WWF Raw Is War (July 13, 1998)

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We kick things off with a recap of the Attitude Era antics of last week’s main event where Undertaker, dressed as Kane, beat Mankind to become the number one contender for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship by hitting him in the head with a chair. We get our opening theme song and then go live to a sold out arena somewhere in New Jersey where JR welcomes us and assures us that both The Undertaker and Stone Cold Steve Austin are here tonight.

He’s Just a Sexy Boy…

Shawn Michaels’ theme music hits and the HBK comes out to much hooting and hollering from the audience. He’s not been seen in a WWF ring since WrestleMania XIV. He does his old HBK ring entrance and then heads over to the announce table where he joined JR and Lawler on commentary.

He said he was glad to be back to help the WWF in their war against the WCW, but doesn’t know when he’ll be back in the ring.

Match 1: The Undertaker vs. Vader

Taker and Vader both come out, but before the match begins, Kane’s music hits and he and Mankind make their way out. Vader and Taker both stare down Kane and Mankind and Ross talks about how both men have had problems with Kane and Mankind in recent weeks so I figure there’s going to be an impromptu tag team contest. I am incorrect though as Taker attacks Vader while the Mastodon’s back is turned.

Vader takes Undertaker down, but he no sells it and beats Vader in the corner. He whips Vader into the corner but Vader comes out and steamrolls Taker. Taker gets pummeled in the corner by Vader, but after telegraphing a back drop sixteen years before Taker came near him Taker gets back in control after nailing him with a legdrop.

Taker gets Vader’s arm and does his rope walk spot. Vader gets clobbered and sent to the floor with a clothesline and Taker goes out after him. Vader fights back and rolls Taker back into the ring where he flattens the Dead Man with a big splash that’s good for two.

Vader drops an elbow on Taker’s leg and then proceeds to work over the leg for a bit before going up to the middle rope for another big splash. Once again it’s good for a near fall. Vader hits Taker but gets goozled and chokeslammed. Taker gets him up and hits the Tombstone Piledriver and after a slow three count Vader’s put away once and for all.

After the match Mankind comes in with a chair and looks like he’s going to brain Taker with it but Kane snatches it out of his hands. Taker leaves the ring and Kane proceeds to waffle Vader with the chair. Lawler insists that Kane and Taker are in cahoots and we get a quick shot of Edge up in the cheap seats as the match ends.

Winner: The Undertaker

This was an okay TV match. It was short, but there was some decent back and forth and it furthered the Kane/Undertaker angle so I can’t really complain about it. [**]

Match 2: Bob Holly vs. Bart Gunn

Another Brawl for All match. Holly and Gunn are tag team partners at this point in the New Midnight Express. They had been managed by Jim Cornette, but apparently he quit managing them due to their desire to enter this tournament. I’ve heard Cornette talk a lot of shit about the Brawl for All in the years since it took place, so I wonder if this is actually true or just an angle.

They have the ref (who is no longer Danny Hodge) do a little “no kicks or punches to the dick” spiel this time. Bart Gunn extends his hand for a hand shake or whatever and Holly is a dick to him and them shoves him in the back as he turns away.

Gunn dominates Holly in the first round, keeping his hands up as Holly jabs weakly at his midsection and then just clubbing the fuck out out Holly’s head. The commentary meanwhile mocks last night’s Bash at the Beach PPV where Karl Malone and Dennis Rodman faced each other in tag team action.

Rounds two and three are more of the same. The fans hate this shit and are chanting, “Boring.” Holly is staggered but is saved by the bell. Bart Gunn wins pretty decisively.

After the match Bob cheapshots Bart and the two have a pull apart brawl. I guess this is really the end of the New Midnight Express.

Winner: Bart Gunn

Bart Gunn is the first wrestler who looks like he knows what he’s doing here. He covers up and waits for openings to punch and he did not look exhausted 20 seconds into the first round. The fact that they used this for a tag team break up angle too makes it one of the better Brawl For All matches in my book. That being said, it was still mostly garbage and I would have rather seen a wrestling match. [*⅛]

Highlights for Children!

We get a recap of the problematic DX as The Nation of Domination skit from last week and then a shot of The Nation of Domination yelling at the monitor as they watch backstage.

Meanwhile at Ringside…

The announcers bring out Jason Sensation, the guy who did the Owen Hart impersonation during last week’s Nation of Domination spoof, to join them at the announce table. He does some other impressions. Bret Hart (which causes Michaels to inquire, “Who’s that, some midcarder?” because that’s what Bret Hart was in WCW for some unknown reason in spite being a heck of a wrestler, a great technician in the ring and a jam-up guy), Undertaker, Stone Cold, and Shawn Michaels all get impersonated as does Owen Hart again.

He says that he’s a huge fan and has nothing but respect for the wrestlers that he impersonates.

Meanwhile Backstage…

Rock tells JR to know his role and shut his mouth. The members of the Nation all talk shit to the DX guys who impersonated them. The Godfather utters, “Pimpin’ ain’t easy,” for the first time. Owen Hart goes off on Jason Sensation and gets bleeped out.

Down at the announce desk Jason Sensation looks scared, but continues to mimic Owen Hart at Jerry “The King” Lawler’s behest. Sensation puts on the fake nose and does more Owen Hart.

Hart runs down the ramp and over to the table and slaps Sensation in the face. Lawler tries to intervene but gets punched by Hart for his troubles. Jason Sensation gets rolled into the ring and Hart puts him in the Sharpshooter. The other Nation of Domination guys comes out and D’Lo tries to get Hart to break the hold. Hart shoves D’Lo for getting in his way.

Suddenly DX appears and they and the Nation start to brawl. DX clears the ring.

Match 3:  The Rock & Owen Hart vs. Triple H & X-Pac (w/ Chyna)

DX attacks at the bell. All four men are just brawling. Triple H tears apart Owen Hart in the ring as The Rock wrecks X-Pac’s shit on the outside. JR asks Michaels where he stands with DX and HBK gets bleeped and says that he’s not a part of the current equation.

X-Pac ends up getting the upper hand as the Rock runs into the ring only to get kicked in the head and double clotheslined out to the floor. Some semblance of order is established and a tag team match begins with X-Pac and The Rock in the ring.

The Rock pounds on X-Pac but misses in the corner after a whip. X-Pac goes for a whip of his own but it gets reversed and he is murdered with a Samoan Drop. Rock goes for a pin and gets two. He stomps on X-Pac for a bit and then tags in Owen.

Hart goes up to the ropes and hits an elbow drop to get another near fall. X-Pac gets his shit ruined by Rock and Hart. Hart whips X-Pac into the corner with such speed that he bounces out and lands flat on his face. Owen connects with a belly to belly suplex for another near fall. X-Pac fights back but misses with a crossbody allowing Owen to hit him with a backbreaker and make the tag.

The Rock comes in but gets dropped by X-Pac. He gets back to his feet and lays out X-Pac with a clothesline and then hits the People’s Elbow and goes for a pin. ONE! TWO! NO! X-Pac somehow manages to kick out.

Owen distracts the ref, allowing The Rock to punch X-Pac in the dick. He pays for it though as Chyna gets up on the apron to distract the ref so Triple H can level The Rock with the European Championship belt. X-Pac rolls over and covers The Rock for two, but the rock kicks out.

The Rock knocks Triple H off the apron so X-Pac can’t make the tag, but ends up walking into an X-Factor. X-Pac makes the cover and three seconds later he and Triple H are declared the winners. Triple H was never officially in the match.

Winners: Triple H & X-Pac

This was a pretty good match though it was a bit weird to see X-Pac in peril for the duration of the match, kick out of the People’s Elbow, and get a more or less clean win over The Rock without Triple H ever tagging in. [**⅓]

Meanwhile Backstage…

Marc Mero and Jacqueline are feeling all up on one another. Mero will be in action next.

Match 4: Marc Mero (w/ Jacqueline) vs. Steve Blackman

Sable comes out and joins JR, Lawler, and Shawn Michaels on commentary for this rematch from the Brawl For All match these two had a couple weeks ago. I have no idea what actually happens in this match since the vocal point is Sable and Jacqueline.

Sable promises that the bikini she’s going to wear at Fully Loaded will make the bikini she wore at the Slammy Awards look like an evening gown at one point. A wrestling match is happening a few feet away, but they don’t actually show it.

The end of the match comes when the ref is distracted (as we all were) by Sable and Jacqueline jawing with each other ringside. Mero hits a low blow and looks to have the match won. Jacqueline heads up top to do something, but Sable gets up and shakes the ropes to Jackie crotches herself.

“Does that hurt them as much as it does us?” Shawn Michaels wonders aloud.

Mero is distracted by all the bullshit and Steve Blackman recovers from the dick punch and kicks Mero’s head off and picks up the win.

Winner: Steve Blackman

Of all the worst stuff ever that exists in Attitude Era WWE, Sable is one of the worst. She’s bad on the mic, can’t actually wrestle, and ended up ruining Marc Mero. Now, I’m not going to say that he was the best wrestler or should have been anything more than a midcard guy, but he was alright as Johnny B. Badd in WCW and was pretty decent as “The Wildman” Marc Mero when he first came in to the WWE, but by the end of this entire feud there was nothing they could do with him in the WWE and if he’d gone back to the WCW people would have just chanted Sable at him there too. [-*]

Match 5: New Age Outlaws (w/ Chyna) vs. Kane & Mankind (w/ Paul Bearer)

This is for the WWF Tag Team Championship. Outlaws are out first. Road Dogg does his stupid spiel. Mr. Ass has two words for us. Kane and Mankind come out next, but before the match gets underway Undertaker comes out as well. It takes him a million years to get down to the ring. I guess he’s there to scout out his competition for Fully Loaded, though Lawler continues to insist that Kane and Taker are in cahoots.

Road Dogg and Mankind start things off. Mankind gets in some early offense, but Dogg starts working over his arm, which is apparently still injured from King of the Ring. Billy Gunn gets tagged in and Mankind nails him a few times before getting taken down by Gunn.

Mankind rolls out to the floor and Chyna slams the tag team belt into his already injured shoulder. Mankind heads back into the ring where he is promptly double teamed. He manages to fend of the Outlaws, but runs shoulder first into the ringpost when Dogg moves.

Gunn heads back in and promptly leaps from the second rope into a Mandible Claw. Road Dogg makes the save. Mankind tags in Kane and Gunn goes to work with punches. His blows have zero effect though so Road Dogg comes in to help. It does not go well.

Billy Gunn gets sent to the outside where Mankind chucks him into the steps. Kane’s out on the floor to roll Billy Gunn back into the ring. Kane uppercuts him. The Rock and Owen Hart appear on the ramp causing a distraction. Gunn gets his head run into Mankind’s boot.

Mankind is back in and Gunn fights back but Mankind whips him into the corner. Gunn hits hard and bounces backwards, colliding with Mankind. Heads bump and both men are down. Both men make the tag. Road Dogg is punching, but it has no effect on Kane. He hits Mankind and all four men are in the ring.

Gunn piledrives Mankind before he and Road Dogg take out Kane with a Fame-asser and a Russian leg sweep. Road Dogg goes up top, but D’Lo Brown appears and knocks him off the top rope and then hits him with the Lo Down. Where was the ref during this? Distracted with DX and the Nation of Domination brawling on the outside of course!

Kane Tombstones Road Dogg and makes the cover as D’Lo escapes into the audience. ONE! TWO! THREE! NEW CHAMPIONS!

Winners: Kane & Mankind

I guess Undertaker & Stone Cold vs. Mankind & Kane at Fully Loaded is for the tag team titles now…sorry New Age Outlaws. This match was ridiculously overbooked with belt shots and run-ins and a ringside brawl between the Nation of Domination and DX, none of which actually needed to happen.

Kane, at this point, was still more or less an unstoppable monster. He was fighting Road Dogg and Billy Gunn, a couple of midcard guys whose big claim to fame was saying “Suck it.” Those guys losing to Kane would not have hurt them in the slightest. Especially if they kept the first part of the match the same and had them work over the already injured Mankind before Kane tags in and ruins their shit. I guess however they needed to set up for the immediate rematch later that night and the interference gave them a reason, but it still seemed like an overbooked mess. [**]

Meanwhile Backstage…

Triple H yells at Vince McMahon about the utter lack of control the referees have had in recent matches and suggests maybe he should put on the referee shirt and do it himself. This is kind of hilarious since they themselves partook in some outside interference earlier in the night and pretty much in every match of theirs I’ve since since I randomly started watching these again.

Match 6: Kaientai (w/ Yamaguchi-san) vs. Taka Michinoku & Too Much

Scott Taylor and Brian Christopher hate Taka Michinoku. Lawler claims that they’ve been forced to team together tonight by the office. The Too Much boys are not too happy about it, but the work pretty well for the opening portion of the match.

Too Much hit some double team moves earlier on. We get a few minutes of six man light heavyweight action. Lots of dudes flying about. Decent back and forth action. At one point Brian Christopher gets sent to the outside at which point Scott Taylor starts talking shit to Taka Michinoku who responds by dropkicking the man who would become Scotty 2 Hotty into the hands of Kaientai. Kaientai hit Taylor with a senton and pick up the win as Taka looks on.

Brian Christopher beats him down after the match and then Val Venis’ music hits. He appears up at the top of the ramp and apologizes to Yamaguchi-san, saying that he learned he should never mess with another man’s wife and to make up for his transgression he’s going to give Yamaguchi-san a sneak peek at his latest video, “Land of the Rising Venis.”

Michaels proclaims, “I love these. I’ve got a bunch of these at home.”

On the Titantron we get footage of Venis in bed, moaning while the remainder of the screen is pixelated.

“Why are they blurring out the agents?” asks Michaels.

In the video, Val asks, “Did you find the remote,” and the out from under the sheets popped Yamaguchi-san’s wife, Mrs. Yamaguchi-san. Venis told him “Sayanora,” and turned off the camera.

In the ring Yamaguchi was absolutely livid.

Winners: Kaientai

This match was alright, but WCW was putting on way better Cruiserweight/Light Heavyweight/Junior Heavyweight matches at this time, so WWF’s Light Heavyweight division always seemed a pale imitation.

So Val is humping Mrs. Yamaguchi-san which means it’s almost time for “Me choppy choppy your pee pee.” It’s like a test that I know is coming and just want to be over with so I can move on with my life. [**¼]

Skittles Slam of the Week

The Undertaker chokeslamming the shit out of The Godfather, D’Lo Brown and Terry Funk last week is the Skittles Slam of the Week solely for JR screaming, “WHO’S YOUR DADDY D’LO?!”

Meanwhile in the Ring…

Vince comes out to a chorus of boos. Michaels mocks him and says that if Vince were named Richard he’d surely call him Dick instead. Vince said they he’d talk about the tag team situation later but first he has other business to attend to. He calls out Undertaker. Forty hours later Taker arrives in the ring.

Vince gives us a rundown of all the terrible things Taker was willing to do to become champ, including dressing up like Kane and fooling everyone, Vince included. Vince thinks that Taker is getting help and asks him if he is in cahoots with Kane.

“GO TO HELL!” growls The Undertaker.

Vince stammers, “Who do you think you are?” but before Taker can reply we hear the sound of breaking glass and 17,000 fans losing their collective shit.

Steve Austin shows up and says that he can respect Taker challenging him to a match face to face and even dressing up like Kane to get the title shot he wanted, but before SummerSlam there’s a roadblock called Fully Loaded and he and Taker have to team up to face Mankind and Kane so Austin wants to know where Taker stands.

“YOU GO TO HELL TOO!” growls The Undertaker.

Before a brawl can happen DX’s music hits and they come down to ring en masse and Triple H says that everyone in the WWF wants answers and then demands an answer from Vince about the tag team situation. Before Vince can say anything Triple H is like, “You’re going to give the Outlaws their rematch tonight and find out whether or not the Undertaker and Kane are in cahoots. I propose we have three refs. One on the the inside and Stone Cold and Taker on the outside.”

Vince likes this plan and agrees and the Triple H and DX tell Vince to “suck it,” and bounce. Vince looks like he’s going to shit his pants as the Undertaker comes towards him.

Match 7: Dan Severn vs. The Godfather

Time once again for the Brawl For All. Severn was one of the favorites to win this, but seems to struggle with the concept since this was more like a Toughman Contest than an MMA match. He goes for a bunch of takedowns and the gets Godfather in holds rather than breaking so he gets yelled at to break the hold. The bell sounds before he actually breaks.

Round two is more of the same. Severn takes down Godfather, the announcers can’t tell if it counts since it not really a “clean takedown,” Severn gets Godfather in some hold, the ref yells at him to break the hold.

Round three begins and Godfather is winning according to the unofficial score. The crowd is actively booing again and chanting “We want wrestling.” Jerry Lawler starts yelling for someone to throw punches. He wants to see a knockout. Severn obliges him and throws some random punches, none of which really look like they connect. He then goes after Godfather’s legs again. Once more the ref breaks them up. The match ends.

Somehow Severn is declared the winner. Maybe his takedowns were decided to be “clean enough.” Who the fuck knows?

Winner: Dan Severn

How the fuck did Dan Severn have the worst match in this stupid tournament? It seems almost impossible. Like Steve Blackman’s match was at least kind of funny since he totally outclassed Marc Mero. I figured this would be like that, but instead we got a ref screaming at Dan Severn to break the hold for three minutes and then Severn randomly being declared the winner. He would withdraw from the tournament after this single match, complaining that the rules were dumb as fuck. [-**]

Match 8: New Age Outlaws vs. Kane & Mankind (w/ Paul Bearer)

A rematch for the WWF Tag Team Championships the Outlaws lost earlier tonight. Taker and Austin come out to officiate. Austin has a cooler of beers with him which is goddamn hilarious. He leaves them next to the announce table and Shawn tries to get JR to give him one.

The Outlaws are furious and don’t even do their annoying entrance. They attack and send Mankind to the floor and then double team Kane. Billy Gunn goes to the outside and ruins Mankind’s shit by running the steel steps into his head.

The Outlaws go to double suplex Mankind into the ramp, but Kane runs out and hits a double clothesline on the Outlaws, the force of which causes them to suplex Mankind onto the ramp. All three men are laid out.

Road Dogg’s rolled into the ring by Kane. The Big Red Machine kicks him into the corner and proceeds to choke him out. This goes on for a bit until Kane gets tired of kicking too much ass and tags in Mankind.

Mankind gets on Road Dogg and chokes him out in the corner and then proceeds to stomp on him. He pulls Dogg back up to his feet and he and Kane proceed to work the Dogg over.

Kane is back in. He hits a back suplex and then goes up top and connects with a flying clothesline that takes Road Dogg’s head off. He covers, but Billy Gunn runs in and makes the save.

Mankind reenters, hits a swinging neckbreaker on Road Dogg and pins him. The ref starts to count, but Stone Cold tells him that Road Dogg’s got his foot on the rope so the pin attempt doesn’t count. Mankind whips him into the ropes, but Dogg ducks and catches Mankind in a sleeper hold. Unfortunately for him, Mankind backs him into the corner.

Kane tags in and proceeds to run Road Dogg face first into the corner. Mankind hits the ring which brings in Billy Gunn as well. Those two slug it out. The ref has seemingly lost control of the match.

Road Dogg heads to the apron and the ref is talking to him. The ref ends up having a guy whipped into him in the corner as he talks to Road Dogg and then gets splashed by another dude in rapid succession. He’s dead.

Road Dogg proceeds to punch Kane in the dick and get a roll up, but there’s no ref to make the count…except the two bonus refs on the outside. Austin slides in and starts to make the count, but Undertaker pulls him out to the floor.

Austin and Taker argue on the outside, allowing Kane time to recover. He goozles Road Dogg and chokeslams him. Taker enters the ring to make the count, but this time Austin pulls his leg to break up the count. Taker and Austin have a staredown in the middle of the ring until Kane attacks Austin and Mankind goes after Undertaker.

This causes DX and the Nation of Domination to hit the ring and start brawling. Stone Cold is giving the Stunner to everyone. There are heaps of bodies in the ring and JR is losing his goddamn mind as the show goes off the air.

Winners: No Contest

This was not a good match and did not really do anything to further the storyline. It didn’t prove one way or another whether or not Kane and Taker were in cahoots since Taker is already booked in a tag team match against Kane & Mankind who are now champs and could have just wanted them to retain so that he would have a chance to win the tag team straps at Fully Loaded.

Plus this was the second match of the night when Road Dogg of all people made Kane look like a geek. Why not have Taka Michinoku hit him with a Michinoku Driver or Sable get him with the Sable bomb while we’re at it? [*⅓]

Final Thoughts

Let’s talk about the good stuff first. Shawn Michaels was pretty good on commentary here. He talked about what was going on in the ring and his occasional asides were not really that distracting. I thought he did a good job of putting over the product and the performers. Stuff like saying that the guys competing in the Brawl For All had balls to even step into the ring or talking about how bad getting whipped into the turnbuckles hurts when X-Pac got wrecked by Owen whipping him into the corner was good commentary. I would be happy if Michaels stayed on commentary. I’d be overjoyed if he started doing commentary again now in 2017…

And the bad stuff this week…

The Brawl For All continues to be awful with its one saving grace being that the matches are consistently short so we don’t have to see much terrible brawling. In a swerve that only the Attitude Era could have come up with, somehow the worst Brawl For All match of all featured professional MMA guy, Dan Severn, who didn’t seem to understand the rules.

Sable on the mic is godawful. Sure she had huge tits, and looked good if you have a thing for blondes with huge tits, but she is so bad at speaking and her feud with Jacqueline is slowly killing Marc Mero’s wrestling career.

With regards to the in-ring action, all I have to say is, boy were there were a lot of tag team matches this week. Nearly half the card tonight was tag team matches that ended with DX and The Nation of Domination brawling with one another ringside. None of them were bad matches, but it got kind of repetitive and the only thing we had to break up the monotony was shitty Brawl For All matches.

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