Tuesday, December 23, 2014

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw - November 2, 1998

by Logan Scisco

-A video package recaps Shane McMahon ranting at his father on last week’s show.  Will Vince hand over the company to his son tonight?

-Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler are doing commentary and they are live from Houston, Texas.


-Shane McMahon walks out and says that as acting chairman of the WWF, due to his father’s absence, Steve Austin will get a WWF title shot the night after Survivor Series.  Austin then comes to the ring as a limo pulls in backstage, carrying Vince McMahon.  McMahon is quickly wheeled out and chastises the crowd for thinking he was stepping down, as that will only happens when he dies.  Shoot comments…  He gives an entertaining rant on how he does not want the crowd to attend his funeral and how he wants to go to hell when he dies.  He proceeds to relieve Shane of his corporate responsibilities and reassigns him as a referee.  As far as Austin is concerned, his title shot is switched to the Survivor Series as he is entered into the WWF title tournament.  His opponent in the opening round?  The Big Bossman.  McMahon is simply perfect at trolling the crowd, which made this opening segment great.  1 for 1

-Footage is shown of Vince McMahon chewing out the announce crew during the commercial break.  McMahon guarantees that someone will be paying “hard time” in the steel cage hanging above the ring later tonight.

-Opening Contest:  X-Pac & The New Age Outlaws wrestle The Brood to a no contest at 3:37:

X-Pac is announced as being part of the Deadly Game tournament, so the number of known entrants keeps growing.  Edge and Christian showcase some nice double team maneuvers before the lights go out and Kane arrives to a huge pop.  You know, they need to go back to this type of character for Kane where he does not wrestle much but just comes and out and destroys things.  Kane destroys Edge, X-Pac, and Christian, and Billy Gunn as Road Dogg and Gangrel brawl in the crowd.  I will give this a point more for the clever booking than in-ring action.  Rating:  * (2 for 2)

-McMahon interrogates Michael Cole backstage about Cole’s questioning of him last week.  The Big Bossman chokes Cole as McMahon asks him how he feels.

-The next match is supposed to be Droz against Hawk, but Hawk shows up in no condition to compete.  Ross says that Hawk is “pulling a Kerry Collins.”  It should be noted that the Hardy Boys beat LOD 2000 on Sunday Night Heat due to an argument between both men.  That was the first step in the WWF's rebuilding of the Hardy's into something more than enhancement talent.  Droz beats up Hawk as Animal comes to the ring and does nothing to help his old partner.  He eventually gets into the ring and yells at Hawk for flushing the team’s history down the toilet.  This storyline is growing on me.  3 for 3

-McMahon runs into Jim Cornette backstage and tells him to stop wearing ridiculous clothes, change his announcing, and stop “the 1980s wrestling crap.”  Talk about life imitating art.

-Cole interviews Mankind and Al Snow.  Mankind jokes about the NBC special on revealing wrestling’s greatest secrets and he and Snow continues arguing over whether Socko or Head is better.

-Golga & Kurrgan (w/The Giant Silva & Luna Vachon) beat Mankind & Al Snow (w/Head) when Golga pins Snow after a running seated senton at 4:36:

ZZ Top is shown in the crowd before the match.  This is probably the best Oddities tag match prior to this point, as the action moves quickly.  Well, that is until Mankind cannot find Socko and leaves Snow to fend for himself.  The referee loses all control as Snow tries to fight off both men before succumbing.  Rating:  ** (4 for 4)

-McMahon finds Shaquille O’Neal backstage and interrogates about him about whether he has a backstage pass.  He tells him to get lost, but Shaq just sits back down as McMahon drives off.

-Mankind still cannot find Socko, so he tries to find McMahon, who he thinks can help him find it.

-Steven Regal wrestles Goldust to a no contest at 4:50:

Despite the “Real Man’s Man” gimmick being pretty dumb, the theme music for it was pretty enjoyable.  Regal is also in the Deadly Game tournament.  In this contest, he issues an open challenge for anyone willing to fight him like a man so we get a laugh as Goldust walks out to answer it.  With regards to the Goldust-Val Venis feud, Terri Runnels announced on the Heat prior to this that she was pregnant withVenis’s child.  Runnels comes out to the ring dressed in her Marlena garb in her attempt to become a gold digger.  Get it?  Anyway, this match is a mess until Goldust sets up Shattered Dreams and the lights go out and Kane wrecks both men.  When Marlena comes to Goldust’s aid he nearly chokeslams her until WWF officials intervene.  Tony Garea takes the bump for her.  Keep jobbing Tony!  Rating:  ½* (4 for 5)

-The Deadly Game Tournament bracket is revealed.  Instead of it being a sixteen man tournament, the field is reduced to fourteen men.  Kane and the Undertaker get a bye to face each other in the quarter-finals.  Other matchups include The Rock-Triple H, Goldust-Ken Shamrock, Mankind-Mystery Opponent, Al Snow-Jeff Jarrett, X-Pac-Steven Regal, and Steve Austin-Big Bossman.

-McMahon gets Mankind to promise not to interfere in the upcoming Ken Shamrock-Rock match in return for a present.  Mankind is excited so he promises to live up to that and receives the Hardcore title in return.  McMahon tells him that he thinks he has gained a son and as he wheels himself away Mankind hilariously screams “Thanks, dad!”  causing McMahon to stop and give a look of disgust.

-The Rock giving Darren Drozdov a Rock Bottom and People’s Elbow on last week’s RAW is the 989 Studios Slam of the Week.

-McMahon is shown conferencing with Ken Shamrock backstage, but tells the camera crew to get lost.

-Intercontinental Championship Match:  The Rock beats Ken Shamrock (Champion) by disqualification when Shamrock hits him with a chair at 7:57:

Before the match, McMahon comes out and says he has a problem with him because he’s the “People’s Champion” and he hates the people.  He says that if the Rock does not win the Intercontinental title in this match he loses his place in the Deadly Game Tournament.  This is the abbreviated version of their previous encounters, just with the heel/face roles reversed, and the crowd pops like the Rock won the WWF title when he makes the ropes to escape the ankle lock.  The referee gets bumped on a Rock clothesline and when he comes to, he sees Shamrock nail the Rock with a chair.  That allows the Rock to win, but he does not win the belt and is thereby eliminated from the Deadly Game Tournament.  Fun match that the crowd made into a big deal.  Shamrock is eating lots of losses since winning the Intercontinental title, though.  Rating:  ***½ (5 for 6)

-The Rock is shown destroying his locker room backstage, irate that he has been removed from the Deadly Game Tournament.

-Val Venis beats Double J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Debra McMichael) by disqualification when the Blue Blazer interferes at 2:29:

The entire Runnels angle has been somewhat damaging for Venis as he was never clearly made a heel or face and lost the big blowoff to Goldust.  After a few minutes of back-and-forth action, the Blue Blazer runs out and crotches Venis on the top rope and Jarrett gives Venis the Stroke for good measure.  That sounds much more dirty than I meant it.

-Police officers are shown arriving at the arena.

-Call 815-734-1161 to get your Rock “Layin’ the Smackdown” t-shirt for $25 (plus $6 shipping & handling)!

-Vince McMahon tells police officers that the Rock is threatening his life, so he asks them to arrest him.

-#1 Contenders Match for the WWF Tag Team Championship:  The Headbangers wrestle D-Lo Brown & Mark Henry to a no contest at 6:00:

The Headbangers come to the ring dressed as the New Age Outlaws and do a non-humorous mocking of their introduction.  Without their skirts, the Headbangers actually look like generic jobbers.  Since this is heel-heel, the crowd really does not know how to cheer for, but fans in the front row are vocal D-Lo Brown supporters, with several shouting “You go, dawg!”  When all hell breaks loose the lights go off and Kane wrecks a match for the third time tonight.  You know Russo, there can be too much of a good thing.  And where is McMahon while all this is going on?  I would like to think this was a subtle reminder that the show gets out of control when McMahon becomes obsessed with personal grudges backstage.  Rating:  ** (6 for 7)

-Police are shown handcuffing the Rock in his locker room and as he is taken away he lets them know that he has donuts for all of them.  As he is put into the police cruiser, McMahon taunts him by saying that he is now the “People’s Chump.”

-Owen Hart comes to the ring to meet with Dan Severn and reminds us that he is retired.  Severn walks out and says he is not seeking an apology.  Instead, he wonders why Owen is running around like the Blue Blazer.  When he says that he thinks Owen is scum, Owen clotheslines him and Steve Blackman makes the save before more damage is done.  After the commercial break, medics race Severn to an ambulance backstage.  When Owen comes near the ambulance, Blackman gives him a pump kick but then Blackman is attacked by the Blue Blazer.  7 for 8

-The steel cage above the ring – a hybrid of the blue bar cage and the modern steel top – is lowered with some musical accompaniment, which reminds me of the old NWA War Games brawls.  After the break, McMahon and the stooges come out and establish themselves by the announcers.  McMahon sends the Bossman into the cage with the stooges – Pat Patterson, Gerald Brisco, and Commissioner Slaughter – to inspect it and then has the Bossman turn on them for failing to come back from getting a cup of coffee two weeks ago.  That was when Austin abducted him.  After McMahon orders the Bossman to strip the stooges, Austin runs out, comes into the cage and attacks the Bossman.  Patterson gets the night stick, but chooses to hit Austin in the knee and that allows the Bossman to give him a beating.  Shane McMahon runs in, but Vince calls the Bossman off, which is a nice piece of storytelling, but Shane does not appreciate it and flips him off.  After all of that, the Undertaker walks to the ring and into the cage and he and Austin brawl, with the Undertaker eventually gaining the upperhand.  However, that’s not all as the lights go out and Kane makes his way into the cage, parts of which he sets on fire, and he, the Undertaker, and Austin brawl in a really awesome visual as the show ends.  8 for 9

The Final Report Card:  The wild ending of this RAW was vintage Russo, but if you watch these RAWs in sequence it is still entertaining today.  Having Kane interfere in so many matches did get a little repetitive, but at least it had a payoff at the end of the show.  The show also continued our gradual build to Survivor Series and the multiple storylines intersecting with each other (Vince-Shane, Vince-Austin, Vince-Mankind, Vince-Rock, and Kane-Undertaker) are helping to keep the show fresh and exciting.

Monday Night War Rating:  4.8 (vs. 4.1 for Nitro)


Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

7 comments:

  1. You really understated McMahon's promo. That was the greatest one he ever did. Call the fans a-holes at the end was an awesome touch. This whole show was awesome.

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  2. I had forgotten that HHH was originally in the Deadly Games Tournament, thought he was incognito from September to January. Wonder how they wrote him out? Not to mention that even in 1998 HHH vs The Rock was a strong match-up that shouldn't be wasted on the opening round.


    He would have made for a strong corporate champ if he didn't get hurt at Summerslam'98. Guy was on fire in 1998. Shame he came back so bloated and roided up as he was hot garbage for most of 1999 despite climbing to the top of the mountain that year.

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  3. HHH and Rock were also booked to face each other at the UK-only Capital Carnage PPV in December 98, though they ended up facing Jeff Jarrett and X-Pac respectively.

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  4. The entire reveal at the PPV was one of the most genius things ever.

    And in an ironic twist, Austin never finishes that five year contract Shane gave him.

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  5. It definitely felt weird at the time since Triple H had not been on TV much after SummerSlam. I thought the Rock would roll through him easily. It wasn't surprising he didn't even make the pay-per-view.

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  6. The angle seemed to bog down in July-August, but McMahon was completely awesome in everything from Breakdown to Survivor Series. It's seriously some of the best work the company ever did.

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  7. I've long considered Sur Ser 98 to be the absolute peak of the company's booking. It was a swerve to be sure, but a swerve that made sense and tied together everything that happened before it. It almost rewarded you for watching. A shame they've never really been able to duplicate something like that.

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