The SmarK RAW Rant–12.06.98

The SmarK RAW Rant – 12.06.98

Hoo boy. Time to rip it off like a band-aid.

Last week: After the millionth replay of Steve Austin getting HIT IN THE HEAD WITH A SHOVEL, KING, Austin and Kane team up to dump Paul Bearer into the sewer.

Taped from New Haven, CT, 5 days before the UK PPV. They drew 7100 people, which was a sellout as usual.

Your hosts are Michael Cole & Jerry Lawler. They don’t make any mention of it here, but Jim Ross had suffered a palsy attack on the air during Capital Carnage and he’s out for a while. Look quickly during shots of the ring and you can see JR at ringside before they overdubbed him with Cole!

D-X joins us to start, but the Outlaws are now dressing all fancy and apparently part of the Corporation. They’re drinking bottled water, King! So Shawn Michaels cuts a bitter promo against HHH about how he founded D-X and HHH owes him for “gimmick infringement”. I think that was the first time that phrase appeared on a TV show. Shawn accuses Hunter of riding his coattails, but Hunter accuses him of “carrying around a belt he had no business with” while Hunter kept him standing upright. So tonight, HHH and X-Pac face Shamrock & Bossman tonight. As if anyone was buying that the Outlaws would go heel. The whole run starting here basically killed off the tag team titles for an entire year and they didn’t get revived until Wrestlemania 2000.

Meanwhile, HHH rallies the troops for later tonight.

Jeff Jarrett v. D-Lo Brown

Jarrett attacks to start and slugs away on D-Lo, but D-Lo quickly comes back with a clothesline off the middle rope. So Debra takes the ref and Jarrett pulls D-Lo out for some abuse on the floor, but Henry saves and tosses Jarrett back in. D-Lo misses a blind charge and Jarrett gets the single-arm DDT and swinging neckbreaker, and a flying bodypress gets two. This crowd is DEAD. Jarrett with a Russian legsweep for two. D-Lo blocks a sunset flip, but Jarrett kicks him in the nuts while Cole runs down the hard sell for the dreadful-sounding Rock Bottom PPV. D-Lo comes back with a running powerbomb and nearly compacts Jarrett’s neck in the process. So this brings out Goldust in a trenchcoat and he flashes Debra, which allows D-Lo to roll up Jarrett for the pin at 4:30. Really boring match. *1/2

Meanwhile, George and Adam do a jazz-poetry advertisement for WWF Attitude cologne. Oh god, I actually remember that one.

The Headbangers v. The Brood

Michael Cole casually writes ICP out of the company by noting that the Headbangers dropped them and they won’t be at the PPV. Michael Cole parrots all the same talking points about the Brood that JR normally uses: We don’t know the relationship, “gothic lifestyle”, “red substance”. This all makes it even more robotic-sounding and clearly from Vince’s mouth. Edge and Gangrel get a double-DDT on Mosh quickly, but Edge gets caught in the Brood corner and Thrasher suplexes Mosh onto him, which gets a big (fake) pop from the crowd. And then Luna runs in for the DQ at 2:05 as it turns into a big brawl with the Oddities and Tiger Ali Singh. According to interviews with Pablo Marquez (Babu), he was arrested shortly after this and they tried to deport him to Ecuador because he couldn’t prove his citizenship, but it blew over a few days later and no charges were actually filed against him. But we were still robbed of the Oddities v. Headbangers & Tiger Ali & Babu PPV blowoff as a result and he was fired early in 1999.

Goldust v. Owen Hart

Owen, returning from “retirement”, gets no entrance, and they just give away his return here on a taped RAW with no buildup. Owen gets a gut wrench suplex for two and the Owenzuigiri for two and the crowd continues to be super-dead. Cole continues shilling the PPV, and the branding always confused me because they would interchangeably call the show “Rock Bottom” or “Buried Alive” depending on which match they were hyping at the time. Goldust makes the comeback with a hip attack and butt splash, but now Jeff Jarrett and a trenchcoat-clad Debra join us for the distraction, but Goldust rolls up Owen instead and gets the pin at 4:22. We were supposed to think she’s naked, but you can clearly see the bra from the side. And in usual WWF fashion, they promise that if Jarrett loses, you will see Debra completely strip naked live on PPV, which is of course 100% not what happened at all. *

The Godfather & Val Venis are out for what I presume is a tag match, but instead Godfather pulls some guy out of the crowd and gives him the ladies. Then the Acolytes come out for the match but it never starts, as they all just brawl at ringside and you’d think “Oh, there’s a match for the PPV”, but NOPE.

Steve Austin joins us to build up the Undertaker match that no one cares about, and he keeps walking over to the side of the ring where we can clearly see JR sitting at the announce table when the camera pans around him. But Undertaker interrupts and there’s some kind of SYMBOL on the ramp, as Taker promises to “sacrifice Austin to the Ministry of Darkness” and the symbol, which Michael Cole stresses is “The Undertaker’s symbol” and not any kind of cross-shaped thing, catches on fire. I mean, no one said anything about burning crosses, we can’t stress that enough.

Meanwhile, Mankind is walking around backstage mumbling to himself.

Steve Blackman v. Tiger Ali Singh

OK, more backstage fun here. People had been bitching about Tiger Ali Singh having a bad attitude and not selling enough (both true), so they sent Blackman out to teach him a lesson. Tiger attacks with the flag to start, but Blackman dumps him and then brings him back in for some chops and a spinebuster. He slugs away in the corner and necksnaps him, then lays in a stiff elbow to the back. Tiger fights back and Blackman cuts him off again, hitting a shoulderblock and finishing with the pump kick at 2:17 after a complete squash. ¼* This brings out the Blue Blazer, who pulls a Titus on the way to the ring, and Owen Hart then comes out and attacks Blackman on the ramp. Michael Cole, much like JR, is also confused about how Owen and Blazer can be in two places at once, even though they’re both on screen together EVERY SINGLE WEEK.

Mark Henry v. Droz

Henry attacks to start and slugs away on the ropes, then puts Droz down with a clothesline, but he charges and hits the floor as a result. They do a boring brawl on the floor and Droz hits a clothesline and sends Henry into the stairs as they’ve been on the floor for 2:00 now with no countout. And this brings out Chyna as they finally head back into the ring and Droz gets a shoulder block for two. So Chyna teases slapping Henry, but then hits Droz instead, and Henry finishes with the big splash at 3:25. So you’d think this would set up an LOD v. Nation match at the PPV but NOPE. Another hideously dull match in a series of them. ½*

Meanwhile, the Corporation has a corporate meeting with lots of bottled water and extended pinkies. You know, like most corporations do. Jerry Lawler doesn’t even know how much the Armani suits cost!

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HHH & X-Pac v. Big Bossman & Ken Shamrock

So Jerry Lawler not only completely buys the Outlaws’ heel turn, but has promised several times that the tag title match at Rock Bottom will be Outlaws v. X-Pac & HHH. Also, it should be stressed that this is no-DQ, anything goes, by order of Vince McMahon and it was mentioned several times during the match itself. D-X double-teams Bossman to start and HHH brawls to the floor with him and runs him into the stairs. Everyone pairs off and brawls, but Bossman runs at X-Pac with the stairs and hits the post by mistake. HHH suplexes Shamrock on the ramp, and back in for the broncobuster on Ken as the announcers once again stress that this is no-DQ, no countout, anything goes. Bossman gets a spinebuster on X-Pac for two and drops him on the top rope while Shawn Michaels and the Corporate Outlaws join us at ringside. Billy Gunn yells at HHH to cut his hair, so that’s who you have to thank for his current look, I guess. Shamrock beats on X-Pac in the corner and goes to the facelock while the Outlaws sarcastically cheer D-X on. X-Pac comes back with a leg lariat and makes the hot tag to HHH, who uses the knee for two on Shamrock. Everyone brawls again and Shawn pulls X-Pac out and sends a chair into the ring, but Billy Gunn grabs it and turns on Shamrock for the DQ at 8:18. Yes, a DQ here in this no-DQ match. Thank you Vince Russo. So after weeks of teasing the Outlaws heel turn storyline, they paid it off in one show. So what was the motivation from the Outlaws’ perspective for any of this? Just to mess with Vince? Well that plan sure backfired on them, then. Match was OK with the brawling at the beginning, but it got boring once it got into the ring again, like everything else tonight. **

Meanwhile, Steve Austin finds a bag of beers in his dressing room as a gift from Mankind.

The Rock & Undertaker v. Steve Austin & Mankind

As usual, Austin is a jerk who lets the heels double-team Mankind for a little bit before making his entrance. And everyone immediately brawls all over the place, which gives us awkward quick-cuts when everyone is in front of the announce table and they have to find bizarre reverse angles from other cameras to avoid showing JR. Kudos for pulling it off, though. Austin sends Rock into the crowd while Taker chokeslams Mankind and stomps him down. OK, so more background on stuff going on: Austin and Undertaker were both walking dead at this point, with Taker desperately needing to get off TV for a while to heal up his leg (hence the finish of the PPV) and Austin having all kind of serious health problems ranging from neck injuries to a staph infection. Rock and Taker double-team Mankind in the corner, but he fights back with a neckbreaker on Taker. Rock cuts him off and hits the Corporate Elbow for two and the Rock Bottom for two, but Austin makes the save and it’s BONZO GONZO as everyone brawls out again and here’s the Corporate DQ at 8:17. EVERY match tonight has been either interference leading to a DQ, or interference leading to a distraction rollup. Steve Blackman pointlessly squashing Tiger Ali Singh was the only thing with any kind of real finish.

So Austin tries to strangle Undertaker with the TV cable at ringside, but Taker hits him with the ringbell and follows with a chair to knock him out, as Cole notes that “Austin is still vulnerable in the head from that shovel shot a few weeks back.” Pretty sure that’s not a thing. And then, yeah, the druids tie Austin to the Undertaker symbol in a very familiar pose, and Austin is absolutely 100% not crucified. He’s LASHED TO A SYMBOL. Completely different thing.

Who the fuck would watch this wretched show and then want to order Rock Bottom as a result? Easily one of the worst episodes of RAW that I’ve ever seen, and it’s only going further downhill from here. Thankfully there’s only four left after this and then I can jump forward a year to better days.