The SmarK RAW Rant – 10.19.98
Oddly, I got an ad before this show, for wrestlingfigures.com, which is weird because I usually get in-house WWE ads. Maybe because I’m watching this on PS4? Anyway, use code “RAW” for 10% off your order with them!
Live from Milwaukee, WI
Your hosts are JR & King
Welcome to the post-Austin era of the WWF, the night after Judgment Day. Steve was fired by Vince McMahon for not awarding Undertaker or Kane the WWF title, so no doubt we’ll never see him again. In fact, Vince has a celebration to start the show, summoning the entire roster to the ring amidst a shower of confetti and balloons. So Vince and his entourage of stooges join us and announce that we have no WWF champion, but at the Survivor Series on November 15, he GUARANTEES that we’ll have an undisputed champion thanks to a tournament. Meanwhile, Austin was fired, and went off mumbling about “going hunting”. Vince is like “He was hunting all right…HUNTING FOR A JOB!” He really underplayed that one. Quality wordplay, Mr. McMahon! Some people have asked him how he felt after firing Austin, and his answer is that it was BETTER THAN SEX. So hopefully everyone in the ring has learned the lesson that you don’t cross the boss. Anyway, “Austin 3:16” merchandise is now a collector’s item, and everyone will be buying “McMahon 3:16 says I’ve got the brass to fire your ass” shirts instead. Somehow I don’t think so. Vince is so great at this point.
Unfortunately, Vince neglected to pay attention to Austin’s mumbling about hunting, because Steve shows up on the Titantron brandishing a weapon and dressed in hunting gear. So Vince dispatches Bossman to get his family out of town while Patterson freaks out.
Ken Shamrock v. X-Pac
Shamrock attacks to start, having removed his sportsmanship chip in the dressing room beforehand. Leg lariat and butterfly suplex follow and he pounds on X-Pac in the corner, setting up a snap suplex for two. Meanwhile, we get a clip of D-X hanging out in Motley Crue’s tour bus shortly after they brought back Vince Neil. Shamrock goes to a front facelock while security comes out to cuff Chyna for some reason. Well, I mean, in later years that wouldn’t be completely crazy. X-Pac escapes the facelock and makes the comeback, but Shamrock powerslams him for two. X-Pac with the broncobuster, but Shamrock’s operating system is not compatible, so he moves and suplexes X-Pac again. He goes for the anklelock, but now Mankind comes in and claws Shamrock, and the X-Factor finishes for X-Pac at 4:17. How the fuck was that not a DQ? Mankind came in and gave him the damn Mandible Claw in full view of the referee! **
Meanwhile, the authorities haul Chyna off to jail, apparently tied to the sexual harassment lawsuit. And while they see her off, the police find Austin in his truck and chat about guns with him, getting an autograph for their kids instead of trying to stop him.
And of course, we get the reaction from Vince’s dressing room, as all the heels lose their shit about what a lousy job the cops are doing. Vince sends a security guard after Austin, and he tells Vince to screw off and leaves. Ha!
LOD 2000 v. The Headbangers
The Bangers have started wearing foam tag team belts and calling themselves the tag champions, in reference to their DQ victory over the Outlaws at the PPV. Which shows just how far replica belts have come. I’d actually really love to buy a replica tag title from this era one of these days. Animal powerslams Mosh for two and Droz comes in for the double backdrop, but the Bangers hit a sloppy double facebuster on him. Droz comes back with a powerbomb on Thrasher for two, but LOD runs the Bangers together, only for Droz to get distracted by Hawk and rolled up by Mosh for the pin at 2:00. ½*
Meanwhile, Patterson and Brisco leave to go get coffee, and Vince is like “WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU ALL GOING?!” So this leaves Vince alone with all the cowardly rats deserting the ship, and Mankind shows up after the break to act as his protection. Vince’s gratitude to Mick actually PAYS OFF next week, too.
The Undertaker joins us, reunited with Paul Bearer to lead something called “The Ministry of Darkness”. Oh god, here we go with THAT shit. If you don’t like relish and darkness, you shall be declared! Apparently Kane falls into that category because he’s stupid and weak. Speaking of which, Undertaker reveals that he’s the one who set the fire that killed his parents, back when they still tried to keep that storyline straight. Luckily, Kane has a casket ready for just a revelation, and he wheels it out and challenges Taker to a casket match TONIGHT.
Meanwhile, Mankind advises Vince that he should rehire Austin while they share snacks and play games. Mick trying to play Twister with a wheelchair-bound Vince triggers another freak-out and Vince sadly throws him out of the room.
Steve Blackman v. Jeff Jarrett
This is the debut of Debra in the WWF, kicking off a shockingly successful run for her. Jarrett misses an elbow, but necks Blackman on the top rope and comes in with a cross body that Steve rolls through for two. Blackman with a spinkick for two while the classy fans chant “Show your tits”. Still better than “This is awesome” 2 minutes into a match. Jarrett with a dropkick for two and a neckbreaker, but Jarrett goes up and lands on a kick, allowing Blackman to make the comeback. Pump kick looks to finish, but Blue Blazer runs in for the DQ at 2:30 and this time sticks around to join with Jarrett in a beatdown. Al Snow tries to save and gets a guitar broken on his head for your unprotected headshot of the week.
Meanwhile, a paranoid Vince gets a phone call from Austin, and TIME’S UP. So Vince calls his chauffeur and gets the car ready to go. We follow him through the back and into the limo…where of course Austin is waiting for him. Vince tries to wheel off, but Austin grabs his hunting bow and hauls him back into the arena, making sure to run him into every obstacle while Vince screams for mercy and takes comedy bumps. There were people at the time who were actually offended by this storyline but it’s just so hilariously over the top that I can’t even imagine.
Meanwhile, Austin grills Vince about his hunting experience, and Vince confesses that he’s never actually killed anything, only taken pictures on safari.
The Rock v. D-Lo Brown
Rock is trying out a new theme song here in the post-Nation era, and it’s just…no. Like bad 90s videogame soundtrack. Back to the drawing board. Rock gets a clothesline and slugs away to start, then gets a neckbreaker and mouths off at Henry to draw the distraction so he can go low on D-Lo. D-Lo comes back with the legdrop and pounds on the ribs in the corner, but Rock comes out of the corner with a clothesline and D-Lo tosses him for some abuse from Henry. D-Lo badly misses an elbow and Rock hits a samoan drop and lays the smackdown in the corner to come back. DDT gets two. People’s Elbow and the crowd goes INSANE for it, but D-Lo basically no-sells it and comes off the top instead, but lands in the Rock Bottom at 3:40. Man, guys would not be shrugging off that elbow for much longer. *1/2 The Nation does another beatdown on him to keep their mini-feud going until the PPV.
Meanwhile, Austin goes to cut an apple and Vince freaks out, but Austin assures him that he’ll never know the end is coming anyway. He’s not just gonna shank him with a knife! Where’s the fun in that?
Tiger Ali Singh joins us to rage against American eating habits while his manservant Babu pretends to barbeque sausage. So Tiger offers $500 for anyone who can “swallow Babu’s kielbasa”, and we get an obvious planted lady who does the deed. However, the Godfather comes out and claims that she’s one of his ladies and he just paid $500 for services that could have cost him a whole lot less. Yes, a Godfather v. Tiger Ali Singh feud is a thing that almost happened. This whole thing was brutal.
Meanwhile, Austin demonstrates his archery skills and gets Vince to reenact “Deliverance”. Vince: “Um…oink?”
Back from the break, and Austin nearly forgets his lines (“Did you ever see that movie Deliverance? No, wait, we’ve already covered that. Did you ever see Misery?”) So Vince now has a 2×4 between his ankles, and Austin gags and ties him up to keep him from going anywhere. But he’ll back once he finds a sledgehammer! Maybe he should ask HHH. No wait, he’s injured, never mind.
Mankind v. Val Venis
Val’s double entendre of the week is that he auditioned for Anaconda and showed them his snake. The material is getting weaker as his career progresses here. That was basically a single entendre. HE HAS A BIG DICK. WE GET IT. Val with knees and a legsweep to start as someone puts a “Sushi-X” sign in the front row to show that yes, this is the 90s. Val slugs away in the corner and chokes Mankind on the ropes, but misses a charge and Mick comes back. DDT sets up Mr. Socko, but now Shamrock comes in with a receipt for Mick’s previous interference, and clips him in the knee with a chair to put Val on top for the pin at 3:35. Nothing to this one. * The Shamrock-Foley feud MUST CONTINUE, but it never paid off and they go in drastically different directions right away.
Meanwhile, Austin and Vince watch some TV, and Austin offers him a simple deal: He has to pick who wins the casket match. So Vince picks Kane, and if he’s right, then we do things the easy way. If there’s any other result, we do things the hard way. Vince won’t like the hard way. Nice callback there.
Casket match: Kane v. The Undertaker
They slug it out to start and Kane lands in the casket, but pulls Undertaker in with him chokes him down. Taker comes back with a DDT in the casket and closes the lid on both of them, as we get a goofy bit where they fight inside the casket and destroy it from inside. They did a pretty lousy job of getting that across because it’s still essentially intact and the idea is supposed to be that it’s too wrecked to close the lid, when clearly it’s not. So they just pretend it is, and head up the ramp for the Sportz Entertainment Finish at 4:00 as everyone kind of leaves with no announcement or bell. We’ll be generous and call it DUD
So this means that we do things the HARD WAY, which Vince isn’t looking forward to.
And we finish with Austin bringing Vince to the ring to settle things. So he recaps Vince’s earlier promo while Vince cries in terror on his knees, and then shoves a letter in Vince’s pocket and pulls out a gun. Austin asks the crowd if they want “Vince’s eyes to pop out of the front of his head” and Milwaukee answers in the affirmative, so Steve pulls the trigger and “Bang 3:16” pops out of the gun. Vince’s cross-eyed sell is hilarious, and Vince even pisses his pants to sell it, before Austin delivers two more stunners to end the show.
Extra Attitude: Austin leaves and Vince finally gets rescued by his stooges.
Next week: We learn what was written on that paper in his pocket, plus Motley Crue.
Meltzer’s summation of this show: “Between the ridiculously bad overacting by McMahon, the silly storyline that has potentially scary repercussions seeing 13,000 people enthusiastically rooting for Austin to pull the trigger on McMahon, and one of the worst main events in Raw history with an Undertaker vs. Kane casket match that was actually worse than their PPV match the previous night and ended in a chorus of boos when both simply walked to the dressing room for a non-finish, it was generally, but not universally considered the worst episode of Raw in a long time.”
However, it also did one of the highest ratings ever to that point, a 5.0 against Nitro where they destroyed WCW from start to finish.
On one level, yeah, it was filled with terrible matches and all these ridiculous angles that we now know don’t lead anywhere, but it was 100% built on the Austin-Vince stuff and I thought it was all tremendously entertaining, especially compared to the 3 hour death marches that would comprise a “terrible show” these days. Like, as bad as this was in some sense, everyone moved quickly and then it was onto the next thing. I’d much rather sit through that than 15 minutes of, I dunno, Bobby Roode v. Bobby Lashley while fans play with a beachball because they’re so bored or whatever. This was stupid, but MEMORABLE, and so it’s a big thumbs up here under the “entertaining crap” precedent.
Tomorrow: It’s back to 1997 to pick up where we left off there!