The SmarK RAW Rant – 01.04.99
Of course, you may have heard about this show before. I wanted to end off at the beginning of December, but y’all convinced me to stay until this show. But after this one, I’m outta here and we’re jumping ahead a year.
Taped from Worcester, Mass
Your hosts are Michael Cole & Jerry Lawler
Shawn Michaels is celebrated via sappy video package, but Vince McMahon and the Corporation interrupt it and demand that people stop waxing nostalgic for him. And anyone who bothers or disparages Shane from now on will be humiliated and destroyed. So Shawn Michaels shows up, after Vince specifically told him not to show up, so you know Vince is really mad now. Shawn brings out D-X and it appears that they’ve reconciled, and Shawn notes that his contract is “iron-clad” and he doesn’t answer to Vince, so the only way he’ll leave the job is if he resigns. Furthermore, Shawn brings up Vince’s rigged Royal Rumble drawing, where he drew #30 but was really “hoping” for #2. So Shawn gives him his wish and makes him #2. Because this is a Russo show, Vince didn’t read the fine print.
Ken Shamrock v. Steve Blackman
Blackman throws kicks in the corner to start and drops an elbow, but Dan Severn comes out, still with his neck brace months later, as Shamrock takes over with a suplex and kneedrop. Blackman with a small package but Shamrock puts him down with a clothesline. Blackman makes a comeback but Shamrock suplexes him and then knocks Severn off the apron, which brings out Billy Gunn for a fameasser behind the ref’s back and Blackman wins at 3:25. This was a whole lot of nothing that led nowhere. * Gunn got his shot at the Rumble, and spent the night before partying and ended up tapping out to Shamrock as a punishment, and then suddenly won the Hardcore title instead weeks later because Russo.
Meanwhile, the intense Shamrock v. Gunn feud continues as they brawl backstage.
Mankind joins us to talk about how surprised he was to be enjoying grabbing Patterson’s testicles on Heat, and how much he enjoyed saying “Suck it” without saying “Please” first. Moving on, he thinks he deserves another shot at the WWF title at the Royal Rumble because FOLEY IS GOOD. So he calls out “Dad”, who indeed comes out and blows off Mick’s request to be #1 contender because he’s a stain on the WWF’s name. Ouch. Sadly, Mick hasn’t paid his dues and doesn’t even deserve a shot at the HARDCORE title. Vince actually laughs at the concept of Mankind getting a shot at the WWF title ever again, because the very concept is so hilarious. Vince pretending to laugh is terrifying. But tonight, Mick can have a match against HHH TONIGHT, IN THIS VERY RING, and the winner gets to enter the Royal Rumble. Plus Shane McMahon is the special referee.
Meanwhile, Chyna and her “girlfriend” Sammy hang out backstage.
Mark Henry v. Goldust
Henry throws Goldust into the corner, but Goldust slugs away on him and follows with a spinebuster for two. Henry with a powerslam and he pounds on Goldust on the ropes and drops an elbow. People say that Russo gave Mark Henry interesting stuff to do in the midcard, but people do not give a shit about him once the bell rings. So was it really that effective? Chyna and Sammy come out and distract Mark, and Goldust gets the Shattered Nuts for the DQ at 3:48. That’s the first time in a while I’ve seen someone get the distraction and then LOSE. This was all super-lame with a shitty finish. DUD So then Chyna tells him that he’s way too much man for just one woman, and he should meet her friend Sammy for a threesome. Mark is so overcome that he faints, but who would be stupid enough not to see that it was obviously a man in drag?
Meanwhile, Dennis Knight is chained up in a dungeon somewhere. And then it’s back to the arena and they’re like “Man, Dennis Knight is trapped in a dungeon and crying for help. And now here’s the Godfather!” WHY WOULDN’T THAT CAMERAMAN HELP HIM?!?
The Godfather v. Test
They’ve already changed Test’s music from the NIGHT BEFORE, using some kind of Blues Traveller ripoff now. Buddy, I know Kevin Nash, as much as anyone who has never met him and only knows him from mocking him on TV knows him, and you’re no Kevin Nash. Godfather quickly takes him down and gets a legdrop for two to set up the Ho Train, but now Val Venis comes out for some reason and Test gets a big boot to take over. And then they fight outside and Test runs Godfather into the ringpost for the DQ at 2:00. Holy FUCK what is with the finishes tonight? Kudos to them for trying so fucking hard to get “The Corporate Team’s Hired Gun” over as a nickname for Test, but minus several million points for NAMING HIM TEST IN THE FIRST PLACE. DUD
Meanwhile, DX hangs out backstage, all reunited and happy.
HHH v. Mankind
HHH slugs away to start and works the arm, but Mankind comes back with a facebuster and runs HHH out to the floor. HHH comes in with a sunset flip and Shane fast counts him for the pin at 3:00. That’s actually a logical move for a biased referee. He wanted Mankind to win, so he screwed him over at the first opportunity instead of pretending to count fairly and waiting for a contrived moment later. ½* HHH assures Mick that it was only business, but then it’s KICK WHAM PEDIGREE for Shane and he’s helpless. So Mick puts him in a sugar hold and threatens to break his arm unless Vince gives him a title match TONIGHT, IN THIS VERY RING. With no DQ. Rock comes out and protests to Vince that he’s not even dressed yet!
Edge v. D-Lo Brown
Edge randomly gets his old entrance and music back here, as he comes out of the crowd again and now he’s apparently a babyface again. D-Lo acts like a complete heel and Edge gets a rana and clotheslines him to the floor and follows with a plancha while playing to the crowd. Did I miss a week of TV or something? Wasn’t he just an angst-filled vampire on Heat the night before? Back in, D-Lo slugs him down to take over and follows with the running powerbomb for two. Seriously, wasn’t D-Lo literally just a babyface last week? Am I missing something? Anyway, he backdrops Edge onto the apron, but Edge goes up with a flying bodypress for two. And now PMS comes out and apparently Terri is pregnant and “showing”, and she falls off the stairs for some reason and does some absolutely embarrassing acting, even by wrestling standards, as the match just stops for the patented Sportz Entertainment Finish at 5:00 or so. Paramedics haul her off. Has Russo never met a pregnant woman before? If she’s so fragile that falling on her back from 2 feet in the air causes a miscarriage, then she’s got bigger health concerns.
Kane v. The Stooges
Shane and Vince book this match because they didn’t save Shane from Mankind earlier, so Kane fights off Pat’s attempts to bribe him with cigarettes and cash and then chokeslams both of them and crotches Brisco on the post. He tries to turn on Shane as well but Vince calls him off and declares him the winner because Vince Russo.
This show is AWFUL. Hopefully there’s a hell of a main event angle to pay it off.
Meanwhile, Dennis Knight is still chained up, but the Acolytes pull him out of there because whoever is ready for him.
Hardcore title: Road Dogg v. Al Snow
This was supposed to be Road Dogg v. The Rock based on the stips established on Heat the night before, but that was never mentioned again. Snow actually uses Head as a decoy and attacks from behind the curtains, so good for him. They quickly fight to the ring and Dogg throws a chair at his face, but Snow beats on him with the chair and hits Air Sabu into the railing. Lawler notes that you’ll get action like this on WWF shows, unlike the other guys where you just have people “walking and talking”. THIS WHOLE FUCKING SHOW IS PEOPLE WALKING AND TALKING. Jesus. Snow puts him through a table with a moonsault, but Road Dogg uses a road sign to come back as they just no-sell everything and fight back to the stage again. Road Dogg hiptosses him through another table and they fight to the back now, where Snow dumps a box of toilet paper on him and uses a potted plant. And of course, it wouldn’t be a hardcore match without someone falling on a stack of aluminum poles that are there for no reason but to go “clang clang” when you fall on them. So they end up outside and Snow gets dumped into a wheelbarrow in the snow, and Road Dogg runs it into the doors and they’re slipping in the snow. Finally Dogg piledrives him on a pallet and gets the pin to retain at 8:41. They were still struggling to figure out what to do with the Hardcore concept and didn’t get it nailed down until Hardcore Holly came along and they stopped having any semblance of seriousness to the matches. This was way too long but mostly fun. **1/4
Meanwhile, Shawn is wished farewell by D-X as he heads outside to find Steve Austin. And then he gets beat up by the Corporation off-screen and left for dead in a bloody mess, and that’s it for Shawn as a TV character, with the implication being that D-X set him up in retaliation for his weeks of being a dick to them. Yeah, we’ve all seen Goodfellas a bunch of times, too, Russo. Go get your shinebox, indeed.
WWF title: The Rock v. Mankind
Rock quickly slugs Mankind to the apron and into the hands of the Corporation, but then calls them off and decides to beat on Mankind himself. He whips Mankind into the stairs as Lawler promises that there’s gonna be a winner and it’s not just gonna be some giant schmoz like the other guys do. THEY LITERALLY HAD A FINISH WHERE THE MATCH ENDED BECAUSE SOMEONE HAD A MISCARRIAGE EARLIER IN THIS FUCKING SHOW. Anyway, Rock gets a suplex on the floor and does his own commentary, but Mick nails him while he’s drinking his water and we get a classic Rock spit take. So Mick tries the commentary gag and Rock hits him in the face with the ringbell and chokes him out, then hits the Rock Bottom through the announce table while Vince and Shane make faces at ringside. Back in, Rock gets two and chokes away on the ropes. Legsweep gets two. Blind charge misses and Mankind tackles him and makes a comeback, but Rock hits the Corporate Elbow for two. Mankind fights back with a neckbreaker and Bossman distracts him, allowing Rock to hit him with the belt for two. Another try misses and Mankind DDTs him on the belt for two. Mr. Socko gets involved and Rock is fading, so Shamrock breaks it up with a chair and it’s a huge schmoz, at which point Steve Austin returns to the biggest pop in history, nails the Rock with a chair, and puts Mankind on top to win the WWF title at 8:50. Yeah, like that’ll put butts in seats. And to his credit, Austin doesn’t hang around, as he leaves immediately and lets Mick Foley have his moment. ***1/4
I should note that in the Observer, Dave thinks that there MIGHT be some backlash against Tony Schiavone for his comments, since Mick Foley is so respected. Yeah, that’s an understatement. “Destroyed his credibility as a wrestling announcer for years afterwards” is also a good description.
Anyway, this was FAR from a classic show by any measure. Really, the huge pop at the end and Mick getting his Cinderella moment was the only worthwhile thing here and the rest was typical Russo bullshit.
So with that, we kiss this era goodbye once and for all because I can’t take it any more. We’ll hop into the magical time machine and journey to the end of November 1999 tomorrow to pick it up there, with the beautiful wedding of Test and Stephanie McMahon.