by Logan Scisco
-A video package recaps the Undertaker becoming the number one contender to the WWF championship on last week’s show.
-Jim Ross and Jerry “the King” Lawler are doing commentary and they are live from East Rutherford, New Jersey.
-Shawn Michaels comes out, making his first WWF appearance since WrestleMania XIV. Michaels sits down to do commentary for the show and tells Ross that he is not sure when he will return to the ring.
-Opening Contest: The Undertaker pins Vader with a Tombstone at 4:35:
Looking back, I wish Vader had entered the Brawl for All. It was already littered with lower midcard talent and guys looking to reboot their careers or get them going, so it would have been well suited for 1998 Vader. After the entrances, Kane, Mankind, and Paul Bearer come out, but they let the match proceed as scheduled. As another “what if,” imagine what a stable of Vader, Kane, and Mankind would have been like in 1998. Vader gives this the old college try, but the Undertaker unceremoniously finishes him with Tombstone and Earl Hebner does his slow three count to add insult to injury. Really Earl? Rating: ** (1 for 1)
-After the match, Mankind prepares to hit the Undertaker with a chair, but Kane takes it from Mankind and then whacks Vader with it. Does this mean Kane and the Undertaker are in cahoots?
-Brawl for All First Round: Bart Gunn beats Bob Holly via decision
This match constituted the breakup of the New Midnight Express as Ross tells us that Jim Cornette resigned as their manager as a result of them deciding to face each other. That, for all intents and purposes, ends the last vestiges of the NWA angle for good. This is the first Brawl for All to feature a regular WWF referee as Danny Hodge is no longer doing the honors. Bart just dominates Holly in this bout and easily makes it to the next round. There was nothing about this that made it exciting, so it does not get a point from me. After the match, Bob gives Bart a cheap shot and there is a small fight between the two before WWF officials break it up. 1 for 2
-The D-Generation X skit mocking the Nation of Domination on last week’s show is recapped.
-Jason Sensation joins the broadcast team and he imitates other WWF superstars at Lawler’s urging. When he imitates Bret Hart, Michaels asks whether that is a midcarder (a shot at Bret’s status in the WCW upper midcard at the time because – say it with me - WCW). Ross interviews the Nation, who are backstage, and they are not happy with last week’s skit. The Godfather debuts his “pimpin’ ain’t easy” line during this segment. Owen gets mad at Sensation continuing to imitate him at Lawler’s urging and runs out and attacks him before DX intervenes.
-Triple H & X-Pac (w/Chyna) defeat The Rock & Owen Hart when X-Pac pins The Rock after an X-Factor at 6:28:
Shawn Michaels starts talking about the Kliq on commentary and is actually censored for doing so. The match does not follow the normal tag formula, as X-Pac gets in peril, absorbs a People’s Elbow and other Nation offense, and then surprises the Rock out of nowhere with the X-Factor to win. The expected solid match between these guys and they could have done much more if given another five minutes. Rating: **¾ (2 for 3)
-Sable comes out to do commentary for the next match. Sable promises that her bikini at Fully Loaded will make her bikini at the 1997 Slammy Awards look like an evening gown.
-Steve Blackman beats “Marvelous” Marc Mero (w/Jacqueline) with a pump kick at 2:14:
This is a rematch from the Brawl for All, but it is overwhelmed by Sable and Jacqueline fighting near the announce table and Michaels and Lawler fawning over Sable. Mero appears to have the match won with a low blow, but when Jacqueline tries to do something off the top rope to Blackman, Sable stops her and Blackman suddenly recovers and wins. Mero was never able to reinvent himself after the Sable feud, which was quite sad considering his in-ring and mic talents. The feud also made it impossible to go back to WCW as Johnny B. Badd because he would have been showered with “Sable” chants.
-WWF Tag Team Championship Match: Kane & Mankind (w/Paul Bearer) defeat The New Age Outlaws (Champions w/Chyna) when Kane pins The Road Dogg with a Tombstone to win the titles at 5:34:
Before the bell, the Undertaker comes out to watch this match. Of all the teams left in the tag division, Kane and Mankind are the only credible challengers for the titles. Think about it: LOD 2000 is irrelevant, the DOA are being somewhat repackaged with Ellering but that isn’t enough, the New Midnight Express broke up, and 2 Cold Scorpio and Terry Funk are enhancement talent. After all hell breaks loose in the ring, all hell breaks loose outside it as the Nation and the remaining members of DX brawl and in the chaos, D-Lo Brown interferes with a Lo Down on the Road Dogg and the Outlaws seven month reign as tag team champions is over. Theoretically, this makes the Fully Loaded main event tag match for the WWF tag team titles. Rating: ** (3 for 4)
-Call 815-734-1161 to get your Steve Austin 3:16 baseball jersey $39.99 (plus $9 shipping & handling)! This was a great piece of merchandise, but that price is outrageous.
-Triple H yells at Vince McMahon over the lack of control referees have in recent matches. Having the Outlaws add to the complaints is pretty funny considering how much cheating they engaged in to keep the titles during their reign.
-Kaientai (w/Yamiguchi-San) beats Taka Michinoku & Too Much when Dick Togo pins Scott Taylor after a Senton Bomb at 3:38:
Evidently, the Michinoku-Too Much pairing was forced by the office in storyline terms as opposed to a genuine alliance. Unsurprisingly, tempers flare between Scott Taylor and Michinoku and Michinoku dropkicks Taylor into the hands of Kaientai, who finishes him off. After the bout, Christopher beats up Michinoku and Val Venis comes out and reveals that he has been having an affair with Yamiguchi-San’s wife. The match was good, but I am not giving this a point because the idea that Taka would ever agree to pair with Too Much under any circumstances is ridiculous. Rating: **¼ (3 for 5)
-The Undertaker chokeslamming The Godfather, D-Lo Brown, and Terry Funk on last week’s Raw is the Skittles Slam of the Week.
-Vince McMahon comes out and talks with the Undertaker. McMahon commends the Undertaker on his deception last week, but raises the question of whether the Undertaker is getting help from Kane. The Undertaker refuses to answer McMahon’s question and Steve Austin comes out. Austin asks the Undertaker whether he will have his back at Fully Loaded and the Undertaker remains non-committal. That brings out D-Generation X and Triple H demands the Outlaws get an immediate rematch against Kane and Mankind with three referees: a regular official in the ring and the Undertaker and Austin on the outside of the ring. This will reveal whether the Undertaker and Kane are working together. Triple H: COO before we even knew it! 4 for 6
-Brawl for All First Round: Dan Severn beats The Godfather via decision:
As someone who did not see a lot of UFC growing up, I was really excited to see what Severn could do in this format. Severn is not used to releasing a takedown after performing one, which the rules require, so the referee has to constantly yell for him to break. Severn also keeps going for submissions, which are not allowed. The crowd is not happy about the lack of punches thrown and Severn advances due to his takedown skills in a very boring bout. After this, Severn would withdraw from the Brawl for All because he did not care for the format and this bout shows why. We have had six Brawl for All matches and all of them have gone to a decision, which is not very exciting. 4 for 7
-WWF Tag Team Championship Match with The Undertaker and Steve Austin as Special Enforcers: Kane & Mankind (Champions w/Paul Bearer) wrestle The New Age Outlaws to a no-contest at 8:09:
I am not often a fan of having the same match happen again on the same show, but this was a very creative way to book around that problem. The main referee gets bumped when Billy Gunn inserts himself into the match without a tag, but when Austin tries to count the Road Dogg’s small package on Kane, the Undertaker pulls him out of the ring. The Undertaker tries to count a pin when Kane chokeslams Road Dogg and Austin interrupts that. The Undertaker and Austin then get into separate fights with Mankind and Kane, respectively, and the Nation of Domination hits the ring to brawl with the Outlaws, which brings out D-Generation X. Austin and the Undertaker delivering Stunners and chokeslams plays us out and no one ends up winning the match. I’ll give this one a point for the crazy post-match brawl. Rating: ** (5 for 8)
The Final Report Card: This show gave us more storyline development for the Undertaker-Kane relationship and whether they were in cahoots with each other, although that issue is becoming very, very complicated. Why would Kane want the Undertaker to face Austin for the WWF title instead of himself? If he did decide to work with his brother, was it his idea? When was such an agreement made? Why would Kane or the Undertaker not tell McMahon about it, since McMahon also wants to get the title off of Austin? Does McMahon know and is he just playing dumb to lure in Austin? All this aside, this RAW had a really hot first hour and then the second hour was death. If not for the post-match brawl at the end, this RAW would have ended up in neutral territory. A slight thumbs up for this episode, which saw RAW regain its Nielsen ratings lead only a week after WCW showed its big Goldberg-Hogan match.
Monday Night War Rating: 4.7 (vs. 4.5 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation: Thumbs Up