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What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw - June 15, 1998

by Logan Scisco

-Kane and Mankind’s beatdown of Steve Austin at the end of last week’s show is replayed.

-Jim Ross and Michael Cole are in the booth and they are live from San Antonio, Texas.  Hell in a Cell is hanging above the ring, but Ross does not know why.

-Sable walks out and introduces Vince McMahon, who brought her back to the WWF.  A wrestling company not sticking with a retirement stipulation?  No!  McMahon has Sable read a prepared statement that denies his use of charitable organizations to get back at Steve Austin and promising to bring those who attacked Austin to justice.  McMahon kisses Sable on the cheek, but before he can leave, Austin comes out with his sights set on beating up McMahon.  McMahon begs Austin to listen to reason and says that the Undertaker arranged Austin’s beating on last week’s show.  See, the cops that were called on him just gave the Undertaker an excuse not to back Austin up.  The Undertaker proceeds to come out and calls McMahon a liar.  Before the Undertaker can beatdown McMahon, though, the lights go out and Kane and Mankind show up with Paul Bearer in tow.  Bearer piles onto the Undertaker accusations by claiming that the Undertaker worked with him on last week’s plan.  Bearer then challenges Austin and the Undertaker to a tag team match in the cell against Kane and Mankind and argues that the entrance ramp that separates them is the “highway to hell.”  The Sable part of this segment was nonsensical, but McMahon begging for his life and planting the seeds of an Undertaker-led conspiracy was nice storytelling.  1 for 1

-Opening King of the Ring Qualifying Contest:  The Rock beats Vader with a Rock Bottom at 4:40:

The rest of the Nation is barred from ringside for this bout, just like last week’s show.  Cole is still calling the Rock the “co-leader” of the Nation, which makes no sense now that Faarooq is no longer in the group.  Looking back at things now, I wish they had given Vader more time off and then had him come back as part of Paul Bearer’s faction.  It would have gelled with Vader’s post-match promo at Over the Edge about needing to re-evaluate his career.  They also could have booked Vader to go to the semi-finals and face Ken Shamrock in a rematch of their Cold Day in Hell encounter.  The Rock knocks Vader out of the ring, where Mark Henry attacks him and gives him a splash, and that allows the Rock to advance into the tournament and face Triple H or X-Pac in the first round.  Rating:  ** (2 for 2)

-The Road Dogg gives a scouting report to Triple H and X-Pac on how they can beat each other.

-Edge is coming!

-Darren Drozdov pins “Double J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) after Marc Mero gives Jarrett a low blow at 2:15:

During the bout, Mero and Jacqueline come out and Mero rants about Sable’s return to the company.  Jacqueline and Lee get into a confrontation on the floor, which distracts Jarrett and results in Mero giving his future King of the Ring opponent a low blow.  Droz takes advantage to notch his biggest win to date.

-Billy Gunn tells Triple H and X-Pac why they are going to stage the Match of the Year tonight.

-Val Venis defeats Chainz with the Money Shot at 4:37:

The Val Venis momentum tour continues as he dispatches with the directionless Chainz.  They gave this match too much time since the crowd could care less about Chainz and the booking team wasn’t going to do anything with him after this match.  Rating:  *½ (2 for 3)

-The Undertaker tells Kevin Kelly that he can’t trust Steve Austin, but Austin can trust him since his intentions of wanting a WWF title shot at clear.

-Triple H tells X-Pac that he can’t lay down for him since it’s the King of the Ring.  X-Pac says that he doesn’t need to take a dive and wishes Triple H the best of luck.

-Dustin Runnels beats “Marvelous” Marc Mero (w/Jacqueline) with a bulldog at 4:08:

Returning the favor, Jeff Jarrett, Tennessee Lee, and Southern Justice walk out during the match and Jarrett runs Mero down on commentary.  After Mero hits a super hurricanrana, Jarrett distracts the referee and Sable walks out to distract Mero, enabling Runnels to score the upset.  Classic Russo overbooking of that match, but I have to give them credit for making the Mero-Jarrett first round match much more than TV filler.  This is Runnels first win since ditching the Goldust gimmick.  Rating:  ** (3 for 4)

-Chyna tells Triple H and X-Pac that it’s time for their match.

-Kevin Kelly interviews Dustin Runnels, who says he is happy with ending his losing streak and that he needs to thank Jesus Christ for his victory.

-Jerry “the King” Lawler joins Ross to do commentary for the second hour of the show.

-King of the Ring Qualifying Match:  Triple H defeats X-Pac by count out at 5:15:

This is X-Pac’s first match since his return to the company following WrestleMania XIV.  Triple H is also defending his King of the Ring title.  Chyna plays the role as a one woman lumberjack, tossing both guys into the ring and keeping the action flowing.  The Rock distracts Triple H by cutting a promo in the crowd and that allows Owen Hart to crotch X-Pac on the guardrail and disable him.  Triple H checks on his friend after the Rock’s promo and does not want to take a count out win, but X-Pac tells him to get in the ring and take the victory.  Standard match, but it was well booked in that it did not make X-Pac look weak on his return, advanced the DX-Nation storyline, and pushed the King of the Ring as a big deal.  Triple H will now face the Rock in the first round.  Rating:  ** (4 for 5)

-The Undertaker’s chokeslam spree on last week’s show is the JVC Kaboom! of the Week.

-Al Snow walks out with his old Avatar mask and Lawler confronts him in the ring.  Snow says that the Avatar gimmick was a dumb idea cooked up by Vince McMahon (which it was) and he says that he is going to make two citizens arrests: McMahon for attempted murder of his career and Lawler for lewd conduct.  Lawler tries to throw Head into the crowd, but that leads to Snow attacking him and giving a referee in the ring a Snow Plow.  Snow beats up a security guard and proceeds to flee into the crowd.  They are really turning their wheels with Snow right now and they need to get to the point.  4 for 6

-Steve Austin tells Michael Cole that he can’t trust the Undertaker because the Undertaker wants his WWF title.

-Owen Hart & Mark Henry beat Ken Shamrock & Dan Severn via disqualification when D-Generation X interferes at 4:41:

Shamrock and Severn are reluctant partners in this match and Shamrock doesn’t even acknowledge his partner’s presence after making his entrance.  This is also a preview of the King of the Ring first round, as Shamrock will face Henry and Severn will face Owen in upcoming tournament matchups.  Everyone looks good in this match, which features some fun technical sequences between Owen and his face opponents, and Owen manages to put Shamrock in the Sharpshooter, but DX interferes before Owen can get him to submit.  Rating:  **¼ (5 for 7)

-After the bell, the Nation runs out to fight DX and Vader runs out to assist DX and attack Mark Henry.  WWF officials have to separate everyone.

-Call 815-734-1161 to get your “Don’t Trust Anybody” Steve Austin t-shirt for $25 (plus $6 shipping & handling)!

-Tag Team Royal Rumble to Determine the #1 Contenders to the WWF Tag Team Championship:  Kane & Mankind (w/Paul Bearer) win after eliminating Terry Funk & 2 Cold Scorpio at 8:30:

This is the first tag team Royal Rumble in WWF history and thirty second entry times are used, so the action is fast and furious.  Just like the WrestleMania XIV battle royal, when one member of a team is eliminated, their partner must also leave the match.  Kane & Mankind are surprise entrants and enter as the second team, facing LOD 2000, who draws number one.  Other participating teams are the New Midnight Express, the Headbangers, the Disciples of Apocalypse, Kurrgan & Golga, Too Much (Brian Christopher & Scott Taylor), Faarooq & Steve Blackman (who seemingly love to tag together despite not wrestling that many matches as a team), Taka Michinoku & Bradshaw, and Terry Funk & 2 Cold Scorpio.  The eliminations come slowly and then accelerate once all of the teams have entered the match.  Funk tries to use a chair to help his team win a title shot, but that doesn’t account for Mankind, who uses the chair to wear out Funk and eliminate him.  Putting Kane & Mankind in the match acted as a spoiler, since no other team could possibly beat them, but the closing sequence with Funk and Scorpio was fun while it lasted.  6 for 8

-After the commercial break, Hell in a Cell lowers around Kane and Mankind in the ring for the main event.  Of course, the WWF isn’t giving away that tag match on free TV, so we get a wild brawl instead between Austin and the heels after the Undertaker does not show up when announced.  As Austin fights his opponents on the ramp, Paul Bearer locks himself in the cell, but the Undertaker climbs out from underneath the ring and beats him to a bloody pulp.  After Austin decimates Mankind, he climbs to the top of the cell to fight with Kane and that plays us out.  The crowd loved every moment of this.  7 for 9

The Final Report Card:  This show really started to move us through the “Highway to Hell” storyline with the Undertaker accused of plotting behind Steve Austin’s back.  Since the Undertaker had not been a heel since early 1992, the possibility that he might turn was a big deal at the time.  The midcard is also developing nicely, although the Al Snow storyline is beginning to wear thin.

Monday Night War Rating:  4.3 (vs. 4.0 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up


  1. Paul Bearer getting his karma is great

  2. Forgot that Foley took a stupid chairshot here. I know people miss the Attitude Era, but getting rid of chairshots to the head is for the better

  3. Didn't Nitro also run a cage match in direct response to WWF announcing the Hell In a Cell match earlier on AOL?

  4. Jef Vinson (Homewreckers Inc™)May 27, 2014 at 2:36 PM

    Vader not holding a title in the WWE was a huge mistake. They could have done the Big man/Little Man dynamic with so many different w

  5. The whole 'Highway to Hell' run-up to Summerslam was brilliant, just brilliant stuff.

    The crazy part is, you could actually trace the seeds of it all the way back to Undertaker coming out to help Austin at Over the Edge. That's how much long-term planning there was.

    Compare that to today... it almost makes you sad...

  6. Yes, Nitro ran a cage match between DDP and Savage where Savage joined nWo Wolfpack opposite the RAW cage match. This was a great night to be a wrestling fan.

  7. The HIAC brawl is so so so so good.

  8. He was past his prime by the time he got there.

  9. I don't care what you say, I loved that Austin/Kane match at King of the Ring.

  10. The Highway to Hell storyline was great. To me, this was the best time to be a WWF fan.

  11. The main event in 1998 was just off the charts awesome. Every week it seemed like there was a "holy shit!" moment.

  12. although somehow I think if this had taken place after KOTR several people would have been disappointed because no one took any giant bumps.

  13. It's a 3-star brawl with a solid storyline (Austin doing anything he can to bust Kane open and fighting the odds until even he has to falter). No problems with it at all.

  14. Mick took a stupid chair shot at least once a month. I agree, I'm glad they're no longer part of the WWE product.

  15. Vince selling for the wrestlers. I knew he did that at some point
    Notice that The Nation gamed this thing so the Rock could win while D-X was trying to be all honorable and stuff. Let this be a lesson for you kids. Life does not reward sportsmanship and fairness.

  16. Mitch, The GodfatherMay 27, 2014 at 6:26 PM

    That brings me to an interesting question. From the time Kane debuted, he and Undertaker have generally fought the same guys. How come Undertaker has all these great matches but Kane can't seem to replicate that? Arguably Kane's best singles match is against Benoit. Just seems strange.

  17. CruelConnectionNumber2May 27, 2014 at 9:53 PM

    "MAH GAWD! SCRAMBLED BRAINS!" was a great JR call.

  18. Well, Taker is just a better worker than Kane. Kane was often even MORE plodding that Taker was at his worst. Taker would slow down and no-sell during most TV matches sure, but he'd pull it out in Main Event matches. Kane could never really do that.

  19. Oh man, is this the show where Austin just fucking KILLS Mankind with a sideways chairshot when Foley comes up behind him? I remember that so vividly- it looked like a fucking homicide just took place on national TV.

  20. Undertaker's list of great matches is strongly exaggerated, but he's overall a better worker who stretched out beyond the gimmick to have reasonably better matches on a regular basis. Kane, while a good worker for his size, stayed too close to the gimmick, and much like Taker's early years, has spent long stretches of time with workers of average ability or worse.

  21. Me too. I loved the end where Austin is bleeding but the ref is knocked out and Austin frantically tries to make Kane bleed for about 90 seconds before the ref sees him bleeding and calls the match.

  22. I remember reading on the previews the cage was hanging above the ring. Such a great idea.
    So ominous, so good, so unpredictable.
    Those were the days.


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