What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – August 3, 1998

by Logan Scisco

Jim Ross and Jerry
“The King” Lawler are doing commentary and they are taped from San Diego,
California
.

The Nation of
Domination comes out for the opening segment, as the Rock and Owen Hart are
facing Steve Austin and the Undertaker for the tag team titles later
tonight.  The Rock urges Austin and the
Undertaker to come out and immediately defend the titles, but Commissioner
Slaughter walks out instead.  The Rock
gives him a smackdown on the mic and Austin and the Undertaker arrive.  Austin slides into the ring to fight the Rock
and Owen, but the Undertaker gets distracted by Kane near the entrance and does
not help his partner.  Mankind and the
Undertaker end up brawling near the entrance as Austin takes a beating before
recovering and forcing the Rock and Owen to flee.  1 for
1
Opening
Contest:  Golga (w/The Oddities &
Sable) beats “Marvelous” Marc Mero (w/Jacqueline) with a seated senton splash
at 3:11:
Mero and Jacqueline are sporting the trophy that
Jacqueline earned for winning the Fully Loaded bikini contest.  Sable unveils a “surprise” by accompanying
Golga to the ring.  Kurrgan and Giant
Silva walk out in tuxedos and Kurrgan sings the Miss America song before Luna
Vachon walks out.  This was the Oddities
face turn and the Jackyl, who had been managing them, is nowhere to be
found.  This follows the usual big
man-small man formula and when Jacqueline tries to interfere, Luna attacks
her.  Silva chokeslams Mero behind the
referee’s back and that sets up Golga’s win. 
This is prime for a Wrestlecrap induction.  Rating:  * (1 for 2)
Brawl for All
Quarter-Final Match:  The Godfather
defeats Scorpio via decision:
Now, readers of this column might say “Wait Logan, I
thought Dan Severn already beat the Godfather?” and if you asked that question
you would be right.  However, Severn
withdrew from the tournament because he said he had nothing to prove, so the
Godfather was put back in.  I hate that
and would have preferred Scorpio to be given a bye to the semi-finals.  Scorpio rejects the Godfather’s overture to
take the hos, which was a bad idea in retrospect because he cannot overcome the
Godfather’s size advantage and loses.  Disappointing
contest, as I expected Scorpio to try to use takedowns to win the bout.  1 for
3
Michael Cole
interviews the New Age Outlaws, who say that they are not intimidated by Kane
& Mankind, who they will face tonight.
Kane &
Mankind (w/Paul Bearer) beat The New Age Outlaws when Kane pins The Road Dogg
with a Tombstone at 5:19:
In a smart move, the Outlaws pull Mankind out of the ring
and beat him down while Kane is doing his routine of making fire come out of
the ring posts.  However,
Kane is the real strength of the team and the Outlaws cannot find a way to deal
with him.  When the Road
Dogg ends up alone with Kane, we get the predictable result of him eating a
Tombstone.  You will notice that in these
big Outlaws matches the Road Dogg always ends up eating the
pin.  This had its moments, but was
rushed and messy, especially near the end. 
Rating:  *½ (1 for 4)
Ross and Lawler
recap Hawk’s poor condition on last week’s show.  Hawk apologizes for his behavior last week
and asks for forgiveness.
Jeff Jarrett and
Tennessee Lee say that Jarrett is going to scare Hawk straight “Jeff Jarrett
style,” whatever that means.
Hawk pins “Double
J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) with a neckbreaker at 2:31:
Hawk is not under the influence this week, so he is able
to perform his usual trademark moves and no sells.  Jarrett is recently having trouble with
Tennessee Lee, who keeps botching interference, and after Lee fails to get his
belt off in time for Jarrett to use it, Hawk catches the country music star off
guard to pick up a win.  After the bout,
Southern Justice attack the LOD because, you know, Godwinns-LOD set the world
on fire in 1997.
Vince McMahon
walks to the ring with his stooges.  He
predicts a tag team title change tonight and continues to advance his theory
that the Undertaker and Kane are working together.  He asks the Undertaker to come out and
explain himself based on last week’s show, where Kane attacked Austin as the
Undertaker looked on in the ring.  Austin
crashes the party before the Undertaker can say a word and says he only wants
to beat the Undertaker at SummerSlam.  As
Austin leaves, the Undertaker tells him that McMahon wants them to fight among
themselves and offers to give Austin one of the tag team title belts.  Austin accepts and the Undertaker makes it
clear that he is going to be watching Austin’s back to keep him safe for
SummerSlam.  This was a nice way to pay
off the Undertaker walking around with both tag team titles since Fully
Loaded.  2 for 5
The Rock tells the
commentary team that he could care less about Austin and the Undertaker’s
issues.
Highlights from
the Intercontinental title triple threat match on last week’s RAW constitute
the Stridex Triple Action segment.
#1 Contender’s
Match for the Intercontinental Championship: 
Triple H (w/Chyna) beats X-Pac with a Pedigree at 5:04:
Triple H is on Pacific Blue this week!  This is our usual solid Kliq matchup, with
Triple H targeting X-Pac’s neck in the early going and X-Pac making a rally at
the end.  Chyna, who should be impartial
in the match, trips X-Pac before he can do a Bronco Buster and that results in
Triple H taking advantage of the situation and getting an Intercontinental
title shot against the Rock at SummerSlam. 
After the match, X-Pac argues with Triple H, who feigns ignorance about
Chyna’s interference.  Rating: 
**¼ (3 for 6)
Val Venis &
Taka Michinoku wrestle Dick Togo & Funaki (w/Yamaguchi-San, Men’s Teoh
& Yamaguchi-San’s Wife) to a no-contest at 1:43:
Ross gives me a good laugh by saying that San Diego is
“Ryan Leaf country.”  I bet you cannot
find a single person in San Diego today that would refer to Leaf in such
glowing terms.  I like how we still do
not have a name for Yamagachi-San’s wife despite her being on television for
nearly a month at this point.  When Venis
goes to tag in Michinoku after absorbing some of Kaientai’s early offense,
Michinoku dropkicks him in the face, thereby turning heel.  You see, Mrs. Yamaguchi-San is Michinoku’s
sister.  Kaientai beat Venis up and carry
him backstage, where no one seems to care that he might get his private region
severed.
European
Championship Match:  D-Lo Brown (w/Mark
Henry) beats Dan Severn (w/Steve Blackman) via disqualification when Ken
Shamrock interferes at 2:34:
This match was booked after D-Lo antagonized Severn and
got him to interfere in a match against Ken Shamrock on Sunday Night Heat.  The same situation takes place here, as
Severn has Brown on the ropes before Shamrock comes down the ring and takes out
Mark Henry and Brown in view of the referee. 
Severn is not happy about this development to say the least.
D-Lo celebrates
his victory, but Edge comes out of nowhere and attacks him by the entrance
before walking away.  When D-Lo comes to,
he has no idea what happened.
Kaientai is shown
beating down Venis some more backstage. 
It’s funny to hear Ross try to verbally reprimand them like a
parent:  “Don’t do that!  Stop that!”
Tiger Ali Singh,
who has not been seen on WWF television since 1997, when he was referred to as
a can’t miss prospect, comes out.  This
time, he is sporting a mixture of an anti-American and million dollar man
gimmick where he pays audience members to do degrading things.  He has his servant Babu select an obese
American woman from the crowd and pays her $500 for each piece of clothing she
takes off.  The facial expressions of
some people in the audience to this is priceless.  The woman goes to take off her bra, but Singh
changes the rules and pays her to put clothes back on.  Singh was pretty entertaining in this
segment.  Unfortunately for him, his ring
work was awful.  4 for 7
Backstage,
Yamaguchi-San has the camera crew leave Kaientai’s locker room, where they are
carrying Val Venis to a cutting board.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your Steve Austin 3:16 baseball jersey $39.99 (plus $9 shipping &
handling)!
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve
Austin & The Undertaker (Champions) defeat The Rock & Owen Hart when
The Undertaker pins Owen Hart with a Tombstone at 11:12:
Austin is a one man heat machine as the crowd eats up
everything he does or has done to him. 
Owen and the Rock keep cheating as much as they can to maintain the
advantage, but eventually Austin fights out of a Sharpshooter and a Rock Bottom
to get the Undertaker into the match, where the fate of the heels is eventually
sealed.  It’s hard to tell how much
genuine heat this had based on it being a taped show, but you could tell by the
crowd’s physical reactions that they really got into his match.  The beginning stages with the Undertaker were
slow, but Austin really took things up a notch when he got in the ring and in
peril.  Rating:  *** (5 for 8)
After the bell,
Mankind hits the ring and puts the Undertaker in a Mandible Claw.  As Austin is still fighting the Rock near the
announce table, Kane steps into the ring and smashes Mankind with a chair,
although he may have been aiming for the Undertaker.  The Undertaker takes the chair, but instead
of hitting Kane, he hits Mankind again. 
The New Age Outlaws hit the ring to go after Kane and the Undertaker,
but Austin comes back to aid his partner.
WWF officials are
shown breaking down the door to Kaientai’s dressing room and find Val Venis
held up with his tights down. 
Yamaguchi-San has a sword held up high and he comes down with it, but the lights in the room go dark and that ends the show.
The Final Report Card:  If you watch this RAW, go ahead and skip
ahead to the McMahon-Austin-Undertaker segment because the first half of this
show was awful.  After McMahon’s segment,
the show righted itself and we got a fun main event to close.  The “choppy choppy” angle is silly, but it is
one of those over the top angles that you can sit back and get a good laugh out
of sixteen years later.  I wouldn’t
recommend showing it to a new fan, but sometimes you have to take the good with
the bad when looking back at one of the high points of WWF history.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.9 (vs. 4.2 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

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

by Logan Scisco

Footage of the
Undertaker tossing a fire ball into Paul Bearer’s face at In Your House last
night is shown
.
Vince McMahon, Jim
Ross, and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from
Binghamton, New York
.
McMahon interviews
Steve Austin, who will face Bret Hart in a street fight tonight.  McMahon announces that Austin will get a
title shot at the next In Your House pay-per-view, but Austin just tells him to
shut up because Bret Hart is the topic of conversation tonight.  Austin demands that Bret show up within a
minute to fight him, but Bret pops up on the Titantron with the Hart Foundation
and says that he’ll face Austin in a street fight tonight.  Bret runs down the American fan base lust for
violence and complains that Austin has a title match at In Your House.  After those comments, Austin heads to the
locker room.

Opening
Contest:  The Sultan (w/The Iron Sheik)
defeats Ahmed Johnson by disqualification at 4:50:
At the beginning of the match, McMahon makes the
outrageous claim that during the WWF’s tour of South Africa Ahmed received more
acclaim than Nelson Mandela ever did.  This
is a boring brawl, but Ahmed does bust out an impressive facebuster from a
suplex position.  Ahmed is on the verge
of putting the Sultan away when the Nation of Domination shows up on the
entrance stage.  Ahmed grabs a 2×4 and he
bashes the Sultan with it to make a statement to the Nation and loses.  Rating:  ½*
Sunny comes out in
an oversized Undertaker t-shirt.  Hendrix
urges us to buy it for $20 (plus shipping & handling) and that we should
call 815-734-1161 to get it.  It’s so odd
seeing the WWF sell merchandise on their shows like this fifteen years later.
Austin is shown
trying to break into the Hart Foundation’s locker room and Bret gets some WWF
stooges to tell Austin to go away.
Ken Shamrock comes
out for commentary and McMahon announces that Vader will face Shamrock at In
Your House in a No Holds Barred match.
Ross announces
that Tiger Ali Singh won the sixteen man tournament for the second Kuwaiti
Cup
.
Vader’s bullying
of a Kuwait newscaster on “Good Morning Kuwait”, which earned him a trip to a
Kuwaiti jail, is shown.  Lawler shows off
a funny drawing of Vader shoveling camel dung in the desert based on this
incident.  Shamrock says he doesn’t like
bullies, thereby making him the first WWF superstar to advocate the “Be a Star”
campaign’s agenda, and he challenges Mike Tyson to a match in the WWF.
-Footage of Austin
yelling at McMahon at ringside after slapping off his headset during the
commercial break is shown
.
Get your tickets
for the WrestleMania Revenge Tour, where Sid & The Undertaker battle Vader
and Mankind, Ahmed Johnson faces Faarooq, and Steve Austin & The Legion of
Doom battle the Hart Foundation!
Street
Fight:  “Stone Cold” Steve Austin defeats
Bret “the Hitman at 8:23:
The purpose behind this one is that Austin is angry about
not finishing off Bret last night and thinks he can do it here, while Bret is
reluctant to fight Austin on his own. 
Before the match can get underway, Owen Hart and the British Bulldog
attack Austin from behind and Bret joins in for a three-on-one attack.  However, Shawn Michaels comes through the
crowd with a chair and eliminates Owen and the Bulldog.  Bret goes to Pillmanize Austin’s leg, but
Austin moves and then begins wearing out Bret’s knee with the chair.  Austin applies the Sharpshooter and refuses
to break the hold when WWF officials hit the ring.  Pat Patterson eventually helps the officials
get Austin off of Bret.  No official
winner is declared in this one, but for all intents and purposes Austin won
this battle of the feud.  This is
somewhat difficult to rate, but it was an entertaining brawl.
WWF President
Gorilla Monsoon tells Austin that he’s out of control and Austin says he’s not
done tonight and doesn’t care about Monsoon’s rules.  Monsoon bans Austin from the arena, to which
Austin threatens him up, and all of this takes place as the Hart Foundation
helps Bret to the locker room.  Seeing
Monsoon and Austin go at it is quite entertaining since the voice of the 1980s
is facing off with the top superstar of the 1990s.
Tiger Ali Singh
pins Salvatore Sincere with a spinning heel kick at 4:49:
In the discussion of guys the WWF put money on that never
panned out, Tiger Ali Singh has to be near the top of the list.  This is Singh’s RAW debut and he would
disappear for a year after this match. 
The match is technically fine, as Sincere dominates much of the action
and sells well for the rookie, who needs more proficiency running the
ropes.  A random spinning heel kick gets
the victory, but it’s an underwhelming debut. 
Rating:  *½
Paramedics take
Bret to the ambulance and the Bulldog and Owen are great here, as they keep
yelling at the paramedics for bumping over cables and wires and not adequately
taking care of Bret.  Like a horror film,
the camera pans inside the ambulance, where Austin is in the driver’s seat and
he moves to the back to attack Bret. 
Owen and the Bulldog come to Bret’s aid, but more damage has been
done.  That’s one of the more creative
attack segments in wrestling history, capped by Owen’s “what kind of crap is
this?” at the end.
Owen and the
Bulldog are shown looking for Austin backstage
.
Rockabilly (w/The
Honky Tonk Man) defeats “The Real Double J” Jesse James with a Shake, Rattle, and Roll at 8:48:
Since their match at In Your House last night was so
great we get a rematch between these two. 
Rockabilly is such a terrible gimmick, as Billy is just wearing his
usual cowboy attire.  There’s a funny
exchange on commentary as Lawler says he trusts the Honky Tonk Man’s judgment
and Ross asks him “What’s going on?  Are you two related?” to which Lawler responds
“Maybe.”  Like the previous night’s
encounter, this one goes on far too long and it kills the crowd.  After a ridiculously long time, Rockabilly
hits the Shake, Rattle, and Roll to get his first victory.  Really? 
Why give Rockabilly the win here instead of last night when he
debuted?  After the match, James attacks
Rockabilly but is nailed from behind by the Honky Tonk Man, who delivers two
sick guitar shots.  Rating:  ¼*
Austin is shown
arguing with Shawn Michaels in the locker room and WWF President Gorilla
Monsoon attempts to mediate to no avail. 
It’s as if Monsoon is trying to mediate a conflict in an eleventh grade
classroom.
Mankind’s
head-first plunge through an announce table last night is the Castro Super
Clean Slam of the Week
.
Mankind says Paul
Bearer didn’t cry when his flesh was burning last night.
Non-Title
Match:  The Undertaker (WWF Champion)
defeats Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) by disqualification at 12:14 shown
when Mankind interferes:
It’s the beginning of an era, as the Undertaker doesn’t want to wait for Helmsley’s ornate entrance and decks him in the aisle.  McMahon makes a great comment as he claims Helmsley can’t love Chyna because he can’t love anyone except for
himself.  I know he’s talking about the
character, but fifteen years later it can make you laugh.  This is merely a placeholder match, since
nothing is on the line and it doesn’t advance a specific story.  Dustin Rhodes, without his Goldust gear, is
shown sitting in the crowd with Marlena, who Ross acknowledges as “Terri”
thereby setting up the quasi-shoot interview he will give on RAW about his
life.  The Undertaker withstands a lot of
punishment, but during his comeback Mankind appears with a blowtorch, which is
just an insane plot development. 
Helmsley wisely flees and Mankind KO’s the Undertaker with the metal
casing of the torch, but after he lights it up again, the Undertaker sits up
and fights Mankind through the crowd. 
Well, the match wasn’t that exciting, since it was largely a kick-punch
affair, but that twist at the end was wild. 
Rating:  *
After the
Undertaker and Mankind brawl to the back, Marlena chokes Chyna with a leather
strap from behind in the crowd and Goldust/Dustin Rhodes brawls with
Helmsley.  That was a great plot point
for Marlena-Chyna, since Chyna made her debut choking Marlena from the crowd a
couple of months prior to this.
The Motel 6 Rewind
is Austin’s attack on Bret earlier in the show
.
Austin comes out
to be interviewed by McMahon a second time. 
Austin says he accomplished his objective tonight and he says he doesn’t
need the crowd’s support.  Austin says
that the Undertaker will experience a cold day in hell at In Your House and
tells McMahon he won’t be a role model as WWF champion.  Owen and the Bulldog attack Austin at the end
of his promo and McMahon tries to help Austin, but Owen tosses him into the
corner.  Shawn Michaels comes out and
saves Austin for the second time and McMahon is perplexed, seemingly having
lost control of his show.
-As we get ready to
go off the air, Brian Pillman emerges from the crowd and he attacks Austin with
a chair.  Pillman goes to Pillmanize
Austin’s ankle, but Michaels makes the save for the third time.
The Final Report Card:  This was the first RAW of the Russo era and
it began with a bang.  Bret was taking
some time off for knee surgery, so this was a good way to write him out of the
ring for a while.  The ambulance attack
put another memorable moment in Austin’s career and really sold Austin’s rebel
image to the audience.  The show also
made a minor plot point that becomes big later: 
the bigger on screen role of Vince McMahon as a character, since he got
physically involved at the end and the camera focused on his reaction to Austin
getting laid out by Owen and the Bulldog. 
As a mark, I remember watching this show in 1997 and thinking that the
show had moved in a different direction and that I really liked it.  After seeing it fifteen years later, I still
enjoyed the Bret-Austin action, but I have to admit that the rest of the show
is terrible.  Still, a thumbs up because
the parts you remember are the good ones and the chaos at the end left you
eagerly anticipating next week’s episode.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.8 (vs. 3.4 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up