-A video package recaps Steve Austin taking Vince McMahon hostage on last week’s show. What was in the letter that Austin gave to McMahon at the end of last week’s show?
-Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are taped from Madison, Wisconsin.
-Vince McMahon comes out with the stooges and the Big Bossman. He lets the audience know that they are all responsible for what happened to him last week since there was no good Samaritan in his time of need. McMahon says Austin gave him a legal document last week and he pledges to fight him with his crack legal team, who is with him on the ramp. Of course, the WWF’s legal team could not even keep the company’s name, so that’s not a good thing. Another funny promo from McMahon that got the crowd worked up to start the show. 1 for 1
-Opening Contest for the European Championship: X-Pac (Champion) beats Steve Blackman by disqualification at 2:49:
Chyna is not with X-Pac because she was arrested last week for failing to appear for a court date due to Mark Henry’s sexual harassment lawsuit. She has reportedly taken a leave of absence until that issue gets resolved. By this time the European title had become the WWF’s version of the WCW Television title, which was fine because it gave guys in the midcard something to do. Blackman dominates much of the bout and when he knocks X-Pac out of the ring, Steven Regal, repacked as “A Real Man’s Man,” attacks X-Pac until the New Age Outlaws and WWF officials separate them. I still have no idea what they were thinking when they saddled Regal with that gimmick.
-Call 815-734-1161 to get your Rock “Layin’ the Smackdown” t-shirt for $25 (plus $6 shipping & handling)!
-Michael Cole is outside of Steve Austin’s locker room and he makes a big deal about Austin being in the building.
-The Rock pins Darren Drozdov (w/LOD 2000) after the People’s Elbow at 4:40:
Thankfully, the Rock has gotten his good entrance music back and not the awful disco theme he was using last week. This is a good example of how you can keep a product fresh by mixing upper midcard and lower midcard talents into matches. It gives the upper midcard wrestler a win, while giving the lower midcard wrestler something of a rub by allowing them to showcase some of their skills against a more established talent. You may expect this to be a squash based on where both men are on the card, but Droz manages a good deal of offense before he misses a flying shoulderblock off the second rope and succumbs to the People’s Elbow. Rating: ** (2 for 2)
-After the match, Droz pushes Hawk away when Hawk tries to console him after the loss. Droz convinces Animal that they should head to the locker room and they leave Hawk behind in the ring.
-Cole tries to get into Steve Austin’s locker room, but Austin says that he and someone else will make a big announcement later tonight.
-McMahon finishes a conference with his attorneys, with a few leaving the room complaining that he “doesn’t get it.” I figure creative meetings today work the same way.
-The New Age Outlaws and X-Pac come out and introduce Motley Crue, who play some tunes. This was time to flip over to Nitro for me. The college kids in the crowd loved it, though.
-Check out MTV Celebrity Deathmatch this week, where Steve Austin faces Vince McMahon!
-McMahon continues to yell at a few attorneys about why they cannot void the legal document Austin has. He does give us a clue that it is a contractual matter.
-Kane defeats Gangrel (w/Christian) after a chokeslam at 3:01:
Ross informs us that Kane has been placed into the Survivor Series WWF title tournament. A bracket has not been released for said tournament, though. This is an interesting matchup that could have been a small feud if creative thought Gangrel was more than a lower midcard talent. Kane squashes Gangrel here, easily rebuffing Christian’s interference along the way.
-After the match, Gangrel and Christian beat on Kane. Edge runs in, but instead of making the save, he joins in the beating and all three men leave together.
-Cole says he just spoke to Shane McMcMahon and he says that after the commercial break the McMahon family will have something to say about Steve Austin’s situation.
-Austin walks out to the ring and says that he has a new contract with the WWF that guarantees him at least one title shot, which is all that he needs to reclaim the title. Vince is wheeled out by the stooges and the Big Bossman and he books Austin in an “I Quit” match against Intercontinental Champion Ken Shamrock. Shane McMahon comes to the ring against the wishes of his father and says that he hired Austin back. He goes off about being ignored by his father and his father’s ego is too large, while Vince cries on the ramp. This was a really nice segment, but the bad thing is that it foreshadowed the use of other McMahons in an on-screen capacity as prominent figures of the show. 3 for 3
-Shane leaves the arena, but not before Austin tosses him a cold beer (calling him “kid”). What was that? The WWF’s version of the famous Mean Joe Green commercial?
-The Godfather wrestles Tiger Ali Singh (w/Babu) to a no contest at 4:26:
The Godfather brings no hos tonight because he is not offering Singh that kind of deal. This is Singh’s RAW debut after months of in-ring segments. The match never establishes much of a rhythm and just falls apart by the end, where the Godfather and Singh keep brawling, ignoring the referee’s instructions, and are eventually separated by WWF officials. Rating: ¼* (3 for 4)
-Cole asks Vince McMahon how he feels, but McMahon refuses to say anything as he leaves the arena.
-Kaientai (w/Yamaguchi-San) beats Kurrgan, Golga & The Insane Clown Posse (w/Luna Vachon & Giant Silva) by disqualification when Violent J tosses the referee to the ground at 3:44:
Kaientai get the jobber entrance, but they have a new look in that they are no longer wearing street clothes. If you saw the SummerSlam 1998 match between these two squads this is basically the same match, just shorter and the ICP getting a shine at Kaientai’s expense. The match is only notable because the ICP turn heel by breaking the rules and they blowoff the Oddities, who complain about losing the match. Rating: ** (4 for 5)
-A sad Vince gets into his limo and leaves as the stooges assure him that they will take care of business.
-Cole interviews Intercontinental Champion Ken Shamrock, who says he is ready to “knuckle up” with Austin.
-“Marvelous” Marc Mero (w/Jacqueline) defeats Goldust via disqualification when Goldust hits Shattered Dreams at 2:55:
Both of these guys have fallen down the card since they had a series of matches in 1996. Jacqueline tries to prevent Shattered Dreams, but Goldust just kisses her to a big pop. He then unloads Shattered Dreams, which costs him the match, but the crowd was thoroughly entertained by this match.
-After the match, Sable walks out and issues the most awkward challenge in company history. It is like she read it off of cue cards with no emotion.
-Jeff Jarrett hitting Al Snow with a guitar is the JVC Kaboom! of the Week.
-Cole interviews Mankind and Al Snow, who are facing the New Age Outlaws tonight. Mankind and Snow argue over whether Socko or Head is better.
-WWF Tag Team Championship Match: The New Age Outlaws (Champions) beat Al Snow & Mankind when the Road Dogg pins Snow with a schoolboy at 5:28:
Ross announces that Mankind and Al Snow will be in the Deadly Game tournament. After some fun brawling, Snow plants Road Dogg with a Snow Plow, but Snow and Mankind cannot agree about whether to use Head or Socko to finish the match and that helps the Outlaws retain. This would be a nice pay-per-view encounter and could have been really good if given more time. Rating: **¼ (5 for 6)
-After the bell, D-Lo Brown and Mark Henry run in and beatdown the Outlaws, laying the foundation for a title shot at the Survivor Series.
-Non-Title “I Quit” Match: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin defeats Ken Shamrock (Intercontinental Champion) at 6:16:
We are informed that Shamrock will be in the Deadly Game tournament as well, thereby bringing our total number of official entrants up to five (The Rock, Shamrock, Kane, Al Snow, and Mankind). I am still puzzled why the company never felt the need to run a Austin-Shamrock pay-per-view main event. A match of this type would have been great, especially with McMahon trying to stack the deck against Austin. The stooges come to ringside to watch the match, which has lots of crowd heat, but they do not play to the stipulation very much. The stooges randomly knock out the referee, causing Austin to beat them down, and more hell breaks loose as Mankind runs in and applies the Mandible Claw to Shamrock. Austin then clocks Shamrock with a chair and they steal the Dungeon Match finish from Fully Loaded, whereby Austin taps Shamrock’s hand on the canvas and that ends everything. That does not really fit the exact stipulation of an “I Quit” match since Shamrock never verbally surrendered, but whatever. Rating: **½ (6 for 7)
The Final Report Card: This show did a lot to continue the slow build to Survivor Series. We learned of some of the entrants in the tournament, all of whom were protected in their matches, and we have some build for a Sable-Jacqueline rematch, as well as a possible Outlaws title defense against Mark Henry and D-Lo Brown. The McMahon segments were also well done, thereby logically constructing a story for Austin to come back after being fired. Also, this RAW is somewhat significant because it was the last time that RAW lost in the ratings to WCW. That show was headlined by Diamond Dallas Page trying to win the U.S. title from Bret Hart and the full replay of Page’s match against Goldberg from Halloween Havoc, which thousands of people were not able to see because WCW could not time their pay-per-view correctly.
Monday Night War Rating: 4.5 (vs. 5.1 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation: Thumbs Up