Mero in 96

Hello, Scott, while wondering how the late 90s could have gone differently and rewatching the the early months of Nitro, I found myself thinking about what happened with Marc Mero.
1) at the beginning of the year, he won a decent feud with DDP as TV champ and thing seemed to be going well for him in the mid card until he abruptly dropped the title the Luger and was gone. I recall on two deeper are Nitros where Eric Bischoff takes a shot at Mero and how he headed north or couldn’t handle it on wcw. They even blacked out his face in the old WCW Hotline ads (which I noticed in Nitro viewings since they still have the vintage WCW ads in them). Why did Mero leave wcw, or was he fired for some reason? He seemed to have it set, at least as a midcarder goes.


2) not long after, he is introduced during Wrestlemania XII (something of a marquee intro) and they even tease a feud with Triple H (presumably when he was still on the rise prior to the curtain call) which carries over to Raw. According to Foley’s book, he was signed for a high price. My question is why did WWF sign him so quickly and for so much? Did Vince see the ridiculous Johnny B Badd gimmick (which seemed to be popular due to Mero’s performance) and think ‘this guy is the kind of entertainer we need’ (despite giving him the somewhat lame Wildman gimmick)? Were there other people pushing for Mero to be signed by WWF?
Just seems like an interesting situation as Mero seems to be the first Jump (from WCW to WWF) during the Monday Night Wars era yet played mostly a footnote in the larger story, mostly by his association with Sable.

1)  The Mero-Bischoff relationship deteriorated pretty fast at the end and there was a lot of name-calling and accusations both ways, but the upshot from the WCW side was that Bischoff accused Mero of missing a bunch of mandated publicity jobs and fired him.  Mero’s side is that his contract expired and he quit after getting lowballed.  Most suspect there was some contract tampering from the WWF involved because he had a three-year deal lined up basically the moment he left.  Either way, his contract had expired at the end of his WCW run, so there was no non-compete window needed and he was able to jump right away.  There was a lot of confusion at the time because the rift came so suddenly and without warning, and got ugly really fast.  Bischoff buried him on Nitro on a regular basis afterwards, while Mero openly criticized the company for forcing him to do things that contradicted his religious beliefs.  It was a weird deal. 

2)  WWE absolutely saw big money in him, and more specifically in his wife, and he was really on track in 1997 to break through, but injuries just destroyed him.  In particular that stretch between Feb 97 where he got injured as Wildman Mero and then returned months later with a totally different look as Marvellous Marc Mero really derailed his momentum as a potential top guy.  The boxer gimmick was a good midcard dick heel one, but not one for a guy who aspired to face Steve Austin. 

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – November 30, 1998

by Logan Scisco

A video package
recaps how the Undertaker tried to embalm Steve Austin alive on last week’s
show.  The Undertaker and Paul Bearer are
shown talking backstage moments before the show went on the air.
Jim Ross and Jerry
“The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Baltimore, Maryland.

Steve Austin is
shown arriving at the arena with a shovel. 
The Headbangers and the Insane Clown Posse are already in the ring, so
Austin proceeds to give all of them – save Shaggy 2 Dope – a Stunner.  Getting on the mic, Austin promises to use
his shovel against the Undertaker.  A
throwaway segment and I am never a fan of one guy taking out tag teams.  0 for
1
Mark Henry is
shown getting ready for his date with Chyna. 
D-Lo Brown tries to make sure he looks good.
Ross hypes Austin
and the Undertaker being on TV Guide.  He
reminds viewers that if they cannot find them they will have to settle for the
“retired” Hulk Hogan or the “Austin wannabe” Goldberg.  Austin is still looking for Vince in the
back.  He runs into Stephanie McMahon,
who is not identified as such, and she says she has not seen Vince around.
Opening Non-Title
Contest:  The New Age Outlaws (WWF Tag
Team Champions) defeat Gangrel & Edge (w/Christian) by disqualification
when Christian hits Billy Gunn with a tag team title belt at 2:56:
The previous night on Sunday Night Heat, the Corporation
was attempting to recruit the Outlaws and they appear on the ramp to watch the
match.  Typical 1998 accelerated tag team
match here, although a young Edge shows off by doing a super hurricanrana on
the Road Dogg and taking a powerbomb off the second rope from Billy Gunn.  After Christian runs interference to prevent
a Gunn piledriver, the Big Bossman and Ken Sharmock run in and beatdown the
Brood.  So are the Brood faces or heels
at this point?  I am so confused with
their booking.
Steve Austin
continues to search for the Undertaker backstage, checking out several
freezers.  Predictably, he walks into one
to investigate, but gets locked in by the Undertaker and Paul Bearer.
Steve Austin
giving Stunners to the Headbangers and Violent J earlier in the show is the
Glover Rewind segment.
Mark Henry is
nervously excited for his date and he asks D-Lo to accompany him to give him
confidence.  D-Lo reluctantly agrees to
go.
The Undertaker
comes out and calls out Kane because we definitely need to see more of
that.  They briefly battle over whether
someone will be eternally damned before the Undertaker gives Kane a Tombstone.  Paul Bearer brings some orderlies from a
mental institution to the ring, but Kane beats up a couple of them before
walking through the crowd.  Sadly, this
ridiculous angle would continue.  0 for 2
D-Lo complains
that he is not dressed right for Mark Henry’s date, but Henry has a jacket for
him and a pair of sunglasses.  However,
he hands him a chauffeur hat next, meaning that D-Lo needs to drive Henry’s
limo.  That was a good comic twist on
that sketch.  After the commercial break,
Chyna is not happy to see Henry at the hotel and she refuses to accept the
flowers Henry offers her.  She is puzzled
that D-Lo is the chauffer, which is pretty funny.
X-Pac comes out
and calls out Shawn Michaels, angry about Michaels costing him his match
against the Rock last week.  Michaels
threatens to “send him back to that money pit in Atlanta,” but refuses to fight
him because he is not an active wrestler. 
He books X-Pac to face Ken Shamrock, with the European title being on
the line.  He exits to D-Generation X’s
music because “he was DX before DX was cool.” 
At least this was short, but they did not give X-Pac a lot of mic time
here.  0 for 3
Mark Henry and
Chyna arrive at their date location, where Chyna pulls out the price tag for
Henry’s flowers (they are $1.99).
A camera shot of
the freezer shows that Austin has escaped.
On the date, Mark
Henry botches the pronunciation of Perrier water.
Goldust defeats
“Double J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Debra McMichael) via disqualification when Owen Hart
interferes at 3:26:
This bout is a rematch from three weeks ago where Jarrett
blasted Goldust with a guitar and the two had a locker room fight.  Owen Hart is on guest commentary for the
match and he tries hard to keep a straight face when talking about the
Henry-Chyna date with Lawler.  By itself,
this match has very little heat.  Goldust
dominates, with Jarrett only avoiding defeat when Debra puts his foot on the
rope after a Curtain Call.  Debra gets in
the way of Shattered Dreams and her distraction leads to Owen attacking Goldust
from behind.  This show is falling into a
really bad habit over the last few episodes of having no clean finishes.  Rating:  *¼ (0 for 4)
After the bell,
the Blue Blazer appears to help attack Goldust, but suddenly the Blazer turns
on Owen.  The Blazer unmasks to reveal
Steve Blackman to arguably the biggest pop Blackman has received up to this
point in his career.
A split screen
shows Austin looking for the Undertaker backstage, while Paul Bearer and the
orderlies look for Kane.
Al Snow nailing
Ken Shamrock in the head with Head on last week’s show is the Medievil Slam of
the Week.
Hardcore
Championship Ladder Match:  The Big
Bossman defeats Mankind (Champion) to win the title at 6:11:
This is the first ladder match to be held on RAW.  Shawn Michaels does commentary and scores
some of Mankind’s moves since he says Mankind is going to try to outdo him in
the match type that made him famous.  If
you hate the slow climb, you will not like this one as Mankind does it within
the first several minutes where it makes no sense to do it.  When Mankind appears set to win, the Rock
interferes and the Bossman wins.  Of all
the WWF ladder matches up to this point, this was clearly the worst.  Everything was rushed and there was not a lot
of wrestling between the climb spots.  Rating: 
* (0 for 5)
The Undertaker and
Paul Bearer think they have found Kane. 
After the break, the Undertaker and Kane fight in a dark room in the
arena.  The Undertaker comes out on top
and tells Bearer to get the orderlies as he tries to put Kane in a body
bag.  However, Austin comes out of the
darkness and breaks his shovel over the Undertaker’s head.  You can see where this is going…
Non-Title
Match:  Duane Gill (Light Heavyweight
Champion w/The Pasadena Chargers) pins “Marvelous” Marc Mero after the Blue
Meanie tosses Mero off the top rope at 2:08:
Before the match, Mero says that if he cannot beat Gill
that he will never appear again.  The
youth football team that Gill coaches comes to the ring, since he is wrestling
in his hometown.  As expected, Mero
manhandles Gill, but the Blue Meanie interferes and Gill wins.  This was Mero’s last in-ring appearance on
WWF television.
Bearer directs the
orderlies to get Kane.
Mark Henry reads
Chyna a poem and she proceeds to guzzle down lots of alcohol.  He says that they need to go dancing after
having dinner.
European
Championship Match:  Ken Shamrock (Intercontinental
Champion) defeats X-Pac (Champion) via disqualification when Triple H
interferes at 4:47:
This is our first good bout of the evening, well that is
until interference runs its course again. 
X-Pac hits the X-Factor, but Shawn Michaels distracts the referee and
the Big Bossman clocks X-Pac.  However,
when Shamrock applies the ankle lock, Triple H runs in, which gets a pretty
sizable pop.  This warrants a point for
Triple H alone as I am a mark for surprise returns.  Rating:  ** (1 for 6)
The orderlies
place the filled body bag on a stretcher and strap it in.
Mark Henry dances
because, well of course, but Chyna does not want to dance.  Henry leaves for the restroom, leaving an
opportunity for some guys to hit on Chyna. 
She does not take kindly to that, leading to her clocking one of them
and Henry beats up another.  This was
fun, especially when Henry threw a guy across the bar.
Val Venis (w/The
Godfather & Hos) beats Tiger Ali Singh (w/Babu) via disqualification when
Terri Runnels interferes at 2:58
This feud between Tiger Ali Singh and the Godfather is
just going nowhere and doing very little for either guy.  That still beats today’s product where guys
wrestle each other with little backstory, but some Attitude Era feuds never
seemed to click and this is one of them. 
The hos neutralize Babu, while PMS comes out and interferes in the bout.  What a mess this was, and this was our fourth
disqualification finish of the evening. 
We are also six-for-six when it comes to run-in finishes.
After the bout,
the Acolytes, who recently debuted elsewhere on WWF programming, destroy Tiger
Ali Singh and Babu.  Why have these guys
beat up Singh and Babu and not a face team, though?  The Jackyl was the initial manager of the
Acolytes as well, but that did not last long.
The ambulance that
is supposed to take Kane to the mental facility departs, but Steve Austin and
Kane are shown watching footage of the whole thing in the back.  One guess who was in the body bag and is
headed for the mental health facility.
Shane McMahon
comes out to say that Sable is about to learn a lesson in humility.  She comes out and models WWF Attitude
cologne, which costs $19.99 (plus $4 shipping & handling).  Shane asks to smell it and tries to do so all
over Sable, but she squirts it in his face. 
You see, it is all funny!  1 for 7
Non-Title
Match:  The Rock (WWF Champion) defeats
Al Snow (w/Head) with the Rock Bottom at 4:57:
The Rock is back to using some kind of weird theme
music.  It is slightly better than the
disco theme they tried to give him a month earlier, but the beat for this theme
is one of those generic numbers you would get on the No Mercy video game.  It just does not add to the atmosphere or fit
the Rock at all.  Compared to other RAW
main events of this period, this has only a fraction of the expected crowd
reaction, an indication that tonight’s show has not delivered.  The Rock hilariously delivers the Corporate
Elbow to Head after a ref bump, which wakes up the crowd, and then beats Snow
clean.  Snow does get a visual pin on the
Rock by hitting him with Head in between all of that.  Rating:
 *½ (1 for 8)
After the match,
the Rock, Ken Shamrock, and the Big Bossman beatdown Al Snow and Mankind.  The JOB Squad finally makes a save.
Paul Bearer runs
into Austin backstage when he tries to unlock the freezer Austin was placed in
earlier.  The freezer opens to reveal
Kane and they haul Bearer out to the ring. 
Austin prevents Kane from immediately beating up Bearer or getting a gas
can.  Instead, he opts to cut Bearer’s
shirt and tie with a pair of scissors and teases stabbing him.  Austin aborts that idea too and they take him
outside and open a manhole cover.  They
shove Bearer down into the sewer head-first to close the show.  How is that punishment worse than killing
someone?  1 for 9
The Final Report Card:  Most of these shows have been good for the
last few months, but this show is beginning to illustrate how Russo is getting
a little too much creative control for his own good.  Every match, save for the WWF title match at
the end, had a run-in finish and the majority had disqualification finishes.  I do not mind DQ endings, but if you use them
too much throughout the show it really burns out the crowd and gets
irritating.  Some of these other angles
are also getting really ridiculous. 
Austin throwing a guy down a sewer? 
The hos gawking over Babu? 
Medical orderlies going after Kane? 
Things are really going off the rail.
Monday Night War Rating:  5.0 (vs. 4.2 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: SummerSlam 1998

by Logan Scisco

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

Opening Contest
for the European Championship:  D-Lo
Brown (Champion) beats Val Venis via disqualification when Venis throws down the
referee at 15:26:
D-Lo was really having fun with the European champion
concept as he had himself billed from different parts of Europe.  For this bout, he is announced as being a
resident of Helsinki, Finland.  Edge is
shown watching the match in the crowd, which becomes important later in the
show.  This is a very well-paced,
back-and-forth match, and the crowd eventually comes around to appreciating it
at the ten-minute mark.  D-Lo blocks the
Money Shot with his knees and botches a powerbomb spot, which foreshadowed the
unfortunate botch the ended Darren Drozdov’s career.  Venis eventually takes off D-Lo’s chest
protector and puts it on, but the referee does not care for that and his
attempt to get Venis to take it off leads to the disqualification.  D-Lo carried a good chunk of this match and
the Madison Square Garden crowd was actually cheering for him by the end.  A few botches at the end and the finish bring
this down a notch, but kudos to the WWF for giving these two guys a lot of time
and exposure.  Rating:  ***½
After the bout, a
frustrated Venis gives the referee a Money Shot.
Michael Cole is
backstage with a hearse that Steve Austin destroyed on Sunday Night Heat.  Mankind rants about his “SummerSlam ride” not
being in good condition and how he will not be able to toss Kane in there
later.  He hopes to use a sledgehammer
against Kane later in the show.
The Insane Clown
Posse, one of the most controversial musical acts of the late 1990s, perform
the Oddities theme song.  The Oddities dance
around.  Only about 50% of the crowd –
and that is being generous – bother to wave their hands for the ICP.
Handicap
Match:  The Oddities (w/Luna Vachon)
defeat Kaientai (w/Yamaguchi-San) when Golga pins all the members of Kaientai
at 10:13:
So, we get this handicap tag match between the three
giants of the Oddities and the four men of Kaientai simply because the Insane
Clown Posse were booked for the show. 
Jim Ross makes us aware that he likes the ICP, which I find hard to
believe.  The match hides the
shortcomings of Kurrgan and Giant Silva by having them do a few token spots and
Kaientai works in some nice quadruple team maneuvers.  Still, this match was given way too much time
and the result did not matter in the end scheme of things as most of the
participants were gone from the company by the end of the year.  Rating:  ½*
Hair vs. Hair
Match:  X-Pac (w/Howard Finkel) pins
“Double J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Southern Justice) after hitting him with a guitar at
11:12:
On Sunday Night Heat, Jarrett and Southern Justice shaved
Howard Finkel’s head, so he accompanies X-Pac to the ring in a DX shirt.  Sadly, he is not very well coordinated when
doing the crotch chops with X-Pac.  The
announce team today would never let him live that down.  Based on the capabilities of both men, this
match is a disappointment and never seems to click.  There are lots of double knockout spots and
Jarrett pulls out a spot that I hate where he applies the figure-four without
working the legs at all.  Southern
Justice appear to miss their cue, requiring Jarrett to kick out of the X-Factor
and X-Pac proceeds to take a guitar from Dennis Knight and cracks it over
Jarrett’s head for the win.  After the
bout, all of the people who have had their hair cut by Jarrett over the last
few weeks hit the ring and cut his hair, thereby significantly transforming his
look for the first time in his WWF career. 
Rating:  **¼
Dok Hendrix
discusses the Lion’s Den structure.
Cole interviews
The Rock, who took out Triple H’s knee on Sunday Night Heat.  He cuts a generic promo and makes fun of
Triple H’s injured knee.
Edge & Sable beat
“Marvelous” Marc Mero & Jacqueline when Sable pins Mero after Edge slams
her into the cover position at 8:26:
Sable’s mystery partner for the match is revealed as
Edge, which sort of fits existing storylines since Edge attacked Mero a few
weeks prior on RAW.  It is also a nice
way to elevate a new star and is much better than putting someone like Kurrgan
into the match.  This is a glorified
squash as they book Sable as Superwoman and she manhandles her opponents.  That takes away from any real drama the match
might have.  Edge almost becomes an
afterthought until he works in a plancha spot late.  WrestleMania XIV this was not.  Rating:  **¼
Cole tells Mankind
that Kane is not going to be here to help him defend the tag team titles and
asks if he is going to forfeit.  Mankind
says he is going to get killed against the New Age Outlaws, but Vince McMahon
gives him a pep talk about how he belongs in Madison Square Garden.  McMahon says that if Mankind overcomes the
odds that he will get into the MSG Hall of Fame by next week.  Mankind says he needs a weapon and McMahon
hilariously grabs some random stuff and hands it to Mankind to use.  Now THIS is what a backstage segment is all
about.
A video package
hypes the Ken Shamrock-Owen Hart Lion’s Den match.
Lion’s Den
Match:  Ken Shamrock defeats Owen Hart
(w/Dan Severn) via submission to the anklelock at 9:16:
This was an ingenious idea because it added a unique
match to card and allowed the WWF to sell more tickets to the show in the MSG
theater.  Imagine a wrestling match in a
UFC-type structure and that is what this match is like.  It features some nice spots, such as Shamrock
using the angled walls of the structure to rebound off of and then using them
to escape a Sharpshooter and a dragon sleeper. 
Since Owen never tries that, it fits well within the story they are
trying to tell of this being Shamrock’s environment.  Dan Severn angrily walks out when Owen is
placed in the anklelock, thereby ending that relationship.  A great action packed match that lived up to
the hype.  It also holds up really well
today and is one of Owen’s better matches. 
Seriously, if you haven’t seen this, check it out.  Rating:  ****
Cole interviews
WWF Champion Steve Austin, who says he will use any means necessary to walk out
of Madison Square Garden as the champion.
No Holds Barred,
Falls Count Anywhere Match for the WWF Tag Team Championship:  The New Age Outlaws defeat Kane & Mankind
(Champions) when The Outlaws pin Mankind with a spike piledriver on a tag team
title belt at 5:18:
Poor Mankind is left to defend the titles on his own
after he is the odd man out of the Undertaker-Kane alliance.  The Outlaws bring a large dumpster filled
with weapons to the ring and Mankind suffers a nasty two-on-one onslaught.  Jim Ross must have watched too much
SummerSlam 1991 before this one, as he criticizes the referee for not making
the Outlaws tag in and out.  Mankind
survives an Outlaws side suplex-neckbreaker combination and a spike powerbomb
through chairs, but a spike piledriver gives the Outlaws the tag team titles
for the second time.  Typical RAW match,
but it served its purpose of getting the titles back on the Outlaws and making
Mankind look resilient.  Rating: 
**
After the match,
the Outlaws toss Mankind in the dumpster and after closing it, Kane emerges out
of the dumpster and smashes Mankind in the face with a sledgehammer.  The Outlaws wisely flee to the locker room.  Jim Ross’s outrage meter reaches 0.8 for
this.
A video package
hypes the Rock-Triple H ladder match for the Intercontinental title.
Connecticut Yankee
comes out to give Triple H some live entrance music.
Ladder Match for
the Intercontinental Championship: 
Triple H (w/Chyna) beats The Rock (Champion w/Mark Henry) to win the
title at 26:14:
This was the first ladder match that the WWF had featured
on television since SummerSlam 1995.  I
miss the old visual for ladder matches with the champion surrendering the title
to the referee and then having it slowly raised above the ring.  The small aisle of the MSG venue gives us a
great visual early in the match of the Rock beating Triple H down and having
the fans on top of him shouting that he sucks. 
The story of the match is the Rock working on Triple H’s injured knee to
prevent him from climbing the ladder and Triple H evening some of the odds by
busting the Rock open with a baseball slide into the ladder.  The Rock also manages a split reaction,
working a 50/50 “Let’s go Rocky!  Rocky
sucks!” chant.  One thing to really
criticize this match for are the slow climb spots.  They work for Triple H, since he has one leg,
but the Rock doing them after pulverizing Triple H’s knee for five minutes is
ridiculous.  Whatever your thoughts are
about Triple H, you have to admire him taking some the brunt of the sick bumps
in this match.  This brutal war comes to
an end when Triple H hits a Pedigree, but gets powder tossed in his eyes by
Mark Henry.  That produces a double climb
of the ladder with Chyna coming in and giving the Rock a low blow so Triple H
can win to a HUGE pop.  This match ended
the first phase of the Triple H-Rock feud, as well as the Rock’s nine month
reign as Intercontinental champion, but unfortunately for Triple H he lost some
of the momentum gained from this match when a knee injury put him on the
shelf.  The Rock now moves out of the
Intercontinental title level and into contention for the WWF title, with this
match showing he had the skills needed to make that jump.  Rating:  ****½
WWF Championship
Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (Champion)
pins The Undertaker after a Stone Cold Stunner
Austin suffers a concussion about two minutes into the
bout when his head collides with the Undertaker and that just ruins the match’s
flow.  McMahon had to freaking out
backstage because when that collision took place Austin went down in a heap and
appeared to be knocked out.  Kane does
walk out around the seven minute mark, but the Undertaker waves him off,
thereby squandering his primary advantage. 
I understand the idea of the Undertaker wanting to win on his own, but
does that not negate the story on the previous RAW of Kane and the Undertaker
being an unstoppable combination?  The
highlight of the contest is the Undertaker giving Austin a guillotine leg drop
on the Spanish announce table (I can’t say through because the table doesn’t
break).  Austin rallies from that to win
after giving the Undertaker a low blow during his ropewalk spot, but after all
the buildup, this match was a disappointment to say the least.  And again, we get a slow Earl Hebner three
count for no reason at all, since he wasn’t bumped.  Some people give this match over ***, but I
just don’t get that rating in light of its disjointed nature and botches.  Rating:  **¼
After the match,
the Undertaker takes the WWF title from Hebner and, after a tense few moments,
hands it to Austin.  Kane walks out to
stare down Austin with his brother in the aisle as the show goes off the air.
The Final Report Card:  Disappointing main event aside, this was a
fantastic SummerSlam.  The ladder match
is the highlight of the show, but the Lion’s Den match is deserving of credit
as well. I always wonder how good Austin-Undertaker could have been if not for
the concussion Austin suffered minutes into the match.  If the WWE wants to remember how to
adequately build to a big show, they should rewatch what they did for this
pay-per-view, which attracted the highest buyrate for a SummerSlam since 1992.
Attendance: 
21,588
Buyrate: 
1.48 (+0.68 from previous year)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – May 25, 1998

by Logan Scisco

Jim Ross and Michael Cole are in the booth
and they are taped from Chattanooga, Tennessee. 
This is the go home show for Over the Edge.

Vince McMahon, Pat
Patterson, Gerald Brisco, and two police officers walk out and McMahon gloats
that he assaulted WWF Champion Steve Austin at the end of last week’s show and
got away with it.  Austin then walks out
and gets the police officers to arrest McMahon for assault.  When Patterson and Brisco get into
altercations with the officers when they handcuff McMahon, the police officers
arrest them for obstruction.  Austin then
dumps a beer on McMahon as the crowd goes wild. 
THIS is how you give a heel their comeuppance and it fits perfectly with
last week’s legal storyline.  The crowd
loved this segment and it is one of the better opening segments of RAW
ever.  1 for 1
Opening
Contest:  LOD 2000 & Darren Drozdov defeat
The Disciples of Apocalypse when Droz pins Chainz after a sitout powerbomb at 4:08
This is Drozdov’s debut and he was LOD 2000’s mystery
partner in this contest, something that the crowd finds rather
underwhelming.  After watching Beyond the Mat I cannot divorce
associating Droz with McMahon screaming “HE’S GONNA PUKE” over and over
again.  Droz works in some basic offense
that you would expect from a rookie and he gets the winning fall in a bad
match.  Rating:  ½* (1 for 2)
Call 815-734-1161
to get your Steve Austin “Hell Yeah” t-shirt for $25 (plus shipping &
handling charges)!
Austin helps
police put McMahon and the stooges into a squad car in the back.
Dan “The Beast”
Severn beats Owen Hart via disqualification when the Nation interferes at 3:14:
This is not a conventional WWF match as Owen and Severn
experiment with a quasi-shoot style that you would see in Pancrase.  As a result, the crowd really isn’t sure how
to react to it and Cole and Ross aren’t sure how to sell it either.  Owen eventually gets outmaneuvered by Severn
and placed in an armbar, but the Nation runs in to save Owen from a submission
loss.  Severn eats two splashes from Mark
Henry as a result.  I liked what they
were going for here, but they did not have enough time to develop it.  Rating:  *½ (1 for 3)
Steve Austin’s
appearance on MTV Celebrity Deathmatch is chronicled.
Vince McMahon and
the stooges are shown jawing with the officers and rocking the squad car
backstage.
Edge is coming!
Hank the Angry Drunken
Dwarf and Crackhead Bob, who have been guests on the Howard Stern Show, come
out with the Jackyl.  Hank curses a lot
about the Internet and Bob says some other nonsense.  The Jackyl introduces more Oddities, which include
“Princess” Luna (Vachon), Golga (John Tenta under a mask with knots on his
head)), and Giant Silva (billed at this time as “The Largest Man in the World”).  The oddities hug Jackyl and the Headbangers
make their entrance for the next match. 
This whole thing just screams awkward. 
1 for 4
Golga (w/The
Oddities) beats Thrasher (w/Mosh) with a powerslam at 2:55:
Crackhead Bob joins the commentary team with the Jackyl.  Golga works in the old Earthquake-style
powerslam to win as a wink to the fans as to his true identity and Giant Silva
destroys Mosh after the match, as well as the referee.  You can tell that Ross thinks this is
completely stupid by the tone of his voice, but Cole was eating it up (of
course).
Al Snow is shown
hanging out in the crowd.
Steve Austin is
shown conversing with the police officers by the police car McMahon and the stooges
are held in.
The interaction
between Kane and the Undertaker on last week’s show is the Super Soaker 1500
Rewind segment.
Vader defeats “Double
J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) via disqualification when Kane interferes at
3:58:
Vader looks much better here than he did a few weeks ago
on RAW and he destroys Jarrett for three-quarters of the match.  Kane runs in before he can deliver a Vader
Bomb and destroys him before WWF officials intervene.  Rating:  * (1 for 5)
As a condition for
his and his stooges release, McMahon apologizes to Austin and then gives a
death glare to the camera to send us into hour two, where Jerry “the King”
Lawler replaces Cole.
McMahon comes out
with the stooges, seemingly chastened by his encounter with the law tonight,
and says there is not a single WWF superstar that can intimidate him at Over
the Edge and make him call the match fairly. 
McMahon books Austin to face the Undertaker in tonight’s main event and
appears proud of himself.  A second
entertaining promo by McMahon tonight.  2 for 6
D-Generation X is
shown at a local airfield and they make some jokes about flying a plane.
Al Snow comes out
of the crowd and gets in Lawler’s face and demands to meet with McMahon.  Lawler insists that Snow met McMahon last
week.
Non-Title
Match:  Taka Michinoku (WWF Light
Heavyweight Champion) beats Dick Togo (w/Yamaguchi-San) with a hurricanrana at
3:50:
I have no idea why they did not make this for the title
to at least let Michinoku chalk up a title defense on RAW.  This is a fun match as both men exchange fast
paced moves and Michinoku scrapes by Togo. 
See, if this was for the title they could have worked in a filler match
for Over the Edge and made Togo a contender. 
It would have also added some weight to the Taka-Kaientai feud.  After the bout, Michinoku tries to go after
Yamaguchi-San, but Kaientai demolish him before he can inflict damage.  Rating:  **½ (3 for 7)
Val Venis hitting
the Money Shot on 2 Cold Scorpio is the Gastrol GTX Slam of the Week.
DX is back at the
airfield joking around, but they have no idea where Triple H is.  Road Dogg does work in a funny “Rockabilly”
reference that Billy Gunn takes exception to.
Faarooq beats “Marvelous”
Marc Mero (w/Sable) with a clothesline at 2:28:
Sable aggressively disrobes Mero before the match, which
further underlies the tension between the two. 
The Ross football meter goes to 1:03 for this match and he makes sure to
include that Mero was a former Golden Gloves champion.  Sable distracts Mero and causes him to lose
another match.  This leads to Mero getting
on the mic after the match and arranging a match for Over the Edge between
himself and someone of Sable’s choosing. 
If Sable’s chosen superstar wins, she gets her freedom, but if Mero wins
Sable has to leave the WWF forever.
Call
1-900-747-4WWF to find out what the newest front office shakeups are in the
wrestling world!
A video package
hypes “WWF model citizen” Pat Patterson.
Triple H is shown “flying”
an aircraft and making sexual references. 
He paints some anti-WCW and anti-Nation slogans in the sky.  This whole thing was a waste.  3 for
8
Non-Title
Match:  The Rock (Intercontinental
Champion w/Mark Henry) wrestles Triple H (European Champion w/Chyna) to a
double count out at 7:58 shown:
The Rock gives the audience his opinion on the new drug,
Viagra, before the match.  This match is
more warmly received than it was a year prior, which shows how adding a few
pieces (e.g. Chyna) and flipping the alignments of the characters can overcome
some initial booking difficulties.  Chyna
and Mark Henry have their first big time confrontation in this match after both
of them interfere.  Both men show signs
that they are the next big things in the business as they work through a good
encounter, assisted by their seconds. 
This is a situation where a double count out finish was warranted to
deepen the DX-Nation feud.  Rating: 
*** (4 for 9)
After the match,
Faarooq comes out and gives the Rock a piledriver by the entrance.  Triple H laughs in the ring.
McMahon is
announced as the special guest referee for the Austin-Undertaker match, but the
match never takes place as the Undertaker, who has not been in a good mood
lately, takes exception to McMahon flexing his muscles during his
entrance.  The Undertaker stares down
McMahon and chokeslams him, but before he can give him a Tombstone, Kane runs
in and they brawl into the crowd.  As the
stooges held McMahon up in the ring, Austin’s music sounds and it’s Stunners
galore to send the crowd into a frenzy. 
Austin ties McMahon into the ropes and goes to hit him with a chair, but
Dude Love runs out and eats the chair shot instead and McMahon gets away.  I miss endings like this.  5 for
10
The Final Report Card:  This is the very definition of a WWF show in
1998:  a lackluster undercard sandwiched
between a red hot top angle.  The
McMahon-Austin segments steal the show and do a great job setting up Over the
Edge.  This show also gave a test run for
the Rock-Triple H feud that would dominate the summer of 1998, so it has that
going for it as well.  Our next review
will cover Over the Edge 1998 and then we will go into the June RAWs.
As an aside, would the readers prefer to
have my disguise the results rather than putting them before expressing my
thoughts on the match?  I can do
whatever, but I just assumed that most readers saw these shows in their youth
and remembered a good chunk of them. 
Just taking the temperature of the blog in that regard as I continue
fine tuning my recaps.
So, here is our Over the Edge card:
WWF Championship Match with Vince McMahon as
Guest Referee, Pat Patterson as Guest Ring Announcer, and Gerald Brisco as
Guest Timekeeper:  Steve Austin
(Champion) vs. Dude Love
Intercontinental Championship Match:  The Rock (Champion) vs. Faarooq
Mask vs. Mask Match:  Vader vs. Kane
Freedom vs. Career Match:  ?????? vs. Marc Mero
The New Age Outlaws & Triple H vs. Owen
Hart, Kama Mustafa & D-Lo Brown
Steve Blackman vs. Jeff Jarrett
LOD 2000 vs. The Disciples of Apocalypse
Monday Night War Rating:  4.2 (vs. 4.2 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

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

by Logan Scisco

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

Vince McMahon
walks out and announces that WWF Champion Steve Austin will be in tag team
action tonight.  Dude Love comes out
wearing a suit and glasses, carrying a copy of the Wall Street Journal, and
rocking a suit.  Love cuts a funny promo
about his identity, nearly causing McMahon to corpse, and hugs McMahon.  McMahon proceeds to announce that at Over the
Edge, Gerald Brisco will be the guest timekeeper and Pat Patterson will be the
guest ring announcer for the WWF title match. 
The guest referee does not show, so McMahon goes to the back and then
soon re-emerges in a referee shirt.  Fun
segment to kick off tonight’s show.  1 for 1
Sable is shown
arriving at the arena and she blows off Kevin Kelly.
Footage is shown
of D-Generation X reprising their “invasion” by going to WCW headquarters in
Atlanta, Georgia.  Security doesn’t quite
know what to make of them.
Al Snow is shown
arriving backstage with Head.  He is
carrying tickets and Kevin Kelly informs him that he is not entering the
appropriate part of the arena.  Snow
berates Head for not directing them to the right arena entrance.
-Opening
Contest:  Vader beats Barry Windham
(w/Jim Cornette & The New Midnight Express) with a Vader Bomb at 2:07:
And here I thought the Undertaker’s squash of Windham
sent him away for good.  Vader wrestles
this match in a t-shirt and is not moving very well, but he still manages to
shrug off some of Windham’s strikes and NWA interference to win anyway.  After the match, Vader takes out the New
Midnight Express.  This keeps Vader
strong for a mask vs. mask match with Kane at Over the Edge.
Steve Austin’s
appearance on premiere of MTV’s Celebrity Deathmatch is shown.  That show is how I knew wrestling was
starting to become mainstream again.
Austin’s Stone
Cold Stunner on Pat Patterson on last week’s show is the Gastrol GTX Slam of
the Week.
Austin is shown arriving
in a vehicle backstage.  Kelly informs
him about the roles of Brisco, Patterson, and McMahon in the title match at
Over the Edge and how he has been booked in a tag match tonight.  Austin is not happy and goes looking for
McMahon.
Skull (w/8-Ball)
beats Hawk (w/Animal & Sunny) with a small package after an illegal switch
at 2:30:
Considering the participants, this isn’t bad as both men
do some power moves and brawling until Hawk flying out of the ring on a
shoulder thrust in the corner allows 8-Ball to switch places with Skull and
chalk the win.
A video package
recaps DX’s altercation with law enforcement at CNN headquarters.  They appear to be quite popular with the
average person there.
A brief Edge
vignette where it is announced that he’s the person of our dreams is shown
.
Bradshaw and Taka
Michinoku are shown smoking cigars earlier in the day and Bradshaw gives
Michinoku a driving lesson.  When they
return to the arena they are attacked by Kaientai.
Faarooq (w/Steve
Blackman) beats “Double J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) via disqualification
when the Nation of Domination interferes at 1:52:
Faarooq finally has some unique entrance music, but it just
sounds like generic hip hop.  Blackman
beats up Jarrett several times when he ends up outside of the ring and when
Faarooq gets ready to finish Jarrett with a Dominator, the Nation
interferes.  In the ensuing brawl, the
Nation beats down Faarooq while Jarrett destroys Blackman with nunchucks.  You can’t say they aren’t trying with this
Jarrett-Blackman feud and considering Blackman’s lack of mic skills, this is
about as good as we were going to get.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your Steve Austin “You Wanna Raise Hell?” t-shirt for $25 (plus $6
shipping & handling)!
WWF Champion Steve
Austin comes out and demands McMahon come out to tell him what is going on with
his booking tonight.  McMahon appears on
the Titantron with Patterson and Brisco and they refuse to give him any
information.  Just a generic segment to
continue the storytelling for tonight.  1 for 2
A spliced together
compilation of Val Venis’s vignettes are shown.
Jerry “the King”
Lawler comes out to do commentary for hour two.
The next scheduled
segment is the Marc Mero-Sable bout (or “public confrontation” if you prefer).  Sable gets on the mic and tells Mero that she
didn’t think it would come to this and Mero responds by picking her up for a
TKO and then setting her down.  Mero
demands an apology for Sable trying to ruin his career, but Sable responds by
giving him a low blow and a Sable bomb. 
Jim Cornette’s 1997 Timeline shoot ranted about this segment and Steve
Austin scrapped a planned program with Mero over it because he did not want to
take offense from a guy who was just beaten by a woman.  That aside, this got a huge reaction from the
crowd and was entertaining.  2 for 3
The Undertaker
comes out after Lawler based on Lawler’s interaction with Paul Bearer on last
week’s show.  The lights go out before
the Undertaker can Tombstone Lawler and Kane and Bearer walk out.  Bearer promises that next week he will prove
that he is Kane’s father.  After Kane and
Bearer go back to the locker room, the Undertaker Tombstones Lawler.  This shows why the Attitude Era was great
because the Undertaker going after Lawler immediately after the Sable-Mero
segment happened out of nowhere.  3 for 4
Al Snow comes out
of the crowd with Head to do commentary duties with Jim Ross.  Security, directed by Pat Patterson, removes
Snow, who demands to see McMahon.
DX delivers a “parting
shot” to CNN headquarters by blowing it up (computer generated of course) with
an artillery gun.  Live in the arena, DX
comes out and X-Pac tells Eric Bischoff to suck it.  DX runs through their usual promo spots
before Owen Hart appears and announces that “Enough is enough and it’s time for
a change.”  Owen brings the Nation of Domination
with him to fight DX.
Chyna’s
participation in last week’s eight person tag match is the 1-800-COLLECT Rewind
segment.
Jim Cornette
replaces Lawler to do commentary for the rest of the show.
­-Non-Title
Match:  Triple H (European Champion
w/D-Generation X) wrestles Owen Hart (w/The Nation of Domination) to a
no-contest at 7:07 shown:
Owen’s alliance with the Nation makes sense in storyline
terms because he needed a crew to back him up against DX and their constant interference
in his matches.  Owen, Kama Mustafa, and
D-Lo Brown of the Nation are booked to face DX in a six man tag match for Over
the Edge as well.  Chyna’s crotching of
Owen on the top rope nearly sparks a brawl between the two factions and
Commissioner Slaughter allegedly puts an end to the bout.  Hey Slaughter, why didn’t you just send
everyone to back BEFORE the match like you usually do?  This is one of the reasons that running
authority figure stories like this never work out from a logic perspective.  I thought they might give Owen a cheap win
here since he has a new factional alignment, but it was not to be.  The match showed that the crowd was digging
the early stages of the DX-Nation feud, though. 
Rating:  **½ (4 for 5)
Dustin Runnels
comes out with his Goldust attire and tosses it into a barrel by the
entrance.  He proceeds to set it on fire
and then cuts a promo where he says that McMahon took his dignity away with the
Goldust character.  McMahon was everyone’s
favorite whipping boy at this time.  A
storyboard for him would have tons of lines all over the place.  Runnels says that the Goldust character is
dead.  This had a lot of shock value at
the time, but since the Goldust character was eventually reprised (like Jeff
Jarrett ripping his country gimmick and going back to it) it didn’t matter in
the long run.  4 for 6
Handicap
Match:  Kaientai (w/Yamaguchi-San) beats Terry
Funk & 2 Cold Scorpio via disqualification when Taka Michinoku &
Bradshaw interfere at 3:09:
I know it’s Terry Funk and all, but does it make a lot of
sense to have him wrestle a week after he was “destroyed” by Mick Foley?  This is Kaientai’s in-ring RAW debut.  The height difference between Kaientai and
their opponents always caused me to think that they didn’t have much of a
chance at winning their matches.  The
referee doesn’t care that Kaientai never tag and all stay in the ring at the
same time and eventually Michinoku and Bradshaw run out to drive Kaientai
off.  This is the first loss for Funk and
Scorpio.  The match was not a
conventional tag match and the flow of it was messy.  Rating:  * (4 for 7)
McMahon is shown
talking with Austin’s mystery tag team partner in the locker room, but we
cannot see who it is.
Al Snow tries to
re-enter the arena, but security refuses him entry.
“Stone Cold”
Steve Austin & Vince McMahon (w/Gerald Brisco & Pat Patterson) wrestle The
Rock & D-Lo Brown (w/The Nation of Domination) to a no contest when McMahon
attacks Austin at 8:28:
McMahon names himself as Austin’s mystery partner making
this a de facto handicap match.  Austin
decides to wrestle it like No Mercy on the N64 by hitting anything that moves,
including Brisco and Patterson.  Instead
of giving a hot tag to McMahon after avoiding a Lo Down, Austin gives McMahon
the bird.  Austin gives Brown a Stunner,
but the Rock breaks that up and McMahon clotheslines Austin.  Brisco and Patterson join in the beat down to
end this match, which did a great job sustaining heat.  **½ (5
for 7)
After the bell,
Austin beats back McMahon and the stooges only to have Dude Love run in and
tackle him.  However, Dustin Runnels and
D-Generation X run into the ring to brawl with Love and the Nation and the
crowd’s loud reaction to all of this plays us out.
The Final Report Card:  RAW continues its streak of having lots of
wild and unpredictable action as Austin gets held from some unlikely sources to
beat back Dude Love and the Nation of Domination at the end of the show and the
Undertaker destroyed Jerry Lawler.  D-Generation
X’s “invasion” of WCW headquarters was pretty funny, although it was nowhere
near their “invasion” of the WCW card in Norfolk, Virginia prior to this
show.  The deck has been stacked against
Austin for Over the Edge and the rest of that card is starting to come together
with Vader being booked against Kane, DX fighting the Nation, and the Rock
defending the Intercontinental title against Faarooq.  Excellent storytelling this week in all of
the big angles and the crowd’s reactions throughout the show are a testament to
that.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.3 (vs.4.3 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – March 9, 1998

by Logan Scisco

-A video package recaps
Mike Tyson joining D-Generation X and the Undertaker’s return on last week’s
show
.
Jim Ross, Michael
Cole, and Kevin Kelly are doing commentary for the first hour and they are
taped from Wheeling, West Virginia.

Opening
Contest:  Ken Shamrock & Steve
Blackman beat Faaarooq & The Rock (w/The Nation of Domination) by
disqualification when the Nation interferes at 4:40
This is the outgrowth of Shamrock rescuing Blackman from
a beatdown at the hands of the Nation on last week’s show.  Commissioner Slaughter must not attend taped
shows because he doesn’t bother trying to come out and eject the Nation from
ringside during this match.  The
commentary team points out that many people in this match have their best days ahead
of them, but miss Blackman.  Shamrock
dominates the Rock when he gets the hot tag and the Nation interferes when all
hell breaks loose.  After the bell, Mark Henry
destroys Blackman on the outside, but the Rock wants the Nation to go away so
he can beat on Shamrock.  When the Nation
leaves, Shamrock beats up the Rock and puts him in the ankle lock while Faarooq
is just like “I told you so” by the entrance. 
Rating:  ** (1 for 1)
Triple H and Chyna
come out and Triple H says that Shawn Michaels is not at the show tonight.  He recaps Steve Austin getting laid out with
Sweet Chin Music on last week’s show and Michaels appears on the Titantron from
a restaurant to gloat about Tyson joining D-Generation X.  He says that Austin has not shown him
anything new.  Michaels cut a good promo,
but the Triple H promo work was boring. 
However, since Michaels promo was the focal point of the segment, I’ll
give this a point.  (2 for 2)
European
Championship Match:  Barry Windham (w/Jim
Cornette) beats Owen Hart (Champion) by count out at 5:14:
Triple H and Chyna eject Kelly from the commentary booth
so they can watch this match.  Although
Windham moves slowly in this match it is a pretty good title defense for Owen
that combines several near-falls and equal offense between both men.  Cornette distracts Owen to break up a
Sharpshooter and they brawl near the commentary table, which sees Chyna low
blow Owen and cause him to get counted out. 
Triple H laughs on commentary, which only reinforces how viewers at home
want to see Owen get revenge at WrestleMania. 
That has to happen, right?  Rating: 
** (3 for 3)
After the match,
Bradshaw runs out and gives Windham a big boot, thereby forcing him to flee.
Sable and Marc
Mero talk to the referee of Mero’s match with Goldust tonight where Luna Vachon
and Sable will be handcuffed at ringside
.
Jerry Lawler
interviews Kane and Paul Bearer in the locker room.  Seeing Lawler scared of Kane is pretty funny.  Bearer gloats about Kane blasting Vader with
a wrench at No Way Out, but boxes in the locker room open and close by
themselves so Bearer runs away.  This
adds to some weird technical glitches that are happening with cameras on this
show, so is the Undertaker nearby?
Aguila (w/Taka
Michinoku) defeats “Too Sexy” Brian Christopher (w/Jerry Lawler) by
disqualification when Lawler interferes at 4:55:
Evidently Aguila is suffering from the flu for this
match.  About ninety seconds into the
match the lights begin to flicker and thunder in heard in the arena, but things
return to normal shortly thereafter. 
This is a de facto number one contender’s match for the light
heavyweight title, since it is still uncertain who Michinoku’s challenger will
be at WrestleMania.  Lots of good moves
in this match, with Aguila using an Asai moonsault and a top rope arm drag and
Christopher using a sunset flip powerbomb to the arena floor.  Lawler takes out Michinoku on the outside,
but gets caught tripping Aguila when he goes to the top rope and that produces
the finish.  If they had announced this
as a number one contender’s match this would have had higher stakes, but as it
stood this was just a botch free light heavyweight match that was a change of
pace in the ring.  Rating:  **¼ (4 for 4)
Andre the Giant
tossing Bret Hart out to win the WrestleMania II battle royal is the
WrestleMania Millennium Moment.  Jim Ross
botches recapping it after the segment by saying that it had the “Refrigerator”
Bill Fralic
.
Steve Austin is
shown arriving to the arena and immediately walks out.  He says he is tired of hearing Mike Tyson
billed as the baddest man on the planet because it is an insult to him.  He steals Howard Finkel’s ringside seat and
decides to sit in the ring before Vince McMahon comes out and sets things
right.  Instead of Vince, Gerald Brisco
and Jack Lanza walk out and tell Austin to come with them, but Austin
refuses.  Commissioner Slaughter
considers the parade of cronies, but Austin calls him a jackass and says that
he won’t do anything to him because he’s headlining WrestleMania.  McMahon is shown backstage and Brisco is
trying to convince him to go out, but McMahon refuses as we go to commercial.
We return from
commercial and Pat Patterson comes out with some security officials to remove
Austin from the ring.  One of them is
over 50 years old, which leads to Austin calling him “pops” and blowing him
off.  The security guys do not want to
remove Austin, so they leave and Patterson has to retreat.  Finally, Vince comes out with Brisco, Dave
Hebner, and Slaughter and McMahon says that calling Tyson the baddest man on
the planet is a figure of speech.  Austin
says that might be so and gives him the middle finger, saying that is also a
figure of speech.  Austin dares McMahon
to give him his best shot after McMahon will not say that he wants to see
Austin win the WWF title.  He rips
McMahon’s suit jacket and McMahon leaves the ring and says that Austin will
pay.  Austin says he wants to kick Triple
H’s ass tonight.  Awesome segment that
really made clear that Austin-McMahon was the next big feud and even though
Austin bullied McMahon here, no one had much sympathy for McMahon because of
Montreal and the fact that he’s a millionaire. 
I’ll give this double points because it took up two segments.  6 for
6
Lawler joins the
commentary for the second hour.
Cactus Jack &
Chainsaw Charlie beat The Quebecers
Ross announces that because of Austin’s strike that the
NWA tag team title match between the Headbangers and the Rock N’ Roll Express
will not be held tonight.  Cactus and
Chainsaw are heading to WrestleMania to face the New Age Outlaws for the tag
team titles, so this match serves to put them over and give them some
momentum.  The match has some highlights,
with Charlie missing a moonsault and Pierre giving Cactus a hurricanrana off
the top rope, but Pierre blind charge creates the finish.  I was expecting more of a squash, but this
ended up as a competitive and enjoyable television bout.  Rating:  ** ¼ (7 for 7)
After the match,
the Road Dogg comes out with his arm in a sling and he dares Cactus to fight
him.  When Cactus follows, Billy Gunn
smashes Chainsaw in the back with a chair.
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear a Mike Tyson story and find out what Jim Cornette is
doing in the ring!
The Undertaker’s
return on last week’s RAW is the 10-321 Slam of the Week.  Remember that 10-321 stuff?  It was a running gag in that there was a new
number for it every week.
Kane and Paul
Bearer come out and Bearer says that the Undertaker made a mistake
returning.  The Undertaker’s music tolls
and the lights go out and suddenly the Undertaker appears in the ring.  When the lights come back on, the Undertaker
disappears.  The crowd doesn’t care for
that, but this was a shrewd way to play up the Undertaker’s “powers” and keep
him physically away from Kane before WrestleMania.  8 for
8
Valets Handcuffed
at Ringside:  “Marvelous” Marc Mero
(w/Sable) beats The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust (w/Luna Vachon) by
disqualification at 5:00:
This stipulation is something out of Memphis and as Luna
licks her handcuff chain Ross’s reaction about his mother fainting back home is
priceless.  Goldust beats down Mero and
then uses his “free time” to make a move on the handcuffed Sable at ringside.  The ref gets bumped about three minutes in,
which does not allow him to count the fall from the Curtain Call and Goldust
then leg drops him so he can get the handcuff keys and release Luna.  Luna smears makeup all over Sable’s
face.  Mero’s “what happened?” after he
sees what happened is great.  The match
result is never announced, but I assume it is a disqualification.  The match was not much, but the angle
development and storytelling were excellent. 
Rating:  * (9 for 9)
Goldust and Luna
Vachon cut a promo in the backstage area and Goldust says that he is tired of
holding Luna back.  They issue a mixed
tag team match challenge to Marc Mero and Sable for WrestleMania.
A video package
provides Mike Tyson’s history in the WWF thus far.
A taped interview
with Ross and Tyson is shown.  Tyson says
he did not care to get disrespected by Steve Austin the night after the Royal
Rumble and Tyson says that he doesn’t care about being fair as the enforcer at
WrestleMania.  A rather dry interview as
Tyson was one of those guys who made more convincing arguments in the ring than
he did on the mic.  9 for 10
Triple H
(w/Chyna) and Savio Vega (w/Los Boricuas) wrestle to a no contest at 33
seconds:
Lawler tries to give this main event some backstory by
saying that D-Generation X did not pay its debts to Los Boricuas, but no one
cares about the Boricuas.  This is all
about Austin running out anyway and despite a sea of WWF officials and the
Boricuas around the ring Austin makes an appearance thirty seconds in and gives
a wave of Stone Cold Stunners to Gerald Brisco, a referee, and Savio.  However, Shawn Michaels appears and blasts an
unsuspecting Austin with Sweet Chin Music and Lawler has a great turn on Edmund
Burke’s quotation of “Evil will always triumph because good is always stupid.”  Michaels prepares to smash Austin in the head
with a steel chair, but the show ends before that can be played.  (10 for
11)
The Final Report Card:  Fantastic episode of Raw that combined some
solid television matches with excellent angle development and storylines.  WrestleMania will now have a mixed tag team
match between Marc Mero and Sable and Goldust and Luna Vachon and this show
made fans want to cheer for Steve Austin and Owen Hart in their separate
battles against D-Generation X.  The show
also began to align Vince McMahon with the heel side of the roster by having
him give signals that he did not want Austin to become the next WWF
champion.  However, look at how that idea
was played in this feud versus the Authority vs. Daniel Bryan feud of this year.  McMahon’s objection to Austin was that he was
anti-establishment and not family friendly, whereas Bryan’s feud devolved into
him not being good for business or on the same level as other competitors.  The next RAW was a Tuesday event, held on March
17th, because, get this, USA Network had to show a television
adaptation of Moby Dick!
So our updated WrestleMania card is as
follows:
*WWF Championship Match:  Shawn Michaels (Champion) vs. Steve Austin
with Mike Tyson as enforcer
*Intercontinental Championship Match:  The Rock (Champion) vs. Ken Shamrock
*WWF Tag Team Championship Match:  The New Age Outlaws (Champions) vs. Cactus
Jack & Chainsaw Charlie
*European Championship Match:  Owen Hart (Champion) vs. Triple H
*(Tentative) Mixed Tag Team Match:  Marc Mero & Sable vs. The Artist Formerly
Known as Goldust & Luna Vachon
*Tag Team Battle Royal
Monday Night War Rating:  3.6 (vs. 4.9 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up (Way Up)

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – February 23, 1998

by Logan Scisco

Jim Ross, Kevin
Kelly, and Michael Cole are in the booth and they are live from Waco, Texas.

Opening Contest
for the WWF Tag Team Championship:  The
New Age Outlaws (Champions) beat The Legion of Doom when The Road Dogg pins
Animal after Billy Gunn blasts Animal with a tag team title belt at 4:57:
By this time the Road Dogg had polished the Outlaws
introduction into what most fans remember. 
Quick match, with the LOD hitting the Road Dogg with the Doomsday
Device, but the referee works to get Hawk out of the ring and the Outlaws use
underhanded tactics to win.  After the
match, the Legion of Doom argue with each other and start brawling, which is an
interesting visual.  WWF officials run
out to split it up.  Unfortunately, this
didn’t lead to a feud that might be interesting and instead segwayed into the
LOD 2000 repackaging, which, as you can guess, led into a new feud with the
Outlaws!  Rating:  *¾ (1 for 1)
Non-Title
Match:  Ken Shamrock defeats Jeff Jarrett
(NWA North American Champion w/Jim Cornette) via submission to the ankle lock
at 5:43:
Due to beating the Rock in the War of Attrition match at
No Way Out of Texas, Shamrock gets an Intercontinental title match at
WrestleMania XIV.  The crowd loves seeing
Shamrock destroy Jarrett in the early going and Shamrock kicks out when
Cornette trips him when he suplexes Jarrett in the ring and tries to hold down
his leg on the cover.  This is a very
proficient match between two guys that can go, with several false finishes
mixed in, and the referee gets inadvertently bumped, but Cornette accidentally
blasts Jarrett with his tennis racket and that leads to the finish.  Rating:  **½ (2 for 2)
After the match,
Cole interviews Jarrett, who says that it might be time for he and Cornette to
go their separate ways
.
Shawn Michaels
entrance at WrestleMania XII is the WrestleMania Millennium Moment
.
Jerry Lawler
interviews Animal in the locker room and Animal screams a lot before Hawk runs
in and they fight some more as Bradshaw and a few jobbers work to separate
them.
The Truth
Commission & Kurrgan (w/The Jackyl) beat The Disciples of Apocalypse when
Kurrgan pins 8-Ball with the Paralyzer at 3:56:

Since Kurrgan has ditched his Truth Commission ring gear, he is not considered
part of the Truth Commission anymore, which is just Sniper and Recon.  The Jackyl doesn’t do commentary for this
match as he has done for most Truth Commission matches to this point.  During the match, Ross announces that there
will be a fifteen team battle royal at WrestleMania.  This follows a predictable, yet smart,
booking pattern whereby DOA tries to keep Kurrgan from entering the ring.  Skull and 8-Ball slam Kurrgan to a huge
reaction, but 8-Ball is left alone with Kurrgan and that has a predictable
result.  Better than I expected it to
be.  Rating:  *½ (3 for 3)
After the match,
the Jackyl yells at Sniper for not tagging in and slaps him, but when Sniper
goes after the Jackyl, Kurrgan puts him in a Paralyzer and drags him to the
locker room
.
D-Generation X is
in Shawn Michaels home in Texas and cuts a promo.  Triple H says that WrestleMania will be
X-rated and that the next four weeks will set the Nielsen ratings on fire.  Good promo (4 for 4)
Sunny comes out to
do guest ring announcing duties and asks the crowd if things are really bigger
in Texas
.
Taka Michinoku wrestles
Barry Windham (w/Jim Cornette & The Rock N’ Roll Express) to a no contest
at 2:34:
This is quite a David vs. Goliath battle, as Windham can
throw Michinoku around with ease.  The
match is happening because Taka could not read his contract.  Michinoku surprises Windham with a few
moonsaults and Windham doesn’t bother to take off his ring gear for the match.  Windham hits his trademark suplex and lariat,
but the lights go off and Kane walks out. 
Michinoku ends up the target as the NWA flee.  Paul Bearer calls out Steve Austin and
challenges him to a match next week on RAW.
We head into hour
two so Lawler takes over the commentating duties for Cole and Kelly.
Cole interviews
the New Age Outlaws as they leave the arena and they take credit for splitting
the Legion of Doom up.  In a small piece
of foreshadowing, the Road Dogg is wearing a D-Generation X t-shirt.  Cole gets tired of the Outlaws antics, but
after the Outlaws get into their car it is attacked by Chainsaw Charlie and
Cactus Jack.  The Outlaws manage to speed
away.  Hard to really see everything
going on with the darkness outside and I just can’t stand Cole (4 for 5)
Goldust gives a
funny Dusty Rhodes impression and talks about his career over a video
package.  Best line:  “I beat Ric Flair 25,000 times in a row!  I had a legendary feud, but Terry Funk always
whooped my ass so I don’t want to talk about that right now!”
Bradshaw pins The
Artist Formerly Known as Goldust with the lariat at 3:35:
Tonight, Goldust is dressed like his father Dusty Rhodes
circa 1990 and comes out to the “American Dream” theme song, which is a top
five theme song in my books.  A small
comedy match here, as Goldust tries to mock Dusty’s moves and injures
himself.  He also gets on the mic and
talks like Dusty and yells at the crowd. 
Bradshaw squashes Goldust and blocks a bionic elbow attempt with a
lariat to win.  Match was not much, but
Goldust’s comedy made it worth watching. 
Rating:  ½* (5
for 6)
Cole interviews
Goldust, who says that nothing compares to Goldust.
Kelly tries to
interview Hawk, who exits the arena without face paint and refuses to talk.
Non-Title
Match:  Steve Blackman pins The Rock
(Intercontinental Champion w/The Nation of Domination) after hitting him with
nunchucks at 4:14:
In a nice touch, the Rock hangs back during the Nation of
Domination’s entrance so that he can get more attention than the other members
of the group.  Faarooq gets on the apron
after the Rock hits Blackman with a powerslam and that nearly costs the Rock
the match when Blackman whips the Rock into Faarooq and schoolboys him for
two.  The situation happens again when
Faarooq hops on the apron, but D-Lo tosses Blackman’s nunchucks to Blackman
instead of the Rock, which costs the Rock the match.  Pure angle development and Blackman’s win
meant nothing in the long run.  Rating: 
¼* (5 for 7)
After the match,
D-Lo tells the Rock that Faarooq told him to toss the nunchucks to Blackman and
Faarooq does not care that the Rock knows.
Call 1-900-737-4WWF
to hear about WrestleMania, Shawn Michaels, and a national television deal for
the WWF!
Kelly interviews
Luna Vachon, who says she is waiting for Sable and cannot wait to rearrange her
face.
NWA Tag Team
Championship Match:  The Headbangers beat
The Rock N’ Roll Express (Champions w/Jim Cornette) when Thrasher pins Ricky
Morton with a shoulder block at 4:22
Before the match, Commissioner Slaughter comes out with
referee Earl Hebner and replaces Tommy Young at the referee.  Cornette gives a great rant about this with
the commentary team.  Ross does his best
to argue that this match matters because the Headbangers loved the Rock N’ Roll
Express as kids, so that is why they want to beat them for the NWA tag team
titles.  The Express fail to get anything
to go their way in the match and since Hebner is refereeing he does not
disqualify the Headbangers when Robert Gibson is tossed over the top rope.  Cornette smashes Thrasher in the back with
his tennis racket, but Thrasher falls on top of Morton and scores the pin and
Cornette throws a tantrum.  Poor contest
as these teams just do not have chemistry. 
Rating:  ½* (5 for 8)
Pete Rose is
announced as a guest celebrity at WrestleMania.
A video package
hypes Steve Austin’s road to WrestleMania.
European
Championship Match:  Owen Hart (Champion)
beats “Marvelous” Marc Mero by disqualification at 4:12:
During his entrance, Mero sends Sable to the locker room.  Owen is set to defend the European title
against Triple H at WrestleMania, so he is no longer a part of the main event
picture and won’t be for the remainder of his career.  Less than a minute into the match she
returns, but Mero kicks out of Owen’s schoolboy to keep the match going.  Mero gets frustrated with the referee as he
pounds away in the corner and pushes him down, which draws the disqualification.  What is weird is that they don’t have Mero
hit the TKO and getting a phantom pin before the referee called for the
bell.  Rating:  *½ (5 for 9)
After the bell,
Luna Vachon runs out and Goldust and WWF officials try to hold her away from
Sable.  When Sable sees Luna she tries to
engage her as well.  Goldust eventually
restrains Sable, but Mero takes exception to that and starts pounding away on
him.  Lot of heat for this as we continue
moving toward a mixed tag match at WrestleMania.
Tune in next week
to see D-Generation X, Mike Tyson, and Kane’s challenge of Steve Austin!
The Final Report Card:  The first hour was really good, but the
second hour lagged.  It was quite
surprising not to see Steve Austin and the show really missed his
appearance.  It might be surprising to
those who never watched the product at the time that the Sable-Luna angle got
airtime at the end of the show, but it is really the second hottest act that
the WWF has going on aside from Austin. 
Solid effort this week to build us to WrestleMania XIV.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.2 (vs. 4.6 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – February 21, 1998

by Logan Scisco

This was a
Saturday edition of RAW because RAW was pre-empted by the Westminster Dog Show.
Jim Ross, Kevin
Kelly, and Michael Cole are doing commentary and they are taped in Dallas,
Texas.  This show is where the WWF
scratch logo made its debut.

Opening
Contest:  The Quebecers beat The Legion
of Doom by count out at 6:13:
About four minutes into this slow match, the New Age
Outlaws come out with a dumpster, attack Hawk, and slam him into it.  This creates a handicap match and when Animal
spots what has happened to Hawk, he runs off the New Age Outlaws with a chair,
but this causes the Legion of Doom to get counted out and lose the match.  Unimpressive contest that was dying before
the Outlaws came out.  Do we really need
another Legion of Doom-Outlaws feud?  Rating: 
* (0 for 1)
Ross says that
D-Generation X is threatening a lawsuit toward Steve Austin because of what he
did to Chyna at No Way Out.  The ground
for the lawsuit is emotional distress.  A
video package is aired to hype Chyna.  DX
will give more details about the lawsuit on Monday.
Ken Shamrock
defeats Sniper (w/Recon) via submission to the ankle lock at 5:15:
The Jackyl is on commentary and Sniper controls much of
the match since he and Recon make this a two-on-one contest behind the
referee’s back.  However, Shamrock makes
the comeback out of nowhere and secures the victory.  A tolerable match, but it is surprising that
they let Sniper get in so much offense here, as this should have been an easy
squash for Shamrock.  Rating: 
*½ (1 for 2)
After the match,
Shamrock gives Recon a belly-to-belly suplex and the Jackyl berates Sniper for
his loss.  The Jackyl slaps Sniper and
Sniper walks out when the Jackyl turns his back to him in the ring.
Call 1-900-737-4WWF
to hear more about D-Generation X’s lawsuit, the WWF injury report, and what
celebrities will be at WrestleMania!
Recon tells the
announcers that there is no communication breakdown in the Truth Commission,
but Sniper says that is incorrect and they need to go it alone as a team.  He throws a chair into a locker to make his
point
.
Jerry Lawler
interviews Marc Mero and Sable, with Sable refusing to wear her Marvelous Marc
Mero jacket.  Mero says he’s tired of
being the “Bad man,” which is an inside joke at his Johnny B. Badd persona, and
he blames Sable for trying to become the star of their partnership.  Mero says that Sable can’t win wrestling
matches and that he fell down when Sable pushed him at No Way Out because he
tripped.  A man brings Sable flowers and
Mero demands to know who her secret admirer is, but she just walks off.  A good segment due to Mero’s good promo work (2 for 3)
Jim Cornette
complains that the fans are booing the great wrestling of the National
Wrestling Alliance and he says that the NWA will show people what they are
supposed to like.  He hypes the Rock N’
Roll Express defending the NWA World Tag Team titles against the Headbangers,
which will be officiated by Tommy Young. 
Cornette warns Vince McMahon that the NWA is going to take over, which
made the NWA angle seem like a poor man’s version of the NWO.  There really aren’t bad Cornette promos at
this time, though.  (3 for 4)
NWA World Tag
Team Championship Match:  The Rock N’
Roll Express (Champions w/Jim Cornette) beat The Headbangers by
disqualification at 4:03:
I had forgotten that Tommy Young came in as the NWA’s
special referee during this angle.  It is
also humorous that the WWF decided to give the Rock N’ Roll Express the Rockers
old theme music and not create another theme for them.  This does not say much for the NWA World Tag
Team titles when the Headbangers are getting a shot, since they are on the
bottom of the WWF pecking order.  The Express
really do not have the chops to produce great matches at this point and the
Headbangers appear to have the titles won after they hit Ricky Morton with a
Stage Dive.  However, Mosh throws Robert
Gibson over the top rope that gets the Express a cheap win.  Awful match, but the finish was a nice way to
get cheap heat with the WWF audience. 
Unfortunately, people need to care about the NWA to make that
happen.  Rating:  ½* (3 for 5)
We enter hour two,
so Lawler takes over commentary duties for Kelly and Cole
.
Andre the Giant
choking Bob Uecker at WrestleMania IV is the M&M WrestleMania Millennium
Moment.
Ross interviews
Steve Austin, who says that he gave Chyna a Stone Cold Stunner because she
messed with him.  He says he wants Shawn
Michaels at his best for WrestleMania because he wants to kick his ass.  He warns Mike Tyson to keep out of his
business at WrestleMania or his gold tooth will find its way into a necklace,
bracelet, or ring that he will proudly wear. 
Good promo to keep the WrestleMania build going (4 for 6)
-European
Championship Match:  Owen Hart (Champion)
beats Jeff Jarrett (NWA North American Champion w/Jim Cornette) by
disqualification when Cornette interferes at 5:28:
These two have a lingering issue from the Royal Rumble,
where Jarrett randomly attacked Owen for no reason, but the commentators do not
discuss that.  This is the technically
proficient match that you would expect and they give Owen the disqualification
victory when Cornette runs in to break up the Sharpshooter.  In a wink at older fans, Owen puts Cornette,
his old manager, in the Sharpshooter and forces Jarrett and Cornette to
flee.  Rating:  ** (5 for 7)
Pantera delivering
a Tope Con Hilo to Taka Michinoku at No Way Out is the Playstation Slam of the
Week.
A video package
discusses how Dok Hendrix used to be Michael P.S. Hayes and chronicles parts of
his career.  Hendrix is the guest ring
announcer for the next match and he comes out to “Badstreet USA.”  This is where making up names for talent is
idiotic, since they recognize that he’s Michael Hayes, but still refer to him
as Dok Hendrix.  Before Hendrix can
announce the next match, the lights go out and Kane comes out.  Hendrix tries to fight him off with his boot,
but Kane no sells it and is destroyed. 
Nice way to get some easy heat on Kane. 
(6 for 8)
Sunny comes out to
do guest ring announcing duties for the next match.
Taka Michinoku
& Aguila beat Pirata Morgan & “Too Sexy” Brian Christopher when
Michinoku pins Morgan after a Michinoku Driver at 5:37:
In a very non-PC way, Christopher tells the audience that
“he went out and got himself a Mexican.” 
Morgan looks like the lost tag team partner of Jean Pierre-LaFitte, eye
patch included.  This is an entertaining
spotfest, with Michinoku doing a good job getting flung around like a rag doll
by Christopher.  Michinoku is really the
John Cena of the light heavyweight division because he takes a ton of
punishment here, yet magically recovers to hit Morgan with a Michinoku Driver
and help his team win.  That aside, this
is the best match of the night so far.  Rating: 
**¾ (7 for 9)
The Nation of Domination comes out and the
Rock has a gifts to present to the Nation to show critics that the Nation is
not divided.  Kama, D-Lo, and Mark Henry
receive gold Rolexes, but Faarooq receives a big framed picture of the
Rock.  As you can imagine, Faarooq is not
happy about that.  Great angle that kept
building momentum for the Rock’s cocky personality.  (8 for
10)
Steve Blackman
pins Faarooq (w/The Nation of Domination) with a schoolboy at 1:32:
Ross makes sure to get in his football mention before the
bell even rings, establishing a new record. 
The Rock does not pay attention to the match and concentrates his
attention on admiring his portrait and showing it to the crowd.  Faarooq takes it from him after hitting
Blackman with a Dominator and wants to use it as a weapon, but the Rock
snatches it away and that distraction helps Blackman continue his undefeated
streak.  After the match, Faarooq
destroys the Rock’s portrait.
Michael Cole is
outside the Nation of Domination’s locker room where arguing is heard.  D-Lo Brown says that everything is okay and
they are just packing up to leave.
Cactus Jack &
Chainsaw Charlie defeat The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust & “Marvelous”
Marc Mero (w/Luna Vachon) when Charlie pins Goldust after Cactus nails Goldust
with a chair at 4:17:
Goldust is just wearing his standard ring attire for this
match, but Lawler informs us that Goldust will show the world “The American
Dream” on Monday.  Sable does not
accompany Mero to the ring, which draws some easy heat from the crowd.  Three minutes in, Sable makes her predictable
appearance, carrying the flowers she received earlier, and Luna destroys the
flowers when Sable argues with Mero.  The
ensuing melee between the valets distracts the referee and enables Cactus to
blast Goldust with a chair to give his team the win.  Match was overwhelmed by the angle and too
rushed to really mean anything.  I’ll
still give it a point for angle development, though.  Rating:  * (9 for 11)
After the match,
Sable and Luna get into a brawl before WWF officials and Mero separate them.
Tune in on Monday
to see what new celebrity will be added to WrestleMania XIV!  Also, the New Age Outlaws will face the
Legion of Doom for the tag team titles!
The Final Report Card:  It would be easy to write this off as a
filler show since it was a taped Saturday RAW, but this show was very
entertaining.  The promo work was simple,
but maintained the major angles and Monday’s show has a build with Mike Tyson
scheduled for an appearance, a reveal about WrestleMania XIV, and Goldust
promising to mock his dad.  The WWF made
a good first step here on the road to WrestleMania.

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – February 9, 1998

by Logan Scisco

The presidential
sex scandal parodies continue, as Sunny is dressed like Marilyn Monroe and
sings “Happy Birthday” to Classie Freddie Blassie.  It was Blassie’s eightieth birthday.
The D-Generation X
beatdown of Steve Austin on last week’s show is recapped in a video package.
Jim Ross, Kevin
Kelly, and Michael Cole are in the booth and they are taped from Evansville,
Indiana.  I will be really happy when we
get rid of this three man commentary team in hour one.  Listening to it is like Ross fighting a
verbal handicap match.

Steve Austin comes
out with a white bag and calls out WWF Champion Shawn Michaels, but D-Generation
X appears on the Titantron.  Michaels
says he calls the shot in the WWF and Austin will face him on his schedule.  Michaels says that Austin needs to give him a
reason to come to the ring and Austin says he should because he has the WWF
title.  Michaels blows that off, but
realizes that a toy belt is in his bag and becomes irate.  Austin says that he will be easy to find if
Michaels wants his belt back.  Sometimes
the simple stuff is all you need to do to in order to tell a great story and
that’s all this did.  1 for 1
Call 815-734-1161
to get your RAW is War varsity jacket for $199.99 (plus $21 shipping & handling)!  I really want to know how many people bought this thing at that price.
Sunny comes out to
do guest ring announcing duties for our next match
.
Opening
Contest:  Jeff Jarrett & Barry
Windham (w/The Rock N’ Roll Express & Jim Cornette) beat The Legion of Doom
by disqualification when Bradshaw interferes at 4:59:
The announcers barely talk about the Legion of Doom
losing to the NWA faction two weeks ago and Cole tries to sell this match as
some kind of new attraction.  Of course,
Jarrett and Windham lost on last week’s show to Bradshaw and Flash Funk, so
they don’t seem in line for a push.  The
LOD’s storyline continues to be “are these guys too old?”  When all hell breaks loose, Hawk ends up on
the arena floor and the NWA faction works over his knee before tossing him back
into the ring.  Jarrett proceeds to apply
a figure-four, but Hawk is not going to submit to break character so Bradshaw
does the predictable run-in and although he never touches anyone in the NWA
faction that costs the LOD the match by disqualification.  That makes no sense to Sunny, who seems confused
announcing the result.  With the piped in
crowd noise, you would think this was the main event of WrestleMania.  Rating:  *½ (1 for 2)
D-Generation X is
shown talking about a plan to get the WWF title back from Steve Austin
.
Henry Godwinn
(w/Phineas Godwinn) pins Pierre (w/Jacques) when Phineas hits Pierre with a
slop bucket at 4:24:
The Quebecers and Godwinns began a small feud on the most
recent edition of Shotgun Saturday Night and are booked to face each other at
No Way Out, so this offers a preview of what is come.  Of course, why these teams are booked against each other makes little sense, since both are heels and are not over.  Pierre nearly kills himself with a plancha
and he hits a flying leg drop, which Kelly says he stole from Brian
Christopher.  To be fair, Pierre was
technically a pirate in 1995, so that’s not a stretch.  This match is decent for a big man match, but
the finish is silly as Jacques trips Henry and Henry conveniently puts his head
through the ropes to get hit by a slop bucket. 
Phineas then hits Pierre with his bucket after Jacques distracts the referee
by running from Phineas.  Got that?  Rating: 
*¾ (1 for 3)
Chyna walks in on
the Los Boricuas poker game and speaks to them in Spanish about helping out
with Steve Austin.  Lost in this
translation is how to cheat the paying customer and replace Savio Vega with
Shawn Michaels in the eight man tag match main event at No Way Out.
Shawn Michaels
yelling at Steve Austin last week is the Western Union Rewind segment
.
“Too Sexy” Brian
Christopher & El Pantera beat Taka Michinoku & Aguila when Pantera pins
Michinoku after a flying headbutt at 5:28 shown:
Now, you might remember that Pantera beat Christopher two
weeks ago and Lawler slapped him, so it would make little sense for them to be
partners.  However, on a recent episode
of Shotgun Saturday Night, Pantera turned against Michinoku since they are
facing each other for the light heavyweight title at No Way Out, so they are
teaming up now.  You can tell that all of
this is booked on the fly because Pantera debuted two weeks ago, so they should
have just made him a heel and avoided these problems.  This has a fast start, but Christopher makes
sure he slows that to a crawl when he gets involved.  This has a good finish, as Christopher’s
attempt to hit Michinoku with a foreign object fails, but Pantera puts it in
his mask, makes a blind tag, and headbutts Michinoku to capture the victory and
set himself up as a threat for No Way Out. 
This had its moments if you exclude Christopher’s involvement.  Rating:  **¼ (2 for 4)
Kane and Paul
Bearer come out and Bearer complains about Vader using a fire extinguisher on
Kane last week.  Bearer gives Kane a
Vader clock and Kane uses his magical powers to set it on fire.  Bearer promises that the Undertaker will not
be at No Way Out because the Undertaker is gone.  If the clock fire had been more impressive
I’d give this a point, but it was pretty weak sauce.  2 for
5
The Rock hitting
the Rock Bottom on Tom Brandi on Shotgun Saturday Night is the Footaction Slam
of the Week
.
Jerry Lawler joins
Jim Ross in the booth as we enter hour two
.
The Rock &
Faarooq (w/The Nation of Domination) beat Ken Shamrock & Chainz (w/The
Disciples of Apocalypse & Ahmed Johnson) when Faarooq pins Shamrock after
the Rock hits Shamrock with a chair at 4:21:
This is our last exhibition bout before the “war of
attrition” ten man tag match at No Way Out. 
Before the match, the Rock makes clear that he is in favor of cloning as
long as it is done very, very selectively and that means no one in Evansville
should be cloned.  In fact, the Rock says
only he should be cloned because he’s the “best damn Intercontinental champion
there ever was.”  They should have just
booked the Rock against the Honky Tonk Man to settle that question once and for
all.  Chainz finds himself in peril and
when Shamrock gets the tag he cleans house and puts Faarooq in the ankle
lock.  However, the referee is busy
sorting out a fight between the factions at ringside and the Rock gets a chair
and delivers a sick shot to help his team win. 
After the match, Shamrock snaps and suplexes the referee and Chainz and
his team has to restrain him.  Rating: 
** (3 for 6)
Footage from the
WrestleMania XIV press conference is shown. 
Vince McMahon announces that the main event is Shawn Michaels defending
the WWF title against Steve Austin and Mike Tyson will serve as the enforcer of
the match.  Tyson puts over Bruno
Sammartino and how much he loved him as a kid. 
Shawn Michaels chews out a reporter who puts down wrestling and Austin
and Michaels have a confrontation and Tyson has to get between them.  This looked like a fun press conference
.
Los Boricuas and
Chyna are shown looking for Steve Austin in the locker room.  Chyna finds a jobber in a towel and tosses
him into a locker.
Steve Blackman
defeats Recon (w/Sniper) via submission to an armbar at 4:33:
This is when they gave Blackman glowing sticks and had
him put on a martial arts display before each match.  Amazing how that didn’t catch on.  Seconds into the match, the Jackyl’s music
hits and he descends from the rafters on a platform and cuts a promo refuting
the idea that he is a sociopath.  The
promo makes it impossible to pay attention to the match, which is a shame
because it is pretty decent.  Jackyl is
upset that Recon loses and slaps him. 
Recon is upset, but the Jackyl turns his back and Recon backs off.  I won’t rate the match, but the Jackyl’s
promo was not very entertaining and neither were the post-match antics.  3 for
7
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear what former NWA champion is having negotiations with Jim
Cornette about coming into the WWF!
The New Age Outlaws
come out in University of Kentucky t-shirts and discuss how they are getting
chills near the entrance because of last week’s dumpster incident.  Billy Gunn wants to recreate it so they pull
out a dumpster and the Road Dogg narrates last week’s events.  They push the dumpster off the entrance and
Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie blow up dolls are inside.  Billy does CPR to the Cactus one and they
promise to hurt Cactus and Chainsaw at No Way Out.  This segment effectively put over the Outlaws
as cocky, arrogant heels that you wanted to see destroyed by Cactus and
Chainsaw.  4 for 8
Los Boricuas and
Chyna continue to look for Steve Austin in the back, but after Los Boricuas go
through some double doors, Austin chains them shut.
Thrasher (w/Mosh)
pins The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust (w/Marc Mero, Sable & Luna
Vachon) with a schoolboy at 4:28:
Goldust has become partial to the Marilyn Manson persona,
as he is doing it again for this show. 
This is another preview of a pay-per-view tag team match since the
Headbangers will face Goldust and Marc Mero at No Way Out.  When the crowd starts chanting loudly for
Sable, Mero, Luna, and Goldust order her to the locker room.  This match drags on until Sable comes back
out and gets into a shouting match with Luna. 
When Goldust tries to confront Sable she slaps him and Thrasher takes
advantage to win.  After the match, Mero
has to restrain Luna before she can mix it up with Sable.  The match was not very good, but the angle
behind it had some good heat.  Rating: 
*¼ (5 for 9)
D-Generation X
comes out and Shawn Michaels demands Steve Austin return what belongs to
him.  Austin comes out with the title
belt, but DX flees and the New Age Outlaws wander out.  Chyna grabs the belt from the canvas as
Austin faces four-on-one odds, but Chainsaw Charlie cuts through the canvas and
he and Cactus Jack come from under the ring. 
Owen Hart joins in as well and DX and the New Age Outlaws flee.  Nice closing segment that wetted the
audience’s appetite for the pay-per-view main event.  6 for
10
The Final Report Card:  A decent “go home” show for No Way Out and I
am surprised that the eight man tag team match did not get more build in the
weeks leading up to the show.  Tonight
was really the first sustained hype of the main event.  Regardless, the last segment did what it was
supposed to do and the Austin-Michaels storyline for the evening was well
executed.  The Sable-Mero storyline is
arguably the second best one that the company is doing right now and its
beginning to segway nicely into a mixed tag match for WrestleMania.  The next RAW was held on a Saturday, February
21st, so we will recap No Way Out of Texas and go to that episode.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.2 (vs. 4.6 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – January 19, 1998

-Before I get into
this week’s review, I wanted to know if any readers had feedback on the WWE
2k14 game.  I bought WWE 13 and was
irritated by the one count glitch.  Worth
a buy this year or not?  I just don’t
want to get burned again.
A still image of
Juanita McMahon, who recently passed away, is shown.
Michael Cole
narrates a video package about Kane’s turn on his brother at last night’s Royal
Rumble pay-per-view.
Jim Ross, Michael
Cole, and Kevin Kelly are in the booth and they are live from Fresno,
California
.

Paul Bearer comes
out to the Undertaker’s old theme music and gloats about setting the Undertaker
up at the Royal Rumble.  He goes through
a lengthy narration about last night’s events until the Undertaker’s current
theme music hits and druids roll out a casket. 
Instead of the Undertaker, Kane pops out of the casket and that ends the
segment.  This started with lots of crowd
heat, but Bearer’s recap of last night went on way too long and killed the
segment.  0 for 1
Ross interviews
D-Generation X and European Champion Triple H says that he proved last night
that Owen Hart can’t cut it in the WWF. 
WWF Champion Shawn Michaels promises that DX will find the Undertaker
and bring him back tonight.
Opening Six Man
Tag Team Contest:  Faarooq, Kama Mustafa
& D-Lo Brown wrestle The Disciples of Apocalypse to a double
disqualification at 4:40:
Surprisingly, this match features a lot of fast action
and the commentary team puts over D-Lo Brown’s potential throughout the
match.  When all hell breaks loose,
referee Earl Hebner can’t keep things under control and tosses the match out
for a lame ending.  After the bell, Mark
Henry and the Rock run out to give the Nation five-on-three odds, but Ken
Shamrock and Ahmed Johnson run out to even the odds and they run the Nation
off.  Kevin Kelly says Ahmed has never
look better, but I would disagree. 
Ending aside, this was a good brawl and the crowd was hot for the
finish.  Rating:  ** (1 for 2)
Vince Russo, in
his Vic Venom days, hypes WWF and RAW Magazine. 
Call 8-15-734-1161 to get twelve issues of both for $29.97.  I had a WWF Magazine subscription at this
time and it was a pretty good read while Russo was at the helm.  When he left, it went way downhill.
“Marvelous” Marc
Mero (w/Sable) beats Tom Brandi with a TKO at 3:29:
As they come down to the ring, Mero puts Sable in a robe
that says “Property of Marc Mero” on the back of it.  During the first minute of the match, Sable
gets flowers from a secret admirer and Mero berates Sable over it.  This distractions help Brandi take the edge
over Mero and he scores several dramatic near-falls, but as Sable momentarily
distracts the referee, Mero hits a low blow and achieves another tainted win.  This match showed that Brandi could go, but
awful gimmicks ruined any chance he had to catch on in the company and he was
gone shortly after this feud.  Rating: 
**½ (2 of 3)
D-Generation X
cautiously approaches a hearse in the arena, but when they open the doors a
bunch of young women hop out and Chyna closes Michaels and Triple H in there
with them.  Why these women were in the
hearse to begin with is never explained.
The Sony
Playstation Slam of the Week is Vader’s Vader Bomb on Goldust at last night’s
Royal Rumble.
Mike Tyson’s limousine
is shown pulling into the arena.  Shane
McMahon, Tyson, and his entourage get out of the limos.
The Quebecers
defeat Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie by disqualification when Jack puts
the referee in the Mandible Claw at 3:03:
The Quebecers return to the company after a three year
absence.  They were a temporary
acquisition during the Monday Night Wars, as they wrestled in WCW prior to this
as the Amazing French Canadians. 
Unfortunately, the Quebecers are not wearing their awesome mountie-style
uniforms.  You would think that a former
three-time tag team championship team would get more billing upon their return,
but that’s not the case here.  This is a
wild brawl, which goes beyond the bell. 
If this is meant to set up a rematch for next week, then it accomplished
its purpose.  Rating:  ** (3 of 4)
D-Generation X
come across the mini wrestlers in their search for the Undertaker.  The minis speak Spanish, so they don’t
understand DX, but in a funny moment, Chyna lifts Max Mini up so Shawn Michaels
can interrogate him.  Is this whole thing
a parody of when they had Leslie Nielsen track down the Undertaker at
SummerSlam 1994?
Mike Tyson is
shown chatting with Vince McMahon and his cronies
.
NWA North
American Heavyweight Championship Match: 
Jeff Jarrett (Champion w/Jim Cornette & The Rock N’ Roll Express)
beats Bradshaw (w/Barry Windham) when Windham inadvertently lariats Bradshaw at
3:41:
There is something ironic about Cornette saying that
Jarrett will lead the NWA into the year 2000, since Jarrett was on top of WCW
in 2000 when it started to fall apart. 
Throughout the match, the Express help beat down Bradshaw when it
appears that he is getting an advantage in the match and Windham does not help.  Bradshaw appears to have
the title won after clearing the Express out of the ring and delivering a
powerbomb, but Windham seems to accidentally hit his partner with a lariat to
help Jarrett retain the title.  Another
short, yet solid match on tonight’s card. 
Rating:  ** (4 of 5)
After the match,
Bradshaw continues his fight with the NWA faction and Windham comes into the
ring when the NWA faction has the advantage. 
He then turns on Bradshaw by hitting him with another lariat and he is
the new member of the NWA faction.  If
you want living proof that the WWE will not give up on someone, just look at
Bradshaw.  The guy went through three
different gimmicks before they found something that caught on (the APA faction
with Faarooq).
­-The announce crew
hypes the house show circuit
.
Shawn Michaels
complains in the locker room that he cannot find the Undertaker, when suddenly
the lights go out.
Vince McMahon
narrates a quick video package to pay tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.
As we enter hour
two, Jerry “the King” Lawler joins Ross for commentary
.
The Undertaker’s
music hits and a figure that appears to be the Undertaker descends from the top
of the arena.  However, when the lights
hit, the D-Generation X music hits and Shawn Michaels strips off the Undertaker’s
ring gear.  Triple H and Chyna bring a
grill and cooking supplies to the ring and they proceed to mock the Undertaker
being burned alive last night.  Triple H
announces that he will grant a European title match to Owen Hart next week and
then hilariously rips Ric Flair by saying that Space Mountain is old, broken
down, and in need of repair.  Michaels
says that his next target is Steve Austin and delivers a nice opening salvo for
their feud by saying that he has won the titles that Austin has won in the
past, that he is on the top of the mountain, and that he does not lay down for
anyone.  This whole segment was great in
terms of transitioning DX away from the Undertaker and into other feuds.  It also put over the WWF title and
immediately put over Austin-Michaels as a must see event.
  5 of 6
Mike Tyson is
shown talking with the Legion of Doom and Sunny.
Owen Hart, Taka
Michinoku & The Headbangers defeat Los Boricuas when Owen makes Jesus
submit to the Sharpshooter at 2:59
This is a very random match, but it shows why tag team matches
can be ideal ways to fill two hours of television programming.  Honky Tonk Man is doing commentary for some
reason, but thankfully he’s not looking for a new project like he was last
year.  They should’ve given this more
time, but it was just a vehicle to put
over Owen for next week’s match with Triple H.
After the match,
Cole interviews Owen, who accepts Triple H’s offer of a European title match on
next week’s show.
Non-Title
Match:  The Rock (Intercontinental
Champion) pins Ahmed Johnson with the Rock Bottom at 2:43:
Speaking of random matches, it’s surprising that this
match is being held without any build since Ahmed is a former Intercontinental
champion and might be able to give a rub to the Rock.  Ahmed appears to have the match in hand after
he hits a spinebuster, but Mark Henry comes out and nails him with a chair to
help the Rock win the bout.  After the
match, Ken Shamrock hits the ring and runs off the heels.
Mike Tyson is
shown handling Cactus Jack’s barbed wire baseball bat in the locker room.
Highlights of last
night’s casket match between the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels constitute the
Western Union Rewind segment
.
Mike Tyson is
shown measuring Triple H and Chyna’s muscles.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  The New Age Outlaws
(Champions) defeat The Godwinns when Billy Gunn pins Phineas with a loaded pig
at 4:53:
This match is the Godwinns long awaited title match that
they earned for helping the Outlaws in their feud with the Legion of Doom.  The Outlaws wear overalls for the contest,
but the Godwinns don’ take kindly to that and rip them off of Billy Gunn.  Ross notes that it’s the first time we’ve
seen Gunn in tights, which reflects a nice attention to detail that is missing
from today’s product.  The Godwinns
completely dominate Gunn, but he uses a pig toy, loaded with a brick, to help
his team retain the titles.  These teams
just don’t have a lot of chemistry.  Rating: 
*¼ (5 of 7)
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to find out if it will be a “macho” week for the WWF!
Vince McMahon
comes out and says that he will soon make the biggest announcement in WWF
history.  McMahon welcomes Mike Tyson
out, who says that he loves Bruno Sammartino. 
McMahon announces that Tyson will be at WrestleMania, but before he can
finish his sentence, Steve Austin comes out. 
A sea of WWF officials immediately race out behind Austin and McMahon is
not happy about him ruining Tyson’s time. 
Austin says that he is sick of Tyson’s antics tonight, refuses to shake
Tyson’s hand, and says that he wants a piece of him in a WWF ring.  He then flips Tyson off, which leads to Tyson
pushing Austin and leading to both men being restrained.  During the melee, one of Tyson’s entourage
tries to go after Austin, but Austin intelligently takes him down and lays on
top of him to avoid having the entire angle and his image compromised.  As Austin is pulled out of the ring, McMahon
becomes irate and screams “You’ve ruined it!” at Austin and tries to physically
go after him as Austin is escorted to the locker room.  This is one of the greatest RAW segments of
all time and I marked out watching it just as much as I did when it originally
aired.  6 of 8
In the locker
room, Tyson and his entourage are shown arguing with McMahon, who tries to apologize
for Austin’s behavior as we go off the air.
The Final Report Card:  This was a memorable, historic, and fantastic
episode of RAW.  The D-Generation X and
Tyson-Austin segments carried it, but the in-ring action was also quite good for
most of the show.  I remember that
everyone at school was talking about Tyson and Austin the next day and it also
got the WWF significant mainstream attention from the sports media.  It was one of those angles that was perfectly
placed, timed, and executed and no one else on the roster could have made it
work except for Austin.  McMahon played a
great supporting role as well, especially his nonverbal mannerisms when all
hell broke loose in the ring.  This was
also the highest rated RAW of all-time to this point and was the first RAW to
break the 4.0 mark in the Nielsen ratings. 
Compared to the previous week, Tyson was worth about a 0.6 increase.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.0 (vs. 4.5 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: Monday Night Raw – December 8, 1997

by Logan Scisco

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

In the
championship match of the Karate Fighters Holiday Tournament, Sunny beats Jerry
Lawler by disqualification when Lawler uses gum and a female action figure and then bribes the referee to win.  You really
cannot make this stuff up.
The announce team
recaps last night’s tag team championship match between Jesse James & Billy
Gunn and the Legion of Doom
.
Opening
Contest:  The Legion of Doom wrestle The
Godwinns (w/Jesse James & Billy Gunn) to a no contest at 2:28:
This works a good pace for the first two minutes, with
the Legion of Doom dominating the action until Animal is knocked out the ring
and tossed into the steps.  Suddenly
the lights go out and Kane’s music hits and he destroys Hawk.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your copy of WWF the Music: 
Volume 2.  It will cost you $20
for CD and $15 for the tape (plus $4 shipping & handling)!
WWF Tag Team
Champions Jesse James and Billy Gunn sing goodbye to the Legion of Doom and
James challenges any WWF superstar to a singles match with Gunn.  Dude Love answers the challenge.
Dude Love defeats
“Bad Ass” Billy Gunn (w/Jesse James) with a double-arm DDT at 3:37:
Standard singles match between these two and the only
thing to say is that Gunn works in a nice legsweep counter to Sweet Shin
Music.  After the bell, James comes into
the ring and blasts Love with a chair and Gunn hits a flying leg drop as the
tag team title belts are laid across Love’s face.  Rating:  **
The Rock cuts a
promo with the Nation of Domination and debuts his trademark sunglasses, which
goes a long way towards enhancing his look. 
He says he’s going to become the people’s champion again tonight.
The announce team
recaps the light heavyweight championship match last night between Taka Michinoku
and Brian Christopher.  Cole calls
Christopher’s finisher “The Tennessee Leg Jam.” 
Ugh.
Brian Christopher
claims that Michinoku stole his title in a promo cut after their match last
night at D-Generation X
.
Jim Cornette hosts
an interview between Michinoku and El Unico (Brian Christopher in a mask),
which gets hijacked by Jerry Lawler giving a xenophobic rant.  Christopher unmasks and a two-on-one beat
down results, where Michinoku takes three piledrivers, thereby rendering him
critically dead inside of the Memphis city limits.
A video package
highlights how D-Generation X systematically destroyed the Hart Foundation.i
Flash Funk beats Kurrgan (w/The Jackal) via
reverse decision at 2:27:
The Truth Commission has been written off and Jackal
explains that it’s because that was just a corporate ploy to hold Kurrgan down
and now he will do Jackal’s bidding to take over the WWF.  Kurrgan is never knocked off of his feet in
this squash and he wins with the Paralyzer (clawhold).  However, he refuses to release the hold and
the decision is reversed.  Sniper and
Recon come out to get Kurrgan off of Funk, but it doesn’t work and Kurrgan only
releases the hold when Jackal slaps him and laughs.  After this Kurrgan would keep squashing lower
talents, but never amounted to anything in singles competition.
The announce crew
recaps the D-Generation X WWF title match between Shawn Michaels and Ken
Shamrock and Owen Hart’s interference
.
Cole’s interview
with an outraged Ken Shamrock last night after D-Generation X is shown.  Shamrock says he’ll win the Royal Rumble and
get a new crack at Shawn Michaels if that’s what it takes.
-Since we are in
hour two, Ross and Lawler are in the booth.
D-Generation X
comes out and gloats about last night’s pay-per-view.  Michaels says he tried to flush the turd that
was the Hart Foundation, but one little nugget stays around, which is Owen
Hart.  Michaels says that DX is going to
play strip poker until Owen shows up. 
The Headbangers come out and complain that they cannot wrestle because of
these shenanagins.  They overturn the
card table, which leads to a beatdown and D-Generation X does the Pitbulls Superbomb spot
through a table on Thrasher.  As Michaels
relaxes, Owen comes out of the crowd and does a hit and run attack.
Jeff Jarrett
defeats Vader by count out in ten seconds:
Before the match gets started, Goldust and Luna Vachon
come out and Goldust flashes Vader. 
Vader is incensed and chases Goldust to the locker room to give Jarrett
his second straight cheap win.
Call 1-900-737-4WWF
to hear why a former WWF title holder’s career is in jeopardy of being over.
The announcers
recap the Toughman contest between Marc Mero and Butterbean
.
Cole’s interview
with Butterbean after D-Generation X is shown. 
Butterbean swears revenge.  This
never amounted to anything unless you want to somehow link Butterbean’s anger at Mero to what he did to Bart Gunn at WrestleMania XV
.
Salvatore Sincere
beats Marc Mero (w/Sable) by count out in ten seconds:
Mero tells the crowd that he feels insulted that he has
to wrestle a jobber tonight and he brings out Sable, who is wearing an Idaho
potato sack.  However, instead of
disrobing Mero she takes off her sack to reveal a very revealing bikini.  Mero quickly covers Sable up and takes her
backstage and Sincere takes the count out, but actually leaves the ring before
the referee finishes it.  He’s the winner
anyway.
Call
1-900-RUMBLE-98 to register yourself in the Steve Austin pickup truck
contest!  It’ll cost you $1.99 or you can
send a postcard to WWF headquarters.
The next match is
the scheduled main event between Intercontinental Champion Steve Austin and The
Rock, but Austin comes out and refuses to wrestle.  Austin dares McMahon to fire him and the Rock
has a funny bit by saying “Vince, the Rock thinks you should fire him!”  As a result, McMahon declares the Rock as
the new champion by forfeit.  Austin
does not mind because he says he really wants the WWF title and he shakes the
Rock’s hand and gives him a Stunner. 
Austin takes the belt with him and says he has some major non-wrestling
plans for it next week.  When Vince
leaves the ring, Austin runs the ropes and McMahon goes flying to the arena
floor and starts cursing on air.  The
booking called for Austin to job here, but Austin refused because he felt it
would hurt his character so this is the result of that.  This was a nice segment
because even though Austin refused to wrestle it acknowledged that Austin
needed to go onto better things and it started the Austin-McMahon angle.
The Final Report Card:  I feel bad for anyone that bought a ticket to
this RAW and hope that there was a good selection of dark matches because there
was not a lot of wrestling to be seen. 
There was only one match on the show that went over three minutes,
although the show did start or continue a variety of angles for the Royal
Rumble.  My copy misses a DOA-Los
Boricuas match, but I remember that being really bad.  Austin’s stuff was great, as usual, but the
show got really boring really fast without another competitive match to break
up the promo work.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.0 (vs. 4.3 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: In Your House – D-Generation X

by Logan Scisco

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

Opening Light
Heavyweight Championship Tournament Finals Contest:  Taka Michinoku beats “Too Sexy” Brian Christopher
with a Michinoku Driver to win the title at 12:03:
The predictable light heavyweight tournament finals ends
here and I think they would have been better served using a round robin format
to crown the champion than this.  They
use a refreshing formula at the beginning of the match whereby Christopher
tosses Michinoku around for a couple of minutes before Michinoku rallies, which
gets the crowd into the match. 
Christopher takes a nasty dive into the guardrail and cuts his lip
open.  The match has an irregular flow
because Christopher still wants to work a slow, Memphis style and Michinoku
prefers to work faster sequences and transitions between moves.  Christopher completely kills the crowd by
toying with Michinoku seven minutes in and this ends with the usual “you miss
your finisher and I hit mine” sequence that the WWF is known for.  After the match, WWF officials present Taka
with the title, but I couldn’t help but think at the time “what next?”  The division didn’t have anyone to elevate as
a credible challenger for Michinoku’s belt and as a result, the division was
dead on arrival.  Rating:  **½
Kevin Kelly and
the Jackal hype the Superstar line.
Jose, Miguel
Perez & Jesus defeat The Disciples of Apocalypse when Jose pins Chainz
after Perez hits Chainz with a somersault leg drop at 7:46:
The Boricuas do a horrid rap on the way to the ring that
makes R-Truth’s old gig completely comprehensible.  You can give them credit for trying, but 1998
Konnan this was not.  Since Crush is
gone, DOA is down to only three members so we get a six man tag.  The match has nothing but lots of kicking and
punching and the only highlight is that Perez feigns a knee injury off of a
flying axe handle and runs in behind the referee’s back and alters the finish
after Chainz hits a Death Valley driver. 
Rating:  ¼*
Butterbean tells
Dok Hendrix that he’s ready to take care of Marc Mero tonight.
A video package
recaps the Marc Mero-Butterbean feud.
Michael Cole
interviews Sable, who he says was at Butterbean’s undercard fight the night
before and held up his title belt.  Sable
says that she’s in Marc Mero’s corner tonight and Mero interrupts the
interview, telling her she doesn’t have permission to talk, and he pledges to
knock out Butterbean
.
Toughman
Contest:  Butterbean beats Marc Mero
(w/Sable) by disqualification when Mero uses a low blow and hits Butterbean
with a stool in the fourth round:
The match is scheduled for four, two minute rounds.  For those unfamiliar with Butterbean, he was
a Toughman Contest superstar that eventually became a professional boxer and
won the IBA Super Heavyweight title in April 1997, which he never lost.  The fans quickly turn on this, for obvious
reasons.  They might get into it if it
was a legit fight, but the biggest mark can tell there’s something amiss when
Mero throws out a high knee in the second round and starts choking Butterbean
behind the referee’s back with the tape that holds the ropes together.  They also didn’t bother to have any judges so
that’s another clue the fix is in.  They
book this to make Mero more of a jerk, but the whole exercise made Butterbean
look weak with his obviously pulled punches. 
That said, I would rather have seen Mero fight Butterbean at
WrestleMania XV than Bart Gunn since Mero was a Golden Gloves champion and
would have had a fighting chance.
Kevin Kelly is in
the WWF America Online center with Dude Love. 
I can’t help but have the old AOL dial tone go through my head right now.
The Artist
Formerly Known as Goldust comes out with Luna Vachon, with her leading him on a
leash.  He’s sporting a pink attire, pink
hair, and white face paint.  He reads Dr.
Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham until Luna pushes him down and drags him
away.  Really, really weird.
Cole interviews
the Legion of Doom and Hawk says that Road Dogg Jesse James and Bad Ass Billy
Gunn remind him of boogers in his nose. 
Was there a contest for oddest promo segment tonight?
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  “The Road Dogg”
Jesse James & “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn (Champions) defeat The Legion of Doom by
disqualification when Hawk blasts James and Gunn with a bucket at 10:35:
James and Gunn take stalling to a whole new level, as
they restart their ring entrance several times since the LOD won’t cede a clear
line of access into the ring.  The LOD
dominate until Gunn blasts Hawk with a cooler, which Lawler then completely
writes off by reminding the fans that it is just made out of styrofoam.  Neither team does anything to make this
interesting until the LOD prepare to give James a Doomsday Device, but Henry
Godwinn breaks it up by hitting Animal with a bucket.  That bucket eventually finds its way into
Hawk’s hands and like an idiot he hits the champions and nearly decks the referee
and gets his team disqualified.  So, what
is it going to take to end this awful LOD-Godwinns feud?  The tag division is really running on fumes
at this point and the LOD are clearly past their expiration date. Rating: 
DUD
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.
A video package
hypes the boot camp match between Sergeant Slaughter and Triple H
.
Cole interviews
Triple H and Chyna and Triple H is carrying a special “survival kit” for
tonight’s boot camp match that has a comb, depends, and some other geriatric
equipment.
Jim Cornette
interviews Sergeant Slaughter, who promises to beat Triple H up in the next
match.
Boot Camp
Match:  Triple H (w/Chyna) beats Sergeant
Slaughter with a Pedigree on a chair at 17:40:
This is actually Triple H’s first pay-per-view match in
the United States since becoming a member of D-Generation X.  Slaughter comes out to the Patriot’s theme
music, which is the theme later given to Kurt Angle.  A smart fan in the audience holds up a sign
that makes it onto camera in the early going that asks a great question:  “Who booked this?”  Slaughter is too old to give this a good
effort, as he is gingerly bumping around ringside and the crowd is dead
silent.  The bump of the match goes to
the guest timekeeper, who Helmsley takes out to get access to the ring
bell.  Even that generates very little
reaction.  By the way, Slaughter takes
off his belt to choke Helmsley early in the match, but that causes him to keep
pulling up his pants throughout this encounter. 
The only person getting anything resembling a reaction is Chyna, who
breaks up Slaughter’s Cobra Clutch and knocks out the referee.  Slaughter immobilizes her with powder to the
eyes and re-applies the Cobra Clutch, but Chyna breaks that up with a low blow,
and that leads to the end.  This was
meant to help get Triple H over, but that’s tough to do when no one cares about
the major storyline of Helmsley insulting Slaughter’s family.  I can’t believe someone thought it was a good
idea to give this eighteen minutes.  Rating: 
½*
Cole interviews
Jeff Jarrett, who says that he is ready for his return to the ring.
Jeff Jarrett
defeats The Undertaker by disqualification when Kane interferes and chokeslams
Jarrett at 6:53:
So this is the culmination of the “I’m not getting any
respect around here” storyline that Jarrett has been harping for weeks.  His entrance music is horrid, with some
generic music dubbed over by Jarrett talking about how great he is.  Definitely not one of Jim Johnston’s finer
works.  The Undertaker squashes Jarrett
for five minutes until Kane shows up and confronts his brother.  Kane strikes the Undertaker, but the
Undertaker refuses to retaliate and Kane leaves.  Jarrett tries to put the Undertaker in the
figure-four, but the Undertaker chokeslams him to get some of his heat
back.  As you can imagine, this did
nothing for Jarrett and he went back to his country music gimmick within the next
few months.  He didn’t really get a
reaction until Debra, who if you recall he blasted as a “dumb blonde” in his return promo, was brought into the company as his valet.  Rating:  ¼*
Cole interviews
Mark Henry, who is sitting with Milton Bradley executives.  Henry says he should return very soon to
in-ring competition and he wants Steve Austin to win the next match.
A video package
recaps the Steve Austin-Rock feud
.
Hendrix interviews
the Rock and the Nation of Domination. 
The only notable thing is that this is the first time that I remember
the Rock using the “People’s Eyebrow” in a promo.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve
Austin (Champion) beats The Rock (w/The Nation of Domination) with a Stone Cold
Stunner at 5:30:
After being in a coma for more than an hour, the crowd
wakes up for this one by showering the Rock with “Rocky sucks” chants and going
nuts for Austin.  This is the memorable
contest where Austin shows up in his Austin 3:16 pickup truck and proceeds to
beat up the entire Nation of Domination with it.  The crowd eats all of that up and thinks it’s
the greatest thing they’ve ever seen. 
You can tell that Austin is still working cautiously because of the neck
injury, though.  This is the match where
Austin started to show more of a brawling style and it is also the debut of the
Rock taking off his elbow pad for the People’s Elbow (which is not yet
named).  Austin accidentally gives the
referee a Stone Cold Stunner, but he isn’t disqualified and a second referee
counts the fall when the Rock takes a Stunner shortly thereafter.  A quick, entertaining match that provided a
small taste of things to come between these two.  Austin also has his Intercontinental title
belt back, but he’s well above the title at this point.  Rating:  **½
Kelly and the
Jackal hype the Superstar line some more.
A video package
hypes the Shawn Michaels-Ken Shamrock WWF title match.
Cornette
interviews Ken Shamrock, who says that he has a lot of experience in
pay-per-view fights and says Michaels will be squealing like a baby.
WWF Champion Shawn
Michaels cuts a generic promo on Shamrock. 
You can tell Michaels hard lifestyle is really starting to catch up with
him because he looks awful, much like he did in mid-1995.
WWF Championship
Match:  Ken Shamrock defeats “The
Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels (Champion w/D-Generation X) by disqualification
when DX interferes at 18:28:
This is Shamrock’s only main event title match during his
WWF tenure, which is somewhat surprising based on where his 1998 push seemed to
be taking him.  Despite being pushed hard
the last two months, with unofficial tap out wins over Bret Hart and Michaels,
Shamrock just doesn’t seem credible in this spot because of how he had been
booked up to that point.  I mean,
wrestling the British Bulldog, weaker parts of the Nation of Domination, beating
a depushed Vader, and making Billy Gunn tap out are hardly the accomplishments
of a top talent.  Michaels wrestles a
very toned down style in this match and it just doesn’t work against Shamrock,
who doesn’t have the moveset to keep the fans interested if Michaels stays
grounded.  DX’s interference doesn’t even
illicit much outrage, unless Chyna is the one doing the damage.  Shamrock counters Sweet Chin Music with a
belly-to-belly, but when he applies the ankle lock DX runs in and Michaels keeps
the title.  I hate disqualification finishes
in main event championship matches, especially because this didn’t lead to
Shamrock getting another title shot. 
Michaels also seemed to be going through the motions for whatever
reason.  Rating:  **½
After the match,
Michaels poses on the ring apron as DX beats on Shamrock, but he’s knocked off
and through a table by Owen Hart in street clothes and Owen pounds away until
DX gets near him and he flees through the crowd.  Unfortunately, this didn’t lead to anything
since Michaels and Austin did not want to work with Owen for separate, and
arguably justified, reasons.
The Final Report Card:  Owen’s return was a nice way to end the
pay-per-view, but this entire show was dull. 
All night long you sit through matches and you figure that Shawn
Michaels will put on a great performance in the main event and save the show,
but he comes out and gives a poor effort along with most of the roster.  Austin’s match with the Rock was the
highlight, but it was way too short and at the time I worried about Austin’s health
and if he’d ever be able to have 15-20 minute matches again and if not, how the
WWF was going to book around that.  This
show received the lowest buyrate of the year, which isn’t shocking since
Michaels-Shamrock seemed more of a RAW main event and the roster was really
weak at this time.  Yes, the future star
power was there, but it would take a few more months to take the New Age
Outlaws, Mick Foley, the Rock, Triple H, and others to a higher plane.
Attendance: 
6,538
Buyrate: 
0.44

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – December 1, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Footage of the
Legion of Doom losing that tag team titles on last week’s show to Jesse James
and Billy Gunn is shown.  How will the
LOD react to this defeat?
Jim Ross and Jim
Cornette are doing commentary and they are in Norfolk, Virginia.
WWF Tag Team
Champions Jesse James & Billy Gunn come out and James tells us that the
Legion of Doom are not in the building. 
Gunn says that they are going to wrestle the Headbangers in a non-title
match tonight, but before they can finish their comments the Legion of Doom
charge into the ring in street clothes and no face paint and run off the
champions.

Flash Funk using
the Tumbleweed to beat Taka Michinoku on Shotgun Saturday Night is the Lazer
Tag Slam of the Week.
Sunny comes out to
be the guest ring announcer for the next match
.
Opening Light
Heavyweight Championship Tournament Semi-Final Contest:  Taka Michinoku beats Aguila with the
Michinoku Driver at 4:19:
This match mixes in a little bit of mat wrestling with
the high spots.  Aguila nearly advances
after wrapping up Michinoku in a La Magistral cradle after Michinoku misses a
moonsault, but Michinoku rallies from that point and wins.  Can Michinoku win with anything other than a
Michinoku Driver?  Rating:  **
Jerry Lawler
interviews Goldust and Luna Vachon.  Luna
does the talking, as Goldust crawls around in dominatrix gear and is attached
on a chain.  Luna announces that Goldust
should be known as “The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust” and warns Vader that
pain is coming.  She and Goldust make out
on the canvas to end a very creepy segment.
In a semi-match of
the Karate Fighters Holiday Tournament, Jerry Lawler defeats Tito Santana,
dressed in his El Matador gear.  Lawler
will face Sunny in the finals.
Four Corner
Elimination Match:  D-Lo Brown (w/The
Nation of Domination) wrestles Miguel Perez (w/Los Boricuas), Chainz
(w/The Disciples of Apocalypse) & Recon (w/The Truth Commission) to a no contest
at 3:45:
Other Eliminations:  Chainz pins Recon after a Death Valley driver
at 2:05; Miguel pins D-Lo after blocking a monkey flip at 3:13
As I pointed out in last week’s review, Crush is no
longer in the company, so he won’t be with the Disciples of Apocalypse
anymore.  This is clearly a bit of Vince
Russo booking since he is putting the spotlight on some of the younger stars of
some of these groups like Recon and D-Lo. 
Of course, with all of the different factions at ringside it is only a
matter of time before everyone starts fighting each other and that’s exactly
what happens when the match gets down to Chainz and Perez.  So much for this match amounting to anything
for anybody.  Rating:  ½*
D-Generation X
comes out and WWF & European Champion Shawn Michaels is in a wheelchair.  They run down Jim Neidhart some more and
Triple H tells Sergeant Slaughter that he’s going to put him away for good at
In Your House.  Michaels says that he is
in a wheelchair because Chyna has been putting him through some intensive leg
exercises so that he can increase his pain tolerance and be prepared to face
Ken Shamrock at In Your House.  Michaels
tells Triple H to test his pain tolerance and in a slightly funny bit, Michaels
boot twists a full 360 degrees and he feigns that he is in pain.
Call
1-900-747-4WWF to find out which WWF superstar has threatened to quit the
company!
Footage of the
Montreal screwjob is shown to fans who didn’t buy the pay-per-view
.
A video package
breaks down the Steve Austin-Rock feud over the Intercontinental title
.
In the second
hour, Jerry Lawler replaces Jim Cornette on commentary
.
The Rock (w/The
Nation of Domination) beats Vader via count out at 5:07:
In funny fan moment, a nerdy white kid is shown giving
the Nation salute as the Rock makes his entrance.  At the beginning of the match, Steve Austin
drives into the arena in his Austin 3:16 truck and decides to watch the match
from the hood with some beers.  As with
most of these segments, it’s tough to focus on the match since the camera keeps
panning back to Austin, but what we do see is pretty good.  Goldust comes out and beats on Vader behind
the referee’s back and that incenses Vader, who chases after him and loses the
match.  Rating:  **
A Ken Shamrock
video package is shown
.
Our next booked
match is the second light heavyweight championship tournament semi-final
between Scott Taylor and Brian Christopher, but after Taylor’s entrance Kane
comes out and decimates him.  Paul Bearer
repeats the fact that Kane will keep destroying people until the Undertaker
agrees to fight him.  Since Taylor is in
condition to compete, Christopher advances to the finals of the
tournament.  Surprise!
Jeff Jarrett comes
out and refuses to fight Ahmed Johnson tonight because Ahmed is not on his
level.  Commissioner Slaughter comes out
and books Jarrett to face the Undertaker at In Your House.  Jarrett isn’t too happy about that.
A video package
hypes the Sergeant Slaughter-Triple H match at In Your House.
Non-Title
Match:  “The Road Dogg” Jesse James &
“Bad Ass” Billy Gunn (WWF Tag Team Champions) beat The Headbangers by
disqualification when the Legion of Doom interfere at 2:45:
Just an abbreviated tag tea match here and when the
Headbangers begin the hot tag comeback, the LOD make their predictable run-in and
cost them the match.  James and Gunn run
to the locker room and peel out of the arena in a car, while the Headbangers
and LOD argue in the ring.
A video package
recaps D-Generation X’s beat down on Jim Neidhart last week.
Jim Cornette
interviews Marc Mero and Sable and Cornette tells Mero that “people” are saying
that Sable is the true star of their team. 
Mero tells Sable that she is nothing without him and he does an exhibition by punching hand mitts that have Butterbean’s face in them.  One of them flies off during the exhibition,
so Mero gets mad at Sable, says she abandoned him during his knee injury, and
she’s worthless.  Best segment of the
show and it really made you want Butterbean to beat Mero within an inch of his
life at In Your House.
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The Montreal
Screwjob is shown again and Lawler insists that Bret Hart submitted and the
referee made a legitimate judgment call in ending the match.  This makes the implicit argument that Bret is
a sore loser.
Triple H
(w/D-Generation X) pins Jim “the Anvil” Neidhart after hitting him in the back
with a steel chair at 2:31:
Ross keeps referring to Neidhart as “the Rhino” during
the match because evidently Neidhart’s nickname in the locker room is “the
White Rhino.”  Neidhart dominates
Helmsley throughout the match with power moves, but Shawn Michaels distracts
him on the apron and Helmsley uses a chair that Chyna tosses to him to win the
match. 
After the match,
Neidhart gets Pedigreed on a chair and Michaels spray paints “WCW” on his
back.  They handcuff him to the top rope
and Sergeant Slaughter and Ken Shamrock run out and as Neidhart
holds Chyna back, Shamrock puts Michaels in the ankle lock and Slaughter puts
Triple H in the Cobra Clutch as we go off the air.  A nice closing segment that finally gave DX
some comeuppance for their actions during the last month and redeems at least
some of the show.
The Final Report Card:  I wouldn’t say that this was a great “go
home” show, since Shamrock didn’t get any comments heading into his first (and
only) main event WWF title match and I don’t think adding Undertaker-Jeff
Jarrett is going to increase the buys of the pay-per-view.  Still, despite some of the bad segments, like
the Four Corner Match, there were some pretty good segments like the Mero-Sable
interaction, Rock-Vader, and Taka-Aguila to at least balance it out.  What is surprising is that this show scored a
3.0 rating despite running a Triple H-Neidhart main event, which shows how
invested fans were becoming in the WWF product.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.0 (vs. 3.8 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Neutral

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

by Logan Scisco

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

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

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – November 10, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Jim Ross and Jim
Cornette are in the booth and they are live from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
D-Generation X
comes out to their traditional theme music for the first time as Ross says Bret
Hart has left the company because of Shawn Michaels.  Michaels tells the crowd that he beat Bret in
his own country, with his own hold, he’s the WWF champion now, and he “ran him
South with the other dinosaurs” and his friends there will beat him up one
day.  Nice line.  Michaels says that no superstar in the WWF
can make him quit, which brings out Ken Shamrock.  The segment gets awkward since Shamrock can’t
translate his physical intensity into a good promo to run down DX and challenge
Michaels for the WWF championship. 
Commissioner Slaughter eventually comes out and says that Michaels has a
scheduled title defense against Shamrock, although he doesn’t specify the
date.  Slaughter also books Triple
H-Shamrock where DX is banned from ringside and he will be sitting at
ringside.  I know what they were trying
to spell out here in storyline terms, but this was just brutal to sit through
.

Opening
Contest:  Ahmed Johnson defeats Marc Mero
(w/Sable) by disqualification when Mero uses a low blow at 2:26:
Ahmed’s spinebuster looks awful these days, since he is
trying to be extra careful.  He looks
ready to win the match with a Pearl River Plunge, but gets distracted by Sable
and Mero finally gets caught using the low blow, which I guess was in the
referee’s scouting report.  Mero tries to
give Ahmed the TKO after that, but can’t lift him up on his shoulders to do the
move.  This loss ends Mero’s undefeated
streak since his return.
In the Karate
Fighters Holiday Tournament, Shrimp Scampy, a mini dressed in Mascarti Sagrada,
Jr.’s old attire, beats Dok Hendrix.  In
other matches of the tournament Jerry Lawler has beaten Brian Christopher and
Tito Santana has defeated Carlos Cabrera.
Sunny comes out to
be the guest ring announcer for our next match.
Light Heavyweight
Championship First Round Match:  Taka
Michinoku beats Devon Storm with the Michinoku Driver at 5:00:
Brian Christopher commentates another match in this
tournament, so I am tempted to put this on mute.  Storm gets the jobber entrance, but anyone
that has followed the light heavyweight division since July can tell who’s
going over here.  Both men are proficient
wrestlers, but they try to get too cute with their spots and as a result the
match comes off as too choreographed and artificial.  Christopher tries to prevent Michinoku from
winning, but Michinoku uses a springboard dropkick to knock Christopher off the
apron and wraps up the match shortly thereafter.  Rating:  **¼
Jim Ross
interviews Goldust, who is laying the foundation for his “Artist Formerly Known
as Goldust” gimmick.  He comes out in a
gold rope, a flame in his blonde hair, earrings, black face paint, lipstick, and
“F U”, which stands for “forever unchained”, painted in gold on his face.  Vader comes out, not happy that Goldust
walked on him at Survivor Series last night, and demands answers.  When Goldust doesn’t appear ready to do that,
Vader powerbombs him.  Vader is just
awesome.  It’s reprehensible that they
didn’t find a way to book him against Austin in 1998 because he still had
something to offer.
Michael Cole is backstage
and says that Blackjack Windham has been assaulted in his locker room.  Bradshaw freaks out and goes nuts in front of
the camera over this development
.
Dok Hendrix hosts
the upcoming Madison Square Garden card. 
The only problem is that there are going to be some changes.  For example, the main event is billed as a
Fatal Four Way match for the WWF title between Shawn Michaels, the Undertaker,
Steve Austin, and Bret Hart.  The Legion
of Doom are scheduled to defend the tag team titles against Owen Hart & The
British Bulldog, Triple H with Chyna is his corner is booked against Vader with
George “the Animal” Steele in his corner, and Ahmed Johnson faces Faarooq in a
New York City street fight.
The Headbangers
(w/The Disciples of Apocalypse) beats Sniper & Recon (w/Jackal & The
Interrogator) when Mosh pins Recon after Thrasher powerbombs Mosh on top of
Recon at 4:52:
Surprisingly, this has a clean finish as the Headbangers
fend off interference attempts by Jackal and the Interrogator.  Just a standard tag match, which has a big
brawl between all of the participants at the very end to continue the DOA-Truth
Commission feud.  Rating:  **
Ross and Cornette
hype the house show circuit
.
Since we are in
hour two, Cornette is replaced in the booth with Jerry “the King” Lawler.
Cole interviews
Intercontinental Champion Steve Austin, but before he gets too involved in his
promo Rocky Maivia comes out and claims that he was the best Intercontinental
champion of all-time when he held the belt. 
Maivia challenges Austin for the title and Austin accepts, while also
challenging him to get a haircut. 
Interesting segment since these two had one of the most anticipated
WrestleMania matches three and a half years later.
Ross interviews
Steve Blackman, who says he is still learning, and Jose of Los Boricuas
interrupts his interview.  The Boricuas
try to gang up on Blackman, but he uses his karate skills to fend them off
before WWF officials intervene.
Cole interviews
“Road Dogg” Jesse James and “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn, who are set to face the New
Blackjacks in a Bunkhouse battle tonight. 
They are excited and ready to go.
Bunkhouse
Battle:  “Road Dogg” Jesse James &
“Bad Ass” Billy Gunn beat Bradshaw when Gunn pins Bradshaw after a tornado DDT
on a chair at 1:40:
Since Windham is injured, Bradshaw goes it alone in this
match, which is no disqualification. 
It’s actually a precursor to the hardcore battles of 1998 and beyond,
with trash cans, tables, and chairs galore. 
Bradshaw dominates the action, until Gunn catches him with a tornado DDT
to finish.  This was really entertaining.
Another segment of
Jeff Jarrett’s interview with Jim Ross is shown.  Jarrett puts himself over as a unique talent
of the Monday Night Wars and says his goal is to win
the WWF title.  When asked to do word
association on a list of guys he puts over Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Mankind,
and Randy Savage, but when asked about Triple H he says “tag along.”  How things changed after 1997.
Cole interviews
Butterbean, the IBA Superheavyweight Boxing Champion, in the crowd, but Marc
Mero comes out and says he’s a real boxer and should be interviewed.  Mero says Butterbean should keep his eyes off
of Sable and says he can knock Butterbean out in four rounds or less before
leaving.
Call 815-734-1161
to get the Steve Austin “jackass” t-shirt. 
It will cost you $25 (plus $6 shipping & handling)!
The Undertaker
wrestles Kama Mustafa to a no contest at 2:25:
Remember when this was a top feud in 1995?  This is the Undertaker’s first time in the
ring since Badd Blood and that was a great booking decision since it gave an
entire month for Kane to get over.  The
Undertaker squashes Kama, but before he can finish him off the lights go out
and Paul Bearer and Kane come out.  The Undertaker
appeals to Kane to make amends and reiterates that he will never fight him,
even if Kane destroys the entire WWF.
Footage of last
week’s match between Shawn Michaels and Ken Shamrock is shown
.
Triple H wrestles
Ken Shamrock to a no contest at 7:44 shown:
Triple H is not happy about not having D-Generation X
with him and jaws with Commissioner Slaughter at ringside.  Both men show off what they can do, but the
crowd isn’t into it.  Slaughter prevents
Rick Rude and Chyna from getting involved, but can’t prevent Shawn Michaels
from running out and blasting Shamrock with Rude’s briefcase after the referee
is bumped and the show goes off the air as the referee is counting the fall.  Rating:  **
The Final Report Card:  After a horrid opening segment, this show
built up a pretty good pace.  The
Undertaker-Kane feud is the best thing that the company has going at this point
and it is a wonderful piece of storytelling that will keep unfolding until
WrestleMania.  Shamrock has also been
adequately built as a threat to Michaels, but as is the case with most
champions after they win the title, it is always tough for me to take their
first programmed challenger as a threat since they usually beat them.  This RAW scored a pretty good rating, as
people tuned in to see the fallout from Montreal, but surprisingly the WWF
didn’t really address it outside of Ross saying that he wished Bret Hart well
in his future endeavors.  Part of this
was probably motivated by the WWF banking on people buying the replay on Tuesday.  What is significant, though, is that this
show started a string of RAW’s that were at 3.0 or above in the Nielsen
ratings, thereby generating some of the highest ratings that RAW had seen since
the spring of 1996.  The tide was turning
in the Monday Night Wars, albeit slowly.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.4 (vs. 4.3 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – October 6, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Vince McMahon
tells viewers that Brian Pillman passed away the previous afternoon and
wrestlers gather near the entrance to hear the ring bell tolled ten times in
his memory.
McMahon, Jim Ross,
and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Kansas
City, Missouri
.
Michael Cole
interviews D-Generation X, who at this time are just dubbed as “The Kliq.”  DX gives Cole a wedgie as European Champion
Shawn Michaels gloats about winning Hell in a Cell last night at Badd
Blood.  Michaels wants to see some
footage from last night, but the truck plays footage of the Madison Square
Garden incident instead.  McMahon is not
happy about this and sells it well with his facial expressions.  We go to commercial before Michaels can
finish ranting at McMahon.  A great
segment for the smarks, but a good chunk of the audience was lost during it.

When we return
from commercial, Michaels is still yelling at McMahon when the Hart Foundation
comes out.  WWF Champion Bret Hart says
that Michaels is a disgrace to professional wrestling and he says Michaels and
Triple H are queer and he makes more money than all of the forces of the
Kliq.  He puts over the WWF title, how
his possession of it trumps anything that Michaels can say, and that he drove
Diesel and Razor Ramon out of the company and he will do the same to Michaels
and Triple H.  He challenges Triple H to
a match on tonight’s show.  Michaels
responds by saying that Bret is only main eventing Survivor Series because he
is wrestling him and that Diesel and Razor left the company to expand the Kliq
and let them control the wrestling business. 
This segment solidifies Bret as the face in this feud as the crowd
immediately takes his side.
The announce crew
recaps the Badd Blood tag team championship match
.
Opening Non-Title
Lumberjack Match:  The Headbangers defeat
The Godwinns (WWF Tag Team Champions w/Uncle Cletus) when Mosh pins Phineas
with a schoolboy at 4:15:
In a funny spot, the
Headbangers take advantage of the lumberjack stipulation by flying over the top
rope and body surfing among the wrestlers surrounding the ring.  By the way, the lumberjacks are composed of
the Disciples of Apocalypse, Rockabilly, the Sultan, Flash Funk, the New
Blackjacks, the Legion of Doom, the Truth Commission, Los Boricuas, and the
Nation of Domination.  This match works a
faster pace than the contest at Badd Blood and is much better by
comparison.  The referee gets bumped when
Mosh tries to splash Phineas in the corner and everyone pours into the ring to
fight.  The ring clears just as the
referee revives, though, and the Headbangers pick up a measure of revenge for
Badd Blood.  Rating:  **
Ross and Lawler hype the house show circuit.
Jesus of Los Boricuas says that he is going to easily defeat Marc Mero
tonight
.
Marc Mero (w/Sable) beats Jesus with the TKO at 2:21:
This was Mero’s return from a
knee injury that he suffered in the early months of 1997.  He has shed the “Wildman” gimmick and is
coming back with a “new attitude,” which is code for a heel turn.  Mero’s offense has changed into a more
grounded, striking style, but that is not as appealing as his old aerial
attack.  This is a short squash to
re-establish Mero, but its only highlight is the TKO, which is his new
finishing maneuver.
Jim Cornette gives his views on the wrestling business, where he runs
down the New World Order, especially Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Sean Waltman, and
Eric Bischoff.  He puts over Mick Foley,
Arn Anderson, and Ric Flair and other hardworking talents.  This is a brutally honest rant, but I have
never been a fan of segments like this because they make the company doing them
look petty and second rate.
The British Bulldog (w/The Hart Foundation) defeats Rocky Maivia (w/The
Nation of Domination) with a running powerslam at 3:44:
This is a “proxy revenge” match
from the previous night, where Owen Hart beat Faarooq in the Intercontinental
championship tournament final.  This
match is somewhat notable because it features the debut of the People’s Elbow,
although Maivia isn’t throwing his elbow pad into the crowd.  Just your standard back-and-forth match, with
the Bulldog earning a surprisingly clean victory considering the factions
presence at ringside.  Rating: 
**
After the match, Faarooq goes after the Bulldog, which causes the
factions to brawl with each other until WWF officials and Commissioner
Slaughter intervene.
The announcers recap the Intercontinental tournament final between Owen
Hart and Faarooq from last night’s Badd Blood pay-per-view
.
McMahon interviews Steve Austin to get his decision about his
future.  Austin says he cost Faarooq the
Intercontinental title last night because he felt like it.  Austin says he didn’t go to a doctor, so he
has no medical clearance.  McMahon then
presents him with a release form, but Austin says he is not going to sign
without preconditions because he has leverage. 
What he wants in return for signing is for McMahon to give him a match
with Owen Hart for the Intercontinental title. 
McMahon agrees and offers a handshake, but Austin says no until he has
it in writing.  Faarooq comes on the
Titantron and cuts a great promo about what suffering and toughness really is,
sort of like the black version of Dusty Rhodes “hard times” promo.  Austin just says “bring it on.”  To hell with fighting Owen Hart, I want to
see Austin-Faarooq after that promo exchange. 
After finishing his promo, Austin pushes McMahon and then grabs Lawler’s
crown and kicks it into the crowd.
Call 1-900-737-4WWF to hear more of what Jim Cornette has to say!
Hawk promises that Owen Hart is going to be the shortest
Intercontinental champion in WWF history, but that’s not possible because Dean
Douglas was only champion for about twenty minutes.
Owen Hart tells the crowd that he cannot wait to face Steve Austin
again
.
Intercontinental Championship Match: 
Owen Hart (Champion) beats Hawk when Henry Godwinn hits Hawk with a
horse shoe at 3:20:
The crowd’s love of the Hart
Foundation does not apply to Owen, since he is the foil of the hottest act in
the company.  The Godwinns come down to
ringside as Hawk sloppily bumps around for Owen and hardly sells the
enziguri.  The Godwinns try to cost Hawk
the match by hitting him in the back with a slop bucket, but he kicks out and
Animal comes down and brawls with the Godwinns as the match continues in the
ring.  Hawk hits the flying clothesline,
which has to set up twice because of a planned distraction by Uncle
Cletus, but interference shortly thereafter costs him the match.  Rating:  *½
McMahon does his infamous interview with Melanie Pillman, which is completely
distasteful as he questions her about her husband’s drug use and how she plans
on supporting her family.  This is
probably the lowest point in RAW history, which says something considering the
Katie Vick incident.
A video tribute is aired for Brian Pillman.
Ross and Lawler talk about how much they miss Brian Pillman.
The next match is supposed to feature Sniper & Recon against the
Hardy Boys, but Kane comes out with Paul Bearer and destroys the Hardy’s.  Bearer gets on the mic and says that he had
to bring in Kane because the Undertaker would not take him back.  He warns the Undertaker to prepare for his
worst nightmare.  This push that they gave to Kane was genius since it disguised his shortcomings and made him appear like a total wrecking machine that was an equal to the Undertaker.
Non-Title Match:  Triple H
(w/Chyna) defeats Bret “the Hitman” Hart (WWF Champion) by count out at 7:49 shown:
This is the first time that
Hunter Hearst Helmsley is billed as “Triple H” during his entrance, but that
name change goes a long way towards making him a serious contender.  As Bret dominates the action, Shawn Michaels
wanders out and picks his nose with the Canadian flag.  This brings the Hart Foundation to ringside
and Helmsley stops the five moves of doom with a foot to the face when Bret
tries the second rope elbow drop.  Ross subtly buries Bret by calling him “too predictable” in the ring.  Bret gets Helmsley in the Sharpshooter, but
Chyna helps Helmsley get to the ropes and then stops Bret from applying the
ring post figure-four.  When Bret
confronts her, Michaels blasts Bret with Sweet Chin Music and that enables
Helmsley to score the upset.  Rating: 
**
The Final Report Card:  This match was like a smart fan’s dream as
the WWF bashed WCW throughout the evening and made several insider
references.  The tasteless segment with
Melanie Pillman aside, this was a great episode that continued Steve Austin’s
search for revenge against Owen Hart, built a possible feud for Austin with
Faarooq and the Nation after he moved on from the Owen issue, set up the build
for Bret-Shawn at Survivor Series, and continues the tag team feud between the
Godwinns and the Legion of Doom.  This
was also the highest rating for RAW since mid-August, which can probably be
chalked up to fans wanting to see how the company would respond to Brian
Pillman’s death.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.0 (vs. 3.9 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

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

by Logan Scisco

Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Nashville,
Tennessee.  Ross informs us that the
Undertaker has been penciled in to face the WWF champion at WrestleMania XIII.  That’s a good booking decision since the Undertaker was
the runner-up in the Final Four match and he was the crowd favorite.
-WWF Champion Bret
Hart and Sid come out for their championship match to start the show, but Steve
Austin runs out and goes after Bret. 
When WWF officials separate them, Sid starts going after Austin and
Austin gives him a chop block before leaving. 
Bret wants to start the match, but WWF officials get Sid to leave the
ring.  A good opening segment, albeit
disjointed since no one had any clue what was happening after Austin was
escorted to the back.

-Shawn Michaels’ “Lost Smile” speech is shown.
-Ross and Lawler
narrate pictures from last night’s Final Four match.
-Kevin Kelly
interviews Sid, who says that he would still compete against Bret Hart with a
broken leg.  Kelly tells us that Sid will
face Bret later in the evening
.
Call
1-900-737-SLAM to vote for the New Sensation of the Squared Circle for this
year’s Slammy Awards.  Your nominees are
Steve Austin, “Wildman” Marc Mero, Flash Funk, Mankind, and Rocky Maivia.  That’s a pretty loaded ballot, since three of
those guys were the backbone of the company for the rest of the 1990s.
Opening
Contest:  “Wildman” Marc Mero (w/Sable)
defeats Savio Vega (w/the Nation of Domination) by disqualification when the
Nation interfere at 4:16 shown:
You may not expect the Nation to be over in the South,
but quite a few fans mimic the Nation’s salute.  Sable’s push as an aggressive
valet continues in this one, as she 
weakly kicks JC Ice on the floor, but to Ice’s credit he sells it like a
million bucks.  As the match proceeds to
go nowhere, Sable is surrounded by the Nation, so she goes into the ring and
the Nation follows, leading the referee to call for the bell.  However, Ahmed Johnson shows up with a 2×4 in
some weird orange clothing that looks like it came from a Nailz yard sale and
makes the save.  This match was just
filler for the Nation-Ahmed angle so it could reach its next phase.  Rating:  *
Ross and Lawler
interview WWF Champion Bret Hart, who says that he can’t worry about Austin
interjecting himself into his business and isn’t worried about possibly facing
the Undertaker at WrestleMania XIII
.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  “The Rock” Rocky
Maivia (Intercontinental Champion) pins Leif Cassidy with a shoulderbreaker at
9:31:
Sunny comes out before the match and briefly flirts with
Maivia before taking her position as our guest timekeeper.  Hunter Hearst Helmsley cuts a promo during a
slow period in the match, where Maivia has an armbar applied, and says that
Maivia is a lucky punk and his feud with Goldust isn’t over.  With the crowd dead, they try to pull some
shortcuts, with Maivia scoring some random near-falls, but it doesn’t work.  Maivia eventually pulls off a comeback after
Cassidy spends a while working the arm and secures the second defense of his
Intercontinental title.  Quite the boring
match, even if it was technically sound. 
Rating:  *½
In a somewhat
famous segment, Lawler reaches into the crowd near the announce table and grabs
an “ECW Rules” sign and proceeds to run down the promotion.  Lawler challenges ECW to come on RAW next
week when the WWF is in the Manhattan Center. 
He can’t help to put himself over, though, by saying that a sign that
had his name on it was confiscated on WCW Monday Nitro
.
“The Real Double
J” Jesse James’ appearance on Real Country Tonight, where he sang “With My Baby
Tonight” appearance on Real Country Tonight is shown.
Ross and Lawler
narrate pictures from the Maivia-Helmsley Intercontinental title match from In
Your House
.
Kelly interviews
Goldust and Marlena and Goldust says he is not going to let Hunter Hearst
Helmsley near Marlena.  Marlena says
Goldust is all man and he’s a better man than Helmsley.  This brings Helmsley out and he Pedigrees
Goldust.  Marlena slaps Helmsley, but the
mystery woman who attacked Marlena last night at In Your House (Chyna) bearhugs
Marlena from behind and shakes her like a rag doll.  The interview was very sub-par, but this did
a good job advancing the heel side of what turned out to be a very one sided
feud
.
The Headbangers
defeat The Hardy Boys at 3:58 when Thrasher pinned Jeff after a
powerbomb-flying leg drop combination at 3:58:
The Hardy Boys are clearly on some type of muscle building
substance because they are no longer the flyweights that they were in
1995.  Faarooq challenges Ahmed to a
Chicago street fight at WrestleMania in the split screen, which makes Ross
happy.  The Headbangers are reckless with
the bodies of their young opponents, with Mosh slamming Matt too close to the
ropes and barely getting him up for a suplex-flying body press
combination.  A basic tag squash, but
it’s more notable today for who lost than who won.
Dok Hendrix hypes
the next Madison Square Garden show on March 16th.  The card sees the Undertaker face Vader in a
casket match, Bret Hart square off with Steve Austin in a no disqualification
match, and Shawn Michaels face Sid in a steel cage match.  Well, I guess that’s why they say “card
subject to change” because Michaels won’t be making that steel cage match
.
They try to do the
WWF championship match again, but Steve Austin attacks Bret in the back and Sid
soon runs backstage to beat up Austin. 
WWF officials and Vince McMahon, who Sid nearly clocks in the scuffle,
separate all parties.
Kelly interviews
WWF President Gorilla Monsoon, who takes a tacit shot against WCW by saying
that the WWF isn’t like other companies and delivers on its promises and that
Bret Hart and Sid will face each other for the WWF championship tonight.
Owen Hart
(w/Clarence Mason) defeats Flash Funk (w/the Funkettes) with a spinning heel
kick at 8:31 shown:

I’m surprised that the WWE hasn’t considered signing Funk and bringing him in
as a tag team partner for Brodus Clay. 
In a nice touch that demonstrates his selfishness, Owen brings both of
the tag team title belts to the ring with him. 
Paul Heyman calls into the show and promises to show up with ECW at the
Manhattan Center and gets into a verbal spat with Lawler over his company.  Mason distracts Owen from putting on a
Sharpshooter and Owen is not happy, thereby sowing the seeds of Mason’s
dismissal as the manager of the tag team champions.  Mason is sent to the
locker room and the British Bulldog takes his place. 
Steve Austin appears in the split screen and rants about how he’s being
held back and he’s mad so that’s why he’s beating everyone up in sight.  If you can stay focused on the match and not
the interruptions, you are treated to a good match where Funk busts out his
high impact offense, but Owen keeps kicking out and the Bulldog clocks
Funk in the back of the head with a Slammy when he runs the ropes and holds
down Funk’s foot for the ending pin.  Rating: 
***
Hunter Hearst
Helmsley tells Ross that he doesn’t know who the woman is that keeps attacking
Marlena and he doesn’t care
.
Bart Gunn defeats
Hunter Hearst Helmsley by count out at 4:10:
The Honky Tonk Man is doing guest commentary as he
continues to scout talent for his pet project. 
A whole bunch of nothing is what we get out of this, as Bart works the
arm for a couple of minutes before Goldust runs in and chases Helmsley into the
crowd.  Rating:  DUD
Hendrix hypes the
Madison Square Garden show some more
.
Dr. James Andrews
says that Shawn Michaels is not going to have surgery on his knee, but will
rehabilitate it at his home in San Antonio and will be able to return to the
ring
.
WWF Championship
Match:  Sid pins Bret “the Hitman” Hart with
a powerbomb to win the title at 11:17 shown:
Sid doesn’t bother selling the leg that Austin chop
blocked at the beginning of the show and Bret doesn’t attack it in the first
couple of minutes, which is a big plot hole that’s hard to overlook in this
one.  Bret plays the Cena role here, with
women and children rooting for him and the men in the audience, who are more
vocal, rooting for Sid.  It’s always
uncomfortable to watch Sid’s legs get worked over in a match since his accident
in WCW.  I get the feeling that they are
going to break like twigs at any moment when Bret starts stretching them.  Speaking of that WCW incident, Sid goes to
the second rope in this match and nearly falls off, showing that he’s not that
comfortable jumping off the buckles to begin with.  The ring post figure-four spot makes its
debut in this match, but I always felt that move was counterproductive since
the guy applying it runs the risk of banging their head on the floor (which
Bret did at Starrcade 1999 and got a second concussion in his match with
Goldberg) and you can’t get a legal submission from it.  Sid actually tries a sunset flip in this
match, but Bret rolls through and applies a Sharpshooter.  However, before Sid can submit, Steve Austin
takes a chair and smashes it over Bret’s head and Sid seizes the advantage and
shocks the world by winning his second WWF championship.  The crowd is pretty ecstatic, though, because
they didn’t anticipate seeing a title change. 
The match built a good pace after the commercial break and the crowd
really got into it, but Sid’s refusal to sell a lot of the leg damage hurts it
significantly.  Rating:  ***
After the match,
the Undertaker comes to the ring and we have a WrestleMania stare down to play
us out.
The Final Report Card:  The Harts had the good matches on this show,
which is not surprising, but what is surprising is the sudden title
change.  Bret’s loss of the title was the
first time since Yokozuna losing the title that this had happened in less than
twenty-four hours.  In fact, this was the
first WWF title change in the history of Monday Night Raw.  The title match provides us with our road to
WrestleMania, whereby Sid faces the Undertaker in a main event no one is
thrilled about for the WWF title and Bret Hart is pegged by proxy to face Steve
Austin, who he’ll seek out to get revenge for his latest title defeat.  I’ll give this show a thumbs up because
of the good Funk-Owen match, the title match, and the fact that there were some
significant storylines that developed on this show, notably the ECW crossover
angle, which we will touch on next week in more detail.
Show Rating: 
2.1 (vs. 2.9 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – February 3, 1997 (SkyDome Edition)

by Logan Scisco

Vince McMahon and
Jim Ross are in the booth and they are taped from the SkyDome in Toronto,
Ontario, Canada.  This show is also
historically significant because it’s the first two hour episode of Raw.
The ending to the
Royal Rumble match is shown.  This show
was billed as Royal Rumble Raw because they were going to show us the Rumble
match in its entirety.  Spoiler:  that doesn’t happen.

Opening
Contest:  Vader (w/Paul Bearer) defeats “Stone
Cold” Steve Austin by disqualification at 5:32 shown:
Before the match starts, Bret Hart comes out and attacks
both participants until WWF officials get him to go to the locker room.  A fun brawl ensues between both guys and when
the referee tries to break up some of it, he ends up on the receiving end of a
Stunner and Austin gets disqualified.  A
clean finish would have been nice, but they can’t afford to have Vader and
Austin look weak heading into the pay-per-view so this was as good as we were
going to get.  Rating:  **¼
Jim Ross
interviews Savio Vega on his way to the ring and Savio says he doesn’t care
what the fans think and that the Nation of Domination will be number one
.
Savio Vega (w/The
Nation of Domination) pins Flash Funk after Funk misses a moonsault at 4:21:
The Funkettes are not here with Funk and Savio is still
sporting the same ring attire that he had as a face, which just doesn’t
work.  Savio has to win here since he
recently turned heel and anytime a wrestler turns heel they tend to win a few
matches in a row to see if their turn will work to get them over.  Funk’s high spots, including one on the
future D-Lo Brown, keep the crowd interested, but there wasn’t a lot of
captivating action in this one.  Rating: 
*
McMahon interviews
Peta Wilson of La Femme Nikita to hype that show on the USA Network.
Ross interviews
Sid, who says that he has a roller coaster relationship with Shawn Michaels,
but he’ll beat him all the same on Thursday Raw Thursday to regain the WWF
title.
Call
1-900-747-4WWF to find out where Yokozuna, Brian Pillman, Jim Cornette, and
Sunny have gone
.
McMahon interviews
WWF Tag Team Champions Owen Hart & the British Bulldog and Owen says he
didn’t mean to eliminate the Bulldog at the Royal Rumble.  Owen and the Bulldog then begin to argue over
who took who to the top of the company.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  Doug Furnas &
Philip LaFon defeat Owen Hart & The British Bulldog (Champions) at 11:16
shown:
The crowd is behind Owen and the Bulldog since we’re on
their home turf, which LaFon doesn’t quite grasp as he tries to get the crowd
to cheer when Furnas is clawing his way over to make the hot tag in the
match.  The champions argue amongst
themselves since neither is focused on the match when they are standing on the
apron.  Furnas and LaFon appear to win
the titles when LaFon DDT’s Owen, but Owen gets his foot over the bottom rope
just before the referee counts three and the count is waved off.  Owen and the Bulldog miscommunicate on a spot
where the Bulldog is supposed to backdrop LaFon over the top rope and Owen
fakes a knee injury, which costs his team the match.  At least the right team went over because
Furnas and LaFon were starting to look like they couldn’t beat the champions in
singles or tag team competition.  Rating: 
***
Footage of Ahmed
Johnson eliminating Faarooq in the Royal Rumble match is shown.  Ahmed is then interviewed by the announce
team and says that he doesn’t take Prozac anymore and without it he goes
crazy.  Did we just dwell into the “too
much information” category there?  The
Undertaker, who is teaming with Ahmed tonight, comes into the picture and says
that if Ahmed tries to attack Crush in his next match he won’t help him, but if
Ahmed waits, he’ll help him take care of the Nation of Domination when they
face Faarooq and Mankind tonight in a no holds barred match.
Crush (w/the
Nation of Domination) pins Goldust (w/Marlena) with a heart punch at 8:17
shown:
Neither guy looks like they really want to be out there
for this one and the match quality shows, as it takes six minutes for someone
to hit a high impact maneuver.  Goldust
is totally devoid of personality after his face turn and there’s just nothing
in this match that keeps it interesting. 
So what was our reward for not reacting to this match?  A rematch at the King of the Ring!  Crush does run his Raw winning streak to two
after Savio gives Goldust a spinning heel kick in the back of the head when he
tries to do the Curtain Call.  Rating: 
DUD
A vignette for the
New Blackjacks is shown
.
Shawn Michaels
victory over Sid at the Royal Rumble is the Army Slam of the Week.
McMahon interviews
WWF Champion Shawn Michaels, who says that he doesn’t care about being popular
anymore and Bret Hart can call himself what he wants, but he can’t say that
he’s the WWF champion.  That of course
brings out Bret, who says Michaels is a degenerate and a punk, but before more
verbal sparring can ensue, Steve Austin runs out and starts brawling with
Bret.  Michaels chooses to watch the
action and as he does so, Sid comes out as we go to a commercial break.
When we get back
from the commercial break, Michaels and Bret are facing off in the ring with
the WWF title between them.  Michaels
goes to pick it up, but Bret has his foot on it and Michaels decides that if
Bret wants to fight then they might as well do it.  Bret picks up the title and goes to hand it
to Michaels, but when Michaels reaches for it, Bret drops it on the canvas and
leaves.  Bret came off like a big bully
in this segment, but it was much easier to get behind him than Michaels.
Clips of Tiger Ali
Singh signing his contract with the WWF earlier in the show are played.
Intercontinental
Championship, No Managers at Ringside Match: 
Hunter Hearst Helmsley (Champion) pins “Wildman” Marc Mero after hitting
him with a foreign object at 10:35 shown:
WWF President Gorilla Monsoon prevented Curtis Hughes and
Sable from being at ringside for this match because of their physical
interference in previous matches that each of these superstars were a part of.  Mero controls most of this contest, but he is
unable to put Helmsley away and the referee repairing a turnbuckle gives
Helmsley his opportunity to cheat and retain the title.  This match is Mero’s swan song as a title
contender since he would be injured shortly after this and would never get back
into the Intercontinental title picture. 
The match was a good one, but I’d expect nothing less from two guys that
have had the majority of their matches against each other since the end of
WrestleMania XII.  Rating:  ***¼
Jerry Lawler’s
hilarious elimination in the Royal Rumble match is shown
.
Faarooq’s attack
on Ahmed Johnson on last week’s Raw is the Western Union rewind segment.
No Holds Barred
Match:  The Undertaker & Ahmed
Johnson defeat Mankind & Faarooq (w/Paul Bearer & the Nation of
Domination) when the Undertaker pins Mankind after a Tombstone on a chair at 7:45
shown:
Mankind becomes an honorary member of the Nation of
Domination for this match and seeing him give the Nation salute to Faarooq is
hilarious.  The action gets spread out
all over ringside and we avoid any stupidity like having a no holds barred
match where both teams act like they have to tag each other (SummerSlam 1991
I’m looking at you).  Ahmed takes full
advantage of the stipulations by doing a tribute to Hacksaw Jim Duggan and
using a 2×4 to run off the Nation of Domination and blast Faarooq on the way to
the dressing room.  I really hope Ron
Simmons got hazard pay for this.  Vader
also makes an appearance, but the Undertaker dispatches of him and finishes off
Mankind with ease.  They significantly
clipped this match, but that was probably for the best since it eliminated any
dead spots and made for an entertaining end to the show.  Rating:  ***
The Final Report Card:  The first two hour Raw was a success, as all
of the major feuds received adequate attention and the Bret-Shawn segment
carried the second hour.  The ring work
was also good and was above the quality that you expected of Raw.  McMahon spent a lot of time on commentary
emphasizing how the WWF always delivers on its promises, but when Thursday Raw
Thursday rolled around he wouldn’t be able to deliver on the championship match
he promised and we’ll talk about that in our next review.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.6 (vs. 3.1 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – January 13, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Vince McMahon and
The Honky Tonk Man are in the booth and they are taped from Albany, New York.  This is the go home show for the Royal Rumble
.

Opening
Contest:  Hunter Hearst Helmsley &
Jerry “the King” Lawler defeat “Wildman” Marc Mero & Goldust (w/Sable &
Marlena) by disqualification at 11:21 shown:
To think that this tag match was predicated on the final
of a Karate Fighters tournament.  Goldust
throws off his entrance attire in the aisle and charges the ring, demonstrating
that he means business tonight.  There’s
lots of stalling since Lawler is in charge of most of the action for his team
and Helmsley flees when Goldust is tagged in. 
These factors make the match very disjointed and also make it difficult
to build a decent heat segment. 
Eventually, Goldust gets his hands on Helmsley after the hot tag, but
refuses to release a choke, gets his team disqualified, and decks Mero after
they lose.  The story they are trying to
tell here is transparent, but the match quality suffered as a result.  Rating:  ½*
WWF Champion Sid
cuts a promo in the vacant Alamo Dome and says that he’s going to destroy Shawn
Michaels in front of family in San Antonio this Sunday.
Shawn Michaels
cuts a promo in the midst of some crazy fans in San Antonio and says that Sid’s
attack on Pete Lothario last week has released the monster inside of him.  A fat Latino lady keeps grabbing Shawn during
the interview and that’s worth a laugh
.
Bret Hart, who is
limping around on an injured ankle that Austin Pillmanized on Superstars, comes
out to do guest commentary.
-Footage of Marc
Mero yelling at Sable on Shotgun Saturday Night and Rocky Maivia coming to her
aid is shown.  This was supposed to
foreshadow a Mero-Maivia program where Mero would be the heel, but he was
injured before that could happen
.
Rocky Maivia
defeats The British Bulldog (w/Clarence Mason) by count out at 9:06 shown:
Bret puts over Maivia’s potential on commentary, but the
crowd doesn’t buy into him.  They aren’t
booing him, but just don’t react to his early offense against the Bulldog.  However, I don’t think it’s a problem with
Maivia as much as it is a crowd that is burned out from the taping.  Owen comes out and stands in front of Bret,
which seems more of an indictment of Bulldog’s abilities than anything
else.  There’s very little action in this
match, as the Bulldog uses chinlocks to slow down the action.  Steve Austin comes out when both men go over
the top rope, chop blocks the Bulldog, delivers a Stunner, and then flees to the
back where Bret and Owen follow him. 
This is hardly a great way to put over a young face, but it does sew the
seeds for the emergence of the Hart Foundation to torment Austin after
WrestleMania XIII.  Rating:  *
The Nation of
Domination says that it has unity and Crush says he’ll dominate the Undertaker
tonight using whatever means are necessary.
Steve Austin’s
attack on the British Bulldog earlier in the show is the Starburst Fruit Twists
Rewind segment
.
The Undertaker defeats
Crush (w/The Nation of Domination) by disqualification at 8:35 shown:
The Undertaker must not be a fan of the PG-13 rap,
because he interrupts it and forces the Nation to scatter.  Both guys work up a good pace at the
beginning of the match, but can’t sustain it and by the time we head to
commercial we’re getting too much of an exchange of punches and kicks.  Crush just doesn’t look comfortable with this
gimmick and the only heat he can generate is yelling at the crowd not to call
him a Jailbird.  We get our third
inconclusive finish of the evening as the Nation runs in before the Undertaker
can Tombstone Crush and Vader runs in to do some damage as well.  Ahmed Johnson tries to make the save with a
2×4, but PG-13 jump him and Faarooq seizes control of the 2×4 and wears him out
with it.  Rating:  *
The Final Report Card:  This RAW was more about the storylines and it
showed with the poor match quality. 
Austin’s attack on the Bulldog keeps the Bret-Austin feud going and is going
to draw in more actors and was the highlight of the show.  That also sustains a distrust angle between
Owen and the Bulldog that is taking place. 
However, there just wasn’t a lot to get into on this show as it seemed
like the company wanted to fast forward to the Rumble so it could move onto
bigger and better things.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.3 (vs. 3.4 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down