The SmarK RAW Rant–12.28.98

The SmarK RAW Rant – 12.28.98

Live from Albany, NY, drawing a sellout 11928.

Your hosts are Michael Cole & Jerry Lawler

Vince McMahon and the Corporation arrive at the building, and Vince declares that tonight he’s going to fire Shawn Michaels when he shows up. Basically, in the real world, they had been doing the Commissioner role for him to build towards a Wrestlemania match (rumored to be HHH) but Shawn was getting more obviously wasted on TV every week, and his injuries were finally declared to be career-ending by the doctors, so they kind of had to cut their losses at that point. Anyway, Vince and his guys find Mankind in the boiler room, beat on him, and then give him a shot at the Hardcore title as a Christmas present. Vince: “I can’t believe it, you try to do something nice for someone…”

Hardcore title: Road Dogg v. Val Venis

So Shawn has already made the Hardcore title match, which only annoys Vince further. Road Dogg is still clinging to his intro, and he gets the shaky kneedrop right away, but Val gets a spinebuster and slugs away on the mat. We’re a minute in, so obviously Vince Russo is getting bored with this marathon in the back and he sends the Corporation in to interfere. Gotta draw those ratings! Test comes in for the DQ at 2:05 just after the announcers point out how there’s no DQ in a Hardcore match. Can I jump ahead to 1999 yet? DUD D-X comes out to chase off the Corporation, so Vince promises that they’re pay tonight, because god knows the heels haven’t destroyed them enough in this feud.

Meanwhile, Al Snow is still covered in “blood” from last week and he’s freaking out.

Meanwhile, Vince gives Kane a pep talk while the Stooges mock Kane in the background.

Al Snow v. Edge

Snow sends Edge into the post and chokes him out on the apron, but Edge catches him on the way into the ring and slugs him down. Snow comes back with a moonsault and grabs a chair for unexplored reasons related to conversations with the Head, but Edge gives him an electric chair onto the chair. That’s not a DQ for some reason. Edge goes up and misses a splash and Snow comes back with headbutts in the corner and then hits Edge with Head for the DQ at 2:47. We’re off to a rousing start on this episode with the finishes. The JOB Squad comes in for a brawl with the Brood and Snow runs away through the crowd. *

Meanwhile, Dennis Knight hangs out with X-Pac in the dressing room, because “he” told Knight to be there. Oh lord.

WWF Women’s title: Sable v. The Spider Lady

Tori makes her debut by jumping into the ring with a rose for Sable, and she’s distracted enough that Spider Lady is able to attack her and whip her with a belt until the Oddities come in and make the save, revealing the Spider Lady as Luna. I remember none of this.

European title: X-Pac v. Big Bossman

Hey, nice to see X-Pac actually defending his title. Bossman overpowers him and blocks a rana with a powerbomb, then goes to a bearhug and slams X-Pac into the corner. X-Pac fights out and misses the broncobuster, allowing Bossman to hit a corner splash and slug him down for two. X-Pac tries a bodypress and Bossman puts him down with a backbreaker and lets us know that “D-Generation X can suck my ass.” That’s probably Billy Gunn’s department. Bossman misses a splash and X-Pac makes the comeback with kicks, which sets up the broncobuster. And then Test comes out, but Val Venis attacks him and it’s our third DQ of the show at 5:04. So I guess Val & Godfather jobbing on Heat was the abrupt end of the team, then? *1/2

Meanwhile, it’s a legendary skit, as Shane trains Vince for the Rumble while he does heavy lifting and yells “I HATE AUSTIN!” Vince chugging raw eggs for his art is probably part of the reason why ultimately no one was going to beat him. Dave thought this was silly and embarrassing in the Observer at the time, but we haven’t even gotten to the chicken chasing skit yet! Vince was amazing here, of course, and anyone with a different opinion is objectively wrong.

Jeff Jarrett & Owen Hart v. Steve Blackman & Goldust

Jarrett gets a powerslam on Goldust to start, but Goldust comes back with an atomic drop and immediately sets up for Shattered Nuts in the corner. Owen distracts him and Jarrett gets the armbar takedown before Owen beats on Goldust in the corner. I’m wondering how Vince Russo resisted the temptation to team up Owen and Goldust as the Golden Nuggets. Owen with a leg lariat on Blackman for two and a neckbreaker for two. Owen with a Sharpshooter (the move he invented, notes Cole) but now Dan Severn returns from limbo, still wearing a neck brace, to confront Owen. And Blackman gets the distraction rollup for the pin at 3:36. Meh. *1/2

Meanwhile, The Acolytes kidnap Dennis Knight and throw him in the trunk of his own car, then steal his car. Live on national TV. I feel like they were overthinking that particular character change. Like, did we NEED backstory for Mideon?

Intercontinental title: Ken Shamrock v. HHH

Yeah, as if we’re getting a finish here. Shamrock slugs away in the corner and HHH returns fire and gets an atomic drop as Shamrock bails for some advice from the Corporation. That advice? “Don’t grow out your sideburns, it’ll look ridiculous.” Too bad he didn’t follow that. Meanwhile, Michael Cole suddenly talks about how they LOVE freedom of expression, but they reserve the right to confiscate signs that are obscene. Or that disagree with their viewpoint, although obviously Michael doesn’t state that rule openly. Anyway, Shamrock works on the knee after some heel distraction and the crowd is INTO it. He was always good at selling as a babyface so I’m not surprised. Shamrock goes into full Robo-Shamrock mode and beats on HHH in the corner, but HHH comes back with a clothesline to the back and makes the comeback. He USES THE KNEE, which seems stupid when your knee is supposed to be injured. And then Shamrock rolls him into the anklelock like a machine and we get a great sequence of HHH fighting the pain and making the ropes. And then this is undermined by the ref calling for the DQ at 6:35 because Shamrock won’t break the hold, and then everyone runs in for the brawl afterwards. **3/4 Kane gets sent in to clean house, but D-X runs away.

Mark Henry joins us to apologize to Chyna for his behavior last week with PMS, but Jackie and Terri interrupt and D-Lo calls them ring rats. But then Chyna heads out to, I guess, stand up for her man. Jackie mocks her, so Chyna tosses her around while D-Lo & Henry celebrate. Also, Terri is apparently back to being pregnant again. It’s been three months, hopefully she’s figured out how pregnancy tests work by now.

We get another look at the 1998 In Review video.

Meanwhile, the Corporation beats up the Godfather in the backstage area because I guess he was Billy Gunn’s opponent tonight and they want Kane instead. But if Vince makes all the matches, why not just change the match?

Billy Gunn v. Kane

Billy’s pre-match promo leads to a quality zinger from Lawler, as Gunn says that the next time he sees Shamrock, he’s gonna kick his ass, and Lawler retorts that he just saw Shamrock and he didn’t do shit. HIGH FIVE! Kane slugs away in the corner and hits Gunn with a clothesline, then hangs him on the top rope and guillotines him. Funny thing as the announcers talk about “Corporate Kane”, which eventually became his whole deal years later and one of his best characters. Kane dumps Gunn with a clothesline and Shamrock runs out and puts the anklelock on Billy on the floor while Billy taps like a little bitch. Way to follow through with that threat, Billy! Back in, Kane with the chokeslam to Billy Bitchcakes, but the Stooges want more chokeslams. And then, say it with me, D-X runs in for the DQ at 3:56. Austin literally cannot come back soon enough because I can’t take much more of this feud. Oh wait, next week I’m bailing on this era anyway, never mind.

Hardcore title: Road Dogg v. Mankind

Who the fuck decided we needed two Road Dogg matches in the same two hour show? Really, this entire show has been DX v. Corporation for two weeks straight now and we’ve pretty much hit the breaking point. Thankfully Rock is on commentary talking trash to keep things entertaining. Mankind puts Dogg on the floor with a Cactus clothesline and they fight up the ramp, where Mankind suplexes him and retrieves a table. Then he suplexes the table onto Dogg for two, but Dogg backdrops him on the ramp and then runs the table into Mick’s face. Back to ringside, Mankind finds a toolbox, but Dogg kicks it back in his face and beats on him with a cookie sheet while Rock abuses Cole on commentary. Back in the ring and Dogg beats on Mankind with a chair, then follows with a legsweep onto the chair for two. Mankind comes back with a piledriver for two, but Dogg has his foot on the rope because you can bash someone’s head in with power tools in this match, but you can’t pin someone with their foot on the ropes in a falls count anywhere match. Because wrestling. Mick tosses him again and they head into the crowd and throw TV monitors at each other. Socko gets involved and he puts Dogg out and drops an elbow off the stands and through a table. However, Rock leaves the announce table, hits Mankind with a Rock Bottom on the concrete, and Road Dogg rolls on him for the pin at 9:05 to retain. Well, all’s fair in Hardcore matches. ***

Vince McMahon brings out Commissioner Michaels, and shows us footage where Shawn was bad-mouthing Vince before Wrestlemania XIV, and uses that for justification to fire him. It’s not quite the trademark “You’re Fired!” from Vince, but Shawn hits him with a superkick and turns babyface on his way out. Too bad, Shawn was really entertaining in that role, but they weren’t going to get the return on their investment anyway. It was kind of a weird deal as well, because usually you’d expect them to do a big swerve at the end by teasing out the storyline all night in one direction and then firing him for the big payoff, but no. Instead they said right at the beginning of the show that Vince was going to fire Shawn when he showed up, and that’s exactly what happened. Not exactly a compelling show-long story.

Next week: Mankind finally gets some revenge as we wrap up this era of RAW, for real this time.