What the World Was Watching: Fully Loaded 1998 – In Your House

by Logan Scisco

The video package
raises the big questions for tonight’s main event:  Will Kane and the Undertaker work together?  Will Mankind be the odd man out?  Is Vince McMahon organizing everything?  Hopefully tonight we will find some answers!
Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Fresno, California.

Opening
Contest:  Val Venis pins “Double J” Jeff
Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) with a rollup at 7:51:
This is Venis’s pay-per-view debut and he teases
stripping before Jarrett’s entrance puts a stop to that.  Kaientai tries to get a spot at ringside for
the match, but they and Southern Justice are evicted before the opening bell.  Yamaguchi-San is allowed to do commentary,
though, and Lawler tries to get more information on what his relationship is
like with his wife.  This is a very solid
opener, with Venis pulling several false finishes before running Jarrett into
Tennessee Lee and getting the win.  Venis
remains undefeated.  Rating:  ***
After the match,
Venis tells Yamaguchi-San that he will never “measure up” to the Big Valbowski
.
Non-Title
Match:  D-Lo Brown (European Champion
w/The Godfather) beats X-Pac (w/Chyna) with a Sky High at 8:26:
This is the first of a series of matches that these two
would have in 1998.  The European title
functioned as the WWF’s version of WCW’s TV championship during the late 1990s
and it gave someone trying to make a name for themselves like D-Lo something to
do.  Ross makes sure we know that D-Lo is
a Certified Public Accountant.  The chest
protector gimmick is quite brilliant because not only can D-Lo do more harm to
his opponents if he hits a splash or the Lo Down, but he also does a lot of
damage to himself if he misses those moves. 
D-Lo gets the win to continue building him as more than a paper
champion, although he gets an assisted distraction from the Godfather to finish
X-Pac off.  These two would go on to have
better matches, but this was still a solid effort.  Rating:  **½
Kevin Kelly and
Tom Pritchard let us know from the WWF.com center backstage that the Undertaker
has not yet shown up.
Terry Funk tells
the audience that the next match is going to be his last for a while because he
is so beaten up.  Bradshaw, his teammate
for the next match, is not very happy about hearing this news.  Since Bradshaw has had a rough 1998, I can’t
say that I blame him.  Besides, it is
pretty lousy to tell your tag team partner that you are leaving the company
right before walking through the curtain.
Faarooq &
Scorpio defeat Terry Funk & Bradshaw when Scorpio pins Funk with a 450
splash at 6:49:
Scorpio abandoned teaming with Terry Funk to work with
Faarooq and they had wrestled a few matches on Shotgun Saturday Night in the
weeks leading up to this.  We get an
entertaining and stiff exchange between the future Acolytes in this bout and
Bradshaw brings his working boots by going to the top rope on several
occasions.  Since this match was hastily
added to the card, you might think it’s just filler, but we get some very
entertaining wrestling until an awkward brawling segment at the end.  The crowd does not appreciate it, but that is
more of a fault of not giving many of the guys in the match a sense of
direction in the booking than anything else. 
After the bout, Bradshaw takes out his frustration on Funk and decimates
Scorpio and Faarooq for good measure.  Rating: 
**
Mark Henry pins
Vader with a splash at 5:03:
These two actually have an issue as Henry and Vader
ruined each other’s chances of advancing in the King of the Ring last
month.  Their feud has largely been relegated
to Shotgun Saturday Night.  This match is
a complete train wreck as Vader is not capable of carrying the younger Henry
and we get awkward combinations of power moves. 
Henry kicks out of Vader’s splash off the second rope and then
unceremoniously finishes him with a splash that causes the crowd to moan.  It’s just sad to see Vader reduced to the
level of an enhancement talent, especially if you grew up following his WCW
career.  Rating:  ½*
Kelly and
Pritchard continue to discuss whether the Undertaker is going to show up on
tonight’s show.
WWF Tag Team
Champions Kane & Mankind walk out with Paul Bearer.  Bearer gloats about how the Undertaker does
not want to face Kane because he wants to keep his main event spot at
SummerSlam.  The New Age Outlaws show up
and issue a challenge to Kane & Mankind for the titles tomorrow night on
RAW.  When they do not get a response,
they tear into the champions and WWF officials have to separate them.  Seeing Billy Gunn and Kane share 50-50
offense in this segment is just so wrong.
Ross and Lawler
recap Hawk showing up late to save Animal from the DOA on the last edition of
RAW.
The Disciples of
Apocalypse (w/Paul Ellering) defeat LOD 2000 when 8-Ball pins Animal after a DDT
at 8:51:
With Sunny out of the picture, I no longer have a reason
to care about the LOD.  You can sense how
the LOD are past their expiration date by listening to the crowd, as they get
very little reaction for anything in the match. 
They also do not care about the DOA’s constant cheating throughout the
contest.  Ellering’s excited attempts at
interference are laughable as he continually whiffs in his attempts to make a
difference.  It takes forever for Animal
to get the hot tag and Skull does eat a Doomsday Device, but the match
continues a little longer and the DOA do an illegal switch and win.  You would think that the LOD would have that
scouted based on the numerous times they have faced the DOA up to this
point.  The WWF gave this way too much
time and after this bout the LOD, DOA, and Ellering should have been cut loose
for good.  Unfortunately, this feud
continued!  Rating:  DUD
Vince McMahon and
his stooges come out and McMahon says that he is not to blame if the Undertaker
does not show up.  Instead, he points the
finger at Steve Austin based on his provocations of the Undertaker.  McMahon reads the “card subject to change”
addendum on the programs that the crowd bought before the show and announces
that Austin’s “suitable replacement” for tonight’s main event if the Undertaker
no shows is the Brooklyn Brawler. 
Forgetting about this sixteen years later, I cracked up pretty hard at
this, especially because the Brawler comes out screaming “I’m ready” and is all
amped up.
Hart Family
Dungeon Match with Dan Severn as Special Guest Referee:  Owen Hart defeats Ken Shamrock with a
crossface at 4:54:
This is the first extensive footage of the famous Hart Dungeon
on television.  It appeared in some video
packages before this show, but we actually get a match that takes place in
it.  Shamrock walking down the steps to
the basement is like something out of a C-level horror film.  This is a submission match and they work a
quasi-UFC/WWE style that I am sure was not taught in the actual Dungeon by Stu
Hart.  I am more amazed that they managed
to work a five minute match within the confines of the Dungeon than anything
else.  However, since this Vince Russo we
need some type of ref bump, so sure enough that happens with Severn getting
knocked loopy, thereby allowing Owen to hit Shamrock with a dumbbell and then
tapping Shamrock’s hand on the canvas when Severn awakes to win.  Seriously, they booked a screwjob for this!  Finish aside, this was a fun change of pace,
but I can’t get past some of the ridiculousness of the contest like Shamrock’s
head going through some drywall and Owen swinging off pipes.  Rating:  **
-Two-Out-of-Three
Falls Match for the Intercontinental Championship:  The Rock (Champion) wrestles Triple H
(w/Chyna) to a time limit draw at 30:00:
This match has a caveat on the traditional
two-out-of-three falls format as there is a mandatory one minute rest period
between falls.  The WWE’s current
creative team should be forced to rewatch this DX-Nation feud and realize how
you can go about making a secondary title important.  Ross and Lawler hyping the thirty minute time
limit is a clue of where this match is heading, especially since that time
limit was not discussed in the build to the match.  Sure enough, after both men’s factions
interfere at various points and after exchanging falls, with the Rock winning
the first after a Rock Bottom at 20:20 and Triple H winning the second after
Chyna DDT’s the Rock on a chair at 26:34, the time limit expires.  This is deemed as the first “classic” between
the Rock and Triple H, but most of the heat on the match comes from
interference (five run-ins!) and not from the two participants.  Also, they really struggled to continue the
match with unique moves after the twenty minute mark.  It felt like this was a fifteen minute match
drawn out to thirty minutes.  Their
Judgment Day Iron Man match in 2000 would fix these problems and because both
men’s characters had reached another level, it was a much better match.  Rating:  ***
After the bell,
the Nation and D-Generation X brawl, with DX standing tall in the ring.
Kevin Kelly and
Tom Pritchard inform us that the Undertaker arrived during the Intercontinental
title match.
A video package
hypes the bikini contest between Sable and Jacqueline.
Bikini
Contest:  Jacqueline (w/Marc Mero) beats
Sable by disqualification:
Before the contest, Dustin Runnels issues a prayer.  Why that did not produce a feud with Jerry
Lawler, the WWF’s resident pervert is beyond me, but I guess Runnels feud with
Val Venis made the same point. 
Jacqueline has a wardrobe malfunction by dancing too much in her
bikini.  Sable goes without a top and
wears body paint, which she says was not what Vince McMahon wanted.  That’s not a bikini, though, so she loses by
disqualification.  Seriously, a
disqualification in a bikini contest!?!?
After the contest,
McMahon walks to the ring and covers Sable. 
This McMahon-Sable angle is not making any sense in light of existing
storylines.
A video package
chronicles the events leading up to the main event for the WWF tag team titles.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve
Austin & The Undertaker defeat Kane & Mankind (Champions w/Paul Bearer)
when The Undertaker pins Kane after a Tombstone at to win the titles at 17:27:
This is the first time that the WWF tag team titles are
on the line in a pay-per-view main event since In Your House 3 in September
1995.  I really feel bad for Mankind as
the odd man out in this main event angle, but he was actually able to
capitalize on that later for his late 1998 run. 
The Undertaker and Kane are skittish about contact throughout the match,
lending some credence to the view that they are working together, but the
Undertaker reluctantly agrees to hot tag in and fight Kane late in the
match.  You see, we are back to the “tag
team partners that do not like each other” that has been an Austin staple since
he first won the tag team titles with Shawn Michaels in the summer of
1997.  I do not like the WWF champion
holding the tag titles to build their feud since it weakens the overall tag
division, so the result of this match was rather silly.  The crowd was into this, but it was really an
extended RAW main event.  That said, what
did you expect from a throwaway pay-per-view before SummerSlam?  Rating:  **
The Final Report Card:  Despite achieving an all-time record buyrate
for In Your House shows, this was the very definition of a middle of the road
pay-per-view.  Outside of the LOD-DOA
debacle, there was nothing that was awful about this show, but there was also
nothing really great or memorable aside from Sable’s moment, and that was
lessened when she later did Playboy. 
Triple H and the Rock, as well as Shamrock and Owen, would go on to have
better, more memorable contests at SummerSlam. 
If you are looking to burn some time, this is as decent a card as any to
watch, but do not expect anything fantastic.
Attendance: 
9,855
Buyrate: 
0.9 (+0.31 over previous year)

Show Evaluation:  Neutral

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

by Logan Scisco

Jim Ross and Jerry
“The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are taped from Binghampton, New
York.  This is our go home show for Fully
Loaded.

Vince McMahon
comes out and says that tonight is a night for respect for one’s fellow man and
retribution for those who do not. 
McMahon provides evidence from the events of recent weeks to support his
argument that the Undertaker is working with Kane and then invites the
Undertaker out.  McMahon, who has great
on screen chemistry with the Undertaker, points out that if the Undertaker
wants to be the WWF champion he has to start showing respect to the right
people and he will not tolerate being disrespected anymore.  When questioned again about working with
Kane, the Undertaker refuses to answer, so McMahon books him to face Kane and
Mankind in a handicap match.  However,
McMahon makes the fatal error of telling the Undertaker to go to hell and ends
up getting chokeslammed.  Gerald Brisco
and Commissioner Slaughter also eat chokeslams when they run to McMahon’s
aid.  I love how McMahon continually
tries to act tough around the Undertaker only to end up paying for it.  1 for
1
Opening Contest
for the European Championship:  D-Lo
Brown (w/The Rock) defeats Triple H (Champion w/Chyna) after the Rock gives
Triple H a Rock Bottom to win the title at 6:02:
Aside from the handicap main event, the other attractions
are Triple H and the Rock defending their titles against a member from the
Nation and D-Generation X, respectively. 
Both men are scheduled to face each other in a title-for-title
two-out-of-three falls match at Fully Loaded, so the outcome of these matches
could change these plans.  D-Lo was a
curious choice for this match since Owen was arguably the second-best singles
star in the Nation.  Then again, Owen has
continually failed to beat Triple H, so D-Lo was as good an option as any of
the remaining Nation members.  The Rock
interferes in this bout after Chyna and Mark Henry get into a confrontation on
the arena floor and that enables D-Lo to win his first WWF gold in a major
upset.  This means that the Rock-Triple H
match at Fully Loaded will no longer be title-for-title.  Rating:  ** (2 for 2)
The Nation
celebrates D-Lo’s title victory in the locker room.
Triple H tells Jim
Ross that the Rock is not leaving the arena with the Intercontinental title.
Brawl for All
First Round:  Steve Williams beats Pierre
by TKO at 2:56 of the third round:
This was Steve Williams WWF debut.  The Brawl for All concept was meant to put
him over as a big star and eventually feud with Steve Austin.  Of course, if that was the point of the
tournament, then why make it a shoot, but that requires too much logic for the
WWF sometimes.  During Williams entrance,
Barry Switzer puts him over for being a tough guy while playing football for
the University of Oklahoma.  Pierre is at
a severe disadvantage because he only has vision in one eye, but hey, it’s not
like the Brawl for All is regulated by your local athletic commission.  Williams completely dominates Pierre, who is completely
out of his element here, and we get our first non-decision result of the Brawl
for All.  3 for 3
Val Venis’s
revelation that he is having an affair with Yamaguchi-San’s wife on last week’s
show is played.
Yamaguchi-San,
wearing his tie around his head, yells at his wife for disgracing him on last
week’s show.  He makes her hold the ropes
open so that Kaientai and he can step into the ring and then orders her to
crawl beneath his legs where he can hit her with a paddle.  However, before Yamaguchi-San can proceed
with the punishment, Val Venis makes the save, and carries Yamaguchi-San’s wife
to the dressing room.  Yamaguchi-San
going over the top is what made this segment worthwhile.  4 for
4
The Undertaker
chokeslamming Vince McMahon earlier in the show is the Skittles Slam of the
Week.
We are supposed to
get an Animal-Skull match in our next segment, but it never happens as Hawk no shows
during Animal’s entrance and the DOA give Animal a beatdown.  Hawk makes the save before the DOA run over
one of Animal’s legs with one of their Titan bikes, but he is also attacked and
overwhelmed.
Steve Blackman
(w/Ken Shamrock & Dan Severn) pins Double J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee
& Southern Justice) after a pump kick at 2:11:
Somehow the Jarrett-Blackman rivalry is still ongoing and
based on the piped in boos, no one cares. 
Blackman brings Shamrock and Severn with him to even the odds around
ringside and speaking of which, it makes little sense for Southern Justice to
be with Jarrett at infrequent periods. 
Blackman beats Jarrett clean and in short order here, which is a very
puzzling result.  Jarrett is in desperate
need of an overhaul because he is getting nowhere with his 1993-1996
gimmick.  After the bell, Owen Hart
attacks Shamrock from behind on the floor and Severn does not seem to care.
The Undertaker is
shown leaving the arena.  Michael Cole
confirms this after the commercial break and Cole says that the Undertaker said
that he will see everyone Sunday at Fully Loaded.
Jim Ross interviews
WWF Champion Steve Austin, who says he is concerned about whether he is walking
into a trap at Fully Loaded.  Vince
McMahon interrupts the promo after taking exception to Austin saying that
McMahon deserves to be screwed over and rebooks the main event to Austin facing
Kane and Mankind in a handicap match. 
Austin refuses to wrestle and threatens to walk out like the Undertaker,
but McMahon announces that if that happens he will strip Austin of the WWF
title and give it to the Undertaker. 
Austin says fine, but vows to beat up McMahon in the locker room when he
gets the opportunity.  This was a good
twist of the main event to continue feeding the Kane-Undertaker cahoots
storyline.  5 for 5
Call 815-734-1161
to get your Steve Austin 3:16 baseball jersey $39.99 (plus $9 shipping &
handling)!
Jason Sensation’s
skills and beating at the hands of Owen Hart on last week’s show is recapped.
Owen Hart beats
Faarooq via submission to the Sharpshooter at 5:35:
I am surprised that Faarooq did not enter the Brawl for
All, since he was also stuck in the purgatory of the midcard after leaving the
Nation of Domination.  During the bout,
Owen gets on the house mic and tells the crowd that he is not a nugget.  This match is fine, although I am not sure
why Faarooq is still doing his “I am going to keep jumping on your back until
you knee me in the groin” spot as a face. 
Faarooq submits clean to the Sharpshooter despite being a foot away from
the ropes, which illustrates how far he has fallen over the last year as a
character.  After the bell, Ken Shamrock
runs out, but Owen escapes through the crowd. 
Rating:  ** (6 for 6)
Mankind predicts a
very peaceful evening for Steve Austin in tonight’s handicap match.
Marc Mero and
Jacqueline come out and Jacqueline insults Sable some more.  Sable comes out in a sun dress and Jacqueline
soon strips it off.  Sable doesn’t mind
and tosses Jacqueline out of the ring by her hair.  Kevin Dunn’s camera crew follows Sable up the
ramp and misses Edge doing a hit and run on Mero in the ring.  It would have been better to combine this
segment with the Sable-Jacqueline interaction on last week’s broadcast.  6 for
7
Shawn Michaels
comes out to do commentary for the rest of the show.
The announcers
recap the 8-Ball-Scorpio Brawl for All match, which Scorpio won.
The Rock tells the
announcers from the backstage area that he will beat X-Pac and enter Fully
Loaded as the Intercontinental champion.
X-Pac pinning the
Rock after an X-Factor is the JVC Kaboom! of the Week.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  The Rock (Champion) defeats
X-Pac (w/Chyna) via disqualification when Triple H interferes at 9:46:
X-Pac pinned the Rock in a tag team match on last week’s
show, so that is used as evidence for why X-Pac is a threat to leave the
building with the Intercontinental title. 
D-Lo Brown winning the European title also provided the possibility that
X-Pac might win this match.  The Rock
dominates nearly the entire match and kicks out of an X-Factor and getting hit
with the Intercontinental title by Chyna. 
The referee gets bumped on a Rock clothesline, and Triple H tries to
help X-Pac win the title by cutting off D-Lo Brown’s interference attempt and
Pedigreeing the Rock, but another official stops the pinfall and that helps the
Rock retain.  I really hate the “second
referee corrects the first on things he did not see” finish.  After the match, Triple H gets a female fan
in the audience to take her top off. 
Antics like that are why I was barred from going to WWF house shows in
the Attitude Era.  Thanks Triple H!  Rating:  **½ (7 for 8)
Handicap
Match:  Kane & Mankind (w/Paul
Bearer) beat “Stone Cold” Steve Austin via disqualification when the Undertaker
interferes at 4:51:
This is one of those famed Attitude Era brawls where
Austin hits everything that moves.  The
Undertaker walks out three minutes in with a chair and sets up in Austin’s
corner.  As Austin prepares to give Kane
a Stunner, the Undertaker tries to hit someone, it is not clear who, with a
chair and ends up blasting Kane.  That
seemingly produces a DQ win for the tag team champions, but who really cares,
as Austin lays out Mankind and the Undertaker with the chair and walks away
with his hands raised.  The continuous
action throughout this match made it seem like more than a throwaway TV main
event.  Rating:  **½ (8 for 9)
The Final Report Card:  The ending to the main event gives us a small
taste of the Fully Loaded main event and maintains the mystery behind the
Highway to Hell storyline.  For a taped
RAW, this provided a lot of excitement with the X-Pac-Rock fight, the main
brawl, and some entertaining mic work by the main players.  Steve Williams also had a dominant appearance
in the Brawl for All and if you were not sure how things played out in future
weeks, you would assume he was the man to beat.
So our announced card for Fully Loaded is
the following:
WWF Tag Team Championship Match:  Kane & Mankind (Champions) vs. Steve
Austin & The Undertaker
Two-out-of-Three Falls Match for the Intercontinental
Championship:  The Rock (Champion) vs.
Triple H
Hart Family Dungeon Match with Dan Severn as
Special Referee:  Ken Shamrock vs. Owen
Hart
Bikini Contest:  Sable vs. Jacqueline
Monday Night War Rating:  5.0 (vs. 4.7 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

July Classics: Mankind vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley – In Your House: Canadian Stampede 7/6/97

The finals of the 1997 King of the Ring tournament featured Mankind vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley, with Helmsley winning the crown. After the match, Helmsley and Chyna proceeded to beat down Mankind. This prompted Mankind to request a rematch, which took place at this show, the infamous Canadian Stamepede.

http://network.wwe.com/video/v31327267/milestone/31345801

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

by Logan Scisco

A video package
recaps the Undertaker becoming the number one contender to the WWF championship
on last week’s show.
Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are doing commentary and they are live from East Rutherford,
New Jersey.

Shawn Michaels
comes out, making his first WWF appearance since WrestleMania XIV.  Michaels sits down to do commentary for the
show and tells Ross that he is not sure when he will return to the ring.
Opening
Contest:  The Undertaker pins Vader with
a Tombstone at 4:35:
Looking back, I wish Vader had entered the Brawl for
All.  It was already littered with lower
midcard talent and guys looking to reboot their careers or get them going, so
it would have been well suited for 1998 Vader. 
After the entrances, Kane, Mankind, and Paul Bearer come out, but they
let the match proceed as scheduled.  As
another “what if,” imagine what a stable of Vader, Kane, and Mankind would have
been like in 1998.  Vader gives this the
old college try, but the Undertaker unceremoniously finishes him with Tombstone
and Earl Hebner does his slow three count to add insult to injury.  Really Earl? 
Rating:  ** (1 for 1)
After the match,
Mankind prepares to hit the Undertaker with a chair, but Kane takes it from
Mankind and then whacks Vader with it. 
Does this mean Kane and the Undertaker are in cahoots?
-Brawl for All
First Round:  Bart Gunn beats Bob Holly
via decision
This match constituted the breakup of the New Midnight
Express as Ross tells us that Jim Cornette resigned as their manager as a
result of them deciding to face each other. 
That, for all intents and purposes, ends the last vestiges of the NWA
angle for good.  This is the first Brawl
for All to feature a regular WWF referee as Danny Hodge is no longer doing the
honors.  Bart just dominates Holly in
this bout and easily makes it to the next round.  There was nothing about this that made it
exciting, so it does not get a point from me. 
After the match, Bob gives Bart a cheap shot and there is a small fight
between the two before WWF officials break it up.  1 for
2
The D-Generation X
skit mocking the Nation of Domination on last week’s show is recapped.
Jason Sensation
joins the broadcast team and he imitates other WWF superstars at Lawler’s
urging.  When he imitates Bret Hart,
Michaels asks whether that is a midcarder (a shot at Bret’s status in the WCW
upper midcard at the time because – say it with me – WCW).  Ross interviews the Nation, who are
backstage, and they are not happy with last week’s skit.  The Godfather debuts his “pimpin’ ain’t easy”
line during this segment.  Owen gets mad
at Sensation continuing to imitate him at Lawler’s urging and runs out and
attacks him before DX intervenes.
Triple H &
X-Pac (w/Chyna) defeat The Rock & Owen Hart when X-Pac pins The Rock after
an X-Factor at 6:28:
Shawn Michaels starts talking about the Kliq on
commentary and is actually censored for doing so.  The match does not follow the normal tag
formula, as X-Pac gets in peril, absorbs a People’s Elbow and other Nation
offense, and then surprises the Rock out of nowhere with the X-Factor to
win.  The expected solid match between
these guys and they could have done much more if given another five minutes.  Rating:  **¾ (2 for 3)
Sable comes out to
do commentary for the next match.  Sable
promises that her bikini at Fully Loaded will make her bikini at the 1997
Slammy Awards look like an evening gown.
Steve Blackman
beats “Marvelous” Marc Mero (w/Jacqueline) with a pump kick at 2:14:
This is a rematch from the Brawl for All, but it is
overwhelmed by Sable and Jacqueline fighting near the announce table and
Michaels and Lawler fawning over Sable. 
Mero appears to have the match won with a low blow, but when Jacqueline
tries to do something off the top rope to Blackman, Sable stops her and
Blackman suddenly recovers and wins. 
Mero was never able to reinvent himself after the Sable feud, which was
quite sad considering his in-ring and mic talents.  The feud also made it impossible to go back
to WCW as Johnny B. Badd because he would have been showered with “Sable”
chants.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  Kane & Mankind
(w/Paul Bearer) defeat The New Age Outlaws (Champions w/Chyna) when Kane pins
The Road Dogg with a Tombstone to win the titles at 5:34:
Before the bell, the Undertaker comes out to watch this
match.  Of all the teams left in the tag
division, Kane and Mankind are the only credible challengers for the
titles.  Think about it:  LOD 2000 is irrelevant, the DOA are being
somewhat repackaged with Ellering but that isn’t enough, the New Midnight
Express broke up, and 2 Cold Scorpio and Terry Funk are enhancement
talent.  After all hell breaks loose in
the ring, all hell breaks loose outside it as the Nation and the remaining
members of DX brawl and in the chaos, D-Lo Brown interferes with a Lo Down on
the Road Dogg and the Outlaws seven month reign as tag team champions is
over.  Theoretically, this makes the
Fully Loaded main event tag match for the WWF tag team titles.  Rating:  ** (3 for 4)
Call 815-734-1161
to get your Steve Austin 3:16 baseball jersey $39.99 (plus $9 shipping &
handling)!  This was a great piece of
merchandise, but that price is outrageous.
Triple H yells at
Vince McMahon over the lack of control referees have in recent matches.  Having the Outlaws add to the complaints is
pretty funny considering how much cheating they engaged in to keep the titles
during their reign.
Kaientai
(w/Yamiguchi-San) beats Taka Michinoku & Too Much when Dick Togo pins Scott
Taylor after a Senton Bomb at 3:38:
Evidently, the Michinoku-Too Much pairing was forced by
the office in storyline terms as opposed to a genuine alliance.  Unsurprisingly, tempers flare between Scott
Taylor and Michinoku and Michinoku dropkicks Taylor into the hands of Kaientai,
who finishes him off.  After the bout,
Christopher beats up Michinoku and Val Venis comes out and reveals that he has
been having an affair with Yamiguchi-San’s wife.  The match was good, but I am not giving this
a point because the idea that Taka would ever agree to pair with Too Much under
any circumstances is ridiculous.  Rating: 
**¼ (3 for 5)
The Undertaker
chokeslamming The Godfather, D-Lo Brown, and Terry Funk on last week’s Raw is
the Skittles Slam of the Week.
Vince McMahon
comes out and talks with the Undertaker. 
McMahon commends the Undertaker on his deception last week, but raises
the question of whether the Undertaker is getting help from Kane.  The Undertaker refuses to answer McMahon’s
question and Steve Austin comes out. 
Austin asks the Undertaker whether he will have his back at Fully Loaded
and the Undertaker remains non-committal. 
That brings out D-Generation X and Triple H demands the Outlaws get an
immediate rematch against Kane and Mankind with three referees: a  regular official in the ring and the
Undertaker and Austin on the outside of the ring.  This will reveal whether the Undertaker and
Kane are working together.  Triple
H:  COO before we even knew it!  4 for
6
Brawl for All
First Round:  Dan Severn beats The
Godfather via decision:
As someone who did not see a lot of UFC growing up, I was
really excited to see what Severn could do in this format.  Severn is not used to releasing a takedown
after performing one, which the rules require, so the referee has to constantly
yell for him to break.  Severn also keeps
going for submissions, which are not allowed. 
The crowd is not happy about the lack of punches thrown and Severn
advances due to his takedown skills in a very boring bout.  After this, Severn would withdraw from the
Brawl for All because he did not care for the format and this bout shows
why.  We have had six Brawl for All
matches and all of them have gone to a decision, which is not very
exciting.  4 for 7
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match with The Undertaker and Steve Austin as Special
Enforcers:  Kane & Mankind (Champions
w/Paul Bearer) wrestle The New Age Outlaws to a no-contest at 8:09:
I am not often a fan of having the same match happen
again on the same show, but this was a very creative way to book around that
problem.  The main referee gets bumped
when Billy Gunn inserts himself into the match without a tag, but when Austin
tries to count the Road Dogg’s small package on Kane, the Undertaker pulls him
out of the ring.  The Undertaker tries to
count a pin when Kane chokeslams Road Dogg and Austin interrupts that.  The Undertaker and Austin then get into
separate fights with Mankind and Kane, respectively, and the Nation of
Domination hits the ring to brawl with the Outlaws, which brings out
D-Generation X.  Austin and the
Undertaker delivering Stunners and chokeslams plays us out and no one ends up
winning the match.  I’ll give this one a
point for the crazy post-match brawl.  Rating: 
** (5 for 8)
The Final Report Card:  This show gave us more storyline development
for the Undertaker-Kane relationship and whether they were in cahoots with each
other, although that issue is becoming very, very complicated.  Why would Kane want the Undertaker to face
Austin for the WWF title instead of himself? 
If he did decide to work with his brother, was it his idea?  When was such an agreement made?  Why would Kane or the Undertaker not tell
McMahon about it, since McMahon also wants to get the title off of Austin?  Does McMahon know and is he just playing dumb
to lure in Austin?  All this aside, this
RAW had a really hot first hour and then the second hour was death.  If not for the post-match brawl at the end,
this RAW would have ended up in neutral territory.  A slight thumbs up for this episode, which
saw RAW regain its Nielsen ratings lead only a week after WCW showed its big
Goldberg-Hogan match.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.7 (vs. 4.5 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – July 6, 1998

by Logan Scisco

Highlights of Steve Austin regaining the WWF
championship from Kane on last week’s Raw are shown.
Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are our commentators tonight and they are taped from State
College, Pennsylvania.

The Undertaker
comes out, with more pyro blasts that usual, and demands a title shot from
Steve Austin.  Michael Cole goes looking
for Austin backstage, but Austin just blows him off and walks out to the ring.  Vince McMahon angrily interrupts the
conversation and chides the Undertaker for claiming that he is the number one
contender and Austin for thinking he defends the title on his schedule.  McMahon says that Austin and the Undertaker
can be in the ring together at Fully Loaded, the next pay-per-view, but they
will not be facing each other in a singles match.  Instead, they will face Kane and Mankind in a
tag match.  McMahon also promises to name
the number one contender for the WWF title tonight.  A great, logical segment to open tonight’s
show.  As an added bonus, McMahon
“salutes” Austin at the end of the segment, which devolves into him flipping
off the WWF champion.  1 for 1
Opening Brawl for
All First Round Contest:  Savio Vega
beats Brakus via decision:
Brakus was a German wrestler that was supposed to come to
the WWF the previous year.  He even got a
series of vignettes to hype his arrival in 1997.  However, he was so green that he was sent to
ECW and USWA after wrestling on a few house shows and dark matches in late
1996.  Aside from a match on Shotgun
Saturday Night and appearances on a few European shows, this was Brakus’s big
moment in the WWF and he does not acquit himself well as Savio staggers him
with some hard shots throughout the bout. 
In a later shoot interview, Savio claimed that Brakus thought the Brawl
for All was a worked tournament instead of a shoot, which helped him win this
bout.  2 for 2
Ken Shamrock defeats
“Double J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) via disqualification when King Mabel
interferes at 4:22:
This is a special challenge match as Jarrett wants
revenge for losing to Shamrock in the King of the Ring semi-finals.  This is basically a repeat of that King of
the Ring match, including many of the same spots, but this time there is a run-in
by King Mabel, who comes out of the crowd and lays out Shamrock.  You see, Shamrock beat two King of the Rings
last week, but he did not beat the great King Mabel!  Rating:  ** (3 for 3)
Michael Cole
interviews Shamrock after the commercial break and Shamrock challenges Mabel to
a match later on in the show.
Vader wrestles
Bradshaw to a no-contest after Kane and Mankind interfere at 2:05:
In this face-versus-face encounter both men are in
desperate need of some direction as Bradshaw has been spending 1998 feuding
with the NWA and Kaientai and Vader has been losing to new attractions like the
Rock and Kane.  After some stiff shots
back and forth, Kane and Mankind crash the match.  So basically, Vader and Bradshaw still do not
have any momentum!
Call 815-734-1161
to get your D-Generation X video for $14.95 (plus $4 shipping & handling)!
The Disciples of
Apocalypse (w/Paul Ellering) beat The Headbangers when 8-Ball pins Mosh after a
side suplex-neckbreaker combination at 3:41:
The Headbangers pour hot candle wax on their arms on
their way to the ring, which I do not remember being a big cultural thing in
1998, but I was not part of that crowd so who knows.  Ellering is being hyped as a stock market
wizard and he says that he came back to the WWF to write the final chapter of
the Legion of Doom.  I think the New Age
Outlaws beat Ellering to that task.  In
other news, Mabel has accepted Shamrock’s challenge for later tonight!  In terms of the match, the DOA wrestle with a
little more energy than usual, but the match is nothing to write home about.  Rating:  *½ (3 for 4)
Steve Austin
giving Stone Cold Stunners to Kane and the Undertaker at the close of last
week’s show is the Skittles Slam of the Week.
D-Lo Brown (w/The
Godfather) beats Terry Funk with the Lo Down at 3:46:
This is Brown’s first match back from his “pectoral
injury” and he is using his chest protector. 
Funk pulls out another crazy Asai moonsault, which I really wish he
would not do since it causes his knee to slam into the guardrail.  Funk appears to have the match in hand, but
the Godfather nails Funk in the back of the head with a gold chain and D-Lo
picks up the first of a series of victories that will put him on the map as a
singles star in the company.  It’s sad to
see Funk reduced to the level of enhancement talent, but to his credit he has
really made D-Lo Brown and Mark Henry look good over the last month.  A true professional.  Rating:  **¼ (4 for 5)
After the match,
the Undertaker comes to the ring and chokeslams D-Lo Brown and the
Godfather.  Terry Funk thinks the
Undertaker has come to save him, but the Undertaker chokeslams him as
well.  Ross’s calls during this segment
are great as he screams “Who’s your daddy?!?!?” as D-Lo gets chokeslamed and
screams “WHY!?!  WHY?!” when he attacks
Funk.
Vince McMahon walks
out to announce the number one contender to the WWF title.  Mankind, Kane, and the Undertaker are called
to the ring.  McMahon lauds Mankind’s
sacrifice at Hell in a Cell, calls Kane stupid for giving Steve Austin a title
shot last week, and hilariously changes his tone of voice when he gets to the
Undertaker and calls him an “evil, diabolical excuse for a human being” for
setting his brother on fire in an Inferno match and nearly killing
Mankind.  McMahon refuses to name a
number one contender himself and says that a triple threat match will determine
the issue later tonight.  5 for 6
Brawl for All
First Round:  Hawk and Darren Drozdov
fight to a draw:
The crowd is a more receptive to this week’s Brawl for
All bouts than last week.  The bout starts
okay, but both men are gassed by the third round and things end as more of a
whimper than bang.  The contest ends as a
draw and since we have no bracket established for this tournament, we have no
idea what that means for future rounds. 
And seriously, why would you establish a tournament like this and not
have a tiebreaker established?  5 for 7
Marc Mero and
Jacqueline come out and Jacqueline implies that Mero lost the Brawl for All
last week because she took all the energy out of him since it was their two
month anniversary before the bout. 
Jacqueline runs down Sable’s inability to meet Mero’s needs and
unsurprisingly, this brings Sable out. 
Sable implies that Mero needs Viagra and she and Jacqueline debate over
who is more of a woman.  Jacqueline
challenges Sable to a bikini contest at Fully Loaded and Sable accepts.  Color me silly, but I found the exchange of
insults here hilarious, probably because Mero’s facial expressions during the
exchange were great.  6 for 8
The Undertaker
chokeslamming Mankind through the Hell in a Cell is the JVC Kaboom! of the
Week.
Val Venis defeats
Dustin Runnels via disqualification when Kaientai interfere at 2:35:
Runnels and Venis go back and forth in this lower midcard
match until Kainetai run in to get revenge on Venis for Venis dancing in front
of Yamiguchi-San’s wife on last week’s show. 
However, Yamiguchi-San’s wife is not happy at the beating or her husband
mocking Venis’s dance in the ring.
D-Generation X
comes out dressed as the Nation in one of the more famous skits of the
era.  There is no way this segment would
fly today as X-Pac is in blackface as “Mizark Henry” and the Road Dogg and
Billy Gunn have bad spray tans for their impressions of the Godfather and D-Lo
Brown.  Road Dogg steals the segment by
repeating Triple H’s (playing “The Crock”) lines and climbing the ropes at
random intervals to do D-Lo’s head bob.  Jason
Sensation is playing Owen Hart and sounds exactly like him.  The forced laughter from Lawler nearly ruins
the segment, though.  7 for 9
Ken Shamrock
defeats King Mabel via submission to the ankle lock at 2:09:
Mabel finds his old king tights for this match, which is
his first televised match in the company in more than two years.  Shamrock’s path through older kings continues
with this match as he weathers Mabel’s power offense, counters a second rope
dive, and forces him to submit to the ankle lock.  After the bell, Shamrock refuses to release
the hold.  The old existing king left in
the WWF is Steve Austin, which would have set up an interesting WWF title
match, but that never happened.
Vince McMahon
walks out to do commentary duties for the triple threat main event and Steve
Austin comes out to join him.
Triple Threat
Match to Determine the Number One Contender to the WWF Championship:  The Undertaker defeats Kane & Mankind by pinning
Mankind after a chair shot at 1:58:
The Undertaker does not arrive when his entrance music
plays, so McMahon has Tony Chimmel announce that the Undertaker is
“chickenshit” and books a no holds barred, falls count anywhere match between
Kane and Mankind instead.  Mankind
refuses to fight his friend, but Kane takes a chair and gives Mankind a sick
shot against the steps to win the bout. 
However, when the regular lights come on, Kane unmasks to reveal the
Undertaker and Steve Austin looks on in disbelief as we are played out.
Tune in next week
to see the New Age Outlaws defend the tag team titles against Kane &
Mankind!
The Final Report Card:  The closing segment to this show was great
and as someone commented in the King of the Ring review, the double long
sleeved Kane outfit fit this angle well due to the fact that it covered the
Undertaker’s tattoos.  It furthers the
Kane-Undertaker-Austin triangle because one is left wondering how the
Undertaker got Kane’s ring attire and how he was able to replace him in the bout.  This was a great RAW, but it lost in the
ratings because WCW panicked and ran Bill Goldberg’s victory over Hulk Hogan in
the Georgia Dome against it.  Still, that
would end up being a pyrrhic victory for WCW and it did not derail the WWF in
the long-term.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.0 (vs. 4.8 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: King of the Ring 1998

by Logan Scisco


Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are doing commentary and they are live from Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania.

Opening Bonus Contest:  The Headbangers & Taka Michinoku defeat
Kaientai (w/Yamaguchi-San) when Michinoku pins Funaki with the Michinoku Driver
at 6:44:
This is one of two bonus matches taking place this
evening.  The action is fast and furious
here, with Michinoku carrying the match for his team.  He manages to get the winning pin after all
hell breaks loose to avenge a loss to Kaientai at the last pay-per-view, and I
imagine it helped that this time he evened the odds with the Headbangers.  Rating:  **½
Sable walks out and
welcomes out Vince McMahon, who comes out with the stooges.  As Sable leaves the ring, Pat Patterson,
smacks her on the rear end and gets slapped. 
Ross says that Patterson got in trouble because he got involved “in an
area that he’s not familiar with.”  With
the crowd riled up, McMahon says that tonight’s main event outcome will
disappoint them, but that is okay because the crowd is full of people experienced
with disappointments.  Not one of McMahon’s
better promos and this was just filler.
King of the Ring
Semi-Final:  Ken Shamrock beats “Double J”
Jeff Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) via submission to the ankle lock at 5:30:
When Jarrett does his “Aint I great!” spiel before the
match, the crowd shouts back “Aint I gay!” 
Add that to the list of things you may not hear on the WWE Network.  Jarrett isn’t wearing his usual entrance
jacket, which makes for a weird visual. 
Shamrock lets Jarrett get in some token offense on his leg before
deciding to stop selling and win the bout. 
After the match, Shamrock gives Lee a belly-to-belly suplex and
hilariously remembers that he needs to sell the leg.  Rating:  **
Michael Cole
interviews Shamrock and Shamrock says that he did not come to the pay-per-view
to finish in second place
.
King of the Ring
Semi-Final:  The Rock pins Dan Severn
after D-Lo Brown hits Severn with the Lo Down at 4:25:
Kama Mustafa, who accompanies the Rock to the ring with Mark
Henry before being evicted by the referee, is starting to look more like his
future Godfather persona with the hat and tinted glasses.  Finkel even announces him as such.  This match was a bummer when I initially saw
the show because I wanted a Shamrock-Severn final, but the WWF made the right
call here for two reasons.  First, if you
are going to have Shamrock-Severn, you might as well promote that match to make
money.  And second, the Rock is way more
over than Severn.  This match is an
awkward styles clash, as the Rock is not a technical wrestler, so he cannot adequately
chain wrestle Severn, and Severn does not know how to sell the Rock’s usual
offense.  For example, he looks
completely lost selling the Rock’s flurry of punches in the corner.  I should add that D-Lo Brown debuts his chest
protector, which he needed to recover from a “torn pectoral muscle” suffered at
the hands of Severn in the qualifying round, when he interferes to put the Rock
into the finals. This is Severn’s first singles loss since arriving in the WWF.  Rating:  ½*
Cole interviews
the Rock, who delivers a great impromptu promo against Shamrock by saying that Shamrock
is going to eat “rock bottom” as he tries to climb the mountain to the King of
the Ring title.
A video package
recaps what has been going on with Al Snow for the last two months.
Jerry Lawler tells
Al Snow, who is backstage, that he is going down tonight, but Snow says he is
not laying down for anyone and that Too Much is going to get some Head like
they have never had before.
-Too Much beats Al
Snow & Head when Brian Christopher pins the Head at 8:26:
Does anyone remember when the Head was a playable
character in WWF Attitude?  Just before
the match, it is announced that Lawler is the guest referee and that goes about
as well for Snow as you can expect.  The
difference between Too Much and Too Cool is as much as night and day as Brian
Christopher and Scott Taylor were devoid of credible victories or a great deal
of charisma heading into this match, so the crowd just cares about the
Head.  Snow gives Taylor a Snow Plow, but
Lawler tosses Christopher a bottle of Head and Shoulders, thereby giving the
Head shoulders and enabling Christopher to pin it for the win.  Some people hate that finish, but I found it humorous.  I have no idea why Snow did not go
over here since it wasn’t like he wasn’t going to be part of the WWF after this.  Having him lose and enter the company anyway
makes the original stipulation of Snow needing to win to get a meeting with
Vince McMahon and get a contract a joke, but you know, Vince Russo.  Rating:  ¾*
X-Pac (w/Chyna)
defeats Owen Hart when Chyna gives Owen a DDT at 8:32:
This a rematch of the 1994 King of the Ring semi-finals
and also has a backstory due to each man costing the other their King of the
Ring tournament match.  We get a good
technical match, but the real highlight is when Mark Henry runs out to give
X-Pac a splash behind the referee’s back. 
That cues a Vader run-in and Chyna interfering when Owen puts X-Pac in
the Sharpshooter.  This match continues Owen’s winless streak in singles matches on
pay-per-view this year.  In fact, each of those losses are due to Chyna.  Rating: 
**¾
Paul Bearer
waddles out and gives us the sad story of Kane’s history, and how Kane watched
WWF programming and wanted to be like his older brother.  Bearer nailed this promo.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  The New Age Outlaws
(Champions w/Chyna) beat The New Midnight Express (NWA Tag Team Champions w/Jim
Cornette) when Billy Gunn pins Bombastic Bob after a double hot shot at 9:57:
This is the second bonus match of the show, which is a
clue that a title change is highly unlikely. 
The WWF could not get the old Midnight Express theme, but the one that
they use for the New Midnights isn’t that bad. 
After wrestling the lugs of the tag division for the last six
months, the Outlaws finally get to wrestle a team they can have a good match
with.  Ross has a great comment about
Cornette during this bout concerning Cornette’s self-centered personality:  “Cornette’s dream is to die in his own arms.”  When all hell breaks loose, we get a nice
series of false finishes, coupled with a required Chyna-Cornette confrontation
where Cornette eats a low blow (with Chyna missing her initial cue), and the
Outlaws barely retain the titles.  This
should have led to the Midnights getting a higher place in the tag team
division, but Russo’s emphasis on “super teams” at the expense of established
teams did not do them any favors.  Rating: 
***¼
Triple H and Chyna
come out to do color commentary for the King of the Ring final.  Triple H was last year’s winner, but why did
Commissioner Slaughter allow this?  The
Nation doesn’t get to accompany the Rock to ringside for the final bout, so why
does his enemy and the guy he put out of the tournament get to sit so close to
the ring?  Clarence Mason never would have
allow this had he stayed in the company!
1998 King of the
Ring Finals:  Ken Shamrock defeats The
Rock via submission to the ankle lock at 14:11:
If this was a UFC tournament, Shamrock would’ve bowed out
by now due to injury.  It does not take
long for Triple H to get involved in this bout, as he spits water in the Rock’s
face, but thankfully that’s the scope of his interference.  It takes ten minutes for the match to get a
good rhythm going, as prior to that you have a few mindless brawling sequences
and Shamrock being unsure of whether he should sell the leg injury he suffered
in the semi-finals.  In the end, Shamrock surprises
the Rock with the ankle lock and wins the King of the Ring, which was the right
booking choice because it gave Shamrock the win in his feud with the Rock
without taking the Intercontinental title, which the Rock needed for his feud
with Triple H.  Shamrock does not get the
crown and other royal properties, but that does not really fit his gimmick
anyway.  Rating:  ***¼
Hell in a
Cell:  The Undertaker pins Mankind after
a Tombstone at 17:00:
Going into this pay-per-view, many were not enthused
about this match and people (correctly) predicted that it would not be as good
as the Shawn Michaels-Undertaker HIAC match at Badd Blood.  However, it ended up being memorable for a
different reason as Foley took a series of sick bumps to mask the shortcomings
of the Undertaker wrestling on an injured foot. 
The brutality of the match fits the feud between both men, as their
first in-ring encounter took place at the King of the Ring two years ago and
all of their encounters have been increasingly violent.  This was rated as Match of the Year for 1998
and while I disagree with that, one has to take into consideration that this
was before people became desensitized to wrestlers jumping off ladders and
doing other crazy stunts.  Jim Ross
deserves an honorable mention for his commentary as well, since without it I
doubt that the match would have received as much acclaim as it did.  It is very difficult to rate this match,
since it does not fit within a conventional wrestling paradigm, and the match
loses a good deal of its effect after you have seen it.  Still, you cannot help but be amazed at what
Foley put himself through in this bout (which is really what the whole story of
the match is about after you view it multiple times), and this match put him
over for good.  Rating:  ***½
A video package
recaps the Steve Austin-Kane feud and the Undertaker’s role in all of it.
First Blood Match
for the WWF Championship:  Kane (w/Paul
Bearer) beats “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (Champion) to win the title at 14:52:
In a nice attention to detail, cans of gasoline surround
the ring so Kane can set himself on fire if he fails to win the title.  After three months of feuding with McMahon as
WWF champion, Austin finally runs into a challenge that he cannot overcome as
he fails to make Kane, who is wearing a mask and an outfit that has both (instead
of one) arms covered, bleed.  However,
his title loss is not without controversy as the Hell in a Cell lowers randomly
during the match, and Austin is busted wide open when the Undertaker inadvertently
(or intentionally?) hits Austin with a chair when he is aiming for Mankind.  The crowd goes DEAD quiet when the bell is
rung and the pay-per-view goes off the air shortly thereafter.  Decent brawl, but the stipulation really hurt
the drama of the match, and I never felt that either guy really put the other in a position to get busted open.  Rating: 
**
After the show
goes off the air, several WWF officials and Mankind get Stone Cold Stunners
from Austin.
The Final Report Card:  All things considered, this was a very
successful show for the company and a thumbs up effort.  It drew the largest buyrate for the event since
1993, which was the first year that it was available on pay-per-view, and the
Hell in a Cell match created a lot of buzz in wrestling circles and gave people
another reason to watch the WWF over WCW. 
The show also set the stage for the hot feuds of the summer as the
Austin-Kane-Undertaker triangle continued and the Rock moved away from Shamrock
to go against Triple H.
Attendance: 
17,087
Buyrate: 
1.1 (+0.6 from the previous year)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – June 22, 1998

by Logan Scisco

A video package
highlights the confrontation between Steve Austin & the Undertaker and Kane
& Mankind on last week’s show.
Jim Ross and Michael Cole are doing
commentary and they are taped from Austin, Texas.  Tonight is the go home show for the King of
the Ring.

Vince McMahon
comes out and invites Kane to the ring. 
Paul Bearer is sitting at home, recovering from the Undertaker’s attack
on last week’s show.  McMahon tells Kane
that it is his destiny to be WWF champion and that a victory over Steve Austin
at the King of the Ring will erase his awful childhood.  McMahon announces that Kane is challenging
Austin to a first blood match at the King of the Ring, and Kane speaks for the
first time and proclaims that if he does not win the WWF title, he will set
himself on fire.  The only question that
remains is whether Austin will accept the challenge.  Kane’s announcement was so outrageous and out
of left field that I have to give this a point. 
1 for 1
Call 815-734-1161
to get your D-Generation X home video. 
It can be yours for $14.95 (plus $4 shipping & handling)!
Opening King of
the Ring First Round Contest:  Ken
Shamrock defeats Mark Henry with a belly-to-belly suplex at 4:35:
The Nation continues to try to accompany their members to
the ring, but they are dispatched to the locker room yet again by WWF
officials.  Henry concentrates his attack
on Shamrock’s back, but Shamrock rallies and when Henry is knocked to the
floor, Vader attacks him to get revenge for last week, and Shamrock advances to
face the winner of the Marc Mero-Jeff Jarrett match in the semi-finals.  I’m impressed by Henry’s development to this
point.  He’s not participating in *****
matches and his skills are still limited, but he is showing better awareness of
how to work around his limitations.  Rating: 
**½ (2 for 2)
Shamrock tells
Kevin Kelly that he is going to climb the top of the mountain and win the King
of the Ring.
Edge is shown
sitting in the audience.  He makes his
debut tonight.
X-Pac (w/Chyna)
beats Dustin Runnels with a spinning heel kick at 5:31:
Runnels prays before the match, clueing us in on his new
Christian gimmick.  Runnels is the 1998
version of Tito Santana and is putting over all the talents that bookers have
longer term plans for.  He nearly
finishes X-Pac off, but when he goes for a bulldog, Chyna trips him and that
allows X-Pac to earn his first victory since returning to the company.  After the match, Runnels offers a handshake,
but X-Pac refuses the gesture.  Rating: 
**½ (3 for 3)
Ross interviews
Bearer from his home via satellite and Bearer promises to be at the King of the
Ring with his son.
Jerry “the King”
Lawler, who’s crown was taken by Snow last week, rants about Al Snow after the
commercial break and invites him into the ring. 
Snow comes to the ring through the crowd and is dressed like an old
woman.  Lawler says that if he gets his
crown back that he will give Snow an appointment with Vince McMahon.  After Lawler gets his crown back, Snow
receives a contract, not an appointment, that books him and Head in a tag match
against Too Much.  If Snow wins, he gets
an appointment with McMahon, but if he loses, he has to leave the company.  Snow says that McMahon just wants him to do
another job on pay-per-view and says they might as well do the match now.  Too Much rushes the ring, but Snow takes care
of them with Head and leaves.  This is a
good example of a storyline that went over the heads of most of the audience,
who were not of the smark persuasion.  3 for 4
King of the Ring
First Round Match:  “Double J” Jeff
Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) pins “Marvelous” Marc Mero (w/Jacqueline) with a DDT
after Sable distracts Mero at 4:30:
This is the first heel-heel King of the Ring match in
history and Jarrett nearly causes Mero to tear his ACL by botching a powerbomb
near the ropes.  For all intents and
purposes, Mero should have gone over here, since he was still getting heat for
the Sable feud, but Vince Russo’s affinity for Jarrett wins out and he moves on
to face Shamrock at the King of the Ring. 
Rating:  *½ (3 for 5)
Jarrett tells
Kevin Kelly that he will become the King of the Ring this Sunday.
Steve Austin’s
fight with Kane on top of the Hell in a Cell on last week’s show is the
Cinnaburst Rewind segment.
Lawler joins Ross
to do commentary for the second hour.
Kane beats The
Road Dogg with a Tombstone at 4:04:
The good thing about tag teams is that you can sacrifice
one of their members in a singles match and they do not lose credibility.  This is a prolonged squash as the Road Dogg
just manages a few token blows.  Rating: 
½* (3 for 6)
Paul Bearer
reiterates his promise to be at the King of the Ring and the Undertaker
suddenly shows up and destroys him for the second week in a row.  The live feed to Bearer’s home goes out
before we can see the end of the beating. 
The Undertaker has a great line before commencing the beating:  “Do you think I’ve forgotten where you
live?!?!”
Edge defeats Jose
via count out at 1:08:
This is Edge’s debut and his entrance has an NWO-feel to
it where a red hue covers the screen. 
The debut go as planned, though, as Edge breaks Jose’s neck with a
somersault plancha and prematurely ends the match.  Edge would never do that move again as a
result of the incident.
Kane is shown trashing
his locker room after finding out that the Undertaker has attacked his
father.  Mankind tries to restrain him in
the back.
King of the Ring
First Round Match:  Dan Severn beats Owen
Hart via submission to a modified bow and arrow at 2:59:
This match has a nice exchange of maneuvers, but there is
no psychology behind them.  Owen’s
attempt to bring a chair into the ring distracts the referee and X-Pac gives
Owen a SICK chair shot to the back of the head that enables Severn to
advance.  Owen would requires staples to
close that gash.  Severn will face the winner
of the Rock-Triple H first round match at the King of the Ring.  The “dream final” of Ken Shamrock and Severn
also stays alive.
After the
commercial break, the Nation is in the ring and the Rock challenges
D-Generation X to a fight.  DX comes out
to engage them, but WWF officials prevent a fight from breaking out.
King of the Ring
First Round Match:  The Rock defeats
Triple H (w/Chyna) with a fisherman’s suplex at 8:08:
This match lacks the heat of their future encounters and
the Rock and Chyna are more over than Triple H is as well.  Chyna tries to interfere several times to
give Triple H the match, but the Rock keeps kicking out.  What I really like about this match is that
it doesn’t have to end in a finisher, as the Rock gives Triple H a low blow and
uses a move he’s never used before to win. 
Rating:  **½ (4 for 7)
After the match,
the Nation and DX brawl as WWF officials flood the ring to break things up.
Mankind is shown
trying to comfort Kane some more in the locker room.
After the
commercial break, Mankind is in the ring and the Hell in a Cell lowers as he
cuts a promo against the Undertaker for King of the Ring.  He recaps his feud with the Undertaker and
chastises the Undertaker for attacking Paul Bearer the last several weeks.  He claims that the Undertaker’s punishment
will be within the cell and not the bars of a prison.  A great promo by Foley that put some fire
into a match that was quickly becoming an afterthought on the card.  5 for
8
Mankind beats “Bad
Ass” Billy Gunn (w/Chyna) with the Mandible Claw at 5:38:
Chyna is forced to go back to the locker room after she
attacks Mankind on the floor, which somehow isn’t enough to draw a
disqualification.  This features your usual
Foley spots and is an exciting brawl, where tries to counter Foley’s use of
weapons and aggressive style.  However,
that isn’t enough as his piledriver is reversed into a slingshot into the post
and Mankind finishes him off.  Rating: 
*** (6 for 8)
Mankind goes back
to the locker room, but can’t find Kane.
Sable comes out
and welcomes out WWF Champion Steve Austin. 
Austin sends Sable to the locker room to give Vince McMahon the
bird.  Austin is wearing his cool
baseball jersey shirt and accepts the first blood stipulation at the King of
the Ring.  He promises to bring some
cookout food for when Kane sets himself on fire after failing to win his
title.  Kane walks out and signals for
“blood” to drop into the middle of the ring and drench Austin.  This leads to a crowd chant for Austin to
kick Kane’s ass and that plays us out.  7 for 9
The Final Report Card:  There were some twists and turns in this show
mixed with some above average ring work. 
We now have new odds stacked against Austin as it will be difficult for
him to make Kane bleed and retain his title and the Undertaker continues his
quest to destroy Paul Bearer.  We also
got more of a reason to care about the Hell in a Cell match between the
Undertaker and Mankind, something that the company has been pushing
aggressively the last two weeks since they likely realized that they needed a
greater hook for a show that only had five pre-announced matches.
So our King of the Ring card is as follows:
WWF Championship Match:  Steve Austin (Champion) vs. Kane
Hell in a Cell:  The Undertaker vs. Mankind
King of the Ring Finals:  TBA vs. TBA
King of the Ring Semi-Final #1:  Ken Shamrock vs. Jeff Jarrett
King of the Ring Semi-Final #2:  The Rock vs. Dan Severn
Al Snow & Head vs. Too Much
Monday Night War Rating:  4.3 (vs. 4.1 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – June 15, 1998

by Logan Scisco

Kane and Mankind’s
beatdown of Steve Austin at the end of last week’s show is replayed.
Jim Ross and Michael Cole are in the booth
and they are live from San Antonio, Texas. 
Hell in a Cell is hanging above the ring, but Ross does not know why.

Sable walks out
and introduces Vince McMahon, who brought her back to the WWF.  A wrestling company not sticking with a
retirement stipulation?  No!  McMahon has Sable read a prepared statement
that denies his use of charitable organizations to get back at Steve Austin and
promising to bring those who attacked Austin to justice.  McMahon kisses Sable on the cheek, but before
he can leave, Austin comes out with his sights set on beating up McMahon.  McMahon begs Austin to listen to reason and
says that the Undertaker arranged Austin’s beating on last week’s show.  See, the cops that were called on him just gave
the Undertaker an excuse not to back Austin up. 
The Undertaker proceeds to come out and calls McMahon a liar.  Before the Undertaker can beatdown McMahon,
though, the lights go out and Kane and Mankind show up with Paul Bearer in
tow.  Bearer piles onto the Undertaker
accusations by claiming that the Undertaker worked with him on last week’s plan.  Bearer then challenges Austin and the
Undertaker to a tag team match in the cell against Kane and Mankind and argues
that the entrance ramp that separates them is the “highway to hell.”  The Sable part of this segment was
nonsensical, but McMahon begging for his life and planting the seeds of an
Undertaker-led conspiracy was nice storytelling.  1 for
1
Opening King of
the Ring Qualifying Contest:  The Rock
beats Vader with a Rock Bottom at 4:40:
The rest of the Nation is barred from ringside for this
bout, just like last week’s show.  Cole is
still calling the Rock the “co-leader” of the Nation, which makes no sense now
that Faarooq is no longer in the group. 
Looking back at things now, I wish they had given Vader more time off
and then had him come back as part of Paul Bearer’s faction.  It would have gelled with Vader’s post-match
promo at Over the Edge about needing to re-evaluate his career.  They also could have booked Vader to go to
the semi-finals and face Ken Shamrock in a rematch of their Cold Day in Hell
encounter.  The Rock knocks Vader out of
the ring, where Mark Henry attacks him and gives him a splash, and that allows
the Rock to advance into the tournament and face Triple H or X-Pac in the first
round.  Rating:  ** (2 for 2)
The Road Dogg
gives a scouting report to Triple H and X-Pac on how they can beat each other.
Edge is coming!
Darren Drozdov
pins “Double J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) after Marc Mero gives Jarrett a
low blow at 2:15:
During the bout, Mero and Jacqueline come out and Mero
rants about Sable’s return to the company. 
Jacqueline and Lee get into a confrontation on the floor, which
distracts Jarrett and results in Mero giving his future King of the Ring
opponent a low blow.  Droz takes advantage to notch his biggest win to date.
Billy Gunn tells
Triple H and X-Pac why they are going to stage the Match of the Year tonight.
Val Venis defeats
Chainz with the Money Shot at 4:37:
The Val Venis momentum tour continues as he dispatches
with the directionless Chainz.  They gave
this match too much time since the crowd could care less about Chainz and the
booking team wasn’t going to do anything with him after this match.  Rating:  *½ (2 for 3)
The Undertaker
tells Kevin Kelly that he can’t trust Steve Austin, but Austin can trust him
since his intentions of wanting a WWF title shot at clear.
Triple H tells
X-Pac that he can’t lay down for him since it’s the King of the Ring.  X-Pac says that he doesn’t need to take a
dive and wishes Triple H the best of luck.
Dustin Runnels
beats “Marvelous” Marc Mero (w/Jacqueline) with a bulldog at 4:08:
Returning the favor, Jeff Jarrett, Tennessee Lee, and
Southern Justice walk out during the match and Jarrett runs Mero down on
commentary.  After Mero hits a super
hurricanrana, Jarrett distracts the referee and Sable walks out to distract
Mero, enabling Runnels to score the upset. 
Classic Russo overbooking of that match, but I have to give them credit
for making the Mero-Jarrett first round match much more than TV filler.  This is Runnels first win since ditching the
Goldust gimmick.  Rating:  ** (3 for 4)
Chyna tells Triple
H and X-Pac that it’s time for their match
.
Kevin Kelly
interviews Dustin Runnels, who says he is happy with ending his losing streak
and that he needs to thank Jesus Christ for his victory.
Jerry “the King”
Lawler joins Ross to do commentary for the second hour of the show.
King of the Ring
Qualifying Match:  Triple H defeats X-Pac
by count out at 5:15:
This is X-Pac’s first match since his return to the
company following WrestleMania XIV. 
Triple H is also defending his King of the Ring title.  Chyna plays the role as a one woman
lumberjack, tossing both guys into the ring and keeping the action flowing.  The Rock distracts Triple H by cutting a
promo in the crowd and that allows Owen Hart to crotch X-Pac on the guardrail
and disable him.  Triple H checks on his
friend after the Rock’s promo and does not want to take a count out win, but
X-Pac tells him to get in the ring and take the victory.  Standard match, but it was well booked in
that it did not make X-Pac look weak on his return, advanced the DX-Nation
storyline, and pushed the King of the Ring as a big deal.  Triple H will now face the Rock in the first
round.  Rating:  ** (4 for 5)
The Undertaker’s
chokeslam spree on last week’s show is the JVC Kaboom! of the Week.
Al Snow walks out
with his old Avatar mask and Lawler confronts him in the ring.  Snow says that the Avatar gimmick was a dumb
idea cooked up by Vince McMahon (which it was) and he says that he is going to
make two citizens arrests: McMahon for attempted murder of his career and
Lawler for lewd conduct.  Lawler tries to
throw Head into the crowd, but that leads to Snow attacking him and giving a
referee in the ring a Snow Plow.  Snow
beats up a security guard and proceeds to flee into the crowd.  They are really turning their wheels with
Snow right now and they need to get to the point.  4 for
6
Steve Austin tells
Michael Cole that he can’t trust the Undertaker because the Undertaker wants
his WWF title.
Owen Hart &
Mark Henry beat Ken Shamrock & Dan Severn via disqualification when
D-Generation X interferes at 4:41:
Shamrock and Severn are reluctant partners in this match
and Shamrock doesn’t even acknowledge his partner’s presence after making his
entrance.  This is also a preview of the
King of the Ring first round, as Shamrock will face Henry and Severn will face
Owen in upcoming tournament matchups. 
Everyone looks good in this match, which features some fun technical
sequences between Owen and his face opponents, and Owen manages to put Shamrock
in the Sharpshooter, but DX interferes before Owen can get him to submit.  Rating:  **¼ (5 for 7)
After the bell,
the Nation runs out to fight DX and Vader runs out to assist DX and attack Mark
Henry.  WWF officials have to separate
everyone.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your “Don’t Trust Anybody” Steve Austin t-shirt for $25 (plus $6
shipping & handling)!
Tag Team Royal
Rumble to Determine the #1 Contenders to the WWF Tag Team Championship:  Kane & Mankind (w/Paul Bearer) win after
eliminating Terry Funk & 2 Cold Scorpio at 8:30:
This is the first tag team Royal Rumble in WWF history
and thirty second entry times are used, so the action is fast and furious.  Just like the WrestleMania XIV battle royal,
when one member of a team is eliminated, their partner must also leave the
match.  Kane & Mankind are surprise
entrants and enter as the second team, facing LOD 2000, who draws number
one.  Other participating teams are the
New Midnight Express, the Headbangers, the Disciples of Apocalypse, Kurrgan
& Golga, Too Much (Brian Christopher & Scott Taylor), Faarooq &
Steve Blackman (who seemingly love to tag together despite not wrestling that many matches as a team), Taka Michinoku & Bradshaw, and Terry Funk & 2 Cold
Scorpio.  The eliminations come slowly
and then accelerate once all of the teams have entered the match.  Funk tries to use a chair to help his team
win a title shot, but that doesn’t account for Mankind, who uses the chair to
wear out Funk and eliminate him.  Putting
Kane & Mankind in the match acted as a spoiler, since no other team could
possibly beat them, but the closing sequence with Funk and Scorpio was fun
while it lasted.  6 for 8
After the
commercial break, Hell in a Cell lowers around Kane and Mankind in the ring for
the main event.  Of course, the WWF isn’t
giving away that tag match on free TV, so we get a wild brawl instead between
Austin and the heels after the Undertaker does not show up when announced.  As Austin fights his opponents on the ramp,
Paul Bearer locks himself in the cell, but the Undertaker climbs out from underneath
the ring and beats him to a bloody pulp. 
After Austin decimates Mankind, he climbs to the top of the cell to
fight with Kane and that plays us out. 
The crowd loved every moment of this. 
7 for 9
The Final Report Card:  This show really started to move us through
the “Highway to Hell” storyline with the Undertaker accused of plotting behind
Steve Austin’s back.  Since the
Undertaker had not been a heel since early 1992, the possibility that he might
turn was a big deal at the time.  The
midcard is also developing nicely, although the Al Snow storyline is beginning
to wear thin.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.3 (vs. 4.0 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – December 22, 1997

by Logan Scisco

A video package
recaps the Legion of Doom’s legacy and their beat down at the hands of
D-Generation X and the New Age Outlaws on last week’s show.
Jim Ross, Michael
Cole, and Kevin Kelly are doing commentary and they are taped from Lowell,
Massachusetts.  Lowell’s arena is really
small, but I always liked the intimate feel it gave off on television.
D-Generation X
comes to the ring in bath robes except for Chyna.  Triple H gloats about beating down the Legion
of Doom last week and says that they aren’t happy about the New Age Outlaws
trying to take credit for it.  As a
Christmas present, DX takes off their robes and boxers to reveal thongs, which
are censored.  Commissioner
Slaughter comes out and says that Shawn Michaels needs to defend the European
title tonight and books him to face Triple H. 
Michaels and Triple H argue over that as we head to a commercial break.

Cole interviews
the Godwinns, who say that they want a title shot from the New Age Outlaws.
Opening
Contest:  Thrasher (w/Mosh) defeats Henry
Godwinn (w/Phineas Godwinn) by disqualification after Phineas interferes at
1:09:
Before this match really gets going, Phineas interrupts
the count after a flying body press and the Godwinns beat down the Headbangers
and whip them with belts before WWF officials break things up.  The Headbangers have really taken a beating
lately from all kinds of teams.
A video package
recaps Dude Love’s issues with the New Age Outlaws.
Mankind cuts a
promo from the boiler room and warns the New Age Outlaws that beatings are
ahead.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your copy of WWF the Music: 
Volume 2.  It costs $20 for CD and
$15 for the tape (plus $4 shipping & handling)!
A recap of Steve
Austin tossing the Intercontinental title off of a bridge last week is
shown.  Austin coming out at the end of
last week’s show and giving Santa Claus imposter a Stone Cold Stunner is also
played as a “RAW exclusive.”
A camera outside
of D-Generation X’s locker room overhears Shawn Michaels and Triple H arguing
.
Dok Hendrix hypes
the next Madison Square Garden card.  In
a steel cage match, Shawn Michaels & Triple H will face Steve Austin &
the Undertaker.  Also, the Rock defends the
Intercontinental title against Ken Shamrock, the New Age Outlaws defend the tag
team titles against the Legion of Doom, and Vader faces Goldust.
Non-Title
Match:  The Rock (Intercontinental
Champion w/The Nation of Domination) wrestles The Undertaker to a no contest at
7:31 shown:
The Rock is playing the appropriate role this time in
Lowell, as he was booed out of the building in February when he upset Triple H
for his first Intercontinental title win. 
The Nation use their numbers to put the Rock in control, with Kama Mustafa
doing much of the work to take vengeance for his failed efforts against the
Undertaker in 1992 and 1995.  The Rock
throws everything that he has against the Undertaker, but the Undertaker
rebounds with a chokeslam and Tombstone before the lights go off and Kane and
Paul Bearer come to the ring.  These two
showcased some good chemistry, although that never manifested in their future
bouts when the Rock rose to the top of the card.  The Rock’s selling was also really good in
this match.  Rating:  **½
Bearer proceeds to
insult the Undertaker’s parents and Kane unleashes a flurry of strikes against
him when he tries to shut Bearer up.  The
Undertaker grabs Kane by the throat, but still refuses to fight back.
As we enter hour
two, Ross and Jim Cornette take over announcing duties.
The European
championship match between Shawn Michaels and Triple H is scheduled to happen
next, but Owen Hart does a hit and run attack on Triple H during his entrance.
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 Devon, Pennsylvania.
The New Age
Outlaws are shown carefully venturing into the bowels of the arena and they
beat someone up, but it isn’t Mankind.
Marc Mero
(w/Sable) beats Scott Taylor with a TKO at 2:25:
Sable’s outfit this week is a reindeer mascot.  Taylor gets in most of the offense in the
match, but gets caught with a TKO out of nowhere and maintains his jobber
status.
After the match,
Mero gives Taylor a low blow and sets him up for another TKO, but Tom Brandi
breaks that up.  Mero appears to hurt his
knee going into the guardrail and Sable takes advantage by taking off her
reindeer outfit and she waves to the crowd in a Miss Claus outfit.
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to find out the new superstar that has signed with the WWF with
this week, new Bret Hart rumors, and why Shawn Michaels had a good time in
Hollywood!
Triple H tells the
announce team that if Shawn Michaels wants to face him then he’s going to get
all that he can handle.  He tells Chyna
that he has everything to prove by beating Michaels tonight.
Kurrgan (w/The
Jackal) defeats 8-Ball with a sidewalk slam at 2:38:
Jackal cuts a promo during the match saying that the
revolution is at hand and hyping his intellect. 
8-Ball gets Kurrgan down to one knee, but the Jackal holds his foot when
he runs the ropes and that leads to the finish.
After the match,
the Truth Commission beats up 8-Ball, but Skull runs in with a 2×4 and forces
them to flee.
The New Age Outlaws
search for Mankind continues, but they don’t find anything.
Tonight’s
Kane-Undertaker confrontation is this week’s 1-800-COLLECT Rewind segment.
Ken Shamrock
beats D-Lo Brown (w/Faarooq & Kama Mustafa) via submission to the anklelock
at 2:22:
This match has some good chain wrestling to start, but
D-Lo gets in very little offense as Shamrock rolls through him with ease and
gets the submission victory.
After the match,
the Rock comes out and runs down the UFC and offers Shamrock an Intercontinental title
shot at the Royal Rumble.  He calls off
the Nation from attacking Shamrock and says that all of those things are
Christmas gifts.  Faarooq does not appear
to be happy at having his power usurped.
WWF and European
Champion Shawn Michaels says he will take care of Triple H later tonight and
then tells Chyna that he is going to have to kick Triple H around to prove a
point.
The New Age
Outlaws are in the third part of their search and this time they find Mankind
behind some boxes and he sings Christmas carols as he beats them down.  However, numbers overwhelm him and they lock
him in a freezer.
Goldust and Luna
come out and Goldust is dressed as a Christmas tree.  Goldust reads “The Night Before Christmas” as
Santa Claus comes out and tosses candy into the audience.  Goldust doesn’t appreciate the interruption,
but continues reading until Santa gets into the ring and gives Goldust a stiff
shot with his bag of goodies.  Santa, of
course, turns out to be Vader.  Call me
crazy, but Goldust’s craziness and Vader’s stiff attack made this highly
entertaining.
European
Championship Match:  Triple H pins “The
Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels (Champion) after a lockup to win the title at
1:37:
Forced to fight each other, D-Generation X stalls and
Michaels lays down for Triple H, who pushes him down after a lockup and then
runs a few laps between the ropes before doing a slow big cover and getting the
win.  Genius booking from a storyline
perspective and I remember hating DX even more after this as a fan.
After the match,
Shawn Michaels mocks his “Lost Smile” promo, which was cut in Lowell back in
February, and DX mocks Commissioner Slaughter, who is in the entrance.  Slaughter just smiles and says that Triple H
will defend the title next week against Owen Hart.
The Final Report Card:  For those expecting a competitive main event
this show was a letdown, but the New Age Outlaws search for Mankind, the
Undertaker-Kane segment, and the Goldust-Vader interaction were entertaining segments.  The rumor for why the European title switch happened with Triple H on this show is
that Michaels refused to job the title to Owen Hart.  In terms of the Royal Rumble, the show setup
another title match between the Rock and Ken Shamrock as well.  Due to the entertaining angles and the
strength of the Rock-Undertaker match, I’ll give this show a thumbs up, but it
almost ended up in neutral territory.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.1 (vs. 3.5 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Survivor Series 1997

by Logan Scisco
Jim Ross &
Jerry “the King” Lawler are doing commentary tonight and they are live from
Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  This is the
first exclusive pay-per-view pairing of Ross and Lawler, as Vince McMahon has
given up regular commentary duties.

Opening
Contest:  “The Road Dogg” Jesse James,
“Bad Ass” Billy Gunn & The Godwinns defeat The Headbangers & The New
Blackjacks when James and Gunn are the survivors after Gunn pins Thrasher with
a flying leg drop at 15:25:
Other Eliminations:  Bradshaw pins Henry Godwinn with a cradle out
of an abdominal stretch at 3:51; Phineas Godwinn pins Barry Windham with a
lariat at 5:11; Gunn pins Mosh after countering a bulldog with an inverted slam
at 8:40; Thrasher pins Phineas with a Mosh Pit at 12:37; James pins Bradshaw
with a schoolboy at 13:44
This is the entire tag team division, Legion of Doom
excluded, as we approach the end of 1997 and when you look around it’s not that
surprising that the WWF was willing to give James and Gunn a run with the titles.  James and Gunn are actually the most over
team in the match, with Gunn booed heavily when he steps into the ring and
enduring some chants questioning his sexual preferences.  Gunn just rolls with it and gives the crowd a
one finger salute, only riling them up more. 
As it is, this match is just a vehicle to continue James & Gunn’s
rise through the tag division and give them a justification for facing the
Legion of Doom for the tag team titles later in the month.  The crowd isn’t into most of the guys in this
thing so it dies a slow and painful death and on a couple of eliminations it’s
not clear whether wrestlers are pinned or not. 
It reminds me of the accelerated Survivor Series tag match on the Free
for All the previous year.  Gunn
completely whiffs on his finishing move, which just makes it all worse.  Last year’s tag team opener with Furnas &
LaFon this wasn’t.  Rating:  DUD
Kevin Kelly and
Sunny tempt us to call the Superstar Line to find hear from the night’s winners
and losers.  I have a feeling that when
the real controversy broke out later in the evening that people were
flooding in calls, but they got little for their money.
The Truth
Commission beats The Disciples of Apocalypse when The Interrogator is the sole
survivor after pinning Crush with a sidewalk slam at 9:58:
Other Eliminations:  The Interrogator pins Chainz after a sidewalk
slam at 1:18; Skull pins the Jackal with a spinning sidewalk slam at 2:50;
Skull pins Recon after a lariat at 5:20; Sniper pins Skull with a bulldog at
6:29; The Interrogator pins 8-Ball with a sidewalk slam at 8:50; Crush pins
Sniper with a powerslam at 9:47
The good thing about the Survivor Series in this format
is that it allows you blow off factional feuds like this fairly easily.  The Truth Commission head into this at a
disadvantage because the Jackal has to wrestle to make this a true four-on-four
encounter and predictably, he’s the first man on his team to be
eliminated.  However, he just goes and
does commentary for the rest of the match, which has no heat.  On the bright side, if you love sidewalk
slams this is your match.  Before there
was the Great Khali you had the Interrogator, who was repackaged three
different times and failed to get over in any of those incarnations so
eventually the WWF let him go.  However,
this was at the time where they really wanted to make him the star of the
group, so regardless of the fact that the DOA were still cheered by parts of
the fan base, they are jobbed out again. 
By the way, this was Crush’s last WWF pay-per-view appearance before
jumping to WCW, thereby finishing up his run of futility with the company.  The reason this isn’t a DUD is that it kept a
pretty good pace.  Rating:  *
Fans share their
thoughts on who they think will win tonight’s championship match between Bret
Hart and Shawn Michaels.
Kelly hypes
America Online’s chat about the show. 
Steve Austin is participating in the chat and says that he is going
forward after his neck injury
.
Team USA (Vader,
Goldust, Marc Mero, and Steve Blackman) give a promo.  Blackman doesn’t relay much intensity, but
promo work was never his strong point.
Team Canada (The
British Bulldog, Jim Neidhart, Doug Furnas & Philip LaFon) sees Furnas
renounce his American citizenship.
Team Canada (The
British Bulldog, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, Doug Furnas & Philip LaFon)
beats Team USA (Vader, Goldust, Marc Mero & Steve Blackman w/Sable) when
the Bulldog is the sole survivor after pinning Vader after hitting him with the
ring bell at 17:46:
Other Eliminations:  Blackman gets counted out at 5:44; Vader pins
Neidhart after a splash at 7:31; Vader pins LaFon after a splash off the second
rope at 9:07; Furnas pins Mero with a rollup and holding the tights at 11:57;
Goldust gets counted out at 16:58; Vader pins Furnas after a Vader Bomb at
17:34
This is the blowoff for the 1997 feud between Canada and
the United States and it ends with more of a whimper than a bang.  The Patriot suffered a debilitating bicep
injury before the show, so he was penciled out and Blackman was put into the
match.  This is an odd match on paper
because Furnas and LaFon just returned and only one of the wrestlers on Team
Canada was actually born there, a fact that Ross brings up on commentary.  Team USA are the heels, but it’s nothing like
the dynamic that was present at Canadian Stampede four months prior.  The Bulldog does get a massive pop for
vertically suplexing Vader, though. 
Blackman is presented as the new “supreme fighting machine” (my words,
not the WWF’s) and his karate-style is put over strong and the heels have to
gang up to eliminate him.  Goldust is
brooding over family issues and has a broken hand so he refuses to tag in and
Vader tires of that and tosses him into the ring.  Goldust just decides to walk out after that,
which sets up a new feud with Vader and basically costs Team USA the
match.  The match had some fun moments, like
a great power match between Furnas and Vader, but when the Goldust-Vader issue
took over it limped over the finish line. 
Rating:  ***
Call 815-734-1161
to get a new Steve Austin t-shirt for $25 (plus $6 shipping & handling)!
Ross and Lawler
talk to Jacquelin Cook, who won the Survivor Series Super Supper Sweepstakes so
she and ten friends can have dinner with a WWF superstar.  Luckily, she picks Steve Austin and not Bret
Hart for her dinner guest.
A long video
package hypes Kane-Mankind.
Mankind says that
the next match won’t be a wrestling match because it is going to be him against
a brick wall.
Kane (w/Paul
Bearer) beats Mankind with a Tombstone at 9:29:
I’m surprised that they didn’t put this match after the
first two in order to break up the string of Survivor Series matches.  Like Sin Cara and Glacier, Kane had special
lighting for his early matches, but it makes some spots on the arena floor hard
to see.  This is Kane’s first televised
singles match and Mankind takes his usual sick bumps to get him over.  Heading in, everyone knew who the winner of
this match would be, but Mankind gives this a good effort and produces a pretty
good David-Goliath struggle.  Rating: 
**½
Michael Cole
interviews Commissioner Slaughter and Vince McMahon.  Slaughter says security has been stepped up
in the backstage area and McMahon says that Bret-Michaels will hopefully happen
tonight, since it has been cancelled several times before.  Cole asks him who is going to win, as a wink
at the smart fans, to which McMahon replies “I don’t know” which leaves you
with the impression that something is wrong. 
It just feels eerie.
Dok Hendrix
interviews Ken Shamrock, Ahmed Johnson & The Legion of Doom.
Ken Shamrock,
Ahmed Johnson & The Legion of Doom defeat The Nation of Domination when
Shamrock is the sole survivor after making Rocky Maivia submit to the ankle
lock at 20:37:
Other Eliminations:  Rocky Maivia pins Hawk with a Rock Bottom at
2:15; Johnson eliminates Faarooq with a Pearl River Plunge at 4:39; Maivia pins
Johnson when Faarooq trips Johnson and holds his leg down at 6:18; Animal pins
Kama Mustafa with a schoolboy at 10:53; Animal gets counted out at 15:00; Shamrock
forces D-Lo Brown to submit to the ankle lock at 17:12
This Ahmed-Nation issue is a little out of hand, since
this feud has been going on since the summer of 1996.  I mean we have headed into Tito Santana-Rick
Martel territory here.  Ahmed gets a measure
of revenge on Faarooq by eliminating him, but Faarooq returns the favor and
they brawl to the locker room because the feud must continue!  After those sequences, the crowd completely
dies as Animal takes the offensive.  The
only thing that wakes them up from time to time is to taunt Maivia.  As the crowd works up a “Rocky’s gay” chant,
I have to wonder what future generations will think of these fans since it is
no longer acceptable to chant those things and how editing that stuff out will
butcher future releases of this show. 
Jesse James and Billy Gunn come out and get Animal eliminated, but don’t
fear because that allows Shamrock to mount the comeback and by proxy, build up
a feud with Maivia that will carry into 1998. 
This thing had a hot start, but completely died around the eight minute
mark.  Shamrock-Maivia brought it back at
the end, but it took forever to get there. 
Rating:  *½
Cole interviews
some fans about who is going to win the WWF championship match later tonight.
A video package hypes
Steve Austin-Owen Hart
.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve
Austin beats Owen Hart (Champion w/Team Canada) with a Stone Cold Stunner to
win the title at 4:01:
This is a weird dynamic for Austin’s return, since he’s
in hostile territory but he manages a mixed reaction to show how over he
is.  Jim Neidhart tries to attack Austin
before the bell, but eats a Stunner and that allows Owen to get the advantage.  Sensing trouble, Owen tries to get counted
out and when that doesn’t work he chokes Austin with a microphone cord and
tells the referee “disqualify me” and when the referee tells him no and to
break it, Owen says “NEVER!”  Shortly
after that, Austin gets Owen in the ring and then hits the Stunner and wins the
title.  Really awkward match to watch,
but Austin came back too quickly and was very fragile.  Also, if someone broke my neck in the ring I
wouldn’t want to be out there with them very long either.  Watching this at the time, though, I had a
lot of reservations about Austin’s future in-ring career.  Thankfully, those reservations proved to be
unfounded, at least in the short term.  Rating: 
A video package
hypes Bret Hart-Shawn Michaels
.
WWF Championship
Match:  “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn
Michaels (European Champion) beats Bret “the Hitman” Hart (Champion) when Bret
submits to the Sharpshooter to win the title at 11:00:
Well, this is the infamous “Montreal Screwjob” whereby
Bret refused to lose to Michaels in Montreal and instead of running with the
agreed upon finish, which was a double disqualification, Vince McMahon had
referee Earl Hebner ring the bell when Michaels had Bret in the Sharpshooter to
cause a title change.  While this match
is tough to watch as a Bret fan, I do believe that McMahon and crew were justified
in what they did because it made no sense to have Bret forfeit the belt and
head to WCW as an undefeated champion. 
They couldn’t have run Michaels-Bret on RAW and had a title switch
there, which would have cheated the paying pay-per-view customers, so that was
off the table.  You can sense the
frustration that the WWF booking staff felt if you watch Jim Cornette’s 1997
Timeline shoot interview, as he says it was chaos trying to come up with a
reasonable finish for the match.  In the
end, all parties are to blame for what unfolded, some more than others.  Watching this match fifteen years later, with
the entrances showing both guys coming to the ring from their locker rooms, it
feels a lot like a funeral to the “Bret Hart” era that has existed in the company
since he won the WWF title in 1992.  This
match is probably the most controversial and arguably most significant match in
wrestling history, as it generated some of the momentum that led to the WWF
overtaking WCW, helped cement Vince McMahon’s status as a heel, and it still
generates a great deal of debate today.  There
is some nice continuity in the sense that five years ago when these two faced off
at the Survivor Series they both had singles titles, with Bret as the WWF
champion and Michaels as the Intercontinental champion.  As a match, it is actually a good prelude to
the Austin era since they brawl into the crowd and up the aisle before the
official bell.  The pacing is a little
slower than usual and there is only one near-fall, which might be owed to Bret
being paranoid about a fast count finish. 
It’s a little weird to rate this match, since the screwjob ended it
abruptly and before it was supposed to, but I guess you have to work with what
you have.  Rating:  ***
The Final Report Card:  The only real appeal of this show is the
screwjob, but if you hope to see any extracurriculars after the bell rings then
you aren’t going to get them on the Coliseum Video release, as the show ended
very quickly after the bell and missed Bret Hart destroying equipment and
everything else.  This is a show that you
can easily bypass as it has little redeeming value outside of the legacy of the
main event.  In fact, I would say it’s
the worst Survivor Series up to this point.
Attendance: 
20,593
Buyrate: 
0.89

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – August 18, 1997

by Logan Scisco
Vince McMahon,
Jerry “the King” Lawler, and Jim Ross are in the booth and they are in Atlantic
City, New Jersey.  There are lots of ECW
fans in the house and you can see their signs everywhere in the audience.  There are so many signs that they practically
coat the floor audience.
McMahon interviews
Rick Rude, who claims that he is a mercenary and is willing to provide
insurance to anyone willing to pay for it. 
He pledges that once he is paid he makes sure to give the intended
victim a “Rude Awakening.”
Owen Hart and the
British Bulldog deliver a taped promo against the Legion of Doom, where they
promise to deliver some punishment in advance of the Ground Zero Fatal Four
Way.
Commissioner
Sergeant Slaughter is shown arguing with Shawn Michaels in the locker room, but
no audio is provided
.

Opening
Contest:  Owen Hart & The British
Bulldog defeated The Legion of Doom when Owen pins Animal after Henry Godwinn
hits Animal with a slop bucket at 4:57:
These two teams have wrestled several times in 1997,
mostly when Owen and the Bulldog held the tag team titles and both teams are
vying for the “favorite” label heading into Ground Zero.  This is your standard television contest and
when all hell breaks loose in the ring, the Godwinns interfere and give Owen
and the Bulldog the victory.  After the
match, the three teams brawl with each other to emphasize that every team will
be for themselves at Ground Zero. 
Evidently the Godwinns-LOD issue is building for a house show taking
place in Chicago this Saturday.  Rating: 
**
Mankind cuts a
pre-taped promo saying that he is not sure if the Undertaker can trust him in
their match against Shawn Michaels and Hunter Hearst Helmsley tonight
.
Shawn Michaels
tells the announce team that he is tired of being painted into a corner.  He says that he is not supposed to face the
Undertaker until Ground Zero and that he does not want to team with Hunter
Hearst Helmsley because they are not partners.
Sunny comes out to
be the guest ring announcer for our next match because she has nothing better
to do
.
Brian Christopher
says that his loss to Taka Michinoku a couple of weeks ago was a fluke and to
prove it he is going to beat Flash Funk.
Flash Funk says
that he is not a stepping stone.
Flash Funk pins
“Too Sexy” Brian Christopher with the Funky Flash Splash at 3:40:
The sound crew messes up the ring entrances, as they play
Flash Funk’s theme music for Christopher and it does not fit Christopher’s
entrance mannerisms.  The problem with
the light heavyweight division is on display in this match as expanding the
weight limits and categories could have involved some previously established
superstars like Funk.  Of course, that
may not mean much since Funk hardly wins matches anymore, but it would at least
give some guys something to do.  When
Christopher goes for the Tennessee Jam, Lawler leaves the announce table and
tells Christopher to go for the piledriver and this distraction allows Funk to
crotch Christopher on the top rope and finish him off.  Funk has racked up a two match RAW winning
streak, but the bookers still do not have anything for him to do.  Rating:  **
After the match,
Sunny consoles Lawler over his son’s loss as McMahon and Ross hype the house
show circuit, as well as the Monday Night Raw coming from Madison Square Garden
on September 22nd.
The Undertaker
says his patience with Shawn Michaels has run out and he will settle the score
with him before Ground Zero and if Mankind gets out of line he will be taken
out as well
.
Sergeant Slaughter
and Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Chyna are showing arguing backstage, but like
Michaels segment earlier there is no audio
.
Ken Shamrock
beats The Sultan (w/The Iron Sheik) via submission to the ankle lock at 3:16:
Shamrock survives a some token resistance from the
Sultan, which includes the Iron Sheik breaking his Iranian flag across
Shamrock’s back, and then gives both of them belly-to-belly suplexes.  A hurricanrana and ankle lock get the
victory.  Rating:  *
The announce team
talks about tonight’s tag team main event
.
The Nation of
Domination, with their new acquisition Rocky Maivia, come out and demand that
Jim Ross interview them.  The crowd works
up a “Rocky sucks” chant and Faarooq tells the crowd that Ahmed Johnson was
kicked out of the Nation because he was a token black man.  Maivia says he got tired of the crowd
chanting for him to die and he became a part of the Nation for respect.  Maivia says that the Nation are not racist,
but the Disciples of Apocalypse are, and the Nation will win the respect of the
WWF through any means necessary.  Maivia
is still a little raw on the mic, but he sounds natural and conveys intensity.  The DOA appear on the Titantron and Crush
challenges the Nation to come out to the parking lot for a brawl and the Nation
accept
.
Goldust and
Marlena are shown playing with their daughter Dakota on the beaches of Atlantic
City.
Dok Hendrix hypes
the Madison Square Garden Monday Night Raw show, which will feature a triple
threat match between Bret Hart, the Undertaker, and Steve Austin.  I need to see if there is footage of that match.  Shawn Michaels will also be in attendance and
there will be a 25 man battle royal, with the winner to face the WWF champion
at the next Madison Square Garden show
.
Hunter Hearst
Helmsley and Chyna tell the announce crew that they are tired of paying for
Shawn Michaels crimes and Helmsley tells McMahon that if he wants a fight then
he has one
.
Helmsley and
Chyna’s interview is cut off as the Disciples of Apocalypse and the Nation of
Domination brawl in the parking lot, but as the groups brawl, Los Boricuas
steal DOA’s motorcycles and drive off.
“The Real Double
J” Jesse James defeats “The Loose Cannon” Brian Pillman by disqualification
when Goldust interferes at 1:46:
James gimmick is so played out that he does not bother
singing on his way to the ring anymore. 
You can tell when Ross calls these matches that he thinks this whole
storyline is ridiculous since he knows what Pillman used to be capable of in
WCW.  James plays around with Pillman, by
lifting his dress and “fondling” him, which is a little distasteful.  Pillman appears to have another match won,
but Goldust runs out, carefully elbow drops James, and costs Pillman the match.
Michael Cole
interviews Goldust on the entrance ramp and Goldust says he wants Pillman to
wear a dress for another week because he looks so beautiful.  Pillman grabs the house mic and asks Goldust
to give him one more match and if he loses that match then he will leave the
WWF forever.  However, he says that if he
defeats Goldust then he gets Marlena as his personal assistant for thirty days.  When Goldust refuses, Pillman says that
Dakota is his love child and Marlena accepts Pillman’s challenge. 
Goldust is not happy with that at all. 
Pillman’s craziness was well suited for this feud, but unfortunately it
never came full circle.
Vader says that
the next segment will see “Vader Time.”
The Patriot
defeats Vader (w/Paul Bearer) with Uncle Slam at 5:00:
The ECW-like crowd takes to Vader and cheers loudly as he
tears into the Patriot.  The Patriot hits
the Patriot Missile as Bret Hart wanders out and Vader blocks a sunset flip
with a sit down splash and focuses his offense on the upper sternum, which is
quite unique.  The Patriot blocks a Vader
Bomb with his knees and then surprises Vader with Uncle Slam to capture another
big win.  An okay big man match, but this
had several blown spots that were hard to mask. 
Rating:  **
After the match,
Bret Hart distracts the Patriot and Vader does a beat down.  Vader prepares to give the Patriot a Vader
Bomb, but Bret enters the ring and drapes a Canadian flag over the
Patriot.  Vader does not like this,
breaks the Canadian flag over his knee, and starts brawling with Bret until the
Hart Foundation interfere and do a beat down on him.  This segment makes Vader a face and he will
remain in that role until he leaves the company
.
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear updates about Steve Austin, Mark Henry, and Ahmed
Johnson, a possible managerial shakeup in the company, who is soliciting Rick
Rude’s services, and why Shawn Michaels has been seen with Brakus
.
Cole interviews
WWF Champion Bret Hart, who says that he is not scared of Vader and prefers to
face him sooner rather than later.
Owen Hart’s spinning
heel kick on Goldust on Shotgun Saturday Night is the Stridex Triple Action
segment
.
A video package
recaps Steve Austin’s neck injury.
A taped interview
between Jim Ross and Steve Austin in Philadelphia, where Austin will be
medically checked out tomorrow.  Austin
says that he was temporarily paralyzed at SummerSlam and Owen Hart has hell to
pay.  Austin says that he does not care
what the doctors say because he will be back and he will be at Ground Zero.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your VHS copy of SummerSlam 1997. 
It will cost you $23.95 (plus shipping & handling)!
Mankind & The
Undertaker defeat “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels & Hunter Hearst
Helmsley (w/Chyna) by disqualification when Michaels hits the Undertaker with a chair at 8:29:
The atmosphere surrounding this match is like a Lethal
Lottery tag match, with no one appearing to trust who they are partnered
with.  Michaels avoids the Undertaker for a while and after the Undertaker shrugs
off some of Michaels offense, Michaels bails and calls out Rick Rude, who
slowly walks to the ring when we head to a commercial break.  Mankind is placed in peril, but this match is
nowhere near the quality of last week’s singles match between Michaels and
Mankind.  A funny announcing moment
happens during the double KO segment, when Ross compares it to a mugging on the
Boardwalk, which destroys the peaceful image of Atlantic City that McMahon has
been at pains to explain during the entire show.  When all hell breaks loose, Rude attempts to
hit the Undertaker with a chair, but the Undertaker turns around and stops that
and stalks Rude into the ring.  However,
that leads to Michaels picking up the chair and smashing the Undertaker over
the head with it for the finish  This match never felt like it got going until the sick chair shot that
ended it.  Rating:  *½
After the bell,
the Undertaker gets up and reveals a nasty blade job, where you can see a clean
cut above the Undertaker’s forehead with blood dripping out. Michaels hits the
Undertaker with the chair a second time, but the Undertaker stirs from that so
Helmsley, Rude, Chyna, and Michaels all head for the locker room.
The Final Report Card:  There were some decent storyline developments
on this show, like Vader’s face turn, Rick Rude explaining who he was, and the
Pillman-Goldust feud going to a whole new level, but the main event was really
disappointing.  Still, most of the
matches were decent and that’s enough to give the show a neutral rating, since
it was nowhere near good, but was also not terrible.  By the way, due to the U.S. Open, RAW did not
air for the next two weeks, but we will review the August 29th
“Friday Night’s Main Event” that aired
 on USA.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.2 (vs. 4.0 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Neutral

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – August 11, 1997

by Logan Scisco
Jim Ross narrates
a video package that recaps the big events on last week’s show
.
Shawn Michaels
tells a camera man to get away from him in the backstage area as we go on the
air
.
Vince McMahon,
Jerry “the King” Lawler, and Ross are doing announcing duties tonight and they
are broadcasting from Biloxi, Mississippi
.

Ross interviews
Shawn Michaels, who comes out to a chorus of boos.  He still high fives fans, though.  Michaels reiterates that he does not care how
the fans feel about him and criticizes McMahon for not telling him that he
would be wrestling Mankind tonight.  The
fans work out a “Shawn is gay” chant and Michaels responds by telling them to
ask their mothers and sisters how gay he is. 
Michaels alleges that there is a conspiracy in the WWF against him and
he warns Commissioner Sergeant Slaughter not to steal his spotlight.  This obviously brings out Slaughter, who says
he is getting into Michaels business, and Michaels mocks him and tells
Slaughter that he has an insurance policy to deal with Mankind and the WWF
officials trying to mess with him tonight. 
This opening segment went too long and it closed awkwardly, but it did
continue Michaels momentum as a quasi-heel character
.
The Biloxi fans
share their thoughts about tonight’s Shawn Michaels-Mankind match.  Most fans think Michaels will win.
Hawk whips a Raw
is War barrel in the locker room to prepare for tonight’s “country whipping”
match with Henry Godwinn tonight.
Henry Godwinn
tells the announce team that he can’t wait to whip the skin off of Hawk’s back
tonight
.
Opening Country
Whipping Contest:  Hawk (w/Animal)
defeats Henry Godwinn (w/Phineas Godwinn) at 3:48
In this match each competitor has a strap and they can
use it as much as they please and it is no disqualification.  The winner is the first man who can send
their opponent out of the ring.  The
British Bulldog and Owen Hart are on commentary and they hype the Fatal Four
Way tag team match at Ground Zero, which will be for the tag team championships.  This contest starts with some decent
intensity, but quickly dies because of the limitations of the competitors.  That said, I do admire both guys for taking
some nasty strap shots to the back.  Hawk
modifies his flying clothesline finisher with the strap, but this brings
Phineas into the ring to interfere.  Of
course that brings Animal into the ring and he sends the Godwinns out of the
ring by using one of their slop buckets and it ends the contest.  They should have just made this a tag match
after going with that ending.  Rating: 
½*
Sergeant Slaughter
reminds Brian Pillman that because he lost last week that he will have to wear
a dress this week
.
Light Heavyweight
Exhibition:  Scott Putski defeats Tony
Williams with a Polish Hammer at 3:28:
Before the bout begins, Goldust and Marlena come down to
the ring for commentary and Goldust says that he and Marlena have a big
surprise and they show a hidden camera of Brian Pillman’s locker room in the
split screen.  It is basically GTV and
Pillman is shown having difficulty getting into a dress for tonight’s match and
he throws a tantrum.  Aside from the
extracurriculars, Putski puts on a good match with Williams, which Ross tries
to bring attention to, and he wins to build some momentum for his Ground Zero
clash with Brian Christopher.  Rating: 
**
After the match,
Sergeant Slaughter confronts Goldust and tells him and Marlena to head to the
locker room
.
The Undertaker
warns Shawn Michaels that he will be watching his match with Mankind tonight
and that an insurance policy will not help him at Ground Zero unless that is
burial insurance
.
Brian Pillman is
shown leaving the locker room in his dress, although all we see of him are his
legs
.
Ross hypes an
article in RAW magazine about Goldust’s identity
.
Flash Funk beats
“The Loose Cannon” Brian Pillman with a small package at 3:15:
It is somewhat eerie to hear Ross talk about how making
Pillman wear a dress is going to push him over the edge when you know that
Pillman will only be alive for another two months.  As Pillman dominates the early action, Ross
hypes the ECW Hardcore Heaven pay-per-view and Sergeant Slaughter appears in
the split screen and says that the Patriot and a mystery partner will face the British
Bulldog and Owen Hart later tonight. 
Pillman uses his knees to block a Funk moonsault, a move that always
seems very brutal to take, but when he appears to have the match won, Goldust
and Marlena come out and put Pillman’s locker room footage on the
Titantron.  This leads to the predictable
finish and gives Funk his first RAW victory in what seems like ages.  The other result is that Pillman has to wear
a dress next week on RAW.  Rating: 
*
Some kids are
shown chanting for Dude Love
.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your VHS copy of SummerSlam 1997. 
It will cost you $23.95 (plus shipping & handling)!
A video package
covers the lingering Steve Austin-Owen Hart feud.
McMahon interviews
Dude Love, who had arguably one of the best themes in the company at the
time.  Love says that Austin will soon be
back in action and gives his opinion about the Legion of Doom, the Godwinns,
and Owen Hart and the British Bulldog, who will be in the Fatal Four Way tag
team match at In Your House.  Love
predicts that Mankind will triumph over the “would be hippie” Shawn
Michaels.  Michaels appears on the
Titantron, calls Love a “nimrod,” which is his new favorite word, and hypes his
insurance policy.  After the promo,
Love’s groupies from last week hit the ring and Love dances with them.
More fans give
their opinion on tonight’s Shawn Michaels-Mankind match.  Mankind still does not get a lot of love from
the fans.  The winning response is a
blonde that says Michaels will win because he’s a “sexy boy.”
The Patriot is
shown talking with his mystery partner, who we cannot see, and he says it is
time for them to kick butt tonight
.
The Stridex Triple
Action segment is the Patriot winning a 20 man battle royal on Shotgun Saturday
Night
.
The Patriot &
Ken Shamrock defeat Owen Hart & The British Bulldog when the Patriot pins
the Bulldog after Uncle Sam on a chair at 8:01 shown:
After a small battle between the America, Canadian, and
British flags, Ken Shamrock is revealed as the Patriot’s mystery partner and he
gets the loudest pop of all the participants. 
One of the stories that they sell in the match is that the British
Bulldog is afraid of tussling with Shamrock. 
Bret Hart comes out to watch the match by the entrance as Shamrock is
placed in peril.  Shamrock escapes that
predicament with a cross body to both of his opponents.  The Patriot hits the Bulldog with the Patriot
Missile, but Owen breaks it up as Bret teases coming down to the ring.  When the referee tries to deal with some of
the chaos, Owen tosses a chair into the ring, but the Patriot delivers Uncle
Sam on the Bulldog on it and that gets the duke.  An entertaining tag match that is by far the
best match on the show tonight.  Rating: 
**½
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear about why Ahmed Johnson was kicked out of the Nation of
Domination
.
A video package
shows Bret Hart’s return to Toronto as WWF Champion and fans there spew some
pro-Bret and anti-American language
.
Shawn Michaels is
shown talking to his insurance policy, who is standing in a suit
backstage.  Any educated wrestling fan
would know who it is by their hair cut, but I’ll save the reveal for later in
the review
.
The Patriot tells
the announce team that he has beaten Bret Hart once before, but before he can
finish his jingoistic promo he is attacked with a chair by Bret.
Footage of the Nation
of Domination expelling Ahmed Johnson on last week’s show is played
.
Faarooq pins
Chainz after Rocky Maivia gives Chainz a Rock Bottom at 3:03:
The problem with wrestlers debuting as parts of faction
is that they sometimes lack an independent personality and that is the big
problem with Chainz.  It would have been
better for them to bill him as Brian Lee, but I suppose they either wanted a
trademarked name or something that was a cute fit for the Disciples of
Apocalypse.  Both men work a surprisingly
brisk pace, but Chainz blows several spots and you can tell that Faarooq
potatoes him after he gets up too early from a spot where Faarooq crashes onto
his back with his rear end.  The referee
gets bumped on a collision between both men and Rocky Maivia comes out of the
crowd, revives the referee, and then surprises Chainz with a Rock Bottom,
enabling Faarooq to win.  After the
match, Faarooq and Maivia give the crowd the Nation salute.  Rating:  *¾
-A cameraman in the
locker room records Maivia talking to members of the Nation of Domination and
the Disciples of Apocalypse trying to break into the Nation of Domination’s
locker room as WWF officials, including Sergeant Slaughter, try to restrain
them
.
Sable comes out
and gets in the ring, but the Patriot interrupts her small dance and says that
he wants Bret Hart.  Bret obliges and the
Patriot attacks him and “builds momentum” (Ross’s words, not mine).  It does not take long for the Hart Foundation
to hit the ring, though, and they pummel the Patriot and choke him with the
Canadian flag before WWF officials intervene.
Mankind promises
to really hurt Shawn Michaels tonight.
Brakus tells us
that he is ready for the World Wrestling Federation
.
“The Heartbreak
Kid” Shawn Michaels defeats Mankind with Sweet Chin Music at 8:41 shown:
For any WWE 13 fans, this is the beginning of the
Attitude Era mode of that game.  Mankind
brings a garbage can to the ring, but Michaels nails him with it, puts it on
him, and then delivers a flying double axe handle to it.  This crazy battle then spills to the floor, where Mankind hot shots
Michaels onto the guardrail and a young black kid gives Michaels a hug, which
he reciprocates.  That’s a true fan right
there.  Michaels backdrops Mankind onto
the announce table and follows up with an elbow drop off the apron, but the
table fails to break.  Michaels goes for
Sweet Chin Music, but Mankind counters with the Mandible Claw, so Michaels
counters THAT by falling to the floor and smashing the back of Mankind’s head
into the ring post several times.  He
then gives Mankind a side suplex onto the announce table and it STILL won’t
break.  Neither guy is probably happy
about that because those table bumps have not been cushioned at all.  Before the commercial break, Hunter Hearst
Helmsley and Chyna wander out and when we return from break, Michaels has taken
Mankind’s mask off and is pounding him with it. 
When Mankind begins seizing the advantage, Rick Rude, the man in the
suit Michaels was talking to backstage, wanders out and Chyna distracts the
referee as Helmsley trips Mankind when he runs the ropes and Rude bashes Mankind
with a chair.  All of that interference
makes the match academic.  It is
impossible to top the classic that these two had at In Your House:  Mind Games from 1996, but they put on an
amazing match here that completely saved the show.  The physicality displayed was amazing and
both guys came out looking good.  It
would not be a stretch to say that this is one of the best RAW matches, if not
the best, of 1997.  Rating:  ***¾
After the match,
the Undertaker comes out, but Paul Bearer appears on the Titantron and warns
the Undertaker that Kane is coming and that he is going to burn in hell.  Fire appears near the entrance way and the
show goes off the air
.
Final Report Card:  Hour one was a snoozer, but everyone turned
the switch into the “on” position for hour two and the main event makes the
show an easy “thumbs up.” 
Mankind-Michaels is definitely worth checking out as it is something of
a lost RAW classic and because of that match we have the origins of D-Generation
X.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.9 (vs. 3.8 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: SummerSlam 1997

by Logan Scisco

So after a six week
or so absence I’m back.  My reviews got
backed up because of some graduate work and some teaching responsibilities, but
we pick back up with the 1997 edition of SummerSlam.  Heading into the pay-per-view the WWF gang
wars were heating up between the Nation of Domination, Los Boricuas, and the
Disciples of Apocalypse, Steve Austin was becoming the top guy in the company,
the Undertaker’s secret of allegedly killing his mother and father was revealed
by Paul Bearer, who also revealed that the Undertaker’s brother Kane was alive,
and the Hart Foundation had lots of enemies, including, but not limited to,
Shawn Michaels, Austin, Ken Shamrock, Goldust, and the Legion of Doom.  There’s also a lingering feud between Mankind
and Hunter Hearst Helmsley that has been going on since the King of the Ring.

It should be said
that this pay-per-view has the best video package in WWF history as it discusses
how “life isn’t fair” in the WWF.
Vince McMahon, Jim
Ross, and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from East
Rutherford, New Jersey.
Opening Steel
Cage Contest:  Mankind defeats Hunter
Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) by climb out at 16:13:
Mick Foley reverts to his original WWF gimmick for the
blowoff of the summer feud with his biggest rival in the company.  Escape rules are in effect for this match and
the cage is in use to keep Chyna away, but she gets involved on several occasions
by choking Mankind with a chain and then crotching him on the top of the cage
so Helmsley can hit a superplex.  Helmsley
could leave and win after that, but refuses to do so and Mankind takes a series
of sick head-first bumps into the cage. 
In a creative spot, Helmsley locks his legs into the cage to block a
suplex when Mankind lifts him above his head, but Mankind breaks the suplex and
then crashes into Helmsley as he dangles from the cage.  When Helmsley gets caught in the ropes,
Mankind goes for the door, but Chyna slams the cage door into Mankind’s face,
tosses the referee into the steps, and tosses Helmsley a chair, but Mankind
blocks a Pedigree on it and slingshots Helmsley into the cage, which sends
Chyna, who is hanging onto the cage, into the guardrail.  Mankind climbs out, but right before he gets
to the bottom he tosses off his mask and climbs to the top of the cage, rips
open his shirt, and delivers an elbow drop off the top of it to mimic his hero
Jimmy Snuka before leaving for good. 
This was a very spot-oriented cage match and the escape rules hurt it,
as they do most cage matches, but the spots were fun and the ending sequence
sent the crowd into a frenzy.  Rating: 
***½
After the match,
as Mankind lay on the ground outside of the cage, Dude Love’s music plays over
the loud speakers and that gets Mankind back to his feet and he dances to the
back
.
Kevin Kelly and
Sunny hype the Superstar line.  Call
1-900-737-4WWF to speak to the wrestlers after their matches tonight!
Todd Pettengill
interviews New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, who gets booed out of the
building.  Whitman’s elimination of an
entertainment tax on pro wrestling led to this SummerSlam being brought to New
Jersey.  WWF President Gorilla Monsoon
presents her with a replica WWF title belt as McMahon hypes her as a possible
president, which shows how dated this show is.
Tiger Ali Singh is
shown in the crowd with Tiger Jeet Singh
.
Footage of the
SummerSlam Party in the Continental Airlines Arena parking lot from earlier in
the day is shown
.
Brian Pillman cuts
a pre-taped promo saying that he doesn’t plan on wearing a dress.
Goldust
(w/Marlena) pins “The Loose Cannon” Brian Pillman with a sunset flip after
Marlena decks Pillman with her purse at 7:16:
The stipulation for this match is that if Pillman loses
he has to wear a dress and presumably, Jim Neidhart has to shave off his goatee
since Neidhart said he would do so if any member of the Hart Foundation
lost  a match on the show.  Outside of the stipulation, there isn’t a lot
to add interest to the match, even when Pillman DDT’s Goldust on the arena
floor.  Goldust nearly breaks his neck on
a sunset flip, but he can’t abort doing the move because it’s the finishing
sequence, so he grabs Pillman’s legs until Marlena interjects herself to
produce the ending.  After the match,
Pillman throws a tantrum over having to wear a dress tomorrow night.  This match did not build any momentum and was
a big mess.  Rating:  *
Call 815-734-1161
to get your SummerSlam 1997 t-shirt for $25 (plus $6 shipping & handling)!
-The Legion of Doom
cut a promo where they tell the Godwinns that payback will be hell
.
The Legion of
Doom defeat The Godwinns when Hawk pins Henry after a spike piledriver at 9:15:
This is a small feud started when the LOD broke Henry
Godwinn’s neck a few months back on Shotgun Saturday Night.  The Godwinns go for some cheap heat by
taunting fans with a Confederate flag. 
The match gets off to a good start, as both teams brawling styles nicely
complement each other, but Phineas slows the match down in the middle.  Hawk gets the hot tag and the LOD push their
way to victory shortly thereafter.  This
would have been a very serviceable match if they had only given it five
minutes.  Rating:  *½
Pettengill, Sable,
and Sunny host the Million Dollar Challenge contest, but no one picks the
correct key to open the casket with one million dollars so no one wins, which
had to be a relief to McMahon considering the company’s finances at the
time.  There is a funny moment when one
of the contestants that they call isn’t even watching the pay-per-view
.
A video package
chronicles the British Bulldog-Ken Shamrock feud
.
European
Championship Match:  The British Bulldog
(Champion) defeats Ken Shamrock by disqualification when Shamrock nails the
Bulldog with a can of dog food at 7:27:
The special Hart Foundation stipulation on this match is
that if the Bulldog loses he will eat a can of dog food.  There is some great intensity to start the
match, as Shamrock wastes little time going after the Bulldog, but the Bulldog
slows it all down by reverting to a succession of chinlocks.  The Bulldog tosses some dog food in Shamrock’s
face on the floor and that causes Shamrock to snap and get disqualified because
a can of dog food classifies as a foreign object (or would it be an “international
object” in WCW’s case?).  After the
match, Shamrock chokes out the Bulldog and then gives Pat Patterson, Gerald
Brisco, and a host of other WWF referees belly-to-belly suplexes when they get
him off of the Bulldog.  This was much
more suited for Monday Night Raw than SummerSlam, but the crowd really got into
Shamrock going crazy.  Rating: 
**
Pettengill interviews
Shawn Michaels, who says that his issues with Bret Hart were settled at
WrestleMania XII when he beat him.  He
promises to call tonight’s main event down the middle
.
A video package
hypes the WWF gang wars, centering most of its attention on the Disciples of
Apocalypse and Los Boricuas.
Los Boricuas defeats
The Disciples of Apocalypse when Miguel Perez pins Chainz after an elbow drop
at 9:07:
Looking back, this gang wars feud did relatively little
for anyone involved in it and the big stars of this match have to be Skull and
8-Ball, who managed to stick around into late 1998 with their existing
gimmick.  Everyone else was jobber fodder
or out of the company by that point. 
Ross’s job during the match is to be a point man for who is fighting
who, since McMahon keeps messing it up, but after a few minutes Ross just gives
up.  This would have been better booked
as a street fight, since it was more in keeping with the gang wars and would
have worked around some of the limitations of the participants.  The Nation of Domination marches down to
ringside through the crowd to create another distraction and thereby prevent anything
from really developing in this match.  Chainz
is knocked out of the ring and when he punches Ahmed Johnson he is on the
receiving end of a Pearl River Plunge on the floor and Savio Vega rolls Chainz
in, where Miguel Perez delivers an elbow drop and covers for the victory.  After the match, all the gangs fight each
other before the camera crews get tired of covering it.  This was awful, as action happened in the
ring but mattered little and since it didn’t matter it was a chore to watch.  Rating:  DUD
A video package
hypes the Owen Hart-Steve Austin Intercontinental title match
.
Michael Cole tries
to interview Steve Austin on his way to the ring, but Austin tells him to get
out of his way or he is going to kick his ass.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve
Austin defeats Owen Hart (Champion) with a school boy to win the title at 16:15:
Austin continues his slow climb up the card in this match
as he gets a crack at the Intercontinental title and a chance to avenge taking
the pin to Owen at Canadian Stampede. 
This is also a quasi-“kiss my ass” match, as Austin promised to do so if
he lost to Owen in this match.  Owen
tries to immediately go for the legs, but Austin fights him off and a great
technical battle ensues with lots of counters and believable near-falls.  In the midst of Austin fighting out of a
chinlock and Owen getting out of a tilt-a-whirl, Owen delivers an inverted
piledriver, not the tombstone piledriver that the two had agreed to prior to
the match, and Austin goes noticeably limp. 
Owen tries to bide time and he taunts the crowd, which enables Austin to
carefully crawl over and weakly school boy Owen to win his first WWF singles
title.  It’s amazing that Austin was able
to finish the match in any way and this match is a reminder to all wrestlers of
the things that can do wrong in the course of a match.  That single piledriver nearly changed the
entire course of WWF history, as the loss of Austin could have destroyed an
entire year’s worth of booking and perhaps prevented the company from
overtaking WCW in 1998.  Thankfully for
Austin he was able to resume his in-ring career by November, but the neck injury
shortened his career and made him more of a brawler than the technical wrestler
he had once been.  It’s tough to rate the
match since it had to stop halfway through, but up to the piledriver it was
working up a good pace.  Rating: 
***½
After the match,
you can tell something is wrong because three officials come to the ring to
help Austin and get him to the locker room, but true to Austin form he leaves
on his own two feet and isn’t stretchered out
.
A video package
hypes the Bret Hart-Undertaker main event
.
The announcers
discuss the evening’s WWF title match
.
WWF Championship
Match:  Bret “the Hitman” Hart defeats
The Undertaker (Champion) to win the title after Shawn Michaels inadvertently
hit the Undertaker with a chair at 28:19:
There are lots of stipulations in this match.  If Bret loses, he promises not to wrestle in
the United States again.  Shawn Michaels,
Bret’s mortal enemy, is the special guest referee for this match, but if he
fails to call the match fairly then he will not wrestle in the United States
again either.  The Undertaker is sort of
the odd man out in this match, as the Bret-Shawn issue completely overshadows
him, and his title reign since WrestleMania has been lackluster and devoid of
quality opponents.  The Undertaker’s
issue with Paul Bearer has nothing to do with this match either, so his only motivation
is defending the title and while that might be enough for some, the lack of a
clear direction for the Undertaker with the title after this made a title
switch here fairly predictable. 
Continuing his metamorphosis into Nikolai Volkoff 2.0, Bret demands that
the crowd stand for the Canadian national anthem.  Bret has an entertaining spin on looking at
the WWF title before the match, as he takes it out of Michaels hands, poses
with it, and then clocks the Undertaker to kick off the match.  The Undertaker goes for Bret’s back, but Bret
survives the onslaught and targets the Undertaker’s left leg as this match
starts to resemble their 1996 Royal Rumble encounter, dead crowd and all.  Paul Bearer makes a short appearance to wake
them up and he distracts the Undertaker after a figure-four, which allows Bret to
keep the advantage.  After enduring
almost seven minutes of leg damage, the Undertaker rallies to plant Bret with a
chokeslam, but Michaels is distracted by trying to send Owen Hart and Brian
Pillman, who have wandered out to ringside, to the locker room.  Bret tries to take advantage of the Undertaker’s
anger at the lack of a count with a school boy, but that only gets two.  After enduring about ten “moves of doom,” the
Undertaker mounts a rally, forgetting the leg damage as he delivers a flying
clothesline and a leg drop, but Bret crotches him when he goes for the rope
walk and hits a superduperplex, which allows him to lock in the
Sharpshooter.  However, the Undertaker
kicks out of the move, but Bret escapes the Tombstone and locks in a sloppy
Sharpshooter with the help of the ring post. 
When the Undertaker kicks out of that, Bret goes crashing into Michaels
on the floor, but that enables Bret to grab a chair and smash the Undertaker in
the face with it.  Michaels comes into
the ring to make the count, but he gets in too late, so it’s only a two count
and Bret is not happy.  Michaels
confronts Bret about the chair, leading Bret to spit on Michaels, which hits
him in the face and not on the shirt as intended if you believe Bret’s
autobiography, and Michaels in anger swings the chair, which clocks the Undertaker
when Bret ducks and Bret captures his then-record tieing fifth WWF championship
when Michaels reluctantly counts the pin. 
I did not care for the Undertaker forgetting some of the psychology as
the match went along, but this match still told a great story of Bret trying
his conventional offense and when it didn’t work descending into heel tactics
and when that faltered, using Michaels hatred of him to his advantage to win
the contest.  This match also set up a
great fall feud between the Undertaker and Michaels, of which Bret would get
inserted at the end, thereby becoming the odd man out like the Undertaker was
in this contest.  Rating:  ****
The Final Report Card:  This show is quite hit or miss.  The bad stuff is bad, but the good stuff is
quite good and when the show finishes you remember more about the good than the
bad, mostly because Austin-Owen and Bret-Undertaker are memorable contests and
you don’t forget Foley jumping off the cage early in the night either.  That alone makes this a thumbs up.
Attendance: 
20,213
Buyrate:  0.80
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – June 30, 1997

by Logan Scisco

-Jim Ross narrates a video
package about the Undertaker, who will have his secret revealed tonight by Paul
Bearer.
Vince McMahon,
Jerry “the King” Lawler, and Jim Ross are doing the announcing duties and they
are broadcasting from Des Moines, Iowa
.
Hunter Hearst
Helmsley and Chyna cut a pre-recorded promo, where Helmsley says he might be
facing the World’s Most Dangerous Man, but he is bringing the World’s Most
Dangerous Woman with him.

Opening
Contest:  Ken Shamrock defeats Hunter
Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) with a belly-to-belly suplex at 4:38:
Helmsley surprisingly gets in ninety percent of the
offense in this match, with much of it being fists, kicks, and chokes, and
Chyna continues her streak of making a mark by throwing Shamrock into the
steps.  However, Mankind wanders out and
that distracts Helmsley and enables Shamrock to pick up the victory.  A throwaway opener, but it sets up
Mankind-Helmsley for Canadian Stampede.  Rating: 
*
A video package
reviews the Ahmed Johnson heel turn and the emergence of the WWF gang
wars.  Ross says that Ahmed had to have
knee surgery this week and Ahmed says that when he comes back he’s going to go
right after the Undertaker.
Michael Cole makes
his Raw debut by interviewing the Legion of Doom in the locker room.  The LOD say that no one has come close to
beating them legally in their WWF tenure and they are ready for Faarooq and
D-Lo Brown tonight.
Sunny has money in
her cleavage to hype the One Million Dollar Challenge contest that is
affiliated with the SummerSlam pay-per-view.
Tag Team
Tournament Semi-Finals:  Faarooq &
D-Lo Brown (w/Kama Mustafa) defeat The Legion of Doom when Faarooq pins Hawk
after Henry Godwinn nails Hawk with a bucket:
The Godwinns appear near the entrance to watch the
contest and D-Lo faces less of a size disadvantage than he did in the Nation’s
first round match last week.  The match
proceeds along at a brisk pace and the LOD give D-Lo a Doomsday Device, but the
Godwinns interfere and the Nation scores a major upset to make the finals.  Rating:  ¼*
McMahon interviews
Faarooq and Faarooq demands to know why one of the members of the Nation did
not get Ahmed Johnson’s scheduled title match with the Undertaker at Canadian
Stampede.  When he is told that Vader is
getting the shot, Faarooq argues that Vader is getting the shot because he’s
white and that the DOA was sent to injure Ahmed by the Undertaker.  Well that would explain why the Undertaker
starting riding a bike in 2000.  Savio
Vega interrupts the promo and says that he is out for revenge and Savio’s gang,
the soon to be called Los Boricuas, interfere and fight the Nation.  When WWF officials get that settled, DOA
comes out to the biggest pop of all the groups and join the fight.
Cole tells us that
the Legion of Doom have left the building and he is interrupted by Los
Boricuas.  Savio introduces his gang and
says that they are in the WWF to kick ass.
Film of Sunny’s
photo shoot for Raw magazine is shown and this includes photos of a liaison
with Brian Pillman
.
Footage of Jerry
Lawler piledriving wrestlers is shown because he is Brian Christopher’s mentor.
“Too Sexy” Brian
Christopher beats Scott Putski with a rollup after Jerry Lawler interferes at
3:37:
This continues the series of light heavyweight matches
that have been on Raw for the last few weeks. 
It is somewhat surprising that Putski didn’t establish a more regular
role with the company at this time because he had a good look and was competent
in the ring.  The crowd really isn’t into
this, but the WWF was misguided in just throwing light heavyweights out there
and thinking the crowd would react.  The
crowds did that in WCW because the cruiserweights were flying through the air
and throwing out tons of insane spots. 
The WWF did not have those kinds of wrestlers, so they needed to give
these guys some mic time and semblance of storylines to make people care.  Putski appears to have the match won with a
splash off the top rope, but Lawler interferes and trips Putski when he tries a
running powerslam and his son wins.  This
was perfectly acceptable and had a good pace, but the screwjob finishes are
getting excessive this evening since this is our third in a row.  Rating:  **
After the match,
Lawler and Christopher give Putski a spike piledriver and cut a brief
promo.  Lawler throws some ethnic slurs
at Putski’s Polish heritage and Christopher stumbles through his part.  This appears to be setting up a future tag
team match between Lawler and Christopher and the Putskis.
Steve Austin’s
imitation of Hulk Hogan in ECW, which is on the video Cause Stone Cold Said
So
is played for the audience.
-The Undertaker is
in the locker room and he tells fans that they are going to hear a slanted
version of the worst night of his life and it’s a night that changed him
forever.  He tells fans not to let their
minds to be poisoned by Paul Bearer and to give him a chance to tell his side
of the story.
Ross narrates a
video hyping the appearance of the Great Sasuke at the Canadian Stampede.
Brian Pillman apologizes
attacking a fan on Shotgun Saturday Night, which got him banned from that
show.  He also apologizes for being the
voice of reason and being willing to tell it like it is.
“The Loose
Cannon” Brian Pillman defeats Mankind via count out at 6:01 shown:
Mankind is still wearing the “Pick Me Steve” sign,
although he’s not wearing an Austin 3:16 shirt. 
Mankind gives Ross a present at the announce table, which ends up being
a Mandible Claw hand.  Pillman just takes
it out of Ross’s hand and drives it into Mankind’s face and then proceeds to
tear up his sign.  Steve Austin appears
in the split screen and says that he doesn’t want to team with Mankind because
he sucks.  The storyline in this match is
that Pillman is losing his mind after getting fired from Shotgun Saturday Night
and he tries to stab Mankind with a pencil, which is interrupted by Earl
Hebner.  We get a fun brawl, but when
Mankind applies the Mandible Claw, Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Chyna interfere
and when Mankind chases after them he gets counted out.  That brings our screwjob streak to four.  Rating:  **
Paul Bearer says
that he looks forward to revealing the Undertaker’s secret tonight
.
McMahon interviews
Bearer, who is attacked by a fan on his way to the ring.  Since it only takes a camera man to take the
fan away, I would venture to say that it would have to be a plant.  Bearer says that he was an apprentice for the
Undertaker’s father at a funeral home for two years, but he noticed that the
Undertaker as a child had the look of the devil.  Despite this, the Undertaker’s younger
brother Kane followed his around everywhere and Bearer starts getting a little
ridiculous talking about them smoking cigarettes behind a barn.  He said when he came back from college
classes one night, the funeral home was burned down and he says the Undertaker
did it and killed his family.  The lights
flicker in the arena as we go to a commercial break.
Vader is shown
congratulating Bearer backstage on revealing the secret.
Sable models the
cash for the Million Dollar Challenge and Marc Mero is not happy about it.
Tag Team
Tournament Semi-Finals:  Owen Hart &
The British Bulldog defeat The Headbangers when Owen pins Mosh with a roll up
at 4:07:
With the Legion of Doom eliminated, the tag team
tournament has become a mere formality, as it is quite inconceivable that Owen
and the Bulldog would do the job here or in the finals.  Bret Hart calls into the show from Calgary
and he hypes the Canadian Stampede pay-per-view.  The phone interview takes all the attention
away from the match, in which both teams evenly trade offense, but the Bulldog
crotches Thrasher when the Headbangers try to do their flying leg
drop-powerbomb combination to Owen and Owen rolls up Mosh to advance his team.  Rating:  *½
After the match,
Jim Cornette congratulates his former team and tells them that he wants to
introduce his new team that never made it in time for the tournament and the
men he brings out are the Headhunters. 
Owen and the Bulldog quickly leave, though, so the Headhunters square
off with the Headbangers in an awkward exchange, which ends with the
Headhunters delivering a flying headbutt and moonsault to their new foes.  This never led to anything.
The Undertaker
addresses his fans from the locker room and says that the funeral home did burn
down.  He says Kane and he were playing
with matches and they were punished by his father, but he says that Kane
probably burned it down because he saw him with embalming liquids as he headed
off to do his chores.  He claims to have
returned from his chores to see that the funeral home had burned down.  He then says that the event put him on a path
of walking in darkness and absorbing the power of death.
Vader (w/Paul
Bearer) defeats Rockabilly (w/The Honky Tonk Man) by disqualification when the
Undertaker interferes at 24 seconds:
So we go from a great deal of discussion about death and
people burning alive to the Rockabilly theme. 
That’s quite a mood shift.  Vader
no sells a guitar shot to the back at the beginning of the contest, but before
Rockabilly can endure a major beating, the Undertaker runs out and then goes
after Bearer.  The Undertaker tells
Bearer to tell the world the truth and Bearer tells him that Kane is alive and
told him that the Undertaker burned down the funeral home.  After that revelation, Vader hits the
Undertaker from behind and runs away.  I’m sure the Internet liked Vader playing a cowardly heel in 1997.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your copy of Cause Stone Cold Said So for $19.95 (plus $6
shipping & handling)!
“Stone Cold”
Steve Austin beats Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart by disqualification when Bret Hart
interferes at 8:10 shown:
This is a small rematch from a few weeks back when these
two men faced each other and Austin won in less than two minutes because of a
disqualification.  Austin shows off his
anti-hero persona by grabbing the ropes on abdominal stretch.  During the commercial break, Bret Hart
attacks Ken Shamrock, the only member of Austin’s team at Canadian Stampede in
the building, backstage.  The match never
seems to click, with Neidhart using lots of rest holds, even though he does
take a bump on the entrance ramp for Austin. 
Unsurprisingly, Bret runs out and interferes and puts Austin in the ring
post figure-four until Mankind rushes out to break it up by putting Bret in a
Mandible Claw and that plays us out.  Rating: 
¾*
The Final Report Card:  This show had its moments, with the
revelation of the Undertaker’s secret, but the rest of it was a chore to sit
through.  The closing segment was fun,
but the Austin-Neidhart match was not and the tag team tournament matches were
rushed and did nothing for any of the participants.  The screwjob finishes also got tiresome by
the end of the evening.  The first thumbs
down effort for Raw in a while, but they have a good pay-per-view coming up
that we will discuss next week.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.5 (vs. 3.3 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – June 9, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Vince McMahon and
Jim Ross are in the booth and they are live from Hartford, Connecticut.

Opening
Contest:  The Legion of Doom & Ahmed
Johnson defeat The Nation of Domination (w/D-Lo Brown & Clarence Mason)
when Ahmed pins Faarooq after a Pearl River Plunge at 6:06:
Savio doesn’t care to give the Nation’s salute prior to
the match and that creates a beef between he and Faarooq.  The crowd is hot for this opener and the
booking of the match helps as the faces dominate much of the action.  The match continues the storyline of the
Nation falling apart as Savio and Crush are too distracted to tag in to help
Faarooq because they are jawing too much with Mason and walk out on Faarooq
after he confronts them.  Faarooq also
gets some nice hang time when taking the Pearl River Plunge from Ahmed.  This was a really entertaining squash to
start the show.  Rating:  **
Hunter Hearst
Helmsley, carrying the King of the Ring crown, and Chyna are interviewed by
McMahon.  Helmsley says that he should
have been the King of the Ring last year, but missed out because of McMahon’s
politics.  Helmsley says that it’s his
time to rise to the top of the World Wrestling Federation.  He issues an open challenge to the locker
room and Mankind appears on the Titantron. 
Mankind asks for a rematch from the King of the Ring and comes out, but
gets attacked with the crown by Helmsley. 
Helmsley did okay with this promo time, but some of his exchange
demonstrated his lack of acting skills at this stage of his career.
Sunny models as
Raw is War t-shirt, which you can buy for $25 (plus $6 shipping & handling)
by calling 815-734-1161!
Footage of the
British Bulldog winning the European championship in the winter is shown
.
European
Championship Match:  The British Bulldog
(Champion) and Goldust (w/Marlena) wrestle to a double count out at 7:14 shown:
This is the first European title defense on RAW and
McMahon hypes it as a big deal.  I
suppose that the booking team realized that it made little sense for the Bulldog
to have a title that was never defended on television.  This is a methodical match, which has been
the Bulldog’s forte when he’s not facing a technically gifted opponent, and it
ends with a really weak double count out, as both men mindlessly brawl after
Goldust ends up outside of the ring following a body press.  Rating:  ½*
After the match,
the Bulldog hot shots Goldust on the steps and goes to hit him with a chair,
but Marlena gets in the way.  As the
Bulldog tries to decide whether to use the chair, Ken Shanrock rushes the ring
and slams the Bulldog and the two tease a confrontation before the Bulldog
decides to leave.
Dok Hendrix is
outside of the Nation of Domination’s locker room and we can hear them arguing
in there.  Faarooq storms out of the
locker room and tells Hendrix that he is going to the ring to talk.  Hendrix goes to talk to Crush and Savio Vega
and Savio rants in Spanish and Crush tells Hendrix that the Nation is fine
.
Ross interviews
Faarooq and some black members of the Nation. 
Faarooq says he rescued Savio Vega and Crush’s career, but they just
stabbed him in the back so he fires them from the Nation.  Faarooq then fires the other flunkies in the
Nation except D-Lo Brown, which includes Clarence Mason.  Faarooq promises that a new Nation will be
formed that will be more powerful and loyal to him.  Faarooq challenges Ahmed Johnson and the
Undertaker to a tag team match on next week’s show so that they can become the
first victims of the new Nation
.
Footage of Steve
Austin “Pillmanizing” Brian Pillman’s ankle in October 1996 is shown
.
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear more about what is going on between Shawn Michaels and
Bret Hart!
Paul Heyman and
Tommy Dreamer are shown walking through the crowd
.
The Headbangers beat
Doug Furnas & Philip LaFon after Thrasher pins Furnas when LaFon
inadvertently splashes Furnas at 3:34:
Furnas and LaFon are continuing their “most exciting team
in the history of the WWF” gimmick, which is just incredibly lame and
unbecoming of the structure of their team. 
I’m really not sure what the logic of giving them this gimmick was other
than the WWF just giving up on both guys and realizing that they weren’t going
to make it in the tag division.  If
anything, LaFon and Furnas would have been nice additions to the Hart
Foundation, but they are really out of place in a heel role without a manager.  There isn’t anything wrong with this match
except for the finish, which is botched since Thrasher and Furnas are too far
from the opposing corner.  Rating: 
*½ 
Jerry Lawler is
with Rob Van Dam in the back and Lawler tells McMahon that ECW doesn’t want Van
Dam to compete, but he’s going to tonight
.
Clips of the
infamous gun incident between Pillman and Austin from late 1996 are shown.
McMahon and Ross
recap the entire show thus far.
McMahon interviews
Steve Austin, who comes out to an explosive reaction.  McMahon says that Austin’s attack on Brian
Pillman last night at the King of the Ring was unbecoming, but Austin says it
brought a smile to his face.  Austin says
he’ll kick Pillman’s ass all over the ring tonight and he volunteers to be part
of the five man team to face the Hart Foundation at the Calgary Stampede and
that he’ll wrestle the Hart Foundation five-on-one if he has to.  This is a great promo because it sets up two
matches and appeals to the American fan base, which sees Austin as a hero, and
makes Austin come off as a heel to the Canadian audience, which was the Hart
Foundation’s center of fan support
.
In an interesting
piece, the WWF uses pieces from its AOL website to show how great the King of
the Ring was.  It’s like Twitter before
there was Twitter
.
Rob Van Dam
(w/Jerry Lawler) defeats Flash Funk with a split legged moonsault at 4:28:
During Van Dam’s entrance, Dreamer tries to attack Van
Dam with a chair, but is held at bay by WWF officials.  Funk is falling into Koko B. Ware territory,
as he’s an entertaining act that hasn’t won a match over a significant opponent
for a while.  Both guys showcase their
aerial offense, which is a refreshing change of pace on the show, and put
together a solid match that would be more than acceptable by Nitro
cruiserweight standards.  Rating: 
**½
After the match,
Heyman hopes the guardrail to attack Lawler, but Lawler beats him down and
Dreamer hops the barrier and brawls with Van Dam.
Ken Shamrock comes
out to do commentary for our next match.
Non-Title
Match:  Sid pins Owen Hart
(Intercontinental Champion w/Jim Neidhart) after a chokeslam at 4:13:
This is a match that was made following the King of the
Ring six man tag, where Owen pinned Sid to win the match for his team.  Sid makes one guy’s day who has “Sid is God”
painted on his chest by giving him a fist bump. 
Owen works the leg, which is the only strategy he can realistically try,
and when Neidhart interferes Shamrock is outraged, so he gives Neidhart a
belly-to-belly suplex on the floor which is an impressive sight and generates a
big crowd reaction.  Left to his
longsome, Owen can’t fight off the “Master and Ruler of the World.”  I’m puzzled by this booking because Sid was
on his way out of the company, but it did make Shamrock look like a bad
ass.  Rating:  **
Sable comes out to
model the Raw is War t-shirt.  However,
Marc Mero comes out and gets her after she’s nearly finished her seductive
dancing routine.
The final part of
Mankind’s interview with Jim Ross is shown and Ross said that he felt really
helpless at the end of the interview and wished he had not taken the
assignment.  Mankind says that he wishes
Vince McMahon took him while he was good and he thinks of that when he applies
the Mandible Claw to an opponent.  It is
a rather dark interview, as Mankind talks about pain and suffering.  This is the interview where Mankind puts Ross
in the Mandible Claw at the end and Ross sells it like death
.
Rockabilly (w/The
Honky Tonk Man) beats Bart Gunn with the Shake Rattle N’ Roll at 2:53:
So we go from something very serious to Rockabilly.  Talk about the contrasts in 1997 booking.  The alleged storyline here is that the Honky
Tonk Man got the match signed so Rockabilly could move on to other feuds.  See, that’s what made this particular era
nice.  Nearly every match had some type
of issue behind it and didn’t appear random. 
A slow, glorified squash that gives closure to the Smoking Gunns feud,
which has to constitute one of the most subdued blowoffs to a feud in WWF
history.
The Hart
Foundation is shown talking strategy in the back before they chase off the
camera man
.
Steve Austin
“Pillmanizing” Brian Pillman’s ankle on Superstars in October 1996 is the Super
Soaker Rewind segment
.
Steve Austin comes
down to wrestle Brian Pillman, but the Hart Foundation attacks him.  Mankind runs out and makes a small save and
then runs into the ring and starts to wrestle Pillman, which sets up this bait
and switch match…
Mankind defeats
“The Loose Cannon” Brian Pillman by disqualification when Owen Hart interferes
at 5:12 shown:
You can tell throughout this match that the crowd is not
happy that they did not get Austin-Pillman. 
The match is a train wreck, as it builds little momentum for either
guy.  The reception of the match is so
poor that McMahon and Ross are forced to acknowledge it on commentary.  Mankind applies the Mandible Claw, but the
Hart Foundation intervenes and Austin and Shamrock come out and force the Hart
Foundation to flee.  Rating:  ¼*
After the Hart
Foundation flees, Austin gives Mankind an evil eye and gives Shamrock a Stone
Cold Stunner as we go off the air
.
The Final Report Card:  This show was building nicely until the
swerve at the end that was disappointing for all parties.  The WWF was really testing some of its fans
by hyping Austin-Pillman twice but not delivering the match.  There were some good points of storyline
development throughout the show, with the Nation of Domination breaking up and
starting a reformation and Ken Shamrock starting a grudge with the Hart
Foundation, but there wasn’t much else to report.  I might’ve gone thumbs up before the bait and
switch at the end, but instead I’ll go neutral this week.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.2 (vs. 3.4 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Neutral

What the World Was Watching: King of the Ring 1997

by Logan Scisco

As more evidence
that the Undertaker was playing second fiddle to other superstars during his
title reign, the Steve Austin-Shawn Michaels match got top billing heading into
this show and it appears on the cover of the video cassette box.
Vince McMahon and
Jim Ross are in the booth and they are live from Providence, Rhode Island
.

Free for All:  The Headbangers defeat “The Real Double J”
Jesse James & Bart Gunn when Thrasher pins Gunn after a powerbomb-flying
leg drop combination at 5:42 shown:
The Headbangers were still trying to make a mark on the
company at this point.  They had received
a few title matches with Owen Hart and the British Bulldog, but had never
broken through.  However, you could
really call them the fourth most established time on the roster at this point
behind Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin, Owen and the Bulldog, and the Legion of Doom.  James and Gunn have nothing going on for them
in the midcard, so they are thrown as a sacrificial lamb to the Headbangers in
this opener.  The Headbangers work a dry
heat segment on James and finish Bart off quickly when he comes in after the
hot tag.  Rating:  *
Now onto the show…
Opening King of
the Ring Semi-Final Contest:  Hunter
Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) defeats Ahmed Johnson with a Pedigree at 7:42:
Ahmed has really been off his career track since winning
the Intercontinental championship at last year’s King of the Ring and Ross and
McMahon hype him as the odds-on-favorite, which is the sweet kiss of death in
wrestling circles.  For those that
followed the RAW reviews leading up to this match, these two faced each other
in the first round, which Ahmed won, but Helmsley was reinstated into the
tournament on a legal technicality and qualified after beating Crush.  The crowd is solidly behind Ahmed and he
completely dominates the match.  However,
Chyna distracts Ahmed and Helmsley hits a knee lift and a Pedigree, his only
offensive moves of the match, and advances to the finals.  This was a huge let down for the crowd, who
really enhanced the match prior to the finish. 
Rating:  *½
The Honky Tonk Man
and Sunny hype the Superstar line.
-Todd Pettengill
interviews Jerry “the King” Lawler and Lawler denies that he cheated to beat
Goldust to get to the semi-finals. 
Lawler calls him an idiot and walks towards the ring insulting the
crowd.
King of the Ring
Semi-Final Match:  Mankind beats Jerry
“the King” Lawler with the Mandible Claw at 10:22:
You could easily make the case that Mankind has the
easiest semi-final draw in the history of the King of the Ring tournament to
this point.  Mankind gets on the house
mic and tells the crowd that Paul Bearer has forgotten about him, but he isn’t
going to let that stop him from becoming the King of the Ring.  Mankind even works a “bang, bang” into his
promo to pay tribute to his past as Cactus Jack.  Lawler wrestles this one like he is in the
Memphis Coliseum by stalling and using the phantom object trick.  Lawler also utilizes an interesting strategy
in going after Mankind’s severed ear. 
Mankind takes a few risky bumps by plowing head-first into the ring
steps and then having Lawler toss his head back into the guardrail.  Lawler then piledrives Mankind on the floor,
which would’ve made Mankind a dead man in Memphis, and even pulls out a
dropkick.  However, Mankind kicks out of
a piledriver and after a tepid comeback catches Lawler with the Mandible Claw
when Lawler tries a sunset flip to advance. 
This match was better than I remember it being and Lawler really brought
his working boots for this one.  I’d
actually argue that Mankind was the one that hurt the match by not
matching some of Lawler’s intensity.  Lawler’s
King of the Ring record goes to 0-4 after this match.  Rating:  **
Ken Shamrock is
shown playing around in the AOL chat room
.
-Pettengill
interviews Brian Pillman if he feels responsible for tonight’s match between
Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels and Pillman says of course.  Pillman says that he also came to the show to
see Michaels beat up Austin, but Austin sneaks behind him and beats him up in
the men’s restroom.  We conveniently get
a camera shot of Austin giving Pillman a swirlie.
Goldust
(w/Marlena) defeats Crush (w/The Nation of Domination) with a DDT at 9:58:
Savio Vega is absent from ringside, which was probably a
request from Crush considering the tensions between the two lately.  Providence has some really dedicated fans who
yell “jailbird!” at Crush, something the WWF hasn’t encouraged since the later
half of 1996.  These two haven’t had good
matches in the past and this is no exception with Crush working a reverse
chinlock for nearly three minutes.  After
that he transitions to a nerve hold.  The
Nation tries to make some moves on Marlena to distract Goldust from a rally,
but Goldust floats over a gorilla press attempt and gets a victory.  Crush hasn’t won a match in what feels like a
century and you can tell that he isn’t very motivated.  This gives Goldust some momentum heading into
his match with the British Bulldog tomorrow night on RAW for the European
championship.  Rating:  DUD
Sable comes out
with a King of the Ring inflatable chair. 
Call 915-734-1161 to get your version for $59.99 (plus $11 shipping
& handling).  I really want to know
how many people bought these overpriced things. 
Howard Finkel sits in the chair, nearly falling out of it, and Sable
gives him a massage
.
Dok Hendrix
interviews Sid & The Legion of Doom about their match with the Hart
Foundation tonight.  Hawk promises that
they will serve a cold dish of revenge. 
Animal asks Sid if he’ll be there for a tag and Sid says not to worry
about him because he’s the ruler of the world.
Pettengill
interviews the Hart Foundation (Jim Neidhart, The British Bulldog, and Owen
Hart) about the six man tag tonight and the Bulldog says that his team will win.  Owen says that the LOD’s Halloween costumes
aren’t going to cut it tonight.  Neidhart
says he’s crazier than Sid
.
The Hart
Foundation (The British Bulldog, Owen Hart & Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart) defeat
Sid & The Legion of Doom when Owen pins Sid after a flying sunset flip at 13:37:
This is Sid’s return to pay-per-view since WrestleMania
XIII and this is Jim Neidhart’s first WWF pay-per-view since the 1994 Survivor
Series.  Sid is massively over and he’s
well suited to compete in a match like this where he doesn’t need to do a lot
and the other side can carry the workrate. 
The tepid reaction that the LOD are getting shows that their return has
not been very successful and they are living on borrowed time in the tag
division.  Everyone works in their
favorite spots in this contest, with Hawk no selling a piledriver from the
Bulldog, Owen slingshotting Neidhart off the apron for a shoulder block on
Animal, and Owen and Neidhart pulling some additional double teams from their
New Foundation days.  Sid eventually gets
the red hot tag and becomes a one man juggernaut, but when he goes to powerslam
the Bulldog, Owen surprises him with a flying sunset flip and scores a
surprising pin.  This was much better
than you’d expect and kudos to whoever laid this match out.  Rating:  ***
Steve Austin’s victory
speech at last year’s King of the Ring is shown
.
Pettengill
interviews Mankind, who appears to be nursing a neck injury from his match with
Jerry Lawler earlier in the evening. 
Mankind says he can’t wait to be king.
1997 King of the
Ring Finals:  Hunter Hearst Helmsley
(w/Chyna) defeats Mankind with a Pedigree at 19:27:
So the weakest King of the Ring tournament of all-time
closes with this match.  Ross won’t shut
up describing Helmsley as a “thinking man’s wrestler” and “cerebral.”  “Thinking man’s wrestler” must mean boring
because the first seven minutes of this match go nowhere and the crowd is dead.  That’s not surprising when you consider that
the crowd wanted Ahmed Johnson to destroy Helmsley in the semi-finals and they
are still lukewarm to the Mankind face turn. 
A large “boring” chant breaks out at the ten minute mark, as well as a
small chant for Sabu.  Things finally
pick up a few minutes later as Helmsley takes a back drop on the cement and
Mankind hits the Cactus elbow off the apron. 
Chyna interjects herself after a double arm DDT, a Mandible Claw, and
pulls Hunter out of the way of a Mankind dive from the apron to save Helmsley
and the crowd is all over her for that.  However,
she’s not tossed from ringside despite doing all of that in front of the
referee.  Helmsley Pedigrees a maskless
Mankind through the American announce table and Chyna blasts Mankind with a
septer, which makes Randy Savage’s blast on the Ultimate Warrior from the 1991
Royal Rumble look like a child hitting another with a plush toy, but it takes
another Pedigree to put Mankind away.  The first half of this match was horrid, but
things got much better after that point and make you forget the first half of
the match.  The match did a good job
putting over Mankind’s face turn and generated significant sympathy heat for
him.  It also sowed the seeds for the Helmsley-Mankind
feud that would dominate the summer of 1997. 
Rating:  **½
After the match,
Helmsley receives his royal garb for winning the tournament from Pettengill and
he blasts Mankind several times with the crown
.
A video package
hypes tonight’s Shawn Michaels-Steve Austin match
.
Bret Hart and
Brian Pillman come out with the Hart Foundation for the six man tag team match
and he puts over the skills of the Foundation. 
Bret announces that the Hart Foundation is challenging any five WWF
superstars to a match at the Canadian Stampede pay-per-view and Bret says he
will return at that pay-per-view.  Bret
wants to do color commentary, but WWF officials force him to leave.
Hendrix interviews
Steve Austin, who says that Shawn Michaels knows he’s the captain of the tag
team and puts over the tag team championships.
-Hendrix interviews
Shawn Michaels, who says he really doesn’t want to face Austin since they are
champions.  He seems a little annoyed
that some people think their upcoming match might be a classic
.
WWF Tag Team
Champions Collide:  “Stone Cold” Steve
Austin and “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels wrestle to a double
disqualification at 22:34:
The WWF billed this as the first time that sitting tag
team champions faced each other on pay-per-view, which is really tortured logic
to sell a match that really doesn’t need it. 
The opening of the contest is disrupted by a Special Olympian falling
over the guardrail, but to Michaels credit he helps the guy out.  This one starts with a prolonged feeling out
period and one of the more interesting spots in the beginning is Austin
countering a Michaels Thesz press with an inverted atomic drop.  The crowd is equally divided between the two
men and the breakdown is as you would expect with the female crowd backing
Michaels and Austin being supported by the men. 
After a series of momentum changes, we get a ref bump and Austin hits
the Stunner.  Austin gets fed up with
that and gives a Stunner to the referee after he brings him to his feet, but
eats a Sweet Chin Music shortly after that. 
A second referee runs down, but he checks on the first referee instead
of counting the fall, so Michaels nails him with Sweet Chin Music in
frustration.  Out of this we get a double
disqualification after referee Earl Hebner runs out and simulates the moves
that both guys have done to the referees. 
WWF officials prevent the two from continuing their struggle, but they
continue to argue after the match.  The
crowd works up an audible “Austin” chant, which isn’t bad for a guy whose King
of the Ring tournament victory in 1996 was greeted with crickets.  This was a great match with a hot crowd and
is an underrated technical match from this period.  A clean winner would have been nice, but
Michaels wasn’t jobbing to people during this time and the WWF wasn’t going to
feed Austin to Michaels with the momentum he was building with the crowds.  Rating:  ****
Pettengill
interviews Faarooq and the Nation of Domination and Faarooq says he will make
history tonight and become the first black WWF champion.
Hendrix interviews
WWF Champion The Undertaker and Paul Bearer. 
Hendrix tells the Undertaker that his fans will always love him, but
Bearer hijacks the interview before the Undertaker can speak and tells the
Undertaker that he’ll do what he says tonight
.
WWF Championship
Match:  The Undertaker (Champion w/Paul
Bearer) pins Faarooq (w/The Nation of Domination) after a Tombstone at 13:44
The WWF did what they could with the storyline for this
match, but it is really tough to play a controversial race angle when the title
is being held by a guy with a dead man gimmick. 
This would Faarooq’s only appearance in the main event as a singles
competitor in the WWF.  Bearer plays an
interesting role in this match as he critiques every little thing that the
Undertaker does.  The Undertaker has an
interesting take on the rope walk spot by launching himself into the Nation
when he is attempting to give Faarooq the move. 
Like Chyna helping Hunter Hearst Helmsley tonight, the Nation keeps
interfering to keep Faarooq in control of the match.  During the match, Crush takes issue with
Savio Vega interfering in the match and Faarooq has to try to play
peacemaker.  This distraction allows the
Undertaker to surprising Faarooq with a Tombstone and retain.  After the match, the Undertaker chokeslams
Savio and Crush.  This was good for a RAW
match, but it wasn’t really pay-per-view caliber.  Still, it was a better match than the one they
had on RAW in March.  Rating: 
**
After the match,
Bearer tells the Undertaker to give Faarooq three chokeslams.  The Undertaker doesn’t want to do it, but he
is forced to comply.  All the while
Bearer wears the WWF championship belt over his shoulder and acts like he’s hot
stuff.  Ahmed Johnson runs down and confronts
the Undertaker about his relationship with Bearer and when the Undertaker tries
to attack him, Ahmed gives him a Pearl River Plunge.  This confrontation makes me wish that Ahmed would not have gotten hurt so that we could’ve had an
Undertaker-Ahmed match at the next pay-per-view.
The Final Report Card:  The first half of the card doesn’t offer
much, but the second half puts out a surprising six man tag that you can appreciate
if you have followed the careers of the Hart Foundations crew, a nice match between
Michaels and Austin, and a King of the Ring final that cemented Mick Foley’s
face turn.  The main event shouldn’t have
been the main event, but this is during a time when the WWF champion closed the
show more times than not.  A lot of
reviewers don’t care for this show, but I didn’t find it to be tedious or
inoffensive.  The Providence crowd was
hot and made even the most mundane matches interesting.
Attendance: 
9,312
Buyrate: 
0.50
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – June 2, 1997

by Logan Scisco

McMahon recaps
last week’s tag team championship main event and the events that unfolded after
the match.  McMahon also recaps the
Undertaker’s interaction with Paul Bearer at the end of last week’s show.
Vince McMahon and
Jim Ross are in the booth and they are broadcasting from Huntington, West
Virginia.  This is the go home show for
the King of the Ring pay-per-view
.

The Undertaker
comes out and says that while it would’ve been great to break Paul Bearer’s
neck last week, it wouldn’t have helped him out of his present
circumstances.  The Undertaker talks
about how he knows he won’t go to hell after he’s dead because he’s living it
now, thereby destroying the last vestige of the original Undertaker
gimmick.  The Undertaker says that he’s
having to take on Bearer as his manager, but hopes he burns in hell for all
time.  This is such a great spin on the
manager-wrestler relationship, with a wrestler being forced to take on a
manager that he absolutely loathes.  Predictably,
Bearer comes out and he’s not happy and he reprimands the Undertaker for
cutting a promo without his approval. 
Bearer talks about how he and the Undertaker are going to rule the
world, which brings out Sid, who is making his return from a back injury.  Sid calls Bearer a “fat man” to a massive pop,
showing that Sid can get a pop for the stupidest phrases, and he puts over the
Undertaker’s title reign.  However, Sid
says he can’t respect the Undertaker after he took back Bearer and he demands a
rematch for his WWF title for tonight and promises to powerbomb the Undertaker
to hell.  The Undertaker accepts without
hesitation.  Just when you think that’s
over with, the Nation of Domination comes out and Faarooq says that a black man
is going to rule the WWF by next week’s show. 
He also says that the Undertaker is a weak man for giving into Bearer.  A crazy, yet effective opening segment that
showed some psychological vulnerability of the Undertaker for the first time in
his career.
Ahmed Johnson says
that Faarooq may have plans to be the first WWF champion but that isn’t going
to happen because he’s going to take him out tonight
.
A video package
hypes the opening bout between Faarooq and Ahmed Johnson
.
Opening
Contest:  Faarooq (w/The Nation of
Domination) defeats Ahmed Johnson after Ahmed is thrown into the ring steps on
the floor at 3:07:
This is yet another battle in the continual struggle
between Ahmed and Faarooq.  Ahmed
showcases a nice array of power moves, but the Nation of Domination intervenes
to turn the tide.  The Undertaker comes
out to lend Ahmed a hand, but the fighting on the floor sees the Undertaker
inadvertently whip Faarooq into Ahmed, who then collides with the ring steps
and the astute Faarooq rolls Ahmed into the ring to get a cheap win on his way
to the King of the Ring main event this Sunday. 
There just wasn’t a lot here.  Rating: 
*
After the match,
Ahmed gets into the Undertaker’s face and gets a chokeslam for his efforts.
Steve Austin’s
attack on Bret Hart at the end of last week’s show is played
.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your King of the Ring inflatable chair for $59.99 (plus $11 shipping
& handling)!  I had the worst of luck
as a kid with inflatable things, as they usually got a hole within the first
week and then you had to try to duct tape them back together after refilling
them with a vacuum cleaner.
McMahon interviews
the Hart Foundation.  Bret is back on
crutches after Steve Austin’s attack at the end of last week’s show and McMahon
brings WWF Tag Team Champions Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin onto the
Titantron.  Bret says he won’t face
Michaels at the King of the Ring because of his renewed injury.  Michaels isn’t happy that Austin ruined his
match with Bret at the King of the Ring, but Austin says he doesn’t care
because he tried to take Bret out for good. 
Michaels and Austin continue to jaw and Michaels heads towards Austin’s
locker room and they argue about who needs who the most.  The Hart Foundation confers in the ring after
seeing these events and Brian Pillman proposes that Michaels take his place at
King of the Ring against Austin and Austin says that’s fine and he’ll face
Pillman on the RAW after King of the Ring.
Footage of Bob
Holly upsetting Owen Hart in a non-title match on RAW two weeks ago is shown
.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  Owen Hart (Champion
w/The Hart Foundation) defeats Bob “Spark Plugg” Holly via submission with the
Sharpshooter at 3:16:
If they wanted to make Holly a credible threat was it
really a wise move to job him to a debuting D-Lo Brown on last week’s
show?  At least we have an
Intercontinental title match with some backstory.  This is Holly’s first crack at the
Intercontinental title since 1995, when he faced Jeff Jarrett in an
entertaining series of matches on the Action Zone and actually held the belt
for a few minutes before then-WWF President Jack Tunney vacated his
victory.  This is a technically
proficient match, but they have to rush things since we are now in the Russo
era and most matches can’t go over four minutes.  Owen counters a Holly hurricanrana attempt
with a powerbomb, which is the same mistake Holly made on last week’s show, and
quickly finishes Holly off to retain the title. 
Rating:  **
Shawn Michaels
says that he will take on the challenge of facing Steve Austin at the King of
the Ring
.
A video recaps the
second part of Mankind’s interview with Jim Ross last week
.
The Headbangers,
the Honky Tonk Man, and Jim Cornette try to set a Super Soaker ambush for
Sunny, but she gets them with a three way shot from her Super Soaker.  Sunny’s lack of acting skills are really
exposed in these commercials
.
Footage of Chyna
attacking Hunter Hearst Helmsley after she was blinded by powder from Marlena
the last time Helmsley faced Goldust on RAW is shown
.
#1 Contenders
Match for the European Championship:  Goldust
(w/Marlena) defeats Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) with a schoolboy after
heel miscommunication at 3:49:
Goldust facepaint makes him appear like the second coming
of The Stalker.  The winner here gets a
shot at the European title next week on RAW. 
Ross tries to sell this as an equal feud, but Helmsley has won most of
the television encounters.  Goldust and
Helmsley exchange some basic moves until Chyna grabs Goldust on the apron.  Marlena then goes after Chyna and Helmsley
accidentally gives Chyna a high knee, which knocks her off the apron, and that
enables Goldust to score the upset. 
McMahon acts like Goldust has accomplished some kind of career goal by
getting to face the British Bulldog for the European title next week, but it’s
hard to buy since Goldust hasn’t come out and said that he wants to win the
European championship.  Helmsley doing
the job may not make sense because of his place in the King of the Ring
tournament, but it showcases some vulnerability and might make fans think he
and Chyna would have a blowup that would cost him his semi-final match with
Ahmed at the pay-per-view.  Rating: 
*
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to find out about a photo shoot some WWF superstars did recently
.
Shawn Michaels
hurricanrana on the British Bulldog is the Sega Slam of the Week
.
The Legion of Doom
cut a brief promo and Hawk promises that they are going to send Shawn Michaels
teeth down Austin’s throat
.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  The Legion of Doom
defeat “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels & “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
(Champions) by count out at 6:58 shown:
I wonder if one of the reasons for the Michaels-Austin
pairing was allowing McMahon to compare the crowd reactions of Michaels and
Austin since they made separate entrances. 
Michaels bumping is a tad overdone in the early stages of this one as he
is clotheslined out of the ring, leaps into the guardrail, and then flops like
a fish until he ends up on top of Austin. 
The crowd is pretty divided between both teams, but it seems like the
LOD has a few more supporters in the arena as several “LOD” chants break out
during the match.  Michaels and Austin heel
it up by nailing Hawk with a tag title belt behind the referee’s back, but it
fails to get a three count.  The Hart
Foundation wander down to ringside and Michaels confronts them (after flying
out of the ring after taking a right hand) and Austin does not appreciate
that.  The tag champions end up brawling
on the floor and that gives the LOD a victory without the belts to irritate the
crowd.  This was a good carry job by
Michaels and Austin since the LOD added very little to the match’s value.  Rating:  **¾
We are shown the
third part of Mankind’s interview with Jim Ross.  Mankind discusses the Cactus Jack character
and competing in death matches in Japan.
King of the Ring
First Round Match:  Mankind defeats Savio
Vega (w/The Nation of Domination) after heel miscommunication at 3:02:
Jerry Lawler joins the commentary team because he faces
the winner in the semi-finals.  For the
first time in his WWF career Mankind elicits some cheers from the crowd during
his entrance and thereby begins the process of a face turn.  McMahon reveals that Mankind is confused why
Paul Bearer doesn’t want to manage him anymore. 
Savio really steps up his game for this match and hits an awesome
looking flying body press onto Mankind on the floor.  Lawler goes on a hilarious rant on commentary
about the size of Mankind’s house and links it to Mankind jumping off the roof
of his house as a kid.  Mankind traps
Savio in the Mandible Claw, but when Crush tries to give Mankind a heart punch
to break the hold, Mankind moves and Crush nails Savio in the head and that
advances Mankind in the tournament.  That’s
the third screwy finish tonight for those keeping score at home.  Rating:  *¼
After the match,
Savio and Crush brawl in the ring and Faarooq, instead of trying to play
peacemaker, walks off
.
McMahon and Ross
run through the King of the Ring card for this Sunday
.
Sable comes out to
model the inflatable King of the Ring chair. 
Seeing Sable try to act seductive around an INFLATABLE CHAIR is
hilariously bad.  Ross lets us know that
the chair can seat “a wide body.”
-The Undertaker
chokeslamming Ahmed Johnson earlier in the show is the Super Soaker Rewind
segment
.
Non-Title
Match:  The Undertaker (WWF Champion
w/Paul Bearer) defeats Sid with a Tombstone at 4:47 shown:
Sid made it seem in his opening promo that this was for
the title, but Howard Finkel announces it as non-title, so I guess he was
wrong.  This is as slow as their
WrestleMania match, as these two guys just don’t have good chemistry with each
other, but at least they aren’t being given twenty minutes tonight.  The Undertaker hits a flying clothesline out
of nowhere and gets the victory with the Tombstone before he’s quickly beaten
down by the Nation.  Sid tries to help
out, but he’s overwhelmed as well.  I
found little redeeming value in this and it made Sid look quite weak
(not that the WWF was banking on his value anymore).  Rating:  DUD
Tune in next week
to see Steve Austin square off with Brian Pillman!
The Final Report Card:  This RAW card was absolutely stacked, as we
got another battle between Faarooq and Ahmed, a quasi-dream match for the tag
team titles, and a WrestleMania rematch between Sid and the Undertaker.  Despite that, though, this show still didn’t
defeat Nitro.  The show went downhill
after the tag team title match, which started the second hour, but I’m still
going to award it a thumbs up because the storytelling in hour one was nicely
done.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.3 (vs. 2.5 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – May 19, 1997

by Logan Scisco
We return to May
1997 after I missed posting a review because of a hectic work schedule.
Vince McMahon narrates
highlights of last week’s interaction between Bret Hart and Shawn
Michaels.  Off-air footage of Michaels giving
Bret Sweet Chin Music and Steve Austin rescuing him from a beat down by the
Hart Foundation is shown.
-Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are coming to us from Mobile,
Alabama.
Steve Austin comes
out to be interviewed by Jim Ross. 
Austin points out that he doesn’t care about Shawn Michaels, but came to
his aid because the Hart Foundation turned its back to him.  Shawn Michaels comes out, dressed like a member of the Village People, and Michaels says he doesn’t care about
Austin either.  Michaels runs down his
accomplishments, but Austin is unimpressed and they brawl until WWF officials
hit the ring and separate them.  The Hart
Foundation, minus Bret Hart, appears on the Titantron and Owen challenges
Austin and Michaels to a tag team title match against he and the Bulldog on next week’s show.  Michaels and Austin
have a fun fight over the microphone and argue over how they’ll face Owen and
the Bulldog with another partner, with Austin pulling out the best line in saying
that he’ll get “someone who’s 75 pounds or 75 years old,” and they brawl some
more.  Great mic work from both guys and
they did a great job selling the animosity between their characters
.
-Ross and Lawler
tell us that the King of the Ring tournament is going to continue tonight, but
Vader will not be facing Crush and there is a surprise for who takes his place
.

King of the Ring
First Round Match:  Hunter Hearst
Helmsley (w/Chyna) defeats Crush (w/The Nation of Domination) after Savio
accidentally crescent kicks Crush at 3:55:
Vader was taken out of this match because of injuries
suffered at the hands of Ken Shamrock in their match at In Your House.  As a result, Hunter Hearst Helmsley was
plugged in, which was hardly the surprise that viewers were looking forward to.  Gerald Brisco says that Helmsley is allowed
back into the tournament because he was informed last week that the only way to
advance in the tournament was by pinfall or submission.  This booking of the tournament always puzzled
me.  If Helmsley was always supposed to
win, why book him to lose in the first round and then put him back into the
tournament?  Despite this being the
Attitude Era, a heel-heel matchup like this was still unusual for the time and
the crowd doesn’t know what to make of it. 
Helmsley does a great job bumping for Crush and it easily makes for
Crush’s best match in awhile.  In a fun
finish, both guys call for help, but Nation miscommunication costs Crush the match.  Rating:  *¼
After the match,
Savio and Crush argue with each other and Faarooq has to run into the ring as a
mediator.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your Austin 3:16 shirt for $20 (plus shipping & handling)!
Non-Title
Match:  Bob “Spark Plugg” Holly defeats Owen
Hart (Intercontinental Champion w/The British Bulldog & Jim Neidhart) with
a small package at 3:33:
Fans, interviewed outside of the arena, wish the best to
Holly because he is fighting in his native Alabama.  Lawler makes sure to wreck that, though, by
interviewing two Alabamians who aren’t too bright.  Holly’s race car driver gimmick is really out
of place with the Attitude Era, as it is a relic from the WWF Dark Ages.  The crowd is hot for the match, since Holly
is the hometown guy, and this match reminds of you of the old NWA title matches
where the champion faced the hometown favorite. 
Owen and Holly run through some smooth sequences and Owen goes for the
Sharpshooter, but Holly surprises him with a small package and scores the
upset.  Holly brought this match up a
couple of years later on the “Raw is Owen” episode and mentioned how Owen
volunteered to do the job for him in his hometown.  Remember the days when the WWF made sure not
to job people out in their hometowns?  Rating: 
**¼
The Undertaker
says that it is time to address Paul Bearer and he tells him there are some
events that are better to have never seen the light of day
.
Sunny advertises
the newest Super Soaker by squirting Jim Cornette
.
Shawn Michaels
tells Jim Ross that he has found a partner to face Owen Hart and the British
Bulldog next week and that is Ken Shamrock
.
Part one of Jim
Ross’s “shoot” interview with Mankind is shown. 
These interviews really changed Mick Foley’s career in the WWF as he was
getting lost in the shuffle of the midcard at the time that these interviews
were done.  This interview plays Foley
jumping off of his house doing the Superfly Splash, which is credited with
sparking the backyard wrestling craze. 
Foley discusses how he was ostracized as a kid and ate strange things
.
Lawler tells
viewers that Rob Van Dam can’t come back on RAW because Paul Heyman enacted
legal proceedings after Van Dam appeared on last week’s show and squashed Jeff
Hardy
.
Scott Taylor
defeats Leif Cassidy with a small package at 2:40
This is Taylor’s “debut”, even though he had been a
jobber for the company for years prior to this. 
This can be aptly called a light heavyweight contest, as Cassidy pulls
out a suicide dive and Taylor pulls off a slingshot body press to the arena
floor.  Cassidy appears in control of another
match, but when he goes for a suplex-facebuster combination for the second
time, Taylor surprises him with a small package.  Cassidy continues his descent into madness
after the match.  This was good while it
lasted.
Austin
accidentally walks in on Sable, who is in the midst of changing.  Austin says he’s just looking for a tag team
partner.
Bret Hart arrives
at the arena, having recently upgraded to crutches, and he’s flanked by the
other members of the Hart Foundation
.
We get our first
taste of the WWF recapping events multiple times in the same show, as the
Bret-Shawn interaction from last week’s show is replayed
.
Vince McMahon arrives
in the announce booth to do commentary for hour two of the broadcast
.
The Hart
Foundation comes out and Bret Hart is here to announce his surprise.  Bret says that Shawn Michaels is going to
return to action at the King of the Ring and he says that since he’s going to
return at the King of the Ring they might as well have a match.  Bret challenges Michaels to a match, where if
he doesn’t beat Michaels in less than ten minutes that he will never wrestle in
the United States again.  Michaels
appears on the Titantron and says that Bret couldn’t beat him in an hour at
WrestleMania in 1996, so he’s insane to think he can beat him in ten.  Michaels proposes that the Hart Foundation be
present at ringside and each of them be handcuffed to a ring post to ensure
they don’t interfere.  Michaels busts out
his infamous “Sunny days” comment, which obviously peeves Owen and the Bulldog,
and Bret accepts the challenge
.
Rockabilly (w/The
Honky Tonk Man) defeats Goldust by disqualification after Goldust hits Honky
Tonk Man with a guitar at 4:00:
Before his match, Goldust has Marlena and his daughter
Dakota come to the ring, but Dakota doesn’t quite follow the routine on the
microphone she’s supposed to.  I guess
that’s to be expected since she’s two years old.  Goldust busts out some Dusty Rhodes
mannerisms and moves like the bionic elbow.  Goldust intercepts the Honky Tonk Man
when Honky tries to attack him with the guitar and he smashes it over Honky’s head.  Somehow,
this gets Goldust disqualified despite Honky not being an active participant in
the match.  This match was actually going
to somewhere before that stupid finish.  Rating: 
*
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to find out who has been romancing “Psycho” Sid!
McMahon interviews
Ahmed Johnson about what he thinks about Faarooq playing the race card.  Ahmed says he doesn’t appreciate the question
and he says that Faarooq is telling the truth when he says that a black man
hasn’t gotten a shot lately at the title. 
Ahmed promises to be the Hank Aaron of the WWF and be the first black
WWF champion
.
The Brooklyn
Brawler tells Steve Austin that he should pick him to be his partner.  Austin isn’t impressed, tosses the Brawler into
the Raw set, and tells him he’s a big loser. 
Austin chooses Harvey Wippleman as a partner instead, which is just
hilarious
.
Faarooq (w/The Nation of Domination)
defeats “The Rock” Rocky Maivia with a Dominator at 2:45:
It’s a battle between the current and soon to be leader
of the Nation of Domination and Maivia dominates much of the action.  Maivia hits a beautiful Rock Bottom on
Faarooq and its insane to think that someone had not made him change that to
his finisher yet.  Maivia goes for his
flying body press, but Faarooq crotches him and hits his only big move of the
match, his finisher, to win.  The Nation
comes into the ring to beat up Maivia after the match, but Faarooq calls off the
dogs to the surprise of everyone.  Maivia
looked really good here, arguably better than he had in a while and this match
made him look like a very credible challenger to the main event talent.
Backstage, the
Hart Foundation are shown attacking Bob Holly
.
McMahon interviews
WWF Champion The Undertaker who calls out Faarooq for playing the race
card.  There’s something about the
Undertaker character talking about race that is really awkward.  The Undertaker tells McMahon that it is not
the time to talk about Paul Bearer’s secret. 
A bandaged Paul Bearer appears on the Titantron and discusses being at
the Undertaker’s parents burial.  The
Undertaker is left speechless for the first time of his career as Bearer threatens
to expose his secret unless the Undertaker comes back to him.  The Undertaker says he needs more time, so
Bearer promises to give him seven days to consider his options.
-:”Stone Cold”
Steve Austin defeats Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart by disqualification when Brian
Pillman interferes at 1:44:
Brian Pillman comes out to do guest commentary and it
doesn’t take long for Austin to drag him over the announce table and dump him
onto the arena floor.  Pillman doesn’t
take kindly to that and he attacks Austin with a crutch and the Hart Foundation
pounds away on Austin until Shawn Michaels makes the save.  This makes some sense in storyline terms, but
the WWF really needs to watch out for these run-in finishes at the end of shows
because it is becoming very predictable.
Ross announces
that WWF President Gorilla Monsoon has ordered Austin and Michaels to team up
next week against the Hart Foundation for the tag team titles.  Neither Austin or Michaels are happy about it
and they end the show as they started it, by fighting each other as WWF
officials try to separate them.
The Final Report Card:  The backstage vignettes provided some
hilarity for the evening and the show does have some historical context because
of the “Sunny days” comment, which precipitated a real fight between Bret and
Shawn.  That fight cancelled their
planned King of the Ring contest, which had to anger the WWF brass since they
were likely banking on a big buyrate for the show.  The Undertaker-Bearer storyline remains well
done, but it is being overshadowed by the Bret-Austin-Michaels feud
.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.1 (vs. 3.6 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: In Your House: Cold Day in Hell

by Logan Scisco
Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Richmond, Virginia
.

Free for
All:  Rockabilly (w/The Honky Tonk Man)
defeats “The Real Double J” Jesse James with a DDT at 3:10:
Talk about the very definition of a lower midcard
match.  This is the continuation of the
Rockabilly-Jesse James feud, which is a feud that seems very out of place by
1997 standards.  I caught the clipped
version of this match on YouTube and its very tolerable because it eliminates
some of Rockabilly’s slow offense.  The
DDT Rockabilly delivers at the end of the match is vicious.  This was a simple squash for Rockabilly, but
it’s not like he was going anywhere with this 1980s-style gimmick.  However, I have to ask again:  If they were going to push Rockabilly why did
they job him out in his first match a month ago?  Rating:  ½*
The Hart
Foundation tells Jim Ross that they have procured front row tickets for
tonight’s event and they bought them from scalpers outside of the building.
Now onto the
pay-per-view…
Opening
Contest:  Hunter Hearst Helmsley
(w/Chyna) pins Flash Funk with a Pedigree at 10:02:
The Funkettes had been axed because of budget cuts, but
the storyline explanation was that they were afraid of Chyna and decided not to
show up.  Interestingly enough,
Helmsley’s Titantron still shows the lady friends he was bringing to the ring
in 1996.  Helmsley’s small feud with Mankind
began the previous night on Shotgun Saturday Night, when Chyna gave Mankind a
low blow to help Helmsley get out of the Mandible Claw.  Predictably, Chyna interferes several times
to put Helmsley in control of the match. 
Helmsley does a better job mixing up his offense, but the crowd is still
bored until Funk starts flying around on his comeback.  Funk goes for the Funky Flash Splash, but
Helmsley crotches him and delivers a brutal super side suplex to set up a clean
victory.  After the match, Chyna crotches
Funk on the top rope.  A good opener, but
Funk looked much more impressive than Helmsley. 
That’s not who got the push, though. 
Rating:  **
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear from the winners and losers of tonight’s matches.  It’ll cost you $1.49 a minute!
Ross interviews
Ken Shamrock on the Titantron and Shamrock says that although he was attacked
by Vader and Mankind on the Free for All, he isn’t going to be shaken.
-Todd Pettengill
interviews Rocky Maivia, who admits that success may have come too soon but
says that he has learned a lot.  Maivia
says that tonight’s match is about his determination and not his destiny.  You can sense more attitude in these promos
from Maivia, which is foreshadowing the Rock character.
Mankind defeats
“The Rock” Rocky Maivia with the Mandible Claw at 8:47:
This was supposed to be Sid-Mankind, but like the last
pay-per-view Sid was not available, so Maivia was plugged into this spot to
give us a battle of the future Rock N’ Sock Connection.  Mankind was on the verge of a face turn
through the shoot interview segments with Jim Ross that were aired on RAW,
while Maivia was quickly plummeting down the card after a disastrous run as
Intercontinental champion.  There’s
another small story behind this match and that is that Mankind eliminated
Maivia from the Royal Rumble in January, so Maivia is trying to get a small
measure of revenge here.  The crowd boos
Maivia each time he is on offense, but they do pop for him giving Mankind a
Rock Bottom on the entrance ramp.  Both
guys are really trying to raise the status of this match to more than a run of
the mill midcard match, but the crowd is having nothing to do with it.  Maivia hits his finishing flying body press,
but Mankind has a great counter by applying the Mandible Claw and gets the
victory.  Foley wrote in his book that
after this match he told some guys in the back that the WWF should cut Maivia
loose because he just “didn’t have it”, but I think that isn’t justified if you
watch this match.  You can see glimpses
of a future star in Maivia, but he was in desperate need of a repackaging.  Rating:  **½
Buy your Austin
3:16 t-shirt by calling 815-734-1161 and then paying $20 (plus shipping &
handling)!
Crush losing the
gauntlet match to Ahmed Johnson on Raw is shown
.
Pettengill
interviews Ahmed, who says that he is used to overcoming the odds.
Gauntlet
Match:  The Nation of Domination defeats
Ahmed Johnson when Faarooq pins Ahmed after a Dominator at 15:45:
The stipulation here is that if Ahmed wins the Nation of
Domination will be forced to disband.  At
the time, this seemed to be the final blowoff for the never ending Ahmed-Nation
feud.  Prior to the bell, WWF President
Gorilla Monsoon throws the Nation of Domination out of ringside and says that
only one wrestler will be allowed in the ring at a time.  This shows Clarence Mason’s legal ability has
really been in decline since 1995 because the old Mason would’ve outmaneuvered
Monsoon and forced Ahmed to defeat ten members of the Nation as they surrounded
the ring with billy clubs.  Ahmed and
Crush run through a DUDesque encounter that last five minutes, with Ahmed
countering the heart punch with a spinning heel kick and pinning him.  Savio gives it a go and the crowd grows
restless about the lack of action ten minutes into the contest.  Savio lasts seven minutes in a match that
wouldn’t crack ½* and when it appears that he’s going to lose, he grabs a chair
and wears Ahmed out with it to set up Faarooq’s entry into the match.  Faarooq shows that his separated shoulder
injury was a rouse, but Ahmed catches him with a Pearl River Plunge, of which
Faarooq inexplicably kicks out, drawing the biggest heel reaction of the night
thus far.  Faarooq quickly recovers and
finishes an exhausted Ahmed shortly thereafter to keep the Nation of Domination
intact.  This told a good story during
its last three minutes, with Savio weakening Ahmed and Ahmed  being too exhausted to secure a victory, but
it took forever to get there and it made this match a great cure for
insomnia.  Rating:  ½*
A recap is
provided for the issue between Ken Shamrock and Vader
.
Pettengill
interviews Vader, who says that his attack on Shamrock earlier in the evening
was a way to play with his mind
.
No Holds Barred
Match:  Ken Shamrock defeats Vader by
submission with an anklelock at 13:23:
The only way to win this match was by knockout or
submission and this was an excellent way to debut Shamrock, since it provided a
transition from his UFC background to the squared circle of the WWF.  Vader was also an ideal opponent, since he
was seen as the toughest guy on the roster. 
Shamrock doesn’t have his awesome theme music yet and it’s more
befitting a late 1980s jobber than the World’s Most Dangerous Man.  Vader always loved stiff matches and he gets
all he can handle from Shamrock, who goes Antonio Inoki on Vader’s legs.  Vader counters that with Memphis, as he
continually rolls out of the ring to avoid Shamrock’s offense.  Although this is a work, it is a smooth one
and they do a good job mixing in brawling and MMA-style offense with
professional wrestling moves.  During the
last couple of minutes, Shamrock just absolutely mauls Vader, which is
something that professional wrestling fans had never seen before and when Vader
tries to pose over Shamrock after knocking him down, Shamrock surprises him
with a takedown and finishes with the anklelock, which legitimately messes up
Vader’s ankle and puts him on the shelf for a couple of weeks.  This wasn’t your conventional wrestling
match, but it was a breath of fresh air when compared to other things
on the card.  Rating:  ***
Pettengill
interviews Steve Austin, who says that after he defeats the Undertaker he’s
going to go after the Hart Foundation, who will be at ringside for the WWF
title match
.
Pettengill
narrates some highlights of Steve Austin’s interactions with the Undertaker the
last couple of weeks
.
WWF Championship
Match:  The Undertaker (Champion) pins
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin with a Tombstone at 20:09:
Oddly enough, this is the only title match on the entire
card.  WWF history is a funny thing
because a year after this pay-per-view it would be the Undertaker coming to
Austin’s aid in an attempt to help him keep the WWF title.  The Hart Foundation comes out and takes their
positions in the front row and Austin has a hard time keeping his concentration
on the Undertaker.  Austin wears down the
Undertaker’s legs and the Undertaker responds in kind.  The problem with this is that neither guy
really sells the leg damage long enough and it renders a good sixty percent of
the match meaningless.  Even Ross is
forced to drop his euphemisms for a boring match.  Austin and Hebner have a fun sequence where
Austin flips off Hebner behind his back and Hebner reciprocates when the
Undertaker tosses Austin across the ring. 
Austin hits a Stunner after a hot shot, but Brian Pillman hops the
guardrail and rings the bell prematurely and this changes the momentum of the
match to allow the Undertaker to reverse an Austin Tombstone attempt into his
own version and retain the belt.  A lackluster
main event that does few favors for the Undertaker, as he receives a mixed reaction
when he’s announced as the winner and he eats a Stone Cold Stunner at the end
of the broadcast.  Rating:  *½
After the match,
the Hart Foundation jumps the guardrail and attacks the Undertaker, but they
leave Bret alone and Austin goes into the crowd, dumps Bret out of the
wheelchair, and clears the ring with one of the Hart Foundation’s crutches.
The Final Report Card:  The Shamrock-Vader encounter was the most
interesting part of the pay-per-view and it delivered, but the rest of the show
lacked the same “big match” feel.  Even
the WWF title match played sideshow to what the Hart Foundation was doing at
ringside and it hurt some of the quality of the main event.  Overall, I’m giving this a thumbs down
because although Vader-Shamrock was good, the first two matches weren’t all
that important and the gauntlet match and WWF title match didn’t live up to the
hype.
Attendance: 
9,381
Buyrate: 
0.57
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: In Your House – Revenge of the Taker

by Logan Scisco

Vince McMahon, Jim
Ross, and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from
Rochester, New York
.

I couldn’t find
footage of the Free for All match, but on that show the Sultan defeated Flash Funk
with a powerbomb at 2:55 for those that are interested.

Opening Contest
for the WWF Tag Team Championship:  The
Legion of Doom defeat The British Bulldog & Owen Hart (Champions) by
disqualification at 10:09:
It’s really disheartening that three of the four
participants in this contest are no longer with us.  The tag team champions face another tough
matchup in the opener of the pay-per-view and they had to be wishing for the
days when The New Rockers, The Godwinns, and the Bodydonnas constituted the tag
team division.  The crowd loves to chant
“LOD”, but they are subdued during much of the match, even in parts when it
looks like the LOD might win the titles. 
Animal hits a powerslam off the second rope to pin the Bulldog, but the
decision is overturned because it is ruled that the Bulldog was not the legal
man.  The champions start walking towards
the locker room dejected, but when they hear the announcement Owen gives a
great “I knew that!” expression.  After
the restart, it doesn’t take long for Owen to eat a Doomsday Device, but before
the three count, Bret Hart runs out of the locker room and creates the
disqualification.  This was just a
standard tag match, but it could’ve come off better with a more vocal
crowd.  Rating:  **
Dok Hendrix
interviews The British Bulldog and Owen Hart and Owen says that they didn’t
keep the titles on a fluke.  The
champions refuse to believe that Steve Austin is in the building to face Bret
later tonight
.
Sunny and Brian
Pillman hype the Superstar line and urge us to call 1-900-737-4WWF!
-Kevin Kelly
interviews Intercontinental Champion Rocky Maivia, who says that Savio’s in for
a hell of a fight in their upcoming match.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  Savio Vega (w/The
Nation of Domination) beats “The Rock” Rocky Maivia (Champion) by count out at 8:34:
Savio defeated Maivia on Raw prior to the pay-per-view
and you would think that after the beating Maivia took on that show that he’d
bring some backup to this encounter. 
Faarooq wanders out to do guest commentary and he discusses the gauntlet
challenge that he laid down to Ahmed Johnson on last week’s RAW.  You can hear a pin drop for this match,
showing how little enthusiasm Maivia was generating as champion.  This isn’t much better than their match on
Raw, with Savio draining the energy of the match with chokes and nerve holds.  At least Maivia gets in more offense in his
comeback.  Savio tosses Maivia to the
floor and Crush gives Maivia a heart punch behind the referee’s back, but Crush
doesn’t roll Maivia into the ring and that costs Savio the title, much to
Savio’s chagrin.  There is some arguing
between the two before Faarooq gets into the ring and the Nation resolves the
problem by beating the young Maivia until Ahmed makes the save.  This match continued Maivia’s weak run as
champion and he’d lose the belt shortly after this.  Rating:  *
Ahmed gets on the
mic and accepts Faarooq’s challenge.
Ken Shamrock is
shown having some fun on America Online
.
Hendrix interviews
Sable and Marc Mero.  Sable says she
appreciates that she is a two-time Slammy winner and Mero says he hopes to be
back soon.  Austin goes into the bathroom
behind them, cursing the whole way, and an altercation is heard in the room.  The British Bulldog eventually emerges with a
deer in headlights look as he holds an iron bar in his hand and he runs
off.  Owen follows shortly
thereafter.  Dave Hebner tells Hendrix
that Austin is hurt and he needs help before also running away.  The whole segment was hilarious because of
the bad acting of everyone involved.
“The Real Double
J” Jesse James pins Rockabilly (w/The Honky Tonk Man) with a small package at
6:44:
This was the blowoff of the Honky Tonk Man protégé angle,
which had been going on for months, and the end result was terrible as Billy
Gunn, who had rejected The Honky Tonk Man two weeks prior to this, emerged as
the chosen man with a new name: 
“Rockabilly.”  Oh well, on the
other side of the coin you can look at this an encounter of the future New Age
Outlaws.  Billy dances around a lot, but
the crowd could care less and was probably wondering why they paid top dollar
for pay-per-view tickets by this point in the show.  The match is dreadful and James scores the
victory out of nowhere, thereby killing any hopes for the Rockabilly gimmick
out of the gate.  That’s a clear vote of
no confidence from the booking team.  Rating: 
DUD
Hendrix urges us
to call 815-734-1161 to get an Undertaker door banner for $29.95 (plus shipping
& handling)!
Kelly interviews
Steve Austin, who says that he’s still going to compete despite being hurt
tonight.  WWF President Gorilla Monsoon
says that he’s going to reorder the lineup to make sure Austin has time to
recover.  This lineup change makes
Austin-Bret the de facto main event.
Lance Wright interviews
the Hart Foundation and the Bulldog and Owen rant about Austin.  Bret merely gives a “Who’s crying now?” and
walks away, which is great
.
A video package is
played for the Undertaker-Mankind title match
.
Hendrix interviews
Mankind and Paul Bearer.  Bearer promises
that Mankind will be the next WWF champion and Mankind says that the
Undertaker’s screams will be music to his ear.
WWF Championship
Match:  The Undertaker (Champion) defeats
Mankind (w/Paul Bearer) with a Tombstone at 17:26:
The Undertaker is wearing a bandage over the right side of
his face because of the burns he suffered at the hands of Mankind several weeks
prior to this.  This is a wild brawl, as
Mankind takes some nasty bumps into the guardrail and delivers an elbow drop
off the second rope while the Undertaker is on the arena floor and the
Undertaker takes some stiff shots with the urn, a glass water pitcher at
ringside, and a chair.  Referees take a
beating as well, with the main one being sandwiched during an Undertaker blind
charge and another receiving the Mandible Claw when he runs out to assist.  Mankind brings the steps and a chair into the
ring, but the Undertaker kicks the steps in his face and then murders him with
a chair shot, a bump that is tough to watch based on what we know about
concussions today.  Just when you think
you’ve seen enough, Mankind loses his mask and the Undertaker knocks him off
the apron with the steps and Mankind goes head-first through the Spanish
announce table, which has to be the craziest WWF table bump I’ve ever
seen.  After that, things are just
academic.  Mankind was just a lame duck
challenger for the Undertaker in this contest, but credit Foley for nearly
killing himself to keep his character relevant and creating a good first pay-per-view title defense for the Undertaker. 
The match started slow, but after the first ten minutes everything was
stiff and brutal and it ended up telling a great story.  Rating:  ***½
After the match, they
try to work a spot where Mankind accidentally throws a fireball into Paul
Bearer’s eyes, but it doesn’t work, so the Undertaker grabs the materials and
tosses it into Bearer’s face, which is just as effective as far as future
storylines go.  Bearer leaves with his
suit coat over his head and he’s later taken to the hospital by paramedics.
Hendrix interviews
the Hart Foundation and Bret says that he’s going to make an example out of
Steve Austin tonight when he beats him for a third time.
“Stone Cold” Steve
Austin defeats Bret “the Hitman” Hart by disqualification when the British
Bulldog interferes at 21:10:
Keep in mind that this was originally supposed to be
Bret-Sid, but Sid no showed an episode of Raw so the card was changed.  I’m not sure what that would have done to
Austin’s role on this show, but I’m sure he would’ve made his presence felt
after Bret got his job back from Sid.  Owen
Hart and the British Bulldog try to come down with Bret, but they are ushered
to the back by WWF officials.  This is an
extension of WrestleMania XIII, as they brawl into the crowd and Bret attacks
Austin’s knee with a chair after an early ref bump.  Austin isn’t selling the attack earlier in
the evening, but that becomes a mute point once Bret targets the legs for the better
part of fifteen minutes.  Bret goes to
finish Austin with the Sharpshooter, but Austin clocks Bret with his knee
brace, which Bret took off early in the match, and applies the
Sharpshooter.  Before Bret can submit,
though, Owen and the Bulldog run out and the Bulldog clocks Austin with a chair
to draw the disqualification.  This tried
to recreate the climate of their WrestleMania encounter, but the electric
atmosphere that surrounded that match was missing here.  Nevertheless, it was still a good technical
match that continued the feud between Austin and the Hart Foundation.  Rating:  ****
After the match, Bret
tries to attack Austin with the ring bell, but Austin jabs a chair into Bret’s
knee and applies a Sharpshooter before Owen and the Bulldog can come to Bret’s
aid.
The Final Report Card:  This show
started like a bad episode of RAW, but the last two matches increase the show’s
quality.  The Austin-Bret feud would only
get hotter after this show and the Undertaker-Paul Bearer storyline would morph
into the “Kane” storyline that would dominate much of the Undertaker’s title
run.  The company was about to right some
of the wrongs that happened on this show as well, since Maivia was on his way
out as Intercontinental champion and Rockabilly never made another pay-per-view
appearance.
Attendance:  6,477
Buyrate:  0.5
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up