–A video package chronicles Steve Austin attacking the Rock on Sunday Night Heat and Paul Wight not trying to save the Rock from the assault.
–Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are calling the action and they are live from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
–WWF Champion The Rock walks out and is irate about what happened on Sunday Night Heat. He demands that Paul Wight come out and face him, but Vince McMahon makes his way down to the ring instead. McMahon demands that the Rock stop airing corporate laundry in public and tries to direct the Rock’s ire at the fans. He also tells the Rock that Wight is loyal to the Corporation and is in good standing, but the Rock says he still has doubts. That prompts Wight to the ring, who says that he was hired to keep the WWF title from Steve Austin, but maybe he should quit and attack the Rock. Mankind, who has officially been made the second guest referee for the WWF title match at WrestleMania, interrupts and offers to referee a Rock-Wight match despite the fact that they conned him a couple of weeks ago. McMahon counters by booking him to face Steve Austin in the main event of tonight’s show with Wight serving as the guest referee for that bout and the Rock serving as guest commentator. This is all supposed to prove to the Rock that Wight can be trusted at WrestleMania. Steve Austin proceeds to come out after that announcement and says he does not care about the guest referee saga because he is going to regain the WWF title at WrestleMania.
–The Undertaker and the Ministry are shown going into a locker room and beating up some jobbers to somehow send a message to the Big Bossman.
–Steve Austin tells Mankind backstage that he is going to destroy him tonight. Mankind says that if he changes his mind that he should give him a signal.
–Opening Street City Street Fight Contest: D-Lo Brown pins Owen Hart (w/Debra) after hitting him with a guitar at 4:31:
Despite the fancy title, there is no difference between this bout and a Hardcore match, with weapons use factoring into the situation in less than twenty seconds. It is really tough to take big spots later in the show seriously after a match like this as D-Lo and Owen kick out of being DDT’d on the entrance ramp and piledriven onto a cookie sheet. Jeff Jarrett walks out during the double KO spot and tries to toss Owen his guitar, but D-Lo intercepts it and Owen takes the blow to lose the match. Owen’s head gets split open by the blow and the camera shows blood running down his face after the bell. This would appear to be leading to a split between Owen and Jarrett, but Owen refused to do the angle, which called for him to be going after Debra behind Jarrett’s back. All of that would eventually lead to his death when he was punished with the Blue Blazer gimmick. Rating: **¼
–The Undertaker orders the Acolytes to patrol the parking lot, Viscera & Mideon are sent to the locker room, and the Brood are sent to the front of the arena to look for the Big Bossman.
–The New Age Outlaws defeat Al Snow & Hardcore Holly when Billy Gunn pins Holly after a spike piledriver at 2:09:
Snow and Holly are not ideal teammates since they are having a subtle fight over the Hardcore title and sure enough, both men start fighting each other after a minute of action. Snow hits Holly in the back of the head with Head and costs his team the match.
–After the match, the lights go out and the Ministry hits the ring and attacks everyone. Viscera proceeds to splash a lot of people like it is the 1995 King of the Ring and the Undertaker gets on the house mic and warns the Bossman that he will meet the Lord of Darkness by the end of the night.
–Jim Ross tells Steve Williams backstage that he is an All-American and he is better than other superstars in the locker room. Cole and Lawler talk about how it might be too early for Ross to return. Ross comes to the ring carrying a bag. He asks Cole to get into the ring and proceeds to pull out a mask and red attire. He says that Williams was wearing this on last week’s show because the booking team could come up with nothing better for him. Ross then gives Cole a low blow for disrespecting him and orders him to the back so he can return to his job at the commentary booth. Again, the crowd is not booing Ross in this angle and popped loud when he hit Cole. Lawler awkwardly welcomes Ross back, but Vince McMahon is shown backstage ordering Terry Taylor to get rid of Ross at the announce table. McMahon tells the stooges to keep an eye on the Ministry as Taylor comes down to ringside. Taylor asks Ross to leave, triggering Ross to shower Taylor with Red Rooster insults. Williams walks down to ringside and gets Ross to leave, but Ross makes sure to note that Taylor was a “lifetime midcarder” and is not qualified to do play-by-play.
–Ryan Shamrock is shown kissing on Goldust in the locker room while the Blue Meanie cries about it.
–The stooges have flashlights in an attempt to find the Ministry in dark corners of the arena. They have no luck…yet.
–Ken Shamrock beats Goldust (w/Ryan Shamrock & The Blue Meanie) with a belly-to-belly suplex at 1:20:
Before I highlight this match, it has to be said that the show’s commentary really goes downhill from this point forward since neither Lawler or Taylor can do play-by-play. Goldust sets Shamrock up for Shattered Dreams, but the Blue Meanie distracts him by kissing Ryan, who is disgusted by it. Shamrock decks the Meanie when he runs in after the bout while Goldust and Ryan flee to the back.
–The stooges are still searching for the Ministry, with Gerald Brisco suggesting that they kick in a door. Pat Patterson thinks that is a really stupid idea.
–Test (w/Shane McMahon &Chyna) beats X-Pac (w/Triple H) after Shane hits X-Pac with the European title at 3:52:
Shane decides to do commentary for this bout, thereby making the situation there even worse. Test throws X-Pac around with some cool power moves and when X-Pac makes the comeback, Shane and Chyna thwart Triple H’s attempts to keep them at bay and Test gets the victory. Fun big man-small man match, which was when X-Pac was usually at his best. Rating: **½
–After the match, Triple H says that he is going to go to the locker room, grab Chyna, and humiliate her in front of the world.
–The stooges barge into the room they have been standing outside of for several minutes, but the Godfather and his hos are inside. The Godfather knocks the stooges down before closing the door.
–The Godfather (w/The Hos) defeats Steve Blackman by forfeit:
Blackman opts to take the hos rather than fight, but Droz attacks Blackman from behind. The Godfather does not appreciate the interference in his business transaction and helps Blackman turn the tide against his rival, but the lights go out and the Undertaker appears. He and the Ministry destroy the Godfather, Droz, and Blackman and the Undertaker tells the Big Bossman that there will be a sacrifice tonight.
–Triple H and Chyna both get in the ring and have a face off, but the lights go off and Kane comes out. I am actually relieved to see him because I am getting tired of these Ministry beatdowns. Chyna holds Triple H for a fireball, but heel miscommunication happens and Chyna takes the fire instead. Kane tries to comfort Chyna as EMTs hit the ring. Kane attacks them and carries Chyna to the back.
–Tori (w/Sable) beats Luna Vachon via disqualification when Luna will not break a choke hold in 40 seconds:
Sable does guest commentary and gives Lawler a copy of her Playboy edition, which Lawler becomes transfixed on. Sable does nothing to stop Luna’s assault on Tori and when she finally steps into the ring she beats Tori down. Sable rips Tori’s shirt off and dances before leaving.
–The Undertaker and the Ministry corner the Big Bossman in the parking lot and attack him. After the commercial break, the Ministry ties the Bossman to the Undertaker’s symbol (not a cross mind you!). As the Bossman is raised, the Undertaker says that he will destroy the Corporation piece-by-piece and “then she will be” his. The Bossman gets free of the symbol, allowing the Ministry to beat him up some more, and the Corporation finally makes a save. Police try to arrest the Undertaker, but he knocks several of them down, before allowing himself to be arrested as his symbol burns in the background. That’s a cool visual, but the crowd does not want to cheer for any of these factions.
–Vince McMahon yells at the Undertaker, who is in a police cruiser, and threatens to tear him apart after he gets out of jail.
–Singles Match with Paul Wight as the Special Guest Referee: Mankind defeats “Stone Cold” Steve Austin via count out at 9:00:
These two have their usual entertaining brawl, although no specific spots stand out. The announce team rags on Wight’s officiating, which shows bias in the finish when Mankind has Austin in the Mandible Claw as Austin is on the apron and Wight quickly counts Austin out. Wight raises Mankind’s arm in victory and gives him a chokeslam, but he refuses to attack Austin after Vince McMahon runs out and talks to him. The Rock does not understand what that is all about. Rating: ***
–After the finish, the Rock attacks Austin from behind, but Austin recovers and knocks him out of the ring to end the show.
The Final Report: I was not a fan of this show. The main event was okay, but the focus was on Wight’s officiating and that did nothing for me. You also had Russo recycle the “Brothers of Destruction” angle for the Ministry on this show, where they destroyed everything in sight and the problem with all of that is that it gets old quick. There was also a major plot hole because the Corporation knew the Undertaker was after Bossman all night and yet they provided him with no protection or backup? I can stomach episodes that are more storyline-centric than wrestling-centric, but the storylines they are building are not working as they intend for them to (Ross or Sable) or are very underwhelming (see the Goldust-Ryan Shamrock-Blue Meanie pairing). Overall, thumbs down for this week’s effort, although it is worth noting that these “Road to WrestleMania” RAWs are destroying Nitro in the ratings.
Monday Night War Rating: 6.4 (vs. 4.4 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation: Thumbs Down