WWF Raw Is War (July 27, 1998)

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We start things off with a photo recap of Austin and Taker winning the Tag Team titles at Fully Loaded. You want to see film footage of it, order the replay baby! We get the opening theme music and then JR welcomes us to Anaheim, CA where too much pyro is going off.

JR tells us that there’s going to be a tripe threat match for the Intercontinental Championship between The Rock, Triple H, and X-Pac later tonight. Lawler jizzes in his pants because he gets to present a trophy to the winner of last night’s bikini contest and Sable has promised to wear a new “Raw bikini.”

Opening Talky Segment…

Undertaker’s music hits and he heads down to the ring. He’s still got both tag team titles. He admits that it’s true that he and Austin are the champs but he says that he and Austin won’t be partners until Austin comes down and apologizes.

For some reason this pisses off Vince McMahon who comes out with his goon squad to berate Undertaker. Vince says that even though Taker tombstoned Kane at Fully Loaded, he doesn’t buy that they aren’t conspiring. He brings up the fact that at WrestleMania it took three tombstones to put away Kane, but last night one was enough even though everyone knows that Kane and Taker are damn near impervious to pain.

Vince says that if anyone needs an apology it’s Vince himself and not from Austin, but from the Undertaker for putting his hands on him and injuring his neck. Taker threatens to do it again. Vince continues by saying he will get an apology tonight and then says that Taker and Austin will have to defend their tag team titles against the New Age Outlaws later tonight. He vows to not leave the ring until he gets an apology.

(Breaking Glass)

HERE COMES AUSTIN! Vince and his goons bail as Austin stomps around in the ring and hold his title aloft. He gets on the mic and tells Vince to get his sorry ass to the back since he’s got nothing to say to him.

He says that Taker’s right, they are the champions, but that doesn’t make them friends or anything. If Vince is going to book matches Austin says that he’ll be there to defend the titles, but he’s not going to apologize to Undertaker. He flips Taker off and then leaves as Taker pouts in the ring.

Match 1: D’Lo Brown vs. Vader

This is a non-title match. D’Lo comes out first and gets on the mic talking about how he was on the phone with Euro Disney and they were opening two new rides: the Sky High and the Down Low. He says Vader can pick which one he wants to ride and then tells him to get his fat butt down to the ring.

Vader comes out prancing. This garners him a pretty sizable pop from the audience. I cannot blame them. Look at him go!

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Brown punches Vader in the neck area a few times, but Vader’s just like, “F that!” and whips D’Lo into the corner where he crushes him. Vader pounds on him, but D’Lo gets some shots in and decides that it would be a good idea to attempt to sunset flip Vader. Vader sits on him.

D’Lo rolls out to the floor to regroup. He heads back in and send Vader into the corner and nails him with a splash. He then sends him into the other corner and nails him with another splash and then proceeds to slam Vader with ease. An elbow drop follows that’s good for two. Vader continues to get pummeled by D’Lo Brown. D’Lo slams him again and then goes up top and hits his moonsault. He covers but Vader gets his shoulder up.

D’Lo ends up outside and Vader goes after him. Vader rips off D’Lo’s chest protector and slams him out on the floor. He then crushes the life out of D’Lo with a huge splash and rolls back into the ring. D’Lo gets counted out. Holy shit, Vader won.

Winner: Vader

I’m glad Vader got a win, but there was something in this match that was kind of ridiculous. D’Lo Brown was slamming Vader around like it was nothing which is stupid since Vader just had a match with “The World’s Strongest Man” the night before in which bodyslamming Vader was put over as an amazing feat. I know it’s kind of nitpicky, but I think it’s dumb. Other than that though it was a fine TV match. D’Lo looks like a cowardly heel for not putting the title on the line and Vader got a win. [**]

Droz’s World

We visit Droz at his house in a segment that apes the style of late 90s The Real World. Instead of having seven strangers picked to live in a house, he has snakes and guns and vomits a lot and drinks a beer and talks about shooting girls from Jersey. Delightful…

Meanwhile Backstage…

Bart Gunn is taping up his fists and “Dr. Death” Steve Williams is skipping rope. They’ll be in Brawl for All action coming up after the break!

Match 2: “Dr. Death” Steve Williams vs. Bart Gunn

Time for some more Brawl for All. We get instructions from the referee and the match gets underway. Williams more or less dominates the first round, scoring a takedown and some heavy shots, but Bart Gunn mounts some offense right as the round ends.

Round two is more back and forth. Williams’ punches seem to be connecting better, but Bart Gunn manages a takedown and keeps Williams’ at bay with his longer reach. Ross seems to be getting nervous on commentary.

Gunn’s down by ten points as we head into the third round, but manages to cut Williams lead to five when he scored a takedown. This apparently legitimately tore Williams’ hamstring putting him on the shelf for like three months and more or less ending his WWF run before it even began.

Williams gets back to his feet and he and Gunn exchange punches, but Gunn lays a shot that staggers Dr. Death and then follows up with a big left that knocks Dr. Death the fuck out with five seconds remaining.

Winner: Bart Gunn

Depending on what version of the Brawl for All origin story you believe this match could very well be the match that ruined the Brawl for All’s entire raison d’être since it is commonly believed that the entire thing was designed to get Steve Williams over as a legit badass. Bart Gunn put the kibosh on those plans here though, but WWE was able to captialize on this unexpected turn of events and make a huge star out of the man who eventually went on to win the entire thing, so it all turned out fine in the end…oh wait, that didn’t happen did it?

Anyway, the match was another Brawl for All. Lots of haymakers and a couple of takedowns. I guess the big thing about this match was it was the first bout to be decided by knockout which got the crowd briefly interested in the match. [*½]

Here Comes Owen!

While Bart Gunn is heading up the ramp and medical personnel are still getting Dr. Death’s unconscious ass out of the ring, Owen Hart shows up and gets in the ring. He says that because of beating Shamrock at Fully Loaded, he’s now the most dangerous man in the WWF and that he is not a nugget.

Owen says that if anyone has the guts to challenge him they should step into the ring right now. No one shows up for awhile and then Owen’s music hits. He looks perplexed until Jason Sensation, again dressed as Owen Hart, shows up. He says that he’s willing to stand nose to nose with Owen and calls him a nugget and says it’s time to flush him. He then leads the audience in a “nugget” chant.

Owen has had enough and heads up the ramp to go murder Jason Sensation when suddenly Dan Severn’s music hits and The Beast emerges from the back dressed in a suit. He backs Owen down the ramp and into the ring and we have ourselves a match!

Match 3: Owen Hart vs. Dan Severn

Owen punches Severn in the cock as he gets in the ring and then chokes him with his necktie. Owen gets Severn in the Sharpshooter, but Dan rolls through and counters. He starts pounding on Owen Hart in the corner when here comes Ken Shamrock!

Shamrock clotheslines Owen and then gets him in a Dragon Sleeper. Dan Severn tries to pull Shamrock off with a Dragon Sleeper of his own. An army of refs and officials rush into the ring to attempt to break this shit up and Steve Blackman strolls down to the ring as well in no big rush to prevent his friends from killing one another (and Owen Hart).

Things are eventually separated and we go to commercial.

Winner: Owen Hart

I didn’t really understand any of the stuff prior to the Ken Shamrock run-in. Why was Dan Severn helping a DX affiliated goof? Why did he wrestle in a suit? Why didn’t they just have Dan Severn in wrestling attire come out to answer Owen’s challenge and then do the same Shamrock run-in? [NR]

Meanwhile Backstage…

Shamrock screams unintelligibly at Michael Cole after being asked, “What just happened?” Shamrock is nearly at Zandig, “JEEEEEEEEEEEEEEZUS!” levels of madness over a wrestling match here as he knocks over the chainlink fence/55 gallon drum Raw Is War interview set and storms off.

Match 4: Farooq & Too Cold Scorpio vs. DOA (w/ Paul Ellering)

Bradshaw joins JR and Lawler on commentary for this match. He’s still pissed off at Terry Funk for not telling him he was planning on leaving the company until prior to last night’s match at Fully Loaded. He says that no one should ever cross him.

Scorpio gets beat up by the DOA for awhile until Farooq gets the tag. The DOA beat on him as well, but he hits a bulldog on the DOA guy that JR thinks is Skull. Skull(?) then bails out to the floor but Farooq goes after him. Eight Ball nails Farooq and then Scorpio goes up top and hits some sort of lucha move that takes out everyone. Scopio rolls back in and pounds on Skull (maybe) but ends up getting double-teamed.

Over at the announce table Lawler asks Bradshaw some benign question and Bradshaw gets all up in Lawler’s face telling him to call the damn match because, “this isn’t Comedy Central, it’s a fight!”

Farooq tags in and one of the DOA guys gets sent out to the floor. Bradshaw gets up and starts wailing on him and then gives Scorpio a big boot and hits the ring. He and Farooq stand in the center of the ring an wail on one another. Scorpio and the DOA join in the fisticuffs. Everyone is punching everyone else.

Officials eventually arrive and order is kind of restored as Bradshaw stomps off.

Winners: DOA (maybe?)

This match just existed so Bradshaw could turn heel more than he already did the night before or something. I don’t know. I don’t even really know who won. That being said the beginning part was pretty okay. Scorpio’s great and Farooq is a solid Guy Who Gets a Hot Tag in a Tag Team Match. The Bruise Brothers are Nazi fucks though so seeing Bradshaw beat the fuck out of them brought me a small bit of happiness. [*]

Meanwhile Backstage…

The Rock is standing by backstage. He yells at JR for asking dumb questions and talks about how after going 30 minutes with Triple H he’s still the champ but now he’s getting put in a two on one match the very next night. He says some stuff about cooking and asses and scratching. I don’t really know, since I can only focus on the fact that the interview set which consists of nothing more than a piece of chainlink fence, a black dropcloth, and a couple of 55 gallon drums is still in a heap from when Shamrock went all Zandig on it. Don’t they have stagehands to fix that sort of shit during the in-ring segments?

Stridex® Triple Action! 

We get a Stridex® Triple Action replay of Chyna punching The Rock in the cock and DDTing him on a chair from last night’s Fully Loaded PPV

Match 5: Triple H (w/ Chyna) vs. X Pac vs. The Rock

The Intercontinental Championship is on the line. The two DX guys come out together thankfully, but get separate ring introductions. Triple H does his little spiel and says that it’s his birthday so “LET’S GET READY TO SUCK IT!”

The DX boys double team The Rock from the get go. X-Pac kicks him a bunch while Triple H hits him with strikes and a big knee drop. The Rock is getting demolished in the corner, but after ducking a blow he takes down X-Pac only to get leveled with a clothesline from Triple H.

The Rock gets run over with a high knee from Triple H. Triple H then hits a Pedigree and goes for a cover, but X-Pac breaks it up and goes for a pin attempt of his own. X-Pac and Triple H are yelling at each other and shoving one another now.

The Rock takes out Triple H but gets leveled by X-Pac with a spinkick. X-Pac covers and gets two but The Rock kicks out. He then whips X-Pac into the ropes, causing him to collide with Triple H who’s standing out on the apron for some reason.

Triple H crashes into the announce table and dies while The Rock runs wild in the ring. He covers X-Pac for two and then beats on him some more and earns another near fall off a Samoan Drop. More offense from The Rock. He bodyslams X-Pac and set up for the People’s Elbow. The crowd pops huge for it and he nails X-Pac. ONE! TWO! NO! X-Pac kicks out.

X-Pac fights back but runs into a Rock Bottom. The Rock covers, but Triple H makes the save. He stops on The Rock and follows up with yet another knee and a clothesline that gets him two. He goes after the Rock again but the Rock ducks and takes Triple H down only to run right into an X-Factor from X-Pac.

X-Pac covers but Triple H makes the save. X-Pac gets angry and he and Triple H start to argue. The arguing gives way to shoving which in turn gives way to fisticuffs. The Rock has had enough, so he rolls out of the ring, picks up his belt, and then heads to the back. He is promptly counted out…in a triple threat match. The ring announcer is kind of at a lose as to how to announce this so we get, “The loser of the match due to a count out and still WWF Intercontinental Champion….THE ROCK!”

Winners: Triple H & X-Pac

Goddammit Russo, how do you do a countout finish in a Triple Threat match? I mean there hadn’t been a ton of Triple Threat matches at this point so maybe the rules hadn’t been completely codified yet, but if you’re going to do a count out ending, don’t let one of the other guys in the match chill out on the outside for like a minute and a half during the match. It makes the ending make no sense.

Outside of the dumb finish the match was pretty good. Triple H, The Rock, and X-Pac are all pretty good in the ring and the DX implosion, though predictable, was pretty well done. [**½]

Meanwhile Backstage…

Michael Cole interviews the New Age Outlaws. They aren’t worried about what happened between X-Pac and Triple H because they’re brothers and money is thicker than water. They have bigger fish to fry anyway, namely getting their tag team titles back tonight from Stone Cold and The Undertaker.

Match 6: Brakus vs. Jesus Castillo

Brakus comes out in a chainmail shawl. He takes Jesus to the mat and drops ‘bows on him. He screams in a German accent, “Come on! Get up!” at Jesus. Jesus gets up and promptly gets killed with a spinebuster and Brakus picks up the win.

Winner: Brakus

This would be Brakus’ last match with the WWE (he’d have one match after this for Stampede before retiring from wrestling). A meaningless squash match victory for a dude who’d never wrestle again in the WWE. [⅓*]

Meanwhile in the Shower…

Val Venis is taking a shower before his match rather than after. Mrs. Yamaguchi-san is in the shower with him.

Match 7: Val Venis vs. Brian Christopher (w/ Scott Taylor)

Before the match gets underway Kaientai comes out onto the stage with swords and deli meats. Val is distracted by this and Christopher attacks him before the bell and does that annoying as fuck laugh of his. His offensive flurry is short-lived though once Val makes his comeback.

Venis nails him with a pair of ATOMIC DROPS and then sends Brian Christopher for a ride. He telegraphs a back body drop through allowing Christopher to get back in control. Christopher goes for a piledriver but gets caught in an Alabama Slam.

Brian eats a big boot, but after some distraction from Scotty 2 Hotty, Brian nails him with a DDT. Too Much then go for a double clothesline on Venis over by the ropes, but miss and get taken out with a double clothesline from Val. Val then hits a fisherman’s suplex to pick up the win in another quick match.

Too Much then double team Val until Taka Michinoku runs out and makes the save. Up on the stage, Kaientai challenge Val to a match and then Yamaguchi-san chops a salami in half with his sword and declares, “I choppy choppy your pee pee.”

Winner: Val Venis

Two more weeks of this…just two more weeks of this. The match was what it was: a short meaningless thing to set up another match and forward an angle. The angle in question, however, is one of the stupidest angles in the history of the WWE so maybe it would have been better if it didn’t advance the angle. [*½]

Meanwhile Backstage…

The Legion of Doom cut a promo on their opponents tonight: Mark Henry and The Godfather. Animal does all the talking. Hawk looks like he’s about to fall asleep. Animal talks about kicking butt and forgoes screaming, “TELL ‘EM HAWK!” to set up for Hawk to bellow, “WEEEEEEELL!” and then cut a crazy ass promo.

Match 8: Mark Henry & The Godfather (w/ Hos) vs. Legion of Doom

Henry and The Godfather are out first. Godfather has “hos” with him for the first time in case anyone every asks you “When did The Godfather first have hos accompany him to the ring in WWE,” now you know.

The LOD heads down to the ring. Hawk is stumbling and missing his shoulder pads. He trips as he gets into the ring and falls. JR says something about “live TV folks,” and they move on.

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Animal starts off with Mark Henry. Henry gets taken down with a shoulder block and tags Godfather in. Animal gets sent into the corner and is run over. The Godfather tries the same move again, but Animal takes his head off with a clothesline.

Animal goes for a tag, but Hawk appears to be asleep. Animal is getting pummeled. Henry bodyslams Animal and Godfather boots him in the head and scores a near fall.

JR attempts to cover for Hawk on commentary being all like, “Hawk must have had a long night last night after getting some bad personal news,” but Lawler’s like “What the F are you on about?” while in the ring Godfather misses an elbow.

“You know, that personal issue that kept him awake last night thus leading to his sluggish performance today,” says JR, “Wink wink. Nudge nudge.”

“Oh that! Yeah that!” says Lawler, finally realizing what’s up.

Animal finally wakes up Hawk, but before he can make the tag he gets laid out and nailed with a legdrop for Mark Henry that’s good for two. Animal fights back and powerslams Godfather and goes for the cover, but Mark Henry breaks it up at two.

Animal gets clotheslined and run over by Henry. Henry proceeds to pull Animal up only to get clotheslined himself. A dropkick from Animal sends Henry out to the floor. Hawk suddenly springs into action and goes up top for a Doomsday Device only to lose his balance and fall to the floor.

Back in the ring Godfather nails Animal with the Death Valley Driver to pick up the win. He, Henry, and the “Hos” head to the back.

Winners: Mark Henry & The Godfather

This fucking angle so much. The actual wrestling stuff here was okay I guess, but the angle is just so disgustingly offensive and even more so when you learn that Hawk legit had problems with drugs and alcohol. Fucking Vince Russoo everyone…[-**]

Meanwhile In The Ring…

It’s time for the Bikini Contest awards ceremony. Jackie and Marc Mero head out first. Sable comes out in a t-shirt next. Lawler’s got a pair of trophies: a giant one for the winner and a tiny participation trophy. He says he has a note from the office of Vince McMahon and proceeds to read it.

Sable has been disqualified from the bikini contest since body paint does not constitute a bikini and therefore Jackie is declared the winner. Lawler gives her the massive trophy and she and Mero celebrate and then head to the back. Sable looks bitter.

Lawler shows Sable the note to prove he wasn’t just talking out of his ass and offers her the tiny trophy. Sable takes the mic and says she doesn’t need a stupid trophy to tell her she won. The fans’ reaction at Fully Loaded told her she won, but she’s not surprised that this happened. She says that she kind of expected it but wished Vince had been man enough to tell her to her face.

Vince appears and sways down to the ring. It’s still weird seeing him do the Vince McMahon walk without “No Chance in Hell” playing. He says man a bunch of times and that is like “How dare you question my masculinity!” He gets in the ring and tells Lawler to hit the bricks before tearing into Sable.

Vince says he’s dealt with a lot of ingrates during his time running the WWF, but he never would have thought Sable would be one of them. He was the one that came to her rescue when Marc Mero kicked her to the curb. He was her knight is shining armor.

Someone in the crowd nails Vince with some garbage and he tells them to go ahead and keep throwing shit because the next time they’d nail Sable with it. Vince continues by saying he brought Sable back because of her popularity with the WWF fans and everything he does is for the fans, but people like her are a dime a dozen.

He plays with her hair and tells her that he could easily replace her with any number of airheads and bimbos and that she owes him, and that with people like her he always collects. He says that he will continue to employ her as long as she’s not an ungrateful bitch.

Vince then turns away and she flips him off and seems to yell, “FUCK YOU!” at him before stripping off her t-shirt to reveal her “Raw bikini.” Vince either ignores her or somehow does not notice her screaming profanity at him or the huge pop she gets for removing clothing and heads to the back.

Meanwhile Backstage…

Steve Austin is pacing back by some forklift in the backstage area. The Tag Team Tiles will be defended next!

Match 9: The New Age Outlaws vs. The Undertaker & Stone Cold Steve Austin

The tag team titles are on the line. Out come the Outlaws. The crowd loves them. I don’t know why. The have two words for us or something. I hate the New Age Outlaws. Taker comes out with both tag team titles and then Austin comes out on his own. After the stands on turnbuckles the match gets underway.

Austin and Gunn start things off and lock up. Austin turns him about in the corner and then flips him off after they break. Gunn gets pushed into the ropes and then takes Austin down with a shoulder block. He proceeds to flex at Austin.

Austin flexes back at him and then flips him off. He unloads on Billy Gunn and destroys him with a clothesline. He catapults Gunn into the corner and Billy Gunn rolls out of the ring. Austin goes after him only to get blindsided by Road Dogg allowing the Outlaws to get in control.

Road Dogg and Taker get tagged in. Taker destroys Road Dogg and then goes Old School. JR is impressed by this. Road Dogg gets goozled, but Gunn chopblocks Taker. Road Dogg goes to work on Taker’s leg. He works on his leg for a million years.

Undertaker gets back to his feet, but Road Dogg unloads on him with mediocre punches in the corner. Taker picks him up and switches places with him and unloads on Road Dogg’s gut. Taker goes for a big boot, but he misses and again the Outlaws go after his leg and drop him.

Billy Gunn gets tagged in and after an elbow drop, goes back to work on the leg. Taker attempts to fight back but gets pulled into the corner where the Outlaws double team him and continue to work over his leg.

Taker eventually drops Road Dogg and Billy Gunn misses in the corner. Taker gets back to his corner and Austin gets the HOT TAG! JR loses his shit as Austin unloads on the Outlaws. Gunn gets creamed with the Thesz Press and then chucked out to the floor. Austin stuns Road Dogg and covers for three as the Undertaker comes in and wrecks Billy Gunn’s shit with a chokeslam.

After the match Austin goes out and gets some beers out of a cooler. He chugs one and starts heading up the ramp, but then turns and tosses one to Taker. Taker opens it and then starts chugging a beer as well to a massive pop.

Suddenly Kane and Mankind appear and wreck shit on Austin. Taker comes out of the ring and pulls Mankind off Austin and starts pounding on him. WE’RE OUTTA TIME! WE GOTTA GO!

Winners: The Undertaker & Stone Cold Steve Austin

This was a fine tag team match even if it did the any two main event guys can beat any tag team thing that I kind of hate. I am glad though that they didn’t just hot potato the titles back to the Outlaws again since that does seem to be Vince Russo’s shtick. [**]

Final Thoughts

Lots of Vince Russo booking here. I knew Brawl For All, “I choppy choppy your pee pee,” Hawk is an alcoholic/drug addict, and X-Pac in blackface were all things that happened under his watch, but I didn’t realize that they were all happening concurrently. Summer ’98 is really proving to be a shitty time for the WWE outside of the stuff involving the WWF Championship and the Intercontinental Championship. I might be able to live with some stupid storylines if the in-ring action was good, but most of the matches are like three to five minutes long and generally end in some sort of schmoz. It’s pretty bad.

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