico ever did. *1/2 Emma v. Alicia Fox This Emma title chase has been stalled for a while now with Paige injured with a mysterious ailment for months. Alicia Fox is not into the Emma Dance, and dropkicks her off a wristlock. Emma comes back with the Dilemma hold, but Alicia gets a northern lights suplex for two. Emma gets a clumsy rollup for two and splashes Alicia in the corner, then rolls into the EmmaLock to finish at 3:15. *1/2 Now logically they should put the belt on her when Paige returns, but now she’s on the big roster and thus it’s pointless. And then as Emma is celebrating, the BFFs storm in for a beatdown, until Natalya and Bayley save and then dance. Sylvester Lefort v. Mason Ryan Lefort looks like a guy who would get pushed in the system, so he must be pretty terrible if they’re keeping him as a manager. Unshockingly, Ryan destroys him and pins him with a cobra slam at 0:50. Well that was a tad pointless. DUD Meanwhile, Aiden English gives us a monologue and salutes Canada in song. *Sniff* Meanwhile, Lefort swears revenge on Mason Ryan. Now, if they’re going with the old Robert Parker angle from WCW, it’ll lead to him finding a Sid Vicious-level surprise monster and getting his payback. And given that Dusty Rhodes was booking WCW at the time, it might not be far off. Aiden English v. Tyson Kidd Thankfully English is getting over more as a heel now that the fans know how to react to him. Kidd charges and misses quickly, and English pounds him down for two. Backdrop suplex gets two. Kidd comes back with a headscissors into the corner and a dropkick for two. English catches him coming in with a suplex for two, but Big Cass joins us at ringside for the distraction, allowing Kidd to hit the Blockbuster for the pin at 2:40. Really fast-paced for the time given. **1/4 They really need to do something with Kidd; even a high flying tag team with someone to feud with the Ascension would be a good dynamic for him. Adrian Neville v. Corey Graves The skinny jeans and hair product are really killing the bad boy image that Graves is trying for. Neville gets a hiptoss and Graves bails right away, but catches him with a cheapshot coming in. Neville takes him down with a headlock and tosses him, following with a dive as we take a break. Back with Graves working the leg in the corner and dropping elbows for two. Neville gets a rollup for two, but Graves dropkicks the knee for two and dragon whips him for two. Back to the knee and he grinds on that for a while, and a backbreaker gets two. To the floor, where Neville escapes a piledriver and makes the comeback. Missile dropkick gets two, but the leg is still hurting and Graves clips him again. Neville fights him off and goes up, and the Red Arrow finishes at 16:10. Kind of a flat finish, but a really solid match. *** Neville is still hurting, so Bo Dallas comes out to finish the job, until HHH cuts them off by announcing that their match at the “PPV” is going to be a ladder match. DUN DUN DUN! The Pulse Basic, fun show, although it’s the end of the cycle so there wasn’t much going on this week. Next week, however, should be the senses-shattering debut of rock god ADAM ROSE, which is apparently 10 shades of awesome.

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – April 6, 1998

A video package recaps the altercation
between Steve Austin and Vince McMahon on the last RAW.

Jim Ross and
Michael Cole are in the booth and they are taped from Syracuse, New York
.
Vince McMahon
walks out to some loud, piped in boos and says that Steve Austin learned his
lesson from last week and will no longer curse, flip people off, or give off a
blue collar vibe.  He promises a new,
improved Austin tonight or the fans will get their money back.  What is making the early part of this feud
great is that McMahon is not playing an overt heel.  Instead, he is still expecting the fans to
like him like they did in the 1980s and 1990s and is continually puzzled why
they are reacting negatively toward him.

A video package
hypes Dan Severn.  It is funny how the
WWF used the UFC to legitimize Ken Shamrock and Severn with the fan base during
this period and now views it with disdain.
Opening
Contest:  Dan Severn (w/Jim Cornette)
beats Flash Funk via submission to an armbar at 2:54:
Severn comes out with four title belts, which is always a
great visual for a wrestler and gives them instant credibility with the
audience.  Severn wrestles this match
like a UFC encounter, using a few simple suplexes and using superior position
to lock in an armbar and win his first WWF match.  (1 for
1)
D-Generation X
destroying Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie on last week’s RAW is the 10-321
Rewind.
DX comes out and
puts themselves over as the best young act in wrestling and tells the fans that
if they want to see old men wrestle they should change the channel.  Triple H says that his army is complete and
he is ready to raise hell in the WWF.
DX is shown spray
painting DX on parts of the backstage RAW set and beating up a random guy.
Steve Blackman
beats “Too Sexy” Brian Christopher via submission to a crucifix armbar at 5:01:
With the light heavyweight division an afterthought,
Christopher no longer has to feud with Taka Michinoku so he is enhancement
talent until something better comes along.  Tennessee Lee walks out during the match to do
commentary, but surprisingly does not get involved in the match.  This starts pretty slow, but after Lee stops
doing commentary the match picks up and Blackman gets a solid clean win to
maintain momentum for his feud with Jeff Jarrett.  Rating:  *¾ (2 for 2)
After the match,
Lee walks back out and filibusters for a great Jarrett entrance, but Jarrett
actually sneaks up behind Blackman in the ring and smashes a guitar over his
head.  Smashing people with guitars would
gradually become part of Jarrett’s calling card and this was one of the first
uses of the tactic.
DX is shown
relieving themselves on the Disciples of Apocalypse bicycles backstage.
LOD 2000 giving
Jesus a Doomsday Device on last week’s RAW is the Bop It Slam of the Week.
A video package
recaps last week’s cage match main event between the New Age Outlaws and Cactus
Jack and Chainsaw Charlie for the vacant WWF tag team titles.  It emphasizes that after the match and
beatdown the crowd was chanting for Steve Austin.
Mick Foley walks
out with a chair and wearing a neck brace. 
He says that Terry Funk is not at the show because he is pretty banged
up from last week and that after their sacrifices for the fans they just
chanted for Steve Austin at the end of last week’s show.  He criticizes the fans for giving them Cactus
Jack, which they asked for, and spitting on his effort.  When the fans do not give him a group apology,
he says that wrestling just is not worth it anymore and that the fans will not
see Cactus Jack for a long time.  Solid
promo work from Foley that planted the seeds for Steve Austin’s first in-ring
feud as WWF champion.  3 for 3
A video package
recaps the Nation turning on Faarooq on last week’s show.  A video from the Nation, which shows them
ambushing Faarooq in the parking lot is played.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  Owen Hart beats The
Rock (Champion w/The Nation of Domination) by disqualification when Chyna
interferes and nails Owen with a baseball bat at 5:46:
There is a small history between these two as Owen beat
the Rock to win his first Intercontinental title on a RAW episode the previous
year, but this time he is facing heel Rock and not the young upstart Rocky
Maivia.  One thing that is weird about
the commentary of this match is that Cole and Ross debate whether Austin has
sold out and Ross says it can’t be possible, while Cole gloats about how
powerful McMahon is.  Considering that
Cole is criticized for pandering McMahon’s lines today it’s a surreal
conversation.  The Nation are evicted
from ringside after they trip Owen running the ropes.  Owen manages to put the Rock in the
Sharpshooter, but Chyna runs in and the Rock saves his title via
disqualification.  Once again,
D-Generation X gets the better of Owen. 
Will this poor guy ever catch a break in this feud?  Rating:  **¼ (4 for 4)
Jerry “the King”
Lawler replaces Cole for hour
two
.
Flanked by two
police officers, Vince McMahon comes out and unveils the corporate version of
Steve Austin, who is wearing a suit, baseball cap, and does not climb to the
second rope to salute the fans.  The fans
are hot when Austin’s music hits, but are lukewarm to the idea of him in a
suit.  However, Austin is wearing his
wrestling boots because the dress shoes McMahon selected were not fully broken
in and McMahon takes exception to Austin’s baseball cap, so he takes it off and
throws it into the crowd.  When Austin
gets the mic he cuts a hilarious promo about being left in prison last week
without bread and water. 
He has one of the police officers take a picture of he and McMahon with
the title and then tells a happy McMahon that he should get the film framed
because that is the last time he will see him wear a silly suit.  He rips the entire suit off and tosses it
into the crowd, gives McMahon a low blow, and takes a picture of an agonizing McMahon before
leaving.  These segments just get better
and better, assisted by some funny commentary from Ross, who loves Austin, and
Lawler, who worries about his old broadcast partner.  5 for
5
The Disciples of
Apocalypse walk out and challenge D-Generation X to a match later this evening
.
Mixed Gender
Match:  Luna Vachon (w/Goldust) beats
Matt Gold with a flying elbow drop in 26 seconds:
Ross informs us that this is the first intergender match
in WWF history and I will take his word for it. 
Of course, those that had the RAW SNES and Genesis video games had
already seen Luna wrestle in lots of intergender matches.  Goldust beats up Gold before the bell, which
makes him a sitting duck for Luna to get an easy victory.  I was disappointed Luna didn’t bust out the
“Luna Eclipse” elbow drop that she had in that video game.
A new Val Venis
vignette sees him discuss his new film “As Hard as it Gets.”
Ken Shamrock
beats “Marvelous” Marc Mero (w/Sable) by disqualification when the Nation of
Domination interfere at 2:40:
Mero says that he let Sable have the spotlight at
WrestleMania, but demands that she leave his ring before this match.  These two have a decent abbreviated match and
Shamrock arms himself with a chair when the Nation runs out.  However, the Nation have strength in numbers
and Mark Henry splits Shamrock’s wig and D-Lo hits a Lo Down, after which the
Rock tells Shamrock that he is facing a new, more powerful Nation.  I’ll give the match and beatdown a point
because it made everyone look good.  (6 for 6)
Call 815-734-1161
to buy the new Stone Cold University t-shirt for $25 (plus $6 shipping &
handling)!  I cannot get over how
outrageous the shipping charges are for some of these items
.
Kevin Kelly
interviews the Undertaker, who accepts the desperate challenge of Paul Bearer
and Kane for the inferno match at Unforgiven. 
Paul Bearer and Kane interrupt the interview from the gravesite of the
Undertaker’s parents and Bearer promises that the Undertaker will die a slow,
agonizing death at Unforgiven.  Kane then
takes a sledgehammer to their parents grave and sets the remnants on fire.  Nice sell for the match, but I do not see how
they are going to top this in the ensuing weeks.  7 for
7
Triple H &
The New Age Outlaws (w/Chyna & Sean Waltman) beat The Disciples of
Apocalypse when Triple H pins Chainz with a Pedigree at 6:30 shown:
I am not calling Waltman X-Pac because he is not being
referred to that on television yet. 
Betting on the DOA in this match would be like placing everything you
owned against the Harlem Globetrotters.  After a below average match,
D-Generation X picks up a clean win over a stable who has worn out its
welcome.  After the bell, DX lays out
DOA like they did Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie on last week’s show.  However, before DX can completely decimate
Chainz, LOD 2000 runs out to make the save for the hot finish.  Rating:  *½ (8 for 8)
The Final Report Card:  Like last week, this RAW rolled along with
lots of entertaining segments to advance the necessary angles.  The new D-Generation X is starting to make
its mark on the company, the new Nation of Domination is doing the same, and
some new talent like Dan Severn and Val Venis are being introduced to the
audience.  This was another solid effort
to continue narrowing the gap with WCW.
Our Unforgiven card so far is:
WWF Championship Match:  Steve Austin (Champion) vs. ???
WWF Tag Team Championship Match:  The New Age Outlaws (Champions) vs. LOD 2000
Inferno Match:  The Undertaker vs. Kane
Evening Gown Match:  Sable vs. Luna Vachon
Monday Night War Rating:  4.4 (vs. 4.6 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – March 30, 1998

A video package
recaps the big events at last night’s WrestleMania pay-per-view.
Jim Ross and
Michael Cole are in the booth and they are live from Albany, New York.

Vince McMahon
walks out with the new version of the WWF title, which will replace the winged
eagle title that has been a staple of the company since 1988.  The crowd is so loud and rabid that McMahon
does not even know if his microphone is working.  Austin snatches the new title from McMahon
and McMahon goes back on what he said prior to WrestleMania and says he is
proud of Austin for winning the title. 
McMahon says that together they can make Austin the greatest WWF
champion of all-time.  Austin sees
through that scheme and takes offense when McMahon says he loves him.  After embarrassing McMahon, Austin reiterates
that he will continue to do things his way and McMahon tells him that he can
take the easy road and adapt or take the hard way and be forced to follow his
plan anyway.  Austin takes ten seconds to
think about it and then gives McMahon a Stone Cold Stunner.  Words cannot describe how awesome this
segment is.  McMahon played it like his
1990s announcing personality and Austin showed that way of doing business was
not going to be the way that the Attitude Era was going to proceed.  1 for
1
McMahon is shown
recovering in the locker room surrounded by his cronies
.
Opening
Contest:  The Legion of Doom (w/Sunny)
defeat Jose & Jesus when Hawk pins Jesus after a Doomsday Device in 34
seconds:
The only good thing about this repackaging is that it
gives Sunny something to do.  The Legion
of Doom roll through Jose and Jesus like the jobbers they are and after the
match Sunny says that they should be known as “LOD 2000” from now on.
Jim Ross says that
the WWF tag team titles are being held up due to the wrong dumpster being used
last night at WrestleMania and that the New Age Outlaws and Cactus Jack and
Chainsaw Charlie will meet in a steel cage match tonight.
Kevin Kelly says
that Vince McMahon has called the police and wants Steve Austin arrested.  After the commercial break, Kelly adds that
Austin says that Vince does not have the balls to arrest him.
Kurrgan (w/The
Jackyl) beats Chainz with the Paralyzer at 2:12:
Chainz never knocks Kurrgan off of his feet in this
squash, which continues Kurrgan’s reign of terror in the lower midcard.  After the match, Kurrgan keeps the Paralyzer
on and drags Chainz to the locker room.
Police officers
are shown arriving at the arena and greeted by Vince McMahon
.
Jeff Jarrett
(w/Tennessee Lee) defeats Aguila via submission to the figure-four leg lock at
2:36:
Jarrett continues to use the horse for his entrance,
which boggles my mind because I forgot that he even had such a ridiculous
entrance at this time.  The booking of
this match shows the problem of the light heavyweight division because Aguila
should be wrestling other light heavyweights, but there are not enough of them
in the company so they end up as cannon fodder for Jarrett and other midcarders.  Lee promises a big surprise on next week’s
show while doing commentary for this squash.
After the bell,
Steve Blackman runs out and floors Jarrett with a pump kick, but Jarrett
recovers and knocks him out of the ring when Blackman tries to go after
Lee.  This is a great crowd because they
give this developing feud a huge reaction
.
Police officers
are shown carrying Austin away in handcuffs. 
Austin tries to go after McMahon despite the handcuffs and Austin
promises that McMahon will pay.  Gerald
Brisco reassures McMahon that he made the right decision.
  After
the commercial break, McMahon walks out with Brisco and Commissioner Slaughter
and explains in a contrite voice that he felt Austin needed to cool off for
twenty-four hours based on his actions earlier tonight.
 2 for 2
Triple H and Chyna
inform us that the tonight the WWF as we know it will come to an X-rated end.
Ross interviews
Intercontinental Champion the Rock, who is backstage, and the Rock promises to
lay the smack down on Ken Shamrock.  The
Rock tells Faarooq that he opened his eyes to something new last night and
tells him that he is why he is still the champion and he guarantees that the
Nation will be stronger after tonight. 
Faarooq appears to be unconvinced
.
Jerry “the King”
Lawler comes out to do commentary for hour two
.
Ken Shamrock
& Steve Blackman beat The Rock & Faarooq (w/The Nation of Domination)
when Shamrock pins Faarooq after a belly-to-belly suplex at 4:22:
It takes Ross 1:25 to talk about Faarooq’s football
background, which might be a new record. 
The Rock’s heat is off the charts at the beginning of this match and it
only grows when he refuses to get into the ring to fight Shamrock.  This proceeds with Shamrock and Blackman
beating the tar out of Faarooq and the Rock walking out on Faarooq when Faarooq
tries to make the tag.  They work that
spot really well because the Rock at first holds his hand higher when Faarooq
crawls to their corner and then decides to blow him off for good.  Rating:  *½ (3 for 3)
After the match,
Faarooq calls the Rock back to the ring. 
The Rock returns and he and Faarooq brawl until the other members of the
Nation and WWF officials separate them. 
However, when the WWF officials leave and Faarooq calls the Rock back to
the ring, the other members of the Nation turn on Faarooq and the Rock
re-enters the ring to give Faarooq a Rock Bottom.  The Rock proclaims himself the new leader of
the Nation.
Kane giving Pete
Rose a Tombstone is the 10-321 Rewind segment.
European Champion
Triple H and Chyna come out and Triple H says that he was right about Mike
Tyson.  He accuses Shawn Michaels of
dropping the ball and says that he is taking over and tonight is the genesis of
D-Generation X.  Hmmm…so that’s where
Michael McGillicutty got that line. 
Triple H says that for allies to go to war he is looking at the Kliq and
Sean Waltman walks out.  Ross’s lack of
enthusiasm when Waltman comes out is pretty funny.  Waltman proceeds to cut a fun promo that runs
down Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff and says that Scott Hall and Kevin Nash would
be with him tonight if they were not being held hostage by WCW.  This segment nicely moved DX into Triple H’s
control and overcame the audience’s hesitation to embrace a Triple H-led DX.  4 for
4
Sable powerbombing
Luna Vachon last night at WrestleMania is the Bop It Slam of the Week.
The first Val
Venis vignette is aired where he previews his new film “Live Hard.”
-Before the match,
Luna Vachon comes out and demands a rematch with Sable.  After Sable agrees, she lays out what an Evening
Gown match is.  Mero does not want Sable
to accept the challenge, but Sable accepts anyway.  It’s a testament to Luna’s character that she
didn’t become a face in the lead up to that match because the crowd popped huge
at the suggestion that she wanted to strip Sable off her clothes.
“Marvelous” Marc
Mero (w/Sable) beat Taka Michinoku with a TKO at 1:36:

Throughout the match, Sable criticizes Mero’s heel tactics, but that
distracts the referee and helps Mero hit a low blow to win.  So, that whole light heavyweight
division?  Yeah, who cares about
that.  After the match, Sable tries to
tend to Michinoku and argues with Mero on her way to the backstage area.
After the match,
three Japanese men hit the ring and destroy Michinoku.
NWA Tag Team
Championship Match:  The New Midnight
Express (w/Cornette) defeat The Headbangers (Champions) to win the titles when
Bombastic Bomb pins Mosh after a Rocket Launcher at 4:00:
Before the match, Cornette brings out Dan Severn, who was
in the midst of a four year reign as the NWA World Heavyweight Champion and
should have been a bigger deal in the WWF. 
The hype of Severn takes precedence over calling this match, which is
standard fare.  After the bell, Severn
gets into the ring and suplexes the Headbangers around.  This was the ideal role for Severn to kick
ass and say very little, but that is not how he was treated during this
run.  Rating:  ** (4 for 4)
Steve Austin calls
into the show and promises to show Vince McMahon how pissed off he is on next
week’s RAW.
As the cage is
being set up for the main event, Kane and Paul Bearer walk out and Bearer
promises that the Undertaker-Kane feud is not over.  He says that he had a dream where the ring
was surrounded by fire and Kane stood tall. 
He challenges the Undertaker to enter his dream and face Kane in a match
where the loser will be set on fire. 
Very nice promo by Bearer to setup an Inferno match between Kane and the
Undertaker at Unforgiven and it was also a good use of time so that the cage
could be constructed for the main event. 5
for 5
Steel Cage Match
for the WWF Tag Team Championship:  The
New Age Outlaws beat Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie to win the titles when
the Road Dogg pins Cactus after a spike piledriver on a chair at 4:38:
Funk is shown with a nasty deep bruise suffered at last
night’s WrestleMania.  This match is
being contested under pinfall and submission rules, so escaping the cage gets
you nothing, and it assumes tornado tag rules as well.  The Outlaws tie Charlie to the cage by his
neck with handcuffs, which is rather ingenious, and Cactus fights the Outlaws
off for a while, but D-Generation X runs out and Sean Waltman, who is still
being referred to as “the Kid,” blasts Cactus in the head with a chair several
times as Chyna distracts the referee. 
This gives the Outlaws the break they need to win the titles for the
second time.  Rating:  ** (6 for 6)
After the bell,
D-Generation X destroys Cactus and ties Charlie tighter to the cage.  The Outlaws celebrate with Triple H and
Waltman and the DX theme plays in the background, seemingly confirming that the
Outlaws are the stable’s newest members.
The Final Report Card:  They really packed a lot into this RAW and it
followed a format that the company should look into today where the first hour
is packed with squash matches and a lead angle to keep people interested and
then having serious and more risky angles play out in the next hour.  More power is handed to the lead figures of
the Attitude Era from the New Generation as Triple H takes over D-Generation X
and the Rock takes over the Nation from Faarooq.  This show was very instrumental in setting
the tone for the rest of the year as well, with McMahon having Austin arrested
for the first time and DX being reformed with Triple H, the soon-to-be named
X-Pac, and the New Age Outlaws.  The show
also continued to tighten the gap with Nitro and showed that the company was
starting to benefit from an edgier product with Austin on top.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.8 (vs. 4.2 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: WrestleMania XIV

Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Boston, Massachusetts
.

Opening Fifteen
Team Battle Royal:  The Legion of Doom
(w/Sunny) win by eliminating The New Midnight Express at 8:19:
The WWF did not run tag team battle royals very often and
the last one prior to this that I recall was held in 1991 when the Nasty Boys
won and earned a title shot at WrestleMania VII.  This is the only tag team battle royal in
WrestleMania history and is the third battle royal to be contested at the event
and the first since WrestleMania IV.  The
rules for this type of battle royal is that when your partner is eliminated
then you have to exit the ring.  The
other teams in this include the Headbangers, Too Much, the Rock N’ Roll
Express, the New Midnight Express, Faarooq & Kama Mustafa, D-Lo Brown &
Mark Henry, the Disciples of Apocalypse, the Quebecers, the Godwinns, the Truth
Commission, Savio Vega & Miguel Perez, Jose & Jesus, Steve Blackman &
Flash Funk (??!?!), and Bradshaw & Chainz. 
There’s lots of interference in this battle royal, as Kurrgan eliminates
the Truth Commission and Barry Windham comes out and tosses Chainz.  The referees seemingly miss all of this.  The Legion of Doom are repackaged here with
Sunny, wearing futuristic skull helmets, and this match just serves to
reintroduce them and position them as top contenders in the tag division
again.  However, as the old saying goes
you can put lipstick on a pig and it is still a pig.  The Godwinns blast the Legion of Doom with
buckets because that feud lingers on despite the best wishes of the audience,
but it does no good as the LOD go over in their last WrestleMania appearance
and earn a tag team title shot at next month’s Unforgiven pay-per-view.  This would have been better with fewer teams
and it was just guys randomly trading punches. 
The crowd liked the LOD going over, though.  Rating:  *
Ross and Lawler
talk about the DX Public Workout, where Steve Austin ended up tied in the ropes
and Mike Tyson and Shawn Michaels kissed him on the forehead.  Other WrestleMania festivities are shown.
Light Heavyweight
Championship Match:  Taka Michinoku
(Champion) beats Aguila with a Michinoku Driver at 5:19:
 Aguila gets the jobber entrance, which is
unbecoming of WrestleMania, but he did not get a lot of television time prior
to this event.  Both men flip around a
lot, but there’s very little psychology to speak of and the Boston crowd does
not respond well to the match.  Of
course, they might respond better if the WWF gave them a reason to care about
this division.  After some really obvious
spot positioning and weak striking, Michinoku catches Aguila with a dropkick
when Aguila dives off the second rope and defends the title.  This was the swan song of the light
heavyweight division, as Michinoku would not defend the title at another
pay-per-view until October and Gillberg held the title by the end of the year.  Rating:  *½
Gennifer Flowers
interviews the Intercontinental Champion the Rock.  The Rock cuts a hilarious interview where he
demands to be called “the People’s Champion” and says he does not care about
the homeless as long as they stay off his property.  He makes some jokes about the judicial system
and interns “oral” role in his theoretical White House.
European
Championship Match:  Triple H (Champion
w/Chyna) pins Owen Hart with a Pedigree at 11:27:
Keep in mind that Owen is wrestling this match on an
injured ankle.  Triple H gets a live
musical entrance because the D-Generation X band is present this evening.  Chyna is also handcuffed to Commissioner
Slaughter during this match.  Now logic
would suggest that Owen gets his revenge here after being outwitted and duped
by Triple H at every turn during their three month feud.  However, that is not to be as Chyna drags
Slaughter to ringside to help Triple H puts his hand on the rope to break a
Sharpshooter and then tosses powder in Slaughter’s eyes, which enables her to
low blow Owen and help Triple H retain the title.  This built into a really solid match after a
slow and awkward start and this resulted in Owen permanently being relegated to
midcard status for the rest of his WWF run. 
After the match, Chyna tosses Slaughter into the crowd to continue
getting heat and put an end to the DX-Slaughter angle for good.  Rating:  ***¼
A video package recaps the Marc Mero &
Sable-Goldust & Luna Vachon feud
.
Mixed Tag Team
Match:  “Marvelous” Marc Mero & Sable
beat The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust & Luna Vachon when Sable pins
Luna after a TKO at 9:11:
This is the second mixed tag match in WrestleMania
history if you count men and women and not the Doink/Dink-Bam Bam Bigelow/Luna
match from WrestleMania X.  This is
Mero’s first and only WrestleMania match and he sheds the jealous heel persona
to be more of a traditional babyface in this bout.  The big question entering this match is
whether Sable could wrestle and she is very protected to make her look great.  When she tears into Luna the place explodes
and Luna does a good job bumping for her. 
It is puzzling booking to have Luna run away from Sable based on her run
with Bam Bam Bigelow in 1993-1994, but that is par for the course regarding
most WWF heels.  Sable even gets in a few
shots on Goldust and the crowd goes wild for a Sable powerbomb.  Mero acts like a small kid after the bell,
celebrating as if he got the winning pin. 
Well booked and entertaining bout that disguised Sable’s weaknesses and played
the crowd like a fiddle.  Who would have
imagined sixteen years ago that in 2014 Goldust would be a tag team champion,
Sable would be married to a former UFC champion, Mero would be preaching the
virtues of Christianity, and Luna would no longer be with us?  Rating:  ***
Tennessee Lee
introduces Gennifer Flowers, who is accompanied down the aisle by Jeff
Jarrett.  Flowers tells Jarrett that he’s
great and then does the guest ring announcing duties for the next match.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  The Rock (Champion
w/The Nation of Domination) beats Ken Shamrock by reverse decision at 4:48:
During this match, one smart fan holds up a “Rob Van Dam”
poster.  Since Commissioner Slaughter was
disabled by Chyna a few matches ago the Nation is allowed to congregate around
ringside for this one.  If the Rock gets
disqualified in this then he loses the title, but the announcers never bring
that up and it never factors into the match. 
Shamrock takes another sick shot with a chair in this match, causing me
to question his sanity, but he shakes it off and snaps.  The Rock submits to the ankle lock, but Shamrock
beats up the entire Nation and reapplies the ankle lock.  Faarooq runs out, but he decides not to help
the Rock, thereby continuing that issue. 
WWF officials run out to stop Shamrock, but that just leads to many of
them getting belly-to-belly suplexed. 
All of this causes the initial decision to be reversed and as the Rock
is carried out on a stretcher he hoists up the Intercontinental title in
victory.  After hearing of the decision,
Shamrock tosses the Rock off the stretcher and tosses him through the
D-Generation X band’s equipment.  This
was just a standard RAW match and the Dusty finishes in this feud hurt
Shamrock’s heat because he never managed to win the title from the Rock.  Rating:  **
Jim Ross tells the
television audience that this has become the highest grossing event in the
history of Boston, resulting in over $1,000,000 in ticket revenue.
Dumpster Match
for the WWF Tag Team Championship: 
Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie beat The New Age Outlaws to win the
titles at 10:02:
This is the first time I recall hearing the crowd echo
the Road Dogg’s introduction for the Outlaws. 
Terry Funk does not bother to wear the typical Chainsaw Charlie attire
for this one.  The crowd is pretty
subdued until Cactus pulls out a ladder and works up an “ECW” chant.  Gunn and Cactus take a crazy bump off the
ladder into the dumpster and Funk takes a crazy bump from a spike powerbomb off
the apron into the dumpster, but that does not end things as the battle goes
backstage.  Cactus lays out both of the
Outlaws on a forklift and Funk takes control of it and forces the Outlaws into
a backstage dumpster to seemingly win the titles.  However, they did not use the official
dumpster at ringside, so that might become a point of contention from the
Outlaws by the next RAW.  Fun brawl,
although the finish defied logic with the Outlaws just laying on the forklift
and somehow being forced off of there by Funk’s driving.  Rating:  **½
A video package
hypes the Undertaker-Kane match.
Pete Rose comes
out and turns heel by running down the Boston Red Sox, which may go over the
head of later viewers since the Red Sox have won three World Series since this
event.  Rose is supposed to do guest ring
announcing duties, but Kane Tombstone’s Rose to a huge reaction thereby starting
a running WrestleMania gag.  Rose does a
stretcher job and acts like he’s dead. 
Now THIS is what a celebrity appearance is all about.
The Undertaker
defeats Kane (w/Paul Bearer) with three Tombstones at 16:58:
 So after SIX
months of build we finally get this match between Kane and the only force in
the WWF that can stop him:  his brother
the Undertaker.  The Undertaker gets an
awesome entrance with druids holding lighted torches along the aisle.  I know at the time of this match that some of
my friends were looking forward to this match more than the Shawn
Michaels-Steve Austin main event.  This
is nowhere near a great technical encounter, but it is definitely a spectacle
because of how well Kane has been built since his debut and the Undertaker’s zombie
reputation.  Kane dominates most of the
match, with a really long chinlock spot in the middle, but the Undertaker kicks
out of a Tombstone and rallies as Bearer damns him at ringside.  However, it takes three Tombstones for the
Undertaker to put Kane down for good.  I
remember this match being much better than this, so it has not aged well, a
fact not helped by these two fighting many more times after this.  Still, it had some nice storytelling with the
Undertaker having to use everything in his arsenal to put Kane down for a three
count and that is enough for me to give it another ½*.  Rating:  *½
After the match,
Bearer throws a chair into the ring and stomps on a fatigued Undertaker.  The Undertaker recovers to deck Bearer, but
Kane smashes him with the chair and Tombstones him on it to show that this feud
will continue.  The Undertaker sits up,
though, as Kane and Bearer go to the backstage area.
A sad black and
white commercial that shows Gorilla Monsoon, Classie Freddie Blassie, and
Killer Kowalski, all of whom have died by now, hypes the Attitude Era.
A video package
hypes the Shawn Michaels-Steve Austin main event.
WWF Championship
Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve Austin defeats
“The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels (Champion w/D-Generation X) with a Stone
Cold Stunner to win the title at 20:01:
Mike Tyson is greeted to a chorus of boos when he comes
out to be the guest enforcer and he jaws with Austin after Austin makes his
entrance.  As the readers of this review
are aware, Michaels back was really messed up for this match and he had not
wrestled since defending the title against the Undertaker at the Royal
Rumble.  This would be his last match
until SummerSlam 2002.  Triple H attacks
Austin in the early going, so he and Chyna end up getting tossed from ringside.  If you read Michaels face during this match
you can tell that he is in a lot of pain, but that does not stop him from
incorporating his usual offensive arsenal like the flying forearm, kip up, and flying
elbow or being tossed with reckless abandon over the top rope.  Attitude Era brawling by the DX band and by
the timekeeper’s table also helps mask some of Michaels limitations.  Michaels opts to spend the match working the
leg and Tyson turns a blind eye to his cheating, like holding the ropes during
a figure-four spot.  The referee is
bumped out of a sleeper spot, but when Austin catches Michaels with a Stunner
after he blocks Sweet Chin Music, Tyson slides into the ring and counts the
fall.  I wish we could have seen a
healthy Michaels against Austin because that would have garnered a higher
rating, but kudos to Michaels for fighting through his injury and doing the
job.  Rating:  ***½ 
After the match,
Austin tosses Tyson an Austin 3:16 shirt and Tyson displays it for the
audience.  Michaels gets up and
interrogates Tyson about this shift of loyalties and that leads to Tyson
knocking him out to pay off the angle. 
Tyson then drapes Austin’s shirt over Michaels before walking to the
backstage area with the new champion.
The Final Report Card:  This was a very good WrestleMania.  The two worst matches were at the top of the
card and things picked up after that point. 
The show had a lot of “WrestleMania moments” and more than most
WrestleManias:  Austin winning the title,
Sable getting in the ring and TKOing Luna, Pete Rose getting Tombstoned by
Kane, and the Undertaker using three Tombstones to beat Kane.  The WWF’s intelligent booking also paid off
with this show since the midcard matches generated more crowd reaction and,
unlike WCW, they put the title cleanly on the guy that the fans wanted.  It also generated the highest WrestleMania
buyrate since WrestleMania VIII in 1992 and reversed a five year decline in
WrestleMania buyrates for the company.  I
like to see the Michaels-Austin match as the passing of the torch from the New
Generation to the Attitude Era and it is arguably one of the most important
matches in the history of the company, on the level of Iron Sheik-Hulk Hogan in
1985.
Attendance: 
19,028
Buyrate: 
2.3 (+1.6 from previous year)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – March 23, 1998

by Logan Scisco


Vince McMahon
saying that Steve Austin winning the WWF championship would be a corporate
nightmare on last week’s show is replayed. 
Austin will have a rebuttal tonight!
We are really due
for a new RAW opening because the original video has some guys like Sid
in it that are no longer part of the company. 
To compensate, the company is having to splice in lots of recent
footage.
Jim Ross and
Michael Cole are doing commentary and they are taped from Tucson, Arizona.  This is the go home show for WrestleMania
XIV.

Kevin Kelly
interviews Steve Austin, who says that Vince McMahon cannot mold or break
him.  He says that he respects Shawn
Michaels as a wrestler, but he will go through McMahon and all of his cronies
to get Michaels in the ring and win the WWF title.  Austin says he has lots of “Steveweisers” on
hand and will drink them when D-Generation X and Mike Tyson show up later
tonight.  Commissioner Slaughter comes
out and tells Austin that he will wrestle the Rock tonight on McMahon’s orders.  Despite Austin saying that he will comply,
Slaughter threatens him with making his WrestleMania match against Michaels
non-title and that sends Austin into a rage and he gives Slaughter a Stone Cold
Stunner.  The approaching angle really
makes Slaughter’s role irrelevant, so this is about all he is good for at this
point.  1 for 1
Opening
Contest:  Cactus Jack & Chainsaw
Charlie beat The Quebecers by disqualification when the New Age Outlaws
interfere at 3:50:
Ross spends much of this match hyping the New Age Outlaw
title defense at WrestleMania against Cactus and Chainsaw and explaining the
rules of their scheduled dumpster match. 
During the match, the New Age Outlaws come out in black coat and tie,
set up tables by the entrance, and have dates with Cactus and Chainsaw blow up
dolls.  Very passable match here, as the
Outlaws antics near the entrance receive the most attention and everyone put in
the minimal amount of effort prior to the disqualification.  After the bell, the Outlaws blast Cactus with
a champagne bucket, break their table across Chainsaw’s head, and give Cactus a
spike piledriver on a chair.  Rating: 
¾* (1 for 2)
Shawn Michaels
giving Steve Austin Sweet Chin Music two weeks ago on RAW is the Bop It Slam of
the Week.  It sort of defeats the purpose
of the Slam of the Week if it is something that happened two weeks ago, no?
Jeff Jarrett
(w/Tennessee Lee) beats Steve Blackman when he falls on top of Blackman during
a superplex attempt and Lee holds Blackman’s foot down at 2:24:
Jarrett busts out the electric horse entrance for the
second straight week.  Blackman is a
solid hand, but there is nothing that helps him stand out on this roster and
he’s very bland.  Jarrett cheats to hand
Blackman his first loss and when another referee comes down to correct the
injustice, Jarrett intelligently knocks him out with a right hand.  This match is actually leading somewhere and
starts a two month feud between these two. 
This new gimmick is definitely putting Jarrett on the road to the main
event!
D-Generation X and
Mike Tyson are shown arriving at the arena in a white limousine.
Kane’s rampage on
last week’s show and his confrontation with the Undertaker is replayed.
The Undertaker
cuts a promo by his parents gravesite. 
He asks his parents to forgive him for fighting Kane and he is ready to
burn in hell if he does not defeat Kane. 
Weird promo to see the Undertaker cut, since its more sentimental than
what we usually see.  That said, it did
not add anything new to the feud.  1 for 3
Paul Bearer and
Kane come out and Bearer makes fun of the Undertaker promo we just saw.  Bearer says that Kane has equal powers to the
Undertaker and to prove it, Kane ignites some of the lights in the arena, fries
some of the announcer electronic equipment, and blasts out one of the
spotlights.  Bearer gives Kane free reign
for his last trick and he decides to set a member of the camera crew on
fire.  Pretty hokey segment that turned
into “Kane’s magical illusion show.” 
Cole’s awful explanation of the segment where he keeps telling us that
Kane set a man on fire over and over again also doesn’t help.  1 for
4
The New Midnight
Express (w/Jim Cornette) wrestle The Disciples of Apocalypse  to a double disqualification at 3:33:
It takes less than a minute for the Headbangers to come
down to the ring for a closer look at the Express and the Rock N’ Roll Express
come out as well.  Soon it becomes a
parade of teams that will be in the WrestleMania tag team battle royal, as
Savio Vega and Miguel Perez, Jesus and Jose, the Quebecers, and the Truth
Commission come out.  With all of those
teams around ringside it doesn’t take long for them to start fighting and have
that fight spill into the ring, thereby rendering this match meaningless.  This is only notable because Los Boricuas
EXPLODES as Perez and Jesus fight.  The
crowd works up an “LOD” chant and Ross says that is not going to happen because
they have broken up for good…or have they?  
Not a very good debut for the Express, but that was not really the goal
of this.  Rating:  ½* (1 for 5)
Jerry Lawler joins
the commentary team for the second hour. 
I can’t wait until we get Ross and Lawler on a permanent basis.
D-Generation X and
Mike Tyson come out.  Triple H gloats
about winning the European title from Owen on last week’s show and he says that
even though Chyna will be handcuffed at ringside that won’t change the outcome
of their match.  There is a really slutty
older woman near the front row that is a big DX fan and Shawn Michaels makes
fun of her.  Michaels compares the
Austin-McMahon fight to a catfight and says he does not care about what McMahon
thinks of him.  Michaels says if Austin
wants to win the WWF title he has to go through the greatest champion in history
and he also has to deal with Tyson, who says he will knock Austin out if he
messes with him.  Michaels says that
after WrestleMania D-Generation X will rule forever….forever….Solid promo, but
it repeated all of the same talking points we’ve heard for weeks.  1 for
6
Gennifer Flowers
urges viewers to come out of the closet and announce that they are WWF fans.
The announcers
discuss the wicked chair shot Ken Shamrock took at the hands of the Rock last
week.  Ross says that at WrestleMania if
the Rock is disqualified he will lose the Intercontinental title.
Faarooq beats
Chainz by disqualification when the Rock interferes at 3:36:
Faarooq chooses to fight his own battle without the
Nation’s help and he does not have much to worry about as Chainz gets the
jobber entrance.  The Rock decides to
wander out despite Faarooq’s instructions with a chair and he gets more heat
than anyone on the show, as fans pelt him with garbage as he comes down the
ramp.  Faarooq has the match in hand
after a spinebuster, but the Rock runs into the ring with a chair to hit
Chainz.  Faarooq tells him not to do so
and prepares for a Dominator, but the Rock knocks him out with the chair,
seemingly aiming for Chainz and misses. 
Was he really aiming for Faarooq, though?  Both of these guys tried, but the Rock had
five times more heat than both of them combined and Faarooq loved the chinlocks
in this match.  Rating:  ¾* (1 for 7)
A video package
recaps the Bradshaw-Barry Windham feud.
Bradshaw beats
Barry Windham (w/Jim Cornette) with a school boy at 3:05:
The Rock N’ Roll Express occupy seats near the front row
for this match, which is puzzling because they are talent so they should just
be able to walk out and watch the match by the entrance at the very least.  In the old days this would be perfect midcard
fodder for WrestleMania, but the feud has largely been ignored for the last few
weeks and they must have felt the need to just blow it off here.  Windham actually takes off his entrance gear
for this one, so you know it’s important. 
The Express threaten to come over the guardrail after Cornette and that
distracts Windham, enabling Bradshaw to win in the weakest way possible.  After the match, the New Midnight Express run
down and help Windham do a small beatdown on Bradshaw before the Rock N’ Roll
Express make the save.  I would have given this a
point, but the ending was terrible.  Rating: 
*½ (1 for 8)
Muhammad Ali’s
guest referee performance at WrestleMania I is the M&M WrestleMania
Millennium Moment.
D-Generation X and
Mike Tyson are shown conversing and having fun in the locker room.  The announcers hype DX’s public workout in
Times Square on Thursday.
Sable is awarded a
plaque for making the January 1997 edition of RAW magazine the highest selling
ever.  Sunny is supposed to get one as
well, but is “under the weather,” and the crowd boos that out of the building,
which makes me wonder who the more popular “diva” at this time was among the
fan base.  It’s like the Shawn
Michaels-Bret Hart feud among fans, in that you favored one over the other.  I came down on the side of Bret and
Sunny.  Marc Mero says he is going to let
Sable have her moment and leaves, but that lets Luna Vachon run down and nail
Sable with her plaque and rip her dress. 
This segment was notable at the time because it exposed Vince Russo and
“Vic Venom” as the same person.  Venom
was a smarkish writer that wrote columns for WWF and RAW Magazine and had a
short-lived newsletter along the lines of the Wrestling Observer.  Russo was the WWF Magazine editor at the
time and while people have problems with elements of his booking, his editing
made WWF Magazine a great read in the mid-1990s.  In fact, Russo wrote a column in WWF magazine
after this where he blasted fans for fooling them with the Venom character,
which I swear was what informed the “It was me all along!” part of the Higher
Power angle of 1999.  2 for 9
Non-Title
Match:  Steve Austin beat The Rock
(Intercontinental Champion w/The Nation of Domination) with the Stone Cold
Stunner at 8:25 shown:
Somewhat interesting that the main event of WrestleMania
XV is the last RAW match before WrestleMania XIV.  Austin shows that the little things can work
a crowd as he flips the Rock off when granting a clean break in the
corner.  This is a surprisingly bland and
barely average match, with lots of stalling and deliberate strikes.  Austin actually rolls out of the way of the
People’s Elbow, something that rarely happened,
and launches a comeback to finish off the Rock. 
Since this still got a good crowd reaction I will give this a point, but
it is probably the worst Austin-Rock match that I remember seeing.  Rating:  ** (3 for 10)
After the match,
D-Generation X comes out and Michaels tells Austin that he will beat him at
WrestleMania.  Michaels feigns coming
into the ring to confront Austin, but Triple H convinces Michaels not to do it
as we go off the air.
The Final Report Card:  On my scale, this is one of the worst RAW
episodes in a while.  It is not that the
angles are not hot, but most of them have run out of steam without having a
match take place, so this show was everyone treading water before WrestleMania.  The only one where that does not apply, the
Bradshaw-Windham angle, had an awful finish on this show too, but that is what
I have come to expect from the NWA angle.
Here is our finalized WrestleMania XIV card:
*WWF Championship Match:  Shawn Michaels (Champion) vs. Steve Austin
with Mike Tyson as guest enforcer
*Intercontinental Championship Match:  The Rock (Champion) vs. Ken Shamrock and if
the Rock is disqualified he loses the title
*WWF Tag Team Championship Dumpster
Match:  The New Age Outlaws (Champions)
vs. Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie
*European Championship Match:  Triple H (Champion) vs. Owen Hart with Chyna
handcuffed at ringside
*Mixed Tag Team Match:  Marc Mero & Sable vs. The Artist Formerly
Known as Goldust & Luna Vachon
*WWF Light Heavyweight Championship
Match:  Taka Michinoku (Champion) vs. Aguila
*15 Team Tag Team Battle Royal
Monday Night War Rating:  3.6 (vs. 4.6 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

MeekinOnMovies on….The WWE Network

I can’t remember who said it, but some guy once said humans have an implicit need to steal or get away with it. Going 70 in a 65 MPH zone. Buy-one-get-ones at stores. Pasting a webpage from target into a word document and altering the price of the first season of house to 9.99 to force Walmart to price match when you bring in the print out. Using one of those pre-paid Visa cards to ring up a bunch of Redbox Rentals and never return them. Paying ONLY 9.99 a month for a Netflix subscription with thousands of movies and shows and sharing your login with 5 or 6 friends. <redacted due to Google Ad-sense shenanigans, but it rhymes with preening and abhorrent(ing) > Movies and TV shows on premium cable networks we don’t have.

I never felt this way about pro-wrestling, ever. I have never said “oh, what a steal!”. In 2013 the WWE got roughly 100 dollars of my money and I want it all back. I purchased The Royal Rumble (only to have Rock V. Punk cut out on me), and Wrestlemania only to be wholly disappointed. Dollar signs danced in my head while heckling ‘You paid WHAT?!”, while visions of video games, gas in my car, and hardcore pornography I could have had instead assaulted the part of your conscience that perks up when you engage in any guilty pleasure (This part of my brain burnt out briefly during the Nicole Bass era).

Looking at that bill sometime in May, I felt ripped off and journeyed down the dark path of dailymotion and other none-too-reputable sites in order to get my premium pro-wrestling fix. “Well, fuck them,” I thought, “I gave em 100 bucks I’ve earned it”. 

Of course, I hadn’t. I was stealing, which is wrong. If the WWE Network is all it’s cracked up to be, well suddenly I’m not stealing, but feel like I am.


While dwindling(ish) PPV buy-rates and lower ratings probably
have a bit to do with the product – Cena, Orton, Triple H (FUCKING
STILL?!), and a lack of a mid-card you can root for, I think more of it
has to do with the way we humans consume media these days.

Namely we do it on our own terms for a ‘reasonable’ fee. While my parents handle the cable, I toss in about 40 bucks a month for Netflix, Amazon Prime, Xbox Live Gold, and Spotify to ensure ‘There’s nothing on!’ is never uttered in the house of a proud TV school graduate. 9.99 a month for lots of content is a lot easier to swallow than a one-time, semi-annual, expectation heavy,  60 dollar payment for a 3 hour wrestling PPV. 60 dollars is 6 months of Netflix. 60 dollars is 6 months of Amazon Instant Watch. 60 dollars is of 6 months of Spotify. 60 dollars is a video game which provides literally quadruple the longevity.

90 percent of the time the shame and frustration spiral
of googling <redacted due to Google ad-sense, it rhymes with SHEE
PREAM> is so much easier that you almost forget it’s wrong. Andy PG made a point to say that for all our bitching about the direction of the company, when they finally do something we like, like push Daniel Bryan, we reward them by pirating their PPVs then bemoaning out-loud that the low buy-rate will result in a depush for our chosen golden calf (goat).

Thus I can’t help but feel that this is the WWE’s genuine attempt to reach us hardcore fans on a qausi-budget. The people who discuss this stuff with passion and fervor and post reviews of WWE shows from 1984 and posts thousands of comments EVERY SINGLE MONDAY about Raw. I mean for Christ Sake this thing started out as a wrestling blog and now it feels like some sort of community. It all started because we like wrestling (and Scott Keith I presume). 

This is the WWE reaching out for a handshake and saying ‘Hey guys, meet us half way,” as they slowly extend their other hand, slyly reaching into our pockets, hoping we don’t notice that they’re secretly getting more money from some of us over the course of a year than they ever have before. 

We notice. But we don’t mind because a handshake that firm has to mean well. 

Random Thoughts:

1. This won’t be on Xbox One until Summer, after Wrestlemania.
2. I guess Benoit will be featured in content, which is good, with a disclaimer.
3. One thing I’d love to see is an ‘Indies Hub’ where promotions with quality video work can get featured and seen by a wide audience.
4. It’s only 720p. Does anyone know if typical WWE PPVs are shot in 1080p?

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – March 17, 1998

Jim Ross and
Michael Cole are in the booth and they are taped from Phoenix, Arizona.  This is a special Tuesday St. Patrick’s
edition of Raw because Raw was pre-empted by USA Network’s Moby Dick.  Today, RAW would get cute with this being St.
Patrick’s Day, but this is the Attitude Era so we do not have leprechauns or
green set themes for this show.

Kevin Kelly
interviews Ken Shamrock and his introduction of Shamrock tries to channel
Howard Finkel and fails miserably.  Kelly
asks Shamrock if he can control his temper at WrestleMania and Shamrock says
that the Rock has to worry the most about him losing his temper.  Intercontinental Champion the Rock and the
Nation of Domination walk out and the Rock busts out the first “Know your role
and shut your mouth.”  The Rock says that
if Shamrock can last two minutes with any member of the Nation that he will
defend his title against Shamrock and drafts a reluctant D-Lo Brown to do his
bidding.  Shamrock’s mic work here was
better than normal and the Rock continues to bring the usual
entertainment.  1 for 1
Opening Two
Minute Challenge:  Ken Shamrock beats
D-Lo Brown by disqualification when the Rock interferes at 1:48:
D-Lo attacks Shamrock from behind to kick off this
challenge and the crowd busies itself with a “Rocky sucks” chant.  D-Lo gets through the first minute without
difficulty, but Shamrock turns the tide and puts him in the ankle lock.  Before D-Lo can submit with twelve seconds
left in the challenge, the Rock nails Shamrock with a chair and then gives him
another sick shot to the head.  As WWF
officials tend to a knocked out Shamrock, Faarooq argues with the Rock about
his actions and the Rock jaws with fans on the way back to the locker
room.  THIS is how to build heel heat.
Kelly says that
Shamrock has suffered a concussion and other elements of his medical condition
are uncertain.  Shamrock is shown not
wanting to go to the hospital and woozy.
Sable comes out
and challenges Luna Vachon to a match tonight.
The Phoenix Sun
gorilla rappels from the rafters, trampolines into the ring, and jumps around
before taking up a position at the broadcast booth.
Jeff Jarrett
(w/Tennessee Lee) defeats Tom Brandi via submission to the figure-four leglock
at 1:48:
Jarrett makes his entrance on a horse in electric
lights.  Jarrett’s rebooted push
continues here against the hapless Brandi whose fifteen minutes of fame with
Marc Mero and Sable are long game.  At
least Jarrett does some setup for the figure-four this week.
Kelly tells us
that Shamrock is being sent to the hospital, but the Rock interrupts his report
and says that he is now worried about who he is going to face at WrestleMania
since Shamrock won’t be able to make it.
Lawrence Taylor’s
victory over Bam Bam Bigelow at WrestleMania XI is the M&M WrestleMania
Millennium Moment.
A video package
hypes the Shawn Michaels-Steve Austin WrestleMania main event by providing
comprehensive retrospectives on Shawn Michaels career.  The good thing about this video package is
that it puts over the importance of the main event and the WWF title and puts a
focus on the future and not on the past, which is a problem with the product
today.
Handicap
Match:  The Headbangers (NWA Tag Team
Champions) beat The Rock N’ Roll Express & Jim Cornette when Mosh pins
Ricky Morton with the Stage Dive at 2:06:
This grew out of a Superstars match where Cornette pinned
Mosh after the Headbangers beat the Rock N’ Roll Express in a title defense
after the usual NWA shenanigans.  The
Headbangers hit the Stage Dive out of nowhere to win this without Cornette ever
being part of the match.  However, when
the Headbangers try to beat up Cornette, the repackaged Bart Gunn and Bob Holly
come out and attack them.  Cornette
announces them as the New Midnight Express and they are now named “Bombastic”
Bob and “Bodacious” Bart.  Cornette has
the New Express beat up the Rock N’ Roll Express because the Rock N’ Roll
Express has done a poor job protecting him. 
Since the New Midnight Express did not have the old Midnight Express’s
awesome theme music this was a failure out of the gate much like the rest of
the NWA angle.  (2 for 3)
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear what the plan is for D-Generation X to eliminate Steve
Austin before WrestleMania!
Gennifer Flowers
says that Shawn Michaels could be her “boy toy” anytime, that Steve Austin
would not be “stone cold” with her, and that she could make the Undertaker rise
from the dead.  So that’s who we can
blame for American badass Undertaker…
The Phoenix Sun
gorilla keeps jumping around in the ring and unveils a “Gorilla 3:16”
t-shirt.  Kane and Paul Bearer take
exception to that as the lights go out and Kane lays the Gorilla to waste.  HUGE heel heat for that.  3 for
4
Jerry Lawler comes
out to do commentary for hour two
.
Footage is shown
of European Champion Owen Hart breaking his ankle against Barry Windham on last
week’s show.  He comes out to do
commentary for the next match.  They
clearly edit out a part where Ross tells the fans to quit reaching over the
guardrail and messing with the commentators.
Chainsaw Charlie
beats Billy Gunn (w/The Road Dogg) by disqualification at 2:23:
This was setup from last week’s show where Gunn nailed
Charlie in the back with a chair.  Ross
tells the fans that the tag team championship match at WrestleMania will be a
dumpster match.  The Road Dogg proceeds
to commentate the match on the house mic and when things get sour for Billy
after he refuses to pin Charlie after two piledrivers, the Road Dogg runs in
and creates the disqualification.  After
the bell, Charlie fights off the heels, gives Gunn a DDT on a tag team title
belt, and Cactus Jack comes out to help Charlie tie up Road Dogg by the feet
and lift him several feet in the air. 
Nice segment that allows the faces to get revenge for the attack the Outlaws launched against
Cactus and Charlie on last week’s show.  (4 for 5)
Steve Austin’s
bullying of Vince McMahon on last week’s show is the Bop It Slam of the Week.
Luna Vachon tells
the announcers from the backstage area that she accepts Sable’s challenge, but
it will be at a time that she decides
.
Vince McMahon
walks out to a chorus of boos and is interviewed by Kevin Kelly.  McMahon considers Austin’s conduct on last
week’s show unprofessional, but considers it somewhat justified by Mike Tyson
joining D-Generation X.  McMahon gets
tired of Kelly going back to last week’s footage and says he did not hit Steve
Austin last week because he wanted to save the WrestleMania main event since he
would have broken Austin’s jaw.  When
asked if he wants to see Austin win the WWF title at WrestleMania, McMahon says
that if Austin would be willing to be molded into the WWF’s corporate image
that would be okay for the company, but if he won the title in present form it
would be a public relations disaster. 
McMahon says that Austin and WWF fans cannot handle his answer, but when
Kelly presses him for an answer, McMahon relents and says his answer is not
only a “no,” but a “hell no.”  McMahon
hits another segment out of the park here as McMahon gradually morphed into the
Mr. McMahon character over the course of the interview and let his disdain of
Austin be publicly aired.  5 for 6
Ross says that
Lucky Luke and Prince have been chosen to rap Mike Tyson to the ring at
WrestleMania.  Owen makes me laugh by
saying that he hates rap.  A Tyson video
package is aired
.
Steve Austin gets
a career retrospective video package to hype his participation in the
WrestleMania main event.  It talks about
his WCW firing and Ringmaster gimmick.
Triple H walks out
and questions Owen’s manhood.  He
challenges Owen to a European title match tonight and when Owen refuses, Triple
H tosses water in his face and pushes him down. 
This leads to a brawl that leads to…
European
Championship Match:  Triple H (w/Chyna)
beats Owen Hart (Champion) by referee stoppage at 45 seconds to win the title:
Owen pounds on Triple H on the floor and tosses him into
the ring, but Triple H distracts the referee, thereby allowing Chyna to smash a
baseball bat into Owen’s injured ankle and roll him into the ring.  Triple H puts Owen in an ankle lock and the
referee stops the match to give Triple H his then-record setting second
European title reign.  You really want to
root for Owen in this feud, but it is becoming increasingly impossible when
he’s made to look like a fool each week. 
You would almost think that is the point of all this…
Confrontation:  Sable (w/Marc Mero) and Luna Vachon
(w/Goldust):
Both women come out to confront the other and brawl, but
WWF officials will not allow it to take place and the fans are not very
happy.  Mero and Goldust assist by
holding their valets back, leading the crowd to work up a “Let them go!”
chant.  Sable eventually gets free of
Mero and chokes Luna and rips her clothes as the crowd explodes.  At the end of the segment, Sable appears to
have suffered a knee injury.  The booking
team went way overboard on the injury angles this week.
The lights go out
and Kane returns and in a really awesome heel move Mero flees the ring to “get
help,” thereby leaving Sable alone.  Sable
begs for her life when the lights go out again and the Undertaker shows up on
top of the Titantron and tells Kane that he felt his wrath at the Royal Rumble
and now it is time for him to feel his. 
The Undertaker uses his powers to set a casket that has Kane in effigy
alight as we go off the air.  Everything
from the Sable-Luna brawl through this shows in about five minutes why the
Attitude Era was an awesome time to be a fan. 
6 for 7
The Final Report Card:  Since the WWF was not facing competition from
WCW with this show they decided to use it to hype the WrestleMania main event
with two long video packages for Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin, which was a
good move.  The show also played up the
“WWF corporate executives do not want Austin to be the WWF champion” and it was
the first time that Vince McMahon portrayed a heel character on WWF television
(although USWA fans saw an early version of the character in 1993).  Good effort this week in exposing the product
to new fans and any WCW fans that were starved for wrestling action on a
Tuesday night.
Monday Night War Rating:  N/A

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

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 – March 2, 1998

by Logan Scisco

A video package
recaps the confrontation between Steve Austin and Mike Tyson on January 19th.
Jim Ross, Michael
Cole, and Kevin Kelly are doing commentary for the first hour and they are live
from Cleveland, Ohio
.

D-Generation X
comes out and Triple H says that the road to WrestleMania has begun.  He says Owen Hart is wearing his European
title and that he is going to end his reign at WrestleMania.  WWF Champion Shawn Michaels says that DX is
going to make Mike Tyson an offer he cannot refuse.  Michaels offers some generic comments about
his WrestleMania bout with Steve Austin, which brings Austin out.  However, before Austin can say anything, the
lights go out and Kane walks out as DX flees. 
Paul Bearer tells Austin that Kane will prevent him from going to
WrestleMania.  They go to the locker
room, so Austin goes to the announce table, pushes Cole out of his seat, and
cuts a promo saying that he is ready to face Kane and Tyson tonight and he will
beat Kane with the lights on or off. 
Decent opening segment to get things rolling (1 for 1)
Mike Tyson, Shane
McMahon, and his entourage are shown entering the arena.
-The Outlaws come
to the ring in neck braces and there is a dumpster close to the ring.  The Outlaws show footage from their camera
from last week’s attack by Chainsaw Charlie and Cactus Jack, argue that Charlie
and Cactus will be charged with first degree murder, and that they cannot
defend the titles due to their medical condition.  Commissioner Slaughter gets on the Titantron
and says that the Outlaws will wrestle this evening and will defend the tag
team championships.
Opening Contest
for the WWF Tag Team Championship:  The
Disciples of Apocalypse beat The New Age Outlaws (Champions) by count out at
1:24:
This is a quick match that resembles a street fight as
Billy Gunn blasts 8-Ball with one of the tag team title belts and then Skull is
whipped into the nearby dumpster.  As the
Outlaws approach the dumpster, Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie jump out and
the Outlaws flee into the crowd.  Coupled
with the Outlaws interview segment before the match this was entertaining.  (2 for
2)
A video package chronicles
the tensions between Marc Mero, Sable, Goldust, and Luna Vachon.
Salt-N-Pepa’s
performance at WrestleMania XI is our weekly WrestleMania Millennium Moment
.
“Marvelous” Marc
Mero (w/Sable) beats Tom Brandi with a TKO at 2:41:
Brandi has become an afterthought as the Mero-Sable
program has transitioned to Goldust and Luna Vachon and he gets the jobber
entrance for this match.  Sable is sent
to the back before the match, since Mero think she is getting too big of a
crowd reaction.  A minute into the match
Luna Vachon walks out and trips Brandi when he runs the ropes and that sets up
a low blow and TKO from Mero.
After the match,
Luna gets into the ring to celebrate with Mero and kisses him.  Mero does not care for that and Goldust hits
the ring and ambushes Mero.  A beatdown
results until Sable runs in and makes the save. 
Mero berates Sable for helping him and Sable pushes him to the canvas
and Mero flees.  I don’t really care for Mero
running away from Sable, since that makes very little sense from a practical
point-of-view, but the crowd loved seeing Sable beat up Luna.
European
Championship Match:  Mark Henry beats
Owen Hart (Champion) by disqualification when Chyna interferes at 5:40:
Before the bout, Commissioner Slaughter bars other
members of the Nation of Domination from standing around ringside.  During the first minute of the match Chyna
walks out and that helps Henry obtain control of the match.  It takes three times for Owen to lock in the
Sharpshooter, but Chyna distracts him and forces him to release it.  Chyna pushes Owen off the top rope and into a
Henry bearhug, but before Owen’s hand will drop for the third time and give
Henry the title, she gets in the ring and gives him a low blow.  A fun big man-little man match that combined
some nice psychology and did a nice job furthering the storyline of DX wanting
to weaken Owen before WrestleMania.  This
was probably Henry’s best match in the WWF up to this point.  Rating:  **½ (3 for 3)
Vince McMahon is
shown talking to Mike Tyson backstage.
Taka Michinoku
& The Headbangers defeat Barry Windham & The Rock N’ Roll Express (w/Jim
Cornette) when Thrasher pins Robert Gibson after hitting him with Cornette’s
tennis racket at 1:46:
Windham must not care anymore because he has not bothered
to remove his entrance gear while wrestling in his last several matches.  This match barely gets going before all hell
breaks loose and the WWF TV crew misses the finish.  As the Headbangers celebrate, Cornette
challenges them to defend their NWA tag team titles against the Rock N’ Roll
Express next week.
As we enter hour
two, Lawler joins Ross for commentary
.
Vince McMahon
comes out to a chorus of boos, which he considers surprising, and introduces
Mike Tyson.  D-Generation X walks out
amid a sea of WWF officials and McMahon is not happy, fearing that this is
going to be Austin-Tyson II.  Shawn
Michaels tells Tyson that DX is not out to disrespect him and he calls him out.  Tyson says he is ready to go and McMahon is
seemingly resigned to having it happen, so everyone clears the ring.  This immediately gets the fans attention and
they do a staredown, but Michaels rips off Tyson’s WWF Attitude shirt to reveal
a DX shirt underneath.  It’s funny to see
Tyson as excited as an eight year old doing the DX crotch chops.  McMahon is not happy with this storyline
development since it means that Tyson is not going to be an impartial enforcer
at WrestleMania.  (4 for 4)
After the
commercial break, DX and Tyson’s crew are shown celebrating in the locker room
.
Steve Blackman
beats Kama Mustafa by disqualification when the Nation of Domination interferes
at 3:02:
Like Mark Henry’s match, Commissioner Slaughter bars the
Nation of Domination from ringside.  This
is Blackman’s third match against a Nation of Domination member in as many
weeks.  Blackman and Kama go back and
forth for a few minutes until Blackman catches Kama with a pump kick and ties
him up in an armbar submission, which leads to a Nation run in and beatdown
before Ken Shamrock makes the save. 
Throwaway bout that probably sets up a tag team match of some sort next
week.  Rating:  *½ (4 for 5)
Tennessee Lee,
Robert Fuller’s WWF gimmick which is just putting lipstick on a pig of his
Colonel Robert Parker WCW gimmick, makes his debut and introduces the repackaged
Jeff Jarrett, who has moved away from the NWA faction and reverted to his old
1993-1995 gimmick.  You know, the one
that he denounced as comic and ridiculous when he returned to the company a few
months ago.  Jarrett says that the NWA
could not handle him and Lee is the world’s greatest promoter so that is why he
has joined him.
Jeff Jarrett (w/Tennessee
Lee) beats Flash Funk via submission to the figure-four leg lock at 3:32:
As Jarrett is repackaged, Funk is heading that way as
well as he is growing his hair out and ditching the hat and other elements of
his entrance attire.  Funk seems to have
the match in hand, but Lee crotches him on the top rope when he goes for the
Funky Flash Splash and Jarrett applies the figure-four leg lock for the
submission.  I hate when wrestlers have a
submission hold and have not worked over the body part during the match.  Rating:  *¾ (4 for 6)
Gennifer Flowers
is introduced as a celebrity for WrestleMania XIV.  For those who are no attune to 1990s
politics, Flowers allegedly had a decade-long relationship with President Bill
Clinton when he was governor of Arkansas.
Cole interviews
D-Generation X and Mike Tyson in the locker room and DX says that Tyson has
joined because they are the hottest act going.
A video package
recaps the breakup of the Legion of Doom and their history in the WWF.
Steve Austin comes
out to wrestle Kane, but is attacked by D-Generation X and knocked out by Shawn
Michaels with Sweet Chin Music.
After the
commercial break, Paul Bearer and Kane are still in the ring and Bearer sends
Kane to get the timekeeper.  On his way
there Kane beats up a fan in an Austin 3:16 shirt and the timekeeper is forced
to ring the bell ten times in memory of the Undertaker.  After the timekeeper rings the bell, Kane
destroys him with a chokeslam and Tombstone. 
Bearer says that Kane has one Tombstone left and Lawler humorously
points to Ross at the announce table. 
Suddenly the Undertaker’s music hits and the lights go off and after the
bells toll ten times, in a nice piece of continuity, lightning hits a casket by
the entrance and the Undertaker emerges. 
The Undertaker goes into a Shakespearean soliloquy where he says he told
his parents in the other world that he would have to face Kane.  Kane makes fire appear near the entrance, but
the Undertaker walks through the flames and tells Kane that no one will be
there to save him at WrestleMania.  The
Undertaker’s promo started to become a parody with all of the discussion of
darkness and hell, but it closed well and the lead up to the Undertaker’s
return was well done.  (5 for 7)
The Final Report Card:  A very important show in the WrestleMania
build as Tyson seemingly aligns with D-Generation X, which stacks the deck
against Steve Austin in the WWF title match, and the Undertaker returns to make
a WrestleMania bout against Kane official. 
There were probably some fans that were angry about the bait and switch
pulled with the Austin-Kane main event, but there was no way that match was
taking place considering how protected both men were at this point.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.8 (vs. 4.8 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up