Monday Night Raw – June 1, 1998 – Taker Shoots?

Monday Night Raw
Date: June 1, 1998
Location: Rosemont Horizon, Chicago, Illinois
Attendance: 16,157
Commentators: Michael Cole, Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

So it’s the night after Over the Edge and Austin kept the title in a great main event. That being said, now we need a new #1 contender, so let’s have a big main event to decide it. That main event: Undertaker vs. Kane. Other than that there isn’t much here but we’re on the way to King of the Ring and one of the most famous matches and moments in wrestling history. Let’s get to it.

We open with a video narrated by Vince where he says the match was fair but Dude screwed up and Austin counted the pin with Vince’s hand in an awesome ending.

Foley is in the ring in normal clothes in a chair. He says it wasn’t a good night in Dudeville last night. Foley admits that Austin beat him up last night and that he listened to the wrong people. It’s time for the Dude to apologize. If that’s accepted, he’d like to have Vince come out here. Cue Vince who has no music yet. Foley says he knows he let Vince down but due to his injuries, he’s going to be out for awhile. Hopefully though when he comes back, he’ll be #1 contender due to the match he had last night.

Vince isn’t happy and demands Foley get down on his knees. Foley says this is a joke…right? Vince says Foley is the joke, so get on your knees. Foley says his kids are watching at home so he’s not going to embarrass himself on national TV. According to Vince, he’s already an embarrassment and a failure.

Foley says Vince is failing to understand how tough Austin is. Last night, when he hit Vince in the head, deep inside, it felt pretty good. Vince says do it again if it felt so good, but remember that college fund and the new mortgage. He wants Foley to have some guts for once and Foley (split sweatpants and all) sits down. Vince hasn’t fired Austin yet because he makes Vince richer. All Foley does is make Vince sick. Foley gets fired and his music comes on.

King of the Ring qualifying matches begin tonight.

LOD 2000 says they’re ready for the street fight tonight. They’re in the back near where the cars come in. Droz throws up a lot. Chainz comes in on his bike and the twins jump the LOD.

LOD 2000 vs. Disciples of Apocolypse

This is a street fight and you can see the sky out back. There’s a referee out there for some reason and I really hope this is the blowoff. This isn’t a match at all so I’m not going to try to call it like one. Hawk swings a big metal pole at Skull but misses. They’re slowing down a lot now as you would expect. Animal goes off on 8-Ball with a trashcan. Droz and Chainz are the only ones left up and Taker arrives at the arena in street clothes and beats them both up. This was by no means a wrestling anything so no rating.

After a break, Taker (who looks REALLY fat in sweats) is looking for Vince.

Val Venis vs. Papi Chulo

Chulo is more famous as Essa Rios but his chick who would eventually appear with him is more famous as Lita. We hear about LOD being at the Rupp Arena box office for tickets for a Raw. Not only did I not hear about that appearance, I never heard about that Raw. Val says he’s not happy to see you. That’s a gun in his pocket and it doesn’t shoot blanks. Total dominance by Val to start and he hooks a camel clutch and manages to gyrate while holding it. That’s impressive.

Val beats him down as Cole mentions that Papi Chulo means Pimp Daddy. I think that would be Val’s partner eventually. JR rants about Foley being fired in public, which is almost bizarre given what would be coming for him eventually. Chulo gets a quick comeback but gets caught in a Samoan Drop. Money Shot ends this.

Rating: C-. Val was always solid in the……uh I mean he was always hard to…….he was good at getting on the ground and……HE COULD WRESTLE OK??? This was a total squash and Chulo was nothing more than a jobber at this point so this was about as predictable as it could get.

Taker walks out in street clothes and after a break part of his promo is cut off. He wants to talk about Vince. Ten years ago when he first arrived here (more like seven and a half but whatever) Vince was known as someone that would give an opportunity. He gave Taker an opportunity to be himself: to be the Undertaker. Shortly after he arrived, he became the slayer of the dragons. Vince knew Taker would be loyal so he gave him nothing but giants to face. As in the guys the handpicked champions couldn’t beat but Taker could. Taker kept the company safe for Vince and the handpicked guys.

Taker knew his time would come and then once the kingdom was safe, he got his opportunities. He’s a former two time world champion, but his times with the belt didn’t last long. Well the first one was six days so no argument there. The second was almost four and a half months. That might be a stretch. They’ve been short because Vince didn’t want him representing the company. He’s been loyal though and after all of his own handpicked guys left for greener pastures and more money (are we actually seeing a Taker “shoot”?), he had to fight his own brother.

Now whoa whoa WHOA. Now things are getting confusing which is how you can tell Russo had his hand in this. Taker has done half of this in kayfabe and half not in kayfabe. He talked about how he was loyal to the company and how others left for more money, but also how he could beat everyone else which is kayfabe. Now which are we in, because Kane of course isn’t really his brother, but based on the story he really wanted to fight Kane. Bearer had a chance to say whatever he wanted to say about Taker’s life and it was all for the sake of ratings. After all that, he never, and I quote, lost his smile.

After all that, he watched Steve Austin rise up to the top. The only thing Austin ever did was come to the ring and fight him like a man and that’s all he wanted. After everything else, right now, he demands his shot at the world title. That’s enough talking from him, so Vince needs to get out here. Vince comes out and says that before he answers that, he’s got something to say. Taker attacked him last week and came after him last night. He says Taker has all those qualities like loyalty, but what has Taker done for him lately?

Also, Bearer has said a lot of stuff and Vince wants to know if it’s true that Taker’s mom was a whore. If Taker wants to be the #1 contender, tonight he needs to defeat his opponent in the main event tonight. That opponent: Kane. Taker doesn’t look all that happy about the decision.

King of the Ring Qualifying Match: Marc Mero vs. Steve Blackman

Sable is gone now after losing to Mero last night. They show brackets but since this is just a qualifying match, it has no purpose on the bracket. Why not just make it a 16 man tournament and have these guys all be in it? What’s the point of showing the qualifiers on the brackets? Mero says Sable isn’t here but he has a new chick. And this was the night that the world has met the horror known as Jackie Moore.

Mero hammers away to start and this is kicking vs. boxing. He gets kicked to the floor and Jackie hugs him better. Blackman hammers on him a bit more but Jackie distracts Blackman so Mero can him him low. A Shooting Star ends this. Pretty much a squash. Sable would of course be back by the PPV. I mean she’s on the poster and all that.

Steve Austin was on a radio show earlier today. Vince called in and they hyped the show up.

Edge is still coming. Allegedly he was a Raven rip-off. I’m not sure about that but there are similarities.

D-Generation X vs. Nation of Domination

It’s the Outlaws/HHH vs. Owen/Henry/Rock and this is elimination rules. DX does a quick promo before the match which is nothing special. All of the seconds get sent to the back. HHH vs. D’lo starts us off. Off to Roadie who gets caught in a spinebuster for two. Gunn comes in and hits a quick piledriver to get rid of Brown. Rock comes in and DX isn’t sure what to do. Rock Bottom takes out Road Dogg and it’s tied up. Those two eliminations took about two minutes total.

The leaders go at it for a bit but it’s quickly back to Billy. A blind tag brings in Owen with a missile dropkick for two. Billy misses a splash and a spinwheel kick makes it Owen/Rock vs. HHH. Chyna comes out because Slaughter has no authority at all apparently. After a break Chyna is on the floor as Rock is hammering on HHH. Owen comes in and hits a long middle rope elbow for two.

The future Game gets a sunset flip but Rock has the referee distracted. Rock beats him down and the People’s Elbow gets two and a big reaction. I think they knew they had struck pure gold with Rock but they were seasoning him a bit first. Owen argues with Chyna as HHH counters a Rock Bottom into a quick Pedigree for the pin and it’s one on one. And never mind as Owen hits a spinwheel kick but Shamrock returns to beat down Owen, giving the Nation the win.

Rating: C. Nothing great and the ending hurt it but this was fine. What I really want you to notice is how HHH and Rock were not rushed. They had a summer long rivalry that culminated in a big gimmick match at Summerslam. Instead of just appearing and suddenly winning a briefcase or something and being thrown into the world title picture, they were slowly seasoned and allowed to get a lot bigger over time. That’s just forgotten in today’s product.

Severn runs out to help Shamrock fight the Nation and they stare it down but Severn leaves. HHH punches Shamrock because he cost DX the match so they have a pull apart brawl. I don’t remember that going anywhere.

Vince and Kane shake hands in the back.

King of the Ring Qualifying Match: Jeff Jarrett vs. Farrooq

Please….get rid of Tennessee Lee already. I can’t take much more of him. Before the match, the Godwinns are introduced as Southern Justice who are Jarrett’s lackeys now. Farrooq starts off fast and shrugs off the punches from Jarrett. The fans want Flair I think. I don’t think I heard that right because it would be very random to chant that. Farrooq beats on him even more and gets two. Southern Justice gets involved and Lee gives Jarrett a belt to whack Farrooq with for the pin. This was nothing, again.

Video on how Vince is a charitable sort of fellow.

Light Heavyweight Title: Taka Michinoku vs. Sho Funaki

The match starts immediately and Taka hits a HUGE dive to take Funaki out in the aisle. Back in and Taka’s tornado DDT is countered as Funaki takes over. Another Kai En Tai member gets involved so Taka snaps off a moonsault to the floor to take them both out. Al Snow is disguised as a Japanese photographer. The other photographers take pictures of him. Funaki takes over with a fisherman’s buster but a top rope elbow misses. A missile dropkick to the back and the Michinoku Driver keeps the title on Taka….again.

Paul Bearer is very confident in Kane.

Al Snow yells at Head.

King of the Ring Qualifying Match: Mark Henry vs. Terry Funk

Vince is on commentary so he won’t miss Taker vs. Kane. JR says this is a contrast of styles. Now there’s an understatement. Terry tries to pound on him but a big clothesline puts him down. Out to the floor where Funk’s back goes into the post. Funk manages to send him into the steps and gets a chair. In a SCARY sight, Terry tries an Asai Moonsault but lands on the railing. If there’s a way to fake that I’d love to know what it is. In the ring a splash gets two. A slam and legdrop get two, brother. Funk grabs a small package for two so Henry powerbombs him and splashes him again, finally getting the pin.

Rating: C+. WAY more entertaining than you would have expected it to be. It’s not a great match or anything but Terry is an absolute master at drawing sympathy and making you think that he just might somehow be able to pull off the huge upset. Very fun match even though it only lasted four minutes or so.

Austin is coming and Vince does the face.

After a break here’s the champ who also jumps in on commentary.

Undertaker vs. Kane

Winner gets Austin at King of the Ring. Vince again proves how much of a master he is at promoting stuff as he talks about how big this is going to be. Taker sends the referee out immediately and it’s a brawl. They go to the floor and Taker gets in some shots on Paul. Old School hits but Kane hits a chokeslam for no cover. They’ve been going a hundred miles an hour the whole time.

After a brief thing on the floor they’re back in with Kane in control. They slug it out and Kane pounds away on him. There’s an energy to them here and it’s making this a lot better. Kane hits a big boot but misses an elbow. Taker grabs a chokeslam but Kane pops up. Taker even busts out a Russian Legsweep and legdrop for two. There goes the referee as Taker hits the Tombstone but there’s no referee.

The fired Mick Foley runs out onto the apron and grabs the Mandible Claw on Taker. Foley has the Mankind mask on again. Taker knocks Kane down again but Kane sits up. He takes his eyes off Kane for a split second to punch Bearer and that’s enough for a Tombstone to send Kane to King of the Ring.

Rating: B-. WHY IN THE WORLD DID THEY NOT DO THIS AT WRESTLEMANIA??? This was exactly what Undertaker vs. Kane should be: an all out brawl. They never stopped going in this and it made for a much better match. Kane is supposed to be this outcast that was raised all alone and Taker is to blame for it, so would you expect him to use a chinlock? Of course not. He should be out for blood and he was here. Very fun match.

Kane stares Austin down and makes the sign of a belt around his waist which Austin says will never happen. The fires comes off the posts and Austin doesn’t flinch. Kane leaves and Foley fights Taker to end the show. JR: “They’ll have to settle this feud.” That’s an understatement.

Overall Rating: C+. Other than the DX/Nation stuff and the AWESOME last segment and the surprisingly good Henry vs. Funk match, there was pretty much nothing here. That’s kind of the Attitude Era in a nutshell: the show is usually nothing great but the stuff that is good is so good that it’s all you remember. This set up the main events of King of the Ring really well and that’s the entire point.

On a related note, starting now I’ll be doing two Raws from 98 and 01 in a row. It’s taken me over a year to get to June of both series and I don’t want to spend two years reviewing two years of Raw.

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