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

by Logan Scisco


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

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