WWF Raw Is War (July 6, 1998)

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We start with highlights from Stone Cold regaining the WWF Championship from Kane last week before the show’s opening plays. We go then to the arena where Jim Ross welcomes us to Raw as pyro explodes and fans go apeshit. Right out of the gate Ross is yelling about Austin being in the building tonight.

Opening Talky Segment…

A bell bongs and The Undertaker makes his way down to the ring to kick things off tonight. He gets on the mic and demands a title shot from Stone Cold. So we head backstage where Michael Cole is frantically attempting to find Stone Cold to get his response to the Undertaker’s challenge. We get a couple minutes of Michael Cole aimlessly wandering around backstage calling out “Stone Cold,” before he finally finds Austin and asks him about the Undertaker’s challenge.

Stone Cold totally blows him off and just heads down to the ring. He and Taker jaw with one another for a bit before Vince McMahon appears up on the stage and is like, “Who the HELL do you two think you are!” He yells at the Undertaker for acting like he’s the number one contender and then yells at Austin for thinking he can defend the title whenever he wants against whomever he pleases. McMahon says that if they want to tear each other apart so badly he’ll put them in the ring together at the next PPV, Fully Loaded…but they won’t be competing against each other, they’ll be teaming with each other as they take on the team of Kane and Mankind!

He then says that he knows the Undertaker is hellbent on becoming champion again so he’s sure that he’ll be hanging on Vince’s every word later tonight when he announces the number one contender. McMahon then flips off Austin causing Austin to head up the ramp after him.

Match 1: Brakus vs. Savio Vega

Brakus was a big German bodybuilder dude. He had a shit tonne of promo vignettes back in ’97, perhaps only rivaled by the vignettes for Glacier over in WCW. Prior to this match I think he’d just had two televised WWF matches, neither of which anyone would have seen (one was part of a UK special that was released on VHS, the other was a random episode of Shotgun Saturday Night). So on his first shot at the big time Brakus goes up against Savio Vega…in a Brawl For All match!

Vega pounds the shit out of Brakus in the first round, staggering him as the bell rings, but Brakus managed a take down so they’re all tied up. The crowd actually got into it a bit when it looked like Savio Vega was going to knock him out though I can’t be sure if that’s because the action was fast and furious or because they thought the match would end quick.

Round two is more of the same with Vega just unloading on Brakus and Brakus moving like he’s in molasses. Brakus almost gets knocked down again but is once more saved by the bell. His nose is busted open and probably broken according to JR.

The final round is more of the same with Vega just wrecking house on Brakus and Brakus barely managing to stay upright. He has to answer a standing eight count and the match finally ends. No one gives a fuck. Savio Vega is declared the winner.

Winner: Savio Vega

A terrible match that basically ruined whatever credibility Brakus could have had as a muscle monster. I’m not saying Brakus was any good in the ring prior to Brawl For All (I saw his match against Taz in ECW) but this beating didn’t help at all. He’d have one more televised match after this (and apparently two more matches total) before hanging up his Brawl For Alling boots and calling it quits. [-**]

Match 2: Ken Shamrock v. Jeff Jarrett (w/ Tennessee Lee)

Double J wants some revenge for getting beat by Shamrock in the King of the Ring semi-finals. Shamrock knocks Jarrett around and sends him out to the floor, but Jarrett bounces Shamrock’s throat off the top rop. He heads up top and hits a cross body block, but Shamrock rolls through and gets a two count.

Shamrock gets Jarrett in the ankle lock, but he too close to the ropes so Lee helps his man out and pulls him under the ropes. Shamrock heads out and chases the man who was Col. Robert Parker around the ring and right into Double J who was lying in wait to clothesline him.

Jarrett whips him into the steel steps and hits him in the head before sending him back into the ring. Jarrett continues to dominate, hitting a snap suplex that gets a two count. Jarrett hits a clothesline and then a dropkick that sends Shamrock to the mat. Jarrett makes the cover but Shamrock kicks out at two.

Edge is show watching from the cheap seats as Jarrett whips Shamrock into the ropes and catches him in a sleeper. Shamrock reverses the hold but Jarrett counters with a back suplex. Shamrock is having none of that shit though and powerslams Jarrett and then dropkicks him.

The announcers talk about a fan getting in the ring, only that’s no fan! THAT’S FORMER KING OF THE RING, MABEL! Mabel clotheslines Shamrock and then flattens him with a big splash, bring the match to a close. Mabel then heads off out through the crowd.

After the match, Shamrock “snaps” and shoves some refs and then screams.

Winner: Shamrock

The storyline of having Shamrock face all the previous Kings of the Ring who were able to fight is pretty decent, but they ran out of guys pretty quickly since everyone else was either retired, in WCW, or Steve Austin and thus involved with more important things than facing Ken Shamrock over who the best King of the Ring was.

While it’s cool that we got a random Mabel run-in this would lead to Viscera and Big Daddy V and a bunch of truly awful garbage that I cannot abide by. [NR]

Meanwhile With Michael Cole…

After the break, Michael Cole is with Ken Shamrock who challenges Mabel to a match later tonight.

Match 3: Vader vs. Bradshaw

Vader and Bradshaw come out and have a hoss vs. hoss match. They lock up and Bradshaw kicks Vader in the gut and then runs at Vader only to get clotheslined. Vader drops an elbow on him and then hammers Bradshaw into the corner.

The two men punch the fuck out of each other in the corner. This looks stiff as fuck. Vader hits some headbutts. Bradshaw is woozy. Vader drops him with a short clothesline and heads up to the second rope to leap gingerly into a powerslam from Bradshaw.

Kane and Mankind hit the ring and interfere. Vader gets chokeslammed and Bradshaw gets the Mandible Claw. Kane tombstones Vader and then Kane’s pyro goes off.

Winner: No Contest

This match more or less existed so Ross had a place to announce that Kane & Mankind would be taking on the New Age Outlaws for the tag team titles next week. Having two interference endings back to back was kind of stupid in my opinion. [NR]

Match 4: DoA (w/ Paul Ellering)  vs. The Headbangers

DoA and Paul Ellering are out first on motorcycles. We’ve got Skull and Eight Ball I think tonight. Are they the only DoA guys left at this point? Who cares?

The Headbangers come out next and pour hot candle wax on their arms for some reason as they come down to the ring. This is not a gimmick I recall them having. Maybe it was a one time deal for some reason.

Paul sics the DoA on the Headbangers who proceed to maul Mosh and Thrasher. Skull decapitates Mosh with a boot, but Thrasher gets involved to even the odds. Eight Ball tags in only to get dropkicked by Thrasher who covers for two.

JR and Lawler invite Ellering to join them on commentary. Lawler claims Ellering to be a stock market genius and hopes he’ll give Lawler some advice. He does not. Instead he rambles about how the DoA only has one brain he needs to program since they are twins, horses and hunger, and how he came back to the WWF to write the final chapter of the Legion of Doom.

The DoA stay in control, hammering Thrasher on the outside. He gets back in the ring and after dodging a blow goes up top and hits a flying clothesline. Both teams make tags and the Headbangers unload, but they get overwhelmed by the DoA. Eight Ball pins Mosh after a side suplex neckbreaker combo to pick up the win. Paul Ellering throws a newspaper at the Headbangers on the outside.

Winners: DoA

This was an acceptable TV match between two mid-card tag teams. DoA looked a little bit more energetic than usual, but it wasn’t anything to write home about. I’m honestly surprised that the Legion of Doom didn’t do a run-in to make it three matches in a row that ended in a schmoz. [*½]

Meanwhile Backstage…

The Undertaker is pacing. Will he be named the number one contender? What will he do if he isn’t?!

Skittles Slam of the Week

The Slam of the Week is Stone Cold giving everyone the Stunner at the end of his match against Kane last week.

Match 5: Terry Funk vs. D’Lo Brown (w/ The Godfather)

Terry Funk is already in the ring. D’Lo comes out with The Godfather. This is D’Lo’s first match back since his “pectoral injury,” so he’s wearing that goofy chest protector here. Funk tackles D’Lo but D’Lo gets back to his feet and starts chopping.

Both men exchange chops and then Funk piledrives D’Lo Brown for two. “Hey, that’s my move!” objects Jerry Lawler. Funk covers and gets two. He then hurls D’Lo out to the floor and goes up onto the second rope and hits an Asai moonsault and slams his shins into the guardrail as he lands.

Back in the ring Funk slams D’Lo and hits another moonsault to score another near fall. Funk hits the ropes but gets clocked in the back of the head by The Godfather who has wrapped a bunch of gold chains around his fist. D’Lo then goes up top and hits the Lo-Down Splash to pick up the win.

The Undertaker then comes down to the ring and chokeslams The Godfather and then chokeslams D’Lo causing JR to exclaim, “WHO’S YOUR DADDY D’LO!?”  JR acts like Taker came out to help out Funk, but to the surprise of no one except Good Ol’ JR, Taker chokeslams Funk too causing JR to scream, “WHY?! WHY?!”

Winner: D’Lo Brown

Was “Who’s your daddy D’Lo,” a thing JR often screamed because if not this one throw away line from a random 19 year old episode of Raw stuck with me all these years as a thing my friends and brother and I would yell at one another as trash talk.

Anyway the actual match was a fine little TV match. Funk’s willingness to put younger dudes over is just one of the myriad reasons why he’s one of the best. [**⅓]

Meanwhile in the Ring…

We come back from break as Vince McMahon strolls down to the ring to announce the number one contender for the WWF Championship. He calls Mankind out first. Mankind takes awhile to come out and Vince is like, “Hurry up dammit!” He then calls out Kane and finally the Undertaker.

Vince monologues about which of these three should be the number one contender. “Should it be Mankind?” he asks himself causing the audience to boo loudly. He praises Mankind for what he did during the Hell in the Cell match at the King of the Ring and thanks him publicly for the sacrifices he made for the WWF, but wonders if that’s enough to be named the number one contender.

He then calls Kane stupid for giving Austin a title shot last week which does not please Kane. Vince says what he did was dumb, but any man willing to sign a contract that said he would set himself on fire if he didn’t win the championship has guts.

McMahon then gets his angry/evil Vince voice and lays into the Undertaker calling him an “evil, diabolical excuse for a human being,” for setting his brother on fire in an Inferno match and nearly killing Mankind in the Hell in the Cell match. He says that the Undertaker wants to face Austin because he wants to see if he can beat the man he’s never beaten.

Vince ultimately does not name a number one contender, but instead books a triple threat match between Kane, Mankind and the Undertaker to settle the matter for later tonight.

Match 5: Droz vs. Hawk

Time for some more Brawl For All. Lawler’s already tired of hearing the rules to these matches. Round one begins with Hawk and Droz just throwing haymakers. The crowd seems a bit more into this match. Hawk’s mouthguard falls out at one point so they stop to put it back in, but don’t actually stop the clock. Droz scores a takedown as the bell is ringing so it doesn’t count. Hawk wins the round via punching.

Round two is more of the same. Droz hits some stiff shots that stagger Hawk but doesn’t knock him down. Droz looks like he might have hurt his hand. Hawk’s nose is busted open.

Both men are gassed in the final round. Hawk’s mouthguard falls out again, so Droz just spits his out and they keep going. Neither man’s punches are really connecting and the bell rings. Hawk and Droz raise each other’s hands in the center of the ring.

The match is ruled a draw.

Winner: Draw

This might be the best match of the entire Brawl For All tournament in terms of entertainment. Yeah watching Steve Blackman spam takedowns was good, but this is probably the only fight that bothered attempting to tell a story, even if it did so inadvertently, with Droz randomly throwing his own mouthguard out after Hawk’s had fallen out like five times and the two dudes raising each other’s hands at the end of the match.

That being said I don’t know how this tournament works with brackets and stuff so having this end in a draw was kind of dumb. Aren’t there judges or whatever to determine a winner based on aggressiveness or whatever in the event the two dudes end up with the same number of points? I guess we’ll have to wait until next week to see what’s up. [*⅔]

Meanwhile in the Ring…

Marc Mero and Jacqueline come out for an in ring promo. JR says the Jacqueline will break her silence. They show clips of Steve Blackman wrecking house of Mero last week as he comes down to the ring.

Jackie gets on the mic and says that Mero only lost the Brawl For All last week because she wore him out the night before since it was their two month anniversary. Jackie mocks Sable’s prowess in the bedroom via automobile metaphors, which causes Sable to come out onto the stage.

Sable says he pedal was always to the metal, but Mero had a flat tire and back then there wasn’t Viagra. Sable and Jackie debate who is more of a woman. The switch from car metaphors to real estate metaphors as Jackie declares her body to be prime real estate. Sable wonders, “How many times has it been rented out though?”

Jackie then calls Sable a skank and challenges her to a bikini contest at Fully Loaded. Sable accepts and tells her not to blow it but to show it and the segment finally comes to an end.

The JVC Kaboom! of the Week!

We get a replay of The Undertaker chokeslamming Mankind through the roof of the Hell in a Cell as the Kaboom! of the Week.

Match 7: Val Venis vs. Dustin Runnels

Val Venis gets on the mic before the match and does double entendre about beavers and scoring more than Joe Paterno before the match. Dustin Runnels meanwhile has his head bowed in prayer. The bell rings and Venis runs wild on Runnels, tossing him around the ring and getting him in some goofy submission hold.

Edge is shown looking on from the cheap seats again as Val breaks the hold. Dustin fires back with uppercuts and straight rights, but Val hits some knees and drops Dustin with a side Russian leg sweep.

Kaientai then hits the ring and assaults Venis. Yamaguchi-san and his wife come out. He gets on the mic and mocks Val Venis and slaps him around for making a pass at Mrs. Yamaguchi-san last week. She does not look happy about what is transpiring.

Winner: Val Venis

A short, lousy match that existed solely to further a lousy angle. [NR]

Meanwhile Backstage…

A door says DX on it! DX has been inside all day and apparently have a massive announcement. That’s coming up next!

Meanwhile in the Ring…

Ug…it’s this segment. This was bad at the time and even worse 20 years later. A pale imitation of the nWo impersonation of the Four Horsemen skit from a year earlier with 100% more blackface!

Triple H is dressed as the Rock, Road Dogg is D’Lo Brown, X-Pac is Mark Henry, Billy Gunn is the Godfather, and some random dude the internet tells me is named Jason Sensation is Owen Hart. He’s probably the only good thing about this skit since he looks and sounds just like Owen Hart here. The rest is just lame dick jokes and shit jokes and DX having two words for the Nation of Domination, “Suck it,” and Jerry Lawler laughing at every lame joke because they are total dad boner jokes.

Match 8: Mabel vs. Ken Shamrock

Mabel’s already in the ring sporting his old king tights for this match. Shamrock comes out and charges him right away but gets hammered by the big man. Mabel picks up Shamrock and tosses him around. He drops a big elbow and goes for a pin getting a two count. He follows up with a backbreaker.

Shamrock fires back and sends Mable into the corner where he hits him with some kicks. Shamrock tries for a leg lariat but can’t get the big man off his feet. Mabel hits a clothesline that wrecks Shamrock’s shit and then powerslams him and points to the heavens.

Mabel scales the rope to the second rope and leaps off at Ken Shamrock who snatches him midair in a Fujiwara Armbar and takes him down to the mat. Shamrock quickly applies the ankle lock and Mabel has no choice but to tap out.

Shamrock, however, does not break the hold. Some refs come down, but no one wants to fuck with Shamrock so they just kind of stand there. Sgt. Slaughter comes down to the ring and Shamrock finally releases the hold, only to mount Mabel and start pummeling his face. He eventually stops and makes his way up the ramp.

Vince is coming out to do commentary for the next match and he gives Shamrock a thumbs up as they pass each other on the ramp.

Winner: Ken Shamrock

This was a decent impromptu TV match. It was short, but it played well to the Ken Shamrock storyline and the end of the match made him look like a total badass. [**]

Meanwhile at the Announce Table…

Vince joins Lawler and JR on commentary when suddenly there’s the sound of breaking glass and the audience goes absolutely apeshit. Stone Cold comes out after posing in the ring and giving Vince the finger sits down next to JR and puts on headphones.

Vince complains about Austin being there but Austin says that he has to see who he’s going to be defending against and then tells Vince is comes any closer to him than he is he’ll knock his teeth out. Vince asks why he always has to resort to violence and Austin replies because it’s the only thing that works here.

 

Match 9: Mankind vs. Kane vs. The Undertaker

It’s time for the triple threat match to determine the number one contender. Mankind comes out first with Paul Bearer and then Kane comes out. The Undertaker’s music hits, but he doesn’t come out. It plays again but still nothing.

Vince heads to the ring and starts yelling at people. The ring announcer gets on the mic and says that “The Undertaker is not here because he’s chickenshit so the match will now be a one on one no holds barred falls count anywhere match between Kane and Mankind.”

Mankind is sitting on the floor outside the ring while Vince screams at him to get in the ring and fight. Mankind refuses to fight his friend Kane. The bell rings and Steve Austin also yells at Mankind to fight. He does not. The entire arena is still bathed in red light from Kane’s entrance so it looks really weird.

Kane eventually climbs out of the ring and grabs a chair and caves Mankind’s head in with it. Mankind is a corpse now. Kane rolls him back into the ring and drags him to the center of the ring to pin him. The crowd boos as the ref counts three. Kane stands up and removes his mask revealing himself to be The Undertaker much to the shock and dismay of Stone Cold. WE GOTTA GO!

Winner: The Undertaker as Kane

A decent bit of plot, but a stupid wrestling match. A week before this Mankind took an insane amount of damage and continued to wrestle and here he was completely destroyed by a single chair shot. But that doesn’t bug me as much as having the Undertaker dress up as Kane. What a pointless thing that was. The Undertaker was already supposed to be in the match. This wasn’t like the Dean Malenko dressing as Ciclope thing where he wasn’t allowed to face Jericho anymore and thus needed a disguise to do so. It was just a swerve for the sake of having a swerve. Kind of crappy. [NR]

Final Thoughts

For as stupid and nonsensical as the ending of this episode was, it was at least engaging. I want to know what’s going to happen next. Will The Undertaker’s victory stand or will it count as a win for Kane? I can’t remember so it looks like I’m going to have to watch the next episode.

Much like last week the actual wrestling left a lot to be desired. The Ken Shamrock matches were okay (and okay up until the random run-in) and the Funk vs. D’Lo Brown was okay for what it was, but the majority of this card was, from a wrestling standpoint absolute garbage. We had a pair of shitty Brawl For Alls, three matches that ended run-ins, a trio of matches that ended in clean finishes none of which went longer than five minutes and a main event loaded with Attitude Era Shenanigans that literally lasted less than two minutes.

WWE is so lucky that Steve Austin was so goddamn charismatic, because without him there is really nothing worth watching here.

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