Smackdown – May 2, 2017

Smackdown
Date: May 2, 2017
Location: Save Mart Center, Fresno, California
Commentators: Tom Phillips, John Bradshaw Layfield, Byron Saxton

Things are back to normal now and that means we’re in the Jinder Mahal Could Be World Champion Era. Mahal cost Randy Orton the House of Horrors match on Sunday to help set up the title match at Backlash in just under three weeks so Orton is likely out for revenge. Tonight we have Chris Jericho defending his newly regained US Title against Kevin Owens, which sounds like something could be up. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – May 2, 2017

Smackdown – March 21, 2017

Smackdown
Date: March 21, 2017
Location: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut
Commentators: John Bradshaw Layfield, David Otunga, Tom Phillips

We’ve got two shows left before Wrestlemania XXXIII and it’s not likely that any brand new ideas are going to be added to the card. Odds are we’ll have Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin confirmed and we’re guaranteed to see American Alpha defending the Smackdown Tag Team Titles against the Usos. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – March 21, 2017

ECW on Sci-Fi #47 05/08/2007

We start with Armando threatening Lashley and tells him if he lays a finger on him, he’s arrested. Lashley shoves his wheelchair into a wall and tells the police ”well, looks like you guys have to arrest me.”

Read moreECW on Sci-Fi #47 05/08/2007

Smackdown – March 14, 2017

Smackdown
Date: March 14, 2017
Location: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Commentators: John Bradshaw Layfield, Tom Phillips

We’ve got three Smackdowns left before Wrestlemania and now we have a #1 contender to Bray Wyatt’s Smackdown World Title. However, that means we have issues between Commissioner Shane McMahon and AJ Styles and there’s an official confrontation scheduled for tonight. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – March 14, 2017

Smackdown – November 22, 2016

Smackdown
Date: November 22, 2016
Location: Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, John Bradshaw Layfield, David Otunga, Tom Phillips

It’s two days after Survivor Series and less than two weeks to Tables, Ladders and Chairs, meaning it’s time to make up a card. Thankfully Smackdown is ready for that and has already announced a tag team turmoil match to determine who will challenge Rhyno and Heath Slater. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – November 22, 2016

Smackdown – November 15, 2016

Smackdown
Date: November 15, 2016
Location: Mohegan Sun Arena, Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, David Otunga, John Bradshaw Layfield, Tom Phillips

It’s the 900th episode and also the final show before Sunday’s Survivor Series. That means there’s a lot of potential for hijinks and shenanigans tonight, which could mean for a very entertaining show. If nothing else maybe they can do something other than having wacky partners who can’t get along four times in one night. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – November 15, 2016

Smackdown – September 13, 2016

Smackdown
Date: September 13, 2016
Location: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Commentators: John Bradshaw Layfield, Mauro Ranallo, David Otunga

Backlash has come and gone and a few things have changed. In addition to having inaugural Smackdown Tag Team Champions (Heath Slater/Rhyno) and an inaugural Smackdown Women’s Champion (Becky Lynch), AJ Styles has finally won the big one and become Smackdown World Champion. No Mercy is in less than a month and tonight we start dealing with all these new developments. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – September 13, 2016

Smackdown – August 23, 2016

Smackdown
Date: August 23, 2016
Location: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, John Bradshaw Layfield, David Otunga

It’s an interesting time for Smackdown as we’re past Summerslam and the brand is really starting to come into its own. Tonight we’ll see the unveiling of the new Smackdown Women’s and Tag Team Titles but possibly more importantly we should get an update on Brock Lesnar attacking Shane McMahon to end Summerslam. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – August 23, 2016

What the World Was Watching: WrestleMania XV

Boyz 2 Men sing “America the Beautiful” to kick off the show.  They receive a Cena-like mixed reaction.

Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Read moreWhat the World Was Watching: WrestleMania XV

Monday Nitro – March 26, 2001 (Final Episode Plus Final Thoughts On Nitro)

Monday Nitro #288
Date: March 26, 2001
Location: Boardwalk Beach Resort, Panama City, Florida
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Scott Hudson

I can’t believe I actually typed that. After over five and a half years, we’ve actually arrived at the final episode of Monday Nitro. Tonight is the Night of Champions show with every title being defended. Other than that there’s been an open call to all former WCW World Champions to show up and bring their gear. That could be interesting or a big disappointment and I’ll let you guess which I’m expecting. Let’s get to it.

Read moreMonday Nitro – March 26, 2001 (Final Episode Plus Final Thoughts On Nitro)

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – March 22, 1999

Steve Austin arrives at the arena and comes across a driver of a Coor’s Light truck.  Product placement 101.

Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are calling the action and they are live from Albany, New York.  This is the last RAW we have to hear called by Cole for a while so I am happy about that.  This is the go home show for WrestleMania XV.

Read moreWhat the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – March 22, 1999

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – March 15, 1999

A video package recaps the tensions building between the Rock and Paul Wight, whose nickname has been changed to “The Big Show” instead of the “The Big Nasty.”  We are also reminded that the Undertaker is going after Vince McMahon.

Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from San Jose, California.

WWF Champion The Rock opens the show and he tells Steve Austin that he will prove his status as “The Great One” at WrestleMania.  He demands that Vince McMahon come out and prove to him that the Big Show is not working with Austin.  McMahon complies and says that “Dwayne” needs a reality check for being ungrateful for all that McMahon has given him.  He says that three generations of his family have looked after the Rock’s ancestors and that Paul Wight is not as quick to understand the existing agreement.  Wight comes out and demands to know what McMahon is talking about, threatening he and the Rock.  McMahon does not kindly to that, leading Wight to manhandle him into a corner to get his point across.  McMahon collects himself and books the Rock and Wight to team up to face Mankind and Steve Austin, thereby making this a preview of WrestleMania.  The Rock and Wight shake hands to end the segment at McMahon’s behest.

Read moreWhat the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – March 15, 1999

Smackdown – July 26, 2016

Smackdown
Date: July 26, 2016
Location: First Niagara Center, Buffalo, New York
Commentators: David Otunga, Mauro Ranallo, John Bradshaw Layfield

We’re into the new era of Smackdown now and it should be interesting to see where they go now that they’re all on their own. Given who they have on the roster, there’s a chance we’ll have to get some new titles or at the very least some new stars to challenge for the titles that already exist. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – July 26, 2016

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – March 8, 1999

A video package chronicles Steve Austin attacking the Rock on Sunday Night Heat and Paul Wight not trying to save the Rock from the assault.

Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are calling the action and they are live from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Read moreWhat the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – March 8, 1999

Smackdown – July 19, 2016

Smackdown
Date: July 19, 2016
Location: DCU Center, Worcester, Massachusetts
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, Michael Cole, Byron Saxton, Jerry Lawler

Now this is a big one. Tonight we’re not only going live but also splitting the shows into two rosters again for the first time in a few years. There’s only been one other draft like this in company history and it wasn’t the greatest show in the world. The interesting things here tonight are the potential returns of former stars as well as the guaranteed NXT callups. Oh and a rematch from last night’s World Title match as a bonus. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – July 19, 2016

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – February 22, 1999

A video package recaps the Rock winning the WWF title in a ladder match against Mankind on last week’s show.

Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are taped from Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Vince McMahon comes out to hype tonight’s Inferno Match between the Undertaker and Kane.  He welcomes Paul Wight to the ring, who is booked to be the guest referee at WrestleMania.  Cole is trying to get Wight over as “The Big Nasty,” so I guess it is good that “The Big Show” name was chosen instead.  WWF Champion The Rock also comes out, quickly getting into a verbal confrontation with Wight, telling him to “Know his role.”  McMahon’s efforts at playing peacemaker get nowhere until Mankind marches onto the stage and volunteers to referee the WrestleMania main event, as well as referee a Rock-Wight encounter tonight.  Wight then proceeds to challenge the Rock to a match, which the Rock gladly accepts and he says he will put the WWF title on the line too.

Read moreWhat the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – February 22, 1999

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – February 15, 1999

A series of narrated photographs recaps last night’s St. Valentine’s Day Massacre pay-per-view.

Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Birmingham, Alabama.

Commissioner Shawn Michaels comes out and welcomes out the participants in the WrestleMania main event:  WWF Champion Mankind and Steve Austin.  Before anything can be said between them, Vince McMahon interrupts, wearing a neck brace and selling his beating from Austin the previous night.  McMahon claims to be a broken man and that he wants a fresh start with Austin on the condition that Austin apologizes.  Austin does apologize, but only for beating McMahon more than he intended.  McMahon tells Michaels that people deserve a WWF title rematch between Mankind and the Rock because their match last night ended in a draw so he needs to do his job and book it for tonight.  Mankind says he needs a week to recover, bringing out the Rock, who continues to goad Michaels into booking a title match for this evening.  Mankind decides to take on the Rock after all and to make sure that there is a winner Michaels announces that tonight’s title match will be a ladder match.  After that, McMahon welcomes out Paul Wight, who he says will be the special guest referee of the title match at WrestleMania.  Austin simply flips him off from the ring to end the segment.

Read moreWhat the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – February 15, 1999

What the World Was Watching: St. Valentine’s Day Massacre: In Your House

So after being away for several months due to some work obligations, “What the World Was Watching” returns by picking up where we left off in 1999.  The Steve Austin-Vince McMahon rivalry is continuing and they are set to do battle in a steel cage match where if Austin loses then he surrenders his WrestleMania title shot.  The Undertaker is busy with his Ministry of Darkness nonsense and Mankind is keeping the Rock busy before WrestleMania.

Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are doing commentary and they are live from Memphis, Tennessee.

Read moreWhat the World Was Watching: St. Valentine’s Day Massacre: In Your House

Monday Night Raw – April 4, 2016

Monday Night Raw
Date: April 4, 2016
Location: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
Commentators: Byron Saxton, John Bradshaw Layfield, Michael Cole

It’s pretty much New Year’s Day in WWE after everything came to a big conclusion last night. We’re officially in the Roman Reigns Era (part three) and hopefully that means a little break from the Authority. The other interesting thing will be seeing where the McMahons go from here because they’re the real stars of this show. Let’s get to it.

Read moreMonday Night Raw – April 4, 2016

Wrestlemania XXXII

Wrestlemania XXXII
Date: April 3, 2016
Location: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Attendance: 101,763
Commentators: Michael Cole, John Bradshaw Layfield, Byron Saxton
America the Beautiful: Fifth Harmony

We’ve finally arrived at what might be the biggest show of all time. The attendance record is going to be set tonight (it just is) and the card is……well did I mention that attendance? Yeah the build to this one hasn’t been all that great with a double main event of Roman Reigns challenging HHH for the WWE World Title and Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon inside the Cell with Undertaker’s future at Wrestlemania vs. Shane controlling Raw on the line in a story that stops making sense as soon as you start thinking about it too much. Let’s get to it.

Read moreWrestlemania XXXII

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – January 4, 1999

I had a small scare
last week as I could not find my 1999 RAW DVD set to recap these shows.  I eventually found it, so we trudge forth
into another year of WWF action.  One
could argue that 1999 was a turning point in the Monday Night Wars as the WWF
expanded its lead over WCW, although there were several times when WCW may have
been able to capitalize on the WWF pushing some midcard talents up the card to
regain the lead.  This is also the height
of Vince Russo’s power within the company as he will be booking RAWs until
October.
­Michael Cole and Jerry “the King” Lawler are
doing commentary and they are taped from Worchester, Massachusetts.

A video package recaps
Shawn Michaels getting fired on last week’s show and giving Sweet Chin Music to
Vince McMahon.  Kevin Kelly narrates a
small tribute to his career, which Vince hilariously interrupts by shouting “Get
that sentimental crap off the screen!” 
The Corporation walks out with him and Vince promises that Michaels will
not be attending the show since he is not brave.  As Vince talks, Brisco sneakily attaches a Brisco
Brothers Body Shop sign to Kane’s back without him knowing, which is a great
touch.  The Titantron
shows that Michaels has showed up backstage and quickly comes onto the stage
with D-Generation X.  Michael Cole
screams about whether this means DX and Shawn Michaels are back together, a
question that should obviously answer itself. 
We get some corporate speak as Michaels says that he has an ironclad
contract as commissioner so Vince cannot fire him.  After replaying the Royal Rumble drawing that
Vince and Shane McMahon held several weeks ago where Vince received #30 after
wishing he was #2, Michaels gives Vince his wish.  I have to give them credit for justifying
this with Michaels saying that when Vince entered the Rumble he became a
wrestler and under Michaels power. 
Michaels also promises to give Vince a surprise before tonight’s show is
over and that it will drive him “Stone Cold crazy.”
Opening Non-Title
Contest:  Steve Blackman pins Ken
Shamrock (Champion) after Billy Gunn gives Shamrock a Fameasser at 3:25:
The former mixed martial arts allies collide here and Dan
Severn walks out a minute into the bout still sporting a neck brace.  After a few brief minutes of action, Shamrock
nails Severn when Severn gets on the apron and Billy Gunn uses that opportunity
to interfere and cost Shamrock the match. 
How Severn fits into all of this, since he is feuding with Owen Hart, is
not explained.  Rating:  *
The Rock and Vince
McMahon are on the cover of Southwest Spirit magazine!
The camera catches
Ken Shamrock and Billy Gunn brawling backstage before WWF officials separate
them.
Mankind comes out
and says that he wants a WWF title shot against the Rock at the Royal Rumble
since he beat him at Rock Bottom.  He
calls out Vince, who walks out and runs down how Mankind doing things to
appease the people is pathetic.  Vince
says that Mankind does not deserve to be the number one contender because he
has not paid his dues and that he will probably never wrestle for the title
again.  Instead, Vince books a match
between Mankind and Triple H, with the winner getting to enter the Royal
Rumble.  A guest referee will officiate
the match and that referee will be Shane McMahon.  Austin-McMahon gets a lot of attention from
1998-1999, but the Vince-Mankind interactions were a close rival to that feud
in terms of compelling and entertaining television.
Chyna and her friend
Sammi are shown talking backstage.
Mark Henry beats
Goldust via disqualification after Goldust hits Shattered Dreams at 3:40:
Henry really needs a new ring attire as he is still
sporting his Nation of Domination-style gear. 
Cole makes sure that we know all about Henry’s “tree trunk size legs.”  Word is that such a moniker was quite an
honor before Big Show showed up the following month with his “frying pan size
hands.”  Henry has Goldust beat until
Chyna and Sammi appear on the ramp and this distractions causes Henry to fall
prey to Shattered Dreams.  I never got
the logic of the Shattered Dreams move. 
Why use something like that in clear view of the referee when you know
it will get you disqualified?  Rating: 
¾*
After the match,
Chyna and Sammi come to the ring, with Chyna confessing to Henry that he is too
much man for her, and that she and Sammi want to take a load off of his
mind.  Henry faints at this offer.
Congratulations to
Jesse Ventura, who was inaugurated as Minnesota’s governor earlier in the
day.  You see, all of this was due to the
WWF giving him an opportunity years ago! 
What is interesting is that Arnold Schwarzenegger was at the inauguration
and would become California’s governor four years later.
Dennis Knight is
shown chained in a cellar at an undisclosed location.
Test and The
Godfather (w/the Hos) wrestle to a double disqualification at 1:59:
This is before Test got the theme that repeated his name
over and over again so he has this weird country-style tune that is not fitting for a former Metallica bodyguard. 
The Godfather does not offer Test the hos, so you know that he means
business.  Cole also lets us know that
Test has “amazing athletic ability” for – get this – stepping over the top
rope!  Test and the Godfather brawl on
the floor as the referee loses control of the match and Val Venis runs down to
fight with Test before WWF officials break them up.  If you recall, Test and Venis have a
lingering issue from the last show where Test cost Venis his Hardcore title
shot.
Shawn Michaels is
shown having a fun conversation with DX backstage.  Cole is still shocked that they are back
together!
Royal Rumble
Qualifying Match with Shane McMahon as the Special Guest Referee:  Triple H (w/Chyna) defeats Mankind with a
sunset flip at 2:55:
This is a pretty mediocre match, but there’s a reason behind
all of it.  Mankind dominates much of the
action until Triple H hits a sunset flip from the apron and Shane McMahon,
after kicking Mankind’s hands away from the ropes, registers a quick three
count.  Triple H gets on the mic to tell
Mankind that he does not regret winning in such a fashion as it gets him closer
to the WWF title, but he also wishes him a “Happy New Year!” by Pedigreeing
Shane.  Mankind proceeds to put Shane in
a submission hold and threatens to break his shoulder unless Vince gives
him a title shot later in the evening. 
Vince agrees to that and also agrees to make it no disqualification
under duress.  This was such a great
piece of storytelling as the McMahons master plan backfired and babyface
elements that shared a common hatred of the McMahons worked together to make
that happen.
After the segment,
WWF Champion The Rock angrily walks out and complains to Vince about being
booked to defend the title.
D-Lo Brown
wrestles Edge to a no contest at 4:30:
This match does not have a story, but it serves as a
small trial run for two guys that the company had high hopes for at the
time.  Only one of them eventually made
it to main event status, but that is the way things go sometimes.  D-Lo hits a nice Sky High when Edge dives off
the top rope, but PMS walks out to take all of the attention away from that.  Terri
Runnels, who is showing her “pregnancy,” distracts D-Lo and when D-Lo goes
after her, Terri falls off the steps. 
This is the infamous “miscarriage angle” that Jim Cornette still gets
hot about in shoot interviews and with good reason as this served little purpose and probably bothered some viewers who may have gone through
such an awful experience in their lives. 
And of course, the whole thing also ruined this match.  Rating:  *½
Shane McMahon,
Gerald Brisco, Pat Patterson, and Kane walk out, with Kane still sporting the
sign on his back from earlier in the show. 
I love how Kane is such an outcast that not a single person backstage
bothered to tell him about it for the last ninety minutes.  Shane gets on the mic and books an impromptu
handicap match that pits the stooges against Kane since they were “remotely
responsible” for Mankind’s attack him a few weeks ago.  Patterson hilariously offers Kane a
cigarette, which is rebuffed, and the stooges eat some chokeslams.  Kane also teases chokeslamming Shane, but is
convinced not to do so under threat of going back to the insane asylum.
Dennis Knight begs
for help as the Acolytes tell him that “It’s time.”  I would be begging for mercy if someone tried
to get me to watch that pay-per-view again too!
Hardcore
Championship Match:  The Road Dogg
(Champion) beats Al Snow (w/Head) 8:35 with a piledriver on some wooden crates:
Snow has still not gotten over his bloodbath at the hands
of the Brood, sporting his blood drenched shirt from several weeks ago.  Snow kills himself to get over here, going
through a table on a moonsault off the ringside barrier and taking chairshots
and cookie sheet shots to the head. 
Speaking of cookie sheets, Road Dogg adds a small touch by unbending a
cookie sheet after he smacks Snow with it, which in wrestling terms makes his
blows pack more power or something like that. 
What the match is notable for is that spills out of the arena
where a snow shower is taking place. 
Referee Jack Doan cannot even maintain his footing as he keeps sliding
on black ice.  Road Dogg ends the match
with a piledriver, continuing his run of entertaining title defenses.  Rating:  ***
The Acolytes toss
Dennis Knight into a smoky room where screams can be heard and close the door
behind him
.
Shawn Michaels
leaves the arena to get the “Stone Cold surprise” and wishes DX well.  After Michaels leaves, Triple H suggests to
the camera that things may not turn out well and sure enough, Michaels cannot
get into his car because he has the wrong key. 
He is locked out of the arena and a voice calls his name as we head to
commercial.  When we return, he is a
bloody mess on the hood of his car and is attended to by medical personnel
A
replay shows that the Corporation was responsible for the assault.
No
Disqualification Match for the WWF Championship Match:  Mankind (w/D-Generation X) pins The Rock
(Champion w/The Corporation) to win the title after Steve Austin hits the Rock
with a chair at 8:48:
The Rock is recovering from his gyno surgery, so he is
wrestling his track outfit here.  An
entertaining sequence takes place when the Rock rips off Cole’s headset to give
some comments and then Mankind beats up the Rock, takes the headset, and
announces to the world that he has “testicular fortitude” in a really corny
way.  They make full use of the no
disqualification stipulation, with the Rock putting Mankind through the
announce table with a Rock Bottom and punishing him with the stairs and ring
bell.  Lawler makes sure to take a dig at
WCW too by saying that this “is not a title match that begins two minutes
before the show ends.”  Despite being no
disqualification, the Rock feels that he has to hide hitting Mankind with the
title and the same is true for the return of Steve Austin to arguably the
loudest pop in the history of the company – interference that gives Mankind an
improbabe WWF championship run.  It
never gets old seeing Austin return here as people jump up and down in the
front row and lose their mind at the title change.  Another great part of the end sequence is Billy
Gunn moving at 100 miles per hour to knock Shamrock for a loop after Shamrock
blasts Mankind with a chair.  The match was
not good, but the heat for the closing sequence was incredible.  Rating:  **¼
The Final Report:  This is a notable show in the company’s
history because WCW famously had Tony Schiavone spoil Mankind’s victory
by saying that “Cactus Jack” would be winning the title and sarcastically
saying “that’ll put butts in the seats!” 
The spoiler did not cause RAW to lose the ratings battle that night, but
it is a myth that viewers immediately turned off Nitro when they heard
Schiavone’s words and flocked over to RAW. 
Still, that idea has acquired its own place in WWF lore like the DX “tank”
turning the Monday Night Wars around. 
The title change and the build up to it is what makes this RAW fun and
it overshadows the offensive stuff such as the Terri miscarriage angle and the
other silly booking related to Mark Henry and Sammi.  Unfortunately, not all shows would be able to
make up for Russo’s weird ideas in 1999, but at least this one hit a
home run to start the year.
Monday Night War Rating:  5.7 (vs. 5.0 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation: 
Thumbs Up

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

Vince McMahon
tells the stooges that he is leaving to briefly train for the Royal Rumble (because
he supposedly could not do this earlier in the day) and he says he will come
back with a “Christmas bonus” for the Corporation.  He leaves Shane in charge of tonight’s show,
but reminds the stooges that he will hold them responsible for Shane’s
actions.  Once Vince drives off, Shane
races toward the arena because he has a lot of things to do.
Michael Cole and
Jerry “The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are taped from Spokane,
Washington. Cole welcomes us to the “greatest action adventure series on
television!” whatever that means.

The Corporation
walks out to a generic techno beat and some of the Corporation’s initial
Titantron video was later incorporated into the “Hollywood Rock” Titantron.  Before Shane McMahon can begin his monologue,
D-Generation X walks out and brings out Mankind who hilariously tries to look
cool by using DX’s gestures. 
Commissioner Shawn Michaels books Billy Gunn to face Ken Shamrock, Road
Dogg to face Big Bossman, and Triple H & X-Pac to face The Rock & Test
(who is referred to as the “corporate insurance policy”).  As revenge for Mankind beating up Vince last
week, Shane decides to face him in the ring over the objections of the stooges.  Mankind and DX laugh at Shane’s challenge and
Mankind does some awful crotch chops on his way to the back.
Cole hypes the
latest edition of People Magazine, which featured Steve Austin as a “breakout”
star of 1998.
D-Lo Brown talks
to Mark Henry and tries to convince him not to fool around with the ladies in the
locker room because they have a match to attend to
.
Opening
Contest:  Al Snow (w/Head) beats Gangrel
with the Snow Plow at 3:00:
Teddy Long is the referee but he does not turn this into
a tag match.  Snow and Gangrel go back
and forth in a match that does not really have much rhyme or reason to it.  Snow goes over clean by hitting a Snow Plow
out of nowhere.  After the match, the
Brood attacks Snow in the dark and gives him a bloodbath.  I cannot remember if this bloodbath stuff is
leading anywhere, but are we to assume that Gangrel cares more about pouring
blood on his opponents than winning?  Rating: 
We are shown
footage of Snow freaking out about the bloodbath during the commercial break
.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  Billy Gunn defeats
Ken Shamrock (Champion) by reversing a victory roll at 8:21:
Shamrock gets arguably the biggest heel heat in his
career as the Spokane crowd works up a loud “Shamrock sucks!” chant.  After the four minute mark, this really picks
up as Shamrock works the knee and Billy gets some well-timed hope spots to keep
the crowd engaged.  Billy appears to have
won the title as this was announced as a title match, but Commissioner Shawn
Michaels steps in to say that he never booked the match that way so Shamrock
keeps the title.  The WWF loved that
finish in December, having used a version of it at Rock Bottom.  After the match, Gunn moons Michaels, but
Shamrock takes him out.  Rating: 
***
Hawk costing Droz
a match against Al Snow on Sunday Night Heat is the Playstation Slam of the
Week
.
Hawk walks out
after having fallen off the Titantron the night after Survivor Series.  The WWF was so concerned about him that they
never bothered providing an update about his condition on subsequent RAWs.  Hawk says that Droz was his dope pusher and
enabler, doing so in an effort to take Hawk’s job.  Hawk pledges to get revenge when he heals up,
but Droz comes out and attacks him from behind.  Animal comes down and tosses Droz off of Hawk,
but the partners do not have a full reconciliation
.
Mark Henry says
that he is ready to have some fun with PMS and goes into their locker
room.  D-Lo Brown is beside himself at
his partner’s behavior
.
Footage of Steve
Austin giving Santa a Stone Cold Stunner last year is shown
.
Steve Blackman
defeats The Blue Blazer via disqualification when Owen Hart interferes at 2:22:
Before the bout, Owen Hart comes out and says that he has
proven that he is not the Blue Blazer and that part of the “Blue Blazer lives
inside each and every one of us.”  He
then says on commentary that he hopes the Blazer gets unmasked so that “he can
get to the bottom of this” and compares his plight to OJ Simpson and Bill
Clinton.  Blackman beats the Blazer up
like a jobber until Owen predictably runs in for a two-on-one beatdown before
Goldust intervenes.  He and Blackman
unmask the Blazer to reveal Jeff Jarrett. 
Jarrett tosses the Blazer cape back over his head as Owen shouts that he
does not know who the Blazer is.  For
comedy this is okay, but this angle is just doing nothing for everyone
involved.
PMS say that they
are going to take a shower as Henry watches
.
Hardcore
Championship Match:  The Road Dogg pins
The Big Bossman (Champion) when Mankind blasts the Bossman with a steel bar to
win the title at 6:55:
This is initially billed as non-title, but Road Dogg
goads the Bossman into putting the title on the line.  One could point to this match as when hardcore
matches jumped the shark as Road Dogg starts pulling out conveniently placed
cookie sheets and buckets from underneath the ring to attack the Bossman.  It is unfortunate that the Bossman is no
longer with us as his ring attire in 1998 foreshadowed the Shield so he would
fit right in.  Speaking of ring attire,
the Bossman goes to it to find objects to beat down Road Dogg such as a noose
(who knew wrestling could produce such vibrant social commentary?) and crack
cocaine (okay, it is just powder but it is funnier if you think it is crack
because why would police just carry random pouches of white powder?).  To send the silliness factor up a notch, the
finish comes when Mankind throws a net over the Bossman and blasts him with a
steel bar to give the Road Dogg the title. 
I hated this at first, but both guys stepped it up a notch when it went
into the crowd.  Rating:  **¼
PMS help Henry get
out of his clothes and put a collar on him. 
They then have him get on a massage table where they put a ball in his
mouth and put whipped cream on him.
A promo video sees
Jeff Jarrett rant about what pisses him off
.
The stooges try to
convince Shane McMahon not to square off with Mankind.
PMS now blindfold
Henry and strap him down to the table
.
Bob Holly &
Scorpio beat The Acolytes via disqualification at 3:20:
The Acolytes are still nothing more than Faarooq and
Bradshaw desperately trying to revive their careers.  The referee has no control of this as it is
just a wild brawl and somehow the Acolytes are the ones that get disqualified.  Rating:  DUD
Shane McMahon runs
toward the Gorilla position backstage as the stooges run after him and beg him
not to fight Mankind
.
Shane’s challenge
to Mankind is the Glover Rewind segment
.
Mankind beats
Shane McMahon (w/Pat Patterson & Gerald Brisco) via disqualification when
the Rock interferes at 3:04:
Shane comes out to the Brawl for All music which is a
nice touch.  The Corporation comes out
early into the match, but Shawn Michaels does not let them rush the ring when
Shane gets in trouble.  Mankind gives
Shane a chair, but no sells the chair shot he receives.  He then dispatches of the stooges with
ease.  Somehow all of this is legal and
the Rock eventually hits the ring to lay out Mankind when Shane becomes trapped
in the Mandible Claw.  As Mankind and the
Rock brawl at ringside, X-Pac does a Bronco Buster to Shane until the
Corporation rescues him.  Not much of a
match, but it was still entertaining.  Rating: 
*
Classie Freddie
Blassie plays the part of “vulgar Santa” in a WWF Attitude vignette
.
The stooges are
worried about how they are going to be punished by Vince when he comes back to
the arena.
D-Lo tries to get
Henry from PMS, but cannot get into their locker room and has to head the ring
alone.  Footage from the PMS locker room
shows PMS whipping Henry and there is a clamp on him as well.
The Headbangers
beat D-Lo Brown with a double flapjack at 2:42:
Lawler spends his time during this match providing
details on the other abuse PMS is putting Henry through in the locker room.  D-Lo puts up a good fight here, but cannot
beat the former tag team champions. 
Henry walks out after the finish looking the worse for wear and D-Lo
shows no sympathy.
Patterson tells
Brisco to keep his mouth shut as Vince arrives back at the arena.  Brisco does not follow instructions, makes
Vince angry, and then hilarious asks Patterson if he thinks they will still get
their Christmas bonus
.
Check out the
latest edition of Tattoo magazine that talks about the Undertaker!
Triple H &
X-Pac (w/D-Generation X) wrestle The Rock & Test (w/The Corporation) to a
no contest at 10:30:
Prior to the match, Shawn Michaels expels D-Generation X
from ringside, but Vince walks out and overrules him.  Test just does some basic offense here,
getting repetitive with delivering several knees in the corner, but does a good
job looking imposing and versatile.  When
it looks as if the Rock will finish off Triple H, the arena’s lights go out and
Kane walks out, but he chokeslams Triple H instead of going after his former
enemies.  He also takes out the rest of
D-Generation X, including Chyna as the show goes off the air.  So Kane was the “Christmas bonus.”  At least he did not come out as the “Christmas
Creature.”  It would have been nice to
get a clear finish after sitting through this, but it does keep everyone
reasonably protected so it served that purpose. 
Rating:  **
The Final Report:  After the Road Dogg-Bossman match, this show
lost a lot of direction.  We had the
ridiculous PMS-Mark Henry stuff crowding the show (and probably leaving some
parents horrified and deciding that their children would not be watching WWF
programming in the near future) and then a weird Kane turn at the end (which in
the long run would not last very long). 
Some of the impact of the end of the slow loses its luster since Kane
has been around forever; has turned 20,000 times or so; and the character has
lost all meaning.  The Corporation was
also becoming way too big for its own good at this point, starting to mirror
the NWO in late 1996 when everyone and their mother, father, aunt, uncle, and
cousin decided to join up.  If you watch
this show, follow the first half but then abandon it after the Hardcore title
switch.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.7 (vs. 4.0 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Neutral

What the World Was Watching: Survivor Series 1998

by Logan Scisco

Jim Ross and Jerry
“The King” Lawler are doing commentary and they are live from St. Louis,
Missouri.  As a side note, this is the
first Survivor Series pay-per-view not to feature an elimination match of any kind.
Vince McMahon is
at ringside with the WWF title and does introductions for the first match.

WWF Championship
Tournament First Round:  Mankind beats
Duane Gill with a double arm DDT in 30 seconds:
Mankind was booked to face a mystery opponent here, who
some thought could be Randy Savage or Shawn Michaels.  Instead, it is just lowly jobber Duane Gill,
who Mankind – wearing a tuxedo – dispatches. 
At least Gill, the “man, the myth, and the legend,” gets a specialized
introduction, saying he had one loss in his prior WWF tenure and then jumped to
WCW.  Ross cracks me up by saying that
Gill “has spent more time on the canvas than Rembrandt.”  Gill also freaks out when pyro goes off around
him, which is a nice touch.  Crowd hated
this mystery opponent, but it fits the storyline.
Footage of
Jacqueline attacking Sable on Sunday Night Heat is shown.  Kevin Kelly interviews Sable, who says she is
pissed off and more determined than ever to become WWF Women’s champion.
WWF Championship
Tournament First Round:  Al Snow (w/Head)
defeats “Double J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Debra McMichael) when he nails Jarrett with Head
at 3:31:
The small feud between these two has been built as Head
vs. Jarrett’s guitar and we get a small showdown between the two with Head
coming out on top.  Nothing more than a
rushed match to squeeze everything in on tonight’s card.  Rating:  *¾
WWF Championship
Tournament First Round:  “Stone Cold”
Steve Austin beats The Big Bossman via disqualification when the Bossman hits
Austin with his night stick at 3:17:
This is actually Bossman’s first match since he debuted
more than a month ago in the company as Vince McMahon’s bodyguard.  The match is a battle of wills between Austin’s
trademark offense and the Bossman’s rest holds. 
The Bossman blasts Austin with the night stick outside of the ring,
thereby blowing Tony Schiavone’s theory of how you cannot get disqualified out
there.  The Bossman completes a
thorough beating of Austin with the night stick before heading to the locker
room.  These tournament matches have been
pretty bad so far.  Rating:  ¼*
Michael Cole
interviews Vince McMahon, who is not concerned about Austin winning.  He reminds the audience that the night is
still young.
WWF Championship
Tournament First Round:  X-Pac wrestles
Stephen Regal to a double count out at 8:09:
X-Pac has flawlessly recovered from getting a fireball to
the eyes on RAW.  Clearly, a Z-Pak did the trick!  WWF tournaments usually have a draw of some sort – the 1990 Intercontinental title tournament featured two of them – and it is fitting that one of them takes place in a Regal bout.  Both
men initially fight to a double count out before McMahon orders a five minute
overtime period, but that does not happen as X-Pac seemingly has a serious
injury so Austin gets a bye to the semi-finals. 
That was all sorts of confusing.  This
was Regal’s only WWF pay-per-view appearance under this gimmick, as he would
head to rehab in early 1999 and be released. 
Rating:  **¼
WWF Championship
Tournament First Round:  Ken Shamrock
beats Goldust via submission to the ankle lock at 5:55:
Ross calls Shamrock’s Intercontinental title run dominant, but it is hard to see that when he has lost the majority of his bouts
since becoming champion.  The crowd is
clearly becoming restless by all these matches that have featured tons of
restholds thus far.  Shamrock came into
this as the clear favorite and he does prevail in a RAW-type match after the
referee blocks Shattered Dreams.  We even
get Lucha Shamrock as he pulls out a flying hurricanrana off the
second rope.  Rating:  **
Cole tells us that
Steve Austin is refusing medical attention. 
He says he knows Austin will keep competing!
The next
tournament bout is scheduled to be the Rock against Triple H, who has not been
seen since September.  Well, Triple H is
not here as he is still nursing a knee injury. 
Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco do make a funny walk out to the
D-Generation X theme music and do the crotch chops.  Ross takes another jab at Patterson’s sexual orientation
by saying that he is “still circulating Uranus.”  They announce that the Rock has a new
opponent:  The Big Bossman.  This leads to…
WWF Championship
Tournament First Round:  The Rock pins
The Big Bossman with a small package in four seconds:
The description of the match above says it all.  The Rock navigates himself into the
quarter-finals.  Initially, this came off
as stupid, but it made more sense by the end of the show.
Ross and Lawler
discuss the bracket, but Lawler still cannot figure it out.
WWF Championship
Tournament Quarter-Finals:  The
Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer) defeats Kane with a Tombstone at 7:16:
This is the sixth time that the Undertaker and Kane are
squaring off in some capacity on pay-per-view in 1998 and if you do not think
that is enough, well they had a lot more bouts in subsequent years!  The Undertaker wears Kane down with some dull
offense and a Paul Bearer distraction cuts off a Kane comeback, enabling the
Dead Man to advance to the semi-finals.  Just awful.  Rating: 
½*
WWF Championship
Tournament Quarter-Finals:  Mankind beats
Al Snow (w/Head) with the Mandible Claw at 3:57:
Seeing Snow this deep in the tournament is just
weird.  However, we had to have this
match in the quarter-finals because Socko has been missing and is around Head.  McMahon and the stooges joke during the match
that they stole Socko from Mankind and put it there.  Mankind eventually finds Socko and in a part
of the match that is humorous and sad, he beats up the Head.  Seriously, he puts it in a headlock and just pounds away on it.  Another quick tournament match, nothing more
or less.  Rating:  **
WWF Championship
Tournament Quarter-Finals:  The Rock pins
Ken Shamrock after hitting him with the Big Bossman’s night stick at 8:22:
There is some nice symmetry with this match as Shamrock
forced the Rock to tap out at last year’s Survivor Series in Montreal.  This is also the final major battle between
the two, at least on pay-per-view, as they have squared off at four of the five
big pay-per-views of 1998:  the Royal Rumble,
WrestleMania, King of the Ring, and here. 
Shamrock got the King of the Ring nod, but now is just the Rock’s
time.  Shamrock’s look of despair when
the Rock reaches the ropes to break the ankle lock is a nice touch,
communicating that he has given the Rock his best shot and cannot finish
him.  This is the match of the night thus
far and it ends when the Bossman’s night stick toss to Shamrock is intercepted.  Rating:  ***
Cole interviews
Paul Bearer, who promises that the Undertaker will win the WWF title.
WWF Women’s
Championship Match:  Sable beats
Jacqueline (Champion w/Marc Mero) with a Sablebomb to win the title at 3:15:
Jacqueline won the title two months prior to this, but had
never defended it because these two women were the only two competitors in the
division.  They continue booking Sable as
the female version of Hulk Hogan, as she hits Jacqueline with a TKO less than a
minute in and then low blows Mero and powerbombs him on the floor.  Jacqueline never really lands any offense of
significance as Sable wins the title, but now she needs a new rival, so who
will that be?  Rating:  *½
WWF Championship
Tournament Semi-Finals:  Mankind pins “Stone
Cold” Steve Austin after Gerald Brisco hits Austin with a chair at 10:27:
So this semi-final gives us McMahon’s choice versus his
biggest foe and he makes sure to come down to ringside to see it.  These two put on a sloppy brawl for much of
the match, likely due to the tournament conditions, but things pick up when a
chair is introduced into the match for spots. 
Somehow doing a Stone Cold Stunner on a chair hurts your opponent more
than you, though.  The conspiracy really
unfolds after the stooges pull the referee out of the ring and McMahon rises
out of his wheelchair perfectly fine and decks him.  Shane McMahon then runs in and does his
famous two count turned into flipping Austin off and Brisco gives Austin a weak
chair shot to send Mankind into the finals. 
Evidently, the Big Bossman was supposed to do that, but pulled a Papa
Shango.  The crowd is just SHOCKED at the
finish.  In kayfabe terms, this was
probably Mankind’s biggest win since defeating the Undertaker at the 1996 King
of the Ring.  Rating:  **½
After the match,
McMahon and the stooges run to a waiting limo and it speeds away before Austin
can catch up to them.  Austin carjacks a
poor soul to pursue them, though.
WWF Championship
Tournament Semi-Finals:  The Rock defeats
The Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer) via disqualification when Kane interferes at
8:24:
With Austin out, the Rock now becomes the crowd favorite to
go all the way.  You can tell, though,
that a sizable number of fans are incredibly disappointed that Austin is
out.  These two do not have good
chemistry and the Rock plays the Randy Savage role here.  By the way, why is “playing Ricky Morton” a thing and not “playing Randy Savage”?  The Big Bossman comes out for
another Rock match, but proves ineffective. 
The bigger interference is run by Kane, who storms in and chokeslams the
Rock, thereby sending the Rock to the finals via disqualification.  The Undertaker and Kane brawl into the crowd
after the match because this feud MUST go on! 
Rating:  DUD
Cole interviews
Mankind, who is clearly exhausted.  He
says he only has one more hill to climb to be the WWF champion.
Triple Threat
Match for the WWF Tag Team Championship: 
The New Age Outlaws (Champions) defeat The Headbangers & D-Lo Brown
& Mark Henry when Billy Gunn pins Mosh at 10:10:
To the WWF’s credit, they did a lot of work the last two
months to give the Headbangers a push, but they just never caught on as
evidenced by the fact that they have no heat in this match.  The rules for this bout allow for three men
to be in the ring at one time, an innovation that I prefer over a standard
triangle match where only two teams have men in the ring and a third team is
completely left out.  Of course, what is
good in theory does not always work in practice as this match devolves into a
big mess of miscommunication spots and Tim White mistakes.  You can tell on Billy Gunn’s face that he was
not happy with the quality of this match. 
Rating:  *½
Before the title
match, the McMahons wish the Bossman a goodnight and say that they will take
care of the finals personally.  This
means that the limo that sped away just had the stooges and was meant as a
distraction to get Austin out of the building. 
That is a pretty brilliant piece of writing.
WWF Championship
Tournament Finals:  The Rock defeats
Mankind via submission to the Sharpshooter to win the title at 17:18:
If you had told someone at the beginning of 1998 that
Survivor Series would be headlined by Mankind and the Rock they probably would
have laughed at you.  Maybe not on the Rock,
but definitely on Mankind, who was in between three gimmicks and wrestling with
Chainsaw Charlie.  The crowd really does
not know what to make of these guys in the finals, both of whom are noticeably
exhausted, and they only come alive when the McMahons walk out.  It takes a while for this to get going, but
Mankind sacrifices his body to finally draw the crowd in, diving through the
Spanish announce table and taking some vicious chair shots.  I remember many months prior to this that “The
Informer” section of WWF Magazine predicted another Survivor Series screwjob and guess what?  That is exactly what we get as the Rock
cannot finish Mankind off, so he locks in a Sharpshooter and Vince gets the
bell to ring, making the Rock the new champion. 
I probably overrated this a bit, but Jim Ross did a great job keeping
you engaged in the match.  Without him,
this thing is probably less than two stars. 
Rating:  ***¼
Initially, the
crowd pops for the Rock’s win, but as they realize he is the true “chosen one”
by the McMahons, their positive reactions fizzle.  Vince gets on the mic and gloats about
screwing Austin and the fans, who were as gullible as Mankind.  Poor Mankind does not quite understand what
is happening and Ross does a great job getting him some sympathy.  The Rock runs down the fans and then smashes
Mankind in the back of the head with the title belt, thereby solidifying the
double turn.  At the end of the show,
Steve Austin walks out and runs to the ring, brawling with the new champion as
the McMahons flee.  Austin gives the Rock
a Stunner and tosses him out of the ring, something that I think was best saved
for when the show went off the air.  He
also gives Mankind a Stunner for good measure.
The Final Report Card:  This has been deemed as Vince Russo’s best
work, but honestly, this show has not aged well at all.  If you lived through 1998, you can still feel
some excitement from this show because you remember all of the storylines that
led up to it.  However, if you are a relatively
new fan and just randomly plug this show in, you miss a great deal of the
context.  It is like if you missed all of
the episodes of a certain television series but then watched the series
finale.  The bright spot of this show is
obviously the Rock’s first WWF title win, making him the first wrestler of
African American descent to win the championship (and yes, I know he is really half black), but even
that is not enough for me to give this show a thumbs up.
Attendance: 
21,779
Buyrate: 
1.3 (+0.41 from previous year)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

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

by Logan Scisco


-Not sure if there are any Fantasy Golf players on the Blog, but if you are, feel free to join my Head-to-Head League entering its eighth year.  It is located on Yahoo Fantasy Golf.  Group ID#806, Password:  shark.  Now, on with the review…


Jim Ross and Jerry
“The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are taped from Dallas, Texas.  This is the go home show for the Survivor
Series.

Opening Non-Title
Contest:  The Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer)
wrestles X-Pac (European Champion) to a no contest at 25 seconds:
This match was setup by an angle on Sunday Night Heat,
where the Undertaker attacked X-Pac. 
This was also a dream match from the New Generation era as neither guy
had faced each other up to this point. 
Of course, I got excited about this and Kane intervenes less than thirty
seconds in.  Kane shoots a fireball at
the Undertaker, but it accidentally hits X-Pac. 
It should be noted that this is X-Pac’s second eye injury in less than
three months.
Vince McMahon and
the stooges, who have seemingly forgiven him for the Big Bossman’s beating on
last week’s show (Commissioner Slaughter is rocking a sling), find Mankind
backstage.  McMahon books Mankind to
defend his Hardcore title against Ken Shamrock. 
He promises that more titles are coming for him and Mankind follows him
to get a makeover.
Val Venis defeats
Steve Blackman via disqualification when Terri Runnels gives Venis a low blow
at 3:22:
Terri Runnels follows Venis to the ring and is summarily
dismissed.  Venis told Kevin Kelly on
Sunday Night Heat that he could not be the father of her child because he had a
vasectomy.  This is just an average bout,
which ends when Terri runs back out and gives Venis a low blow when he does his
hip swivel over a fallen Blackman.  Rating: 
*½ (0 for 1)
After the bell,
the Blue Blazer and Owen Hart run into the ring and attack Blackman.
A hairdresser
backstage works on Mankind’s hair. 
Mankind tells her that he hopes Vince can give him some new teeth.  When she inquires where some of his previous
ones went, he tells her that Steve Austin tossed them into the crowd.  I like little pieces of continuity like that.
Triple Threat
Match:  Mosh (w/Thrasher) defeats The
Road Dogg (w/Billy Gunn) and D-Lo Brown (w/Mark Henry) when he pins D-Lo
following a Stage Dive at 5:40:
Shane McMahon is a referee for this point, having been
demoted to that job on the previous show. 
All three of these teams are facing off in the Survivor Series in a
triple threat tag team match, so this is a small preview of that.  The good thing about this match is that the
action is non-stop, but the problem is that the offense utilized is more of the
battle royal variety, lots of kicks, punches, and minor moves.  Mosh scores a surprising win, thereby continuing
to build some momentum behind the Headbangers. 
Everyone tried here and this match was better than I thought it would
be.  Rating:  **½ (1 for 2)
Michael Cole
interviews JeffJarrett and Debra McMichael. 
Jarrett says he will counter Head at the Survivor Series.  Debra says she will prove that Goldust is
really all man.
As he receives a
pedicure, Mankind talks more about the loss of Socko last week.  He says his new family of McMahon and the
stooges makes up for it, though.
Goldust defeats
“Double J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Debra McMichael) via disqualification when Jarrett
nails him with a guitar at 3:32:
Terri Runnels comes out in Marlena attire, with no bra on
mind you, but Goldust tells her to get out of his life.  True to her word, Debra charms and distracts
Goldust several times throughout the bout. 
When Goldust prepares Jarrett for Shattered Dreams, Debra gets in the
way, receiving a big kiss in return.  Of
course, he pays for that with a guitar shot, but most fans out there might
consider that a decent trade off.  Match
was all angle and little action.  Rating: 
* (1 for 3)
The Rock shows up
at the arena, possibly for the last time, as he has to pin or submit Mark Henry
to keep his job tonight.
A video package
recaps the career of Jesse Ventura, who recently won the Minnesota
gubernatorial election in arguably one of the greatest upsets in American
political history.  It was funny how the
WWF quickly attached itself to Ventura’s victory after treating him as a persona
non grata after his lawsuit against them in 1995.
Ken Shamrock’s
chair shot to the Rock on last week’s show is the JVC Kaboom! of the Week.
Cole interviews
the Rock, who gives some generic comments about facing Mark Henry later.  Goldust attacks Jeff Jarrett in the same
vicinity, but before he can deliver a modified version of Shattered Dreams the
Blue Blazer makes the save.
Hardcore
Championship Match:  Mankind (Champion)
pins Ken Shamrock (Intercontinental Champion) when the Big Bossman nails
Shamrock with his night stick at 8:17:
Mankind comes out for the bout wearing a tuxedo and Vince
McMahon comes out to watch the match. 
This is the first Hardcore title match in company history.  These two do their usual “beat the hell out
of each other” match, with Shamrock giving Mankind a belly-to-belly suplex into
the steps and Mankind DDT’ing Shamrock on a chair.  Both men fight near McMahon and the stooges
on the ramp, where the Big Bossman interferes when the referee is not looking
and helps Mankind successfully defend his title.  A fun brawl, but Shamrock has been eating
quite a few losses since he won the Intercontinental title.  No wonder he lost steam around this time
period.  Rating:  ***¼ (2 for 4)
After the match,
the stooges and McMahon celebrate with Mankind, although McMahon is disgusted
by Mankind’s hug and does not like that his hair has been messed up.
Cole screams at us
that the Rock has been attacked in his locker room.
Watch the Home
Shopping Network after Survivor Series to buy some new merchandise!
EMT’s are shown working
on the Rock in his locker room. 
Evidently he suffered a blow to the back of the head from his assailant.
Steve Austin comes
out and says that if Vince Mahon has a plan for him at the Survivor Series that
they will backfire.  The Big Bossman
comes out and pledges to put Austin through hard time this Sunday, prompting
Austin to invite him to the ring to brawl. 
Bossman refuses.  Bossman just did
not have the mic skills to go toe-to-toe with Austin here, creating an awkward
segment.  2 for 5
Cole tells us that
the Rock will be going to a nearby medical facility.  After the commercial break, he interviews
Vince McMahon and the stooges near an ambulance.  McMahon says that he does not care if the
Rock cannot compete tonight because if he cannot that means that his services
will no longer be required.
Tiger Ali Singh
(w/Babu) beats Al Snow (w/Head) with a bulldog at 2:23:
Mr. Socko is wrapped around Head, so that solves some of
the mystery of where it is.  Snow and
Singh faced each other more than a year prior to this at the One Night Only
pay-per-view in Great Britain, where Singh defeated Snow, then packaged as Leif
Cassidy, in an awful match.  This is a
match that makes little sense, as Singh refuses to wrestle, so Snow beats up
Babu for a while until Debra McMichael wanders out and distracts Snow by
shoving Head in her bosom.  That enables
Singh to re-enter the match and win.  The
less said about all of this going forward the better.
A Sable workout
video is shown.
McMahon tells the
Rock in the Rock’s dressing room that he is headed to the unemployment line.
Kane defeats Edge
(w/Gangrel & Christian) via disqualification when the Brood interferes at
4:27:
There is some backstory to this match as Edge turned
against Kane when he seemingly ran in to make the save after Kane annihilated
Gangrel and Christian two weeks ago on RAW. 
Kane brings a can of gasoline and a blowtorch to the ring with him,
thereby continuing to build the “Kane is unstable and cannot tell right from
wrong” storyline that only got more ridiculous from this point forward.  Finding a team was the best thing to happen
to Edge at this stage of his career as he was languishing as a singles.  Kane takes out the entire Brood by himself
and sells very little of Edge’s offense. 
The referee eventually tires of Brood interference and calls for the
bell, after which Kane takes them all out AGAIN with chokeslams and teases
barbecuing them in the center of the ring along with the referee.  If one did not have the benefit of hindsight
you would think that this was a way to write out the Brood and release
them.  WWF officials prevent a homicide
on national television, which the crowd boos. 
The 1990s ladies and gentleman!  Rating: 
* (2 for 6)
After having his
fire plans disrupted, Kane chokeslams a fan from the crowd, who is digging the
idea of Kane as an unstoppable monster.
Vince McMahon
comes out, inviting the Rock to appear. 
He takes a dig at the Dallas Cowboys, who he says half of which are
convicted felons.  Shane McMahon walks to
the ring and begs his father to stop taking out of his frustrations on the rest
of the roster.  Vince just dismisses him,
but Shane refuses, so Vince sends the Bossman after him.  However, before the Bossman can conduct a
beating, Steve Austin runs in and makes the save.  The most entertaining segment of tonight’s
show, once again due to McMahon’s facial expressions and power trip-like
behavior.  3 for 7
The Rock beats
Mark Henry (w/D-Lo Brown) with a People’s Elbow at 7:24:
Vince McMahon is at ringside with this bout.  If the Rock wins via pinfall or submission,
he is back in the Deadly Game Tournament, but if he loses he is out of a
job.  The Rock wrestles in his track suit
gear, angering McMahon by showing up despite the beating he received earlier in
the show.  It would have been nice to
build this match with some kind of segment in the show since these two did have
a backstory, with Henry upsetting the Rock at Judgment Day.  The Rock and Henry put together a pretty fun
match before the overbooking kicks in where the Rock handcuffs the Big Bossman
to the corner, the referee gets pulled out of the ring by the stooges, and
Shane McMahon runs in to count the fall. 
Rating:  **¾ (4 for 8)
After the match,
the Rock pulls Vince out of his wheelchair and tosses him into the ring.  The Rock takes out the stooges line of
defense and after Vince slaps him he eats a Rock Bottom and People’s Elbow.
The Final Report Card:  This show was really hit and miss.  Some things, such as the Debra interactions
with Goldust and Al Snow and Kane’s attempt to set the Brood on fire were
ridiculous, while others such as the main event and the Hardcore title match
were quite entertaining.  As the go home
show for a tournament, I had hoped for a little more build of the Deadly Game
concept, but the WWF really did leave you with the feeling that the Undertaker,
Kane, Steve Austin, the Rock, and Mankind were all viable tournament
winners.  I will default to a neutral
rating for this one, as the good and bad cancel each other out.
Monday Night War Rating:  5.0 (vs. 4.1 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Neutral 

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – November 2, 1998

by Logan Scisco

A video package
recaps Shane McMahon ranting at his father on last week’s show.  Will Vince hand over the company to his son
tonight?
Jim Ross and Jerry
“The King” Lawler are doing commentary and they are live from Houston, Texas
.

Shane McMahon
walks out and says that as acting chairman of the WWF, due to his father’s
absence, Steve Austin will get a WWF title shot the night after Survivor
Series.  Austin then comes to the ring as
a limo pulls in backstage, carrying Vince McMahon.  McMahon is quickly wheeled out and chastises the
crowd for thinking he was stepping down, as that will only happens when he dies.  Shoot comments…  He gives an entertaining rant on how he does
not want the crowd to attend his funeral and how he wants to go to
hell when he dies.  He proceeds to relieve Shane of
his corporate responsibilities and reassigns him as a referee.  As far as Austin is concerned, his title shot
is switched to the Survivor Series as he is entered into the WWF title
tournament.  His opponent in the opening
round?  The Big Bossman.  McMahon is simply perfect at trolling the
crowd, which made this opening segment great. 
1 for 1
Footage is shown
of Vince McMahon chewing out the announce crew during the commercial
break.  McMahon guarantees that someone
will be paying “hard time” in the steel cage hanging above the ring later
tonight.
Opening Contest:  X-Pac & The New Age Outlaws wrestle The Brood
to a no contest at 3:37:
X-Pac is announced as being part of the Deadly Game
tournament, so the number of known entrants keeps growing.  Edge and Christian showcase some nice double
team maneuvers before the lights go out and Kane arrives to a huge pop.  You know, they need to go back to this type
of character for Kane where he does not wrestle much but just comes and out and
destroys things.  Kane destroys Edge,
X-Pac, and Christian, and Billy Gunn as Road Dogg and Gangrel brawl in the
crowd.  I will give this a point more for
the clever booking than in-ring action.  Rating: 
* (2 for 2)
McMahon interrogates
Michael Cole backstage about Cole’s questioning of him last week.  The Big Bossman chokes Cole as McMahon asks
him how he feels.
The next match is
supposed to be Droz against Hawk, but Hawk shows up in no condition to
compete.  Ross says that Hawk is “pulling
a Kerry Collins.”  It should be noted
that the Hardy Boys beat LOD 2000 on Sunday Night Heat due to an argument
between both men.  That was the first step in the WWF’s rebuilding of the Hardy’s into something more than enhancement talent.  Droz beats up Hawk as
Animal comes to the ring and does nothing to help his old partner.  He eventually gets into the ring and yells at
Hawk for flushing the team’s history down the toilet.  This storyline is growing on me.  3 for 3
McMahon runs into
Jim Cornette backstage and tells him to stop wearing ridiculous clothes, change
his announcing, and stop “the 1980s wrestling crap.”  Talk about life imitating art.
Cole interviews
Mankind and Al Snow.  Mankind jokes about
the NBC special on revealing wrestling’s greatest secrets and he and Snow
continues arguing over whether Socko or Head is better.
Golga &
Kurrgan (w/The Giant Silva & Luna Vachon) beat Mankind & Al Snow
(w/Head) when Golga pins Snow after a running seated senton at 4:36:
ZZ Top is shown in the crowd before the match.  This is probably the best Oddities tag match
prior to this point, as the action moves quickly.  Well, that is until Mankind cannot find Socko
and leaves Snow to fend for himself.  The
referee loses all control as Snow tries to fight off both men before succumbing.  Rating:  ** (4 for 4)
McMahon finds
Shaquille O’Neal backstage and interrogates about him about whether he has a
backstage pass.  He tells him to get
lost, but Shaq just sits back down as McMahon drives off.
Mankind still
cannot find Socko, so he tries to find McMahon, who he thinks can help him find
it.
Steven Regal wrestles
Goldust to a no contest at 4:50:
Despite the “Real Man’s Man” gimmick being pretty dumb,
the theme music for it was pretty enjoyable. 
Regal is also in the Deadly Game tournament.  In this contest, he issues an open challenge
for anyone willing to fight him like a man so we get a laugh as Goldust walks
out to answer it.  With regards to the
Goldust-Val Venis feud, Terri Runnels announced on the Heat prior to this that
she was pregnant withVenis’s child. 
Runnels comes out to the ring dressed in her Marlena garb in her attempt
to become a gold digger.  Get it?  Anyway, this match is a mess until Goldust
sets up Shattered Dreams and the lights go out and Kane wrecks both men.  When Marlena comes to Goldust’s aid he nearly
chokeslams her until WWF officials intervene. 
Tony Garea takes the bump for her. 
Keep jobbing Tony!  Rating: 
½* (4 for 5)
The Deadly Game
Tournament bracket is revealed.  Instead
of it being a sixteen man tournament, the field is reduced to fourteen
men.  Kane and the Undertaker get a bye
to face each other in the quarter-finals. 
Other matchups include The Rock-Triple H, Goldust-Ken Shamrock,
Mankind-Mystery Opponent, Al Snow-Jeff Jarrett, X-Pac-Steven Regal, and Steve
Austin-Big Bossman.
McMahon gets
Mankind to promise not to interfere in the upcoming Ken Shamrock-Rock match in
return for a present.  Mankind is excited
so he promises to live up to that and receives the Hardcore title in
return.  McMahon tells him that he thinks
he has gained a son and as he wheels himself away Mankind hilariously screams “Thanks,
dad!”  causing McMahon to stop and give a
look of disgust.
The Rock giving
Darren Drozdov a Rock Bottom and People’s Elbow on last week’s RAW is the 989
Studios Slam of the Week.
McMahon is shown
conferencing with Ken Shamrock backstage, but tells the camera crew to get lost.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  The Rock beats Ken
Shamrock (Champion) by disqualification when Shamrock hits him with a chair at
7:57:
Before the match, McMahon comes out and says he has a
problem with him because he’s the “People’s Champion” and he hates the
people.  He says that if the Rock does
not win the Intercontinental title in this match he loses his place in the
Deadly Game Tournament.  This is the
abbreviated version of their previous encounters, just with the heel/face roles
reversed, and the crowd pops like the Rock won the WWF title when he makes the
ropes to escape the ankle lock.  The
referee gets bumped on a Rock clothesline and when he comes to, he sees
Shamrock nail the Rock with a chair. 
That allows the Rock to win, but he does not win the belt and is thereby
eliminated from the Deadly Game Tournament. 
Fun match that the crowd made into a big deal.  Shamrock is eating lots of losses since
winning the Intercontinental title, though. 
Rating:  ***½ (5 for 6)
The Rock is shown
destroying his locker room backstage, irate that he has been removed from the
Deadly Game Tournament.
Val Venis beats Double
J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Debra McMichael) by disqualification when the Blue Blazer
interferes at 2:29:
The entire Runnels angle has been somewhat damaging for
Venis as he was never clearly made a heel or face and lost the big blowoff to
Goldust.  After a few minutes of
back-and-forth action, the Blue Blazer runs out and crotches Venis on the top
rope and Jarrett gives Venis the Stroke for good measure.  That sounds much more dirty than I meant it.
Police officers
are shown arriving at the arena.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your Rock “Layin’ the Smackdown” t-shirt for $25 (plus $6 shipping &
handling)!
Vince McMahon
tells police officers that the Rock is threatening his life, so he asks them to
arrest him.
#1 Contenders
Match for the WWF Tag Team Championship: 
The Headbangers wrestle D-Lo Brown & Mark Henry to a no contest at
6:00:
The Headbangers come to the ring dressed as the New Age
Outlaws and do a non-humorous mocking of their introduction.  Without their skirts, the Headbangers
actually look like generic jobbers. 
Since this is heel-heel, the crowd really does not know how to cheer
for, but fans in the front row are vocal D-Lo Brown supporters, with several
shouting “You go, dawg!”  When all hell
breaks loose the lights go off and Kane wrecks a match for the third time
tonight.  You know Russo, there can be
too much of a good thing.  And where is
McMahon while all this is going on?  I would like to think this was a subtle reminder that the show gets out of control when
McMahon becomes obsessed with personal grudges backstage.  Rating:  ** (6 for 7)
Police are shown
handcuffing the Rock in his locker room and as he is taken away he lets them
know that he has donuts for all of them. 
As he is put into the police cruiser, McMahon taunts him by saying that
he is now the “People’s Chump.”
Owen Hart comes to
the ring to meet with Dan Severn and reminds us that he is retired.  Severn walks out and says he is not seeking
an apology.  Instead, he wonders why Owen
is running around like the Blue Blazer. 
When he says that he thinks Owen is scum, Owen clotheslines him and
Steve Blackman makes the save before more damage is done.  After the commercial break, medics race
Severn to an ambulance backstage.  When
Owen comes near the ambulance, Blackman gives him a pump kick but then Blackman
is attacked by the Blue Blazer.  7 for 8
The steel cage
above the ring – a hybrid of the blue bar cage and the modern steel top – is
lowered with some musical accompaniment, which reminds me of the old NWA War
Games brawls.  After the break, McMahon
and the stooges come out and establish themselves by the announcers.  McMahon sends the Bossman into the cage with
the stooges – Pat Patterson, Gerald Brisco, and Commissioner Slaughter – to inspect
it and then has the Bossman turn on them for failing to come back from getting
a cup of coffee two weeks ago.  That was
when Austin abducted him.  After McMahon
orders the Bossman to strip the stooges, Austin runs out, comes into the cage
and attacks the Bossman.  Patterson gets
the night stick, but chooses to hit Austin in the knee and that allows the
Bossman to give him a beating.  Shane
McMahon runs in, but Vince calls the Bossman off, which is a nice piece of
storytelling, but Shane does not appreciate it and flips him off.  After all of that, the Undertaker walks to
the ring and into the cage and he and Austin brawl, with the Undertaker
eventually gaining the upperhand. 
However, that’s not all as the lights go out and Kane makes his way into
the cage, parts of which he sets on fire, and he, the Undertaker, and Austin
brawl in a really awesome visual as the show ends.  8 for
9
The Final Report Card:  The wild ending of this RAW was vintage
Russo, but if you watch these RAWs in sequence it is still entertaining
today.  Having Kane interfere in so many matches
did get a little repetitive, but at least it had a payoff at the end of the
show.  The show also continued our
gradual build to Survivor Series and the multiple storylines intersecting with
each other (Vince-Shane, Vince-Austin, Vince-Mankind, Vince-Rock, and
Kane-Undertaker) are helping to keep the show fresh and exciting.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.8 (vs. 4.1 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up