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What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw - December 21, 1998

-Vince McMahon tells the stooges that he is leaving to briefly train for the Royal Rumble (because he supposedly could not do this earlier in the day) and he says he will come back with a “Christmas bonus” for the Corporation.  He leaves Shane in charge of tonight’s show, but reminds the stooges that he will hold them responsible for Shane’s actions.  Once Vince drives off, Shane races toward the arena because he has a lot of things to do.

-Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are taped from Spokane, Washington. Cole welcomes us to the “greatest action adventure series on television!” whatever that means.

-The Corporation walks out to a generic techno beat and some of the Corporation’s initial Titantron video was later incorporated into the “Hollywood Rock” Titantron.  Before Shane McMahon can begin his monologue, D-Generation X walks out and brings out Mankind who hilariously tries to look cool by using DX’s gestures.  Commissioner Shawn Michaels books Billy Gunn to face Ken Shamrock, Road Dogg to face Big Bossman, and Triple H & X-Pac to face The Rock & Test (who is referred to as the “corporate insurance policy”).  As revenge for Mankind beating up Vince last week, Shane decides to face him in the ring over the objections of the stooges.  Mankind and DX laugh at Shane’s challenge and Mankind does some awful crotch chops on his way to the back.

-Cole hypes the latest edition of People Magazine, which featured Steve Austin as a “breakout” star of 1998.

-D-Lo Brown talks to Mark Henry and tries to convince him not to fool around with the ladies in the locker room because they have a match to attend to.

-Opening Contest:  Al Snow (w/Head) beats Gangrel with the Snow Plow at 3:00:

Teddy Long is the referee but he does not turn this into a tag match.  Snow and Gangrel go back and forth in a match that does not really have much rhyme or reason to it.  Snow goes over clean by hitting a Snow Plow out of nowhere.  After the match, the Brood attacks Snow in the dark and gives him a bloodbath.  I cannot remember if this bloodbath stuff is leading anywhere, but are we to assume that Gangrel cares more about pouring blood on his opponents than winning?  Rating:  *½

-We are shown footage of Snow freaking out about the bloodbath during the commercial break.

-Intercontinental Championship Match:  Billy Gunn defeats Ken Shamrock (Champion) by reversing a victory roll at 8:21:

Shamrock gets arguably the biggest heel heat in his career as the Spokane crowd works up a loud “Shamrock sucks!” chant.  After the four minute mark, this really picks up as Shamrock works the knee and Billy gets some well-timed hope spots to keep the crowd engaged.  Billy appears to have won the title as this was announced as a title match, but Commissioner Shawn Michaels steps in to say that he never booked the match that way so Shamrock keeps the title.  The WWF loved that finish in December, having used a version of it at Rock Bottom.  After the match, Gunn moons Michaels, but Shamrock takes him out.  Rating:  ***

-Hawk costing Droz a match against Al Snow on Sunday Night Heat is the Playstation Slam of the Week.

-Hawk walks out after having fallen off the Titantron the night after Survivor Series.  The WWF was so concerned about him that they never bothered providing an update about his condition on subsequent RAWs.  Hawk says that Droz was his dope pusher and enabler, doing so in an effort to take Hawk’s job.  Hawk pledges to get revenge when he heals up, but Droz comes out and attacks him from behind.  Animal comes down and tosses Droz off of Hawk, but the partners do not have a full reconciliation.

-Mark Henry says that he is ready to have some fun with PMS and goes into their locker room.  D-Lo Brown is beside himself at his partner’s behavior.

-Footage of Steve Austin giving Santa a Stone Cold Stunner last year is shown.

-Steve Blackman defeats The Blue Blazer via disqualification when Owen Hart interferes at 2:22:

Before the bout, Owen Hart comes out and says that he has proven that he is not the Blue Blazer and that part of the “Blue Blazer lives inside each and every one of us.”  He then says on commentary that he hopes the Blazer gets unmasked so that “he can get to the bottom of this” and compares his plight to OJ Simpson and Bill Clinton.  Blackman beats the Blazer up like a jobber until Owen predictably runs in for a two-on-one beatdown before Goldust intervenes.  He and Blackman unmask the Blazer to reveal Jeff Jarrett.  Jarrett tosses the Blazer cape back over his head as Owen shouts that he does not know who the Blazer is.  For comedy this is okay, but this angle is just doing nothing for everyone involved.

-PMS say that they are going to take a shower as Henry watches.

-Hardcore Championship Match:  The Road Dogg pins The Big Bossman (Champion) when Mankind blasts the Bossman with a steel bar to win the title at 6:55:

This is initially billed as non-title, but Road Dogg goads the Bossman into putting the title on the line.  One could point to this match as when hardcore matches jumped the shark as Road Dogg starts pulling out conveniently placed cookie sheets and buckets from underneath the ring to attack the Bossman.  It is unfortunate that the Bossman is no longer with us as his ring attire in 1998 foreshadowed the Shield so he would fit right in.  Speaking of ring attire, the Bossman goes to it to find objects to beat down Road Dogg such as a noose (who knew wrestling could produce such vibrant social commentary?) and crack cocaine (okay, it is just powder but it is funnier if you think it is crack because why would police just carry random pouches of white powder?).  To send the silliness factor up a notch, the finish comes when Mankind throws a net over the Bossman and blasts him with a steel bar to give the Road Dogg the title.  I hated this at first, but both guys stepped it up a notch when it went into the crowd.  Rating:  **¼

-PMS help Henry get out of his clothes and put a collar on him.  They then have him get on a massage table where they put a ball in his mouth and put whipped cream on him.

-A promo video sees Jeff Jarrett rant about what pisses him off.

-The stooges try to convince Shane McMahon not to square off with Mankind.

-PMS now blindfold Henry and strap him down to the table.

-Bob Holly & Scorpio beat The Acolytes via disqualification at 3:20:

The Acolytes are still nothing more than Faarooq and Bradshaw desperately trying to revive their careers.  The referee has no control of this as it is just a wild brawl and somehow the Acolytes are the ones that get disqualified.  Rating:  DUD

-Shane McMahon runs toward the Gorilla position backstage as the stooges run after him and beg him not to fight Mankind.

-Shane’s challenge to Mankind is the Glover Rewind segment.

-Mankind beats Shane McMahon (w/Pat Patterson & Gerald Brisco) via disqualification when the Rock interferes at 3:04:

Shane comes out to the Brawl for All music which is a nice touch.  The Corporation comes out early into the match, but Shawn Michaels does not let them rush the ring when Shane gets in trouble.  Mankind gives Shane a chair, but no sells the chair shot he receives.  He then dispatches of the stooges with ease.  Somehow all of this is legal and the Rock eventually hits the ring to lay out Mankind when Shane becomes trapped in the Mandible Claw.  As Mankind and the Rock brawl at ringside, X-Pac does a Bronco Buster to Shane until the Corporation rescues him.  Not much of a match, but it was still entertaining.  Rating:  *

-Classie Freddie Blassie plays the part of “vulgar Santa” in a WWF Attitude vignette.

-The stooges are worried about how they are going to be punished by Vince when he comes back to the arena.

-D-Lo tries to get Henry from PMS, but cannot get into their locker room and has to head the ring alone.  Footage from the PMS locker room shows PMS whipping Henry and there is a clamp on him as well.

-The Headbangers beat D-Lo Brown with a double flapjack at 2:42:

Lawler spends his time during this match providing details on the other abuse PMS is putting Henry through in the locker room.  D-Lo puts up a good fight here, but cannot beat the former tag team champions.  Henry walks out after the finish looking the worse for wear and D-Lo shows no sympathy.

-Patterson tells Brisco to keep his mouth shut as Vince arrives back at the arena.  Brisco does not follow instructions, makes Vince angry, and then hilarious asks Patterson if he thinks they will still get their Christmas bonus.

-Check out the latest edition of Tattoo magazine that talks about the Undertaker!

-Triple H & X-Pac (w/D-Generation X) wrestle The Rock & Test (w/The Corporation) to a no contest at 10:30:

Prior to the match, Shawn Michaels expels D-Generation X from ringside, but Vince walks out and overrules him.  Test just does some basic offense here, getting repetitive with delivering several knees in the corner, but does a good job looking imposing and versatile.  When it looks as if the Rock will finish off Triple H, the arena’s lights go out and Kane walks out, but he chokeslams Triple H instead of going after his former enemies.  He also takes out the rest of D-Generation X, including Chyna as the show goes off the air.  So Kane was the “Christmas bonus.”  At least he did not come out as the “Christmas Creature.”  It would have been nice to get a clear finish after sitting through this, but it does keep everyone reasonably protected so it served that purpose.  Rating:  **

The Final Report:  After the Road Dogg-Bossman match, this show lost a lot of direction.  We had the ridiculous PMS-Mark Henry stuff crowding the show (and probably leaving some parents horrified and deciding that their children would not be watching WWF programming in the near future) and then a weird Kane turn at the end (which in the long run would not last very long).  Some of the impact of the end of the slow loses its luster since Kane has been around forever; has turned 20,000 times or so; and the character has lost all meaning.  The Corporation was also becoming way too big for its own good at this point, starting to mirror the NWO in late 1996 when everyone and their mother, father, aunt, uncle, and cousin decided to join up.  If you watch this show, follow the first half but then abandon it after the Hardcore title switch.

Monday Night War Rating:  4.7 (vs. 4.0 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Neutral