The SmarK RAW Rant–11.23.98

The SmarK RAW Rant – 11.23.98

Okey doke, so I’ve been thinking about the RAW / Heat situation, with the comments from readers echoing my own thoughts: WWF is about to become a flaming dumpster fire as Russo descends into a Boogie Nights style downward spiral and the quality level is sinking noticeably. Not to mention that we’re about to hit the Symbol-ifixion and Ministry of Darkness and embalming angle and a million other bullshit half-baked Russoisms, so it’s probably time to cut our losses and move onto something different. Maybe go back to 1987 WCW or WCW Saturday Night again or something? The options are many!

I’ll probably keep going with 97 RAW for a while, though.

Taped from “the campus of Ohio State University”. They’re so weird with their phrasing.

Your hosts are JR & King

Mr. McMahon and his stooges are out to name a NEW commissioner of the WWF, because everything he does is on behalf of the fans. Thus we meet the new commish, Shawn Michaels. Even the announcers point out that this move makes no sense on Vince’s part. Shawn wants to add SIZZLE and books his first match tonight, IN THIS VERY RING, with Rock defending the WWF title against X-Pac. So in real life, Shawn had finally gotten word from his doctor that his career was over that week, and Vince wanted to get as much out of his $750,000 a year contract while he could and put him on TV as commish to justify that money.

The Headbangers v. The Oddities

This was “supposed” to be the ICP facing the Headbangers, but Violent J gives the Oddities a bullshit excuse before the match and thus they have to take the match instead. Kurrgan beats on Mosh to start and Golga comes in with a corner splash, but J gets involved for no adequately explored reason and accidentally costs them the match as Golga gets rolled up at 1:30. And then the clowns just turn heel and team up with the Bangers to beat the Oddities down. Poor Luna gets her hair extensions cut out and all this goes exactly nowhere as it turned out, as the ICP disappeared soon after and all the Oddities got fired by the end of the year.

The Blue Blazer v. Steve Blackman

The announcers are REALLY, REALLY sure that it’s Owen Hart under the mask this time. They have every reason to believe it’s him, even though he’s appeared multiple times in the same place as Owen Hart. Blazer runs away to start, so Blackman chokes him out with his own cape, but misses an elbow. Blazer with the enzuigiri and dragon sleeper (“That’s vintage Owen!” declares JR) from this guy who is clearly smaller than Owen and sounds nothing like him when he yells “Woo” at random intervals. Blazer with a Sharpshooter, but Blackman makes the ropes and then finishes with the big kick at 2:49. Blackman goes for the mask, but SHOCKINGLY Owen Hart makes the save. But the announcers are still REALLY REALLY sure that Owen is somehow still the Blue Blazer. WHAT THE FUCK IS THE POINT OF THIS STORYLINE?! ¼*

Meanwhile, in San Jose, Austin collapses due to shovel-related mishap. Our thoughts and prayers are apparently with him. Don’t speak for me, JR.

Edge & Gangrel v. Mark Henry & D-Lo Brown

Lawler coins the phrase “Sexual Chocolate” for Mark Henry here, for those keeping track. Edge gets a rana and dropkick on D-Lo to start and works the armbar while JR declares that D-Lo and Henry have the potential to be the best team in the WWF. Yeah, and I have the potential to be a doctor with 12 years of school, but neither thing is likely to happen. The Brood double-teams D-Lo for a bit, but Henry comes in and drops an elbow on Edge to swing things for the Nation. D-Lo with the running powerbomb and MAN is he already looking shaky on that one. That one never should have made it into the rotation. Henry with a tilt-a-whirl slam on Edge, but Edge comes back with a bodypress on D-Lo for two. D-Lo cuts him off with a clothesline and Henry powerslams Edge into a D-Lo frog splash, but that misses. The storyline pushed by JR is that the Outlaws are awaiting the winners, but much like everything else, plans changed. JR is still wondering about the relationship with the Brood. Well, we’d never find out. Gangrel gets a hot (?) tag and Edge hits D-Lo with a pescado, but Chyna comes out (still with a swollen jaw from facial reconstruction surgery, since it was taped one day after the previous week’s show) and Henry gets distracted and pinned by Gangrel at 7:11. Match was fine. **1/2 And Chyna decides to accept the date with Henry, which is another stupid angle that goes nowhere good.

Meanwhile, Steve Austin is sick of being in the hospital for a stupid damn concussion, but the doctors want him to take some pills and get a good night’s sleep.

Then we get the JVC KABOOM OF THE WEEK, which is multiple angles of Undertaker clearly hitting Austin in the shoulder with the shovel.

Goldust v. Marc Mero

So on Heat the night before, Mero fired Jackie and he’s on the way out of the business as it turned out. Mero attacks and slugs away in the corner, but Goldust drops him on the turnbuckle and fires back, but now Terri bounces out to continue this Goldust deal. Mero gets a crossbody on Goldust for two and then Jackie also heads down and Goldust gets a backslide for two. Goldust with the sliding punch and the bulldog for two, but Jackie comes in with a low blow on Goldust, and Terri hits Mero with a low blow and it’s some kind of DQ at 4:00 as we get the earth-shattering debut of PMS and basically this is everyone acknowledging that we’re just never getting a payoff for the months-long Venis-Goldust-Terri love triangle. *

Meanwhile, the nurse asks for Steve Austin’s autograph and he cuts another promo on the Undertaker from the hospital bed before the nurses put him down for the night.

WWF Hardcore title: Mankind v. Ken Shamrock v. Big Bossman

More fun from the Observer: The whole Foley and Vince storyline with Mick looking for a father figure and driving Vince nuts was actually a rib from Vince on Bret Hart, based on Bret’s comments about how looked up to Vince as a father in Wrestling with Shadows. The Corporation double-teams Mankind in the corner to start and puts him down with a double-elbow that gets two for Bossman. Mankind tosses Shamrock to escape the beating and brawls with him up the ramp before suplexing him out there. The heels drag Mick back to the ring while Vince & Shane come out to watch the beating. Bossman hits him in the ribs with the nightstick but Mick finds a broom and makes the comeback with that. Bossman smashes a fan in his face and Shamrock hits him with a can of Coke. “Those are made to quench your thirst, not knock people out!” notes JR. Duly noted. Back in the ring, Bossman takes a swing with a chair and knocks Shamrock out by accident, and Mankind fights back with a DDT onto the chair and tosses Shamrock. He applies the MANDIBLE SOCK on the floor, but Bossman blasts him in the back of head to break it up. Back in, Mick with the sock on Bossman, but Shamrock clips him to break that up. The JOB Squad runs in and Al Snow hits Shamrock with Head, and Mankind pins Shamrock to retain at 8:30. Huh, I thought this was where Bossman won the title. Pretty entertaining for what it was, although it wasn’t until everyone was in on the joke around February that the Hardcore title really took off. ***

Meanwhile, Undertaker continues his descent into cartoon supervillainy, somehow managing to sneak into the hospital room and smother Austin with no interference from the medical staff. To be fair, they appeared to be TERRIBLE doctors. Undertaker hauls Austin off in a hearse, because of course he does.

WWF Light Heavyweight title: Christian v. Duane Gill

Gill’s Titantron is hilarious, showing a series of people emerging victorious over him. Christian quickly hits the inverted DDT for two as JR notes that Gill is not in the “upper echelon of light heavyweights”. Gill makes a comeback and misses a blind charge, and Christian gets a gutbuster and tosses him for a beating from the Brood. And then the JOB Squad runs in AGAIN and distracts the ref, and Scorpio hits Christian with a splash and puts Gill on top to win the title at 2:30. We all know where this was going. Gill was bumping pretty good here. **

Meanwhile, Undertaker takes Austin to a graveyard and literally prepares to bury him alive with the help of an ether soaked rag. But then he changes his mind and decides to embalm him instead. Because of course he does. Anyone remember three months ago when this was the hottest feud in wrestling and drew a monster record buyrate for Summerslam? And now Undertaker’s trying to EMBALM him while growling in a sex voice?

The Godfather v. Tiger Ali Singh

Finally, the blowoff for this feud! So yeah, Regal comes out to team up with Singh for a beating on Godfather, and Val Venis quickly comes out for the save, giving the world the team of Supply & Demand. For those keeping track of Regal’s career, he was sent home for being in no condition to perform after his brief appearance on this taping and never returned to TV. Come to think of it, I don’t think Tiger Ali Singh lasted much longer than this, either.

Meanwhile, Commisioner Michaels goes over the rulebook with Earl Hebner and literally throws it away. Good lord could they be any more obvious with this?

The New Age Outlaws v. Bob Holly & Scorpio

Road Dogg’s intro sounds REALLY rough, like Steve Regal/Shawn Michaels type of messed up. Gill joins the JOB Squad as an official member at ringside here, setting up his big character evolution next week. Dogg slugs away on Holly and drops the shaky knees for two, but Bob comes back with a pumphandle slam for two. Gunn comes in against Scorpio and the picture is weirdly overexposed and kind of blown out for some reason. Gunn with press slams on both JOB-bers , but Scorpio hits Dogg with a spinkick and the Squad double-teams him. Scorpio tries a flying splash and lands on Dogg’s foot, while JR apologizes for not having any new information on Steve Austin’s abduction and potential embalming. Gunn gets a hot tag and goes up, but Scorpio breaks it up and Mankind comes in with his LEAF BLOWER OF DOOM, putting Scorpio on top of Gunn for the pin at 5:29. Crowd boos the shit out of that one. OK, I’m done with the JOB Squad for a while now and having them dominate the entire show is counter-productive to the point of the gimmick. And then Bossman and Shamrock storm in and beat on Mankind with the leaf blower before the Stooges pull the Outlaws aside and take them to the back. *1/2

Meanwhile, Undertaker brings Austin to the embalming room while Paul puts on rubber gloves and this is becoming way too sexual. So Undertaker cuts a promo on the presumably unconscious Austin while Bearer cuts off his clothes and yeah, they’re gonna rape him, aren’t they? Undertaker promises him unimaginable pain and horror (couldn’t be any worse than this week’s show) and then starts chanting Satanic ritual verses while brandishing a dagger, but luckily Kane makes the save and we lose transmission before Austin can be murdered on (semi) live TV and embalmed alive.

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I have to say, Dave was REMARKABLY nonplussed by this nonsense in the Observer, basically just calling it lame in the understatement of 1998. Shawn Michaels pretending to a free-thinking commissioner for the entire show was “lame”. The JOB Squad interfering in every match was “lame”. This was more accurately summed up as “a fucking dumpster fire full of flaming cow shit and mutant clowns hurling off a cliff”.

WWF title: The Rock v. X-Pac

Rock slugs away to start and gets a neckbreaker and clothesline to put X-Pac on the floor while JR reminds us that X-Pac is actually the European champion. I had literally forgot that. Which is weird because I remember that the Shane McMahon thing made me SO mad in 1999 and yet X-Pac doesn’t even carry the belt around with him for the past two months after regaining it. Rock beats on him outside and back in for a clothesline that gets two. Rock with the chinlock and here’s the McMahons AGAIN and at this point it’s just too much Vince on the show. X-Pac makes the comeback with a spinkick and a leg lariat for two. Broncobuster and JR is sure X-Pac can win the title, but Rock come back with a samoan drop for two. X-Pac with the carpet muncher for two and JR is way overselling this one. YOU GOTTA BELIEVE! THIS IS THE NIGHT WHEN THE TITLE IS GONNA CHANGE HANDS AGAIN! Rock grabs a chair, but Shawn steals it from him, then turns on X-Pac and lays him out, and the Corporate Elbow finishes at 8:21 to retain. Match was OK. **1/4 The Corporation beats on D-X to end the show. The heel Shawn thing went on here and there for a month or so and then Shawn fell apart completely and they just kind of dropped it by January. Like a lot of things at this point.

So yeah, Meltzer was very forgiving of this show in the Observer, calling it a good show overall because of a couple of decent matches, but we know where this stuff is going and it’s nowhere good.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the 98 RAW and Heat reviews, and they’ve done well on the blog, but it’s time to get out while the getting’s good because I can’t take months of go-nowhere angles and Russo bullshit. Maybe we’ll jump to 2000, maybe something else, I dunno.