-A video package recaps last week’s show where Shane McMahon assumed temporary control and was summarily destroyed by Mankind. Kane also went “corporate” for the first time in his career by attacking D-Generation X to end the show.
-Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are tonight’s commentary team and they are live from Albany, New York. Cole is still calling the show “the best action adventure series on television.”
-Vince McMahon tells Shane McMahon that everyone that attacked him last week will pay. He pledges to humiliate and fire Commissioner Shawn Michaels when he shows up at the arena. The Corporation then invades the arena’s boiler room en masse looking for Mankind. Mankind eventually launches a sneak attack, but cannot fight off a boatload of guys on his own. Vince tells Mankind that he will get a Hardcore title shot later in the evening as a belated Christmas gift, although this will require some rebooking because Hardcore Champion The Road Dogg is booked to face Val Venis in the opener. The booking is doing a good job making Kane a sympathetic figure as the stooges keep yelling at him.
-Opening Contest for the Hardcore Championship: The Road Dogg (Champion) and Val Venis wrestle to a no contest at 1:50:
Based on the previous segment, it is no surprise that the Corporation walks out to ringside less than two minutes into this bout. Test attacks Venis as referee Earl Hebner calls for the bell, not quite understanding the rules of a Hardcore title bout, and D-Generation X comes out to protect Road Dogg.
-Vince McMahon informs the Road Dogg that he will defend his title against Mankind and says that Commissioner Shawn Michaels will be fired for not helping Shane last week. This is a nice crazy Vince promo as he goes nuts about his desire to fire Michaels, which he says he would love to do to every member of the audience.
-Al Snow is still freaking out over last week’s bloodbath at the hands of the Brood, but it is unclear whether he received another bloodbath or has not changed out of the clothes he had on last week.
-Vince talks with Kane as the stooges make fun of Kane behind his back. Vince assigns Kane the task of going after an unspecified member of D-Generation X.
-Edge beats Al Snow (w/Head) via disqualification when Snow hits Edge with Head at 2:49:
Edge uses his original entrance theme and does not have the Brood here, which does not fit within existing storylines, especially if Snow is angry over last week’s bloodbath. The Head is different for this bout as it is shaved and also has blood on it. Snow squashes Edge here, hitting him with a million headbutts and destroying him with Head until the Brood and JOB Squad run out. For all intents and purposes, Edge should be carted out of here on a stretcher, but he merely walks out as if nothing happened and smiles at the JOB Squad. For his part, Snow escapes through the audience for some reason.
-Sable warms up backstage for her Women’s title defense tonight.
-Sable winning the Women’s title from Jacqueline at Survivor Series is the Glover Slam of the Week.
-Dennis Knight, formerly of Southern Justice, is shown talking with X-Pac backstage.
-The next match is supposed to be Sable defending the WWF Women’s title. Before it gets started, the yet-to-be-named Tori gets into the ring and presents Sable with a white rose before being carted off by security. Sable is booked to face Spider Lady, who attacks her from behind and whips her with a belt. The Oddities, who now have George “the Animal” Steele with them, rush the ring and Spider Lady unmasks to reveal Luna Vachon. What you thought the Fabulous Moolah was trying to “shoot” her way to another title? Luna screams that it is her time and she needs to get more respect, while Cole is just outraged that Luna would do such a thing to a loving, compassionate creature like Sable. When we return from the commercial break, the Oddities tend to Sable’s injuries backstage.
-European Championship Match: X-Pac (Champion) wrestles The Big Bossman to a double disqualification at 5:13:
The previous night on Sunday Night Heat, Kane defeated X-Pac in a non-title match and this match is the continuation of his punishment for doing the Bronco Buster to Shane McMahon on last week’s show. X-Pac is really over here, especially when he makes his comeback, and Test tries to run interference, but in a nice piece of continuity Val Venis makes the save. We are still without a clean finish tonight, but the crowd still loved this. Rating: *¾
-We get our first training vignette for Vince in the Royal Rumble. These were some of the funniest vignettes of the Attitude Era as Shane functioned as a merciless trainer and Vince complained the whole way about doing sit ups with weights and drinking egg yokes. Vince’s cries of “I HATE AUSTIN!” were also great as he got into his workouts.
-Goldust & Steve Blackman defeats “Double J” Jeff Jarrett & Owen Hart (w/Debra) when Blackman schoolboys Owen at 3:17:
The announcers will just not let the “Shawn Michaels is going to be fired!” story go, talking about it on an average of once per minute. The WWF is no longer using Debra’s full name, just calling her “Debra” because the WWE has never cared for its female stars to have first and last names. This may also be due to the fact that Debra divorced Steve McMichael in October and the WWF finally got with the times. Owen locks Blackman in the Sharpshooter when Dan Severn randomly walks out in a neck brace and confronts him. After about forty seconds of that, Blackman and Goldust win via the WWF trademarked distraction rollup. What is funny is that after the match, Severn just calmly walks up the ramp with the heels no more than ten yards behind him. Way to sell that angle! Rating: *
-Triple H and Chyna are really focused as they make their way to the Gorilla position.
-The Acolytes beat up Dennis Knight in the parking lot, toss him into the trunk of their car, and drive away.
-Intercontinental Championship Match: Triple H (w/The New Age Outlaws & Chyna) beats Ken Shamrock (Champion w/Test & The Big Bossman) by disqualification when Shamrock refuses to release the anklelock at 6:26:
Instead of booking Billy Gunn to face Shamrock, they really should have slotted Triple H into that position since you already had the built-in story of how Triple H never lost the Intercontinental title and was trying to get back what was rightfully his. This match is noticeable for me because Triple H pulls out the old N64 move of blasting Test with a baseball slide when Test gets too close to the apron. The company is really hurting Shamrock’s finish as all the top stars keep getting to the ropes to escape it, but his decision not to break the hold here fits within the existing story. A good match, although Triple H could have sold the knee better during the closing sequence. Rating: **½
-After the bell, the Corporation and D-Generation X brawl, with the Corporation winning after Kane reluctantly gets into the ring.
-Billy Gunn temporarily winning the Intercontinental title from Ken Shamrock is the 10-10-220 Rewind segment.
-Kevin Kelly interviews Gunn, but before Gunn can say much of note, Shamrock crashes the segment. None of this goes anywhere.
-Mark Henry and D-Lo Brown walk out and Henry apologizes to Chyna for fooling around with PMS last week. PMS come out, with Henry hilariously hiding behind D-Lo, who calls PMS “ring rats.” Chyna then makes an entrance and sticks up for Henry, telling PMS to “stay away from her man.” Jacqueline makes the mistake of not heeding Chyna’s advice and gets shoved to the canvas as Henry jumps for joy. This was great too because Terri immediately fled from Chyna, possibly remembering getting choked out and being flung around like a ragdoll in the winter of 1997. If you follow all of the shows through 1998, this segment works really well. I marked out for it.
-The Corporation has another meeting backstage and when we get back they are going through the locker room looking for someone.
-We get a video package that recaps 1998. The problem with the video is that they do not put things in chronological order so we just bounce around to different segments and matches.
-The Corporation attacks the Godfather backstage, who was booked to face Billy Gunn in the next match.
-Kane (w/Shane McMahon, Pat Patterson & Gerald Brisco) defeats Billy Gunn by disqualification when X-Pac interferes at 3:54:
With the Godfather on the shelf, Kane is inserted into his place by Shane McMahon. Ken Shamrock attacks Gunn from behind minutes into the match and applies the ankle lock. Kane chokeslams Billy and appears headed for a win, but the stooges have him repeat the chokeslam two more times. Before Kane can hit the move a third time, D-Generation X runs in to make the save. Rating: *
-WWF Champion The Rock walks out to do guest commentary for the main event.
-Commissioner Shawn Michaels is shown arriving to the arena, which is humorous because the show is nearly over.
-Hardcore Championship Match: The Road Dogg (Champion) pins Mankind after the Rock this Mankind with a Rock Bottom at 9:08 shown:
The match starts during the commercial break so we join it in progress. The Rock’s commentary brings this match up a notch as he puts himself over, but also puts over the talent of both competitors. There are weapons used here, but at least they are used creatively with Mankind leg dropping a chair onto Road Dogg’s face and Road Dogg using the chair for a side Russian leg sweep. One spot that makes no sense here is that Road Dogg breaks up a pin by getting his feet on the ropes as you would figure rope breaks should not apply in a match where the rules are suspended. Mankind appears headed for a win after he elbow drops the Road Dogg through a table in the crowd, but the Rock leaves the booth and interferes to put the Road Dogg over. Fans are so crazy over the Rock that four or five security guards have to push back the sea of humanity that surrounds the bout to get the Rock back to the locker room. The Road Dogg was arguably the best Hardcore champion in WWF history, putting on lots of entertaining title defenses before the garbage came to overwhelm the actual wrestling. In a nice touch, Road Dogg sees the way that he won the match and hates the fact that he needed interference to retain the title. Rating: ***¼
-Vince McMahon comes to the ring and calls out Shawn Michaels. Vince recounts how he was the reason for Michaels success and shows footage from March where Michaels said that he did not need Vince as much as Vince needed him. Vince then proceeds to fire Michaels and parts by saying that he does not laying down for anyone. This, predictably, ends with Michaels delivering Sweet Chin Music and simulating a lewd act on Vince before the Corporation runs out.
The Final Report Card: Quite the entertaining RAW to close out 1998. The main event was one of the better hardcore matches in the company’s history and the closing segment and the Chyna-Mark Henry-PMS segment stole the show. It is a testament to how good the roster was built during this time that Steve Austin’s absence is hardly missed. However, if you look at the ratings, WCW has been gradually narrowing the Monday Night War gap with RAW since Austin disappeared after Rock Bottom.
With the 1998 RAW reviews in the books, where would the Blog like to head next? Should we go into 1999 with RAW or should we go back to look at 1993-1995, Superstars from 1994-1997, Prime Time Wrestling from 1991-1992, the Action Zone from 1994-1995, Shotgun Saturday Night from 1997-1998, Sunday Night Heat of 1998, or recap the old Coliseum Video “Best of” videos of the 1980s? Whichever option gets the most support is where I will head for next week and as always, thanks for reading and interacting with these reviews.
Monday Night War Rating: 4.9 (vs. 4.6 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation: Thumbs Up