What the World Was Watching: Over the Edge 1998 – In Your House

by Logan Scisco


The show starts
with the “Mr. McMahon’s Utopia” video package, which is one of the best WWF
video packages of all-time.
Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are on commentary and they are live from Milwaukee, Wisconsin
(otherwise known as the town that R-Truth can’t remember).

Opening
Contest:  LOD 2000 (w/Sunny & Darren
Drozdov) defeat The Disciples of Apocalypse (w/Chainz) when Animal pins Skull
after a powerslam at 9:48:
I mentioned in the Unforgiven review that that show was
Sunny’s last WWF pay-per-view appearance, but this one actually is (I somehow
forgot this show and jumped in my mind from Unforgiven to King of the Ring).  She definitely looks worse for wear and her
firing shortly after this was not surprising. 
Ross hypes the LOD’s AWA background on commentary since Milwaukee was a
former AWA stop and some AWA legends are being honored later in the show.  This has a hot start, but the DOA choke the
life of it (literally).  The DOA tries an
illegal switch late in the match, but Droz nails Skull in the head when he runs
the ropes and the LOD wins.  This match
isn’t putting either team anywhere near the title picture, though.  Rating:  *
Intercontinental
Champion The Rock comes out and runs down the Milwaukee beer industry and their
women.  Faarooq runs out and gives the
Rock a piledriver on a chair (sort of) and then beats up some of the Nation
before he leaves the ring.  The Rock does
a stretcher job and Ross and Lawler speculate on whether we will have an
Intercontinental championship match tonight or not.  The most ridiculous part of the stretcher job
is they do not have EMTs come out to the ring and Owen is the one who has to
put a neck collar on the Rock.
Michael Cole talks
to WWF Champion Steve Austin in the locker room.  Austin says he doesn’t care about the odds he
faces tonight and says that no one has volunteered to watch his back in the
title match.
“Double J” Jeff
Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) beats Steve Blackman after Lee hits Blackman with a
karate stick at 10:19:
Blackman is like one of those non-credible challengers
that Jarrett used to face in 1995 when he was Intercontinental champion.  During the bout, Al Snow is shown doing
commentary with the Spanish announce team dressed in stereotypical Mexican
attire (he’s eventually removed by security and gets a bigger reaction than the
match).  The real
highlight of this match is Lawler reading off country song lyrics to narrate
big moments.  This is a serviceable match,
but it has very little heat, and Jarrett picks up the cheap win via Lee’s
interference.  You can hear the crickets
as he makes his way to the back.  Rating: 
**
Marc Mero giving
Sable the conditions for the match between him and someone of Sable’s choosing
on last week’s RAW is shown.
Sable’s Freedom
vs. Sable’s Career Match:  “Marvelous”
Marc Mero pins Sable with an inside cradle at 29 seconds:
Ross makes an allusion to Mero’s Johnny B. Badd gimmick
by telling Lawler “You know, Mero looks a lot like Little Richard.”  Back in 1998, I thought Sable would pick the
Undertaker as the superstar to face Mero. 
However, Sable opts to choose herself for this match and Mero feigns
sadness at having to wrestle her.  He
decides to lay down for her, but when Sable covers him, he reverses it and
sends her packing.  A guy in the front
row yells “NO!  NO!” when Mero reverses
the pin and that is pretty funny.  Mero
actually gets a decent pop for the pin, but sadly he wouldn’t be done with
Sable yet.  This was actually Mero’s last
victory on a WWF pay-per-view.
Cole recaps what
we have just seen, as if we are idiots, and Sable thanks her fans for their
support and tries to cry and can’t.
Dok Hendrix is in
the locker room with the Nation of Domination, but they refuse to talk with
him.  Commissioner Slaughter has forced
the Rock to defend the Intercontinental title regardless of what Faarooq did to
him earlier.  There’s something that
doesn’t seem quite fair about that to me, especially since Faarooq was
unprovoked.
Bonus Handicap Match:  Kaientai (w/Yamaguchi-San) beat Taka
Michinoku & Bradshaw after Dick Togo pins Michinoku with a Senton Bomb at 9:53:
This is back when a bonus match actually made sense
within existing storylines.  The Kaientai
feud was the WWF’s attempt to give Bradshaw something to do after the New
Blackjacks split up and the NWA angle was a bust, but it never really took off.  Seeing Bradshaw face Kaientai is like
watching a real world version of Gulliver’s
Travels
.  It leads to some
entertaining spots, though, with Bradshaw viciously slamming members of
Kaientai on the arena floor and having all of the members of Kaientai try to
take him down simultaneously.  Everything
devolves into some really fun spots for the finish, which sees Kainetai’s
numbers overwhelm their opponents and continue to build momentum with a
win.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot
for Kaientai to do after the Michinoku feud because their size created a
credibility problem.  Rating: 
**½
Sable is shown
slowly walking out of the arena with her bags.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  The Rock (Champion)
defeats Faarooq with the Flair pin at 5:09:
This is the big blowoff for the Rock-Faarooq feud that
has been simmering throughout 1998, but Ross prefers to talk about it as an
extension of the Florida State-Miami football feud.  The Rock initially refuses to come out for
the bout, so Commissioner Slaughter walks out and orders him to come to the
ring in ten seconds or forfeit the title. 
So, we are supposed to buy Slaughter as a face in this situation after
he beat up Steve Austin a few weeks ago on RAW? 
The Rock does come out and we get a whimper of a match to settle this
long-term feud.  Faarooq was not
well-suited to playing a face and he would dabble around in the lower midcard
before the Acolyte tag team revived his career. After the match, Faarooq
piledrives the Rock and the Nation runs in to do a beatdown before D-Generation
X makes the save.  THAT finally wakes up
the crowd.  Rating:  *½
 -Mask vs. Mask Match:  Kane (w/Paul Bearer) pins Vader with a
Tombstone at 7:22:
This is really the last pay-per-view where Vader had a
great deal of credibility, but the WWF really spoiled the outcome by making
this a mask vs. mask match.  I never
understood why that stipulation held up in kayfabe anyway since WWF viewers had
already seen Vader without his mask on several occasions, so who cares if he
loses it?  Vader also did not get as much
airtime relative to Kane’s ongoing feud with the Undertaker, so that was
another clue that he was going to be cannon fodder here.  The only real interesting event of this match
is when Vader hits Kane with a wrench that he acquires from underneath the
ring, but that isn’t enough to stop the Big Red Machine, who remains undefeated
against anyone not named the Undertaker. 
Rating:  ½*
After the match,
Vader is unmasked and Lawler acts like this is an unheard of event.  In a funny moment, Kane puts the mask on Paul Bearer, who dances around like Vader and proclaims it “Paul Bearer time.”  Cole interviews Vader, who announces that he’s
a “big, fat piece of shit.”  One would
think this would create a small redemption angle for Vader that would see him
return to his roots and vault back up the card, but it was not meant to be.
The Crusher and
Mad Dog Vachon are recognized in a small ceremony for AWA superstars.  The crowd is very appreciative of both men
and I would guess that Jim Cornette played a role in putting this together,
probably over Kevin Dunn’s objections. 
Lawler takes objection to the ceremony, makes fun of Mad Dog Vachon, and
the Crusher beats him up.
Owen Hart, Kama
Mustafa & D-Lo Brown (w/Mark Henry) defeat Triple H & The New Age
Outlaws (w/X-Pac & Chyna) when Owen pins Triple H with a Pedigree on a tag
team title belt at 18:34:
For the first time tonight, the crowd is really buzzing
about a match.  Owen is the most over
participant, getting an “Owen sucks” and being loudly booed when he enters the
match.  Momentum swings back and forth
and when all hell breaks loose things really step up a notch as Chyna decks Mark
Henry and Billy Gunn and Triple H give D-Lo a spike piledriver on a tag team
title belt.  However, Owen breaks that up
and gets a measure of revenge against Triple H by finally pinning him on
pay-per-view.  Of course, by the time
that Owen has gotten this revenge he’s a heel and we’re supposed to be mad
about it.  The match was just average,
but it put Kama and D-Lo on the same level as the more recognized members of
D-Generation X and thereby gave the Nation some credibility in their feud with
DX.  Rating:  **
A video package
hypes the upcoming WWF championship match between Steve Austin and Dude Love
.
Hendrix interviews
Vince McMahon, Pat Patterson, and Gerald Brisco and McMahon mockingly says that
he will be an impartial referee tonight. 
He says that if Austin touches him, he will stop the match and strip him
of the title and makes it very clear that the match will end “by his hand only.”
-WWF Championship
Match with Vince McMahon as Guest Referee, Pat Patterson as Guest Ring Announcer,
and Gerald Brisco as Guest Timekeeper:  “Stone
Cold” Steve Austin (Champion) pins Dude Love with a Stone Cold Stunner at 22:28:
This is one of my all-time favorite matches and there are
so many things to love about it.  First, Howard
Finkel gives a pre-written introduction for Patterson that compares him to
Wayne Gretzky, discusses Patterson surviving a “grueling” tournament in Rio de
Janeiro to win the Intercontinental title, and applauds him as a role model for
children.  Second, Patterson gives the
most hilarious ring introductions ever by saying Brisco is the reincarnation of
Jim Thorpe and emphasizing that he’s a real Native American unlike Chief Jay
Strongbow, arguing that Vince makes “life worth living” and has a “yes I can”
attitude (too bad Linda didn’t run for Senate earlier and change the “I” in
that to “we”), arguing that Dude Love is an inspiration, and that Austin is a “foul
mouthed punk” and a “bum.”  Third, as the
match proceeds, McMahon changes the rules to a no disqualification and falls
count anywhere match (which were hilariously dubbed as “reminders”), which
causes the Ross rage-o-meter to reach a 1.0. 
And fourth, it has one of the wildest and craziest finishes to a WWF
title match, as McMahon is inadvertently laid out by a Love chair shot; the
Undertaker, who comes out before the match to watch Austin’s back, chokeslams
Patterson and Brisco through the ringside announce tables to prevent them from
counting a Love pin on Austin; and Austin takes an unconscious McMahon’s hand
to register the three count after he gives Love a Stunner.  Ross sums the match up beautifully:  “Steve Austin is the toughest son of a bitch
I ever saw!”  This was my Match of the
Year for 1998 (I think it ended up finishing third in the PWI voting that year)
due to the great build up, the ability of the booking to draw a loud crowd
reaction, and a very witty ending.  Rating: 
*****
The Final Report Card:  The WWF was still working toward “red hot”
status, so this show is still in the transition period where they were
reinforcing their gains against WCW.  The
entire card aside from the main event is lackluster and is RAW fare, but the
main event is the only thing that needed to deliver at the time and it
did.  Surprisingly, this show drew fewer
buys than Unforgiven and drew the fewest buys of any show in the Austin era.  The only thing that I think could account for that is that the fans felt Austin winning was a foregone conclusion.  I won’t give this show a thumbs up, since it is just a one match show, but if you have never
seen Austin-Love, then you need to check it out.
Attendance: 
9,822
Buyrate: 
0.58 (+0.01 from the previous year)


Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – May 18, 1998

by Logan Scisco

A video package recaps how Vince McMahon has
stacked the deck against WWF Champion Steve Austin at Over the Edge and the end
of last week’s show where Austin and McMahon were in a tag team match against
the Rock and D-Lo Brown.
Jim Ross and
Michael Cole are in the booth and they are live from Nashville, Tennessee
.

Vince McMahon, Pat
Patterson, and Gerald Brisco walk out and McMahon announces that his “devastating
clothesline” gave Steve Austin a mild concussion.  He announces that for Austin’s protection he
is barred from the arena.  Austin shows
up and tells the security guard that he is coming into the building one way or
the other.  Dude Love walks out, in a
suit of course (it’s so weird seeing Foley with slicked back hair in this
role), and promises that Over the Edge will be a special night for everyone
that hates Austin.  McMahon then calls
out Dustin Runnels, who has a bad knee due to knee surgery, and then books him
to face Love.  The stipulation is that if
Runnels wins he will become the number one contender to the WWF title and get
the Over the Edge title match against Austin, but if he loses he will have to
work for thirty days without being paid. 
The heat for this segment is off the charts and the great thing about
the Austin-McMahon angle was its ability to elevate, albeit temporarily, some
of those who were involved in it.  1 for 1
Jerry “the King” Lawler
is shown helping someone covered in a sheet out of a van and escorts them into
the arena.  The security guard checks to
make sure it’s not Austin and lets them in.
Opening
Contest:  Val Venis beats 2 Cold Scorpio
with the Money Shot at 6:10:
This is Venis’s debut and he gets a good reaction, which
is why vignettes work before debuting a character.  It’s sad how quickly the WWF gave up on the
Funk-Scorpio team because the tag division was really devoid of talent at this
time.  It’s not really clear if Venis is
a face or a heel, so that leads to the crowd being unsure of how to react to
Scorpio’s role in the match.  Even though
you anticipate a squash, this ends up as a very competitive match whereby
Scorpio is playing the 1998 version of Tito Santana.  It’s too long for a debut, though, and the
crowd loses interest despite the match being technically proficient.  Venis also didn’t really show a lot of
dimensions to his character to distinguish him from a generic wrestler.  Scorpio misses a moonsault and Venis takes
advantage to win.  Rating:  ** ¼ (2 for 2)
When the security guard will not let Steve
Austin into the building, he assaults him.
Austin walks out
to the ring and calls out McMahon and his stooges.  He proposes a three-on-one fight between them
and McMahon hilariously backs out by saying that he does not show up to a
street fight in a tweed jacket.  The
stooges cut small promos on Austin and McMahon decides to book a two-on-one
street fight and won’t tell Austin which two of them he will fight.  This had a lot of great back and forth,
probably capped by Patterson denying that he sucked and Austin saying that he
thought he did as a small inside reference. 
3 for 3
Another vignette
for Edge is aired.  We must embrace the
Edge and let go….
Lawler tells his
disguised man that he is there to protect him and not to get makeup or enjoy
the other amenities backstage.
Sable comes out
and calls out Marc Mero and proposes an amicable split.  Mero says that’s not possible because she
signed a contract two years ago that made her his property.  Ross makes a hilarious comment about how the
Emancipation Proclamation ended contracts like that.  Mero demands that she get into his corner for
his match with Terry Funk tonight.
Terry Funk defeats
“Marvelous” Marc Mero (w/Sable) with a DDT at 4:01:
Funk and Mero brawl back and forth until Funk knocks the
referee down while pounding on Mero in the corner.  Mero hits a low blow, but Sable hops on the
apron to tell the referee about it, allowing Funk to surprise Mero with a DDT
and win.  Predictable ending and this was
too rushed to really draw anyone in. 
Funk recovering seconds after Mero’s TKO to get to the finish was also
ridiculous.  Rating:  *¼ (3 for 4)
Police officers
arrive at the arena to arrest Steve Austin.
The 1-800-COLLECT
Rewind segment is the Undertaker destroying Jerry Lawler on last week’s show.
The police
investigate whether Lawler’s disguised man is Steve Austin.  They realize it is not and move on.
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear about the recent fortunes of a former WWF television
announcer!
Chainz &
Skull beat LOD 2000 when 8-Ball pins Animal with an illegal switch at 2:39:
Since LOD 2000 and the DOA are booked to face each other
at Over the Edge, Chainz & Skull face DOA so as not to give that match away
for free.  Based on Ross’s commentary,
this feud is quickly turning into nearly every other LOD feud since the summer
of 1997 where the storyline is “can these old guys still fight?”  Things get really sloppy when all hell breaks
loose and 8-Ball sneaks in out of the crowd to give the DOA another win via
illegal switch.  I’m over that finish and
this feud at this point.  After the
match, the LOD demand a six man match against the DOA next week and they will
bring a mystery partner with them.
This week’s
Celebrity Deathmatch features Steve Austin.
Ross discusses
that Paul Bearer is using DNA testing to confirm that he is Kane’s father.  Kane wears a ski mask at the medical clinic
as his DNA is being taken because he has awful burns on his face (allegedly).
Lawler comes out
to do commentary and Ross makes fun of him by saying that he’s a grown man
wearing a crown carrying around another man in a blanket.  Lawler unveils the man to be Al Snow and says
that he has promised Snow a meeting with Vince McMahon.  Snow wants his meeting with McMahon immediately
and won’t shut up on commentary, so Lawler relocates him to the first row.
#1 Contender’s
Match for the WWF Championship:  Dude
Love (w/Gerald Brisco & Pat Patterson) defeats Dustin Runnels at 2:19
Runnels gets the jobber entrance so astute wrestling fans
know that his odds aren’t very good. 
Runnels is wearing an “FU” shirt, which is a piece of Goldust
merchandise so I guess he hasn’t fully ditched the character after all.  After some quick brawling, Runnels hits the
bulldog, but Brisco distracts the referee and that allows Love to apply the
Mandible Claw (or Love Handle if you prefer) to win.  1997-1998 has not been a good year for
Goldust.  He lost his wife for thirty
days to Brian Pillman and now he doesn’t get paid for thirty days.  With this quick match, which made Runnels an
afterthought, they’ve pretty much destroyed his new, non-Goldust persona’s
credibility.  This may have happened
because Runnels had knee surgery done just prior to this show.
Police officers
come to Steve Austin’s locker room and arrest him.  After the commercial break, McMahon and his
stooges come to Austin’s locker room and gloat as he’s taken away.
Dick Togo &
Mens Teioh (w/Yamiguchi –San & Funaki) wrestle The Headbangers to a double
disqualification at 5:30:
The Headbangers are attacked by Kaientai on their way to
the ring and the flow of this bout, like many of Kaientai’s matches is disjointed
between some nice tag team moves. 
Eventually, Funaki gets into the ring to assist a beatdown of Thrasher
and that triggers Bradshaw and Taka Michinoku running out to the ring and
triggering a double disqualification. 
What a waste of time this was.  Rating: 
½* (3 for 5)
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Vader hitting a
Vader Bomb on Barry Windham on last week’s show is the Slam of the Week.
More clips of Paul
Bearer and Kane at the DNA facility are shown. 
Bearer doesn’t like needles and he’s hilarious in this segment with his
crack of “I’m going to show people I’m Kane’s daddy!” at the end.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  The New Age Outlaws
(Champions w/Chyna) beat The Rock & Owen Hart when The Road Dogg pins the
Rock at 4:48
This is also a preview of Over the Edge, where the
Outlaws and Triple H will face Owen Hart, Kama Mustafa, and D-Lo Brown.  The crowd works up a cool “Rocky sucks” chant
to match the beat of the Nation’s theme music as the Nation heads to the
ring.  Looking back at this feud, I have
no idea why I rooted for DX since their sophomoric antics do not translate well
at all sixteen years later.  DX and the
Nation brawl before the bout and it takes a commercial break to settle things
down.  Owen has incorporated a new piece
of his gimmick where he bites his opponent’s ears and draws blood.  Faarooq gives the Rock a piledriver behind
the referee’s back when all hell breaks loose and the Outlaws manage to retain
the titles.  If this was given ten
minutes it would’ve been very good since all of the guys in this match had good
chemistry with each other.  Rating: 
** (4 for 6)
Steve Austin is
shown sitting in the police cruiser and Ross wonders why they haven’t taken him
to jail yet.  The answer comes after the
commercial break as Austin gives an “apology” to the security guard (Austin
just tells the guard he’s so stupid he didn’t let him into the arena and flips
him off) and walks off as a free man.
Kevin Kelly hears from
the doctor who conducted the DNA test on Paul Bearer and Kane that Bearer is
Kane’s father.  When the lights go out
for Kane’s entrance, Ross jokes with Lawler than the Undertaker has appeared
behind them.  Bearer tells the Undertaker
that his mother was a whore and the Undertaker charges the ring.  When the Undertaker gets beaten down, Vader
makes the save and brawls with Kane as the Undertaker chases Bearer to the
locker room.  The crowd is really into
seeing Bearer get destroyed by the Undertaker, which is a testament to how well
he played this role.  5 for 7
Handicap Street
Fight with Sergeant Slaughter as Guest Referee: 
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin wrestles Pat Patterson & Gerald Brisco to
a no contest at 4:16:
Ross tells the audience that Patterson does “rear end
work” at the Brisco Brothers Body Shop (which Brisco wears a t-shirt
advertising).  Patterson has a t-shirt
emphasizing his first Intercontinental title reign.  The fact that Slaughter is referenced as “Sergeant”
and not “Commissioner” Slaughter anymore is telling as the WWF is trying to
streamline its authority figures. 
Slaughter takes offense at Austin’s banter before the match and he
clotheslines Austin from behind to give Brisco and Patterson the advantage.  After Austin gives Patterson and Brisco a
pair of Stunners, Slaughter tries to put him in a Cobra Clutch, but Austin gets
out and gives him a Stunner.  Dude Love
runs out and he and Austin brawl when a fan in a Steve Austin mask comes out of
the crowd and hits him with a chair (coupled with a funny strut by McMahon that
mimics Austin’s head bob).  Austin doesn’t
sell it and the fan is soon revealed to be Vince McMahon.  After a brief fight, Love puts Austin in the
Love Handle and McMahon and his cronies triumph as we go off the air.  Rating:  ½* (5 for 7)
The Final Report Card:  Aside from the disappointment that was Dude
Love-Dustin Runnels, this show still had its fun moments.  Ross and Lawler’s banter throughout the
second hour is fantastic and really brings the show up another notch.  There was not a great deal of angle
advancement on this show, but that didn’t matter because the Nashville crowd
was hot for everything and treated the main event like WrestleMania VI.  The feud with Love is one of Austin’s more
underappreciated programs and it was a vital part of making Austin a
blue-collar hero.
Monday Night War Rating:  5.3 (vs. 2.51 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – May 11, 1998

by Logan Scisco

A video package
recaps Mick Foley becoming the number one contender to the WWF championship
last week.
Jim Ross and
Michael Cole are doing commentary and they are live from Baltimore, Maryland
.

Vince McMahon
walks out and announces that WWF Champion Steve Austin will be in tag team
action tonight.  Dude Love comes out
wearing a suit and glasses, carrying a copy of the Wall Street Journal, and
rocking a suit.  Love cuts a funny promo
about his identity, nearly causing McMahon to corpse, and hugs McMahon.  McMahon proceeds to announce that at Over the
Edge, Gerald Brisco will be the guest timekeeper and Pat Patterson will be the
guest ring announcer for the WWF title match. 
The guest referee does not show, so McMahon goes to the back and then
soon re-emerges in a referee shirt.  Fun
segment to kick off tonight’s show.  1 for 1
Sable is shown
arriving at the arena and she blows off Kevin Kelly.
Footage is shown
of D-Generation X reprising their “invasion” by going to WCW headquarters in
Atlanta, Georgia.  Security doesn’t quite
know what to make of them.
Al Snow is shown
arriving backstage with Head.  He is
carrying tickets and Kevin Kelly informs him that he is not entering the
appropriate part of the arena.  Snow
berates Head for not directing them to the right arena entrance.
-Opening
Contest:  Vader beats Barry Windham
(w/Jim Cornette & The New Midnight Express) with a Vader Bomb at 2:07:
And here I thought the Undertaker’s squash of Windham
sent him away for good.  Vader wrestles
this match in a t-shirt and is not moving very well, but he still manages to
shrug off some of Windham’s strikes and NWA interference to win anyway.  After the match, Vader takes out the New
Midnight Express.  This keeps Vader
strong for a mask vs. mask match with Kane at Over the Edge.
Steve Austin’s
appearance on premiere of MTV’s Celebrity Deathmatch is shown.  That show is how I knew wrestling was
starting to become mainstream again.
Austin’s Stone
Cold Stunner on Pat Patterson on last week’s show is the Gastrol GTX Slam of
the Week.
Austin is shown arriving
in a vehicle backstage.  Kelly informs
him about the roles of Brisco, Patterson, and McMahon in the title match at
Over the Edge and how he has been booked in a tag match tonight.  Austin is not happy and goes looking for
McMahon.
Skull (w/8-Ball)
beats Hawk (w/Animal & Sunny) with a small package after an illegal switch
at 2:30:
Considering the participants, this isn’t bad as both men
do some power moves and brawling until Hawk flying out of the ring on a
shoulder thrust in the corner allows 8-Ball to switch places with Skull and
chalk the win.
A video package
recaps DX’s altercation with law enforcement at CNN headquarters.  They appear to be quite popular with the
average person there.
A brief Edge
vignette where it is announced that he’s the person of our dreams is shown
.
Bradshaw and Taka
Michinoku are shown smoking cigars earlier in the day and Bradshaw gives
Michinoku a driving lesson.  When they
return to the arena they are attacked by Kaientai.
Faarooq (w/Steve
Blackman) beats “Double J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) via disqualification
when the Nation of Domination interferes at 1:52:
Faarooq finally has some unique entrance music, but it just
sounds like generic hip hop.  Blackman
beats up Jarrett several times when he ends up outside of the ring and when
Faarooq gets ready to finish Jarrett with a Dominator, the Nation
interferes.  In the ensuing brawl, the
Nation beats down Faarooq while Jarrett destroys Blackman with nunchucks.  You can’t say they aren’t trying with this
Jarrett-Blackman feud and considering Blackman’s lack of mic skills, this is
about as good as we were going to get.
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WWF Champion Steve
Austin comes out and demands McMahon come out to tell him what is going on with
his booking tonight.  McMahon appears on
the Titantron with Patterson and Brisco and they refuse to give him any
information.  Just a generic segment to
continue the storytelling for tonight.  1 for 2
A spliced together
compilation of Val Venis’s vignettes are shown.
Jerry “the King”
Lawler comes out to do commentary for hour two.
The next scheduled
segment is the Marc Mero-Sable bout (or “public confrontation” if you prefer).  Sable gets on the mic and tells Mero that she
didn’t think it would come to this and Mero responds by picking her up for a
TKO and then setting her down.  Mero
demands an apology for Sable trying to ruin his career, but Sable responds by
giving him a low blow and a Sable bomb. 
Jim Cornette’s 1997 Timeline shoot ranted about this segment and Steve
Austin scrapped a planned program with Mero over it because he did not want to
take offense from a guy who was just beaten by a woman.  That aside, this got a huge reaction from the
crowd and was entertaining.  2 for 3
The Undertaker
comes out after Lawler based on Lawler’s interaction with Paul Bearer on last
week’s show.  The lights go out before
the Undertaker can Tombstone Lawler and Kane and Bearer walk out.  Bearer promises that next week he will prove
that he is Kane’s father.  After Kane and
Bearer go back to the locker room, the Undertaker Tombstones Lawler.  This shows why the Attitude Era was great
because the Undertaker going after Lawler immediately after the Sable-Mero
segment happened out of nowhere.  3 for 4
Al Snow comes out
of the crowd with Head to do commentary duties with Jim Ross.  Security, directed by Pat Patterson, removes
Snow, who demands to see McMahon.
DX delivers a “parting
shot” to CNN headquarters by blowing it up (computer generated of course) with
an artillery gun.  Live in the arena, DX
comes out and X-Pac tells Eric Bischoff to suck it.  DX runs through their usual promo spots
before Owen Hart appears and announces that “Enough is enough and it’s time for
a change.”  Owen brings the Nation of Domination
with him to fight DX.
Chyna’s
participation in last week’s eight person tag match is the 1-800-COLLECT Rewind
segment.
Jim Cornette
replaces Lawler to do commentary for the rest of the show.
­-Non-Title
Match:  Triple H (European Champion
w/D-Generation X) wrestles Owen Hart (w/The Nation of Domination) to a
no-contest at 7:07 shown:
Owen’s alliance with the Nation makes sense in storyline
terms because he needed a crew to back him up against DX and their constant interference
in his matches.  Owen, Kama Mustafa, and
D-Lo Brown of the Nation are booked to face DX in a six man tag match for Over
the Edge as well.  Chyna’s crotching of
Owen on the top rope nearly sparks a brawl between the two factions and
Commissioner Slaughter allegedly puts an end to the bout.  Hey Slaughter, why didn’t you just send
everyone to back BEFORE the match like you usually do?  This is one of the reasons that running
authority figure stories like this never work out from a logic perspective.  I thought they might give Owen a cheap win
here since he has a new factional alignment, but it was not to be.  The match showed that the crowd was digging
the early stages of the DX-Nation feud, though. 
Rating:  **½ (4 for 5)
Dustin Runnels
comes out with his Goldust attire and tosses it into a barrel by the
entrance.  He proceeds to set it on fire
and then cuts a promo where he says that McMahon took his dignity away with the
Goldust character.  McMahon was everyone’s
favorite whipping boy at this time.  A
storyboard for him would have tons of lines all over the place.  Runnels says that the Goldust character is
dead.  This had a lot of shock value at
the time, but since the Goldust character was eventually reprised (like Jeff
Jarrett ripping his country gimmick and going back to it) it didn’t matter in
the long run.  4 for 6
Handicap
Match:  Kaientai (w/Yamaguchi-San) beats Terry
Funk & 2 Cold Scorpio via disqualification when Taka Michinoku &
Bradshaw interfere at 3:09:
I know it’s Terry Funk and all, but does it make a lot of
sense to have him wrestle a week after he was “destroyed” by Mick Foley?  This is Kaientai’s in-ring RAW debut.  The height difference between Kaientai and
their opponents always caused me to think that they didn’t have much of a
chance at winning their matches.  The
referee doesn’t care that Kaientai never tag and all stay in the ring at the
same time and eventually Michinoku and Bradshaw run out to drive Kaientai
off.  This is the first loss for Funk and
Scorpio.  The match was not a
conventional tag match and the flow of it was messy.  Rating:  * (4 for 7)
McMahon is shown
talking with Austin’s mystery tag team partner in the locker room, but we
cannot see who it is.
Al Snow tries to
re-enter the arena, but security refuses him entry.
“Stone Cold”
Steve Austin & Vince McMahon (w/Gerald Brisco & Pat Patterson) wrestle The
Rock & D-Lo Brown (w/The Nation of Domination) to a no contest when McMahon
attacks Austin at 8:28:
McMahon names himself as Austin’s mystery partner making
this a de facto handicap match.  Austin
decides to wrestle it like No Mercy on the N64 by hitting anything that moves,
including Brisco and Patterson.  Instead
of giving a hot tag to McMahon after avoiding a Lo Down, Austin gives McMahon
the bird.  Austin gives Brown a Stunner,
but the Rock breaks that up and McMahon clotheslines Austin.  Brisco and Patterson join in the beat down to
end this match, which did a great job sustaining heat.  **½ (5
for 7)
After the bell,
Austin beats back McMahon and the stooges only to have Dude Love run in and
tackle him.  However, Dustin Runnels and
D-Generation X run into the ring to brawl with Love and the Nation and the
crowd’s loud reaction to all of this plays us out.
The Final Report Card:  RAW continues its streak of having lots of
wild and unpredictable action as Austin gets held from some unlikely sources to
beat back Dude Love and the Nation of Domination at the end of the show and the
Undertaker destroyed Jerry Lawler.  D-Generation
X’s “invasion” of WCW headquarters was pretty funny, although it was nowhere
near their “invasion” of the WCW card in Norfolk, Virginia prior to this
show.  The deck has been stacked against
Austin for Over the Edge and the rest of that card is starting to come together
with Vader being booked against Kane, DX fighting the Nation, and the Rock
defending the Intercontinental title against Faarooq.  Excellent storytelling this week in all of
the big angles and the crowd’s reactions throughout the show are a testament to
that.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.3 (vs.4.3 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Unforgiven 1998 – In Your House

by Logan Scisco

With some of my graduate work behind me, I finally had
time to devote three hours to this show and continue my reviews of the World
Wrestling Federation in 1998.  Before
academic responsibilities got in the way, Steve Austin and Vince McMahon’s feud
started moving to another level and ended WCW Monday Nitro’s 82-week winning
streak.  Dude Love, Austin’s former tag
team partner, was inserted into the angle as McMahon’s alleged representative.  However, that match on this show is
overshadowed by the Inferno match booked between the Undertaker and Kane.  Meanwhile, Ken Shamrock and Faarooq have
joined forces because they hate the Rock and Triple H has dominated his feud
with Owen Hart.  The Legion of Doom have
been rechristened “LOD 2000” and given Sunny as a manager, but it’s sort of
like putting lipstick on a pig and their best days are behind them.  Still, their victory in the WrestleMania XIV
tag team battle royal gives them a title shot on this show against their rivals
the New Age Outlaws.  Finally, Sable is
becoming the top diva in the company and Luna Vachon has threatened to rip her
clothes off in the first Evening Gown match in WWF history.  Got all that?
Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are broadcasting from Greensboro,
North Carolina.  They speculate on what
Vince McMahon means when he says something “catastrophic” is going to happen
tonight.

Opening
Contest:  Ken Shamrock, Faarooq &
Steve Blackman beat The Rock, Mark Henry & D-Lo Brown (w/Kama Mustafa) when
Faarooq pins the Rock with a Dominator at 13:35:
Faarooq is wearing his usual ring gear here, which does
not quite fit his face turn.  He does get
a big pop for whipping D-Lo with a belt in the early going, though.  Amazingly, Ross is able to restrain himself
and not discuss the football credentials of some of the participants until nine
minutes in.  A pretty dull opener that
quiets a hot crowd, but its booking follows logical wrestling principles as
Faarooq pins the Rock to make him seem like a credible challenger for the Rock’s
Intercontinental title and set up a one-on-one match between the two in the
near future.  Rating:  **
Michael Cole
interviews the winning team and Faarooq says this was the opening shot of a
long war that he is going to wage against the Nation.
WWF Champion Steve
Austin comes out and throws the timekeeper into the ring.  Austin interrogates him over why he rang the
bell to prematurely end the Dude Love-Steve Blackman match on the previous RAW
and makes it clear that if Vince McMahon tries to screw him out of the title
that he is going to give the timekeeper the beating of a lifetime.  Nice thread of storyline continuity here.
The announce team
recaps the Triple H-Owen Hart feud.
European
Championship Match with Chyna Suspended in a Cage Above the Ring:  Triple H (Champion) pins Owen Hart after
X-Pac hits Owen with a fire extinguisher at 12:27:
One fan has the ability to predict the future in the
audience tonight, carrying a sign that reads “Playboy needs Chyna.”  Commissioner Slaughter being an antagonist
for D-Generation X has lost much of its luster, as the arrival of Vince McMahon
as the owner of the company makes him look very weak on the totem pole, but it
is still a lot clearer than the five or six authority figures roaming around
the “WWE Universe” today.  Owen has lost
a lot of heat since starting this feud in January, illustrating why wins and
losses matter.  This is a good match, but
it lacks the atmosphere of their WrestleMania encounter and the focus is more
on Chyna bending the bars of the cage she is in, dangerously hanging onto it
while she is trying to escape, and then having the Road Dogg lower the cage so
she can get to the ground.  The ensuing
chaos allows Triple H to get another controversial win over Owen when logic
dictated that Owen goes over here.  This
did have a somewhat logical payoff, although that would require an Owen turn
and we’ll get to that in future reviews. 
Rating:  ***
Cole interviews
Owen Hart, who lets us know that “enough is enough and it’s time for things to
change around here.”
NWA Tag Team
Championship Match:  The New Midnight
Express (Champions w/Jim Cornette) defeated The Rock N’ Roll Express when
Bodacious Bart pinned Robert Gibson after a Bombastic Bob bulldog at 7:22:
This is a bonus match, which illustrates the lack of
depth in the company at the time, but we are in NWA country so the Rock N’ Roll
Express get a decent pop while the Express are greeted with silence.  God bless Ross as he tries to hype put over
the Rock N’ Roll and this match, but his historical references go over the head
of most of the audience since the WWF rarely emphasized wrestling history at
this time.  Referee Tim White and
Cornette have a funny showdown where Cornette dares White to fight him and
White scares him off.  You might assume
this would be decent, but there is more stalling than action and the match
moves very slowly.  The Express hit their
double dropkick on Bart, but shenanigans ensue and the Express retain the
titles, which no one cares about.  Rating: 
Dok Hendrix
interviews Goldust and Luna Vachon and Luna emphasizes that she wants to strip
Sable of all her clothes.
Evening Gown
Match:  Luna Vachon (w/Goldust) beats
Sable at 2:34:
Marc Mero does not come down to the ring with Sable
because he is allegedly humiliated by Sable’s recent antics.  Maybe he meant her promos.  The crowd chants for Sable, which makes sense
if you consider her the face, but little sense in terms of the match since they
want to see her without her clothes. 
Since we’re getting more Russo booking around this time it is not
surprising that this ends with a screwjob, as Mero shows up, distracts Sable,
and allows Luna strips Sable of the top of her dress.  After the match. Sable strips off Luna’s
dress and then takes off the rest of her clothing underneath the ring.
Vince McMahon, Pat
Patterson, and Gerald Brisco walk to the ring and McMahon reiterates that “anything
can happen in the World Wrestling Federation.” 
McMahon debunks that a conspiracy is in the works tonight and that he is
just going to be at ringside because he was born in North Carolina.
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear from the winners and losers of tonight’s matches!
WWF Tag Team Championship
Match:  The New Age Outlaws (Champions) defeat
LOD 2000 (w/Sunny) when Road Dogg pins Hawk at 12:21:
LOD 2000 did not get a lot of airtime before this match,
which is as close to a vote of no confidence from WWF management as you can
get.  Sunny’s dress is nowhere near as
eye catching as her WrestleMania XIV attire. 
The LOD get a nice nostalgia pop, but after that there’s not much to see
except some token power moves.  Animal does
a good job staying in peril, which was appropriate because Hawk botches several
moves throughout.  The finish makes
little sense, as the referee says Hawk does not lift his shoulders on a German
suplex, but Road Dogg never lifts his shoulders to earn a victory.  After the match, the LOD give the referee a
Doomsday Device and the referee does a stretcher job.  Thankfully, this is the end of the
Outlaws-LOD issue.  This was also Sunny’s
last WWF pay-per-view appearance.  Rating: 
¾*
Jeff Jarrett “sings”
with Sawyer Brown, a country music group. 
The crowd is so enamored with this performance that they chant “We want
Flair!”  It always baffles me that the
WWF brass thought this stuff was going to get Jarrett over.  At the end of the performance, Steve Blackman
attacks Jarrett, but after he puts Jarrett in a submission move, Tennessee Lee
blasts Blackman with a guitar.
A video package
hypes the Inferno match between the Undertaker and Kane.  Lawler has a hot dog ready to roast at
ringside.
Inferno Match:  The Undertaker beats Kane (w/Paul Bearer) at
16:02:
I’m really surprised that they did not make this the main
event of the pay-per-view considering how low key the Steve Austin-Dude Love
title match was, but maybe they were afraid of these two putting on a
less-than-stellar match like WrestleMania. 
This match is one of those that sounds good in theory, but is terrible
in execution because it is very difficult to build drama and this quickly
becomes a kick-and-punch affair.  Things
pick up after the Undertaker throws Kane over the top rope and Kane goes to
leave, which does not make a lot of sense for Kane’s character, but Vader makes
a surprise return to a big pop and fights Kane back to ringside, where the
Undertaker hits a plancha.  The
Undertaker destroys Bearer on the Sawyer Brown stage and knocks Kane’s arm into
the fire to win.  Things really didn’t
look good for Kane at the time, as he lost his second consecutive match, this
one definitively, to the Undertaker.  It’s
quite amazing that he maintained his upper midcard standing as a character
after this.  Rating:  *½
A video package
recaps the Steve Austin-Vince McMahon/Dude Love feud.
WWF Championship
Match with Vince McMahon at Ringside: 
Dude Love defeats “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (Champion) via
disqualification at 18:48:
The big story of this match is whether Love and McMahon
are working together and if McMahon is going to screw Austin out of the title
by intimidating the timekeeper.  McMahon
waits to come out until eight minutes into the match and Pat Patterson
hilariously carries the folding chair for McMahon to sit in.  I always wondered during this feud why
McMahon favored Love.  Was he that much
better of an alternative?  Would you want
your company led by a man who’s stuck in the 1960s/1970s?  McMahon tries to get the timekeeper to ring
the bell when Love applies an abdominal stretch, but the timekeeper doesn’t
budge and the match continues.  The
referee eventually gets bumped, which causes him to miss Love applying the
Mandible Claw (or Love Handle if you prefer) and the battle spills to the floor
where Austin knocks McMahon out with a chair to a HUGE pop.  Austin counts his own fall and his music
plays, but we eventually hear from Howard Finkel that Love is the winner by
disqualification since Austin hit a WWF official.  McMahon does a stretcher job as well.  Love took some nasty spills in this match as
per usual and the brawling was technically proficient.  I’m not really a fan of the ending, but in
storyline terms it worked out for the best since McMahon wanted to make it
certain that Austin would lose the title at the next pay-per-view by stacking
the deck against him.  Rating: 
***½
The Final Report Card:  This show illustrates that most of 1998 was
Steve Austin and not much else.  His match
was the most exciting on the show and the midcard had lots of weird things
happening like the LOD getting another push, the Rock N’ Roll Express getting a
WWF pay-per-view match in 1998, and Jeff Jarrett feuding with Steve Blackman
for lack of something better to do.  The
main event is exciting and Triple H-Owen is their usual solid outing, but
compared with WrestleMania XIV this show did not blow you away or even make you
feel satisfied.  Owen loses again, the
Outlaws kept the belts in a match finish that made no sense, the Inferno match
was nothing special, and the main event had an inconclusive finish.  Some of these things, like the Owen loss and
the inconclusive main event finish, led to greater things down the road and those
shows will be the ones that will get a thumbs up rating, not this outing.
Attendance: 
21,427
Buyrate: 
0.85 (+0.35 over previous year)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – April 20, 1998

by Logan Scisco

A video package recaps the Steve
Austin-Vince McMahon interaction on last week’s show, where their WWF title
match was interrupted by Dude Love
.
Jim Ross and
Michael Cole are in the booth and they are taped from Long Island, New York
.
Kevin Kelly gives
us a report from the Undertaker and Kane’s parents grave, where they will be
facing each other tonight.

Dude Love hosts
the Love Shack and it does not take long for Vince McMahon to crash the
party.  McMahon tells Love that is being
fined $5,000 and warns him not to interfere with his business again before
leaving.  Love says he attacked Steve
Austin because he attacked him from behind, but that he may not face him at
Unforgiven if Austin grovels at his feet by the end of the show.  It always amazes me how easily Foley can
modify his promos for each of his characters. 
1 for 1
Opening Long
Island Street Fight:  Faarooq beats Kama
Mustafa with a spinebuster at 5:52:
The Nation is nice enough to bring lots of weapons to
ringside, the most impressive of which is a beer keg that Mark Henry carries in
from the audience.  However, the allies
of both men are barred from ringside. 
Impressively, Ross holds off until four minutes in to remind us of
Faarooq’s All-American roots.  Kama
dominates much of the match, which largely ignores the stipulation, and Faarooq
blasts Kama with his boot to avoid a Kama hammer attack and pick up the
win.  Cole makes so many errors in
calling this match, one of which is screaming “DOMINATOR” after Faarooq hits
the spinebuster.  Rating:  ¾* (1 for 2)
D-Generation X is
seen admiring footage of them relieving themselves on the Disciples of
Apocalypse’s motorcycles weeks ago. 
Billy Gunn dares Triple H to expose himself and urinate on tonight’s
crowd.
A video package
hypes Jeff Jarrett’s musical performance with Sawyer Brown at Unforgiven.
D-Generation X
comes out and Ross tells us that when Triple H and Owen Hart face off at
Unforgiven that Chyna will be suspended above the ring in a cage.  Triple H and the New Age Outlaws comment on
their opponents at Unforgiven and Triple H’s urinating prank sees him take a
giant squirt gun and blow it into the audience. 
LOD 2000, Owen Hart, and Sunny appear on the ramp and start heading
toward DX, but Sergeant Slaughter intervenes and books a match between them for
later tonight.  I was just not a fan of
DX’s juvenile antics in this segment and we’ve really heard everything they
have to say against their opponents, although that is more of a fault with
repetitive booking than anything else.  1 for 3
Dan Severn UFC
clips are the 10-321 Rewind segment
.
Kelly lets us know
that the Undertaker is minutes away from the cemetery!
Dan Severn (w/Jim
Cornette) defeats Mosh (w/Thrasher) via submission to an armbar at 2:40:
I don’t know why the WWE does not bother to use tag team
wrestlers in singles competition against non-tag team wrestlers much anymore
because it is an easy way to give singles stars victories while not harming the
reputation of a tag team, since the announcers can always point out that the
losing tag wrestler was not competing with their partner and they were out of
their element.  Severn easily squashes
Mosh here with a few suplexes and an awkward looking armbar.  This match should’ve been shorter and Mosh
should have received no offense, but since Severn is part of this NWA faction
the booking team doesn’t care that much about him.
The Undertaker
appears at the cemetery and chokes Kelly, who screams like a little girl.  Kelly says after the commercial break that
the Undertaker may be heading back to the arena after not finding Kane.
Before the next
match, Luna Vachon promises to strip Sable of her soul and all of her clothes
at Unforgiven.
Bradshaw defeats
The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust (w/Luna Vachon) by disqualification when
the Kamikaze Club interferes at 4:50:
After months of wearing weird outfits, Goldust is back to
wearing his more traditional attire here. 
Both of these guys are in need of some direction and Bradshaw gets
something when the Kamikaze Club interferes and lays him out before
escaping through the crowd.  This was
good when Bradshaw was using his stiff-looking offense, but we did not get
enough of that.  Rating:  * (1 for 4)
Vince McMahon
slapping Steve Austin is last week’s M&M Slam of the Week.
Jerry “the King”
Lawler joins Ross for the second hour on commentary.
WWF Champion Steve
Austin comes out and alleges a conspiracy between Vince McMahon and Dude Love
to take the WWF title from him and he vows to kick ass tonight.  He teases going after a photographer, a
cameraman, and a timekeeper before heading to the locker room.  A simple filler promo and segment to keep the
wheels turning toward Unforgiven.  1 for 5
A hearse is shown
arriving at the arena.  Is it the
Undertaker?
Non-Title
Match:  Terry Funk & 2 Cold Scorpio
beat The New Midnight Express (NWA Tag Team Champions w/Jim Cornette & Dan
Severn) when Scorpio pins Bombastic Bob with the 450 splash at 7:07:
Scorpio, having a new lease on creative life by going
back to his old name, is the only one that doesn’t phone it in for this
match.  You would think that two former
tag wrestlers in Bart Gunn and Holly would work well as a team, but they do not
show much of it in this match.  Scorpio
hits a crazy plancha when the Express beat on Funk on the outside and picks up
another victory for his team with the 450. 
Severn doesn’t let Scorpio gloat, though, as he walks into the ring and
gives him a belly-to-belly suplex. 
What’s funny is that Severn starts walking into the ring after the 450,
so you think a disqualification is coming, but he walks in so slow that the
referee finishes the three count before he can get to Scorpio.  Some stablemate, eh?  Rating:  * (1 for 6)
The new Val Venis
vignette has him in the shower and warning women to get their rest.
Cole interviews
Sable, who says she does not care if Luna Vachon strips her naked at
Unforgiven.  That claim is interesting in
retrospect because having that booked to happen on RAW a year later is what led
Sable to leave the company and sue them. 
Whoever arranged this segment was smart because they kept Sable’s
talking limited to that one line.
Paul Bearer and
Kane greet the hearse that has shown up to the arena.
Call 815-734-1161
to get the Steve Austin “Hell Yeah!” t-shirt for $25 (plus $6 shipping &
handling)!
Vince McMahon
tells Cole that he is ready to fight Austin if he dares to confront him.
Triple H &
The New Age Outlaws (w/X-Pac & Chyna) beat Owen Hart & LOD 2000
(w/Sunny) when Billy Gunn pins Animal after a piledriver at 8:27 shown:
Ross chooses to talk about his past NWA experiences
during this match by mentioning how the Horsemen were no match for the
Legion of Doom and that Greensboro, North Carolina, where Unforgiven will be
held, is Ric Flair country.  The LOD’s
role in this match is limited, but they aren’t showing anything special, which
their new gimmick cannot mask.  In fact,
this match is a lot like the tag match with Funk and 2 Cold Scorpio earlier in
that Owen completely carries his team’s side of the contest.  The Road Dogg gets hit with a Doomsday
Device, but Chyna picks up Sunny and that creates enough of a distraction that
enables X-Pac to hit Animal with a chair and produce the finish.  At least Owen didn’t eat the pin.  Rating:  ** (2 for 7)
Paul Bearer and
Kane are shown wheeling a dirty casket backstage as Bearer sings about “digging
up bones.”  The hearse driver cracks me
up as he just watches all of this unfold with a stoic look like all of this is
just another day at the office.
Kane and Paul
Bearer come out and there are two caskets on the stage, which Bearer says are
the dug up graves of the Undertaker’s parents.  Bearer says that the Undertaker can pay his respects since
he didn’t go to their funeral.  He adds that he (Bearer) buried them in the cheapest caskets possible.  The Undertaker appears through the crowd and
as he charges ramp, Kane pours gasoline on one of the caskets and Bearer sets it
alight.  Kane then chokeslams the Undertaker into the other, which is the casket
of his mother.  In a nice attention to
detail, they made sure to put bones and worms in the casket the Undertaker was
thrown into.  Great segment that was much
better than having the men fight at the cemetery.  3 for
8
Cole tells us that
Kane and Paul Bearer have left the arena and the Undertaker is with whatever is
left of the remains.
Vince McMahon
walks out to do commentary for the next match. 
Lawler welcomes him back “like good old times.”  Storyline continuity is a nice thing.
Dude Love beats
Steve Blackman via submission to an abdominal stretch at 3:57:
Lawler constantly sucks up to McMahon at the booth and
snitches on all the bad thing Ross has said about him over the last couple of
weeks.  McMahon laments that he and
Austin could have had a “classic” on last week’s show and promises to be close
to the ring during the WWF title match at Unforgiven.  I would almost prefer they not call Love the
number one contender for Austin’s title since he has not beaten anyone to
immediately get a title shot.  Anyway,
after some brief action, Love puts Blackman in an abdominal stretch and the
bell mysteriously rings, thereby making this the “Long Island Screwjob” I
suppose.  Rating:  * (3 for 9)
After the bell,
Blackman interrogates the timekeeper and hiptosses him on the arena floor.  McMahon is outraged at all of this and as he
tends to the timekeeper, Steve Austin runs out, grabs McMahon, and hiptosses
HIM.  Austin and Love brawl on the floor
and Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco get Stone Cold Stunners as McMahon
flees.  Really fun closing segment that
sent the crowd into a frenzy.  4 for 10
The Final Report Card:  Fun ending aside, this was a very dry episode
of RAW relative to the last few weeks.  The
second hour was where all of the action was, but very little was entertaining
outside of Austin-McMahon and the Undertaker-Kane angle.  The Terry Funk & 2 Cold Scorpio tag team
had potential, so I am not sure why they abandoned it so quickly in 1998, but
it was good to see Scorpio being used as more than a jobber for a change.
Here is our final Unforgiven card:
WWF Championship Match:  Steve Austin (Champion) vs. Dude Love with
Vince McMahon at ringside
WWF Tag Team Championship Match:  The New Age Outlaws (Champions) vs. LOD 2000
European Championship Match:  Triple H (Champion) vs. Owen Hart with Chyna
suspended above the ring in a cage
Inferno Match:  The Undertaker vs. Kane
Evening Gown Match:  Sable vs. Luna Vachon
The Nation of Domination vs. Ken Shamrock,
Steve Blackman & Faarooq
Monday Night War Rating:  4.4 (vs. 5.1 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – April 13, 1998

by Logan Scisco

A video package
recaps Steve Austin ripping off his corporate suit on last week’s show
.
Jim Ross and
Michael Cole are doing commentary and they are live from Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania
.

WWF Champion Steve
Austin comes out and calls out Vince McMahon under threat of holding the show
hostage again.  McMahon hesitantly walks
out with Gerald Brisco, Pat Patterson, and two police officers in riot
gear.  Austin demands to know who he is
facing at Unforgiven and McMahon says that he hasn’t decided that yet.  Austin asks McMahon if he wants to be WWF
champion since his version of a title holder is himself and when McMahon looks
puzzled, Austin announces that he will defend the WWF title tonight against
him.  McMahon’s reaction to the challenge
is priceless and Austin tells McMahon that he can’t leave the arena because he beat up his
limo driver and cut all of his tires. 
Austin gives McMahon thirty minutes to think over his challenge before
he takes a cameraman backstage and whips his ass.  This was a nice setup for tonight’s big angle
and it covered the scenario of McMahon trying to run away.  1 for
1
McMahon is shown
talking with Patterson and Brisco backstage, who urge him to face Austin and they give him a pep talk.
Opening Tag Team
Chain Match:  The Disciples of Apocalpyse
(w/Chainz) wrestle Savio Vega & Jose to a no contest at 2:15:
Although the stipulation might imply that this is a big
deal, both teams get the jobber entrance and D-Generation X comes out and lays
out Chainz, who does a stretcher job.  DX
then beats up Skull and 8-Ball before turning on Savio and Jose.  Ross insists that this is a no contest
because you cannot have a disqualification in a chain match.  This was fine with me because it puts DX over
two of the old gang warz factions that have hardly done anything since 1997.
Shane McMahon is
shown backstage talking with his father, Brisco, and Patterson and Shane tries
to convince his father not to face Austin.
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handling)!
Vince McMahon
walks out, recaps his family’s history with the company, and reluctantly
announces that he will accept Austin’s challenge for a match tonight.  Brisco and Patterson come out to give McMahon
a high five and Ross says they have lost their minds and leaves the booth to
try to talk some sense to McMahon backstage.
Right after Ross
leaves, the lights go out and without anyone to hold him back, Cole refuses to
stop talking as the Undertaker walks out and destroys Aguila, El Pantera, and
Scott Taylor who are scheduled for a tag team match tonight.  The Undertaker gets on the mic and says that
it is time for Kane to come out of the darkness.  Cole just rants about how the Undertaker’s
attack is not justified and while true, it just comes off as whiny.  1 for
2
Steve Austin
giving McMahon a Stone Cold Stunner two weeks ago is the Starburst Slam of the
Week
.
Kevin Kelly
reports from outside McMahon’s locker room and shows a piece of footage of
Brisco, Patterson, Ross, and Shane arguing. 
Vince tells Shane to get his gym bag and blows Ross off and tells him to
go back and do his job
.
Taka Michinoku
beats Jeff Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) by disqualification when Club Kamizake
interferes at 2:27:
Flyers fall from the sky which hype Jarrett performing with
Sawyer Brown at Unforgiven.  The flyer
idea isn’t well thought out, though, because they fall into the ring, making
this match seem like a bonus feature on the DVD of Newsies.  Both men briefly exchange moves before the
Japanese wrestlers that attacked Michinoku on last week’s show appear and
attack him again.  Ross and Cole call
them Club Kamikaze, but they would eventually become Kaientai.
Austin tells Jim
Ross from the locker room that he is not surprised McMahon accepted his
challenge and he will settle his issue with McMahon once and for all tonight.
Patterson and
Brisco give McMahon advice on how to counter the Stone Cold Stunner.
Faarooq walks out with taped ribs and says
that he is going to give the Nation of Domination another chance to kick his
ass.  The Rock debuts his “do you smell
what the Rock is cooking” line as he runs down Faarooq, but Faarooq gives the
Nation salute, which signals Ken Shamrock and Steve Blackman to run out and
help him ambush the Nation.  WWF
officials have to separate everyone as the crowd works up a HUGE “Rocky sucks!”
chant.  This is setting up a six man tag
at Unforgiven.  2 for 3
Mick Foley
retiring the Cactus Jack character last week is the 10-321 Rewind segment
.
Jerry “the King”
Lawler comes out early to do commentary for tonight’s show, but Cole is still
with us.
Terry Funk &
2 Cold Scorpio beat The Quebecers when Scorpio pins Pierre with a 450 splash at
2:14:
Funk has abandoned the Chainsaw Charlie character,
realizing three months too late that it was a bad idea.  Funk says that although Cactus Jack quit last
week he is not quitting and he is forming a new team with a man that Vince
McMahon has not given a chance and that new partner is Flash Funk, who Ross
makes sure we know is “2 Cold.”  This is
a good place to repackage Flash Funk into 2 Cold Scorpio since they are in ECW
country and the crowd works up a loud “ECW” chant.  Of course, Cole the idiot doesn’t take the
hint and keeps calling him Flash Funk. 
The Quebecer Crash misses and Scorpio wins the bout for his team in an
abbreviated match that could have been something really good if it was given
five more minutes.
Luna Vachon walks
out and continues a trend tonight by calling out Sable.  However, the Artist Formerly Known as
Goldust, dressed as Sable and mocks her bad promo skills.  They enact the way the Evening Gown Match is going
to go with Luna ripping Goldust’s dress off. 
This is quite disturbing until Sable runs in and briefly brawls with
Luna, which excites the crowd.  3 for 4
Non-Title Match:  The New Midnight Express (NWA Tag Team
Champions w/Jim Cornette & Dan Severn) wrestle Ken Shamrock & Steve
Blackman to a double disqualification at 3:45:
Before the match, Shamrock and Severn go eye-to-eye for a
few seconds before the referee orders Severn to the locker room.  This is a decent, but uninspiring match where
both teams keep brawling after the hot tag and the referee gets tired of trying
to control the action so he just disqualifies everyone.  I really hate that finish.  Rating:  *½ (3 for 5)
Kelly asks Vince
if he is scared of facing Austin, to which he says he was not afraid of the
U.S. federal government and is not afraid of Ted Turner, so he is not afraid of
Steve Austin.
The Headbangers
are in the ring for the next match, but the Undertaker comes out again.  The Headbangers try to defend themselves, but
he proceeds to destroy them.  The lights
go out and Kane and Paul Bearer come out to a big pop.  Bearer says that next week the Undertaker
will face Kane, but they will meet in the cemetery on their parents’ grave and
not in the ring.  Bearer’s rants against
the Undertaker are usually fun and this was no exception.  4 for
6
The latest Val
Venis vignette, which catches him in the middle of casting for his next film
“Lust in Space.”
Owen Hart (w/LOD
2000 & Sunny) defeats Billy Gunn (w/D-Generation X) with a schoolboy at
6:19 shown:
The commentary team announces that Owen Hart will meet
Triple H for the European title at Unforgiven. 
This match is booked as Owen facing a chosen DX member, which Triple H
says was chosen based on an essay writing contest.  For backup in this match, Owen brings LOD
2000 and Sunny.  X-Pac has a funny jab at
Ross on commentary by asking if Owen is a “twelve –time All-American.”  Triple H also makes jokes about Sunny’s
skanky nature.  Billy dominates a lot of
the action that happens over the course of two commercial breaks, which makes
this a snoozer until Owen wins when Billy prematurely celebrates.  Rating:  *¼ (4 for 7)
WWF Championship
Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
(Champion) and Vince McMahon (w/Pat Patterson, Gerald Brisco, Shane McMahon
& Sergeant Slaughter) never compete:
Vince is dressed for this fight like Keith Hackney of the
original UFC, towel included.  Ross makes
a good point about this match by saying that if McMahon is hurt then it could
harm the prospects of the company.  Vince
slaps Austin and one hand is tied behind Austin’s back since Austin says he
could beat Vince with one arm in the opening promo.  In a nice piece of storytelling, McMahon has
Austin’s “Stunner arm” tied.  While
having these two engage in battle would be an awesome moment at the time,
logical booking prevails and before the bell, Dude Love comes out to veto the
match in the name of love.  McMahon
pushes Love down and Love tries to attack him with the Mandible Claw.  When Austin tries to get Love out of the ring
so he can face McMahon, Love puts the Mandible Claw on him and McMahon angrily
leaves, feeling Love stole his moment.  5 for
8
The Final Report Card:  Since I came to Scott’s blog in 2010 and
recapped RAW, beginning with March 1996, the WWF has usually lost the Monday Night
Wars against WCW.  For eighty-two
straight weeks, Nitro defeated RAW in the ratings with an average margin of
victory of 1.2 or higher.  However, after
Decemer 22, 1997 RAW’s ratings rose above 3.0 and would never dip lower and
THIS was the RAW that finally slaughtered the Nitro juggernaut.  It was unclear at the time whether this would
be a one-off victory or the beginning of a trend, but with the benefit of
hindsight this was like the Entente forces stopping the Germans at the Second
Battle of the Marne in August 1918. 
Although Nitro would win a few more victories over RAW after this night,
this show marked a shift in momentum in the Monday Night Wars and by the end of
the year Nitro was on the defensive.
As for the show itself, the Austin-McMahon
interaction was great and although viewers were disappointed about
Austin-McMahon not happening, it was the correct booking choice to continue a
red hot feud.  This show was all
storyline driven, as the in-ring product was poor, but it made two hours fly by
and it is still an entertaining show sixteen years later.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.6 (vs. 4.2 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – December 15, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Jim Ross, Michael
Cole, and Kevin Kelly are in the booth and they are in Durham, New Hampshire.
Cole interviews
the Undertaker and announces that he will face Shawn Michaels in a casket match
at the Royal Rumble for the WWF title. 
The Undertaker cuts a good promo and acknowledges that the only casket
match he lost took ten men to beat him and D-Generation X doesn’t have ten
people in it and Michaels doesn’t have ten friends to help him.  Kane and Paul Bearer come out and Bearer
rehashes “the Undertaker is a murderer” bit. 
Kane hits the Undertaker and when he tries to do it a second time, the
Undertaker blocks it, but then leaves instead of retaliating.
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Brian Christopher
and Jerry Lawler’s attack on Taka Michinoku on last week’s RAW is the
1-800-COLLECT Rewind segment.

Opening Non-Title
Contest:  Taka Michinoku (Light
Heavyweight Champion) beats Jerry “the King” Lawler by disqualification when
Brian Christopher interferes at 5:42:
Ross hypes the UFC: 
Ultimate Japan card during this match, which is a big styles clash since
Lawler can’t work at Michinoku’s speed. 
Still, Lawler gives it a good effort by throwing a few dropkicks in the
early going, but the allure of the Memphis stall is too much to resist and the
match slows considerably in the middle. 
Lawler hits the piledriver, but opts to go for a fist drop off the
second rope and eats a Michinoku Driver (!) before Christopher runs in for the
predictable disqualification.  Rating: 
After the match,
Michinoku gets the better of Christopher and heel miscommunication allows
Michinoku to get away unscathed.  The
crowd wasn’t into any of this.
Call
1-900-747-4WWF to find out how D-Generation X almost started a riot over the
weekend!
The Legion of Doom
tell the announce team that their match with DX isn’t going to be pretty
tonight.
The Nation of
Domination comes out and the Rock toots his own horn at the expense of Faarooq,
who wants to say a few words.  The Rock
demands that Austin come out and he does, but Austin doesn’t have the
Intercontinental belt.  He says he’ll
show the Rock later on what happened to his championship belt.  The Rock gives him an hour to return him his
property or face some justice at the hands of the Nation.
Dude Love beats
“The Road Dogg” Jesse James (w/Billy Gunn) with Sweet Shin Music at 4:36:
This continues the building feud between Love and the tag
team champions.  Gunn does the
introduction mic work and is nowhere near James’ level.  Ross tells Gunn that he and James should call
themselves “The New Age Outlaws” and Gunn says that’s a great idea, so now the
tag team champions will actually have a team name.  In the middle of the match, Love undergoes a
small transformation into his other personas, as he puts James in the Mandible
Claw, rips some of his hair out, and screams “Bang, Bang!”  Love captures another win, but takes a double
suplex by the entrance after the match and the Outlaws whip a referee into Love
to send him flying off the entrance platform. 
That bump had to hurt because Love barely grazed the table set up to
cushion his fall on the way down.  Rating: 
Mark Henry
defeats The Brooklyn Brawler via submission to a bearhug at 2:03:
This was Henry’s return to action after suffering an
ankle injury that put him on the shelf at the end of 1996.  He looks as generic as you can be, with a
black shirt and black ring trunks.  Ross
informs us during this squash that Steve Austin has left the arena with a WWF
camera crew.
A video package
highlights the growing tension between Shawn Michaels and Owen Hart.
For the second
hour Ross and Jim Cornette are in the booth.
Vince McMahon
warns Owen Hart that he is endangering the safety of ringside fans by attacking
Shawn Michaels through the crowd. 
McMahon orders Owen to appear in the ring since he is still under
contract and Owen comes out of the crowd to a nice reaction.  Owen curses McMahon and tells him that no one
is going to run him out of the WWF. 
McMahon implies that Owen only cares about winning the WWF title, but
Owen just calls it a “piece of leather with tin on it” and swears that he will
make Michaels life a living hell. 
McMahon has police come to the ring and tells Owen that he will come
through the entrance like every other WWF superstar next week and the police
escort Owen out through the crowd.  One
of the top segments of Owen’s career, but like a lot of things in the Attitude
Era, this didn’t really lead to anything significant.  It’s also somewhat eerie to watch in
retrospect.
Call
1-900-RUMBLE-98 to register yourself in the Steve Austin pickup truck
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send a postcard to Devon, Pennsylvania.
Footage of Sable
revealing herself last week is shown.
Tom Brandi beats
The Sultan (w/The Iron Sheik) with a school boy after heel miscommunication at
3:46:
Brandi is the old Salvatore Sincere, who is trying to
turn a new leaf as a face, but didn’t really catch on.  Brandi’s failure to make it in the WWF
surprised me because he seemed to have the type of look that the WWF
preferred.  Brandi takes a big beating in
this match, but takes advantage of a miscue by the Sultan and chalks up the
upset.  Rating:  *¾
After the match,
Marc Mero runs in and pounds Brandi down.
Since an hour has
elapsed, the Nation of Domination comes back out as a video package recaps how
the Rock became the new Intercontinental champion on last week’s show.  The Rock says that he and the Nation are
coming for the title belt, but Steve Austin appears on the Titantron and this
is the famous segment where he tosses the Intercontinental title belt off a
bridge.
Vince McMahon
announces the beginning of the Attitude Era and that the audience is tired of
having its intelligence insulted and the simplistic “good guys versus bad
guys.”  He does tell parents that they
should use discretion if they let their kids watch the Warzone.
Steve Blackman
beats Jose with a German suplex at 1:38:
This is Blackman’s first RAW singles match and there’s a
small back story to this since the Boricuas interrupted a Blackman promo after
Survivor Series.  Blackman decimates Jose
with martial arts moves and finishes him off in relatively short order.
WWF and European
Champion Shawn Michaels says he isn’t worried about Owen Hart and after a rock,
paper, and scissors game they come to the conclusion that Triple H will take
care of Owen.  They also warn the Legion
of Doom that they are ready for them.
The Undertaker
Tombstoning the Sultan on Shotgun Saturday Night is the Lazer Tag Slam of the
Week.
The Legion of
Doom beat “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels & Triple H (w/Chyna) by
disqualification when Chyna interferes at 7:40 shown:
Standard tag team main event here as the LOD a bevy of
clotheslines and Michaels and Triple H cheat to turn the tide.  During the hot tag segment, the New Age
Outlaws run down to the ring and smother Hawk with ether, which allows DX to
pulverize Animal after Chyna gets into the ring and gives him a low blow.  Rating:  **
After the bell,
the Outlaws shave Hawk’s head and with DX’s help they powerbomb Animal from the
apron through the announce table.  This
only gets a .4 on the Ross outrage meter, though.
The Final Report Card:  A much better episode of RAW this week with
the destruction of the Legion of Doom, the Austin bridge segment, and Owen’s
interaction with Vince headlining the show. 
In a weird way, Austin’s popularity is putting Shawn Michaels title
reign in the same category as Bret Hart’s in 1995 whereby the main focus is on
his storylines and the WWF title is fading into the background.  Still, D-Generation X is doing a great job
making fans hate them and wanting someone to put them in their place.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.7 (vs. 4.1 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – December 8, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Pictures of last
night’s Intercontinental championship match between Steve Austin and the Rock
at D-Generation X are shown.
Jim Ross, Michael
Cole, and Kevin Kelly are in the booth and they are live from Portland,
Maine.  This is Cole’s first stint in the
RAW commentary booth and he takes the lead and does 97% of the commentary for
the first ten minutes of the show.  Looks
like it’s going to be a long night.
Vince McMahon
comes out, shakes a few fans hands, and proceeds to continue the slow burn of
the Austin-McMahon feud by criticizing Austin’s attacks on WWF officials and
driving his truck to the ring at D-Generation X last night.  McMahon explains that the Rock should have
won by disqualification last night, but a second referee counted the fall
before that result could happen so McMahon orders a rematch
tonight.  Austin comes out and McMahon
warns him that there will be consequences if he does not defend the title.  Austin is unfazed and warns McMahon that he’ll
whip his ass if those consequences are levied.

In the
championship match of the Karate Fighters Holiday Tournament, Sunny beats Jerry
Lawler by disqualification when Lawler uses gum and a female action figure and then bribes the referee to win.  You really
cannot make this stuff up.
The announce team
recaps last night’s tag team championship match between Jesse James & Billy
Gunn and the Legion of Doom
.
Opening
Contest:  The Legion of Doom wrestle The
Godwinns (w/Jesse James & Billy Gunn) to a no contest at 2:28:
This works a good pace for the first two minutes, with
the Legion of Doom dominating the action until Animal is knocked out the ring
and tossed into the steps.  Suddenly
the lights go out and Kane’s music hits and he destroys Hawk.
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WWF Tag Team
Champions Jesse James and Billy Gunn sing goodbye to the Legion of Doom and
James challenges any WWF superstar to a singles match with Gunn.  Dude Love answers the challenge.
Dude Love defeats
“Bad Ass” Billy Gunn (w/Jesse James) with a double-arm DDT at 3:37:
Standard singles match between these two and the only
thing to say is that Gunn works in a nice legsweep counter to Sweet Shin
Music.  After the bell, James comes into
the ring and blasts Love with a chair and Gunn hits a flying leg drop as the
tag team title belts are laid across Love’s face.  Rating:  **
The Rock cuts a
promo with the Nation of Domination and debuts his trademark sunglasses, which
goes a long way towards enhancing his look. 
He says he’s going to become the people’s champion again tonight.
The announce team
recaps the light heavyweight championship match last night between Taka Michinoku
and Brian Christopher.  Cole calls
Christopher’s finisher “The Tennessee Leg Jam.” 
Ugh.
Brian Christopher
claims that Michinoku stole his title in a promo cut after their match last
night at D-Generation X
.
Jim Cornette hosts
an interview between Michinoku and El Unico (Brian Christopher in a mask),
which gets hijacked by Jerry Lawler giving a xenophobic rant.  Christopher unmasks and a two-on-one beat
down results, where Michinoku takes three piledrivers, thereby rendering him
critically dead inside of the Memphis city limits.
A video package
highlights how D-Generation X systematically destroyed the Hart Foundation.i
Flash Funk beats Kurrgan (w/The Jackal) via
reverse decision at 2:27:
The Truth Commission has been written off and Jackal
explains that it’s because that was just a corporate ploy to hold Kurrgan down
and now he will do Jackal’s bidding to take over the WWF.  Kurrgan is never knocked off of his feet in
this squash and he wins with the Paralyzer (clawhold).  However, he refuses to release the hold and
the decision is reversed.  Sniper and
Recon come out to get Kurrgan off of Funk, but it doesn’t work and Kurrgan only
releases the hold when Jackal slaps him and laughs.  After this Kurrgan would keep squashing lower
talents, but never amounted to anything in singles competition.
The announce crew
recaps the D-Generation X WWF title match between Shawn Michaels and Ken
Shamrock and Owen Hart’s interference
.
Cole’s interview
with an outraged Ken Shamrock last night after D-Generation X is shown.  Shamrock says he’ll win the Royal Rumble and
get a new crack at Shawn Michaels if that’s what it takes.
-Since we are in
hour two, Ross and Lawler are in the booth.
D-Generation X
comes out and gloats about last night’s pay-per-view.  Michaels says he tried to flush the turd that
was the Hart Foundation, but one little nugget stays around, which is Owen
Hart.  Michaels says that DX is going to
play strip poker until Owen shows up. 
The Headbangers come out and complain that they cannot wrestle because of
these shenanagins.  They overturn the
card table, which leads to a beatdown and D-Generation X does the Pitbulls Superbomb spot
through a table on Thrasher.  As Michaels
relaxes, Owen comes out of the crowd and does a hit and run attack.
Jeff Jarrett
defeats Vader by count out in ten seconds:
Before the match gets started, Goldust and Luna Vachon
come out and Goldust flashes Vader. 
Vader is incensed and chases Goldust to the locker room to give Jarrett
his second straight cheap win.
Call 1-900-737-4WWF
to hear why a former WWF title holder’s career is in jeopardy of being over.
The announcers
recap the Toughman contest between Marc Mero and Butterbean
.
Cole’s interview
with Butterbean after D-Generation X is shown. 
Butterbean swears revenge.  This
never amounted to anything unless you want to somehow link Butterbean’s anger at Mero to what he did to Bart Gunn at WrestleMania XV
.
Salvatore Sincere
beats Marc Mero (w/Sable) by count out in ten seconds:
Mero tells the crowd that he feels insulted that he has
to wrestle a jobber tonight and he brings out Sable, who is wearing an Idaho
potato sack.  However, instead of
disrobing Mero she takes off her sack to reveal a very revealing bikini.  Mero quickly covers Sable up and takes her
backstage and Sincere takes the count out, but actually leaves the ring before
the referee finishes it.  He’s the winner
anyway.
Call
1-900-RUMBLE-98 to register yourself in the Steve Austin pickup truck
contest!  It’ll cost you $1.99 or you can
send a postcard to WWF headquarters.
The next match is
the scheduled main event between Intercontinental Champion Steve Austin and The
Rock, but Austin comes out and refuses to wrestle.  Austin dares McMahon to fire him and the Rock
has a funny bit by saying “Vince, the Rock thinks you should fire him!”  As a result, McMahon declares the Rock as
the new champion by forfeit.  Austin
does not mind because he says he really wants the WWF title and he shakes the
Rock’s hand and gives him a Stunner. 
Austin takes the belt with him and says he has some major non-wrestling
plans for it next week.  When Vince
leaves the ring, Austin runs the ropes and McMahon goes flying to the arena
floor and starts cursing on air.  The
booking called for Austin to job here, but Austin refused because he felt it
would hurt his character so this is the result of that.  This was a nice segment
because even though Austin refused to wrestle it acknowledged that Austin
needed to go onto better things and it started the Austin-McMahon angle.
The Final Report Card:  I feel bad for anyone that bought a ticket to
this RAW and hope that there was a good selection of dark matches because there
was not a lot of wrestling to be seen. 
There was only one match on the show that went over three minutes,
although the show did start or continue a variety of angles for the Royal
Rumble.  My copy misses a DOA-Los
Boricuas match, but I remember that being really bad.  Austin’s stuff was great, as usual, but the
show got really boring really fast without another competitive match to break
up the promo work.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.0 (vs. 4.3 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – November 17, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Post-show footage
of last week’s main event is shown. 
Triple H didn’t get a three count after Shawn Michaels hit Ken Shamrock
with Rick Rude’s briefcase because Commissioner Slaughter broke up the count.  In the chaos, Shamrock schoolboyed Michaels
and Slaughter counted to three and awarded him the victory.  That’s some WCW-type booking there.
-Jim Ross and Jim
Cornette are in the booth and they are taped from an undisclosed location.
-Intercontinental
Champion Steve Austin comes out and the crowd gives him a “hell yeah” to beat
up Rocky Maivia.  Austin goads Maivia to
come down, but Maivia sends the rest of the Nation of Domination.  D-Lo Brown eats a Stunner, but all of that is
a distraction that allows Maivia to steal the Intercontinental belt.  After that, Austin lets Ross know that he is
going to be around for the whole show to make sure that Maivia pays.
In the last first
round match of the Karate Fighters Holiday Tournament, Sunny beats George and
Adam.

Opening
Contest:  Jerry “the King” Lawler
(w/Brian Christopher) beats Marc Mero (w/Sable) by disqualification when Sable
interferes at 4:41:
This opening match does have a storyline, with Lawler
trying to avenge Brian Christopher’s defeat to Mero last month.  Butterbean is back this week and Mero gets in
his face before the match.  Christopher
continues a streak of being on commentary for the opening RAW match.  Lawler and Mero box for while and that goes
as well for Lawler as you might expect and then Christopher tries to come onto
Sable at ringside.  Mero isn’t happy
about that, but the distraction allows Lawler to hit a piledriver.  Before the pin can be registered, though,
Sable delicately climbs in and breaks it up. 
After the match, Mero gives Lawler a TKO and then berates Sable for
costing him the match.  This is the first
match that Lawler has won in a while and while the wrestling wasn’t great, the
stuff that happened outside of the match was pretty well played.  Rating:  *
Ross recaps
Montreal and interviews Vince McMahon about it. 
This is where McMahon gives his famous account of the incident where he
says that he didn’t screw Bret Hart, but that “Bret Hart screwed Bret
Hart.”  I remember being so confused
about this stuff as a kid, but I can appreciate this segment much more looking
back at it.
“Road Dogg” Jesse
James & “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn defeat Savio Vega & Miguel Perez by
disqualification when Jesus & Jose interfere at 45 seconds:
James and Gunn come out in some of Los Boricuas ring gear
and their attire, which they seemingly stole before the show went on the
air.  Savio and Miguel attack James and
Gunn as they are making their offensive entrance, but before this really gets
going the other Boricuas interfere and they beat down James and Gunn.
A video package
hypes Ken Shamrock
.
Shamrock giving
Triple H a belly-to-belly suplex is the Lazer Tag Slam of the Week.
Sunny comes out to
be the guest referee for our next match.
Mini Tag
Match:  Max Mini, Mini Nova & Mini
Tauras wrestle El Torito, Tarantula & El Battalion to a no contest at 2:50:
Tauras is an interesting mini, as he uses a series of
legdrags to befuddle his opponents. 
There’s lots of flipping and flying and Sunny has to leapfrog El
Torito.  Suddenly the lights go out and
Kane comes down to the ring to a huge pop, but this isn’t a WrestleMania 2
incident since the minis flee the ring and hide behind the commentating team in
a funny spot.  The Headbangers come to
the minis aid, but Kane doesn’t sell getting a boombox broken over his head and
each of the Headbangers eat a Tombstone. 
If Kane had Tombstoned Max Mini this would’ve been a ***** segment.
Rick Rude
introduces D-Generation X.  This is a
notable segment because this is when Rude jumped to WCW, so he appeared on a
live episode of Monday Nitro and this taped episode, thereby becoming the only
superstar of the Monday Night Wars to appear on both shows on the same night if
you don’t include the simulcast that happened on the last edition of Nitro in
2001.   Knowing this piece of trivia helped me win
tickets to a WWE house show a few years ago. 
Cornette alludes to this on commentary by noting that Rude “gets
around.”  Anyway, WWF Champion Shawn
Michaels says he can’t wait to beat up Bret Hart’s friends now that he has run
Bret out of the company and Triple H calls out Commissioner Slaughter.  Triple H says DX makes the rules in the WWF
and insults Slaughter’s manhood.  When
Slaughter attacks Helmsley, DX lays him out.
Light Heavyweight
Championship Tournament First Round Match: 
Scott Taylor pins Eric Shelley with a flying DDT at 5:26:
Jerry Lynn was supposed to face Shelley, but has been
replaced in the tournament by Taylor with no reason given.  Jeff Jarrett calls in during the show and
says he is going to return on RAW next week. 
Shelley looks much better here than he did on a RAW earlier in the year,
but that might be because Taylor is dominating the action.  If either of these guys had more build
heading in, the crowd would’ve been into what is a pretty proficient contest.  Taylor advances and faces the winner of Flash
Flanagan-Brian Christopher in the semi-finals. 
Rating:  **¼
Marc Mero comes
out with Sable and demands an interview. 
Ross complies and Mero alleges that Butterbean is stalking Sable and
challenges him.  Butterbean gets in the
ring and pushes Mero down, but WWF officials intervene before anything else
happens.  Mero’s ring work deteriorated
significantly by this point, but he had great mic skills and did a great job playing
his character here.
A second part of
Ross’s interview with Vince McMahon over Montreal is shown.  McMahon says he would welcome Bret back to
the company, but they would have to sit down and have a clear understanding of
each other’s motivations.  He says he’s
already over Montreal and that part of Bret will always be in the WWF and he’ll
remember the good times over the bad.
Vader-Goldust is
scheduled to take place, but Goldust comes out with Gerald Brisco and says that
he has medical documentation that he cannot compete.  As Vader argues with Brisco over the
documentation, Goldust pulls an object that looks like a hammer out of his
sling and blasts Vader with it.  Vader
quivers after the blow and sells it pretty well as Goldust marches off.
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear all of the latest news and gossip!
Commissioner
Slaughter comes out and orders Triple H to face him at In Your House.
Dude Love beats
The Rock” Rocky Maivia (w/The Nation of Domination) by disqualification when
the Nation of Domination interfere at 4:49 shown:
Maivia makes sure to clarify on the mic that this is a
non-title match is a hilarious bit, since he is sporting the belt he stole from
Steve Austin earlier in the show.  This
is a standard TV main event, which is butchered by the commercial break.  Maivia has such natural crowd heat in this
role that it is unreal.  Love hits Sweet
Shin Music, but that triggers interference from the Nation.  The Nation beats down Love until Steve Austin
comes out to help, but Maivia escapes with the title belt in the midst of the
chaos.  Rating:  **
The Final Report Card:  The McMahon segments are really interesting
from a business perspective and to hear some of McMahon’s arguments about
Montreal.  I know that I criticized the
company for not diving into Montreal on their last show, but showing the
McMahon segments on this taped RAW was a stroke of genius because it gave fans
something to flip back to that was interesting and yet could not be
spoiled.  The rest of the show was
effective in building up storylines for the next In Your House pay-per-view, as
Mero continues his spiral into being paranoid about Sable and Triple H is
strengthening his feud with Commissioner Slaughter.  Enjoyable show for what it was.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.1 (vs. 4.1 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: WWF One Night Only (1997)

by Logan Scisco


A video package
highlights how the British Bulldog has become a wrestling ambassador for Great
Britain.
Vince McMahon, Jim
Ross, and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from
Birmingham, England.  The setup was
pretty cool, with WWF logos in the middle of the Union Jack and attendants in
British dress flanking the entrance ramp.
Dude Love talks in
a British accent and says that he does not miss his teeth.

Opening
Contest:  Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna)
defeats Dude Love with the Pedigree at 12:53:
The crowd is hot for the opener, with the usual British
gimmick of having people in the audience with air horns.  I would really hate to be seated by those
fans during the show.  The announcers do
not talk about Foley’s prior feud with Helmsley since he is wrestling under a
different gimmick.  The announcers also
hype Helmsley’s “cerebral” nature and how he is the smartest man in the
business.  The first five minutes is a
pretty good technical wrestling exhibition, with Love working the leg with an
Indian death lock.  Helmsley bails to
avoid Sweet Shin Music and that is Chyna’s cue to start interfering to keep Helmsley in control.  Helmsley and
Mike Chioda do the “push the referee, referee pushes back spot” after Chioda
breaks up Helmsley using the ropes on an abdominal stretch and the crowd loves
it.  Love pulls out an arm drag off of
the second rope (?!?!), but Chyna puts Helmsley’s foot on the rope after Love
hits Sweet Shin Music and that distraction enables Helmsley to
steal the victory.  This was a fantastic
opener, with very little resting and it used great pacing to keep a hot crowd
engaged.  Rating:  ***¾
The crowd gives
its opinion on who is going to win the main event between the British Bulldog
and Shawn Michaels.  There are a
surprising number of Michaels supporters, but a thirteen year old kid has the
best line of the segment:  “What has
Shawn Michaels done in the last year except for whining about losing his
smile?”
Sunny comes out to
do guest ring announcing duties
.
Tiger Ali Singh
(w/Tiger Jeet Singh) pins Leif Cassidy after a Tiger Bomb (flying bulldog) at
3:59:
This was one of the few appearances of Tiger Ali Singh in
1997, despite him being heralded as a big acquisition earlier in the year, and
was the first sighting of Cassidy on a big show in more than six months.  Before the match, Singh gives a weird promo saying
that he is a proud Arab Canadian that is drug free and hopes to set the world
on fire.  The crowd boos all of it,
especially when Tiger Jeet gets on the mic. 
The match is a disjointed mess, as Cassidy bumps around a lot for the
rookie, but Singh fails to pull off a hiptoss and cannot adequately get himself
on the top rope when Cassidy tries to suplex him on there to set up the
finish.  The crowd reads right through
Singh’s lack of ability and Ross got so bored during the contest that he bugged
Lawler about his relationship with Brian Christopher.  Rating:  ½*
Footage of the
Headbangers winning the tag team titles at In Your House:  Ground Zero is shown.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  The Headbangers
(Champions) defeat Savio Vega & Miguel Perez when Mosh pins Perez after a
Mosh Pit at 13:33:
The Headbangers have not scored a clean win on a big
television show since becoming the champions, but I like their chances of
getting one here.  The Boricuas play the
heel role well, despite constantly reverting to nerve holds when they cannot
think of anything else to do.  Thrasher
is placed in peril for ten minutes and when all hell breaks loose, Savio
prevents Miguel from getting pinned off of a super hurricanrana and a
powerslam.  However, Mosh surprises Perez
with the Mosh Pit after he powerbombs Thrasher and the Headbangers retain the
titles.  The heat segment was a little
long without enough believable near-falls, but this was a proficient tag team
match that the crowd was into throughout. 
Rating:  ***
European Champion
The British Bulldog tells Jim Ross in a taped interview that he is dedicating
tonight’s match to his sister, who has battled cancer.
The Patriot beats
Flash Funk with the Uncle Slam at 8:46:
Shades of gray! 
The Patriot gets booed, since he is waving the American flag in a
foreign land.  McMahon tries to say it is
a mixed reaction, but there are no audible cheers to be found anywhere.  The match has its moments, but both men’s
styles are so different that they do not complement each other well.  Funk does not utilize a lot of high flying
offense, but he does hit a splash off the top rope for a believable near
fall.  However, a moonsault eats knees
and the Patriot finishes and gets booed out of the building.  The finishing sequence was just enough to
keep this from ending up below average.  Rating: 
**
The Legion of Doom
tell the Godwinns that they are going down and Hawk recites some weird poem
about a bird doing its business in his eye and saying that cows don’t fly.
The Legion of
Doom beat The Godwinns when Animal pins Phineas after a Doomsday Device at
10:42:
The recently debuted Uncle Cletus is nowhere to be found and Henry is still mad about his broken neck and this feud continues.  Both members of the LOD are placed in peril,
but the Godwinns offense consists mostly of rest holds so it is tough to watch.
  They tease you with a finish about
seven minutes in when Hawk eats a Slop Drop, but he kicks out and the match
just continues. 
A myriad of clotheslines put the LOD back in control and they capture
another victory over the Godwinns, thereby continuing to dominate this
feud.  Phineas takes a nasty bump off of
the Doomsday Device, as he seems to crash down on his head, but he appears to be okay.  Rating:  *
Ross interviews
Ken Shamrock, who has suffered internal injuries in his match against Faarooq
on RAW.  As a result, he has been pulled
out of his match against Owen Hart on tonight’s show and Vader will take his
place.  Shamrock says that he is
disappointed that he cannot compete and Rockabilly comes out.  Rockabilly makes fun of Shamrock’s situation
and slaps him, but that leads to Shamrock taking him down and applying an ankle
lock before WWF officials intervene.  You would think that Billy would learn to counter that by the time he feuded with Shamrock in 1999.
McMahon interviews
WWF Champion Bret Hart, who says that he still hopes that the British fans
support him and even though he is fighting a fan favorite in the Undertaker
that he is going to give his best effort tonight.  McMahon presses Bret on the fans booing him
and Bret sheepishly says that he cares about his fans.  This was a really awkward interview for all
parties and made Bret look really bad.  This will become a common booking pattern for Bret’s last month in the company.
Vader pins Owen
Hart with a powerslam at 12:14:
Owen is really excited to be cheered by half the crowd
and an entire barricade nearly falls over because the fans want to touch him.  After Vader showcases his weight advantage in
the early going, Owen uses a hurricanrana to escape a powerbomb and teases a
Sharpshooter, but can’t turn Vader over. 
Vader seemingly kills Owen with a Samoan Drop and a second rope splash,
but Owen kicks out and then proceeds to outdo his brother’s chest-first bump
into the corner.  The crowd, which was
equally divided at the beginning, starts to cheer Owen since he’s the underdog,
but it makes little difference as Vader pounds away.  Owen catches Vader off guard with an enziguri
and applies a Sharpshooter, which is a great spot because the enziguri can
legitimately knock anyone out, but Vader makes the ropes.  Owen then slams Vader, which gets Hulk
Hogan-type reaction, but that only gets two. 
Vader Bomb eats knees and Owen hulks up. 
However, he makes the fatal decision to try a flying body press and
Vader spikes him into the canvas to pick up a hard fought win.  It was surreal to see Owen play the plucky
babyface role, but this is a match you have to see if you are an Owen fan.  Easy match of the night so far, with HHH-Dude
Love a close second.  Rating: 
****
Footage of the
ending of the SummerSlam main event between Bret Hart and the Undertaker is
shown
.
The Undertaker
cuts a taped promo where he says Bret Hart has one night to prove himself
worthy of being WWF champion and since Shawn Michaels is not the guest referee
he is going to have to beat him one-on-one.
WWF Championship
Match:  Bret “the Hitman” Hart (Champion)
defeats The Undertaker by disqualification at 28:34:
Back in 1997 there were no immediate rematch clauses, so
the Undertaker is getting his rematch with Bret at this show.  You would think that because they are on
foreign soil that the crowd would be behind Bret, but he gets a John Cena-type
reaction.  The early stages of the match
are an Attitude Era-style brawl, as both men tear into each other and brawl up
the entrance ramp, with the Undertaker getting the better of it.  Bret gets whipped chest-first into an exposed
turnbuckle and the Undertaker works the upper chest with a series of heart
punches, which displays some unique psychology. 
The Undertaker even uses a crucifix pin to secure a near-fall.  Bret fights back by working the right leg and
gets booed out of the building when he applies the ring post figure-four.  Bret pulls out the Mr. Perfect counter from
SummerSlam 1991 to put the Undertaker in the Sharpshooter, but the Undertaker
powers out and rallies.  Bret tries to
use the ring bell as a weapon, which the Undertaker blocks with a big boot, but
when he tries to use it the referee grabs it and Bret chop blocks the
Undertaker’s injured leg.  Bret ends up
hung in the ropes after fighting out of a Tombstone and when the Undertaker
will not stop his attack, the referee disqualifies him.  A lame finish for what was a great match, but
the Undertaker’s refusal to sell the leg near the end of match always brings
these matches down  I mean,
the Undertaker should have barely been able to stand near the twenty-one minute
mark, but he walks out of the match as if nothing happened to him.  Still, the interesting psychology in the
early going and the divided and vocal crowd make this the best Undertaker-Bret
match that I have ever seen.  After the
match, the Undertaker chokeslams the referee and Gerald Brisco, who has come to
get Bret out of the ropes.  Rating: 
****¼
Shawn Michaels
says that he is going to become the first Grand Slam champion in WWF history.
European
Championship Match:  “The Heartbreak Kid”
Shawn Michaels beats The British Bulldog (Champion w/Tracy) via submission to a
figure-four leg lock to win the title at 22:53:
The European championship was never intended as a
long-term WWF title, as it was more of a prop for the Bulldog, but this match
changed that.  This is also the first and
only time that a European title match headlined a pay-per-view.  The Bulldog dominates the early going with
his usual power offense and Michaels bumps like a pinball.  If Michaels really wanted to rehash the
issues between these two he would walk over to Diana and hit on her, but on
second thought he was innocent of those accusations in the summer of 1996.  Rick Rude wanders out ten minutes in and
immediately gets involved by interfering in a Bulldog roll up, tripping him
when he runs the ropes, and tossing the Bulldog into the ring post.  Michaels opts to keep the match grounded, but
the Bulldog mounts a second rally, which brings out Hunter Hearst Helmsley and
Chyna.  Now, this never made sense to me
because Owen and Bret Hart are backstage, so why are they sitting around and
not coming to their comrade’s aid? 
Michaels hits two flying elbow drops, but misses Sweet Chin Music.  However, Rude prevents the Bulldog from
hitting a running powerslam.  The battle
spills to the floor, where the Bulldog tries to give Michaels a running
powerslam, but his foot slips off of the stage the outside mats are on and he
eats Sweet Chin Music.  With the
referee’s back turned, Rude and Helmsley damage the Bulldog’s knee further and
Helmsley hits a Pedigree for good measure. 
Inside, Michaels takes off the Bulldog’s knee brace, tosses it to Diana,
and applies a figure-four, with Helmsley and Chyna assisting in leverage, and
Rude prevents the Bulldog from reaching the ropes.  Faced with four-on-one odds, the Bulldog
eventually passes out and Michaels becomes the first Grand Slam champion in WWF
history.  The original booking of the
match called for the Bulldog to win in triumphant fashion in his hometown over
a long-time rival that he had never defeated on the big stage, which is why he
dedicated the match to his dying sister Tracy, but Michaels vetoed the
finish.  Under these circumstances and
Michaels behavior at the time it does make you sympathetic to Bret’s case about
why he refused to job to him at Survivor Series.  The heel interference was great for crowd
heat and made the Bulldog appear strong, but I never care for this match.  Maybe it’s because I know the political games
played behind the scenes or the fact that the Bulldog really should have gone
over here, but this is a tough contest to stomach.  Rating:  ***½
After the match,
Michaels gets on the house mic and gloats about his victory as trash begins to
fill the ring.  Michaels taunts Diana and
then reapplies the figure-four until Diana and Owen Hart hit the ring and force
the heels to flee.
The Final Report Card:  A Bulldog victory, where the Hart Foundation
stormed the ring and helped fight off D-Generation X, would have made this one
of my favorite WWF shows of all-time. 
Despite the political games of the finish, this is a very solid show
that is worth checking out if you have never seen it.  The opener is great, the tag team
title match is better than expected, and the last three matches are
fantastic.  In some ways, I think this
pay-per-view is on the same level as Canadian Stampede and could easily be
considered the WWF’s best pay-per-view outing of 1997, even if the United
States did not have access to this show.



Also, random aside for my readers, but would you like me to start posting two reviews a week (say Tuesday at the regular time and on Saturday) or just keep it at one?
Attendance: 
11,000
Buyrate: 
0.05

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – August 4, 1997

by Logan Scisco
Vince McMahon. Jim
Ross, and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
The Hart
Foundation, without Jim Neidhart, come out to be interviewed by Jim Ross.  Bret complains about Shawn Michaels being
allowed to stay in the WWF despite him being a partial referee last night.  Ross makes it known that the Patriot will
face Bret for the WWF title at the next In Your House pay-per-view and Bret
makes it clear he is not worried.  Owen
gets on the mic and says that his compassion for Steve Austin cost him the
Intercontinental title last night, but he says that is okay because Austin will
never wrestle again after their match last night.  Ross introduces the new commissioner of the
WWF, Sergeant Slaughter and Slaughter will seemingly take over many of the
duties of WWF President Gorilla Monsoon. 
Slaughter comes out and lets Bret know he makes the rules now and he
reinforces the fact that Bret will defend his title at Ground Zero against the
Patriot.  Slaughter also tells the
British Bulldog that he will face Ken Shamrock again at a date to be
determined.  Brian Pillman is told that
he will be forced to wear a dress tonight under threat of suspension and Owen
is told that he will face Austin at a later date when Austin is medically
cleared.  Steve Austin comes out with a
neck brace in his hand and says he wants to fight Owen tonight despite not
having medical clearance.

Fans discuss how
they feel about last night’s WWF title match. 
Fans make it clear that they think the Undertaker was robbed in the WWF
title match and that Shawn Michaels is to blame.
McMahon interviews
the Nation of Domination and Faarooq pledges that he will win the triple threat
match against Crush and Savio Vega at Ground Zero.  Ahmed Johnson says he will easily take care
of Chainz tonight.
Footage of Ken
Shamrock suplexing referees at the end of his match with the British Bulldog
last night at SummerSlam is shown
.
Opening
Contest:  Ken Shamrock defeats Kama
Mustafa (w/The Nation of Domination) with a belly-to-belly suplex at 3:03:
Despite having a new look, Kama is still being billed as
“The Supreme Fighting Machine.”  Just
thinking about that makes me realize that the WWF blew a potential pay-per-view
match for Shamrock, but that would have required Kama to actually win a match
and be a regular competitor on television. 
Commissioner Slaughter comes out prior to the bout and banishes the
Nation from ringside.  When Kama ends up
on the floor after some boring striking action, Miguel and Jesus of Los
Boricuas show up and give him a double suplex on the arena floor and Shamrock
follows up to win the match.  Rating: 
¼*
Brakus lets us
know that he is coming.
Sunny comes out to
be our guest ring announcer because the company has no idea what to do with her
at this point.  They should have just
thrown her in the Hart Foundation.
Light Heavyweight
Exhibition:  Taka Michinoku beats “Too
Sexy” Brian Christopher with a cradle after taking a suplex at 3:27:
Christopher was undefeated in these light heavyweight
exhibitions heading into this contest and Michinoku’s record was spotless when
facing anyone not named the Great Sasuke. 
Michinoku’s mobility brings a lot to the match, as it keeps Christopher
on his toes and moving.  Christopher
thinks he has the match under control and goes for a series of suplexes, but
Michinoku cradles him after taking one of them and wins.  After the match, Lawler complains to the
referee and Christopher slingshots Michinoku out of the ring.  This was a well paced television match
between the two men elevated to the top of the light heavyweight division.  Rating:  **¼
Sergeant Slaughter
brings a dress to Brian Pillman in the locker room to wear for his match
tonight.  When Pillman refuses, Slaughter
tells him he will have to wear the dress until he wins a match on RAW and if he
does not comply he will be fired.
Paul Bearer tells
the announcers that he is a better manager than Chyna and that he’s more of a
man than Chyna will ever be.
Hunter Hearst
Helmsley (w/Chyna) and Vader (w/Paul Bearer) wrestle to a double count out at
2:14:
If you recall, Vader’s stock has dropped a great deal
since 1996, as he did not even make the SummerSlam card despite main eventing
the previous year’s show.  When Bearer
trips Helmsley when he runs the ropes, Chyna dropkicks him and Helmsley and
Vader weakly brawl on the floor to end the match.  Vader is not happy at all with the match’s
outcome.
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to see who the WWF is recruiting to join the light heavyweight
division and hear about the Hart Foundation’s celebration after last night’s
SummerSlam pay-per-view
.
The Patriot tells
the announce crew that there are some problems with the United States, but it
does not give Bret Hart the ability to criticize and hate America.  He says his previous win over Bret was not a
fluke and he pledges to beat the “undefeated” Sultan.  Well, the Sultan has not wrestled in a while,
but he did lose at WrestleMania and that was a big deal.  This promo was not bad, but it was so
pro-American in a corny way that I could not hold a straight face while
listening to it.  It was like the Patriot
went into his own Hulk Hogan-type world of American craziness.
The Patriot beats
The Sultan (w/The Iron Sheik) with Uncle Sam at 1:45:
The Patriot is using Kurt Angle’s theme and when I heard
it I expected a “you suck” chant and Angle to run down and give the Sultan a
series of suplexes and apply an ankle lock. 
The Sultan has really let himself go, now growing a string of hair, but
when you are not being used or winning matches I guess it is okay not to
care.  The Patriot wastes no time
slamming the Sultan and the Patriot Missile (a flying shoulder block) and Uncle
Sam (a full nelson slam) put the Sultan away.
After the match, Bret
Hart comes down to the ring and when Sergeant Slaughter distracts Bret, the
Patriot attacks him from behind and they weakly brawl until WWF officials tear
them apart.
McMahon interviews
Shawn Michaels, who gets a mixed reaction but the loudest fans are booing.  Michaels says that he does not appreciate
having McMahon, the Undertaker, Bret Hart, and the fans dump last night’s main
event outcome in his lap.  Michaels says
he does not care what anyone thinks and calls McMahon a dumb s.o.b. for asking
if he is part of a conspiracy with Bret Hart. 
McMahon takes offense and tells Michaels that he will be quaking in his
boots when he faces the Undertaker at Ground Zero.  McMahon leaves, so Michaels takes over the
mic and says he does not lay down for anyone and that includes the
Undertaker.  Wow, talk about a shoot
comment circa 1997.  Michaels tells the
fans that they can go to hell and that brings out the Undertaker, which sends Michaels
fleeing and McMahon back into the ring.
The Undertaker
says he’s tired of talking so much and needs to get back to taking souls.  He promises that Michaels will rest in peace,
but Paul Bearer pops up on the Titantron and throws out his murder accusation
some more.  Bearer says the Undertaker
can make fun of him because he’s fat, but he met with Kane last night and he
says that Kane is coming soon.  When the
Undertaker leaves, red light floods the arena, but we do not really know why
yet.  This segment, along with Michaels,
was awesome television and the company cannot hope to touch this today with a
ten foot pole.  It effectively
transitioned the end of SummerSlam 1997 onto Shawn-Undertaker and kept the
Undertaker-Kane issue alive.
Sergeant Slaughter
meets with a doctor who says that Steve Austin is suffering from spinal shock
and is in no condition to wrestle tonight
.
Ahmed Johnson
(w/The Nation of Domination) defeats Chainz (w/The Disciples of Apocalypse)
with a Pearl River Plunge at 2:14:
Like he did in the opener, Slaughter throws his weight
around, literally and figuratively, and forces both gangs to the locker
room.  The smarks in the crowd work up a
loud “ECW” chant and in response, Chainz works the leg in a very non-ECW-like
fashion.  Ahmed yells something into the
crowd and Ross hilariously critiques it as Ahmed threatening people in the
crowd with death.  McMahon just writes it
off as Ahmed being “intense.”  Los
Boricuas interfere for a second time in a DOA match tonight as they start up
Chainz motorcycle and that distraction helps Ahmed win the match.
After the match,
the Nation of Domination and DOA tease a showdown, but when the Nation does
their salute, Kama, D-Lo Brown, and Faarooq attack Ahmed Johnson, thereby
ending his less than stellar affiliation with the group
.
The Godwinns beat
The Headbangers when Phineas pins Mosh after Henry gives Mosh a Slop Drop at
3:49
McMahon informs us early in this match that Steve Austin
will be barred from competing tonight and that Dude Love will take his place in
a match against Owen Hart.  The crowd
doesn’t really get into the Headbangers, so they are a team without a
constituency facing the evil Godwinns.  This still does not stop Ross from hyping the Headbangers are growing crowd favorites.  After some brief back and forth action, it appears that the Headbangers
are going to win, but Henry sneaks in behind the officials back and gives Mosh
a Slop Drop when he has Phineas rolled up and the Godwinns steal a
victory.  This was not a terrible match,
but it was just dull and did not have a lot going for it.  Rating:  *½
Goldust and
Marlena come out to sit in the front row to see Brian Pillman’s next match.  Michael Cole interviews them and both say
they can’t wait to see Pillman in a dress.
Bob “Spark Plugg”
Holly defeats “The Loose Cannon” Brian Pillman by count out at 2:24:
Pillman gets whistled at a lot for wearing the dress and
he puts together an entertaining match with Holly.  Goldust and Marlena wave a bra at Pillman
from the crowd, which causes Pillman to go out and confront them, but that
results in a count out, so he has to wear the dress for a match next week.
Bret Hart comes
out to do guest commentary for the next match and Sergeant Slaughter allows
that, but let’s Bret know that he will be carefully supervised
.
Dude Love pins
Owen Hart when Steve Austin hits Owen with a Slammy Award at 8:22:
Seeing Bret and Lawler chummy on commentary is rather
surreal since they had a feud for three years and Lawler’s crutch on commentary
was to make fun of Stu and Helen Hart. 
You can see some nasty bruising on Foley’s arms from last night’s cage
match with Hunter Hearst Helmsley. 
McMahon needles Lawler about why he suddenly likes Bret and Lawler says
that he recognizes a great talent. 
Unfortunately, this is a boring match as Foley is banged up from last
night and Owen’s moves are spaced too far apart.  The crowd is also bummed because Austin was
not included, so it has the same dynamic as the Mankind-Pillman match a month
or so prior to this.  The British Bulldog
wanders out, which draws the attention of Sergeant Slaughter, and that allows
Bret to attack Love and roll him into the ring, where Owen applies the
Sharpshooter.  Love refuses to submit,
though, and Steve Austin comes out and picks up Owen’s Slammy’s from the
announce table, which leads to Owen releasing the Sharpshooter.  While jawing with Slaughter and other WWF
officials, Austin clocks Owen with a Slammy and helps his tag team partner pick
up the win.  Rating:  *½
After the match,
Love celebrates with a couple of groupies. 
One of which I think is his wife
.
The Final Report Card:  Outside of the awesome interviews that
started hour two, this show didn’t have a lot going for it.  With Austin injured it was clear that there
was a major void as far as who was going to carry the TV matches and without
Bret, the Undertaker, or Shawn Michaels wrestling on the show it was pretty
devoid of star power.  The interviews
prevent it from getting a thumbs down, but they are not enough to put it in
thumbs up territory either.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.7 (vs. 4.4 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Neutral

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – July 28, 1997

by Logan Scisco
Jim Ross discusses
the Hart Foundation’s triumph in last week’s flag match
and how Shawn Michaels will be the guest
referee at SummerSlam.
Vince McMahon,
Jerry “the King” Lawler, and Jim Ross are in the booth and they are broadcasting
from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The Hart
Foundation, accompanied by a personal security force, are interviewed by Jim
Ross.  Ross tells Bret Hart that he won’t
be disciplined for his attack on Vince McMahon last week, although a new
commissioner to be appointed by WWF President Gorilla Monsoon might reassess
that punishment after SummerSlam.  Bret
says when he said he would never wrestle on American soil if he failed to win
the WWF title was a figure of speech, but the powers that be are trying to
screw him by taking it literally.  Bret
doesn’t have much faith in Shawn Michaels calling the match fairly, by saying
that if Michaels screws him he’ll be out of a title and Michaels “can sit at
home for ten years and find his smile.” 
This is a great promo, capped by Bret’s famous comment about how
Pittsburgh is where the U.S. would plug an enema.  Before leaving, Bret challenges the Patriot
to a match tonight.

Fans give their
opinion on who they think will win the WWF championship match at SummerSlam.  All of the fans, including an old guy in a
mask, all say that the Undertaker will win and send Bret Hart back to
Canada.  I miss segments like this, but
they also make me embarrassed to be a fan sometimes
.
Opening
Contest:  The Legion of Doom defeat Savio
Vega & Miguel by disqualification when Los Boricuas interfere at 2:59:
At first glance you may not think much of this match, but
it’s a very serviceable match that allows Miguel to showcase some of his
flexibility in the ring.  The LOD appear
to have the contest won by setting Miguel up for a Doomsday Device, but Los
Boricuas attack Animal to draw the disqualification.  The Godwinns join in on the beating by giving
Hawk a Slop Drop on the floor.  The
Godwinns slop Hawk for good measure to raise the tension for their match at
SummerSlam.
McMahon lets us
know that Raw is moving one hour later to 8:57
.
A video package
chronicles the Hunter Hearst Helmsley-Mankind feud.  After showing it, McMahon interviews Helmsley
and Chyna and Helmsley says that Chyna just interferes in matches when he has
them already decided.  Helmsley tells
Vader that it’s not Vader time, it’s Jenny Craig time.  It’s a lame line, but Helmsley delivered it
in a way that make it seem fine.
Chyna teases a
confrontation with Vader when Vader comes out to wrestle Helmsley in the next
match, but as she faces the entrance, Mankind, dressed as a camera man, attacks
Helmsley.  Chyna finally comes to her
man’s aid, but Mankind eventually fights her off and he and Helmsley brawl
through the crowd like Canadian Stampede. 
It’s easy to point to the DX program as the time that Helmsley shed the
“blue blood” gimmick, but it was this feud that really put him on the map.
The Commandant
says that we are about to have the privilege of watching the South African
Truth Commission.  He says that the truth
will hurt.
IBF Heavyweight
Champion Michael Moorer is recognized in front of the crowd.
A vignette for
Brakus is aired
.
The Truth
Commission (w/The Commandant) defeat “The Real Double J” Jesse James, Bob
“Spark Plugg” Holly & Flash Funk when The Interrogator (Kurrgan) pins Holly
after a sidewalk slam at 3:21:
The first hole in the gimmick appears when the Truth
Commission can’t march well on command and they end up with massive gaps on the
way to the ring.  WWF President Gorilla
Monsoon stops by the announce table and says that he’s appointing a WWF
commissioner next week on Raw because things are getting out of hand.  It’s really amazing that of the three jobbers
offered as a sacrifice to the Truth Commission here that Flash Funk was the one
that never really caught on during the Attitude Era.
McMahon calls a
kid named Ryan, who gets to come to SummerSlam as a WWF guest and gets a chance
to win one million dollars.  A funny
moment happens when Ryan asks McMahon how many guests he can bring and McMahon
says “how about just one.”  Lawler
quickly jumps on that and calls McMahon a cheap skate.
A video package
hypes the Patriot as a main event talent.
Owen Hart and
Mankind’s match on Shotgun Saturday Night is the Stridex Triple Action segment
.
McMahon asks the
Patriot if he accepts Bret Hart’s challenge and the Patriot says he will gladly
accept
.
Faarooq (w/The
Nation of Domination) wrestles Crush (w/The Disciplines of Apocalypse) to a
double disqualification when the Nation and the DOA start brawling at 3:13:
Ahmed Johnson makes his return in this match by
accompanying Faarooq to the ring with other Nation of Domination members.  This one isn’t pretty, but they work in a few
good spots like Faarooq yelling at the crowd while he is on top of Crush and
Crush rising up and giving him an electric chair.  However, Kama Mustafa trips Crush when he
runs the ropes and that’s a pretext for both gangs to start fighting and that
draws a double disqualification.  Rating: 
*
In the midst of
the brawl, Crush is tossed out of the ring and Los Boricuas, who are booked to
face DOA at SummerSlam, come out and give Crush an assisted powerbomb on the
entrance ramp
.
More fans offer
their main event predictions for SummerSlam. 
A few women think Bret can win, which makes you wonder based on Bret’s
book…
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  The Godwinns defeat
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin & Dude Love (Champions) by count out at 4:35:
The Godwinns earned this title match by winning a triple
threat match against the Headbangers and the New Blackjacks on last week’s
show.  Owen Hart and the British Bulldog
sit near the announce table to watch the match and provide some commentary.  The fact that Owen is on commentary already
adds * to the match.  The crowd is
nuclear for Austin, starting a big chant for him prior to his entrance, and
going nuts when he cleans house with the Godwinns.  During the match, the Bulldog challenges Ken
Shamrock to an arm wrestling match.  This
is the one time in wrestling I would welcome someone declining a
challenge.  Dude ends up in peril for
less than a minute and then tags Austin, who hits Phineas with a Stunner but is
knocked out of the ring by Henry.  Owen
blindsides Austin with the Intercontinental title and that causes him to get
counted out.  Owen’s justification is
priceless when asked why he did that by Ross: 
“Austin was trying to steal my belt!” 
This really could’ve been something very good if it was given more time
and it was the best match that the Godwinns have had in a long, long time.  Rating:  **
After the match,
all hell breaks loose as Austin goes after Owen and the Legion of Doom come out
and end up brawling with Owen and the Bulldog when they try to tussle with the
Godwinns.  Owen and the Bulldog run away
as Austin warns Owen that he will destroy him at SummerSlam
.
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Devon Storm beats
Ace Darling with a rollup in 44 seconds:
This was a quasi-dream match for me at the time since I
had followed the indy scene with the help of the Apter mags and saw these guys
written about all the time.  This is a
light heavyweight exhibition and it doesn’t last long as Storm rolls through a
hurricanrana counter of his powerbomb. 
Some dream match.
The announcers
call a fan as Sunny shows off the one million dollars.  The first fan dialed had an invalid phone
number.
Arm Wrestling
Match:  Ken Shamrock defeats The British
Bulldog by disqualification:
Surprisingly, there is very little stalling in the set up
for this arm wrestling match, which makes it arguably the best arm wrestling
match in the history of the WWF.  The
Bulldog has the upper hand early, but when Shamrock starts a comeback the
Bulldog headbutts him, smashes him in the face with a chair, and then dumps a
can of dog food all over him, which is rather disgusting.
Goldust
(w/Marlena) defeats Rockabilly (w/The Honky Tonk Man) by disqualification when
Brian Pillman interferes at 1:14:
Goldust brings a mannequin in a dress to the ring with
him in order to show off the dress that Brian Pillman is going to be forced to
wear after he loses at SummerSlam.  After
getting tossed out of the ring, Rockabilly makes the mistake of slapping
Michael Moorer, who is heckling him, and he gets rocked with a right hand that
knocks him out cold.  When Goldust
watches this, Brian Pillman comes out and attacks him from behind.  Marlena eventually comes to her man’s aid by
locking in a sleeper before WWF officials intervene.  There wasn’t a lot of wrestling here, but
those two segments back-to-back were very entertaining.
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to find out who the top five candidates are for the WWF
commissioner position!
A video package
hypes the Undertaker-Bret Hart championship match at SummerSlam.  They combine footage of past encounters
between the Undertaker and Bret, including their showdown at the 1990 Survivor
Series, which is where the Undertaker character debuted.
McMahon interviews
Shawn Michaels, who says that he’s not the most popular man in the WWF and that
he wants to do color commentary for the main event between Bret Hart and the
Patriot.  Bret is shown throwing chairs
and kicking boxes backstage.
More Pittsburgh
fans give their opinions about SummerSlam and Bret Hart.  One guy has the line of the night:  “Everyone knows that the Salvation Army could
kick Canada’s ass.”  Statement of the
night for humor, not factual basis as people forget that Canada had one of the
world’s strongest navies at the time of the Second World War
.
Bret gets on the
house mic and does his Iron Sheik interpretation by having the Canadian
national anthem played.  Shawn Michaels
mocks the anthem while it is played.
-The Patriot comes
out to what most fans now know as Kurt Angle’s WWF theme and he has the Star
Spangled Banner played.  Before the
anthem finishes, Bret jumps the Patriot to get a HUGE heel reaction and it
keeps playing as he does a beat down in the ring.  This kicks off our main event.
The Patriot pins Bret
“the Hitman” Hart with a school boy at 6:38 shown:
The Patriot had quite a unique run in the WWF, as he got
a huge push when he came in and he was gone by the Royal Rumble after suffering
a debilitating bicep injury brought on by steroid use.  The national anthem bit was good, but I like
to think that they should have saved that for pay-per-view because it told such
a great story.  When Bret dominates most
of the match, the announcers play it off like the Patriot isn’t used to someone
on Bret Hart’s level, which isn’t really the best way to sell a guy that you
are going to give a WWF title shot to in a month.  The referee gets bumped when Bret escapes a
full nelson and that means the referee is not in a position to count a fall
when Bret delivers a piledriver.  When
the referee is ready to count after a headbutt to the abdomen, Shawn Michaels
runs in and breaks it up.  Bret turns to
yell at Michaels, but the Patriot rolls him up and scores the upset.  This is where Earl Hebner’s slow count spot was
unwarranted and it made Bret, the “Excellence of Execution” look ridiculous
because he couldn’t find a way in six seconds to escape a school boy when he
incurred very little damage in the bout. 
At the time, this is where it started to hit me that Bret’s “aura” was
starting to come apart in the WWF as he jobbed to a guy that he NEVER would
have lost to in his previous runs at the top. 
Rating:  *¾
The Final Report Card:  Many of the matches were abbreviated, but the
angles did a great job hyping the major matches at SummerSlam.  It also provided lots of water cooler
material for the next day since you could talk about Michael Moorer knock out
Rockabilly, the Patriot’s upset victory, and how much Austin was going to
destroy Owen Hart at SummerSlam.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.9 (vs. 3.4 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – July 21, 1997

by Logan Scisco
A video package
discusses the Hart Foundation’s divided appeal and hypes tonight’s six man flag
match.
Vince McMahon,
Jerry “the King” Lawler, and Jim Ross are in the booth and they are in Halifax,
Nova Scotia.
-Highlights of the
Ken Shamrock-Vader match from In Your House: 
A Cold Day in Hell are shown to hype tonight’s opening contest.

-Ken Shamrock says
that he beat Vader once and he can do it again and it’ll prepare him for his
match with the British Bulldog at SummerSlam.
Opening
Contest:  Vader (w/Paul Bearer) defeats
Ken Shamrock by count out at 6:59:
Since the main event is a flag match tonight, a Canadian
and American flag are hanging on poles in opposite corners of the ring.  Vader dominates the first four minutes, but
Shamrock escapes a powerbomb and nails Bearer when he breaks up a submission
hold.  This is a different beast than
their match at In Your House a couple of months prior to this, as its more of a
conventional wrestling match than a worked shoot but that doesn’t hurt its
quality.  Shamrock survives a splash off
the second rope, but when Vader dumps him out of the ring, the British Bulldog
runs out to the ring and gives Shamrock a running powerslam on the ramp and
Shamrock is counted out to lose his first singles match in the WWF.  Rating:  ***
Canadian fans
express their support for the Hart Foundation and explain why they don’t like
the United States
.
The Godwinns
defeat of “The Real Double J” Jesse James and Bob “Spark Plugg” Holly is the
Stridex Triple Action segment
.
A brief vignette
for Brakkus is aired.  He never amounted
to anything in the WWF and only appeared a handful of times.
McMahon interviews
the Hart Foundation and they get a monster reaction.  Bret says that he hasn’t seen three WWF
superstars stand up to the challenge for the flag match and he says that the
Undertaker should come out and face him now instead of at SummerSlam.  The British Bulldog piles on by saying he
wants to face Shamrock right now and Owen says that he wants to square off with
Steve Austin.  Steve Austin comes out and
says he’ll be part of the “stupid” flag match, thereby becoming the first
superstar to sign up to face Bret, Owen, and the Bulldog tonight
.
The announce team
discusses how DOA and Los Boricuas have been suspended for a week because of
their recent behavior.  Los Boricuas
destruction of the DOA’s motorcycles last week is shown.  Both factions have been penciled in to face
each other at SummerSlam
.
“Too Sexy” Brian
Christopher pins Bryan Walsh after a Tennessee Jam at 3:54:
Walsh was a WWF jobber in the mid-1990s, but he had the
build for a light heavyweight and is thrust into this match with Christopher,
who continues to receive a push as the top heel in the division.  Christopher chews up a mini-Canadian flag to
draw the ire of the crowd   Walsh gets in
a few moves, but Christopher hits all the big spots and racks up another
win.  Rating:  **
The Commandant
tells us to be ready to see the Truth Commission on next week’s Raw.  The WWF really didn’t need another
anti-American group.
A WWF flashback
shows the awarding of a house at the first In Your House pay-per-view.  That’s a great moment from 1995 just because
of the reaction of the family that won it.
McMahon narrates a
video package discussing the various faces of Foley.  The emphasis was on the Dude Love personality
because of Dude Love’s debut last week. 
It’s really long and unreasonably so because Mick Foley has been given a
ton of screen time lately.
-Steve Austin says
that he can’t believe Mick Foley wants to be his tag team partner, but he
proved in the match that he could get the job done.  He says that he doesn’t really care to have a
tag team partner, though.
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& handling)!
The Godwinns
attack on the Legion of Doom on last week’s show is played.  The Legion of Doom cut a promo backstage
after this incident last week and swear revenge at SummerSlam.
-The New Blackjacks
provide pre-recorded comments that say they are the toughest men in the WWF and
will win the next match and win the WWF tag team titles next week.
The Headbangers
say that they got thirty-eight minutes of sleep last night and they are ready
to finally take advantage of the opportunities they have been given and win the
WWF tag team titles.
Triple Threat
Match to Decide the #1 Contenders for the WWF Tag Team Championship:  The Godwinns defeat The New Blackjacks and
The Headbangers when Henry pins Barry Windham after Phineas hits Windham with a
bucket at 5:24:
The rules for this match is that there are three men in
the ring at all times, one for each team, and each man can tag their partner at
will.  It’s really hard to make this a
credible number one contenders match without the Legion of Doom, since they
were the only team in this match that did not lose cleanly in the tag team
tournament.  There aren’t a lot of slow
moments in this match, but all of the participants behave as if this is a
battle royal and there isn’t much intrigue regarding teams cooperating and
turning on each other and other behavior that you would expect in a match like
this.  As a result, the crowd sits on its
hands as this plays out.  Eventually
everyone starts brawling and the Godwinns cheat to get a tag team title match
next week.  I can’t believe that the
Headbangers continued to get a small push at this time and didn’t eat the fall
here.  It’s completely unrealistic to
think that they are a better team than the New Blackjacks.  Rating:  *
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Ross interviews
Shawn Michaels, who is showered with boos. 
Michaels takes it all in and takes some shots at Canada on the mic,
which amplifies his heat further. 
Michaels says that he is going to be in the flag match tonight with
Steve Austin against the Hart Foundation and he also announces that he will be
the special guest referee for the Undertaker-Bret Hart title match at
SummerSlam.  The crowd doesn’t like the
second announcement AT ALL.  Michaels
says that if he doesn’t call the match down the middle that he will never be
able to wrestle in the United States again. 
This is a fantastic illustration of building heat in a promo and
building two matches at once.  This
wasn’t even Michaels best promo in Canada, with those honors going to his 2005
promo, which is where Bret really should’ve made his return.
­-More Canadian
fans discuss why they love the Hart Foundation and hate the United States.
Shawn Michaels
announcement about SummerSlam moments ago is our Discovery Zone Rewind segment
.
Clue #4 of the
SummerSlam Million Dollar Challenge is “of luxury.”
The Patriot says
he appreciates patriotism, but Canada needs better representatives than the
Hart Foundation.
The Patriot
defeats Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) by disqualification when the Hart
Foundation attack him at 3:02:
The Patriot is booed out of the building and Helmsley
gets a huge reaction by attacking him before the bell.  During the match, Bret Hart comes out with
Owen and the Bulldog and argues with McMahon over Shawn Michaels being the
guest referee at SummerSlam and slaps off his headset.  McMahon and Bret start fighting each other,
which is the first time McMahon has ever been in a prolonged fight with a WWF
star and the Patriot comes to his aid. 
This all fits so well into the eventual screwjob in Montreal.  The match is completely overshadowed by these
events, so it’s not really possible to rate it, but this was an AWESOME segment
because it felt so real and sent the crowd into a frenzy.
Ross takes over
the lead role in the announcing duties as McMahon gets himself together and
says that he thinks Paul Bearer is lying about Kane and the Undertaker’s
past.  He says that the Undertaker and
Kane split a statue of the Grim Reaper as children that they would have as long
as they were alive and he shows Kane’s part of the statue , which proves he’s
alive.  When Ross says he wants to see
Kane, Bearer says not to push him
.
Marlena says that
Brian Pillman really can’t fill out a dress properly.
Goldust
(w/Marlena) defeats Faarooq (w/Kama Mustafa) by disqualification when Kama
interferes at 3:24:
McMahon does a great job selling that he is disturbed by
Bret’s actions and he heads to the locker room after receiving some disturbing
news on his headset.  Ross eventually
says that it appears that Bret Hart injured Shawn Michaels in the locker room.  That news overwhelms the match, where Kama
beats up Goldust on the floor and the referee, despite not seeing any of this,
disqualifies Faarooq after he hits a Dominator and tries to get the pin.  Rating:  *
More Canadian fans
express their support for the Hart Foundation.
Shawn Michaels is
sown coming to his senses in the locker room and he gets in McMahon’s face
about getting attacked and tells him that he’s had enough
.
Flag Match:  Bret “the Hitman” Hart, Owen Hart & The
British Bulldog defeat “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Undertaker & Dude
Love when Bret captures the Canadian flag at 11:45 shown:
Before the American team comes out, Bret has the Canadian
national anthem played and the Halifax crowd sings along.  The rules for the match is that a team has to
capture the other team’s flag to win.  With
Shawn Michaels incapacitated, Austin and Love wrestle a handicap match in the
opening minutes, but the Undertaker arrives as we head to a commercial break.  You might look at the star power and gimmick
and assume that this had to be something special in 1997, but it’s really an
average match.  Part of the drama is
likely hurt by the stipulation, which restricts pinfall or submission attempts,
but there isn’t a lot of drama of teams going for their respective flags.  The crowd does help the match a bit, as the
explode when Bret and Austin go at it near the end of the match.  We get a race between Bret and the Undertaker
for their respective flags at the end of the contest, but Brian Pillman comes
from underneath the ring and intercepts the Undertaker and that allows Bret to
get his flag first and give the Hart Foundation the victory.  Austin’s glare to the Canadian crowd as the
Hart Foundation and Halifax crowd celebrate at the end of the show does a good
job communicating his anger and what’s great about it is that it shows that his
character actually wants to win matches and doesn’t shrug everything off like
John Cena today.  Rating:  **½
The Final Report Card:  The main event was a little disappointing in
quality, but it is still better than most of the main event matches we were
given on Raw in 1996.  With Shawn
Michaels involved it could’ve gone to the next level, but it’s understandable
why he was kept out of it.  This show can
get tedious if you watch the whole thing because of a laundry list of
non-wrestling segments that take place, but the Bret-McMahon brawl, combined
with Vader-Shamrock and the decent main event make this show an easy thumbs up
effort.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.1 (Unopposed)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – July 14, 1997

by Logan Scisco


McMahon discusses
the contrast between last week’s Raw in Canada and how tonight Raw is in San
Antonio, Texas, which is in Steve Austin’s native state.
McMahon and Jim
Ross are in the booth and they are broadcasting from San Antonio, Texas.
McMahon interviews
the Hart Foundation, who are booed out of the building.  Bret says he looks forward to facing the
Undertaker for the WWF title at SummerSlam. 
Owen says he doesn’t mind defending the Intercontinental title against
Steve Austin at SummerSlam, but is more focused on winning the tag team titles
with the British Bulldog tonight.  The
British Bulldog says that if he loses the European title to Ken Shamrock at
SummerSlam that he will eat a can of dog food after the match.  Brian Pillman says if he loses to Goldust
that he will wear a dress and wrestle him the next night on Raw.  Jim Neidhart then says if any of the Harts
lose at SummerSlam that he will shave off his trademark goatee on Raw.  Steve Austin appears on the entrance ramp and
as he stares at the Hart Foundation with an American flag waving on the
Titantron, Ken Shamrock walks out in matching black trunks, the Patriot walks
out to make his debut, Sid appears in street clothes, and Shawn Michaels walks
out.  Any of these men might be Austin’s
tag team partner tonight.

Opening
Contest:  Ivan & Scott Putski defeat
Jerry “the King” Lawler & “Too Sexy” Brian Christopher when Ivan pins
Lawler after a Polish Hammer at 4:55:
Ivan doesn’t look bad here, although he is much less
ripped than he was in his prime.  After
putting Scott in peril, it appears like the heels have it won after Lawler
delivers a piledriver, but Lawler agrees to let Christopher try a Tennessee
Jam, but that misses.  The old Ivan then
cleans house and wins the battle for his team. 
A serviceable tag match that gave the heels their comeuppance and the
crowd loved seeing Ivan tear into Lawler. 
Rating:  **
Footage of Mankind
coming to Steve Austin’s aid, but then getting hit with a Stone Cold Stunner
last week is shown.
Mankind is shown
backstage and he refuses to talk about what happened to him last week.
-Action between
Flash Funk and Owen Hart on Shotgun Saturday Night is our Stridex Triple
Action  segment.
Paul Bearer tells
the Undertaker that his brother has lived in a personal hell for many years and
that Kane eagerly waits to confront the Undertaker.  Bearer promises to give the Undertaker proof
that Kane is alive on next week’s show
.
A small video
showcases Michinoku’s performances against the Great Sasuke and McMahon doesn’t
bother noting that Michinoku lost those matches because he’s fired the Great
Sasuke.
Taka Michinoku
beats Tajiri Yoshihiro with a Michinoku Driver at 4:08:
Yes, this is Tajiri before he became a crazy man in ECW
and the effectiveness of that gimmick would eventually lead him back to the
company when ECW folded.  They do a great
double KO sequence where they both slap each other silly and Tajiri utilizes
the kicks that would later make him famous. 
Michinoku survives a dragon suplex and a dropkick to the back of the
head and the Michinoku Driver finishes Tajiri off.  An entertaining contest that should have
landed Tajiri a permanent spot on the light heavyweight roster and it is very
obvious from these light heavyweight exhibitions that the Asian light
heavyweights are much more entertaining than their American counterparts.  Rating:  ***
Ken Shamrock says
that he’s not Steve Austin’s tag team partner and was merely out there in order
to show him support against the Hart Foundation.  He says he’s ready to knuckle up against Jim
Neidhart later tonight.
Los Boricuas are
shown riding into the arena with a couple of women.
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The Headbangers
say that they are going to put Los Boricuas up in smoke tonight.
Miguel & Jose
(w/Los Boricuas) defeat The Headbangers when Miguel pins Thrasher with a rollup
at 4:25
The gang wars concept was somewhat pathbreaking in the
fact that I cannot remember a time when the WWF had four stables (The Nation of
Domination, DOA, Los Boricuas, and The Hart Foundation) under one roof.  I often wonder what younger fans that see old
footage think of the Headbangers, since that is a gimmick that you have to have
lived during the 1990s to understand. 
Mosh has a cool move of sending Jose into the turnbuckles with a
hurricanrana, but that’s really the high spot of the match as the Headbangers
lose a close contest when Miguel escapes a Thrasher powerbomb.  Rating:  **
After the match,
Los Boricuas gang up on the Headbangers, but DOA show up and begin to brawl
with Los Boricuas, which changes the numbers equation.
The Patriot says
that he’d be honored to be by Steve Austin tonight, but he’s simply in the WWF
to defend the honor of America.
Steve Austin
encourages us to buy Cause Stone Cold Said So.  Call 815-734-1161 to buy your copy for $19.99
(plus $6 shipping & handling)!
Footage of Shawn
Michaels winning the WWF title at the Royal Rumble earlier in the year is shown
.
McMahon interviews
Shawn Michaels, who says that he will be Steve Austin’s tag team partner if
Austin wants him to be.  Michaels says
that he’s not currently scheduled to be at SummerSlam so he appeals to McMahon
to allow him to be a part of the show and that request is honored
.
Savio Vega grabs a
camera man and tells him to come and see something getting destroyed
backstage.  When the camera man gets
there, one member of Los Boricuas is destroying one of the DOA’s motorcycles
and that triggers a brawl between the two groups.
-Jerry Lawler comes
out to do commentary.
Ken Shamrock
beats Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart via submission to a rear naked choke at 4:40:
Neidhart continues to play his role as the whipping boy
of the Hart Foundation, as Shamrock forces him to submit to a standing rear
naked choke after four minutes of boring action where Neidhart uses a great
deal of chinlocks and right hands.  Rating: 
½*
-After the match,
the British Bulldog runs in and he and Neidhart briefly double team Shamrock
until the Patriot runs in and makes the save.
Call
1-900-747-4WWF to hear about Shawn Michaels future in the WWF and what some WWF
alumni feel about tonight’s SummerSlam Flashback show!
Mankind is still
sitting backstage and refuses to talk about what he might do later tonight
after he got rejected by Steve Austin last week.  The commentators then speculate about who
Austin might choose for his tag team partner tonight against Owen Hart and the
British Bulldog.
The Headbangers
are shown playing golf and they reveal the third clue for the SummerSlam One
Million Dollar Challenge and that is life.
-The next match is
scheduled to be The Legion of Doom against The New Blackjacks, but the Godwinns
attack the Legion of Doom on their way to the ring and Slop Drop Hawk on the
ramp, which busts the back of his head open. 
Hawk no sells it because he’s Hawk.
Shawn Michaels
begging Vince McMahon earlier in the show for a spot in SummerSlam is the
Discovery Zone Rewind segment.
Vader (w/Paul Bearer)
pins Flash Funk after a powerbomb at 4:10:
Funk was settling into a role of making other guys look
good and he’s at the top of the list of guys in the company that need a gimmick
change.  Would it really have hurt them
to make him 2 Cold Scorpio at this time and put him in the light heavyweight
division?  Funk gets in far more offense
than I anticipated by hitting a plancha and tossing Vader into the ring steps.  Funk even hits his moonsault, but he can’t
keep running into Vader, which is like running into a brick wall, and Vader
goes back to his WCW roots to finish him off. 
After the match, Vader hits a Vader Bomb to make a point to
someone.  A really fun abbreviated match.  Rating:  ***
McMahon asks Steve
Austin if he’s concerned about Mankind being in the arena, but Austin says he
doesn’t care at all.
-Get your copy of Cause
Stone Cold Said So
!
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve
Austin & His Mystery Partner defeat Owen Hart & The British Bulldog to
win the titles when His Mystery Partner pins Bulldog after Austin gives the
Bulldog a Stone Cold Stunner at 7:36 shown:
As you have read in the last several reviews, Owen and
the Bulldog earned this match for the vacant tag team titles by winning an
eight team tournament.  Austin charges
the ring and opts to fight the match alone, although his partner’s feet are
shown moving through the locker room backstage before the commercial
break.  Austin takes a beating, but
manages to toss Bulldog and Owen out of the ring and that is when Mick Foley
comes on the screen and says Austin may not want to team with Mankind, but he
said nothing about Dude Love and he comes out to one of the most catchy themes
in wrestling to be Austin’s partner. 
Austin’s facial expressions during this are awesome, as he doesn’t quite
know what to make of his new partner. 
Shortly after Dude’s arrival, Austin spots an opportunity when the
referee is preoccupied with Owen Hart and he manages to become a multi-time tag
team champion with a new partner.  The
match wasn’t much, but it was entertaining from a booking perspective.  Rating:  **¼
After the match,
Dude gives Austin a tag team belt and some groupies come into the ring to
celebrate with Dude and Austin decides to give him a tag team belt and shakes
his hand before leaving.  Dude dances
with the groupies as the show goes off the air.
The Final Report Card:  The debut of Dude Love is one of the biggest
“mark out” moments that I had as a fan growing up, so this show gets an easy
thumbs up from me.  Austin’s injury at
SummerSlam made his pairing with Foley short-lived, but it could have provided
some entertaining material as Austin slowly moved up the ladder to win the WWF
title at WrestleMania XIV.  The only
thing terrible about the show was Shamrock-Neidhart, but that was to be
expected.  I don’t think a singles match
Neidhart has been in since he returned has topped * yet.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.6 (vs. 3.5 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

April Assorted PPV Countdown: 1998

The SK Retro Rant for Unforgiven 98 – For god-knows-what reason, this is #1 with a bullet on my request list from the readership. Hey, I live to serve. – Live from Greensboro, NC – Your hosts are JR & The King. Have to get used to not typing THAT anymore.  (I guess this was written during the brief period when King had quit over the Miss Kitty stuff.)    – Opening match: The Rock, D-Lo Brown & Mark Henry v. Ken Shamrock, Faarooq & Steve Blackman. Quite the hodge-podge of different fates three years later here. Godfather is hanging around ringside, being a pest. Faarooq was of course freshly dumped as leader of the Nation of Domination, leading to the Rock’s hostile takeover of the group and slingshot move into the wrestling stratosphere. D-Lo & Blackman start, with the Lethal Weapon getting some kicks before taking a DDT. Blackman works an armbar, then Shammy continues. Faarooq comes in and whips D-Lo with his belt, with Rocky’s comical protests only serving to distract the referee further. (The early stages of Rocky v. Faarooq were really amusing, with Rock really developing his cartoonish heel persona.)  Irony can be so ironic. Mark Henry comes in and treats Blackman like a child with a pair of backbreakers and a mistimed clothesline. D-Lo comes back in and hits the Sky High for two. Faarooq comes in but makes the cardinal mistake of putting his head down and gets pounded. Rock makes his first appearance, drawing enough heat to scorch his sideburns off, and lays in the boots. Man, Vince must have made a downpayment on a new gold limo once he started hearing that sort of reaction to Rock. (Sadly the gold plated limo was blown up as a wacky prank by D-X in 2006, taking out 3 members of the Spirit Squad in the process.)  Henry gets an elbowdrop for two. Blackman tries his luck and gets powerslammed. Blackman is YOUR face-in-peril, thus making Rock’s heat look that much better by way of comparison. Rock fires off the People’s Elbow, irritating the HELL out of the fans, and goes into chinRock mode. (I remember the first time that Rock actually pinned someone with that move.  It was a house show against Mark Henry and you would think that the collapse of Western society was imminent judging by the massive amounts of hatred online fans showed.)  D-Lo misses the moonsault (no, no, don’t act so shocked), hot tag Faarooq. Faarooq, Faarooq, Faarooq is on fire! We don’t need no water! Okay, dumb reference, I’m allowed one per rant. (Well that quota sure gets exceeded a lot.)  Rock and Faarooq are left alone, which leads to a Dominator for the pin at 13:32. And that’s the highest Faarooq ever made it up the card. (Wait, what?  He challenged for the World title at KOTR 98, didn’t he?)  Boring mess, due to the lack of Shamrock involvement. * – Steve Austin stops by to harass the timekeeper. He lets him know that if ANY screwing goes on tonight, he’d better be calling for an ambulance. The timekeeper seems to get the message loud and clear.  (Oh, for the days when Montreal references were fresh and new.)  – European title match: HHH v. Owen Hart. This was pre-face turn for DX, but they were getting there. Sign in crowd: “Playboy Needs Chyna”. Well, THERE’S who we can blame. (That and her plastic surgeon.)  Speaking of Miss Congeniality herself, she’ll be locked in a steel cage and suspended above the ring here, ostensibly to prevent her from interfering, but in reality to allow Vince Russo to kill yet another time-honored booking tool. (Come to think of it, you really don’t see that one done anymore.)  Owen and HHH brawl down the aisle while they raise Chyna. Owen makes sure to ram HHH into the cage before she leaves. They head in and Owen clotheslines him right out again. Back in, Owen hits a backbreaker and dishes some CANADIAN VIOLENCE. HHH hotshots him to break the momentum, then USES THE KNEE. Ah, the old days when Hunter sucked. Suplex and kneedrop get two. Atomic drop and lariat get two. HHH does sort of a dragon sleeper as Chyna attempts to bend the bars. Owen’s sunset flip gets two, but HHH comes back with a neckbreaker for two. He goes to the sleeper, as Chyna keeps working on the bars. Owen comes back, but takes a facebuster for two. Back to the sleeper. Owen reverses out with a german suplex for two. Belly to belly hits as Chyna bends the bars. The ENZUIGIRI OF DEATH gets two. Leg lariat gets two. Piledriver and flying elbow, but Chyna escapes the cage to distract everyone. Owen dumps Hunter as Chyna hangs from the cage. The announcers talking about how she’s hanging for her life from the ceiling is really, REALLY disturbing and uncomfortable to listen to. It shouldn’t be, given that this took place a year before, but just having Owen there with this angle going on is pretty creepy. (That’s probably why they got away from doing the gimmick, come to think of it.)  Owen gets a DDT and hooks the Sharpshooter as the cage lowers (via Road Dogg, in an angle stolen from Ole Anderson), and Owen gets distracted. HHH nails him, but Owen reverses a Pedigree…and hits one of his own! X-Pac sneaks in, nails him with a fire extinguisher (not Raven’s FIRE EXTINGUISHER OF DOOM, though), and HHH gets the pin to retain at 13:38. Solid match, but Vince Russo had this weird hard-on for sixteen guys running in at once for every finish and it nearly ruined the match. ***1/4  (What was WITH HHH going over Owen all the time?  The original idea was for Owen to feud with Shawn, and yet he ended up winning the Euro title from Goldust (dressed as Hunter) and then doing two straight jobs to Hunter after that.  Good thing HHH has matured past that sort of selfish political manipulations.)  NWA World tag title: The New Midnight Express v. The Rock N Roll Express. Yet another step in Vince Russo’s master plan to humiliate Jim Cornette at every turn, poor Corney was stuck with Bob Holly and Bart Gunn in a pale knockoff of his one great accomplishment in the sport. (Well SMW was pretty good too.)  Today, Cornette has his dream job while Vince Russo sits at home, disgraced, with multiple concussions and no job.  (Well, Russo ended up with a long-term job with TNA and Cornette kind of blackballed himself from everyone but ROH, so I think Russo won the war in the long-term) Instant karma’s gonna get you. Bombastic Bob and Robert Gibson start, and Bob bails quickly. You know, I think the reason that Hardcore Holly got over so well has more to do with it being the total opposite of THIS gimmick than anything else. Back in, Robert works the arm and the RnR double-team. The entire crowd leaves for nachos. I mean, you can LITERALLY see the side of the arena facing the camera EMPTY in a two-minute span. The Midnights squabble, then Bart gets an abdominal stretch on Ricky as Cornette does a 1985 comedy routine with the ref in a desperate, sad attempt to make the fans care. Morton gets nailed by Cornette and plays himself. Bob misses an Alabama Jam (this gimmick is sacrilege on so many levels) and it’s a hot tag for Robert. DOUBLE DROPKICK OF DOOM, no ref. It’s so painful to have to mock their finisher like that, but that team did NOT age well. I’m almost glad the Midnight Express self-destructed before they became a sad parody of themselves, too. (And they’re still doing the reunion show circuit 11 years after I wrote this.)  It wasn’t so noticeable with the Rock n Roll in SMW, because that whole territory existed in a bizarre redneck timewarp stasis type thing, but back in the big leagues it was pretty glaring. Anyway, Robert rolls up Bart Gunn, but Bob bulldogs him for the pin at 7:20. The New Midnight Express actually got somewhat watchable for a short time, while the Rock N Roll Express was cut loose VERY soon after this. -* – Evening gown match: Lunda Vachon v. Sable. This was the first one, ever, believe it or not. Clothes get ripped, Marc Mero distracts Sable, and Luna rips her dress off for the win. DUD – Vince and Stooges come out to waste some TV time. That whole Russo-era habit of putting 20-minute interviews on PPV always bugged me.  (Good thing they don’t do THAT anymore!)  WWF tag team title: The New Age Outlaws v. LOD 2000. The catchphrase is there for the NAO, but not over yet. This was the WWF’s absolute last-ditch attempt to get the LOD over as something meaningful, but even with Sunny the Crack Whore and new outfits, it was still the same LOD. WCW would do well to remember that lesson. Jesse Jammes, never one to hold his tongue, even makes fun of the LOD in his pre-match banter, complaining about having to face the same dinosaurs yet again. (I bet the boys in the back were all upset about the LOD taking the spot of someone else on PPV.)  Between the steroids, pot and crack aggregately used by the participants in this match, a smart dealer could be set for life. Maybe Vince Russo should try peddling drugs – he certainly couldn’t get much lower on the food chain of life anyway. Plus at least he’d have a steady job. (TNA booker, drug dealer, either way.)  Speaking of Russo’s stupid ideas, Billy Gunn debuts the “Mr. Ass” tights here. Gunn misses a bodypress on Animal, and gets clotheslined for two. Gunn bails and Animal works on Dogg’s arm. Hawk runs through the usual as the Outlaws beg off. Gunn comes in and Hawk actually messes up a bodyslam. Just a plain old bodyslam. Of course, you could probably blame Gunn for that, too, given his habits as of late, but he was pretty decent back in 1998. (Let’s not get crazy here.)  Animal hits the chinlock. This is like watching UT & Kane shuffle through the tag ranks and desperately try to keep up with all the young and over teams today. Pier-six erupts, but the Doomsday Device is stopped with a well-timed clip, and Animal is painted-face-in-peril. NAO work the knee for a long time. Thank god for heavily caffeinated and sweetened soft drinks. Jerry & JR get so bored that they start riffing on Wild Kingdom to pass the time, despite it having nothing to do with the match. Gunn hits a fameasser for two. Hot tag Hawk, and katie bar the door, yada yada. Billy nails Hawk with the belt (the NAO’s finisher for the longest time) for two, but Animal suplexes Dogg for the pin. However, since both guys’ shoulders were down, the ref gave the champs the benefit of the doubt and counted ANIMAL out, so the titles stayed with the Outlaws. That wasn’t really explained by the announcers, but I’m using the Flair-Steamboat precedent which established that “tie goes to the champion” in 1994. Match was about as excruciatingly bad as one might expect. ½*  (I still don’t know why they were so obsessed with endlessly pushing and re-pushing the LOD in their degenerated state.  Vince is usually a smart enough guy to know when to let it go, but maybe he just really liked them?)  – Jeff Jarrett sings with Sawyer Brown. I fast forward. – Inferno Match: Kane v. Undertaker. Hey, a Kane v. Undertaker match, that should pick the pace of this show up! The ring is of course surrounded by “fire” here, in reality a pipe spewing butane-powered flames under the control of a pyro expert at ringside. To win, you have to set your opponent on fire. (Also, the most annoying game mode in the RAW v. Smackdown series.  Took me FOREVER to figure out how to win that fucking thing, as I would just keep beating down my opponent and get nowhere with it.)  They hammer on each other and UT hits an avalanche. Ropewalk and flames puff up, as they do with all the highspots in this match. Blind charge and Kane backdrops him over the top, but Taker seems to land awkwardly on the ropes and falls back into the ring. Kane stomps away to take over. UT goes to the eyes to counter. Thrilling stuff! Kane keeps stomping. Chairshot puts Taker down. He comes back with more kicks, as does Kane. I’m having trouble keeping up with the rapid-fire pace of complex moves here. Oh, and choking, sorry, almost forgot that. Taker gets a russian legsweep and elbow, which is no-sold by Kane. Chokeslam follows, but UT blocks the tombstone and chokeslams Kane back. Kane no-sells. Double boot and both guys are knocked unconscious by the effort required to stick their leg in the air. Kane ducks a lariat and sideslams him, then goes up. UT crotches and superplexes him, which Kane of course no-sells. UT tosses him, but Vader appears and pushes him back to ringside, where Taker comes barrelling out with his hands-free tope over the top rope, taking out both guys. He then knocks Kane “unconscious” by the ring apron, thus allowing Kane to prepare his gimmicked arm while UT chases Paul Bearer to the stage and beats him up for a good 3 or 4 minutes. Back to the ring, Kane sort of falls into the fire and UT wins at 15:53. Give it ½* for the tope. The arm coating looked incredibly fake.  (What is with WWF guys always losing their own specialty matches?  Is it like an offshoot of people jobbing in their hometown?  How do you humiliate someone from Parts Unknown, though?)  WWF title match: Steve Austin v. Dude Love. This is round one, as Vince withheld the identity of Austin’s opponent until a week before the show and then turned Mick Foley into his corporate zombie. (That was some incredibly ineffective marketing there, as we literally had no clue who was challenging for the title leading up to the show, and the resulting buyrate was pretty sad.  I’m still not sure if they just didn’t know who to run with as challenger or what.)  Dude jumps Austin, but gets his ass kicked, and bails. Back in, Thesz Press and elbow as Ross takes a shot at Bischoff for declaring that a guy in black boots and tights could never get over. Spinebuster and elbow, and Dude bails again. They brawl as Dude tries to run, only to get viciously clotheslined from behind by Austin. They head to the stage (a popular spot tonight), and Austin casually tosses him off, onto the bare concrete 6 feet below. Back to ringside, they slaughter continues. Austin drops an elbow off the apron, and back in we go. Austin misses the rope straddle and Dude bulldogs him. Elbowdrop and Dude punishes him in the corner. Dude works the neck with a body scissors as Vinnie Mac joins us at ringside. Austin breaks the move and yells at Vince, but Dude rolls him up for two. Austin posts Dude as Vince “observes” from ringside, near the timekeeper, wink wink. (Montreal!  That’s a thing that happened!)  Dude bails and Austin tries a piledriver, but as usual he gets backdropped. He hurts his knee and Dude leaves for the ring as Vince taunts Austin. Austin stalks him, but Dude returns the favor on that clothesline from behind. Dude tries a suplex in, but Austin blocks, so Dude necksnaps him to the floor. The ref counts, but Vince tells Austin to “be a man and get back in”, and that the ref is fired if he reaches 10, so Austin beats the count. (That’s tremendous.  I miss that Vince.)  Dude hooks the ABDOMINAL STRETCH OF DOOM (with which he got past the awesome challenge of Steve Blackman, even under dubious circumstances) and Vince goes crazy, telling the timekeeper to ring the bell. Austin reverses the move, and Vince goes equally crazy, telling him to ignore everything he just said. Funny stuff. Brawl outside, and Austin suplexes Dude onto the stairs. They fight into the crowd and Austin dumps him back in, and into the ring. Dude comes back with a neckbreaker. Sweet Shin Music is blocked, and the ref gets bumped. Stunner is blocked with the Mandible Claw, and Vince revives the ref…unsuccessfully. This would actually become a storyline point, as Vince declared the refs unfit and took the job himself at the next PPV. Austin dumps Foley, but scuffles with Vince. Foley charges with a chair, but gets it back in his face. Austin chairshots Vince out cold, and heads back in for a little KICK WHAM STUNNER action, and counts the pin himself at 18:48. It was later decided to be a DQ win for Dude Love, justifying the rematch at Over the Edge 98. Great brawl that got a little overwhelmed by the storyline at times. The next month, they would solve that problem by making the storyline the focal point of the match and building on it. ****  (A very underappreciated brawl, even by myself.  I think it’s just because the next month’s rematch was just so awesome, but Austin counting his own pin was great, echoed by the finish at Over the Edge.)  The Bottom Line: Nothing terribly exciting. The HHH-Owen match, while solid, has been done before and better, and the same with Austin-Dude. The rest of the card is the usual shitty 1998 WWF undercard, as the main events were totally carrying these shows back then. Mildly recommended.  (I’d have to go recommendation to avoid now.  Just so much crap and Russo nonsense to sit through.)