The SmarK RAW Rant–12.21.98

The SmarK RAW Rant – 12.21.98

Taped from somewhere not mentioned. Turns out it was Spokane, WA, drawing 9487.

Your hosts are Michael Cole & Jerry Lawler

Vince McMahon leaves for his training session, and he merely has one request for his inner circle of morons:  DON’T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS!  No, wait, sorry, that’s a children’s book.  I meant DON’T LET SHANE MCMAHON DO ANYTHING STUPID AND GET HURT TONIGHT.

Shane McMahon and the Corporation have control tonight while Vince is off training for the Royal Rumble. D-X and Mankind immediately interrupt, which Shane describes as a “loser convention”. SICK CORPORATE BURN, BRO. So Commissioner Michaels makes Billy Gunn v. Ken Shamrock, Big Bossman v. Road Dogg, and HHH & X-Pac v. The Rock & Test. Ah, it’s a Clipboard RAW! Always enjoy those. Finally Shane books himself in a match against Mankind for some reason. Mankind sells it as a big deal and then breaks out in laughter while HHH literally rolls around on the ramp. That was great.

Meanwhile, Mark Henry has brought some women back to his dressing room, and gets a worried D-Lo to stand guard and make sure no one finds out.

Gangrel v. Al Snow

Snow gets the trapped headbutts to start and follows with a leg lariat, but Gangrel catches him with a powerslam for two. Floatover suplex gets two. Snow tries sliding under him for something and we get a hella-awkward sequence where they try to remember what the fuck they were doing, but Gangrel blocks a superplex and follows with a high cross for two. They trade finisher reversals and the Snow Plow finishes at 3:00. Sadly, the lights go out and Snow gets a bloodbath, so I guess the vampires get a moral victory. Snow flips out saying “Not again!” which I’m assuming is one of the myriad character touches from Vince Russo that went absolutely nowhere. *

Intercontinental title: Ken Shamrock v. Billy Gunn

Shamrock rolls for an anklelock, but Billy escapes and pretends to know kung fu. You’re a LIAR, Billy. Meanwhile, Cole calls Shamrock “The King of Submissions”. Maybe the king of submitting to Royce Gracie’s triangle. Billy with a hiptoss for one and works the arm, but Shamrock slugs away in the corner and runs into an elbow that gets two for Billy. Back to the armbar and Gunn stomps him down in the corner, but Shamrock catches him with a clothesline and SWEEPS THE LEG to take over.

 

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Shamrock teases going for a chair, but changes his mind and goes back to the knee instead. Gunn tries a powerbomb and Shamrock reverses to a rana for two. Gunn reverses a suplex into a cradle for two. Gunn whips him into the turnbuckles for two, but Shamrock goes back to the leg again and tries a victory roll, but Gunn blocks and gets the pin and the title at 8:24. Say what? BUT WAIT! Shawn Michaels comes out and clarifies that he never actually said it was a title match. So it’s another Vince Russo trope, as the decision is reversed because Someone Didn’t Read The Fine Print. As I noted in 2000, Vince Russo probably should have read the fine print of his WCW contract. Anyway, this was about as blatant a bait-and-switch as you can get, since the match was advertised as a title match, announced as a title match, and even the guys in the truck put up graphics listing it as a title match. Match was OK by Gunn’s standards. **1/2

Hawk joins us to share all the secrets and spill all the beans. Turns out that Droz is the PUSHER-MAN. Well, goddamn, goddamn, the pusher man. So yeah, Droz was dealing drugs to Hawk to sabotage his career or whatever, and he comes out to attack Hawk, but Animal makes the save. And that was the end of the storyline as we never got a followup.

Meanwhile, it turns out that Henry’s booty call is Terri & Jackie.

Steve Blackman v. The Blue Blazer

Owen Hart comes out in street clothes to again “prove” that he’s not the Blazer, which allows the Blazer to attack. Oh my GOD is this stupid storyline still going? Blackman quickly dominates the Blazer and goes for the mask, but the Blazer necksnaps him. Owen on commentary: “He doctored the tape last week!” Cole: “It was LIVE! So what do you say to that?” Owen “…it wasn’t me.” Bless his heart, as Owen tries to salvage this awful material the best he can. Anyway, Owen runs in for the DQ at 2:20 and Goldust makes the save because now he’s apparently getting dragged into this stupid bullshit, and the Blazer is unmasked as Jeff Jarrett in the fracas. Owen protesting “Who is that masked man?” is pretty funny stuff, granted. ½*

Meanwhile, Terri and Jackie decide to take a shower while Henry watches. And D-Lo freaks out on the other side of the door.

Big Bossman v. Road Dogg

So Road Dogg accuses Bossman of using the nightstick for less-than-manly activities in his prison days, which prompts Bossman to put the title on the line this time. So why can’t Shawn just overturn that one, too? Never mind, Russo makes my head hurt enough as it is. They fight to the floor and Dogg hits him with a cookie sheet for two, but Bossman hurls the stairs at him and misses. They fight into the crowd and Bossman tosses Dogg over the railing and through a table, but they head back to the ring and Bossman’s attempt to use powder backfires on him. Luckily, he’s carrying a noose in his outfit, like it’s Batman’s utility belt or something, and he literally strangles Dogg with it but only gets two. Dogg dumps a garbage can on his head and beats him down, but Bossman still has the noose. Luckily, Mankind comes out with what appears to be a fishing net and subdues Bossman before hitting him with some kind of large metal pole, and Road Dogg gets the pin and the title at 7:00. The over-the-top goofy direction of the Hardcore title started here and this was a lot of fun and actually kind of changed a portion of the business for a few years until Russo beat it into the ground. So there’s that. ***1/4

Meanwhile, the ladies proceed to stripping Mark Henry to his underwear and then offer him a massage. This leads to him getting ball-gagged and covered in whipped cream as I’m wondering how this was able to air on national TV.

Jeff Jarrett: Don’t piss him off! Duly noted.

So back to our developing hardcore sex video, as Mark is now blindfolded and tied down on the table.

The Acolytes v. The JOB Squad

Scorpio gets launched to the floor by Bradshaw and tossed into the stairs while Holly goes low on Faarooq. Bradshaw puts him down with a big boot, but Scorpio gets a hot (?) tag and he quickly gets clobbered as well. Double spinebuster gets two as Faarooq covers with one foot, but Holly saves and Scorpio gets a leg lariat for two. Scorpio gets thrown out like a pile of garbage again, and Bradshaw hits the Clothesline from Hell on Holly and follows with a powerbomb, which is some sort of DQ for no adequately explored reason at 3:30. It’s a patented Vince Russo DQ, where he doesn’t feel like booking a finish. * Also, Jackyl was nowhere to be seen here and never mentioned, and I believe he was gone from the company after the brief run managing the Acolytes before they transitioned into the Undertaker’s lackies instead.

Mankind v. Shane McMahon

Mankind immediately offers Shane a chair and gives him a free shot, then no-sells it as Shane panics and runs away. So the Stooges run in to protect the prodigal son, and Mankind kills them all and gives Patterson a testicular claw in a hilarious spot. Shane takes Mr. Socko, but now the Rock runs in to make the save and that’s a DQ at 3:05. D-X clears the ring and the Corporation retreats with the lifeless body of Shane McMahon. Just an angle.

Meanwhile, the Stooges panic in the parking lot because Vince is gonna cancel their bonus now!

The Headbangers v. D-Lo Brown & Mark Henry

Sadly, Mark Henry is still preoccupied with getting whipped by the ladies in the sex room, so D-Lo has to go this one alone. The Bangers double-team D-Lo , but he fires back with a running powerbomb on Mosh for two. Sky High powerbomb gets two on Thrasher while Jerry’s head is going to explode from vibrators, whips, and hot wax in the back. Mosh misses a flying elbow and D-Lo makes his own comeback with a legdrop, but they double-team him for the pin at 2:42. This brings out Mark Henry, who has finally escaped from the weird sex stuff being detailed by Lawler on commentary, but D-Lo’s got no sympathy. Another match that was more of an angle.

Meanwhile, Vince’s limo pulls up while the Stooges continue to fear for their jobs, and Brisco immediately throws Patterson under the bus while Vince freaks out. AMAZING.

HHH & X-Pac v. The Rock & Test

Shawn tries to throw D-X out of the building, but Vince returns and tells them to stay. In the interest of Christmas spirit and all. So this is quite the debut position for Test, as obviously they had high hopes for him. Clearly he had all the tools: Tall, muscular, full head of hair. Rock gets flustered by X-Pac to start and decides to bring Test into the match, and he pounds on HHH with forearms. Poor Test, gets to debut in the main event of the show, AND he’s got Vince McMahon personally standing at ringside watching the match! I’m surprised he didn’t shit his own leather pants. HHH slugs away in the corner, but goes after Rock and gets booted down by Test. Back to Rock, who gets a clothesline for two. Test chokes away on the ropes and dramatically flips his hair like Kevin Nash, so he’s at least at 60% of the level that Diesel achieved in the ring. X-Pac comes in and gets the broncobuster on Test in the corner, but Test throws him out and Rock beats on him outside and runs him nut-first into the post. So when X-Pac rubs his nutsack on someone’s face in the corner, it hurts them, but when he gets run into the post, it hurts him? Only in America! Rock with the Corporate Elbow for two, but HHH saves. Test back in, but he runs into a boot in the corner, then stops to flip his hair before selling, and X-Pac gets a leg lariat. That’s like the All Japan delayed clothesline sell. Hot tag HHH and he uses the knee repeatedly while yelling spots, although Test is greener than X-Pac’s stash so I can’t blame him. KICK WHAM PEDIGREE on Test gets two, but Rock saves and the lights go out for the Sportz Entertainment Finish at 9:30. *** And indeed, Kane returns from the nuthouse and joins the Corporation by chokeslamming all the D-X members and throttling Chyna as the show ends. Because reasons. Because, you know, Kane was getting over pretty well as a babyface on top, so why not turn him heel a month later for literally no reason? Who wants to make money anyway?

Main event was pretty decent despite the other three desperately working around Test’s hair-flips and this was a fun “action adventure” show overall that went down easy, like Ken Shamrock getting punched in the face by Tito Ortiz. Bet you thought I was going in a different direction with that one, didn’t you? SWERVED YOU, BRO. Speaking of which, this was also the first time I can remember Dave really bitching openly about Vince Russo’s scripting in the Observer, and the worst was yet to come.