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What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw - June 29, 1998

by Logan Scisco

-Pictures of last night’s Steve Austin-Kane WWF title match are shown and narrated by Jim Ross and Jerry “the King” Lawler.

-Ross and Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Cleveland, Ohio.  I am glad that we now have Ross and Lawler full-time instead of just having them fill the second hour.

-Vince McMahon, Commissioner Slaughter, and Gerald Brisco come out and the WWF title is encased in a glass box in the ring.  The crowd loudly questions Vince’s sexuality as he gloats about Steve Austin losing the title at the King of the Ring.  Kane and Paul Bearer come out and Bearer puts over how he and his son’s dreams have come true.  McMahon goes to put the WWF title around Kane’s waist when Austin crashes the party and says Kane never made him bleed at the King of the Ring.  As a result, Austin demands a rematch and goads Kane into giving him one by saying that if he doesn’t he will never be as good as his brother.  Austin’s intensity carried this segment, which was much better than the generic “authority figure sets up a title match” angle.  1 for 1

-Opening Contest:  Steven Regal beats Darren Drozdov via submission to the Regal Stretch at 4:41:

This Regal’s WWF debut and he is introduced by Sable.  He is sporting his traditional attire and not the ridiculous “Real Man’s Man” gimmick that he would receive at the end of the year.  His theme music is a generic rock n’ roll beat, which is quite a shock after seeing Regal wrestle under the Blue Blood theme in WCW.  Ross does his best to put over Regal, but the crowd does not take kindly to his mat-based style and Lawler is more interested in talking to Sable on commentary.  A pretty boring squash, and this is a good example of why airing vignettes before someone debuts is a good idea.  Rating:  * (1 for 2)

-Michael Cole interviews Ken Shamrock, who cuts a very bland promo about how he respects the Rock and how it feels good to be the King of the Ring.  Owen Hart interrupts and says that he is a better King of the Ring than Shamrock can hope to be.  Owen challenges Shamrock to a fight tonight and Shamrock accepts.  Triple H and Chyna come out and Triple H argues that if there is going to be a “king of kings” match then he has to be in it.  He challenges them to a triple threat match, which is accepted.  What was funny about this segment was that Shamrock still wanted to use the old names for wrestlers like Rocky Maivia instead of “The Rock” and Hunter Hearst-Helmsley instead of “Triple H.”  1 for 3

-Call 815-734-1161 to get your D-Generation X video for $14.95 (plus $4 shipping & handling)!

-Brawl for All First Round:  Steve Blackman beats “Marvelous” Marc Mero via decision:

Ah yes, the Brawl for All, a competition that led to a bunch of injuries and was originally booked as a shoot, has begun.  The rules for the Brawl for All:  three one-minute rounds and a points system is used to render a decision if a knockout is not achieved (five points for most punches, five points for a takedown, and ten points for knockdowns).  The crowd loudly boos since in their mind they paid to watch wrestling (they work up a loud “we want wrestling” chant) and not a toughman competition.  Marketing probably plays a role as well, since the WWF did not hype the competition in the weeks leading up to it.  Although Mero has the advantage in punching skills, Blackman just keeps taking him down for easy points throughout the bout and wins.  1 for 4

-Kevin Kelly says that he will find out why Kane decided to accept Steve Austin’s challenge tonight.

-Chyna’s DDT on Owen Hart last night at the King of the Ring is the Skittles Slam of the Week.

-Kane tells Kelly that he took Austin’s challenge because he knows he can beat him and that he is a better champion than his brother ever was.

-The Undertaker is shown arriving at the arena, which is always an angle I laugh at.  At what other workplace is it acceptable to show up halfway through your shift?

-Val Venis pins Togo (w/Yamiguchi-San) with the Money Shot at 3:02:

Venis leers at Yamiguchi-San’s wife, who is sitting in the front row, and this is the first step in one of the most ridiculous, yet memorable, feuds of 1998.  During the match, Dustin Runnels joins Ross and Lawler on commentary and encourages them to spread the word of God.  Extended squash for Venis, who remains undefeated in the World Wrestling Federation.  After the bout, Yamiguchi-San hits Venis after Venis does his dance in front of his wife and Venis lays him out and the rest of Kaientai with a chair.  Somehow Venis is the face here.  Rating:  *½ (2 for 5)

-Cole interviews Austin, who says he is very confident that he is going to regain the WWF title tonight.

-“King of Kings” Triple Threat Match:  Ken Shamrock defeats Owen Hart & Triple H (w/Chyna) by pinning Triple H after the Rock blasts Triple H with the Intercontinental title at 9:35 shown:

This is the perfect concept for a TV main event, but it is trumped tonight by the Kane-Austin title match.  This has the usual triple threat formula where two guys wrestle and another guy ends up on the floor, but at least the action is continuous.  Chyna interferes against Owen yet again, by pulling down the top rope during the bout, but it does not work out well for Triple H as the Rock uses the distraction to interfere.  So basically, Shamrock is the true “king of kings” and Triple H has been infringing on his rightful gimmick for the last sixteen years.  Wrestling enthusiasts take note.  Rating:  ***¼ (3 for 6)

-After the bout, D-Generation X brawls to the locker room with the Nation and Owen puts Shamrock in a ring post figure-four before WWF officials intervene.

-The Undertaker comes out to give a “confession” to Cole.  The Undertaker says he interfered in last night’s WWF title match because he did not want to see his brother set himself on fire.  Vince McMahon comes out and insists that the Undertaker only helped his brother because he thinks he can beat Kane for the title and not Austin.  McMahon warns the Undertaker against interfering in tonight’s WWF title match.  McMahon’s role in this segment was random and his adoption of the Undertaker’s language about hell and suffering was odd.  3 for 7

-The Undertaker tossing Mankind off the top of the Hell in a Cell is the JVC Kaboom! of the Week.

-Brawl for All First Round:  Bradshaw beats Mark Canterbury via decision:

Canterbury is of course everyone’s favorite Arkansas hog farmer Henry Godwinn.  They have not released a bracket for this tournament, so who knows who is really facing who.  Bradshaw refuses to sit on his stool during the rest periods and Canterbury only tries to do takedowns in the third and final round, which is too little, too late.  At least this fight featured some punching sequences.  4 for 8

-We get our first graphic highlighting the “Highway to Hell” and SummerSlam in nine weeks.

-LOD 2000 welcome back Paul Ellering as their manager now that Sunny is out of the company.  However, the Disciples of Apocalypse come out and Ellering IN A SWERVE announces that he is really with the DOA.  The DOA do a beatdown, with Ellering using pages of newspaper as a weapon.  What.  The. Hell.  4 for 9

-The Undertaker tells Kevin Kelly that no one tells him what to do, which means that he will not heed Vince McMahon’s warning not to get involved in the main event.

-WWF Championship Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve Austin pins Kane (Champion w/Paul Bearer) after a Stone Cold Stunner to win the title at 8:27:

Austin carries a lot of the offensive load of the match, which really puts a damper on Kane’s “superhuman” ability to crush his opponents.  Near the end of the bout, the Undertaker walks out, but does not interfere, and Austin goes under a Kane big boot and delivers a Stunner to win his second WWF title.  No ref bumps or shenanigans in this one, which is pretty refreshing.  One could point to this match as the beginning of sudden world title changes in the company, as the WWF title switched hands more frequently than it had in the past due to the Monday Night Wars.  Rating:  ** (5 for 10)

-After the bout, Austin gives the Undertaker a Stone Cold Stunner and the Undertaker and Kane sit up at the same time and stare at Austin as he walks to the locker room.

The Final Report Card:  Aside from popping a rating (which this show did), it made little sense to give Kane a one day reign as champion.  The short reign, as well as the way his match with Austin played out on this show, dented some of his credibility as an unstoppable monster (as long as he was not fighting his brother, but that sort of cancelled out because they both possessed “supernatural” powers).  Kane went on to have a memorable career after this, but I never viewed him the same way again after this title loss.  This show gets a neutral rating because while there are some highlights like the Triple Threat and the Austin segments, there is a lot of random stuff that is not as good like the out of the blue Regal debut, the beginning of the Brawl for All (which was not adequately promoted), and the random Ellering turn (which is right out of the Vince Russo playbook).

Monday Night War Rating:  5.4 (vs. 4.1 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Neutral