by Logan Scisco
-The Undertaker and Kane are shown walking out of a backstage locker room and down a dark hallway.
-Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler are doing commentary and they are live from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We are six days from SummerSlam. The Hell in a Cell is hanging above the ring.
-The Undertaker and Kane walk to the ring together, with the crowd showering the pair with loud boos. Vince McMahon arrives after their entrance and gloats about being right all along. McMahon tells the Undertaker that with Kane at his side he will be the next WWF champion, but reminds the Undertaker that he will need him in the future. McMahon demands an answer by the end of the night from the Undertaker about whether he is considered a friend or a foe. Paul Bearer waddles down to the ring and pleads with Kane to turn on the Undertaker. The Undertaker responds by beating down Bearer as Kane stands idly by. Mankind runs out and offers himself as a sacrifice and the Undertaker and Kane beat him down, finishing him off with a spike Tombstone. Steve Austin walks out to a monstrous ovation, but is stopped from coming to the ring by a wall of fire. Austin recognizes that he does not have a good chance to beat Kane and the Undertaker together, but vows to take someone out tonight to prevent them both from making it to SummerSlam. This was one of the better opening segments of the year as it vindicated McMahon’s theory, put over Kane and the Undertaker as a destructive force, and set up Austin’s urgency to alter the odds in his favor before SummerSlam. 1 for 1
-Get a big poster of Triple H when you buy Stridex pads!
-Mankind is shown being put into an ambulance backstage. He is clutching his neck from the results of the spike Tombstone he experienced in the opening segment.
-Opening Contest: Ken Shamrock beats Dan Severn via disqualification when Owen Hart interferes at 2:51:
This is billed as “Shamrock-Severn III,” with the first two taking place in the UFC. The fact that the WWF is giving away this bout on free TV is an indication of how they no longer see much money potential in a match between these two. Severn dominates Shamrock until Owen Hart does a run-in and places Shamrock in a dragon sleeper. Steve Blackman eventually makes the save, but when he tries to restrain Shamrock, he eats a belly-to-belly suplex. Blackman quickly recovers and gives Shamrock a taste of his own medicine, though, and gets one of the bigger pops of his career. Severn’s style just does not fit in a WWF ring and his Irish whips are some of the weakest I have ever seen.
-Medical personnel are shown knocked out backstage and Mankind is shown wheeling a stretcher toward the ring. I think Russo got this idea from Silence of the Lambs. After the break, Mankind hilariously surfs the stretcher down the ramp and tosses a bag of thumbtacks into the ring. Mankind vows to get revenge on Kane tonight, as Vince McMahon has booked them to face off in the Hell in a Cell. He vows to go the top of the Cell and toss Kane through it or off of it. He also promises to make Kane the world’s largest pin cushion. 2 for 2
-Highlights of the Undertaker-Mankind Hell in a Cell match at the King of the Ring are shown.
-Kurrgan (w/Sable) beats “Marvelous” Marc Mero via disqualification when Mero uses a low blow at 1:44:
Mero has been leaking heat since Over the Edge and this quasi-feud with the Oddities is not doing anything for him. Kurrgan’s attire is more befitting a role in Pirates of the Caribbean than a wrestling match. As Kurrgan beats up Mero in the ring, Jacqueline comes out from the crowd and assaults Sable. The referee catches Mero cheating and after the bell, Mero and Jacqueline escape through the crowd. Okay, Mero has a big midcard match at SummerSlam and they still couldn’t give him a token win here?!?
-X-Pac guides the camera crew to the locker room, where he urinates in Jeff Jarrett’s boots.
-The New Age Outlaws defeat Southern Justice when The Road Dogg pins Dennis Knight after a Billy Gunn piledriver at 3:15:
Before the match, an inebriated Hawk joins the commentary team. Shortly after the bell rings, Jeff Jarrett comes down, rips off Hawk’s headset, and rants about X-Pac’s prank. The actions with Hawk and Jarrett prevent a lot of focus going to the match, which is just an abbreviated tag team encounter. After the bell, Jarrett and Southern Justice shave the head of a camera man that did not follow Jarrett’s instructions to film him from the waist up since he did not have his wrestling boots on. Rating: ½* (2 for 3)
-Hell in a Cell Match: Kane (w/The Undertaker) defeats Mankind via disqualification when Steve Austin interferes at 7:30:
In another twist on the “tag team partners that hate each other” Russo staple, we have tag team champions fighting in the Cell. Referees prevent Mankind from climbing to the top of the Cell, so he takes them out, but then he can’t toss a chair to the top of the structure. After that, Mankind tries to climb again, but the Undertaker pulls him off during his climb and Mankind goes through the Spanish announce table. When the bout finally gets in the ring, Mankind rallies to make a fight of this, but Kane cannot be stopped and gives his partner a Tombstone on a chair before Steve Austin comes from underneath the ring and annihilates him with a chair. I know that I have said this before, but it is unreal how many sick bumps Mankind took in the summer of 1998. This was a great brawl, even though elements of it came off like a parody of the King of the Ring match. Rating: ***¼ (3 for 4)
-After the bell, the Undertaker tries to get in the Cell to help his brother, but when he climbs to the top of the Cell and tries to break in, Vince McMahon raises the Cell to “protect his investment” for SummerSlam. The crowd loves all of this, just as they did for Bray Wyatt-Daniel Bryan earlier this year.
-Following the commercial break, the Undertaker accuses Steve Austin of being a coward. As the Undertaker speaks, Kane is shown bleeding through his mask. The Undertaker promises to extract revenge on Austin before the end of the show.
-Chyna comes out to confront the Rock and the Rock arrives with the Nation in tow. The Rock shows Chyna on the Titantron that D-Generation X has been barricaded in their locker room and proceeds to gloat about how he is going to beat Triple H at SummerSlam. The Rock accuses Chyna of having the hots for him and says she “needs to get some.” When Chyna tries to attack him, the Nation restrains her on her knees and the Rock teases forcibly kissing her before refusing. He tells Mark Henry to do the deed, but before Henry can make that happen, Shawn Michaels makes a surprise run in and smashes Henry with a chair. This was a well arranged, albeit uncomfortable segment and it is highly doubtful you will see something like this on TV again. That said, it really made you really hate the Rock and the surprise run in was icing on the cake. 4 for 5
-Shawn Michaels stays to do guest commentary for the rest of the show.
-Val Venis wrestles Taka Michinoku (w/Yamaguchi-San & Mrs. Yamaguchi-San) to a no contest when Triple H runs in at 1:01:
This match is designed for Venis to get some of his heat back from losing to Michinoku in last week’s gauntlet match. Both men wrestle at about 100 mph and Venis quickly hits the Money Shot, but an angry Triple H beats both men with a chair. Triple H vows to make the Rock “his bitch” at SummerSlam. The crowd pops big for that.
-The complete “Highway to Hell” music video hyping Steve Austin-The Undertaker at SummerSlam is shown.
-X-Pac beats Gangrel via disqualification when Jeff Jarrett interferes at 1:34:
This is a good match while it lasts, with Gangrel using some quick power moves to counter X-Pac’s aerial offense. X-Pac hits the Bronco Buster in the corner, but Jarrett runs in and smashes X-Pac over the head with a guitar.
-After the match, Edge runs in and attacks Gangrel to set up a small feud between both men.
-The Undertaker is shown wheeling a casket to the ring.
-Bart Gunn’s knockouts are the Stridex Triple Action segment.
-Brawl for All Championship: Bart Gunn defeats Bradshaw via knockout at 41 seconds of the first round:
Bradshaw hasn’t been much of a puncher all tournament and it finally catches up to him here, as Bart keeps him at a sufficient distance to prevent a takedown and then catches him with a right hook for the win. I scream rigged for this bout because on the first knockdown, Gunn clearly whiffed. Shawn Michaels says Bart is going to use this $75,000 victory to reach new heights in the company, but sadly that was not to be. 5 for 6
-Michael Cole interviews Vince McMahon, who says that he will get his answer from the Undertaker by the end of the show tonight. He threatens to throw Cole around like the rest of the locker room unless he quickly gets out of his office.
-Druids wheel a casket to ringside and the Undertaker proceeds to walk out and cut a generic promo about wanting to take the WWF title at SummerSlam. He calls out Steve Austin, but Vince McMahon comes out instead and demands an answer to his question. The Undertaker smiles, so McMahon extends a hand in friendship, but just ends up getting chokeslammed. After that, Austin comes out of the casket and gets ready to throw down with the Undertaker, but the casket opens a second time to reveal Kane, who attacks Austin from behind. Austin eventually gets out of the situation and backs away with a chair. As Austin backs up toward the entrance, a line of fire, symbolizing the Highway to Hell, is created in a great visual to end the show. 6 for 7
The Final Report Card: This is one of the better “go home” RAWs that the WWF has put together in quite a while. The intrigue surrounding the main event is at an all-time high and the Rock-Triple H ladder match has a ton of heat on it as a result of this show. Regardless of what the rating said, this was one of the most entertaining episodes of RAW for 1998.
This is our announced SummerSlam card:
*WWF Championship Match: Steve Austin (Champion) vs. The Undertaker
*Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Championship: The Rock (Champion) vs. Triple H
*Lion’s Den Match: Ken Shamrock vs. Owen Hart
*Mixed Tag Team Match: Sable & Mystery Partner vs. Marc Mero & Jacqueline
*Hair vs. Hair Match: X-Pac vs. Jeff Jarrett
Monday Night War Rating: 4.7 (vs. 5.2 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation: Thumbs Up