-Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from San Jose, California. We are finally back on Monday nights, so this should be a better show.
-As we come on the air, WWF Champion Steve Austin walks to the ring. Vince McMahon, Kane, and the Undertaker are already in the ring. McMahon gloats about how Kane or the Undertaker will get the WWF title off of Austin’s waist and announces a new stipulation to the Breakdown triple threat in that the Undertaker and Kane are prohibited from pinning each other. Finally, McMahon pushes Austin too far on the mic and Austin decks him. However, the Undertaker and Kane lay Austin out with a double chokeslam. In a hilarious bit, McMahon mimics Austin’s jaw jacking and rolls over in glee on the canvas. The Undertaker reminds Austin that it’s nothing personal, it’s just business. Before heading to the locker room, McMahon books Austin to defend his title against Ken Shamrock in tonight’s main event. This was a really good opening promo by McMahon that established the logic behind the Breakdown main event. 1 for 1
-Get your Triple H Stridex poster! This was a really long promotion because they have been airing these commercials forever.
-Opening Contest: “Double J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Southern Justice) beats The Road Dogg (w/Billy Gunn & X-Pac) after hitting him with a guitar at 3:08:
Here’s that Jarrett-Roadie blowoff we’ve wanted to see since 1995! The WWF actually remembers that and show some old footage. This is a fast paced match that benefits from a hot crowd. Somehow, Jarrett is not disqualified when Southern Justice pull Road Dogg out of the ring and start beating him down. When X-Pac and Gunn assist their comrade, Jarrett hits his opponent with the neck of the guitar to win. I think they had a malfunction with the guitar since it was already broken when Jarrett went to use it. Honestly, hitting people with guitars is one of the best things Jarrett ever added to his gimmick. Rating: ** (2 for 2)
-Footage of Ken Shamrock challenging Steve Austin on Sunday Night Heat is shown.
-The Road Dogg is shown being helped into an ambulance backstage.
-Michael Cole interviews the Rock, who tells the Nation to stay backstage. You see, the Nation is falling apart and the Rock is gradually going his own way. His promo on the previous Saturday RAW constituted a de facto face turn.
-The Rock pins Kane (w/The Undertaker) after Mankind hits Kane with a sledgehammer at 6:10:
The atmosphere for this match is electric, with the crowd going crazy for all of the Rock’s trademark spots. The referee gets bumped at the five minute mark and misses the People’s Elbow, allowing the Undertaker to interfere. However, when the Undertaker is beating up the Rock, Mankind makes a surprise return and clocks Kane with a sledgehammer and that’s enough to put the Rock over. The crowd treated this outcome like a WrestleMania main event. Rating: *** (3 for 3)
-After the match, Kane can’t sit up on the canvas. The Undertaker challenges Mankind to a match later tonight.
-Michael Cole interviews Mankind, who accepts the Undertaker’s challenge for later tonight. He smashes one of the RAW is War barrels with a sledgehammer.
-Dustin Runnels is in the ring and welcomes the crowd to hell. Val Venis walks out and introduces the crowd to his new film “The Preacher’s Wife,” which sees him in bed with Terri Runnels. Runnels falls to his knees upon seeing the footage and Venis tells him that trait must run in the family.
-A vignette for Steven Regal, a so-called “Real Man’s Man,” is shown. He is chopping down a whole forest with an axe.
-Intercontinental Championship Match: Triple H (Champion w/Chyna & X-Pac) defeats Owen Hart (w/Mark Henry) with a Pedigree at 5:24:
After our usual exchange of moves between these two shenanagins begin to happen as Mark Henry pulls Chyna off the ring apron and X-Pac attacks him in response. That distraction allows Triple H to Pedigree a distracted Owen and beat him for what seems like the hundredth time this year. What? You expected a different outcome? Rating: **½ (4 for 4)
-After the match, Mark Henry gets on the house mic and challenges X-Pac and Chyna to a handicap match for later in the show. He promises to prevail just like he did this past Sunday!
-Mankind is shown tossing things into a dumpster backstage on his way to the ring.
-Call 815-734-1161 to get your “Down Where? Down Here!” DX shirt for $25 (plus $6 shipping & handling)! I’m sure that lots of kids were forced to take that shirt off when they came to school wearing it.
-The Undertaker (w/Kane) wrestles Mankind to a no contest at 7:15:
Both men bring sledgehammers to the ring, but the referee does not allow for their use so that comes to naught. A wild brawl ensues with the use of the objects in the dumpster that Mankind wheels to the ring and allowing Mankind to do a few ghastly bumps. The Undertaker Tombstones Mankind on a chair, but wants to smash him with a sledgehammer instead. However, before the Undertaker can deliver a death blow, the Rock pops out the dumpster, takes out the Undertaker’s knee, and throws Mankind into the crowd to save him from a further beating. This was fun while it lasted and it is awesome to see the first interactions between the Rock and Mankind. Rating: *** (5 for 5)
-Edge wrestles Gangrel to a double count out at 3:34:
I am really surprised that they did not save a match like this for the pay-per-view. Even though they are not given a lot of time, both men pack a lot into this one and Edge takes a nasty bump on the floor when Gangrel sidesteps a plancha. Gangrel follows up with his Impaler DDT on the floor and both men end up counted out. After the bell, Gangrel tells Edge that his blood flows through his veins. Yeah, this should’ve been on pay-per-view and been given about ten minutes. Rating: **½ (6 for 6)
-Handicap Match: Mark Henry (w/D-Lo Brown) beats X-Pac & Chyna (w/Triple H) when he pins Chyna after a powerslam at 3:54:
Triple H mocks Henry before the match by walking around like a gorilla. I wonder if they’ll be editing out that footage on the Network. Come to think of it, maybe that’s what Xavier Woods stable is up to. Henry beats the hell out of X-Pac and the crowd becomes unglued when Chyna steps into the ring. Seriously, she gets a Rock-type pop for spearing Henry. However, Henry plants Chyna (seriously, he gets some great torque) with a powerslam when she dives off the ropes and picks up the win. The road agent that booked this deserves a prize. Rating: **¼ (7 for 7)
-Highlights of the Howard Finkel-Harvey Wippleman tuxedo match in 1995 are shown.
-Evening Gown Match: Sable beats Jacqueline (w/Marc Mero) at 1:44
The crowd is more into this “match” than any divas contest you will see today. The camera has to pan wide as Jacqueline teeters on the verge of a wardrobe malfunction every time Sable tosses her around. This is a complete squash, as Jacqueline does not get in a shred of offense. The future Tori is shown sitting unimpressed in the crowd after the match. Sable takes off her dress after the match just because.
-Cole interviews Ken Shamrock, who says that he is excited to finally get a crack at the WWF championship.
-WWF Championship Match: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (Champion) defeats Ken Shamrock 12:14
It seems to me that this match is leaving money on the table, but when Austin was locked in a feud with the Undertaker and Kane and when the Rock was in the process of moving up the card, Shamrock went on the backburner. Surprisingly, the announcers do not mention that the backstory of these two dates all the way back to WrestleMania XIII, but that is probably due to the Bret Hart factor. Austin actually plays the heel role here, utilizing a lot of restholds and directing the action. He even resorts to a mule kick when Shamrock begins rallying. Before we can get a definitive finish, the Undertaker and Kane hit the ring and we get a double disqualification. This match would have come off better if the crowd was into Shamrock more. Most of them were not sure what to think of Austin by the end of it because of his heelish tactics. Rating: ***¼ (8 for 8)
-After Austin and Shamrock are dispatched by Kane and the Undertaker, Mankind and the Rock run out and brawl with them. Austin then re-enters the ring with a chair and smashes his Breakdown opponents as McMahon looks on with sadness by the entrance. Austin chases McMahon to the locker room as we play the show out.
The Final Report Card: Whew, let me catch my breath. The company must have been worried about not drawing a rating after the last two RAWs were shown on Saturdays, so they loaded up this card. The San Jose crowd was nuclear for the entire show and added something to each match. This may not have developed a lot of angles, but in terms of atmosphere and match quality up and down the card it is the best RAW of the year up to this point.
Monday Night War Rating: 4.0 (vs. 4.5 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation: Thumbs Up