Monday Night Raw
Date: January 19, 1998
Location: Selland Arena, Fresno, California
Commentators: Jim Ross, Michael Cole, Kevin Kelly, Jerry Lawler
We’re officially on the Road to Wrestlemania now as this is the night after the Rumble. Austin won of course and will face HBK, the winner of the casket match. Unfortunately the winner of the casket match shattered his back and can barely move let alone wrestle. Things would have to be booked properly to make sure this worked right, which was impressive in its own right.
That’s not the most important thing tonight though, as we have one of the most famous moments in wrestling history tonight as Mike Tyson is here. This would, for all intents and purposes, launch Austin vs. McMahon. Just saying that name brings a little smile to my face. They had had some run-ins before this but nothing that would compare to this one. Let’s get to it.
We open with a recap of Kane vs. Taker. Going into the Rumble there was a belief that Kane might help his brother in the casket match. Kane did appear during the match but turned on his brother (yeah I’m stunned too) and threw him in the casket, locked it, and LIT IT ON FIRE. Footage would later reveal the casket was empty after it was clear Kane had thrown him in there. I’m not sure if that had aired yet though.
Theme song is still awesome. Austin signs all over the place.
Paul Bearer opens the show properly as he comes out to Taker’s old music. Mad heat on Bearer. He says he got us didn’t he. Bearer talks about how awesome he is for a good while and about how it was all a plan with him and Kane and how Kane never really left him. This is some pretty solid gloating indeed. How exactly does Bearer get his face to curve like that?
He says that Taker is gone and never to return. Naturally this brings about a gong and a big pop from the crowd. Druids bring out a casket and of course Kane is in it. JR calls him dastardly so you can tell he’s serious. Paul Bearer says he’s Paul Bearer and you’re not. Thanks for clearing that up fat boy.
Ad for the encore of the Rumble, complete with every single highlight of it.
We talk to DX in the back where HHH says that Owen might want to head south too because he can’t cut it here. Shawn talks about being guilt ridden over the whole incident with Taker last night. He’s going to bring Taker back tonight though.
Disciples of Apocalypse vs. Nation of Domination
The Nation is Farooq, Kama and D’Lo here against the regular three Disciples. One of the twins that we’ll call Skull starts with D’Lo. Never mind as that’s 8-Ball. Brown got a nice run in the Rumble and they were trying to push him as a decent midcard guy around this time which never really got off the ground even with the European Title.
Skull wasn’t in the Rumble as some people jumped him, thinking he was Austin. That was actually kind of creative. Chainz (Brian Lee to you SMW and ECW fans) takes over for a bit before Kama takes him down. Off to Farrooq now who would soon be thrown out of the Nation. By soon I mean a few weeks/months but close enough. The fans are all over D’Lo here so maybe that’s what they saw in him.
He takes down one of the twins with an elbow to give the Nation control again. Why did the Harris Brothers keep getting jobs? They weren’t interesting at all but they managed to keep getting signed. We sing Farrooq’s praises for a bit until Brown misses a moonsault so that Skull (I guess) can make the tag to Chainz. Everything breaks down and it’s a DQ. Rock and Henry run down and it’s a big beatdown. Shamrock comes out to get a piece of Rock and Ahmed Johnson comes out because he existed to fight the nation.
Rating: C-. Pretty boring match here but it was to set up the post match shenanigans. I’m assuming this would set up a big ten man tag somewhere but I don’t remember it off the top of my head. This wasn’t too bad and I’ve long since been a fan of tag matches to start shows so this was fine.
Vic Venom gives us an ad for Raw Magazine. He would eventually go to WCW and become an onscreen character by his real name: Vince Russo. And so it begins.
Tom Brandi vs. Marc Mero
PLEASE let this be their last fight as no one cared about this feud at all. I didn’t realize Chimmel did announcing this early. Ridiculous pop for Sable. Mero puts a robe on Sable that says Property of Marvelous Marc Mero. Brandi is big and Italian. That’s all there is to him really. He jumps Mero to start us off and gets a side slam for two. Big Sable chant starts up as Mero gets a DDT to take over.
He’s starving for attention apparently. Someone brings a bouquet of flowers for Sable and Mero isn’t pleased at all. He beats up the flowers instead of Brandi and sends Sable to the back to great heat. Brandi’s limited offense is in full swing here including a sitout Gordbuster for two.
Brandi speeds things up a bit and gets two off a reversal to a suplex. TKO is countered and Brandi is sent to the floor on the kickout. Sunset flip gets two and here’s Sable to distract the referee and the TKO (Fireman’s Carry into a Cutter) ends this. Mero beats him up with the flowers for fun post match.
Rating: C. This actually wasn’t that bad. It would have been a lot better if anyone actually cared about Brandi but I guess that’s splitting hairs. This wasn’t much of anything but it wasn’t boring which is rather surprising. Decent little match that hopefully ends this feud once and for all.
DX goes off to inspect the hearse which I might have mentioned earlier but I’m not sure that’s here and open the back door. Inside are….women. The pull the guys inside and Chyna shuts the door. And they were in a hearse why?
Shane arrives with Mike Tyson. Maybe that should be switched.
Quebecers vs. Cactus Jack/Chainsaw Charlie
…the heck? What in the world are these guys doing here? Didn’t I suffer enough back in 94? They start on the floor of course and it’s all hardcore dudes in control so far. Jacques, looking about 90 pounds heavier than the last time I saw him, starts with Funk officially. Piledriver by Rougeau can’t keep Terry down for even one.
Off to Pierre who used to be a pirate I think but I might have my guys backwards. Cactus comes in to save Charlie/Terry and throws a Mandible Claw on the referee because he’s a little nuts. That’s good for a DQ but the beating continues post match. Terry, the freaking crazy man that he is, launches a Vader Bomb off the apron to take out everyone. Cactus clears the ring with a bat despite not really being in trouble. No rating as this was mainly brawling without much of any actual wrestling.
DX is still looking for the Deadman and asks some Mexican midgets. Shawn doesn’t want to bend down that far so Chyna picks him up instead.
Tyson is having fun talking to….Sgt. Slaughter?
NWA North American Title: Bradshaw vs. Jeff Jarrett
Bradshaw is a Blackjack here so he has more or less no chance here. Jarrett has Cornette and the Rock N Roll Express with him which is an odd combination indeed. Cornette gets on commentary because he’s awesome. Cornette rants about the WWF being worse than the NWA and goes about 20 seconds without taking a breath in one long sentence. Nothing impressive for Cornette but awesome for normal humans.
Jarrett controls to start but runs into the future New York Millionaire who launches him with a fallaway slam. Bradshaw went 40 minutes in the Rumble last night. The Express interferes to give Jarrett the advantage but he misses a charge. Gibson takes him down again but there’s what would become the Clothesline From JBL for no cover. BIG powerbomb takes Jarrett down again and has to fight the Express some more. Windham is at ringside and does nothing but accidentally hit Bradshaw to end it.
Rating: D+. This was a mess for the most part but had some entertaining value to it. Bradshaw was a guy that they wanted to push for a long time it seemed but it took six years for them to finally pull the trigger on him for some reason. The NWA angle is one of those that I’m still not sure what the point was but it would die off soon.
The NWA guys beat Bradshaw down post match and Windham turns on him, joining the NWA again. They had a decent little stable going there.
Ads for house shows.
Time for Hour #2 which is where the good stuff happened more often than not.
Shawn rants about not speaking Spanish and not being able to find Taker, and the lights go out. Great you’ve summoned Satan somehow.
Tyson is still walking around in the back.
There’s the gong going off and there go the lights again. Do they pay their electric bills or not? Someone is lowered from the ceiling but you can’t see anyone clearly at all. The lights come up….and it’s Shawn in Taker attire. He’s managing to dance here so I guess his back wasn’t completely destroyed until the next day. Chyna and HHH head to the ring with a grill as it’s time for a cookout.
Let the wiener jokes begin. Chyna has a salami which may or may not be a joke. HHH offers Owen (The Mr. Hanky of WWF, which was the tenth episode of South Park and the most recent at the time so that really was a new idea at the time) a title match next week despite having a bad knee. He also says why would you want to ride Space Mountain (throwing in a WOO here) because it’s old and broken down. I wonder if Flair ever called him out on that later.
Shawn says he’s still awesome and wanted to give Taker one more shot but he’s gone. He wants to know who’s next for the title shot and says the name Stone Cold, drawing the biggest pop of the night by far. He goes over Austin’s resume and points out that he has done all those things as well, although he leaves out being one of the three people to win a pair of Rumbles. Shawn says that the Heartbreak Kid lays down for absolutely nobody, which seemed like it was taking a lot of effort to say for some reason.
Tyson is talking to the LOD which is so awesome it’s beyond words. Sunny shows up to hit on him which gives Hawk a rush. Ok then.
Los Boricuas vs. Owen Hart/Taka Michinoku/Headbangers
Honky Tonk Man of all people is on commentary here. Has anyone ever explained why Los Boricuas aren’t Las Boricuas as they should be? Miguel (don’t worry about who is who. Only Savio ever meant anything) starts with Taka and actually beats up the champion a bit. Off to Mosh and Jesus now and there are a lot of leapfrogs. JR says Jerry and Honky are talking like cousins, wink wink nudge nudge.
The Puerto Rican gang beats on Mosh for awhile and Savio WOOs at the crowd which seems to be a theme for the night. Owen comes in to a BIG pop, which means nothing though and he should be fed to HHH of course, and the Sharpshooter ends one of the unimportant guys with relative ease.
Rating: C-. Just barely long enough to pass here but it wasn’t too bad. These matches aren’t very good but when you have three minutes and eight guys, how much can you get in there? The point was for Owen to look good and he ran through the four guys with ease at the end so it did its job and wasn’t terribly boring so I’ll let it pass.
Owen accepts HHH’s challenge for next week.
Tyson is talking to the Nation now.
Austin is still to come. If you couldn’t figure out the ending already you’re an idiot.
Rocky Maivia vs. Ahmed Johnson
They’re alternating between Rocky Maivia and The Rock at this point. Ahmed rushes the ring and Rocky takes him down almost immediately. Ahmed could have been awesome but he couldn’t stay healthy. Rock hits an elbow drop which is just a flashy move here and nothing special at all, not even having a name yet.
Crowd HATES Rocky here. Ahmed blocks a suplex and here he comes (To save the day! Save the day!). Big clothesline takes the Great One down and we hit the floor. Rocky into the steps but here’s Mark Henry to run interference. He grabs a chair as Rocky takes a spinebuster. It’s time for the Plunge but there’s the chair to Ahmed’s back and the Rock Bottom (no name either) ends it. Really short so no rating again.
Shamrock runs down to get a piece of the Rock but he bails.
We get a clip of last night with Shawn standing over the open casket and Taker grabbing his balls. Odd moment.
Tyson is chilling with DX.
Tag Titles: Godwinns vs. New Age Outlaws
The Outlaws are still fine tuning things here and wouldn’t join DX for over two more months. Road Dogg does the big long intro as he’s coming to the ring. They’re in overalls here to make fun of the hog farmers I guess. And the fight is on almost immediately with the big men taking over early. The Outlaws had a tendency to get destroyed for the vast majority of their matches before somehow escaping with the belts.
Billy gets his overalls ripped off to be left in blue tights. Ross is pimping the heck out of that replay. As I predicted the Outlaws are getting destroyed here. Phineas goes Japan by launching some kicks at Billy’s ribs. No Road Dogg in yet. We’re talking about Tyson more or less non stop here which is fine for once. This has been completely one sided.
Road Dogg has to break up a pin while Lawler talks about how everyone in his family is a boxer, except for his aunt who is a Doberman. Funny line. Billy tries to fight back which gets him nowhere. Wheelbarrow slam gets two by Henry. It all breaks down and Road Dogg gets a shot to Henry with a bucket for Billy to get the pin to retain. Road Dogg was never in the match. There was a brick in the bucket, as I guess the METAL BUCKET wasn’t enough to knock Henry out.
Rating: D. This was just bad. The Outlaws were awful in the ring at this point and the Godwinns were never good in the first place. This didn’t work in the slightest with there being one Outlaw in the match the entire time and the ending being pure Outlaws trash. Boring match overall and a weak main event. Granted that’s not the most important part of the show in the slightest.
And here it is. Vince brings out Mike Tyson for a major announcement. This was one of the major blows against WCW as this got WWF mainstream media coverage and in turn got fans watching. Tyson and the Attitude Era fit perfectly together and WCW was in trouble and knew it. Tyson lists off some of his favorites: Don Leo Jonathan (never wrestled for WWF) and Nikolai Volkoff (WTF???).
Vince starts to make the announcement that at Mania, in this very ring….CUE GLASS SHATTER! Security (read as Slaughter and referees) come out to stop him and the ring is completely full now. Austin says that he’s tired of Tyson shaking everyone’s hands and he won’t shake Tyson’s hands. This is an awesome moment if you can’t tell.
Austin says he wants a piece of Tyson. Get a room dude. It’s the famous scene of Austin saying that he’s the toughest son of a gun on the planet and that while he respects what Tyson has done in boxing, he’s in Austin’s world now. Austin says that if his words aren’t working he has some sign language for Tyson and flips him off. Tyson shoves Austin and it’s a big brawl.
The goons finally get Austin out of the ring and we get the famous shot of Vince shouting down to Austin that he ruined it, morphing into Mr. McMahon for the first time I believe. Austin flips Vince off and apparently hit one of Tyson’s guys. The crowd noise is ridiculously loud. After a quick break, Vince is seen begging Tyson to stay as we go off the air.
Overall Rating: B-. The wrestling is bad and the matches were pointless, but that’s the key word: pointless. This wasn’t about wrestling as it was clearly about making Austin look like a major deal. It was incredibly clear that Austin was getting the title at Mania. What wasn’t clear was how he was going to do it. Adding Tyson in was a perfect blend of mainstream and wrestling and its importance can’t be overshadowed. This was a fairly decent Raw for the most part but the ending was excellent. Good show overall.