What the World Was Watching: WWF Superstars – December 23, 1995 (Last of the series)

A replay of Xanta Claus attacking Savio Vega at In Your House 5 is shown.

Vince McMahon, Mr. Perfect, and Jim Ross are doing commentary and they are kicking off some new tapings in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  According to thehistoryofwwe.com, only 1,500 fans attended because there was a blizzard during the show.  This was also the taping where Bradshaw made his debut in a dark match, losing to Savio Vega.  Also, this is the last Superstars of 1995 because next week’s episode is a “year in review” show.

Read moreWhat the World Was Watching: WWF Superstars – December 23, 1995 (Last of the series)

Rock Star Gary reflects on WCW Clash of the Champions XXII

Live from Milwaukee, WI

Airdate:  January 13, 1993

Attendance:  4,000

Hosted by Jim Ross & Jesse “The Body” Ventura

Experience the return of Thundercage! Also, will Steamboat and Douglas retain the unified tag team titles? Or will Austin and Pillman supplant them? Let’s find out!

Read moreRock Star Gary reflects on WCW Clash of the Champions XXII

Rock Star Gary reflects on WCW Starrcade ’92

Live from Atlanta, GA

Airdate: December 28, 1992

Attendance:  8,000 (6,500 paid)

Hosted by Jim Ross & Jesse “The Body” Ventura

Who will win Battlebowl? Who will become the King of Cable? Can either Simmons or Chono retain their respective World titles? Or do Rude or Muta stand a chance to unseat them? Let’s find out!

Read moreRock Star Gary reflects on WCW Starrcade ’92

What the World Was Watching: WWF Superstars – October 21, 1995

Vince McMahon, Jerry Lawler, and Jim Ross are calling the action and they are doing their final broadcast from Valparaiso, Indiana.  McMahon says that the Undertaker will not face Kama on today’s show because of the Undertaker’s recent facial injury.  Thehistoryofwwe.com says that the Undertaker won the match, originally taped for this show on September 26, as one would expect because Kama has not done anything of note since SummerSlam.

Henry Godwinn is shown feeding his hogs in Arkansas.

Read moreWhat the World Was Watching: WWF Superstars – October 21, 1995

Rock Star Gary reflects on WCW Great American Bash ’92

Live from Albany, GA

Airdate: July 12, 1992

Attendance:  8,000 (4,000 paid)

Hosted by Jim Ross & Jesse “The Body” Ventura

Who will win the NWA World tag team title tournament? Will Vader dethrone Sting for the WCW World title? Let’s find out!

Read moreRock Star Gary reflects on WCW Great American Bash ’92

What the World Was Watching: WWF Superstars – September 9, 1995

A video package hypes today’s big feature match between Dean Douglas and the 1-2-3 Kid.  Will the Kid get sent to the principal’s office?

Since this is the new fall season, Superstars gets a new theme song for the first time in more than a year, with it being a knockoff of the Monday Night Football theme asking “Are you ready?”  The funny thing with an intro like this is that half the talent in it had quit or was released by January 1996 so they had to redo the lyrics, all of which were tied to a specific superstar.

Read moreWhat the World Was Watching: WWF Superstars – September 9, 1995

Rock Star Gary reflects on WCW WrestleWar ’91

Live from Phoenix, AZ

Airdate: February 24, 1991

Attendance:  6,800

Hosted by Jim Ross & the “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes

“War” in the desert? Is there some hidden meaning here?

Read moreRock Star Gary reflects on WCW WrestleWar ’91

Went to WrestleCon and Met over 120 Wrestlers (List/Details/Photos)

For those of you who aren’t familiar, WrestleCon is kind of like Axxess on a budget with everyone running their own booth. The key differences though are you have a TON of indy wrestlers, plus dozens of legends. You pay a flat rate to get in ($33) and then each autograph and picture you want is an additional charge. For the sake of finances, I only paid for a handful of pictures.

Read moreWent to WrestleCon and Met over 120 Wrestlers (List/Details/Photos)

WCW Wednesday: Part XVII – Only Partially Uncensored Edition!

 

Back on March 19, 1995, WCW held their first March PPV and called it Uncensored.  While within the same timeframe as WrestleMania, WCW wanted a piece of the PPV pie in March so they created something unique to generate PPV grabs.

What tricks did WCW pull for their initial Uncensored card:

Read moreWCW Wednesday: Part XVII – Only Partially Uncensored Edition!

WCW Wednesday: Part XII – The Roma/Vader Edition!

 

I apologize for my hiatus last week as Jonas obliterated not only my area with tons of snow but also my schedule. Regardless, my review of SNME IX is up, so please check it out. In addition, since the calendar changed to February, that means it’s SuperBrawl month. Let’s tackle an unforgettable one- SuperBrawl V!

Read moreWCW Wednesday: Part XII – The Roma/Vader Edition!

WCW Worldwide: January 16, 1993

I’ve finally managed to get Worldwide back in the rotation – and not a moment too soon! Z-Man! Johnny Gunn! Nothing but the biggest names on the planet!

TONY SCHIAVONE and JESSE VENTURA welcome us to an actual arena in Alabama. Tony’s displaying a quality part on the mid-right side of his head, with the kind of precision that lets you know, yes, this is the 90’s. PAUL ORNDORFF saunters on camera, and he starts screaming about Rick Rude’s injury. He apparently knows exactly what needs to be done. And what needs doing? Whether it’s Milwaukee, or Philadelphia, he’s going to have a match with Steeng. What of Atlanta? St. Louis? Murfreesboro? Does “Steeng” not work those territories?

Read moreWCW Worldwide: January 16, 1993

What the World Was Reading: RAW Magazine – May/June 1996

by Logan Scisco

After having covered an alternative to WWF Magazine last week, we continue that
idea in this week’s column, reviewing the very first issue of RAW Magazine from May/June 1996 (I
wonder if this is worth anything to collectors today).  RAW
Magazine
was the brainchild of Vince Russo, who wished to have a magazine
that would cater to more mature and knowledgeable fans.  This followed Russo’s failed attempt to
launch a newsletter under his magazine personality Vic Venom.  RAW
Magazine
was bi-monthly in its circulation until 1998 and when the WWF
launched its brand split, RAW Magazine
became exclusive to the RAW brand in 2004. 
That was an incredibly stupid decision and was one of the reasons I
finally cancelled WWF Magazine.  Why should you have to buy two magazines to
keep up with one company?  RAW Magazine continued until the summer
of 2006, when it and the newly christened Smackdown!
Magazine merged into a new WWE Magazine that ceased publication in
the fall of last year.

Vader is the cover man of the first issue of RAW Magazine, but the big selling point
was lots of photographs of Sunny, which you can see in the insert in the top
right corner of the page.  The picture of
Vader is taken from his assault on WWF President Gorilla Monsoon the night
after the Royal Rumble, which caused Vader to be indefinitely suspended until In
Your House 6.
You can purchase some Coliseum Video releases of WrestleMania
for $19.95 each, but if you want the greatest WrestleMania of the them all –
WrestleMania XII – it will run you $39.95. 
If you want to buy WrestleMania III or WrestleMania IV, though, you are
out of luck.  That is not the first time
that I remember those tapes not being for sale either so I am not sure what was
going on there.  You can also purchase
“Spring Explosion ’96,” which are the matches from In Your House 6.  I never understood why the WWF felt the need
to brand those shows after the fact
for tapes.  “Spring Explosion” is such a
generic name anyway, but the company has gone back to it with “Fast Lane.”  Parallels to the Dark Ages continue!
Vince Russo’s “From the Editor” piece discusses how he is
happy to launch RAW Magazine so that
he can “can the fluff and get down to the stuff!”  In what could be written about the product
today, he rips the company for catering too much to kids because of
demographics, although he admits that catering WWF Magazine to kids in the mid-1990s paid dividends with improved
sales.  He says that hardcore fans ripped
him for doing so, though, which is why he has launched this new product.
And what will a subscription to RAW Magazine set you back in 1996? 
If you wanted two years you had to pay $19.97.  One year cost $11.97.  What really irked me, though, is that they
make the cutout portion to get your subscription run into the column on the
next page.  That is a bad layout
decision.
Our first piece of RAW
Magazine
is an extended “Informer” column, which is loaded with new rumors.
The Smoking Gunns are unhappy that they were stripped of
the tag team titles in February. 
Evidently, they see nothing wrong with not having defended the titles in
thirty days due to Billy’s neck injury. 
Unfortunately, they did not have the precedent of Brock Lesnar to fall
back on.  The Informer proceeds to rip
the Gunns for dominating a weak tag team division, but it says that they can
earn more respect if they listen to Ted DiBiase, who is looking for a new
team.  It suggests they could be called
the “Hired Gunns,” which would not have been the worse idea in the world I
suppose, but the Gunns would not have saved the awful Corporation stable, which
was going bankrupt by early 1996.
The Informer also lets us know that Hunter
Hearst-Helmsley has eyes for Marlena, laying the foundation for an eventual
feud with Goldust that would kick off in the fall of 1996.  Similarly, we get another piece of
foreshadowing as the piece says Owen Hart and the British Bulldog will team up
more, thereby adding “some life back into the tag team division,” although they
never coined themselves as “The New British Bulldogs,” as the piece suggests.  We also hear that all those “parental
discretion” spots Sunny filmed for RAW made her seven figures.  Like Vince had that money to throw around in
1996!  The Informer says that Sunny is
making overtures toward Shawn Michaels, but if that fails she might buy Vader’s
contract from Jim Cornette.  A
Vader-Sunny pairing would have been such a train wreck and Vince may have been
tempted to make Vader a new Bodydonna, providing us with lots of workout
vignettes from the Mastodon!
Vic Venom then pens an extended “Venom RAW” column, where
he talks openly about World Championship Wrestling.  Of course, since the WWF cannot use WCW
photographs, we get the Huckster and the Nacho Man:
Venom says that WCW is an embarrassment to wrestling, but
he does take some digs at the WWF for insulting his intelligence with the Red
Rooster and Outback Jack.  He rips the
company for having nostalgia for the 1980s by employing old WWF talent,
although he exempts Sting and Ric Flair from that list.  This is probably the first time that Sting
was actually mentioned in a WWF publication. 
For fans watching both companies, there is some fun humor here, with
Venom saying Elizabeth has a “shoe fetish” – a dig at WCW running lots of finishes
involving women’s shoes at this time – and that WCW never told us how “that
Giant [fell] off the roof of the Cobo Arena and [came] back to wrestle 15
minutes later.”  Some of the humor is
juvenile, with Venom calling Eric Bischoff “Eric Ripoff.”  The highlight of the article is that it criticizes
WCW booking, citing how they squandered Razor Ramon and Diesel.  However, by the time that this issue hit
newsstands Ramon and Diesel were on their way to WCW and would help it overtake
the WWF in the ratings by forming the New World Order.
Keith Elliot Greenberg, who typically did the
pay-per-view recaps for WWF Magazine,
handles a cool column in this issue entitled “The Night the Belt Changed
Hands,” that talks about an important title change in WWF history.  The subject for this month is the Ultimate
Warrior-Rick Rude Intercontinental title match at WrestleMania V.  As you can tell by the picture, albeit
obscured by the crease in the middle of the pages, Donald Trump was a fan of
the match.
The article provides a blow-by-blow summary of the match,
as well as its context, which includes the Warrior beating the Honky Tonk Man
at SummerSlam 1988 and Rude picking a fight with the Warrior at the Royal
Rumble.  For such a “smart” magazine, the
recap still portrays wrestling as a real competition, with the Warrior’s loss
pegged to him being too “preoccupied with memories of the attack [at the
Rumble] to concentrate on protecting his championship.”  As a history buff, I did enjoy this feature,
which would reappear in subsequent issues as it provided the context for the
match, what happened, and then summarized what happened after, namely the
Warrior going on to win the WWF title at the next WrestleMania.
Speaking of the Ultimate Warrior, we get a full page ad
about all of the items you can get from him. 
It hypes Warrior University, Warrior’s World, Warrior Workout #1, and
Warrior…The Comic Book.  I remember that WWF Magazine sent subscribers a copy of
the comic book with an issue of the magazine. 
As a kid, who dabbled a little into older comics, I was excited to get
something free, but had no idea what I was looking at when I opened the
pages.  I should have known the quality
would be poor, after all, the ad lets me know that “It’s B…A…D…D.”
A career retrospective piece is provided about the
Dynamite Kid, who it says most fans have probably forgotten.
The article chronicles Dynamite’s British origins, his
Canadian battles with Bret Hart, and his run with Davey Boy Smith in the
WWF.  It is a sanitized view of his
career and his reputation has taken a hit over the years due to revelations in
Bret Hart’s book about his family life and other shoot interviews that talk
about how he was a locker room bully. 
Matthew Randazzo’s Ring of Hell even
blamed him for the Chris Benoit murders, as Benoit emulated Dynamite’s
style.  On a happier note, though, I
still cannot get over how young Davey Boy looks in this picture
Vince Russo then provides his top ten list of best WWF
champions.  If there were any marks
reading this magazine, they had to weep when they saw #10, who Russo says did
not have the “whole package” because they were not a “complete wrestler.”  Not mentioned is the fact that he is working
for the rival company
And Pedro Morales? 
He may not be able to beat the Mountie in the Scott Keith Blog of Doom
Intercontinental title tournament, but he did enough with the WWF title to rank
#4 on this list.  Rankings for the others
were as follows:  9-Ric Flair, 8-Randy
Savage, 7-Ultimate Warrior, 6-Yokozuna, 5-Diesel, 4-Pedro, 3-Bob Backlund, and
2-Bruno Sammartino.  Sorry, but any list
that puts Diesel’s title run, which sank the company’s financials, over Randy
Savage, Hulk Hogan, and the Ultimate Warrior loses all credibility.  Is there any surprise over who #1 happened to
be?  This person probably made sure to
shed a tear.
Our main story is about “A Man Called Vader” or in Vince
McMahon’s case “A Man Called the Mastodon.” 
Thank god Jim Cornette talked McMahon out of that idea.
The article, written by Greenberg, says Vader has never
achieved his full potential because he is out of control, wrecking promotions
and hotel rooms along the way.  It says
that one of the reasons Vader attacked Gorilla Monsoon is that Vader looked up
to Monsoon as a kid, but did not react well when Monsoon told him that he ran a
“law and order administration” and that he would be fired if he got out of
line.  Vader also did not appreciate
Monsoon getting into the ring after he blew a gasket following his elimination
from the Rumble match.  It warns that
Vader will plunge the WWF into a state of lawlessness, but really, all of the
momentum came out of Vader’s push when he failed to win the WWF title at
SummerSlam.
And then we get the real reason people bought this
magazine:

You can pay to see even more today on Skype, but you
cannot invent a time machine and get these types of “Sunny days” back.  Leave the memories alone!
A brief recap piece follows all of that to document Razor
Ramon’s attack on Goldust on a January RAW episode before the Royal Rumble.
A similar feature comes next and it gives play-by-play of
the Bret Hart-Diesel cage match at In Your House 6.  The booking of that match did little to help
Bret, as Diesel was primed to win the title before the Undertaker interfered.
The only real highlight of the article is the last
line:  “While the Hit Man experienced a
victory as his boots hit the arena floor, Big Daddy Cool was experiencing a
much different place…a place that he would never forget…a place some people
would call…HELL.”  Or in the case of
D-Generation X in the 2000s, Little People’s Court.
Keith Elliot Greenberg then questions the WWF’s decision
to install “Rowdy” Roddy Piper as the interim WWF President following the
injuries Vader inflicted on Gorilla Monsoon.
You see, Piper is out of control.  He gave Vince McMahon an airplane spin upon
being introduced as commissioner and, in a nice tribute to the past, it brings
up that “the last time Piper was given a special forum, he transformed into his
personal asylum,” using it to attack WWF superstars such as Jimmy “Superfly”
Snuka.
There is yet another recap of a Bret Hart title match,
this time his In Your House 5 title defense against the British Bulldog.  This was Bret’s only clean victory on
pay-per-view during this title run and it is an underrated bout.  The blade job is one of Bret’s best.
The last time we saw a “Fantasy Warfare” article, it
concerned the 1-2-3 Kid and Bob Holly. 
On this occasion, we get two WWF superstars that the fans would really
like to see matched up:
There were rumors in 1996 that the company wanted to run
Shawn Michaels-Ultimate Warrior for the title, but all we got was the Warrior
feuding with Goldust and Jerry “the King” Lawler.  Talk about disappointing.  The match is framed as Warrior’s power versus
Michaels’ speed.  Both men’s egos are
deemed to be their biggest detriment for a possible encounter.  Unlike Vince Russo, Greenberg refuses to
commit to a winner, saying that it is “too close to call.”  There was nowhere to write my own winner, so
there will be no analysis given from ten-year-old me on this issue, but as a
fan I would have cheered for Michaels.
We the get some exclusive photographs of Ahmed Johnson
being taken to a hospital after wrestling Jeff Jarrett at the Royal
Rumble.  Ahmed received a severe
concussion from the match, but he only missed two days of television tapings,
so he was okay!
And are you SURE you do not want any Warrior gear?

This was a decent first issue.  It had some good content at the beginning,
but after the Sunny photos we just got a lot of mark-type pieces that you would
expect to find in WWF Magazine.  Next week, we will go back to the pages of WWF Magazine and look at its August 2000
issue, which promises to discuss “Chyna’s secret.”

October Classics: Cactus Jack vs. Vader – Halloween Havoc ’93

Spin the Wheel! Make the Deal! It didn’t land on Coal Miner’s Glove Match this time, and it gave Foley and Vader the chance to beat the crap out of each other. The ending holds this back a little, but each guy had their working boots on for this. Sick bump from Foley when Vader falls back on him. Just an amazing brawl.


WCW Halloween Havoc 1993 – Cactus Jack Vs. Vader by Bluthor

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

by Logan Scisco

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

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

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

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

by Logan Scisco


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

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


Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

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

by Logan Scisco

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

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

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: No Way Out of Texas – In Your House

by Logan Scisco

Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Houston, Texas.  Ross and Lawler speculate on who the eighth
man will be on the heel team, since WWF Champion Shawn Michaels is injured and
is not competing.  Ross says that the
main event tag is going to be no holds barred. 
Why didn’t they just clarify that stipulation on the previous RAW?

Opening
Contest:  The Headbangers defeat
“Marvelous” Marc Mero & The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust (w/Sable &
Luna Vachon) when Thrasher pins Mero with small package at 13:54:
Before the match, Mero banishes Sable to the locker room
because the crowd is cheering for her and because she and Luna cannot get
along.  Goldust is still rocking the Marilyndust
outfit.  Mero has nuclear heat at the
beginning of this, but has trouble sustaining it after the first few minutes of
the match.  Thrasher blades after getting
dropped on the steps by Goldust, but it is an unnecessary spot considering the
stakes of the match.  Goldust and Mero
kill the crowd with their offense and the heat segment on Thrasher lasts for an
eternity.  After Luna interferes to break
up the Stage Dive and Mero hits Mosh with a TKO, Sable walks out and Mero and
Goldust have to keep their respective valets from fighting each other.  This distraction enables Thrasher to switch
places with Mosh and that helps the Headbangers secure their first pay-per-view
victory since September.  Fun finish, but
it took a long, long time to get there.  Rating: 
*
After the match,
WWF officials run into the ring to keep Sable and Luna from fighting and
Goldust has to carry Luna to the locker room. 
Mero proceeds to yell at Sable and Sable yells back at him, before
pushing him to the canvas and getting a loud pop.
Kevin Kelly and
the Jackyl urge us to call the WWF Superstar Line at 1-900-737-4WWF.  The Jackyl predicts that the mystery man for
the heel team will have a big impact.
Michael Cole
interviews European Champion Owen Hart, who has gone back to a clean shaven
look.  Owen says he doesn’t care who the
mystery man is for D-Generation X and the New Age Outlaws because his big
target is Triple H.
Sunny comes out to
do guest ring announcing duties for our next match
.
Light Heavyweight
Champion Match:  Taka Michinoku
(Champion) defeats El Pantera with the Michinoku Driver at 10:10:

This was the first WWF light heavyweight championship match to take place on
pay-per-view if you exclude the December In Your House.  Sunny gives Michinoku a kiss before the match
and Lawler gets angry about that.  Brian
Christopher wanders out before the match starts to do commentary because we
seemingly can’t have a light heavyweight match without him involved in some
way.  Pantera does an insane flying
hurricanrana where he jumps onto Taka’s back while Taka in on the apron and
sends him to the floor and follows that up minutes later with a somersault
plancha splash.  Pantera concentrates his
offense on the back and he nearly wins the title when Michinoku is too injured
to hit the Michinoku Driver.  However,
Michinoku kicks out and rallies to retain the title.  A good match that deserved a better crowd
reaction.  Rating:  ***¼
After the match,
Christopher wants to go after Michinoku, but Lawler tries to hold him
back.  Michinoku decides not to wait for
a decision and dives onto both men on the floor.  He then escapes through the crowd when they
rush the ring to go after him.
Kelly is with
Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie at the America Online center.  Cactus says that he and Charlie have devised
some creative ways to destroy the New Age Outlaws.  Charlie says that he has great partners and
promises that the Outlaws are not going to be laughing at the end of tonight’s
match
.
The Godwinns beat
The Quebecers when Phineas pins Pierre after Henry clothesline Pierre from the
apron at 11:14:
The Quebecers debut a generic rock theme here and it does
not fit their characters at all.  I mean
really, if you are going to bring in the Quebecers, why not outfit them with
their old uniforms and pull out their old entrance music?  Both of these teams are heels and are in need
of some momentum in the tag team division, so this was an important
contest.  However, since both teams are
heels the crowd stays quiet and you know you are in trouble in one of these
matches if Jacques is the man in peril.  The
Quebecers bust out the Quebecer Crash for old time’s sake, but Henry breaks up
the fall.  The Godwinns secure a victory
here and lay out the Quebecers with slop buckets after the bell, which was another
signal that the Quebecers were only on a short stint in the company.  The Godwinns are beyond stale by this point
as well, since they have been around for nearly two years.  Awful contest, but I would have been
surprised if it wasn’t.  Rating: 
½*
Dok Hendrix asks
the WWF Tag Team Champions the New Age Outlaws who the mystery man is on their
team, but the Road Dogg says that they do not know.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your “Stone Cold” Steve Austin 100% whoop ass t-shirt, which comes in
its own silver can of whoop ass.  It will
cost you $30 (plus $6 shipping and handling). 
Such a corny gimmick to get people to buy a shirt, but I know lots of
people did.
Jim Ross
interviews NWA North American Champion Jeff Jarrett and Jim Cornette, who are in
the backstage area.  Cornette says
Jarrett can beat Bradshaw by himself and Jarrett says that he has perfected the
figure-four, unlike other wrestlers that have used it before.
NWA North
American Championship Match:  Bradshaw
beats Jeff Jarrett (Champion w/Jim Cornette) by disqualification when Jarrett
is caught using Cornette’s tennis racket at 8:59:
The referee forces Windham and the Rock N’ Roll Express
to leave ringside because they do not have managerial licenses and Stan
Hans..er, Bradshaw helps force the NWA faction to the locker room.  This was the first time that an NWA
championship was defended on a WWF pay-per-view.  In light of how Jarrett is the top guy in the
NWA faction, shouldn’t this match have been Bradshaw against Barry Windham and
save the Jarrett match for a later date? 
Despite the fact that Bradshaw’s knee was damaged two weeks ago on RAW,
it takes five minutes for Jarrett to focus on it.  When he does, Bradshaw forgets about selling
it near the finish.  Average contest in
series of them tonight.  Rating: 
**
After the bell, he
fights off the NWA faction with the tennis racket, but when he tries to give
Cornette a lariat the NWA pounces him until the Legion of Doom make the save.
Michael Cole
interviews Triple H & Chyna and asks who the mystery man is going to
be.  Chyna looks extra manly
tonight.  Triple H says that everyone
wants to be part of DX, but no one can match Shawn Michaels so tonight will be
a handicap match as he and the Outlaws will face Austin, Owen, Cactus, and Chainsaw.  Cole says WWF officials may appoint a
partner, but Triple H says he doesn’t care.
Jim Ross lets us
know that if you send your cable bill to the WWF for buying the pay-per-view
you can get a voucher to purchase WWF the Music:  Volume 2 for $5.  Why doesn’t the WWF do promotions like this
anymore?
Hendrix interviews
the Nation of Domination and when he says he is going to get the leader’s
comments, the Rock takes over the mic before Faarooq wrestles it away from him.  It’s really hard to pay attention to anything
Faarooq says because the Rock does lots of funny poses, eye rolls, and other
nonverbals.
“War of
Attrition” Match:  Ken Shamrock, Ahmed
Johnson & The Disciples of Apocalypse defeat The Nation of Domination when
Shamrock forces The Rock to submit to the ankle lock at 13:46:
A group of fans make it a point to wave a large
Confederate flag when the Nation of Domination make their entrance.  After all of the hype for this “war of
attrition” match, whose language would suggest this is an elimination match, it
turns out that it is just a one fall, ten man tag.  I think that was a last minute booking
change.  This was Ahmed Johnson’s last
WWF pay-per-view appearance, ending a tumultuous two and a half year stint in
the company.  He does go out in a blaze
of glory by having a fun encounter with Mark Henry and slamming him minutes
into the match.  D-Lo Brown cements
himself as the #3 member of the Nation during this match, as he gets to
showcase the Lo Down and other elements of his mobile offense.  The crowd loses its mind when all hell breaks
loose and left alone, the Rock is no match for Shamrock.  Even though this was a vehicle to further the
Rock-Shamrock feud, I like to think of this as the blowoff to the “gang warz”
feud due to Ahmed’s departure and the Nation devolving into an internal
squabble between Faarooq and the Rock and then moving to feud with D-Generation
X shortly after this show.  Well booked
brawl that emphasized the important players and gave the crowd things to cheer
about.  Rating:  **½
After the match,
the Rock gets in Faarooq’s face and Faarooq ends up striking D-Lo Brown to
create problems.  The Rock teases
leaving, but Faarooq gets him to come back to the ring and the Nation gives a
unified salute before leaving.
Cole interviews
Steve Austin and Austin says he is excited to whoop some ass in Texas.
A video package
hypes the Vader-Kane match
.
Kane (w/Paul
Bearer) pins Vader with a Tombstone at 11:00:
This is a vehicle to continue Kane’s path of destruction
and it was only the second televised match for Kane in his WWF career.  The selling point of this encounter is that
with the Undertaker gone Vader is the only hope for the WWF locker room to stop
Kane.  For this match, unlike Survivor
Series 1996, they decide to keep the normal ring lights on instead of keeping
the arena illuminated in red.  Vader
“hits” the moonsault, but Kane sits up. 
Vader resorts to using a fire extinguisher like he did on RAW and hits a
powerbomb, but Kane sits up and a distraction from Bearer produces Vader’s
end.  An ugly brawl at the beginning, but
the last couple of minutes had a suspenseful exchange of moves.  Rating:  *¾
After the match,
Kane gets a wrench from a toolbox that Vader pulled from under the ring earlier
in the match and he smashes Vader in the face with it.  Bearer is able to calm Kane down and they
leave.  Medics come to attend to Vader,
who is unconscious in the ring.  He does
a stretcher job, which is the first in his career.
A video package
hypes the main event tag team match
.
Unsanctioned
Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Owen
Hart, Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie defeat Savio Vega, Triple H & The
New Age Outlaws (w/Chyna) when Austin pins The Road Dogg with a Stone Cold
Stunner at 17:41:
Yes, that’s right. 
The mystery partner to replace Shawn Michaels is Savio Vega, which
constitutes one of the most disappointing “reveals” of the Attitude Era.  It makes sense from a booking perspective
since Los Boricuas has been helping DX, but it’s still a sad replacement for the
WWF champion.  The Road Dogg comes out
wearing a “Tennessee Oilers” t-shirt, as the Oilers were moving from Houston at
this time, and Austin comes out to the loudest pop of the night, thereby
solidifying the fact that he was getting the belt at WrestleMania come hell or
high water.  Since this is unsanctioned,
everyone just pairs off and brawls with an assortment of weapons.  It is really hard to follow the action, but
after seven minutes everyone takes their places on the apron and this starts to
look like a regular tag match.  Charlie
and Cactus take turns being in peril and Cactus ends up wrapped in barbed
wire.  When Austin gets the tag he
destroys everything and wins the match for his team.  This was too disjointed for me to get into,
but it had its “OMG” moments.  Rating: 
**½
After the match,
Chyna confronts Austin and after she pushes and flips him off, Austin gives her
a Stunner, which makes the crowd lose its mind. 
This was the first time that a male wrestler directly retaliated against
Chyna since she joined the company in February 1997, so it was a big deal at
the time.
The Final Report Card:  This was a transitional pay-per-view as the
WWF was moving towards its second boom period. 
This was the Triple H’s first appearance in a pay-per-view main event
and guys from the “Dark Ages” period were being phased out like Ahmed Johnson
and Vader.   Although some of the wrestling on this show was
standard fare, the angles got lots of heat, as the Austin-Chyna, Mero-Sable,
and Shamrock-Rock segments illustrate. 
There is more good than bad here, so I’ll give this a slight thumbs
up.  It’s not a historic show, but it was
a quality three hours and the right people went over in the matches that
mattered.
Attendance: 
16,110
Buyrate: 
0.52 (+0.02 over previous year)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – January 26, 1998

by Logan Scisco


A still image of
Bobo Brazil, who recently passed away, is shown.
Michael Cole
narrates a video package that recaps Mike Tyson’s altercation with Steve Austin
on last week’s show.  Cole says that
Tyson does not want to be a guest referee at WrestleMania XIV and wants to face
Austin instead.  Shawn Michaels also
promises to give his view on the Austin-Tyson interaction tonight.
Jim Ross, Cole,
and Kevin Kelly are in the booth and they are in Davis, California
.

Opening
Contest:  Ken Shamrock (w/Ahmed Johnson
& The Disciples of Apocalypse) beats Mark Henry (w/The Nation of
Domination) by disqualification when the Nation interferes at 3:18:
This is a preview for the “war of attrition” ten man tag
team match that will happen at No Way Out. 
Henry runs through a series of power moves, but Shamrock uses his UFC
leg strikes to destabilize Henry and gets a huge pop for delivering a
belly-to-belly suplex.  That brings in
the Nation and the predictable ten man brawl and Shamrock’s team stands tall
after that.  Good opener that got the
crowd into the show.  Rating: 
** (1 for 1)
A VERY long video
package recaps the Undertaker-Kane feud. 
After that finishes, exclusive video footage shows WWF officials
breaking open the casket at the Royal Rumble, but the Undertaker is gone.
Shawn Michaels
imitating the Undertaker last week is the Western Union Rewind segment
.
Barry Windham,
without the Blackjack mustache, says that he got tired of the cartoonish nature
of the WWF and he wants to get back to real wrestling as part of the NWA.  Jeff Jarrett gloats about being a champion
and a well versed wrestler.
Jeff Jarrett
& Barry Windham (w/Jim Cornette & The Rock N’ Roll Express) defeat The
Legion of Doom when Windham pins Animal after hitting him with Cornette’s
tennis racket at 5:01:
Not that the NWA faction had much of a chance at
succeeding, but since the Legion of Doom had a history with the NWA the WWF
should have turned them heel and made them part of it.  It would have worked better than the Rock N’
Roll Express and would have freshened up the Legion of Doom’s act better than
the “LOD 2000” gimmick.  Jarrett and
Windham work really well as a team and since they control nearly all of the
offense this match comes off quite well. 
The finish is sloppy, though and ruins the match, as Windham hits Animal
with Cornette’s tennis racket and Animal appears to kick out at two, but the
bell rings and gives the NWA a win.  I
assume that the Legion of Doom did not want to job here and this mess was meant
to somehow protect them.  Rating: 
*¾ (1 for 2)
Shawn Michaels
appearance on Pictionary is shown.
The announcers
recap the Tyson-Austin altercation last week.
D-Generation X
talk to the announce team from the locker room. 
European Champion Triple H promises to beat Owen Hart tonight because he
is more of a man than he is.  WWF
Champion Shawn Michaels says that he has been carrying the WWF on his shoulders
and he thinks that he might just give up his WrestleMania title match so that
Steve Austin and Mike Tyson can fight one-on-one.  Triple H asks him to reconsider and Michaels
says that he can probably do something and as he rants his jacket falls off to
expose a referee shirt.  He says he’d
love to be the guest referee for an Austin-Tyson match.  DX was trying to be too cute for their own
good here and you just wanted them to get to the point.  1 for
3
Cactus Jack
suplexing Chainsaw Charlie through a pair of chairs at the Royal Rumble is the
Footaction Slam of the Week.
The announce team
hypes the house show circuit
.
Vader wrestles
The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust (w/Luna Vachon) to a no contest at 2:57:
Goldust and Luna dress up like Vader for this match.  Cole hypes Vader as “the Kodiak Bear of the
WWF,” but what happened to the Mastodon nickname?  Did the WWF lose a lawsuit over that
too?  Vader is still too much for Goldust
to handle, but this match is nowhere near the quality of their Rumble
encounter.  Vader powerbombs Goldust and
hits a Vader Bomb, but the lights go out and Kane walks out.  Vader proceeds to give him a reverse
Tombstone, but Goldust distracts Vader after that and Kane sits up and gives
Vader a Tombstone.  This is the first
step in setting up a match between the two at No Way Out.  The Goldust-Vader match wasn’t much, but the
brief Kane-Vader interaction was fun.  2 for 4
Mick Foley and
Terry Funk are shown chatting in the ring before the show.  They make fun of and compliment their
Chainsaw Charlie and Cactus Jack gimmicks
.
We enter hour two,
so its Jerry Lawler’s time to do commentary with Ross.
Non-Title
Match:  The New Age Outlaws (WWF Tag Team
Champions) defeat Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie by disqualification at
5:04:
For this match, the New Age Outlaws are wearing baseball
catchers gear and it works to their advantage, as Cactus Jack’s low blow has no
effect on the Road Dogg since he is wearing a cup.  When these two teams are brawling, this is an
entertaining match, but when they start reverting to the conventional tag team
formula it leaves a lot to be desired. 
As all hell breaks loose, Charlie starts throwing chairs into the ring,
but he doesn’t get disqualified, but that happens when Cactus hits Road Dogg
with a chair and then uses it to launch an aerial attack on Billy Gunn.  A few fun spots in this, but it was mayhem
without cohesion.  Rating:  *½ (2 for 5)
After the match,
Cactus Jack puts the referee in a Mandible Claw and Road Dogg is covered with
chairs and Charlie gives him a moonsault.
A video package
hypes Light Heavyweight Champion Taka Michinoku.
The Honky Tonk Man
comes out to do guest ring announcing duties
.
Number One
Contenders Match for the Light Heavyweight Title:  El Pantera beats “Too Sexy” Brian Christopher
with a cradle at 4:25:
Someone must have realized that no one was doing anything
with the light heavyweight division so they needed to start doing some matches
on Raw.  The winner of this faces Taka
Michinoku at No Way Out.  Pantera hits an
awesome suicide dive through the corner turnbuckles, but Christopher responds
with a sunset flip powerbomb from the apron to the arena floor.  There’s lots of piped in crowd noise for
this, though.  Christopher still wants to
stall too much, but its not excessive due to the short time allotted for the
match.  Christopher’s Tennessee Jam
attempt misses and Pantera takes advantage to win the bout.  Rating:  ** (3 for 6)
After the match,
Lawler goes into the ring to shake Pantera’s hand, but cheap shots him.  As if we haven’t had enough of the
Lawler-light heavyweight division angle already.
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear what is going on in the WWF locker room!
Cactus Jack and
Chainsaw Charlie are giving an interview with the announcers backstage, but
D-Generation X distracts them and the New Age Outlaws launch a sneak
attack.  The Outlaws and DX pound away
until WWF officials intervene.
The Headbangers
beat The Quebecers when Mosh pins Jacques with a sunset flip at 3:07:
The Quebecers get the jobber entrance and we get a rushed
match, with the hot tag coming about ninety seconds in.  The Quebecers seem to come out on top after
that, but Thrasher trips Pierre on the top rope and Mosh surprises Jacques with
a sunset flip to win the match.  This
result isn’t good for the Quebecers future in the division, but they take out
their frustration after the match with their fun Boston Crab/flying leg drop
maneuver on Mosh.  Rating:  * (3 for 7)
Owen Hart defeats
“Hunterdust” (w/”Chyna”) via submission with a Sharpshooter at 5:06 shown:
The anticipated match between Owen Hart and Triple H has
been building for a month, since Helmsley cost Owen the WWF title after In
Your House:  D-Generation X.  However, instead of Triple H coming out for
the match, Goldust comes out dressed as Triple H (with big prosthetic nose
included) and Luna Vachon dressed as Chyna. 
The first half of the match is a snoozer, as Goldust methodically pounds
away, but when we return from commercial break Owen cruises to a victory as if
he’s in a squash match.  Goldust is
nothing more than a jobber at this stage of his career.  Rating:  ¾* (3 for 8)
After the match,
D-Generation X appears on the Titantron and laughs about fooling Owen.  Commissioner Sergeant Slaughter comes out and
says that since Triple H was contractually obligated to defend the title, Owen
is the new European champion in lieu of beating Triple H’s replacement.  As a result of this decision, Triple H must
face Owen at a later date if he wants to get his European title back.
The announcers
talk about the Tyson-Austin encounter. 
This is the third time we have talked about it tonight.
Don King says that
Mike Tyson wants Steve Austin, but the Nevada State Commission will not let
Tyson fight.  He says that he and Vince
McMahon will have to find a way to bring both men together at WrestleMania
without violating Nevada’s rules.
Steve Austin comes
out and says that Mike Tyson will soon learn not to mess with him.  He pledges to fight Tyson anywhere, anytime
and asks him to show up at No Way Out.  A
generic promo for Austin, but it served the purpose of continuing the intrigue
about fighting Tyson.  (4 for 9)
The Final Report Card:  A very lackluster edition of Monday Night
Raw, which usually happens when the event is taped.  The entire show revolved around Austin-Tyson, which had no real chance of happening anyway because of the
Nevada State Athletic Commission.  Giving
Owen Hart the European title via Goldust was also lame, but Triple H had not defended
the title in more than a month and was still on the shelf so something had to
be done.  Just a very uneventful and
passable show.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.5 (vs. 4.7 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: Royal Rumble 1998

Another great black and white video package
hypes the Royal Rumble match and puts over everyone from Steve Austin to the
Headbangers as a threat
.
Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are in charge of commentary and they are live from San Jose,
California.

Opening
Contest:  Vader pins The Artist Formerly
Known as Goldust (w/Luna Vachon) with a Vader Bomb at 7:52:
Goldust is wearing a green wig and a jobber-style striped
attire for tonight’s match.  This is the
blowoff for the feud between these two that began at the Survivor Series and it
is the second year in a row that Goldust is in the opening match at the Royal
Rumble.  It is the first time at the
Rumble that he is not wrestling for the Intercontinental title.  The crowd is hot, as they loudly boo Luna’s
interference and pop each time Vader hits a power move.  Goldust blocks a Vader Bomb with a low blow,
but Vader quickly rebounds and goes for another.  This causes Luna to rush into the ring and
jump on Vader’s back.  The referee nearly
botches the finish by calling for a disqualification, but the bell does not
ring, so Vader delivers the Vader Bomb with Luna on his back in an awesome spot
to get the win.  If you want to see a
match with no stalling from Goldust, this is it.  Entertaining opener, but this feud probably
should have ended at the last In Your House since it seemed well past its
expiration date.  This was Vader’s last
victory on a WWF pay-per-view.  Rating: 
**½
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to get reactions from the participants in tonight’s
matches.  It’s all on option five and
will cost you $1.49 a minute!
Steve Austin blows
off Michael Cole after arriving at the arena. 
After Austin goes into the arena, the Godwinns are on his heels.
Sunny comes out to
be the guest referee for our next match.
-Nova, Mosaic
& Max Mini defeat Battallion, Tarantula & El Torito when Mini pins El
Torito with a La Magistral cradle at 7:48:
So, we get a minis tag match to save some of the guys for
the Rumble and Mike Tyson is shown watching it from a special press box.  Lawler cracks a funny joke about how he saw
Max Mini reading Little Women in the
locker room.  I will be happy when these
mini matches disappear from the company because they are so business exposing
and the participants love to spam arm drags from multiple positions.  Sunny looks really rough here and she
abandons her impartiality by helping Mini do some attacks on his
opponents.  After the 150th
arm drag (or so it seems) they decide to do a spot where everyone does a top
rope attack, but that gets old by the third guy and everyone looks silly
standing there waiting for someone to do a move.  Mini gets the win because he always
does.  Rating:  DUD
The Nation of
Domination is looking for Steve Austin and Faarooq tells Mark Henry that he
needs to show him something by leading the way. 
The Nation burst into Austin’s locker room, but just find a chair with a
middle foam finger in it.
Kevin Kelly hypes
the WWF’s America Online chatroom.  Jim
Cornette is there and hypes the traditional wrestling of the National Wrestling
Alliance.  He pledges to make us like
wrestling.
Mike Tyson is
shown chatting with Vince and Shane McMahon in his box.  This is the first time we are exposed to
Shane McMahon in an executive capacity and back in 1998 he did appear to be the
heir apparent of the company.  How times changed…
The announcers
hype the upcoming Intercontinental title match between the Rock and Ken
Shamrock.
During the Free
for All, the Nation of Domination argued over who was going to win the Royal
Rumble.  The Rock gives an interview to
Cole and gives President Bill Clinton some advice over the Paula Jones sex
scandal.  If I remember correctly this
was just before Monica Lewinsky came onto the scene.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  The Rock (Champion)
beats Ken Shamrock by reverse decision at 10:52:
This is the first encounter between the Rock and
Shamrock, who will be engaged in a feud for the next six months.  This is an underrated feud that worked very
well because the company pitted the cocky heel that needed his comeuppance
against the legitimate badass in the company. 
The Rock utilizes all of the traditional heel tactics in this one,
incorporating stalling, eye rakes, cheap shots, complaining to the referee,
etc.  After both men equally exchange offense,
Shamrock hits a belly-to-belly, which brings out the Nation and Shamrock fights
them off.  The Rock blasts Shamrock with
brass knuckles and puts them in Shamrock’s tights, but Shamrock recovers and
pins the Rock after a belly-to-belly suplex. 
Shamrock appears to have won the title, but the Rock tells the referee
that Shamrock hit him with brass knuckles. 
The referee finds the knuckles in Shamrock’s tights and reverses the
decision, so Shamrock snaps and puts the referee in an ankle lock.  A good first chapter of the feud between
these two and this finish kept Shamrock strong, while putting more heat on the
Rock.  Rating:  **¾
Call 815-734-1161
to buy all of the Faces of Foley t-shirts for $49.99 (plus $9 shipping & handling)!
Los Boricuas are
shown searching for Steve Austin and they enter his locker room.  They beat up someone that they think is
Austin, but they actually attack a member of DOA and that creates another gang
war in the locker room that WWF officials have to break up.
A video package
hypes the upcoming tag team title match between the New Age Outlaws and the
Legion of Doom
.
Cole interviews
the Legion of Doom.  Animal says that he
is competing against doctor’s orders over his back and Hawk promises that the
New Age Outlaws are going to be put on ice.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  The Legion of Doom
defeat The New Age Outlaws (Champions) by disqualification at 7:55:
The Outlaws wear Green Bay Packers jerseys to the ring
because the Packers had just defeated the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC
Championship Game.  The Legion of Doom
come out swinging early, but the Road Dogg trips Animal and Hawk ends up going
shoulder-first into the ring post on a blind charge.  This messy sequence results in Hawk being
handcuffed to the ring post.  Animal
catches Billy Gunn with an awkward powerslam, but before the referee can
register a three count, the Road Dogg blasts him with a chair and that lets the
champions preserve the titles.  After the
bell, the Outlaws do a beatdown on Animal before Hawk can break free of his
handcuffs.  The first couple of minutes
were okay, but everything from there went south in a hurry.  Rating:  *¼
Ross announces
that Mildred Bowers of Nashville, Tennessee wins the Steve Austin 3:16 truck
.
A video package
chronicles why Steve Austin is a marked man in this year’s Royal Rumble.
“Stone Cold”
Steve Austin wins the 1998 Royal Rumble by eliminating the Rock at 55:27:
This is the third consecutive year that the Royal Rumble
is placed in the middle of the card instead of the main event.  This is a great Rumble to put on your
television if you are suffering from insomnia because after a small hardcore
match at the beginning between Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie, who draw one and two,
almost nothing happens.  Tag wrestler,
tag wrestler, and more tag wrestlers and lower midcarders come out and no one
tosses anyone else, so the ring just fills up for a clear out that never
comes.  Owen Hart, who was attacked while
making his entrance as #9, comes into the match later and eliminates Jeff
Jarrett for one of the biggest pops of the night.  Owen is eliminated shortly thereafter by a
Triple H and Chyna dual crutch attack so that feud continues.  They tease Austin not making an appearance,
as #22 does not show, but he does show up out of the crowd as #24 and quickly tosses Marc Mero and 8-Ball.  Los
Boricuas, trying to get revenge for Austin’s defeat of Savio Vega at
WrestleMania XII, all try to toss Austin when Savio enters the match, but that
fails.  The Nation of Domination proceeds
to practice the worst strategy in Rumble history, as they have all five members
in the ring as the field narrows and decide to fight each other rather than
work together.  Men start flying shortly
after Vader enters at #30 and Vader gets tosses by Goldust in less than three
minutes.  The final four turns into a
small tag match between Austin and Dude Love and Faarooq and the Rock, but
Austin turns on his partner and the Rock then turns on his and we have a brief
clash of the future main event stars before Austin hits a Stunner and tosses
the Rock to win his second consecutive Rumble. 
This Rumble was worse than 1995. 
The star power here was worse and at least the
1995 atrocity had a one minute clock so the pain and suffering was
reduced.  1995 had a more entertaining
finish too.  Rating:  ¾*
Mike Tyson is
shown celebrating with Shane McMahon after watching Austin’s victory.  He proceeds to give an unintelligible
interview with Cole.
A video package
hypes the Shawn Michaels-Undertaker casket match.
Casket Match for
the WWF Championship:  “The Heartbreak
Kid” Shawn Michaels (w/D-Generation X) defeats The Undertaker at 20:38
This was the end of the five month feud between these two,
which would resume more than ten years later over the Undertaker’s WrestleMania
streak.  Ninety seconds into this is
where Michaels takes the awkward backdrop out of the ring and onto the edge of
the casket that temporarily ended his career. 
Interestingly enough, you could make the argument that the Undertaker
was responsible for both of Michaels
departures from wrestling.  This match
isn’t as brutal as Hell in a Cell, but Michaels delivers a devastating
piledriver on the steps to his opponent. 
In a funny spot near the end, Michaels dumps the Undertaker into the
casket and tries to give him the D-Generation X crotch chop, but the Undertaker
grabs Michaels nether region and rallies. 
The Undertaker misses a flying clothesline and goes into the casket and
Michaels delivers a flying elbow drop into it, causing the casket to close on
both of them.  By casket match logic,
shouldn’t that lead to a draw?  The
Undertaker hits an insane super Tombstone into the casket from the apron, but
Chyna takes out of the referee and the New Age Outlaws and Los Boricuas hit the
ring in shades of 1994.  The crowd goes
insane as the lights go out and Kane shows up and clears the ring.  However, after his pyro malfunctions he
attacks his brother, which turns into some serious crowd heat, and he
chokeslams his brother into the casket and closes the lid, giving Michaels the
victory.  The usual good match between
these two that became excellent in the last five minutes.  It also featured some great spots that you
had never seen in a casket match before. 
Rating:  ****
After the match,
Kane and Paul Bearer, who has wandered out, seal the casket, place it by the
entrance, and Kane smashes an axe into it. 
They then douse it with gasoline and set it on fire as we go off the
air.  Well, that blows 1994 out of the
water.
The Final Report Card:  I find it hard to rate this show because on
the one hand, the main event was awesome and the crowd helped provide a
pay-per-view atmosphere to the event. 
The opening contest was entertaining as well, but on the whole the
Rumble really drags down the show.  It
might have been predictable that Austin was winning, but the booking for it was
very poor and the company did not have enough star power at the time to make
that match interesting.  It didn’t help
either that Triple H was on the shelf and they had Owen Hart and Ken Shamrock
eliminated early in the contest.  Based
on the awesomeness of the closing segment and the impression that it leaves,
I’ll give this show a neutral rating, but if you do watch the show, just fast
forward through the Rumble.  The show
comes off much better without it.
Attendance: 
18,542
Buyrate: 
0.97 (+.27 over previous year)

Show Evaluation:  Neutral

RF Video Shoot Interview with Vader

This was filmed on New Years Day in 1999, very shortly after Vader left the WWF.

The interview starts with Rob Feinstein on location in Colorado. The interview is actually conducted from Vader’s home. They show close-ups of all Vader’s memorabilia. The camera work is awful by the way. Speaking of awful, Vader is wearing a hat that says “Vader Time,” which looks ridiculous.

He is asked about is football career. He said that junior and senior year in high school, he was All-American and recruited by about 50 schools. He grew up in inner city Los Angeles and was attracted to Colorado for college due to the spacious setting. He was a four-year starter and drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the 3rd round but ended rupturing his patella tendon in training camp. The Rams made the playoff that year and he was activated when the starting center got hurt and played a few snaps against the Steelers in the Super Bowl, said he has the ring.

Vader got into wrestling when his football career finished and he came back to Colorado and got his license to be a broker in Colorado. He talks about how he built and sold houses and while making good money, was getting bored and out of shape and felt that he had a lot left in his body to use.

When asked if he was a wrestling fan growing up, Vader said that he followed it a little bit. He then said that he watched Hogan as a kid, which makes no sense seeing as Vader was 28 years old when Hogan went back to the WWF in 1984.

Vader said he was up to about 380 lbs when he went back to the gym. He went with a few friends to an AWA show and left midway through, saying the match quality was poor, and went to the hotel across the street. He saw the wrestlers hanging out there and was recognized by Gene Reed as a football player, who then introduced him to Greg Gagne. Reed told Vader to come back in a few weeks and he met Brad Rheingans, who was running a wrestling camp for Verne. Vader adds that Brad was the one who created stars from that camp, not Verne.

Vader says that his real height is 6’4 ½ and in wrestling, got at low as 340 lbs and high as 440 lbs.

He remembers his first match and it was against Bruiser Brody. He says it was one of the most painful things that ever happened to him. He did say that Brody tried to teach him. He then went on to wrestle with Jerry Blackwell then Stan Hansen. He said after working with those guys, who were very stiff in the ring, went to work with other guys and hit someone so hard in a match that they rolled out of the ring and complained to one of the Gagne’s. Vader said he thought you were supposed to hit that hard, because those guys hit him like that.

Vader is asked if Brody actually broke his leg. He said it was just an angle done because he was leaving the territory and going to Europe.
He was asked about Verne Gagne. Vader said they made no money but thought Verne saw potential in him as he could do stuff like moonsaults. He said that he was fine to him.

When asked about why he left the AWA, Vader talks about the relationship between Verne Gagne and Otto Wanz. They had a partnership at the time. Vader goes off topic for a bit and forgot the question before saying that Verne told him to go over as he would learn a lot and get a lot of dates.

Vader said he started in a tent in Austria that held about 5,000 people. Vader said they made a lot as the ticket prices were high and Otto would hire vendors, probably making more selling beer and brauts.

He said that he wound up in New Japan after spending two seasons in Europe. One of the referee’s in New Japan approached him and said that Masa Saito remembered a six-man tag they had and was impressed by his power moves and wanted him to tour New Japan after finishing up with Otto in Europe. Vader said that he already had dates with Giant Baba and All Japan after he contacted Stan Hansen so he could wrestle between the tours of Europe. He said that New Japan offered a lot more than Baba. He said after speaking with his wife and just starting off in the business, he took the original offer. After that, Antonio Inoki paid a fee to Baba to get Vader for New Japan. In his first tour, he beat Inoki in four minutes.

He compares the psychology between Japan and America at the time, saying the faces in America sold a lot more than they did in Japan. He compares guys like The Rock and Stone Cold today (this was filmed in 2001) and how they have done a 180 and they are selling like the Japanese did back then and Japan faces are selling like the American’s did at that time.

He is asked if there were any problems between the top guys in Japan at the time, like Inoki, Riki Choshu, and Tatsumi Fujinami. Vader said that while guys like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels were open with their problems, those in Japan kept it in house.

Vader said that he was blowing up guys in Japan, despite his size. He also said he was study tapes of the guys he faced and would look for things that they did well and incorporate that in the match. He is asked if that helped and he said it did.

They talk about his match against The Great Muta in the Sumo Hall. He said that this was the first time in a pro wrestling match in Japan that they threw the rose pedals on the floor after the match.

He was asked if he traveled or bonded with any of the talents. He said in WCW, he traveled with Harley Race but mostly did things by himself.

Up next is his infamous match against Stan Hansen in which his eye wound up on his cheek. Vader said that he turned right into a punch by Stan and felt his eye on his cheek, half popped out. He remembered swearing at Stan then turned his back and popped it back in place before putting him in an armbar. He said he took his mask off and the crowd popped. The camera zoomed into his eye and it showed on the screen.

He is asked about his team with Bam Bam Bigelow. Rob tells him that in Bam Bam’s shoot, he mentioned that they had a bit of a rivalry. Vader puts over Bam Bam for his agility but didn’t think they had a rivalry. He also calls Bam Bam a great partner and that they both knew the Japanese style well. He said that they wrestled the Steiner Brothers, who were nervous as they were unfamiliar with the style, and helped them through the beginning of the match and it turned out great. He also says that he wants to work with him and has talked to Paul Heyman about coming to ECW. Rob breaks to Vader that a 90% confirmed rumor has Bam Bam not being at the PPV and signing with WCW.

He said that there was no interest in them as a team in WWF or WCW as Bam Bam had heat with Vince McMahon and that Flair wouldn’t want a good act to come to WCW and overshadow him. He recalls another situation in WCW, when he was champ, he suggested that he team with Steve Austin against Flair and Arn Anderson. Vader said that Steve looked great but it was too good and Flair buried that. The other interviewer brings up how they just did a shoot with Terry Funk, who never had a bad thing to say about anyone, and even he said that it is poetic justice as now he has Hogan vetoing his stuff in WCW.

On how he wound up in WCW, he got hurt in Japan and tore his cartilage, which had also flipped and wedged itself. He wrote a letter to the promoter saying he would be able to compete in the tournament as he needed surgery. Japan pressured him to hold off and wrestle but Vader did not want to risk his career and elected to have the surgery. His contract was also up at that time and said that Jim Ross was a huge supporter of his and called him up, telling him to speak with Dusty Rhodes who was the booker and got hired.

Vader said that Dusty was the booker for all of the Executive Vice President’s until Bischoff took over. He said that he was booked to lose against Flair at the 1993 Starrcade 1993 by Bischoff to give Flair a bit rub and that Dusty told him not to job as Flair was getting old. He then said that he would put Flair over, with the interviewers calling it a great match, and that afterwards, Dusty told him he would get the belt back in a cage match before Hogan came to the company. Flair wound up getting Dusty’s job a few days later and he did not get the belt. Vader then said that as a result, Flair ended up having to job to Hogan when he came to the company.

He is asked about why he stopped using the mask in WCW. Vader there was no problem with Japan for using it in America but only for UWFI. He said that Dusty told him that it was cumbersome and to ditch it because he looked better without it.

Vader said that he had his best matches with Sting. He said that was the best point of his career as he didn’t have to deal with the political manipulation from guys like Hogan and Flair. He is then asked if there was any added pressure for working with Sting. He said they had a strong respect for each other and does not recall ever having a bad match together.

He is asked about his matches with the British Bulldog and the vignettes for Bash at the Beach. He said that filming was hot and he was on the verge of blistering and demanded to stop.

When asked about Harley in WCW, Vader said that he was still trying to wrestle then became Luger’s manager but he left and went to the WWF. He claims that Harley got hurt in a car accident and if not, would have been by his side when he worked with Flair and Hogan, helping him deal through all the politics.

Vader was asked about working with Cactus Jack when his ear got ripped off. He said that match, Jack choked himself in the ropes and was turning purple and couldnt get out so Vader had to rip him out and when that happened, Jack’s ear was partially torn. Vader said he saw blood and thought it was a perfect time to get heat and go home so he punched him and his ear fell off. The ref gave the ear to the ring announcer and they brought it backstage. He said that they all tried to talk him out of the crazy moves and at one point, he told him to shoot on him in a match. Vader said that he earned his spot in history.

Next, he is asked about Halloween Havoc against Sting. The interviewer brings up a rumor that Funk did a moonsault earlier in the card and that Vader was pissed. Vader said that he went to Dusty and was told that Terry did not plan that and Vader asked if they could avoid that in the future. His reasoning was that he was the number one guy in the company at the time and had planned that spot. He then said if Funk planned the spot, he would not have done it in his match.

He is asked about the incident between Arn Anderson and Sid Vicious in Europe. Vader blames WCW saying that they had a poorly timed schedule that had them land, wrestle, travel, the wrestle. After all that, everyone was frazzled and they were drinking beers at a table and he left. After that, Sid and Arn squared off. Vader then heard screaming in the lobby and left his room in his underwear and saw Sid walk over to him and blood was pouring out of his belly and stopped the flow by sticking his thumb in the wound. He screamed for towels and a chair and held the towel until the ambulance came. He never saw Arn though. When asked about how the rest of the boys felt, he said the net night they had a meeting and Turner had apparently thought about shutting down the tour and Dusty gave them a meeting about what happened and they moved on.

Next, he is asked about Hogan coming into WCW. Vader talks about how Hogan pinned Flair four straight times. After that, Vader said Hogan chose his friend, Brutus Beefcake as his next opponent but the matches and buyrate were horrible so he chose Vader as his next opponent. Bischoff told him that Flair was going to be his manager. Vader said that he had to go over the first time over Hogan, anyway possible to get heat. He said that he was getting cheered and Hogan was getting booed and needed to either turn heel or quit. Vader said he told Bischoff to do what was right for the company. Vader brings up how Hogan kicked out of his finisher, despite being told that would not happen. Vader said he was making about a million a year but had to give a lot of thought about sticking with the company. He said that was when he considered talking to McMahon about going to the WWF. The interviewer brings up the dirt sheet rumors of Vader supposedly going to shoot on Hogan due to being pissed. Vader said that he has accidentally hurt people but is a professional and would never do that purposely. He says that he and Hogan could have sold out football stadiums if he had beaten Hogan the first time.

He is asked about their second match, with Bruno Sammartino presenting an award in the locker room prior. He said that it was a three minute match due to Hogan’s creative control. Vader then says that he does not remember a lot about that though.

Next, he is asked about his cage match when Hogan was supposed to be left laying by him and Flair. Vader said that Hogan was known for agreeing to things then going back on that an hour before the match.

Vader is asked if the locker room was happy about Hogan coming in to WCW. He said they were about the prospect of making more money but they were all under guaranteed contracts anyway.

When asked about the prospects of WCW Nitro, Vader said that he thought they could not compete with the WWF. He did not think they could match the production. He then puts over WCW for being able to produce a good show now.

He is asked about the first show, when Lex Luger came back. He said that he was supposed to be involved in that angle. He said that he got in an altercation with Orndorff prior. He was flown to Minnesota, thinking that he would be a part of the show. After a meeting, one of the referee’s told him that Bischoff did not want him there so he hung out in Minnesota for a day then went to film a few scenes for “Baywatch.” He closes by saying that if Luger hadn’t walked out on Vince, he would have gotten that spot and he was the backup plan.

Now, he is asked about his altercation with Paul Orndorff. Vader said that he will not elaborate a lot on the situation but said that TV tapings are long and hectic. He then said that after missing a few photograph sessions, Bischoff told him that he would be fined. He was also supposed to do some pre-tapes but did not want to be fined so he went to the sessions. He said that Orndorff was not a booker but acted like that in the sessions when he was only a assistant. After a long photo session, he was in the locker room talking to Meng when Orndorff yelled at him, saying he was late and held up the crew. Vader said not to yell at him and that he was told to be at a photo shoot but Orndorff became abusive and there was no reason for that as Orndorff was not his superior and after some words he walked away. Terry Taylor walked up to him and Vader told him what happened and Taylor said he did not know that and asked him to prepare for the tapings. He said sure then Orndorff confronted him again and called him out. Vader said he was disrespectful to Orndorff after he yelled at him. Orndorff told him to hit him and Vader said he slapped him then realized it was wrong and his job was in jeopardy. He said at that time, he froze, thinking of his family and future, and Orndorff came down head-first in the hallway, nearly hitting a corner of a box. Vader then states he went over to see if he was okay and Orndorff slapped his hand away. He then said that he made the decision not to throw another punch but Orndorff came up and hit him a few times, claiming that his hands were down at the time. After that, Vader said that he grabbed him in a front facelock and claims that if he wanted to hurt him, he easily could have. He then said Orndorff was in the locker room telling people that Vader gave him a cheap shot. Vader then said that he kicked open the door of the executives office and asked Orndorff if he wanted to finish the fight, with Schiavone and Bischoff in the room. Vader said he called him out and when he finally came out he grabbed him but Meng walked by and stopped him. He claims that if Meng had known what went down, he would not have grabbed him.

He also said that before the Orndorff altercation, Bischoff told him to work “Bash at the Bach,” despite tearing his rotator cuff. He told him to get someone else as he could not do the match. He said that he would do TV for the angles but couldn’t do any matches with his injuries. He said after that, he started to drink and take pain pills more to deal with the discomfort, taking 6-8 Percocets a day and was in a wrong frame of mind to deal with things. He believes that Flair and Hogan saw this as a way to get rid of him. He ends by saying that he takes full responsibility for putting his hands on Paul but he should not have yelled at him.

Vader is then asked about the rumors of him being a locker room bully. He claims that gene Okerlund hated him and that he never got along with him at all but he saw that as an opportunity to make him look bad.

They go back to the “Rampage Tour” when he was doing some shows with the USWA that included the Undertaker. He said that it was Bischoff’s idea and thought it was good. He said hello to the Undertaker and Paul Bearer ran in and beat a few guys then left the arena and went into the car driven by Terry Taylor and left.

He was asked about returning to WCW. He said that Bischoff gave him a six month fine for slapping a guy that would have cost him around $300,000, just for slapping a guy. Vader then said he needed shoulder surgery and could not work in Japan as Bischoff suggested. At the time, he thought it was a horrible offer but looking back, didn’t think it was that bad. He brings up again how much pain he was in at the time and that it changed his personality. He also believes that if Sting, Hogan, or Flair had the same injuries as him at that time, he would be allowed to take time off and recuperate.

He was then asked how he wound up in the WWF. At the time, Vader said he was planning on building  a shopping center  (which he tells the guys that they passed it on the way here) and going to New Japan.

He signed for one match in Japan, against Inoki in the Tokyo Dome. Vader is then asked about people saying he tries harder in Japan. He said is correct in terms of the last three years as he was allowed to turn it up a notch over there. He then wants to say on record that Vince McMahon has treated him and his family with courtesy. When Ken Shamrock broke his nose in a match, the WWF offered to pay for it to get fixed and give him time off.

When he asked for his release, saying that he couldn’t do his style that got him over, he mentions a certain superstar, who after a sold out show in Nassau after tearing the house down, told him if he was ever that stiff again, he would be gone from the WWF the next day.

He talks about how they gave him a great angle to start in the WWF but that he was scheduled for shoulder surgery the next day but they went to do it anyway.

Vader then said at the time, he and Shawn Michaels were drawing good money. He said that he was getting pinned by him on the house show’s cleanly then wondered why the buyrate was bad at SummerSlam. He then said that he was blamed for that.

Vader is asked about the match and if Shawn through a tantrum during the match. Vader said that he was temperamental and if things didn’t go according to plan, he was unable to handle the situation.

Vader then adds that he was originally scheduled to beat Shawn at SummerSlam for the belt, then lose it to Bret, regain the belt from Bret then lose it to Shawn. After the buyrate tanked, they switched him out for Sid.

He then says that he got out of shape and went to a fitness center and lost 45 lbs then had a good showing at the “Final Four” match, with Vince calling him the MVP of the match.

Next, Vader is asked about assaulting the TV host in Kuwait. Originally, Vader said he was told that he was going to get the IC Title after they returned. Vader said that there was an American director and English producer, who wanted the highest rating possible. He claims that he was told to act crazy at the end and grab the host’s tie. He found out that no one told the host about this happening and after that happened, the host walked out and the next day he filed charges. That was on a Friday but there was a religious holiday that was two week long and he had to wait it out. A day and a half after the holiday, he returned home. He then admits that he was not in jail but rather a $600 a day resort that had all sorts of amenities. He believes that the WWF tried to build something up by telling the story to the press. After that happened, they made alternate plans for the belt.

He was asked about Shamrock spitting up blood during their cage match. He said he was scared and after getting powerbombed, blood was pouring out of his mouth then shoots down the “Wrestling Observer Newsletter” that it was a work.

Next, he is asked about the situation between Shawn and Bret. Vader said he tried to distance himself from that, saying they were both friends of his. He was asked what he would do if he was the booker then said he has no idea.

Vader is now asked if he was supposed to be involved in the series with Kane and the Undertaker. He said he was never told.

He said that the WWF wanted him to lose weight, and get to around 320 lbs.

When asked his thoughts on ECW, he gives credit to Paul Heyman and calls him a friend. He then says his company is making money going against WWF and WCW and looks forward to work with him but doesn’t want to be a full-time performer.

Vader is asked if there is a possible chance of him returning to WCW. He said probably not as Bischoff dislikes him. He then said that he left the WWF in good terms and could come back at some point within the year.

He then says that Rocky will be a big star as he has all the tools and cares for himself. He also puts over Ken Shamrock, Kane and Steve Austin. He also puts over guys like Edge, HHH, and Road Dogg. He closes by wishing the WWF well.


Final Thoughts: I thought this was a solid interview. If you were a fan of Vader’s work in Japan, then I would highly recommend this to you. I have seen dozens of shoot interviews though and those who talk about Vader either call him a baby and a bully. I did think that this interview did nothing to dispel those rumors. Sure, he was soft-spoken here but in regards to almost being fined $300,000 just for slapping Orndorff, I believe that he was downplaying the incident and minimizing his faults throughout the shoot. There wasn’t a whole lot about the WWF discussed here but his WCW run was interesting, especially the politics played by Hogan and Flair. It would be nice if Vader did a follow up shoot, especially after hinting that he was going to wrestle for ECW, but he never really did anything again in America wrestling after this besides a few appearances here and there.