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

by Logan Scisco

Steve Austin unsuccessful in getting into Vince McMahon’s office in the locker
room area.
Jim Ross and Jerry
“The King” Lawler are doing commentary and they are taped from Des Moines,
Iowa.

A hearse backs up
into the arena to the “Highway to Hell” song, but Steve Austin comes out the
driver’s side door, pulls out a casket, and then opens the casket to grab a
beer.  Austin walks to the ring and calls
Vince McMahon out.  After some delay,
McMahon arrives with his stooges.  Austin
pledges to beat the Undertaker in the ring tonight and stuff him in the hearse
he brought to the arena.  He warns
McMahon to get out of his way because otherwise, he is going to end up in the
hearse himself.  A simple segment that
gave some motivation for Austin’s actions later in the show.  1 for
1
Get a big poster
of Triple H when you buy Stridex pads!
Opening Triple
Threat Contest:  Dan Severn defeats Ken
Shamrock and Owen Hart when he makes Shamrock submit to a dragon sleeper at 4:43:
This was the first time that Shamrock and Severn opposed
each other in a WWF ring, but they do not mix it up, as Severn just watches
Shamrock fight Owen during the match. 
After three and a half minutes, Severn finally gets involved by breaking
up a Shamrock pin attempt and then putting him in a dragon sleeper to break up
the ankle lock.  It’s about time someone
used that strategy in a triple threat match. 
Rating:  **½ (2 for 2)
After
the bell, Severn refuses to release the hold until Steve Blackman comes out and
Severn proceeds to put Blackman in a dragon sleeper.  As Severn leaves the ring, he gives Owen a
high five, thereby turning heel.  When
Shamrock comes to, he gets in Commissioner Slaughter’s face about what just
took place.
Brawl for All Semi-Finals:  Bart Gunn defeats The Godfather (w/Hos) via
knockout at 20 seconds of the third round:
“Bill Clinton” calls into the show and makes some Monica
Lewinsky jokes.  The Godfather refuses to
let Bart Gunn choose the ho option since Bart attacked him on last week’s
show.  The Godfather lands a few hard
jabs, but Bart lands some hard shots at the end of the second round and
proceeds to knock him out with a right hand in the third.  Bart gloats to Ross about his victory after
the bout.  3 for 3
Ken Shamrock and
Steve Blackman are shown tossing things around the locker room as they search
for Owen Hart and Dan Severn.
Michael Cole says
that Owen Hart’s special trainer for the Lion’s Den match at SummerSlam will be
Dan Severn.
Gangrel beats
“Too Sexy” Brian Christopher (w/Scott Taylor) with an Implant DDT at 1:03:
This was Gangrel’s RAW debut.  It’s a shame that the character never went
anywhere because it had one of the best entrances in wrestling history.  Edge takes an interest in Gangrel’s entrance,
raising his sunglasses to get a better view from the crowd.  Gangrel makes short work of Christopher in
what is a somewhat sloppy squash.
Ken Shamrock tells
Cole that he is going to break every bone in Owen Hart’s body at
SummerSlam.  Cole runs away as Shamrock
and Steve Blackman continue to break things. 
Blackman breaks things in the most unemotional way possible, which
cracks me up.
D-Generation X and
the Nation of Domination, who are scheduled to face off in a street fight later
tonight, are shown brawling backstage as WWF officials desperately try to break
things up.
The Disciples of
Apocalypse (w/Paul Ellering) beat Scorpio & Faarooq when Skull pins Scorpio
with a small package after an illegal switch at 4:31:
“President Clinton” calls back in and gloats about the
state of the economy.  Scorpio and
Faarooq were undefeated up to this point, but the greatness that is DOA must be
continued at all costs and they lose here. 
In fairness, the loss happens in cheap fashion, as the DX-Nation brawl descends
on the ringside area and distracts the referee, who misses Scorpio pinning
8-Ball after a 450.  Scorpio made this
match better than one might expect, but the wrong team went over.  Rating:  **¼ (3 for 4)
Call 815-734-1161
to get your Steve Austin Bad to the Bone t-shirt for $25 (plus $6 shipping
& handling)!
Street
Fight:  The Nation of Domination wrestle
D-Generation X to a no contest at 6:24:
For this match, the combatants are allowed to bring
whatever weapons they like to the ring, but no one is ingenious enough to
bring the kitchen sink.  This is actually
four-on-three, since the Godfather getting knocked out earlier in the show
precluded him from participating. 
There’s tons of head trauma in this from the weapons shots, and it is
somewhat unsettling to hear Jim Ross casually remark on the possibility of
concussions.  Near the end of the bout,
Jeff Jarrett and Southern Justice attack X-Pac and Jarrett cuts off some of
X-Pac’s hair.  Jarrett and Southern
Justice allow the Nation to isolate Triple H, who beat him down with a ladder,
thereby planting the seeds for the type of match that will take place between
the Rock and Triple H at SummerSlam.  In
a puzzling development, the Nation choose to just walk out after this beatdown
instead of pinning Triple H, so that gives us a no contest.  Then again, the carnage lets us know who the
real winners were.  This was a fun brawl
that advanced two storylines for SummerSlam 
Rating:  *** (4 for 5)
Tiger Ali Singh
gives $500 to a fan for licking between his servant Babu’s toes.  You see, Babu has been working out all day
and is nasty.  The less said about this
segment the better.  4 for 6
Sable interfering
in the Luna Vachon-Jacqueline match on last week’s show is the Stridex Triple
Action segment.
Arm Wrestling
Match:  Sable beats Jacqueline by
disqualification:
This stemmed from a challenge that Jacqueline issued on
Sunday Night Heat.  There are few gimmick
matches in wrestling that I hate more than arm wrestling contests.  This is no exception as Jacqueline pulls her
hand away when Sable is going to win and turns the table over on her.  Jacqueline then breaks the bikini contest
trophy over Sable’s back before the Oddities make the save.  So, we’ve had disqualifications in a bikini
contest AND an arm wrestling match between these two!  4 for
7
Cole interviews
Val Venis, who is facing Kaientai in a gauntlet match tonight.  Venis says he is conditioned to “run all
night long.”
Darren Drozdov
shows us his tattoos on the latest installment of “Droz’s World.”  I’m not sure what the purpose of these
segments happens to be since they aren’t giving Droz a sustained push at the
moment.
Brawl for All
Semi-Finals:  Bradshaw defeats Darren
Drozdov via decision:
Droz’s “tale of the tape” emphasizes his ability to puke
on command.  I wonder if that would be
against the rules of the Brawl for All. 
This is a good slugfest and Bradshaw blocks several of Droz’s takedown
attempts.  Bradshaw lands more punches
and advances to the finals next week against Bart Gunn.  5 for
8
The announcers
tell us that Al Snow is back in the WWF. 
No reason is given as to why that King of the Ring stipulation was not
upheld, but there you have it.  Al Snow
talks with Head at a bar and mocks how he is returning to the WWF to be part of
the “JOB Squad.”
Dustin Runnels
reminds us that our bodies are a temple.
Sable comes out
and demands Jacqueline to come out and fight. 
Jacqueline and Marc Mero appear on the Titantron and Jacqueline responds
by challenging Sable to a mixed tag match at SummerSlam.  Before Sable can issue a response, the
Oddities burst into Mero and Jacqueline’s locker room and attack them.  Won’t heels ever learn that allowing your
opponent to choose a mystery partner never turns out well?
Cole reminds us of
Steve Austin’s promise earlier in the show.
Gauntlet
Match:  Kaientai (w/Yamaguchi-San) beats
Val Venis when Taka Michinoku pins Venis after a Michinoku Driver at 7:55:
Order of
Elimination:  Venis pins Men’s Teioh with
a fisherman’s suplex at 1:12; Venis pins Funaki with a powerslam at 1:26; Venis
pins Dick Togo with the Money Shot at 4:20
The stipulation for this match is that if Venis wins that
he gets five minutes with Yamaguchi-San. 
“President Clinton” calls in for the last time to make more jokes about
Ms. Lewinsky.  This has some good work
rate, especially the Togo and Michinoku portions, but the crowd does not care
because they have been conditioned to see Kaientai as a joke.  Venis runs through three of Kaintenai’s
members, but Michinoku beats him clean.  Rating: 
*** (6 for 9)
-After the bout,
Kaientai pound away on Venis and then Mrs. Yamaguchi-San comes out to slap
him.  However, Venis grabs a squirt gun
shaped like a penis and squirts it all over his adversaries, causing them to flee.  I could have done without all of that.
The Undertaker and
Steve Austin come out for their confrontation, but when the Undertaker throws
his hair back we find out that it is actually Kane.  Kane and Austin brawl back to the hearse,
where Austin tosses Kane into the back. 
However, when Austin goes to drive away, he cannot get in and the
Undertaker is shown in the driver’s seat. 
The Undertaker drives away as “Highway to Hell” is played over the
loudspeakers.  This was a great ending
for the show and I always mark out a little when I see that the Undertaker is
in the front seat.  7 for 10
The Final Report Card:  The rating of the show seemed to be hurt by
the lack of Austin segments, but I was okay with not having the main event
angle dominate the show.  We have had our
fair share of the Undertaker, Kane, Mankind, and Austin in recent months so it
was good to get a break from all of it. 
Despite the rating, this show had two good
Brawl for All matches and gave the audience an entertaining street fight and
gauntlet match.  You cannot ask for much
more than that during this era.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.2 (vs. 4.9 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – August 10, 1998

by Logan Scisco

Mankind is shown
smashing up the boiler room underneath the arena and ranting about something.
A video package
recaps Mankind getting hit over the head with a chair by the Undertaker on last
week’s show and how the Undertaker, dressed as Kane, attacked Mankind on Sunday
Night Heat.
Jim Ross and Jerry
“The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Omaha, Nebraska.

Mankind walks out
and demands to hear the truth from Vince McMahon, who has always leveled with
him.  McMahon tentatively comes into the
ring and cuts a Gilded Age promo about how he loathes people who need his help.  McMahon tells Mankind that Kane and the
Undertaker are working together and do not care about him, which brings out
Kane and Paul Bearer.  Bearer accuses McMahon
of trying to poison his son’s mind, to which McMahon suddenly freaks out and
accuses the Undertaker of being underneath Kane’s mask.  McMahon goes to rip Kane’s mask off, but the
lights suddenly go out.  When they come
back on the Undertaker has McMahon by the throat, but Mankind sacrifices
himself for McMahon and Bearer also gets decked.  Today’s creative team needs to watch the way
that this story was developed because it had lots of interesting twists and
turns.  1 for 1
The Undertaker is
shown walking into Kane’s dressing room backstage.
Luna Vachon (w/Sable
& The Oddities) beats Jacqueline (w/Marc Mero) with a splash off the top
rope at 2:25:
Sable continues her on-screen connection to the Oddities
by introducing Luna for this match.  As
expected, Sable interferes by tripping Jacqueline when she climbs to the top
rope and that allows Luna to win.  After
the match, Sable gives Luna the bikini contest trophy that Jacqueline and Mero
have carried around the ring.  Ross puts
over how Sable is making the Oddities feel good about themselves.  What segment of the fan base were the
Oddities supposed to appeal to?
Michael Cole tells
us that Steve Austin is not happy because he has to worry about what the
Undertaker is doing and he isn’t happy about having to defend the tag team
titles in a four corners match tonight.
We get the first
showing of the Highway to Hell music video for SummerSlam.  I still get excited seeing this video sixteen
years later.
Brawl for All
Quarter-Finals:  Darren Drozdov beats
Savio Vega via decision:
Although Droz and Hawk fought to a draw in the first
round, Droz advanced because Hawk was in no condition for a rematch.  Droz takes down Savio a few times and nearly
knocks Savio out at the end of the third round. 
He advances to the semi-finals in a dull contest.  1 for
2
Triple H and Chyna
are shown arriving at the arena, but X-Pac isn’t with them.  Is D-Generation X falling apart?
Call 815-734-1161
to get your Steve Austin Bad to the Bone t-shirt for $25 (plus $6 shipping
& handling)!
Cole interviews
Chyna, who tells him to suck it and pushes him into a car.  That sounds a little more dirty than I meant
it.
Ross and Lawler
discuss how Jeff Jarrett and Southern Justice beat up Tennessee Lee on Sunday
Night Heat, thereby ending Lee’s brief WWF stint.
LOD 2000 are
scheduled to face Southern Justice, but Hawk’s substance abuse problems rear
their ugly head again as Hawk is startled by the fireworks during the LOD’s
entrance and falls off the ramp.  WWF
officials refuse to let Hawk compete, so Southern Justice beat up Animal before
Droz makes the save.  However, Jeff
Jarrett hits the ring, blasts Droz with a guitar, and shaves part of his head.  At least this is giving Jarrett an edge to
his character.  2 for 3
X-Pac is shown
arriving at the arena alone.
Get a big poster
of Triple H when you buy Stridex pads!
The members of
D-Generation X come out to the ring individually.  X-Pac cuts off Triple H’s opening promo by
saying that he’s tired of him “and his bitch.” 
DX members take turns calling each other jack offs and realize that they
have things in common.  Chyna interrupts
them trying to moon the crowd, which they call “the DX split,” before doing it
herself.  You see, we’ve all been fooled
by DX wanting to split up!  Triple H
tries to get another female fan to take her top off, but she refuses.  2 for
4
Cole interviews
Steve Austin in the locker room, but ends getting tossed into the shower.  Be a star, Steve!
Bart Gunn comes by
the announce table and tells Ross that he is tired of getting disrespected for
beating Steve Williams in the Brawl for All.
Our next match is
supposed to be The Godfather-Vader, but Vader chooses to take the Godfather’s
hos rather than fight.  After leaving the
ring, Vader tells Bart Gunn that he had better knock the Godfather out next
week, to which Gunn knocks Vader out with a left hand and attacks the
Godfather.  So whenever Vader “wins” he
really loses!  2 for 5
Val Venis and John
Wayne Bobbitt are shown arriving to the arena in a limo.
Dustin Runnels
tells us that the next segment contains explicit content.  He urges viewers to watch quality, wholesome
programming instead, such as a special about reptiles on the Discovery
Channel.  For those not familiar with
this era, Runnels character was a jab at evangelical Christian forces that were
criticizing the content of WWF programming during this period.
Val Venis is
wheeled to the ring by John Wayne Bobbitt and Mrs. Yamaguchi-San.  For those unfamiliar with 1990s popular
culture, Bobbitt became famous for his wife severing his penis while he slept
in 1993.  Lawler interviews Venis, who
has an ice bag on his groin, and Venis says he is now half the man he used to
be.  However, he’s just fooling us as he
rips off his clothes to reveal his ring attire. 
He says the cold cutting board he was on, some timely “shrinkage,” and
Bobbitt turning off the light as Yamaguchi-San came down with his sword helped
him avoid problems.  Amazing how all of
those things came together at once!  Sort
of like Washington fleeing Brooklyn Heights with the Continental Army during
the American Revolution!  Lawler makes
some puns about the situation and Venis ends the segment by kicking Mrs.
Yamaguchi-San to the curb because she brought him too much trouble.  Venis tosses her a double AA battery as she
leaves.  This was ridiculous on so many
levels.  2 for 6
Edge is shown
hanging out in the crowd.
Brawl for All
Quarter-Finals:  Bradshaw beats
“Marvelous” Marc Mero via decision:
In another case of a loser advancing, Mero made it into
the quarter-finals after Steve Blackman suffered a knee injury.  Mero is able to land a few good punches, but
he is still vulnerable to takedowns, which is how Bradshaw keeps the bout
even.  Bradshaw is clearly gassed by the
third round, but Mero cannot land a knockout. 
Another round is used as a tiebreaker when everything ends up tied after
regulation and for all intents and purposes, there should have been a fifth
round because the fourth followed the same pattern of Mero landing more punches
and Bradshaw landing a takedown.  But you
know, TV time constraints and all.  In
retrospect, the WWF should have banned takedowns from this competition because
guys going for takedowns all ruined a lot of bouts.  2 for
7
The Undertaker
tells Cole that he will do his explaining in the ring tonight.
The Undertaker’s
beatdown of Mankind on Sunday Night Heat is the Stridex Triple Action segment.
Four Corners
Match for the WWF Tag Team Championship: 
Kane & Mankind beat Steve Austin & The Undertaker (Champions),
The New Age Outlaws, and The Rock & D-Lo Brown to win the titles when Kane
pins the Undertaker with a chokeslam at 14:29:
Ross and Lawler make clear that partners cannot pin each
other, which is how the Outlaws defended the titles in a multi-team match a few
months prior to this.  This is the
so-called “Outlaws rule.”  Owen Hart is
supposed to be the Rock’s partner, but Ken Shamrock knocks him out of the match
with an ankle lock before the opening bell, so D-Lo Brown takes Owen’s
place.  In a funny bit, Mankind does not
want to stand next to Kane in his team’s corner, so he chooses to stand near
the Rock when he tags out o D-Lo.  The Rock
doesn’t take kindly to this and demands Mankind go back to his proper place.  It’s really amazing how organic the “Rocky
sucks” chants are too, as the crowd just starts chanting it at random intervals
of the match, even when the Rock isn’t in the ring.  Kane solemnly stands in the corner when all
hell breaks loose, where Mankind tags him, and Kane proceeds to give the
Undertaker one chokeslam to regain the titles for his team.  After the bell, the Undertaker rises to his
feet, not selling the damage Kane just inflicted upon him, and he stares at
Austin as we go off the air.  This had
some good storytelling and action, although things really slowed to a crawl
near the end.  Rating:  ***¼ (3 for 8)
Tune in next week
to see Ken Shamrock, Owen Hart, and Dan Severn collide in a triple threat
match!
The Final Report Card:  This RAW was Vince Russo’s dream scenario
when there are very few matches and segments constitute the entire show.  I have nothing against using lots of angles
to advance storylines, but this show took it too far.  This show ended RAWs four week winning
streak, which should have been evidence for Russo’s future employers that his
view of wrestling was not always a ratings winner.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.5 (vs. 4.6 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

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

by Logan Scisco

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

The Nation of
Domination comes out for the opening segment, as the Rock and Owen Hart are
facing Steve Austin and the Undertaker for the tag team titles later
tonight.  The Rock urges Austin and the
Undertaker to come out and immediately defend the titles, but Commissioner
Slaughter walks out instead.  The Rock
gives him a smackdown on the mic and Austin and the Undertaker arrive.  Austin slides into the ring to fight the Rock
and Owen, but the Undertaker gets distracted by Kane near the entrance and does
not help his partner.  Mankind and the
Undertaker end up brawling near the entrance as Austin takes a beating before
recovering and forcing the Rock and Owen to flee.  1 for
1
Opening
Contest:  Golga (w/The Oddities &
Sable) beats “Marvelous” Marc Mero (w/Jacqueline) with a seated senton splash
at 3:11:
Mero and Jacqueline are sporting the trophy that
Jacqueline earned for winning the Fully Loaded bikini contest.  Sable unveils a “surprise” by accompanying
Golga to the ring.  Kurrgan and Giant
Silva walk out in tuxedos and Kurrgan sings the Miss America song before Luna
Vachon walks out.  This was the Oddities
face turn and the Jackyl, who had been managing them, is nowhere to be
found.  This follows the usual big
man-small man formula and when Jacqueline tries to interfere, Luna attacks
her.  Silva chokeslams Mero behind the
referee’s back and that sets up Golga’s win. 
This is prime for a Wrestlecrap induction.  Rating:  * (1 for 2)
Brawl for All
Quarter-Final Match:  The Godfather
defeats Scorpio via decision:
Now, readers of this column might say “Wait Logan, I
thought Dan Severn already beat the Godfather?” and if you asked that question
you would be right.  However, Severn
withdrew from the tournament because he said he had nothing to prove, so the
Godfather was put back in.  I hate that
and would have preferred Scorpio to be given a bye to the semi-finals.  Scorpio rejects the Godfather’s overture to
take the hos, which was a bad idea in retrospect because he cannot overcome the
Godfather’s size advantage and loses.  Disappointing
contest, as I expected Scorpio to try to use takedowns to win the bout.  1 for
3
Michael Cole
interviews the New Age Outlaws, who say that they are not intimidated by Kane
& Mankind, who they will face tonight.
Kane &
Mankind (w/Paul Bearer) beat The New Age Outlaws when Kane pins The Road Dogg
with a Tombstone at 5:19:
In a smart move, the Outlaws pull Mankind out of the ring
and beat him down while Kane is doing his routine of making fire come out of
the ring posts.  However,
Kane is the real strength of the team and the Outlaws cannot find a way to deal
with him.  When the Road
Dogg ends up alone with Kane, we get the predictable result of him eating a
Tombstone.  You will notice that in these
big Outlaws matches the Road Dogg always ends up eating the
pin.  This had its moments, but was
rushed and messy, especially near the end. 
Rating:  *½ (1 for 4)
Ross and Lawler
recap Hawk’s poor condition on last week’s show.  Hawk apologizes for his behavior last week
and asks for forgiveness.
Jeff Jarrett and
Tennessee Lee say that Jarrett is going to scare Hawk straight “Jeff Jarrett
style,” whatever that means.
Hawk pins “Double
J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) with a neckbreaker at 2:31:
Hawk is not under the influence this week, so he is able
to perform his usual trademark moves and no sells.  Jarrett is recently having trouble with
Tennessee Lee, who keeps botching interference, and after Lee fails to get his
belt off in time for Jarrett to use it, Hawk catches the country music star off
guard to pick up a win.  After the bout,
Southern Justice attack the LOD because, you know, Godwinns-LOD set the world
on fire in 1997.
Vince McMahon
walks to the ring with his stooges.  He
predicts a tag team title change tonight and continues to advance his theory
that the Undertaker and Kane are working together.  He asks the Undertaker to come out and
explain himself based on last week’s show, where Kane attacked Austin as the
Undertaker looked on in the ring.  Austin
crashes the party before the Undertaker can say a word and says he only wants
to beat the Undertaker at SummerSlam.  As
Austin leaves, the Undertaker tells him that McMahon wants them to fight among
themselves and offers to give Austin one of the tag team title belts.  Austin accepts and the Undertaker makes it
clear that he is going to be watching Austin’s back to keep him safe for
SummerSlam.  This was a nice way to pay
off the Undertaker walking around with both tag team titles since Fully
Loaded.  2 for 5
The Rock tells the
commentary team that he could care less about Austin and the Undertaker’s
issues.
Highlights from
the Intercontinental title triple threat match on last week’s RAW constitute
the Stridex Triple Action segment.
#1 Contender’s
Match for the Intercontinental Championship: 
Triple H (w/Chyna) beats X-Pac with a Pedigree at 5:04:
Triple H is on Pacific Blue this week!  This is our usual solid Kliq matchup, with
Triple H targeting X-Pac’s neck in the early going and X-Pac making a rally at
the end.  Chyna, who should be impartial
in the match, trips X-Pac before he can do a Bronco Buster and that results in
Triple H taking advantage of the situation and getting an Intercontinental
title shot against the Rock at SummerSlam. 
After the match, X-Pac argues with Triple H, who feigns ignorance about
Chyna’s interference.  Rating: 
**¼ (3 for 6)
Val Venis &
Taka Michinoku wrestle Dick Togo & Funaki (w/Yamaguchi-San, Men’s Teoh
& Yamaguchi-San’s Wife) to a no-contest at 1:43:
Ross gives me a good laugh by saying that San Diego is
“Ryan Leaf country.”  I bet you cannot
find a single person in San Diego today that would refer to Leaf in such
glowing terms.  I like how we still do
not have a name for Yamagachi-San’s wife despite her being on television for
nearly a month at this point.  When Venis
goes to tag in Michinoku after absorbing some of Kaientai’s early offense,
Michinoku dropkicks him in the face, thereby turning heel.  You see, Mrs. Yamaguchi-San is Michinoku’s
sister.  Kaientai beat Venis up and carry
him backstage, where no one seems to care that he might get his private region
severed.
European
Championship Match:  D-Lo Brown (w/Mark
Henry) beats Dan Severn (w/Steve Blackman) via disqualification when Ken
Shamrock interferes at 2:34:
This match was booked after D-Lo antagonized Severn and
got him to interfere in a match against Ken Shamrock on Sunday Night Heat.  The same situation takes place here, as
Severn has Brown on the ropes before Shamrock comes down the ring and takes out
Mark Henry and Brown in view of the referee. 
Severn is not happy about this development to say the least.
D-Lo celebrates
his victory, but Edge comes out of nowhere and attacks him by the entrance
before walking away.  When D-Lo comes to,
he has no idea what happened.
Kaientai is shown
beating down Venis some more backstage. 
It’s funny to hear Ross try to verbally reprimand them like a
parent:  “Don’t do that!  Stop that!”
Tiger Ali Singh,
who has not been seen on WWF television since 1997, when he was referred to as
a can’t miss prospect, comes out.  This
time, he is sporting a mixture of an anti-American and million dollar man
gimmick where he pays audience members to do degrading things.  He has his servant Babu select an obese
American woman from the crowd and pays her $500 for each piece of clothing she
takes off.  The facial expressions of
some people in the audience to this is priceless.  The woman goes to take off her bra, but Singh
changes the rules and pays her to put clothes back on.  Singh was pretty entertaining in this
segment.  Unfortunately for him, his ring
work was awful.  4 for 7
Backstage,
Yamaguchi-San has the camera crew leave Kaientai’s locker room, where they are
carrying Val Venis to a cutting board.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your Steve Austin 3:16 baseball jersey $39.99 (plus $9 shipping &
handling)!
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve
Austin & The Undertaker (Champions) defeat The Rock & Owen Hart when
The Undertaker pins Owen Hart with a Tombstone at 11:12:
Austin is a one man heat machine as the crowd eats up
everything he does or has done to him. 
Owen and the Rock keep cheating as much as they can to maintain the
advantage, but eventually Austin fights out of a Sharpshooter and a Rock Bottom
to get the Undertaker into the match, where the fate of the heels is eventually
sealed.  It’s hard to tell how much
genuine heat this had based on it being a taped show, but you could tell by the
crowd’s physical reactions that they really got into his match.  The beginning stages with the Undertaker were
slow, but Austin really took things up a notch when he got in the ring and in
peril.  Rating:  *** (5 for 8)
After the bell,
Mankind hits the ring and puts the Undertaker in a Mandible Claw.  As Austin is still fighting the Rock near the
announce table, Kane steps into the ring and smashes Mankind with a chair,
although he may have been aiming for the Undertaker.  The Undertaker takes the chair, but instead
of hitting Kane, he hits Mankind again. 
The New Age Outlaws hit the ring to go after Kane and the Undertaker,
but Austin comes back to aid his partner.
WWF officials are
shown breaking down the door to Kaientai’s dressing room and find Val Venis
held up with his tights down. 
Yamaguchi-San has a sword held up high and he comes down with it, but the lights in the room go dark and that ends the show.
The Final Report Card:  If you watch this RAW, go ahead and skip
ahead to the McMahon-Austin-Undertaker segment because the first half of this
show was awful.  After McMahon’s segment,
the show righted itself and we got a fun main event to close.  The “choppy choppy” angle is silly, but it is
one of those over the top angles that you can sit back and get a good laugh out
of sixteen years later.  I wouldn’t
recommend showing it to a new fan, but sometimes you have to take the good with
the bad when looking back at one of the high points of WWF history.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.9 (vs. 4.2 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

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

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

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

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up 

Bret Hart: The Best There Is DVD Review (Disc 1 and 2)

Bret “Hitman” Hart – The Best There Is, The Best There Was, The Best There Ever Will Be


Documentary:

Analogous to the Stone Cold DVD I reviewed, this was an exhaustive look at Bret Hart’s decorative career. Hart articulated the stories exactly how he witnessed them. Whether you agreed with his viewpoints or not, he narrated his story in a lucid manner. Hart added in a lot of little details, creating a detailed envision for the viewers. However, his egocentric attitudes on some things becomes somewhat annoying. He was one of the best wrestlers ever, but he can come off  a little condescending at times. I am sure almost everyone reading has somehow heard all of these stories before, but this was still an informative documentary in its time.
Disc Two: 

Bret Hart (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Ricky Steamboat (3/8/86)
This was booked to be on the Wrestlemania II PPV card, but it was bumped off at the last minute. WWF believed Hercules was going to be a bigger star than Hart, so they wanted him on the 2 card. On the other hand, Steamboat believed Bret had a lot of potential and wanted to give him some credibility and exposure. Bret attacks Steamboat when the referee is checking him for weapons. Bret keeps attacking Steamboat, who hasn’t even had time to take his jacket off. Steamboat fights back and takes his jacket off. It’s on! Bret comes back and hits a neckbreaker. Bret punches Steamboat, who spills to the outside. Bret hits a suplex that picks up a two. Steamboat picks him up for a press slam, but Steamboat’s legs cave from under him. That picks up a two for Bret. Bret hits a powerslam for another near-fall. Steamboat fights back with some hard chops and a backdrop suplex that get a two. Bret reverses an Irish Whip, sending Steamboat right into the referee. Bret delivers the Hart Attack, but the referee is still out cold. Bret dodges a clothesline from Steamboat, and hits a crossbody block from the other side. Steamboat rolls through, though, and picks up the victory @ 15:09.

Analysis: Steamboat and Hart’s selling capabilities were exceedingly off the charts. Their reaction time to move was seamlessly on point, and their head movements from selling a punch or strike were great as well. These two just demonstrated why selling is so imperative, and how it can draw in the fans into something in spite of having no importance or build around it. Selling can help make moves more evocative, a babyface garner sympathy from the crowd, a heel acquire more heat, and make it tremendously easier for the fans to become fervently invested into the action. All those things were demonstrated in this.

This was booked in a position where it was not supposed to be much of anything, but the acute components and realistic psychology made this an overachieving exhibition match. This could have been better if Bret Hart were more established and the contest was treated more like a big deal, though. *** ¾

Ted DiBiase (w/Virgil) vs. Bret Hart (3/8/89)
DiBiase was getting the Million Dollar Man gimmick over. Bret was coming off a botched push attempt, although he was still having good matches. No commentary for whatever reason. Ted spends too much time taunting the crowd, allowing Bret to attack him from behind. Bret hits a Russian Legsweep for two. DiBiase goes for a haymaker, but Bret ducks and delivers an atomic drop. Bret follows up with a crossbody. Ted decides to take a breather outside. Back in, Bret tries a reverse rollup, but Ted counters it into a small packaged for two. DiBiase fights back and viciously stomps on Bret’s chest. Ted hits a smashing clothesline and then a suplex that picks up a two. Ted argues with the referee over the pin. Ted goes for a another suplex, but Bret reverses it with a small package for two. Ted attacks Bret before he can get back up, expressing his frustration from his failure to finish him off. Bret catches Ted with a few small package rollups, causing Ted to throw Bret to the outside.

Back in, DiBiase locks in a chinlock. Bret fights back and hits the Hart Attack clothesline. Both men are now knocked out. Ted goes up to the top rope, but Bret catches and slams him. They trade some punches, causing DiBiase to back off and begs for mercy. Bret beats the hell out of him. Bret over-zealously charges the corner. Ted moves out of the way, and it messes up Bret’s knee. DiBiase attacks the knee with a Spinning Toehold. Bret pushes him out of the ring. They keep brawling outside and are finally counted out @ 15:59.

Analysis: DiBiase’s best work came before WWE, but this reveals how excellent he could be in the ring. He dictated the pace in the midst of the heat segments at a superlative level. Even though he methodically worked over Bret for a long time,  it never became boring.

That was mostly because he made sure not everything was not about him. After all, the story was not all about him dominating when he was on offense. It was also about Hart enduring a calculating beating, and DiBiase used physical responses to subtly articulate that. For example, he expressed anger when Hart kicked out of his pin-falls, and he did that by pounding the mat, yelling at the referee, and yelling at the crowd. In addition to that, Ted conveyed his anger by grunting about not being able to put Hart away. At last, he made it clear he was becoming tired from using gassed facial expressions, slowing down his movements, and grimacing in pain from using his back too much. The crowd picked it and were eager for Hart’s comeback, because of  Ted selling it so effectively. 

Unfortunately, Hart’s comeback was only momentary because this had  rushed finish attached to it. It didn’t allow Bret to dish out needed comeuppance on DiBiase, causing the story they were developing not culminate properly.

I get that they needed to protect both wrestlers, but the finish was way too lazy and cut off the entire “boom- boom-boom” portion of the match. Nonetheless, this had some of the best “pusillanimous/arrogant heel vs. the resilient/sympathetic babyface” work that I have ever seen. **** ¼

The Hart Foundation vs. The Rockers (4/28/90)
This was a number one contender’s match for Summerslam.  At this point, both teams were over. The Harts had more main event credibility, though. Bret and Marty have a few fantastic sequences together. Shawn tags in and hits a crossbody on Bret for two. The Rockers double team Bret. Anvil comes and clotheslines the hell out of both of them. HBK goes for a bodyslam, but Anvil counters it. Anvil tries to pick up HBK, but Shawn dropkicks him in the face. Both Shawn and Bret are the legal men. Bret hits Shawn with an atomic drop and then a clothesline. The Hart Foundation corner Shawn and go to work on him.

Anvil hits shoulderblock on Shawn that gets a two. Shawn hits a sunset flip on Bret for two. The Demolition comes down to watch. Bret yells at Demolition, allowing Shawn to dropkick him over the top rope. Back from commercial, Bret is working over Shawn. Bret goes for an elbow, but he misses. Shawn is able to make the tag to a fired up Janetty, who comes and nails Bret with a reverse elbow and then powerslams him. Marty hits the Superkick, but it only gets a two. Bret counter an Irish whip, but Marty sunset flips him for two. Bret fights back with a neckbreaker Anvil comes in and shoulderblock Shawn, sending him flying in the air. Anvil throws Shawn to the outside; the Demolition tries to help him back in. Marty doesn’t like that, so he starts a fight with them. This triggers a three-team brawl, causing a disqualification @ 9:17.


Analysis: This had an accelerating pace to it, in addition to some fluently executed back-and-forth exchanges and sequences. They were on the same page throughout and did not miss a beat while doing some really athletic and onerous sequences. Above all, they stayed true to their characters and did not sacrifice psychology or stop selling in order to have a rapid-fired pace. It is refreshing to see a match where you do not have the slightest clue of what is going to happen next. The wrestlers involved made sure they would give the fans their money’s worth regardless only having a condensed amount of time and an undeceive finish. *** ¾

IC Championship: Mr. Perfect (c) vs. Bret Hart (Summerslam ’91)
After about three years of stop-and-go pushes, the WWF finally gave Bret the push he deserved. Mr. Perfect was in poor shape here. His back was bothering him, and it caused him took an entire year off after this match. Bret delivers a crucifix for two. Bret delivers a sunset flip for two and then yanks Perfect down with a headlock. Bret catches Perfect’s leg and then stomps him in the midsection. They trade some moves, ending with Bret clotheslining Perfect over the top. Perfect tries to run away, but Bret chases him and rips his tights in half. Perfect takes over with a forearm and kicks Bret in the midsection, sending him to the outside. Outside, Perfect throws Bret into the railing. Perfect brings him back in and tosses him into the corner. They fight on the turnbuckle. Bret falls into the ring and then Perfect falls on top of him for two count. Perfect throws Bret across the ring by his hair. Bret fights out of a sleeper hold. Bret goes for a suplex, but Perfect counters it with a Samoan Drop for two. Bret takes his vintage bump in the corner. Perfect hits a Perfect Plex, but Bret kicks out just in time! Bret delivers Perfect a few atomic drops and hits a Vertical Suplex that gets two. He small packages Perfect, but it only picks up a two. Bret hit a Russian Legsweep for two. Bret hits the second-rope elbowdrop for another two. Bret and the ref argue about the count, allowing Perfect to execute a reverse rollup for two. Perfect starts dropping some legdrops to Bret’s midsection. Bret catches one of them and reverses to the Sharpshooter for the submission victory @ 18:02.

Analysis: This started with an interesting “anything you can do, I can do better” story,  and it allowed them to show off their technical proficiencies. Hart, as a babyface should, came off looking superior in the exchanges, which caused Perfect to resort to using cheap maneuvers to gain the advantage. The story continued to escalate because of their usage of transitions. 

Both wrestlers also kept tricking the fans by using cliché moments to their advantage. For example, they’d do a spot where a babyface typically makes a full-comeback, but they instead had the heel cut-off the comeback and remain in control. Hart portrayed a nice display of psychology on offense, as every big move he delivered was done to weaken Perfect’s back for the Sharpshooter. And most of all, he did them at realistic times. (in contrast to so many wrestlers who shoehorn them in, no matter the situation). This could have been better with a more dramatic finish, but all in all, this is some great stuff. **** 1/4

WWF Tag Team Championship: Hart Foundation (c) vs. Nasty Boys (w/ Jimmy Hart) (Wrestlemania 7)
The Nasties were feuding with the Steiners over in the NWA for the US tag straps. Six months later, and they are in a big WWF tag title match at WrestleMania. Jimmy Hart is wearing a motorcycle helmet out to the ring. Bret and Sags kick things off. Sags gets in a cheap shot in the corner, but Bret comes back with a Thesz press and punches. Bret goes to town on Knobs and then stomps Sags in the abdominal area. Both men tag out. Neidhart sends Knobs to the floor with a shoulderblock. Back in, Neidhart locks in an armbar, but he gets attacked in the Nasties corner. Bret tags in and hits some ten-count corner punches followed by a Russian legsweep. He delivers a flying vertical elbow drop for two. Knobs sneaks in and attacks Bret from behind. Sags clotheslines him out to the floor. Neidhart runs after Jimmy Hart around the ring. Knobs sends Bret into the guardrail. Back in, the Nasties take turns working over Bret’s back. Bret tries to escape, but  Knobs stops the tag to Neidhart. The Nasties go for a double-swing splash into the corner. Bret avoids and clotheslines Sags. Bret makes a tag to Neidhart, but the referee doesn’t see it. Jimmy Hart throws in his megaphone, but Sags ends up taking the megaphone to the face. Bret gets the hot tag to Neidhart, who nails the Nasties with clotheslines and delivers the Standing Powerslam on Knobs for two. They hit the Hart Attack on Knobs. Neidhart goes for the cover, but the ref is trying to get Bret out of the ring. Jimmy Hart throws in the motorcycle helmet. Sags nails Neidhart with it and Knobs rolls over on top for the win. New tag championship @ 12:05

Analysis: This was one of the better Nasty Boy non-gimmick matches. They kept it simple by using the standard tag-team formula. They also threw in some curve balls along the way, which was enough to bump this to ***.

IC Championship: Bret Hart (c) vs. Davey Boy Smith (Summerslam ’92)
This was the hardest recap I’ve ever done. There were too many tears in my eyes, making it hard to see the action. Davey Boy Smith smoked a lot crack before this, and he didn’t even remember this match the next day. They get into a shoving match, ending with Davey winning the exchange. Bret puts Davey in a headlock. Davey sends him into the ropes, but Bret slips out of a slam and rolls him up for two. Davey escapes into a hammerlock, but Bret elbows out and locks in a wristlock. Davey Boy cartwheels out and locks in an armbar. Davey Boy catches Bret off a leapfrog and then tosses him into the corner. Davey goes back to the armbar and then hits Bret with a crucifix. DBS locks in armbar again, but Bret throws him off into the ropes and delivers a knee into the gut. That crowd boos Bret. Bret stomps his mid-section and then delivers a legdrop. Bret puts back in a chinlock. Davey elbows his way out, but he runs into a right elbow from Bret. Bret nails an inverted atomic drop and throws Davey into the ropes. Davey tries the crucifix, but Bret slams him to the mat for two. Bret goes back to the chinlock. Davey shoves him off and delivers a monkey-flip. Smith throw Bret from corner-to-corner, but he runs into a boot. Bret hits the running bulldog on the Bulldog. Bret goes up top, but Davey slams him off the canvas. Davey heads up top for a diving headbutt, but Bret moves out of the way. DBS fights out of a slam. He goes to roll Bret up off the ropes, but Bret ducks and it sends DBS flying out to the floor.

Bret does a pescado to the outside. Davey is in the wrong place, so Bret just snaps him down by the head. Bret posts Davey and brings him back in the ring. Bret hits a Russian Legsweep that picks up a two. Bret hit some European uppercuts and then follows up with a backdrop for two. Bret locks in the chinlock again. Davey tries to stand up, but Bret maneuvers over into a front headlock to set up for a suplex. He then goes back to the chinlock. Psychology! Davey fights up again and gets a backslide for two. Bret fights back with the backbreaker and the vertical elbow drop for two. He locks in the sleeper, but Davey Boy fights to get to the ropes. Bret throws him into the ropes and reapplies the hold. Davey stands up out of it and sends Bret into the corner for a rope break. Bret is right back on top of him with the sleeper, though. Davey backs Bret into the corner and mounts a comeback. He lifts Bret up for a press slam, but ends dropping him awkwardly in the ropes. Davey looks like he is out to lunch. Davey delivers a few clotheslines that all pick up a two. He hits a Press Slam for another two. He nails a stalling suplex, but only gets a two! Davey Boy throws Bret into the corner for a chest-first bump for another near-fall. He delivers the Running Powerslam. New champion. No, Bret kicks out at two!

Davey knocks Bret outside and then tries to give him a suplex back in. Bret flips out, though, and hits a German suplex for only a two! Bret goes for a suplex, but Davey blocks it. He places Bret up in the corner and hits the Top-Rope Superplex, but Bret kicks out! They do a double knock clothesline spot, but Bret still manages to apply the Sharpshooter! The crowd is begging for Davey to reach the ropes. Davey fights through and makes it to the ropes. Davey reverses an Irish Whip. Davey ducks under a clothesline. Bret attempts a sunset flip, but Davey Boy sits down and hooks Bret’s legs for the win @ 25:14! The crowd goes crazy. Diana comes into the ring to celebrate with her husband. Bret looks like he is going to turn heel, but he instead hugs Davey Boy. They all celebrate in the ring.

Analysis: Bret used his technical aptitudes to try and win, but Bulldog fought back by using his power game. Hart also teased a  heel turn, as he resorted to cheap and uncharacteristic tactics. Hart’s execution and positioning were incredibly on point, although Davey botched a few spots and was out of position a couple of times. 

If Davey Boy was not drugged out of his mind here, this could have been even better. That’s scary to think about. The genuine emotion in this created intense drama and had all 80,000 fans in the arena on the edge of their seats throughout. In fact, this was one of the most monumental atmospheres ever.  It was also one of the biggest feel-good moments as well. **** ¾

Bret Hart vs. Bam Bam Bigelow (4/24/93)
This is from the WWF’s European Tour. Bigelow slugs away onto Bret, but Bret locks in an armbar. Bam Bam tries to press slam him, but Bret falls on top for two. Bret throws an elbow that sends him to the outside. He tries to jump on Bam Bam, but Bam Bam smashes him into the ringpost. Back in, Bigelow works over Bret’s back. He hits a backdrop suplex that gets two. Bigelow keeps headbutting. Bret fights back and hits a backdrop suplex. Bigelow fights back and hits a Butterfly Backbreaker. Bigelow goes for the Diving Headbutt, but Bret moves out of the way. Bret goes for the Sharpshooter, but Bigelow pushes him away and locks in a bearhug. Bret attempts to backdrop suplex him, but Bigelow shifts his weight and lands on top. Bret blocks a charge and pins Bigelow’s shoulders with a Victory Roll @ 11:55.

Analysis: That was really fun. Hart was a master at adjusting his style based on who he was wrestling. Here, he played an opportunist, using his speed and agility to counter Bam Bam’s power game. Bam Bam was one of the better big wrestlers ever. I wish he had more opportunities to show it. *** 1/4

Mr. Perfect vs. Bret Hart (King of the Ring 1993)
Bret is selling an injury done earlier by Razor, as his left hand is taped up. This one picks up quickly after Perfect escapes a headlock. They trade some slams and then Bret hits Perfect with a crucifix for two. Perfect foreshadows a heel turn by placing a knee in Bret’s gut to break away from the headlock. Perfect hits a standing dropkick, sending Bret to the floor. Perfect holds the ropes to help Bret back in, but he kicks the ropes and the ropes hit Bret where the sun doesn’t shine. Perfect delivers a knee lift that gets a two. Perfect throws Bret out to ringside. Bret makes it on the apron, but Perfect shoves him off into the guardrail. Ouch. Perfect hits another knee lift and then hits a missile dropkick. Perfect tosses Bret into the corner for the chest-first bump for a two. Perfect heads up to the top rope, but Bret superplexes him for two. Bret kicks Perfect in the back of the knee, causing him to flip all over the ropes. Hart locks in the figure-four, but Perfect makes the ropes. Perfect fights back and throws Bret in the corner. He tosses Bret across the ring by his hair and then locks in the sleeper.

Bret makes it the ropes, but Perfect holds on  the hold just until before five. He reapplies the sleeper in the middle of the ring and uses the ropes for leverage. Bret escapes by throwing Perfect’s face into the turnbuckle. Bret deliver a European forearm that almost takes Perfect’s head off. Bret throws Perfect across the ring by his hair. Bret hits an atomic drop and then Russian legsweep for two. He hits a backbreaker and then hits the vertical elbow drop connects for another two. Bret goes for the Sharpshooter, but Perfect grabs and twists the taped up hand to counter it. Perfect goes for the Perfectplex, but Bret counters by giving Perfect a suplex over the top rope to the floor. They just make it back in before the countout. Perfect cradles Bret, but Bret reverses it for the one-two-three @ 19:05.

Analysis: This was a classical and competitive scientific match. The main story that was being told was Bret Hart was the better in-ring technician, but in order to try to win, Mr. Perfect had to stoop down to an unheroic level by cheating. This whole match was extremely crisp and smooth. All of the moves, holds, spots, and sequences were flawlessly executed. Last, but not least, they performed all of the moves in logical places, and that made this feel very realistic and a believable contest. This also coherently integrated and told an extremely lucid story about them trying to find strategic ways to win. These two were just the masters of in-ring psychology. **** ½

Brother vs. Brother: Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart (Wrestlemania 10)
Bret Hart wrestled twice this night; he faced Owen Hart in the opener and then Yokozuna for the WWF Championship in the main event. Owen gets out of a head scissors and brags about it. Bret tries a waistlock takedown, but Owen gets to the ropes. Owen grabs a waistlock, but Bret sends Owen flying to the floor. Owen climbs back in the ring and slaps Bret. Bret doesn’t do anything, but Owen sneaks under the ropes. They exchange some hammerlocks. Owen pulls Bret down by his hair. Bret flips over Owen and rolls him up for two. Bret goes to work on the arm. Owen fights out of a hammerlock, but runs into a monkey flip. Bret clotheslines him to the floor. They push each other, and then Bret slaps Owen and rolls him up for two. Bret goes back to work on the arm. Owen breaks out of the hold and hits a spinning heel kick. Owen pushes him out to the floor and throws Bret’s back into the ringpost. They head back into the ring. Owen throws Bret into the corner. Owen delivers a backbreaker and locks in a camel clutch. Bret elbows out, but runs right into a Belly-to-Belly Suplex for two. Owen hits a crossbody from the corner, but Bret rolls through for two. Owen tries a slam, but Bret falls on him for two. Bret gets out of a suplex, but Owen hits a bridging German suplex for two. Bret reverses a suplex into a small package for two. Owen delivers the Tombstone Piledriver. He heads up top for the Swandive Headbutt, but he misses. Bret fights back with an inverted atomic drop and a clothesline for two. He hits the Legsweep for two. He delivers the Backbreaker and flying elbow drop that gets a two. Owen fights back with an enziguri and tries to lock in the Sharpshooter. Bret stops him from locking in the hold. Bret tries to lock it in, but Owen just rolls him away. Owen picks up a two off a rollup.

The momentum from the kick-out puts Owen on the floor, though. Bret hits the pescado and jams his knee on the floor. Back in, Owen kicks away at the injured knee. Owen locks in the Indian deathlock. Owen delivers a dragon screw leg whip and that sets up the figure-four. Bret counters the hold by getting to the ropes. Owen goes after Bret in the corner, but Bret hits Owen with an enziguri. Bret throws Owen chest-first into the corner. Bret delivers a legdrop that gets two. Bret nails a running bulldog for two. Bret hits a piledriver, but Owen kicks out. Bret locks in a sleeper, but Owen walks over to the ropes and low-blows Bret. Owen applies the Sharpshooter, but Bret gets out of it. Owen charges into Bret’s right boot in the corner. Bret goes for a victory roll, but Owen puts on the counters and picks up the huge upset victory @ 20:05.


Analysis: This was a technical masterpiece and arguably the best ever. The timing of the spots, the smooth transitions, the unparalleled chemistry, and both wrestlers being able to progressively build the match all the way to its crescendo solidifies this as the blueprint on how to correctly carry out a wrestling magnum opus.

On top of that, the match told a great story. Owen Hart was fed up being overshadowed by his older brother, so in order to exercise his demons, he decided to prove once and for all that he was better than big brother Bret. The contest illustrated that Bret was definitely the superior wrestler, as he was always one step ahead of his young brother. But Owen cheated and was able to pull off a key reversal that allowed him to pull off a major upset. Owen treated his fluky win as though it had been a dominant performance, which helped him develop into an even more exaggerated, overemotional heel.

And after Bret Hart finally conquered his long-lasting quest to become WWF Champion, Owen came out with a look on his face that said, “Did you forget something? You didn’t beat me.” What was supposed to be a beautiful moment for Bret ended up as a bittersweet moment, because Bret knew that even though he finally won the title, his loss to Owen earlier in the night cast a shadow over what should have been the biggest night of his career. Like I said, there is a case for this match as the greatest of all time, thanks to phenomenal booking and superb work rate. *****

Final Thoughts on Disc Two: This was an awesome disc from top to bottom. Aside from his Flair and HBK matches, everything that should be on here is. I’ll talk about everything more on the next review, where I look at disc three and both the extras and extra matches, in the final analysis. Thumbs Way Up for Disc Two. 

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

by Logan Scisco

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

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

Show Evaluation:  Neutral

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

by Logan Scisco

Jim Ross and Jerry
“The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are taped from Binghampton, New
York.  This is our go home show for Fully
Loaded.

Vince McMahon
comes out and says that tonight is a night for respect for one’s fellow man and
retribution for those who do not. 
McMahon provides evidence from the events of recent weeks to support his
argument that the Undertaker is working with Kane and then invites the
Undertaker out.  McMahon, who has great
on screen chemistry with the Undertaker, points out that if the Undertaker
wants to be the WWF champion he has to start showing respect to the right
people and he will not tolerate being disrespected anymore.  When questioned again about working with
Kane, the Undertaker refuses to answer, so McMahon books him to face Kane and
Mankind in a handicap match.  However,
McMahon makes the fatal error of telling the Undertaker to go to hell and ends
up getting chokeslammed.  Gerald Brisco
and Commissioner Slaughter also eat chokeslams when they run to McMahon’s
aid.  I love how McMahon continually
tries to act tough around the Undertaker only to end up paying for it.  1 for
1
Opening Contest
for the European Championship:  D-Lo
Brown (w/The Rock) defeats Triple H (Champion w/Chyna) after the Rock gives
Triple H a Rock Bottom to win the title at 6:02:
Aside from the handicap main event, the other attractions
are Triple H and the Rock defending their titles against a member from the
Nation and D-Generation X, respectively. 
Both men are scheduled to face each other in a title-for-title
two-out-of-three falls match at Fully Loaded, so the outcome of these matches
could change these plans.  D-Lo was a
curious choice for this match since Owen was arguably the second-best singles
star in the Nation.  Then again, Owen has
continually failed to beat Triple H, so D-Lo was as good an option as any of
the remaining Nation members.  The Rock
interferes in this bout after Chyna and Mark Henry get into a confrontation on
the arena floor and that enables D-Lo to win his first WWF gold in a major
upset.  This means that the Rock-Triple H
match at Fully Loaded will no longer be title-for-title.  Rating:  ** (2 for 2)
The Nation
celebrates D-Lo’s title victory in the locker room.
Triple H tells Jim
Ross that the Rock is not leaving the arena with the Intercontinental title.
Brawl for All
First Round:  Steve Williams beats Pierre
by TKO at 2:56 of the third round:
This was Steve Williams WWF debut.  The Brawl for All concept was meant to put
him over as a big star and eventually feud with Steve Austin.  Of course, if that was the point of the
tournament, then why make it a shoot, but that requires too much logic for the
WWF sometimes.  During Williams entrance,
Barry Switzer puts him over for being a tough guy while playing football for
the University of Oklahoma.  Pierre is at
a severe disadvantage because he only has vision in one eye, but hey, it’s not
like the Brawl for All is regulated by your local athletic commission.  Williams completely dominates Pierre, who is completely
out of his element here, and we get our first non-decision result of the Brawl
for All.  3 for 3
Val Venis’s
revelation that he is having an affair with Yamaguchi-San’s wife on last week’s
show is played.
Yamaguchi-San,
wearing his tie around his head, yells at his wife for disgracing him on last
week’s show.  He makes her hold the ropes
open so that Kaientai and he can step into the ring and then orders her to
crawl beneath his legs where he can hit her with a paddle.  However, before Yamaguchi-San can proceed
with the punishment, Val Venis makes the save, and carries Yamaguchi-San’s wife
to the dressing room.  Yamaguchi-San
going over the top is what made this segment worthwhile.  4 for
4
The Undertaker
chokeslamming Vince McMahon earlier in the show is the Skittles Slam of the
Week.
We are supposed to
get an Animal-Skull match in our next segment, but it never happens as Hawk no shows
during Animal’s entrance and the DOA give Animal a beatdown.  Hawk makes the save before the DOA run over
one of Animal’s legs with one of their Titan bikes, but he is also attacked and
overwhelmed.
Steve Blackman
(w/Ken Shamrock & Dan Severn) pins Double J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee
& Southern Justice) after a pump kick at 2:11:
Somehow the Jarrett-Blackman rivalry is still ongoing and
based on the piped in boos, no one cares. 
Blackman brings Shamrock and Severn with him to even the odds around
ringside and speaking of which, it makes little sense for Southern Justice to
be with Jarrett at infrequent periods. 
Blackman beats Jarrett clean and in short order here, which is a very
puzzling result.  Jarrett is in desperate
need of an overhaul because he is getting nowhere with his 1993-1996
gimmick.  After the bell, Owen Hart
attacks Shamrock from behind on the floor and Severn does not seem to care.
The Undertaker is
shown leaving the arena.  Michael Cole
confirms this after the commercial break and Cole says that the Undertaker said
that he will see everyone Sunday at Fully Loaded.
Jim Ross interviews
WWF Champion Steve Austin, who says he is concerned about whether he is walking
into a trap at Fully Loaded.  Vince
McMahon interrupts the promo after taking exception to Austin saying that
McMahon deserves to be screwed over and rebooks the main event to Austin facing
Kane and Mankind in a handicap match. 
Austin refuses to wrestle and threatens to walk out like the Undertaker,
but McMahon announces that if that happens he will strip Austin of the WWF
title and give it to the Undertaker. 
Austin says fine, but vows to beat up McMahon in the locker room when he
gets the opportunity.  This was a good
twist of the main event to continue feeding the Kane-Undertaker cahoots
storyline.  5 for 5
Call 815-734-1161
to get your Steve Austin 3:16 baseball jersey $39.99 (plus $9 shipping &
handling)!
Jason Sensation’s
skills and beating at the hands of Owen Hart on last week’s show is recapped.
Owen Hart beats
Faarooq via submission to the Sharpshooter at 5:35:
I am surprised that Faarooq did not enter the Brawl for
All, since he was also stuck in the purgatory of the midcard after leaving the
Nation of Domination.  During the bout,
Owen gets on the house mic and tells the crowd that he is not a nugget.  This match is fine, although I am not sure
why Faarooq is still doing his “I am going to keep jumping on your back until
you knee me in the groin” spot as a face. 
Faarooq submits clean to the Sharpshooter despite being a foot away from
the ropes, which illustrates how far he has fallen over the last year as a
character.  After the bell, Ken Shamrock
runs out, but Owen escapes through the crowd. 
Rating:  ** (6 for 6)
Mankind predicts a
very peaceful evening for Steve Austin in tonight’s handicap match.
Marc Mero and
Jacqueline come out and Jacqueline insults Sable some more.  Sable comes out in a sun dress and Jacqueline
soon strips it off.  Sable doesn’t mind
and tosses Jacqueline out of the ring by her hair.  Kevin Dunn’s camera crew follows Sable up the
ramp and misses Edge doing a hit and run on Mero in the ring.  It would have been better to combine this
segment with the Sable-Jacqueline interaction on last week’s broadcast.  6 for
7
Shawn Michaels
comes out to do commentary for the rest of the show.
The announcers
recap the 8-Ball-Scorpio Brawl for All match, which Scorpio won.
The Rock tells the
announcers from the backstage area that he will beat X-Pac and enter Fully
Loaded as the Intercontinental champion.
X-Pac pinning the
Rock after an X-Factor is the JVC Kaboom! of the Week.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  The Rock (Champion) defeats
X-Pac (w/Chyna) via disqualification when Triple H interferes at 9:46:
X-Pac pinned the Rock in a tag team match on last week’s
show, so that is used as evidence for why X-Pac is a threat to leave the
building with the Intercontinental title. 
D-Lo Brown winning the European title also provided the possibility that
X-Pac might win this match.  The Rock
dominates nearly the entire match and kicks out of an X-Factor and getting hit
with the Intercontinental title by Chyna. 
The referee gets bumped on a Rock clothesline, and Triple H tries to
help X-Pac win the title by cutting off D-Lo Brown’s interference attempt and
Pedigreeing the Rock, but another official stops the pinfall and that helps the
Rock retain.  I really hate the “second
referee corrects the first on things he did not see” finish.  After the match, Triple H gets a female fan
in the audience to take her top off. 
Antics like that are why I was barred from going to WWF house shows in
the Attitude Era.  Thanks Triple H!  Rating:  **½ (7 for 8)
Handicap
Match:  Kane & Mankind (w/Paul
Bearer) beat “Stone Cold” Steve Austin via disqualification when the Undertaker
interferes at 4:51:
This is one of those famed Attitude Era brawls where
Austin hits everything that moves.  The
Undertaker walks out three minutes in with a chair and sets up in Austin’s
corner.  As Austin prepares to give Kane
a Stunner, the Undertaker tries to hit someone, it is not clear who, with a
chair and ends up blasting Kane.  That
seemingly produces a DQ win for the tag team champions, but who really cares,
as Austin lays out Mankind and the Undertaker with the chair and walks away
with his hands raised.  The continuous
action throughout this match made it seem like more than a throwaway TV main
event.  Rating:  **½ (8 for 9)
The Final Report Card:  The ending to the main event gives us a small
taste of the Fully Loaded main event and maintains the mystery behind the
Highway to Hell storyline.  For a taped
RAW, this provided a lot of excitement with the X-Pac-Rock fight, the main
brawl, and some entertaining mic work by the main players.  Steve Williams also had a dominant appearance
in the Brawl for All and if you were not sure how things played out in future
weeks, you would assume he was the man to beat.
So our announced card for Fully Loaded is
the following:
WWF Tag Team Championship Match:  Kane & Mankind (Champions) vs. Steve
Austin & The Undertaker
Two-out-of-Three Falls Match for the Intercontinental
Championship:  The Rock (Champion) vs.
Triple H
Hart Family Dungeon Match with Dan Severn as
Special Referee:  Ken Shamrock vs. Owen
Hart
Bikini Contest:  Sable vs. Jacqueline
Monday Night War Rating:  5.0 (vs. 4.7 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

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

by Logan Scisco

A video package
recaps the Undertaker becoming the number one contender to the WWF championship
on last week’s show.
Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are doing commentary and they are live from East Rutherford,
New Jersey.

Shawn Michaels
comes out, making his first WWF appearance since WrestleMania XIV.  Michaels sits down to do commentary for the
show and tells Ross that he is not sure when he will return to the ring.
Opening
Contest:  The Undertaker pins Vader with
a Tombstone at 4:35:
Looking back, I wish Vader had entered the Brawl for
All.  It was already littered with lower
midcard talent and guys looking to reboot their careers or get them going, so
it would have been well suited for 1998 Vader. 
After the entrances, Kane, Mankind, and Paul Bearer come out, but they
let the match proceed as scheduled.  As
another “what if,” imagine what a stable of Vader, Kane, and Mankind would have
been like in 1998.  Vader gives this the
old college try, but the Undertaker unceremoniously finishes him with Tombstone
and Earl Hebner does his slow three count to add insult to injury.  Really Earl? 
Rating:  ** (1 for 1)
After the match,
Mankind prepares to hit the Undertaker with a chair, but Kane takes it from
Mankind and then whacks Vader with it. 
Does this mean Kane and the Undertaker are in cahoots?
-Brawl for All
First Round:  Bart Gunn beats Bob Holly
via decision
This match constituted the breakup of the New Midnight
Express as Ross tells us that Jim Cornette resigned as their manager as a
result of them deciding to face each other. 
That, for all intents and purposes, ends the last vestiges of the NWA
angle for good.  This is the first Brawl
for All to feature a regular WWF referee as Danny Hodge is no longer doing the
honors.  Bart just dominates Holly in
this bout and easily makes it to the next round.  There was nothing about this that made it
exciting, so it does not get a point from me. 
After the match, Bob gives Bart a cheap shot and there is a small fight
between the two before WWF officials break it up.  1 for
2
The D-Generation X
skit mocking the Nation of Domination on last week’s show is recapped.
Jason Sensation
joins the broadcast team and he imitates other WWF superstars at Lawler’s
urging.  When he imitates Bret Hart,
Michaels asks whether that is a midcarder (a shot at Bret’s status in the WCW
upper midcard at the time because – say it with me – WCW).  Ross interviews the Nation, who are
backstage, and they are not happy with last week’s skit.  The Godfather debuts his “pimpin’ ain’t easy”
line during this segment.  Owen gets mad
at Sensation continuing to imitate him at Lawler’s urging and runs out and
attacks him before DX intervenes.
Triple H &
X-Pac (w/Chyna) defeat The Rock & Owen Hart when X-Pac pins The Rock after
an X-Factor at 6:28:
Shawn Michaels starts talking about the Kliq on
commentary and is actually censored for doing so.  The match does not follow the normal tag
formula, as X-Pac gets in peril, absorbs a People’s Elbow and other Nation
offense, and then surprises the Rock out of nowhere with the X-Factor to
win.  The expected solid match between
these guys and they could have done much more if given another five minutes.  Rating:  **¾ (2 for 3)
Sable comes out to
do commentary for the next match.  Sable
promises that her bikini at Fully Loaded will make her bikini at the 1997
Slammy Awards look like an evening gown.
Steve Blackman
beats “Marvelous” Marc Mero (w/Jacqueline) with a pump kick at 2:14:
This is a rematch from the Brawl for All, but it is
overwhelmed by Sable and Jacqueline fighting near the announce table and
Michaels and Lawler fawning over Sable. 
Mero appears to have the match won with a low blow, but when Jacqueline
tries to do something off the top rope to Blackman, Sable stops her and
Blackman suddenly recovers and wins. 
Mero was never able to reinvent himself after the Sable feud, which was
quite sad considering his in-ring and mic talents.  The feud also made it impossible to go back
to WCW as Johnny B. Badd because he would have been showered with “Sable”
chants.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  Kane & Mankind
(w/Paul Bearer) defeat The New Age Outlaws (Champions w/Chyna) when Kane pins
The Road Dogg with a Tombstone to win the titles at 5:34:
Before the bell, the Undertaker comes out to watch this
match.  Of all the teams left in the tag
division, Kane and Mankind are the only credible challengers for the
titles.  Think about it:  LOD 2000 is irrelevant, the DOA are being
somewhat repackaged with Ellering but that isn’t enough, the New Midnight
Express broke up, and 2 Cold Scorpio and Terry Funk are enhancement
talent.  After all hell breaks loose in
the ring, all hell breaks loose outside it as the Nation and the remaining
members of DX brawl and in the chaos, D-Lo Brown interferes with a Lo Down on
the Road Dogg and the Outlaws seven month reign as tag team champions is
over.  Theoretically, this makes the
Fully Loaded main event tag match for the WWF tag team titles.  Rating:  ** (3 for 4)
Call 815-734-1161
to get your Steve Austin 3:16 baseball jersey $39.99 (plus $9 shipping &
handling)!  This was a great piece of
merchandise, but that price is outrageous.
Triple H yells at
Vince McMahon over the lack of control referees have in recent matches.  Having the Outlaws add to the complaints is
pretty funny considering how much cheating they engaged in to keep the titles
during their reign.
Kaientai
(w/Yamiguchi-San) beats Taka Michinoku & Too Much when Dick Togo pins Scott
Taylor after a Senton Bomb at 3:38:
Evidently, the Michinoku-Too Much pairing was forced by
the office in storyline terms as opposed to a genuine alliance.  Unsurprisingly, tempers flare between Scott
Taylor and Michinoku and Michinoku dropkicks Taylor into the hands of Kaientai,
who finishes him off.  After the bout,
Christopher beats up Michinoku and Val Venis comes out and reveals that he has
been having an affair with Yamiguchi-San’s wife.  The match was good, but I am not giving this
a point because the idea that Taka would ever agree to pair with Too Much under
any circumstances is ridiculous.  Rating: 
**¼ (3 for 5)
The Undertaker
chokeslamming The Godfather, D-Lo Brown, and Terry Funk on last week’s Raw is
the Skittles Slam of the Week.
Vince McMahon
comes out and talks with the Undertaker. 
McMahon commends the Undertaker on his deception last week, but raises
the question of whether the Undertaker is getting help from Kane.  The Undertaker refuses to answer McMahon’s
question and Steve Austin comes out. 
Austin asks the Undertaker whether he will have his back at Fully Loaded
and the Undertaker remains non-committal. 
That brings out D-Generation X and Triple H demands the Outlaws get an
immediate rematch against Kane and Mankind with three referees: a  regular official in the ring and the
Undertaker and Austin on the outside of the ring.  This will reveal whether the Undertaker and
Kane are working together.  Triple
H:  COO before we even knew it!  4 for
6
Brawl for All
First Round:  Dan Severn beats The
Godfather via decision:
As someone who did not see a lot of UFC growing up, I was
really excited to see what Severn could do in this format.  Severn is not used to releasing a takedown
after performing one, which the rules require, so the referee has to constantly
yell for him to break.  Severn also keeps
going for submissions, which are not allowed. 
The crowd is not happy about the lack of punches thrown and Severn
advances due to his takedown skills in a very boring bout.  After this, Severn would withdraw from the
Brawl for All because he did not care for the format and this bout shows
why.  We have had six Brawl for All
matches and all of them have gone to a decision, which is not very
exciting.  4 for 7
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match with The Undertaker and Steve Austin as Special
Enforcers:  Kane & Mankind (Champions
w/Paul Bearer) wrestle The New Age Outlaws to a no-contest at 8:09:
I am not often a fan of having the same match happen
again on the same show, but this was a very creative way to book around that
problem.  The main referee gets bumped
when Billy Gunn inserts himself into the match without a tag, but when Austin
tries to count the Road Dogg’s small package on Kane, the Undertaker pulls him
out of the ring.  The Undertaker tries to
count a pin when Kane chokeslams Road Dogg and Austin interrupts that.  The Undertaker and Austin then get into
separate fights with Mankind and Kane, respectively, and the Nation of
Domination hits the ring to brawl with the Outlaws, which brings out
D-Generation X.  Austin and the
Undertaker delivering Stunners and chokeslams plays us out and no one ends up
winning the match.  I’ll give this one a
point for the crazy post-match brawl.  Rating: 
** (5 for 8)
The Final Report Card:  This show gave us more storyline development
for the Undertaker-Kane relationship and whether they were in cahoots with each
other, although that issue is becoming very, very complicated.  Why would Kane want the Undertaker to face
Austin for the WWF title instead of himself? 
If he did decide to work with his brother, was it his idea?  When was such an agreement made?  Why would Kane or the Undertaker not tell
McMahon about it, since McMahon also wants to get the title off of Austin?  Does McMahon know and is he just playing dumb
to lure in Austin?  All this aside, this
RAW had a really hot first hour and then the second hour was death.  If not for the post-match brawl at the end,
this RAW would have ended up in neutral territory.  A slight thumbs up for this episode, which
saw RAW regain its Nielsen ratings lead only a week after WCW showed its big
Goldberg-Hogan match.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.7 (vs. 4.5 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

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

by Logan Scisco

Highlights of Steve Austin regaining the WWF
championship from Kane on last week’s Raw are shown.
Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are our commentators tonight and they are taped from State
College, Pennsylvania.

The Undertaker
comes out, with more pyro blasts that usual, and demands a title shot from
Steve Austin.  Michael Cole goes looking
for Austin backstage, but Austin just blows him off and walks out to the ring.  Vince McMahon angrily interrupts the
conversation and chides the Undertaker for claiming that he is the number one
contender and Austin for thinking he defends the title on his schedule.  McMahon says that Austin and the Undertaker
can be in the ring together at Fully Loaded, the next pay-per-view, but they
will not be facing each other in a singles match.  Instead, they will face Kane and Mankind in a
tag match.  McMahon also promises to name
the number one contender for the WWF title tonight.  A great, logical segment to open tonight’s
show.  As an added bonus, McMahon
“salutes” Austin at the end of the segment, which devolves into him flipping
off the WWF champion.  1 for 1
Opening Brawl for
All First Round Contest:  Savio Vega
beats Brakus via decision:
Brakus was a German wrestler that was supposed to come to
the WWF the previous year.  He even got a
series of vignettes to hype his arrival in 1997.  However, he was so green that he was sent to
ECW and USWA after wrestling on a few house shows and dark matches in late
1996.  Aside from a match on Shotgun
Saturday Night and appearances on a few European shows, this was Brakus’s big
moment in the WWF and he does not acquit himself well as Savio staggers him
with some hard shots throughout the bout. 
In a later shoot interview, Savio claimed that Brakus thought the Brawl
for All was a worked tournament instead of a shoot, which helped him win this
bout.  2 for 2
Ken Shamrock defeats
“Double J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) via disqualification when King Mabel
interferes at 4:22:
This is a special challenge match as Jarrett wants
revenge for losing to Shamrock in the King of the Ring semi-finals.  This is basically a repeat of that King of
the Ring match, including many of the same spots, but this time there is a run-in
by King Mabel, who comes out of the crowd and lays out Shamrock.  You see, Shamrock beat two King of the Rings
last week, but he did not beat the great King Mabel!  Rating:  ** (3 for 3)
Michael Cole
interviews Shamrock after the commercial break and Shamrock challenges Mabel to
a match later on in the show.
Vader wrestles
Bradshaw to a no-contest after Kane and Mankind interfere at 2:05:
In this face-versus-face encounter both men are in
desperate need of some direction as Bradshaw has been spending 1998 feuding
with the NWA and Kaientai and Vader has been losing to new attractions like the
Rock and Kane.  After some stiff shots
back and forth, Kane and Mankind crash the match.  So basically, Vader and Bradshaw still do not
have any momentum!
Call 815-734-1161
to get your D-Generation X video for $14.95 (plus $4 shipping & handling)!
The Disciples of
Apocalypse (w/Paul Ellering) beat The Headbangers when 8-Ball pins Mosh after a
side suplex-neckbreaker combination at 3:41:
The Headbangers pour hot candle wax on their arms on
their way to the ring, which I do not remember being a big cultural thing in
1998, but I was not part of that crowd so who knows.  Ellering is being hyped as a stock market
wizard and he says that he came back to the WWF to write the final chapter of
the Legion of Doom.  I think the New Age
Outlaws beat Ellering to that task.  In
other news, Mabel has accepted Shamrock’s challenge for later tonight!  In terms of the match, the DOA wrestle with a
little more energy than usual, but the match is nothing to write home about.  Rating:  *½ (3 for 4)
Steve Austin
giving Stone Cold Stunners to Kane and the Undertaker at the close of last
week’s show is the Skittles Slam of the Week.
D-Lo Brown (w/The
Godfather) beats Terry Funk with the Lo Down at 3:46:
This is Brown’s first match back from his “pectoral
injury” and he is using his chest protector. 
Funk pulls out another crazy Asai moonsault, which I really wish he
would not do since it causes his knee to slam into the guardrail.  Funk appears to have the match in hand, but
the Godfather nails Funk in the back of the head with a gold chain and D-Lo
picks up the first of a series of victories that will put him on the map as a
singles star in the company.  It’s sad to
see Funk reduced to the level of enhancement talent, but to his credit he has
really made D-Lo Brown and Mark Henry look good over the last month.  A true professional.  Rating:  **¼ (4 for 5)
After the match,
the Undertaker comes to the ring and chokeslams D-Lo Brown and the
Godfather.  Terry Funk thinks the
Undertaker has come to save him, but the Undertaker chokeslams him as
well.  Ross’s calls during this segment
are great as he screams “Who’s your daddy?!?!?” as D-Lo gets chokeslamed and
screams “WHY!?!  WHY?!” when he attacks
Funk.
Vince McMahon walks
out to announce the number one contender to the WWF title.  Mankind, Kane, and the Undertaker are called
to the ring.  McMahon lauds Mankind’s
sacrifice at Hell in a Cell, calls Kane stupid for giving Steve Austin a title
shot last week, and hilariously changes his tone of voice when he gets to the
Undertaker and calls him an “evil, diabolical excuse for a human being” for
setting his brother on fire in an Inferno match and nearly killing
Mankind.  McMahon refuses to name a
number one contender himself and says that a triple threat match will determine
the issue later tonight.  5 for 6
Brawl for All
First Round:  Hawk and Darren Drozdov
fight to a draw:
The crowd is a more receptive to this week’s Brawl for
All bouts than last week.  The bout starts
okay, but both men are gassed by the third round and things end as more of a
whimper than bang.  The contest ends as a
draw and since we have no bracket established for this tournament, we have no
idea what that means for future rounds. 
And seriously, why would you establish a tournament like this and not
have a tiebreaker established?  5 for 7
Marc Mero and
Jacqueline come out and Jacqueline implies that Mero lost the Brawl for All
last week because she took all the energy out of him since it was their two
month anniversary before the bout. 
Jacqueline runs down Sable’s inability to meet Mero’s needs and
unsurprisingly, this brings Sable out. 
Sable implies that Mero needs Viagra and she and Jacqueline debate over
who is more of a woman.  Jacqueline
challenges Sable to a bikini contest at Fully Loaded and Sable accepts.  Color me silly, but I found the exchange of
insults here hilarious, probably because Mero’s facial expressions during the
exchange were great.  6 for 8
The Undertaker
chokeslamming Mankind through the Hell in a Cell is the JVC Kaboom! of the
Week.
Val Venis defeats
Dustin Runnels via disqualification when Kaientai interfere at 2:35:
Runnels and Venis go back and forth in this lower midcard
match until Kainetai run in to get revenge on Venis for Venis dancing in front
of Yamiguchi-San’s wife on last week’s show. 
However, Yamiguchi-San’s wife is not happy at the beating or her husband
mocking Venis’s dance in the ring.
D-Generation X
comes out dressed as the Nation in one of the more famous skits of the
era.  There is no way this segment would
fly today as X-Pac is in blackface as “Mizark Henry” and the Road Dogg and
Billy Gunn have bad spray tans for their impressions of the Godfather and D-Lo
Brown.  Road Dogg steals the segment by
repeating Triple H’s (playing “The Crock”) lines and climbing the ropes at
random intervals to do D-Lo’s head bob.  Jason
Sensation is playing Owen Hart and sounds exactly like him.  The forced laughter from Lawler nearly ruins
the segment, though.  7 for 9
Ken Shamrock
defeats King Mabel via submission to the ankle lock at 2:09:
Mabel finds his old king tights for this match, which is
his first televised match in the company in more than two years.  Shamrock’s path through older kings continues
with this match as he weathers Mabel’s power offense, counters a second rope
dive, and forces him to submit to the ankle lock.  After the bell, Shamrock refuses to release
the hold.  The old existing king left in
the WWF is Steve Austin, which would have set up an interesting WWF title
match, but that never happened.
Vince McMahon
walks out to do commentary duties for the triple threat main event and Steve
Austin comes out to join him.
Triple Threat
Match to Determine the Number One Contender to the WWF Championship:  The Undertaker defeats Kane & Mankind by pinning
Mankind after a chair shot at 1:58:
The Undertaker does not arrive when his entrance music
plays, so McMahon has Tony Chimmel announce that the Undertaker is
“chickenshit” and books a no holds barred, falls count anywhere match between
Kane and Mankind instead.  Mankind
refuses to fight his friend, but Kane takes a chair and gives Mankind a sick
shot against the steps to win the bout. 
However, when the regular lights come on, Kane unmasks to reveal the
Undertaker and Steve Austin looks on in disbelief as we are played out.
Tune in next week
to see the New Age Outlaws defend the tag team titles against Kane &
Mankind!
The Final Report Card:  The closing segment to this show was great
and as someone commented in the King of the Ring review, the double long
sleeved Kane outfit fit this angle well due to the fact that it covered the
Undertaker’s tattoos.  It furthers the
Kane-Undertaker-Austin triangle because one is left wondering how the
Undertaker got Kane’s ring attire and how he was able to replace him in the bout.  This was a great RAW, but it lost in the
ratings because WCW panicked and ran Bill Goldberg’s victory over Hulk Hogan in
the Georgia Dome against it.  Still, that
would end up being a pyrrhic victory for WCW and it did not derail the WWF in
the long-term.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.0 (vs. 4.8 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

Total Divas Season 1 Recap: Episode 1 – “Welcome to the WWE!”

Last week, I wrote that The Total Divas belonged on the WWE Network and, less than a week later, after Vince obviously read my piece, it was announced that the reruns of the first two seasons would, in fact, be shown on the network. So, having been a major force in changing the WWE program lineup, instead of using my newly-discovered super powers for pure evil…well, I’m still gonna take over the world and you will all do my bidding. But, first, I’m pleased to be able to review the first Total Divas seasons, starting with Episode 1, which originally aired on July 28, 2013.

For those who don’t know me, I’m the girlfriend of Matt Perri who recaps Main Event each week. So, essentially, the Bella Twin to his John Cena…or Daniel Byran…or…you know, whatever. I’ve wanted to recap this show for a while now and this seemed like a good a time as any. 

Matt will be chiming in with his thoughts. It’s the least I can let him do for making him watch this show.
Yep, I can already hear the groaning: “Total Divas? Fuck this. I’m going to Scherer’s place.” Trust me: that site sucks. You don’t wanna go there.
Let’s start!
The show gets started by introducing Brie and Nikki Bella. They’re twins, they’re hot, they dress alike, but they’re different., and don’t forget it. Brie says Nikki is more loud, Nikki says Brie is more passive, (MATT: Kinky.) foreshadowing fights to come, I’m sure. and they’re shown in various outfits and winning matches.They state that they left the WWE for 11 months and that the other girls are jealous of them. 
Trinity and Ariane (AKA Naomi and Cameron) talk about how they formed the Funkadactlyls and how they became the fan favorites when the Bellas left, though they do admit that in the pyramid of the divas (those at the top/face of the company – scenes of Bellas), midcard and veterans, they are still midcard. Ariane spends an inordinate amount of time talking about Trinity’s “donk” which is so big, she uses it as a weapon in the ring.
Nattie (Natalya) is shown to be a veteran, she is WWE Royalty as she the niece of Bret “The Hitman” Hart and her dad is Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart. She’s trained for almost 13 years. It’s her turn to shine.
The Divas proclaim themselves, “cheerleaders” and that it’s fun being a Diva. 

Tampa, Florida 
10 days before Wrestlemania


Nikki states she was mentally and physically exhausted when they took time off for 11 months, she missed wrestling, and now she can’t get enough.
Trinity and Ariane are in a gym, they’re gonna wrestle for the first time at Wrestlemania, but they are working more on their dancing moves than fighting. Jon (AKA Jimmy Uso) is Trinity’s fiance and he’s there to coach the girls on their dancing (MATT: With a shit-eating grin that says, “Fuck, I love my job.”) and apparently watch while they first play-fight then actually take some decent shots.
Nattie is in the ring being coached and fighting hard. Trainer Bill DeMott and her Dad, Jim, are there to give advice also. Nattie points out there is only one Diva’s match at Wrestlemania (29, at time of this episode) and that how she wants to be in it. She says she’s had doors slammed in her face, despite her family name and that she had much more success in other countries and wants to be big in the US.
Meanwhile, John Cena shows up to take Nikki on a date, she describes him as the most amazing man to step foot on this earth. He takes her fishing but don’t seem to catch anything, seeing as though they’re probably fishing in one of Florida’s many man-made cesspools. They kiss in the rain and she compares their relationship to The Notebook. She convinces him to try to recreate it but doesn’t seem to know a word of dialogue from the scene despite it being “her favorite scene”.
(MATT: This was both sweet and amusing. You can tell that Nikki is the real “Diva” of the two sisters and would rather be shopping and getting her nails done than pretending to fish with Cena who, at one point, compliments her skimpy “fishing outfit”. Because Cena knows that Nikki will cut him off from sex, she makes John Cena re-enact the scene from The Notebook — the Caffeine Free Diet Coke of romantic epics. Nikki says it’s hot to kiss in the rain and the producers, who believe we can’t understand spoken English, feel compelled to give us arbitrary subtitles to go with the moment like it’s a Tony Scott movie.)
Brie lives with Bryan Danielson (AKA Daniel Bryan) and they’ve been together 2 1/2 years. Brie walks her dog with Daniel Bryan and realizes she may need her mom to watch the dog while she’s at Wrestlemania. She mentions she buys all her food from the farmer’s market and is her twin’s opposite. They arrive at Brie’s place (they only live a mile apart) only to discover that John bought Nikki a Range Rover because rich bastard.
Brie is jealous of Nikki’s gift, stroking the leather interior like it’s Cena’s chest and Bryan and the Bellas sit in the kitchen, talking about Nikki’s new gift, peppering every sentence with the words, “Range Rover” like it’s a meta-search keyword.
(MATT: Ok…hold the phone. Like Bryan couldn’t march over to the dealership right now and buy Brie TWO of those?
METhat’s not the point, it’s romantic.
MATT: No, it isn’t. It’s the CVS Pharmacy teddy-bear-and-flowers for rich people. She probably found him banging a room of groupies and that was his make-up gift.
ME: Yeah…you’re probably right. He probably got it for free, too.)
Brie says Nikki has wanted one before they could drive, it will make her happy and she deserves it. Brie asks if this means that Nikki and John are taking their relationship to the next level. Nikki says she doesn’t know and says (to the camera) that after all he just got divorced from someone he loves. Daniel laughs that John bought her a car before an engagement ring, (though, it should be noted that, at this point, he hasn’t bought Brie one, either). Nikki admits he may have done it in part to hold off having to get a ring for a while.

New York
Day One of Wrestlemania

Nattie is happy it’s the first day of Wrestlemania Week and compares it to the Super Bowl. Nattie is met by Senior VP of WWE Talent Relations & Development Jane Geddes and Mark Carrano, also of WWE Talent Relations. They to talk to her and tell her she’s not on the card for Wrestlemania. Nattie is near tears. They acknowledge she has family coming in to see her. They tell her there is a mixed tag match and she’s not in. Instead, the Bellas and Funkadactyls are scheduled. She complains to the camera that the Bellas take off for a year and walk right in. It’s even more upsetting because she taught them to wrestle.
Nattie probably thinks it can’t get worse, but it’s about to. Jane and Mark, instead, ask her to show the two new girls from the L.A. camp around and chaperone them because she’s good enough to teach but not to wrestle. “Teach them everything you know, teach them your secrets, make them amazing, so they can take your spot,” she laments.
The new girls, Eva Marie and JoJo fly in from Newark and are introduced to the other Divas. Eva Marie is from the Bay Area (so I’ll have to start rooting for her more). Both girls have started training a month ago and JoJo even says she is scared being away from home for the first time. JoJo is so young and green, I’m surprised she didn’t bring her teddy bear and sippy cup.
(MATT: It’s sad, really. Eva Marie makes JoJo look like leftover steak that you let a pit bull get a hold of.)
Nattie pretends to be happy for Brie and says she’s excited to have new girls. Eva Marie shows up with red highlights from the day before and Jane, being the wonderful feminist she is, orders Marie to color her hair blonde. Jane tells her that Nattie will show them around, Nattie tries to fake that she wants to help, and then looks even more crestfallen when Jane reveals that Eva Marie is probably going blonde. Nattie keeps saying she is the blonde, they have a blonde, and she’s clearly threatened, giving a fake smile that should win her an Academy Award.
(MATT: The whole thing is really telling. Scott Keith once stated that Divas were, basically, “models that wrestle”. Watching this was uncomfortable and corroborates that theory.) 
Five Days till Wrestlemania

Ariane’s boyfriend, Vincent, flies in. She’s nervous as he’s never seen her wrestle. She has to practice, he’s going to sightsee, despite just coming in from a long trip on a plane with a seat that couldn’t recline. 
(MATT: Vincent is pretty Felonius Gru from Despicable Me, only a lot sweeter. We get a great bit where Ariane says that Vincent “balances” her and then we get a flashback from EARLIER TODAY where Vincent is struggling to carry 5 of her 152 pieces of luggage while Ariane gazes longingly at her servant.)
The dress rehearsal is not going good for anyone. Nattie is bummed she has to show the newbies the ropes and Vincent who, for some reason can’t sightsee by himself, is backstage. Ariane is mad that her tag team partner Brodus Clay said they sucked so Vincent comforts her as she cries. Ariane says he’s the sweetest guy ever, unless someone hurts her. Vincent loses his shit and wants Brodus to step out so he can beat the shit out of him. Trinity is worried that if Vincent does so, he will hurt her (Trinity’s career) as they are sold as a duo act. Nattie runs damage control and calms him down. Jimmy (who was also backstage but didn’t speak up) sides with Vincent’s actions and Trinity says work is less fun because of things like this.
The Bella twins want to see the newbies especially since they heard one of them looks kinda like them. Nikki is insulted and calls them out of their hotel rooms. Eva says she has to change her hair to blonde. Nikki says she is happy Eva Marie will be blonde since people are saying they look like her. Eva Marie says they will have to follow the twins’ leads as they are more experienced.
Meanwhile, Trinity goes to Ariane and takes her to lunch. She grills her about what happened with Brodus and Vincent. Trinity admits Brodus was wrong, but says Vincent shouldn’t have wanted to start a fight. Ariane said he would have been a punk had he let her be disrespected, but that she is over it.
Two Days Until Wrestlemania
Eva Marie is in the salon, clearly not happy about going blonde. The colorist begins stripping her hair of the red highlights and she says blonde doesn’t work for her (MATT: I laughed when Eva Marie said, “I look like Mufasa…this is bad.”) and tells JoJo she refuses to go blonde. She tells the colorist that she is going fire engine-red and the colorist starts putting it on. JoJo watches with admiration and respect because this could possibly be Eva Marie’s career. Eva Marie says the hair color screams her and there will be no mixup now with her and The Bellas. (MATT: Uh…I’ll allow it. She looks stunning.) Jane calls Eva Marie saying she wants to see her hair. Jane is stunned and asks what happens to blonde. (Jane’s hair is blonde.) Jane says she hates to say it…but she likes it, but in the future, when they say do something do it.
The Divas attend the pre-Wrestlemania party. 
The Bellas are confused about Eva Marie’s hair and Nattie’s upset that the noobs are stealing the spotlight. 
The ladies are all dressed up and Nikki says the newbies look too comfortable and that they need to get their intimidation on as veterans. They steal all the photo moments from the newbies but Eva Marie says she will take it as a one-time initiation but then that’s it.
One Day Till Wrestlemania

The twins are “starving”, and (MATT: Pretend…) to eat breakfast together. Brie says she is going ring shopping. Brie hints that John may not want to marry Nikki as he’s been married before and Nikki says it bothers her that this perfect man may not want to marry her. This really upsets me. I want to yell at the screen for Nikki to realize that Cena is far, FAR from “the perfect man” and to grow a spine and at least have that talk with Jon. Brie says Nikki being sad over this makes her sad. I like these ladies as wrestlers and even characters, I really do, but right now it seems like they’re sharing one personality.
Trinity wants Ariane to talk to Vincent, Ariane hasn’t and now they snap at each other. They mock each other and keep fighting. Trinity says Ariane has some deep-rooted issues and everyone else sees it.
(MATT: Thankfully, this is about as “Kardashian” as the show gets. It actually ends on a mature note.)
John and Nikki go to a romantic dinner. (MATT: Which looks, suspiciously, like a Black Angus.) Nikki needs to know if there is a possibility that marriage is something he could want. Nikki says she needs marriage and doesn’t want to walk away. John says he tried marriage already and while Nikki has changed him he doesn’t know if he wants those things. Jon says he enjoys things with her that he can’t with anyone else like opening his home and his life to her, and that he liked their random Thursday dinner and fishing trip. John says it’s the “little things” that make him happy. Nikki admits that Brie ring shopping is motivating a lot of what she’s feeling. Of course it is. She needs to have a parallel life after all they are sharing one brain.
Day of Wrestlemania 29
Each and every Diva is excited about Wrestlemania and, apparently, every one of them is required to randomly say “80,000 people” are there. The twins are both impressed with Daniel Bryan and Kane for winning their match. The girls have ridiculously-silly red outfits with sequin-ridden canes and top hats. Putting on the Ritz anyone?
At least they have their costumes ready. The seamstresses are still sewing The Funkadactyls costumes. Where is the magical fairy godmother from Cinderella to fix things when you need her? The Bellas walk by, fully-clothed, and get bitchy, saying they hope Ariane and Trinity don’t walk out naked. Ariane tells them to step off because they don’t want to go there right now.
The match is up next and, still, the seamstress needs more time. She gives them the costumes, barely in time, and they race to put them on and get ready to go on stage.
The Bellas are ready to go on…but John Cena’s music hits instead and the main event between him and The Rock is on. Nattie and the newbies are watching from the WWE luxury box. Nattie is incredibly disgusted as she worked HARD to get these girls in. She goes to the dressing room where she finds out that the girls were cut from their match. This was the twins first Wrestlemania to wrestle in, so they’re really sad. Trinity says there’s nothing worse that could happen. Not even a career-threatening eye injury, Trinity? Well, that’s later down the road for her so, for now, this is the worst thing. They hug it out and decide to try again next year.
(MATT: This segment is disgustingly inaccurate. The editing practically makes you believe that The Undertaker’s match went too long when, in fact, it was Triple H and Brock Lesnar that went too long…but showing that wouldn’t be what’s “Best for Business”, would it?) 
The show ends with fireworks over Met Life Stadium in New York.
DANIELLE:
Not bad for the first show, but they really shafted JoJo who we didn’t get to know much about.


Diva I most wanted to punch this episode – Nikki. Wow, is she way too clingy and needy.
Diva I most wanted to hug this episode – Eva Marie. Great job sticking up for yourself choosing a hair color that is the real you even if it’s from a bottle.
MATT:
Ok…this show was good. I really don’t wanna be that cynical asshole and say it’s gonna get worse…but I know it will. Not a bad start.

That’s it. Tommy will take you into the weekend with the Smackdown Review. Andy PG will start your week off right with the PG Era Raw Rant on Monday.

Thank you to all the BoD’ers and, hey, if you wanna read more of our stuff, please visit WE HATE YOUR GIMMICK at http://wehateyourgimmick.blogspot.com and, of course, visit us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/wehateyourgimmick/.

WWE: Handicapping the Money In The Bank briefcase match

Scott Keith lays it all the line with a look at who has a shot to win the prestigious Money In The Bank briefcase on Sunday's WWE show, and more importantly who does not.  Which is pretty much everyone.


Figured I'd try for something closer to my normal "voice" with this one.  Please continue to share and enjoy.

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – June 29, 1998

by Logan Scisco


Pictures of last
night’s Steve Austin-Kane WWF title match are shown and narrated by Jim Ross
and Jerry “the King” Lawler.
Ross and Lawler
are in the booth and they are live from Cleveland, Ohio.  I am glad that we now have Ross and Lawler
full-time instead of just having them fill the second hour.

Vince McMahon,
Commissioner Slaughter, and Gerald Brisco come out and the WWF title is encased
in a glass box in the ring.  The crowd
loudly questions Vince’s sexuality as he gloats about Steve Austin losing the
title at the King of the Ring.  Kane and
Paul Bearer come out and Bearer puts over how he and his son’s dreams have come
true.  McMahon goes to put the WWF title
around Kane’s waist when Austin crashes the party and says Kane never made him
bleed at the King of the Ring.  As a
result, Austin demands a rematch and goads Kane into giving him one by saying
that if he doesn’t he will never be as good as his brother.  Austin’s intensity carried this segment,
which was much better than the generic “authority figure sets up a title match”
angle.  1 for 1
Opening
Contest:  Steven Regal beats Darren
Drozdov via submission to the Regal Stretch at 4:41:
This Regal’s WWF debut and he is introduced by
Sable.  He is sporting his traditional
attire and not the ridiculous “Real Man’s Man” gimmick that he would receive at
the end of the year.  His theme music is
a generic rock n’ roll beat, which is quite a shock after seeing Regal wrestle
under the Blue Blood theme in WCW.  Ross
does his best to put over Regal, but the crowd does not take kindly to his
mat-based style and Lawler is more interested in talking to Sable on
commentary.  A pretty boring squash, and
this is a good example of why airing vignettes before someone debuts is a good
idea.  Rating:  * (1 for 2)
Michael Cole
interviews Ken Shamrock, who cuts a very bland promo about how he respects the
Rock and how it feels good to be the King of the Ring.  Owen Hart interrupts and says that he is a
better King of the Ring than Shamrock can hope to be.  Owen challenges Shamrock to a fight tonight
and Shamrock accepts.  Triple H and Chyna
come out and Triple H argues that if there is going to be a “king of kings”
match then he has to be in it.  He
challenges them to a triple threat match, which is accepted.  What was funny about this segment was that
Shamrock still wanted to use the old names for wrestlers like Rocky Maivia
instead of “The Rock” and Hunter Hearst-Helmsley instead of “Triple H.”  1 for
3
Call 815-734-1161
to get your D-Generation X video for $14.95 (plus $4 shipping & handling)!
Brawl for All
First Round:  Steve Blackman beats
“Marvelous” Marc Mero via decision:
Ah yes, the Brawl for All, a competition that led to a bunch of injuries and was originally booked as a shoot, has begun.  The rules for the Brawl for All:  three one-minute rounds and a points system
is used to render a decision if a knockout is not achieved (five points for
most punches, five points for a takedown, and ten points for knockdowns).  The crowd loudly boos since in their mind
they paid to watch wrestling (they work up a loud “we want wrestling” chant)
and not a toughman competition. 
Marketing probably plays a role as well, since the WWF did not hype the
competition in the weeks leading up to it. 
Although Mero has the advantage in punching skills, Blackman just keeps
taking him down for easy points throughout the bout and wins.  1 for
4
Kevin Kelly says
that he will find out why Kane decided to accept Steve Austin’s challenge
tonight
.
Chyna’s DDT on
Owen Hart last night at the King of the Ring is the Skittles Slam of the Week.
Kane tells Kelly
that he took Austin’s challenge because he knows he can beat him and that he is
a better champion than his brother ever was.
The Undertaker is
shown arriving at the arena, which is always an angle I laugh at.  At what other workplace is it acceptable to
show up halfway through your shift?
Val Venis pins
Togo (w/Yamiguchi-San) with the Money Shot at 3:02:
Venis leers at Yamiguchi-San’s wife, who is sitting in
the front row, and this is the first step in one of the most ridiculous, yet memorable,
feuds of 1998.  During the match, Dustin
Runnels joins Ross and Lawler on commentary and encourages them to spread the
word of God.  Extended squash for Venis,
who remains undefeated in the World Wrestling Federation.  After the bout, Yamiguchi-San hits Venis
after Venis does his dance in front of his wife and Venis lays him out and the
rest of Kaientai with a chair.  Somehow
Venis is the face here.  Rating:  *½ (2 for 5)
Cole interviews
Austin, who says he is very confident that he is going to regain the WWF title
tonight.
“King of Kings”
Triple Threat Match:  Ken Shamrock
defeats Owen Hart & Triple H (w/Chyna) by pinning Triple H after the Rock
blasts Triple H with the Intercontinental title at 9:35 shown:
This is the perfect concept for a TV main event, but it
is trumped tonight by the Kane-Austin title match.  This has the usual triple threat formula
where two guys wrestle and another guy ends up on the floor, but at least the
action is continuous.  Chyna interferes
against Owen yet again, by pulling down the top rope during the bout, but it
does not work out well for Triple H as the Rock uses the distraction to
interfere.  So basically, Shamrock is the
true “king of kings” and Triple H has been infringing on his rightful gimmick
for the last sixteen years.  Wrestling
enthusiasts take note.  Rating: 
***¼ (3 for 6)
After the bout,
D-Generation X brawls to the locker room with the Nation and Owen puts Shamrock
in a ring post figure-four before WWF officials intervene.
The Undertaker
comes out to give a “confession” to Cole. 
The Undertaker says he interfered in last night’s WWF title match
because he did not want to see his brother set himself on fire.  Vince McMahon comes out and insists that the
Undertaker only helped his brother because he thinks he can beat Kane for the
title and not Austin.  McMahon warns the
Undertaker against interfering in tonight’s WWF title match.  McMahon’s role in this segment was random and
his adoption of the Undertaker’s language about hell and suffering was odd.  3 for
7
The Undertaker
tossing Mankind off the top of the Hell in a Cell is the JVC Kaboom! of the
Week.
Brawl for All
First Round:  Bradshaw beats Mark
Canterbury via decision:
Canterbury is of course everyone’s favorite Arkansas hog
farmer Henry Godwinn.  They have not
released a bracket for this tournament, so who knows who is really facing
who.  Bradshaw refuses to sit on his
stool during the rest periods and Canterbury only tries to do takedowns in the
third and final round, which is too little, too late.  At least this fight featured some punching
sequences.  4 for 8
We get our first
graphic highlighting the “Highway to Hell” and SummerSlam in nine weeks.
LOD 2000 welcome
back Paul Ellering as their manager now that Sunny is out of the company.  However, the Disciples of Apocalypse come out
and Ellering IN A SWERVE announces that he is really with the DOA.  The DOA do a beatdown, with Ellering using
pages of newspaper as a weapon. 
What.  The. Hell.  4 for
9
The Undertaker
tells Kevin Kelly that no one tells him what to do, which means that he will
not heed Vince McMahon’s warning not to get involved in the main event.
WWF Championship
Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve Austin pins
Kane (Champion w/Paul Bearer) after a Stone Cold Stunner to win the title at
8:27:
Austin carries a lot of the offensive load of the match,
which really puts a damper on Kane’s “superhuman” ability to crush his
opponents.  Near the end of the bout, the
Undertaker walks out, but does not interfere, and Austin goes under a Kane big
boot and delivers a Stunner to win his second WWF title.  No ref bumps or shenanigans in this one,
which is pretty refreshing.  One could
point to this match as the beginning of sudden world title changes in the
company, as the WWF title switched hands more frequently than it had in the
past due to the Monday Night Wars.  Rating: 
** (5 for 10)
After the bout, Austin gives the Undertaker
a Stone Cold Stunner and the Undertaker and Kane sit up at the same time and
stare at Austin as he walks to the locker room.
The Final Report Card:  Aside from popping a rating (which this show
did), it made little sense to give Kane a one day reign as champion.  The short reign, as well as the way his match
with Austin played out on this show, dented some of his credibility as an
unstoppable monster (as long as he was not fighting his brother, but that sort
of cancelled out because they both possessed “supernatural” powers).  Kane went on to have a memorable career after
this, but I never viewed him the same way again after this title loss.  This show gets a neutral rating because while
there are some highlights like the Triple Threat and the Austin segments, there
is a lot of random stuff that is not as good like the out of the blue Regal
debut, the beginning of the Brawl for All (which was not adequately promoted),
and the random Ellering turn (which is right out of the Vince Russo playbook).
Monday Night War Rating:  5.4 (vs. 4.1 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Neutral