– A video package recaps Steve Austin and Kane beating up Paul Bearer on last week’s show. We are also reminded of the Big Bossman beating Mankind for the Hardcore title.
– Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are doing commentary for tonight’s go home show for Rock Bottom: In Your House. Jim Ross was on a hiatus for this show because his mother had passed away. In his first sentence, Cole lets us know that RAW is the “most controversial sports entertainment television show.” It is easy to be a leader when you are in a category of one. This show was taped in New Haven, Connecticut.
– Triple H, X-Pac, and Chyna walk out and Triple H calls out the New Age Outlaws, who have been flirting with the Corporation. The Outlaws walk out in suits and the Road Dogg announces them as the Corporate Outlaws. Commissioner Shawn Michaels comes out at the behest of the Outlaws and he and Triple H shoot at each other, with Triple H saying that he carried Michaels around when he no longer should have been wearing the WWF title. Michaels books Triple H and X-Pac to face the Big Bossman and Ken Shamrock in a “anything goes match” later in the evening, saying that if the Outlaws get involved then “so be it.” At the end of the segment, the McMahons shake the Outlaws hands near the entrance. All the inside references here might have been fun in 1998, but it does not translate well to today. Also, the segment lacked a lot of intensity from all sides. 0 for 1
– Backstage, Triple H tells Chyna to watch he and X-Pac’s back in their tag match tonight.
– Opening Contest: D-Lo Brown (w/ Mark Henry) pins “Double J” Jeff Jarrett (w/ Debra McMichael) with a cradle at 4:17
This is a rematch from Sunday Night Heat, where D-Lo Brown clocked Jarrett with his own guitar. Jarrett is booked to face Goldust at Rock Bottom in a striptease match. D-Lo dominates much of the match, nearly killing Jarrett with the running powerbomb. Again, why did no one in the locker room force D-Lo to quit using that move? Of course, we cannot have a RAW match these days without a distraction and Goldust walks out in a raincoat. He flashes Debra, leading to D-Lo cradling Jarrett and winning. These two guys were just going through the motions until Goldust walked out. Rating: *½ (0 for 2)
– Steve Austin tells Tony Garea that he is angry over what has been going on lately in the WWF.
– Call 814-734-1161 to get your WWF cologne for men for $19.99 (plus $4 shipping & handling)! Adam and George sell it in a mock nWo ad.
– Clips of Vince McMahon’s talk at Oxford University is show. Evidently it was a give-and-take talk with students, so I can only imagine the type of questions that he fielded.
– The Headbangers defeat Gangrel & Edge via disqualification when Luna Vachon interferes at 2:06:
It is just weird to see several matches of this Edge and Gangrel team when you are so used to seeing Edge and Christian together. After each team exchanges cool double team moves, Luna runs out and attacks the Headbangers. She is followed by Tiger Ali Singh and Babu for some reason and the Oddities then run out and destroy the Headbangers. Uh, okay. It also does not make a lot of sense for the Oddities to still use the ICP theme music when they were turned on by that same group. The match was less than three minutes, so it gets no rating.
– Mankind says that he will not leave Steve Austin’s side for their scheduled tag team match against the Rock and Mankind
– Paul Bearer getting stuffed into a sewer on last week’s show is the Glover Rewind segment.
–Vince McMahon gets in Paul Bearer’s face backstage and demands to know if the Undertaker will work with the Rock tonight. Bearer says McMahon has nothing to worry about.
– Goldust beats Owen Hart with a schoolboy at 4:17
Owen unretired the previous night on Sunday Night Heat in order to face Steve Blackman at Rock Bottom. At least Owen’s retirement lasted longer than John Cena’s firing and the Authority’s banishment. Unfortunately, it did not last long enough for his sake. We get a decent back-and-forth bout until Debra does her own version of the raincoat trick, which distracts Owen more than Goldust and produces the finish. Just television filler here and the finish was completely predictable. Rating: *½ (0 for 3)
– Footage of WWF superstars talking to British fans before the Capital Carnage event is shown. Some British fans give their take on WWF action, but unfortunately we do not get any gems like SummerSlam 1992.
– Before the next match, the Godfather and Val Venis come out with the hos. The Godfather says he is going to give one of the fans two hos tonight and picks out a fat guy named Bob from the audience. I guess this was the WWF’s 1998 version of Make a Wish? 0 for 4
–The Acolytes (w/ Jackyl) wrestle Supply & Demand to a double disqualification in 57 seconds
This is Bradshaw gimmick change number four, but this one finally got him over with the audience. Amazing what you can do if you take two hard-hitting guys, team them up, and give them some momentum. Both teams brawl inside and outside the ring, not paying any heed to the referee’s directions and get disqualified. If this builds to a future match, this was perfectly acceptable booking.
– Steve Austin hitting the Undertaker with a shovel is the JVC Kaboom! of the Week.
– Austin walks out and says that the Undertaker will receive no mercy at Rock Bottom. The Undertaker gives a voiceover in response, as his symbol – not to be confused with a cross so as not to draw unnecessary heat from Christian groups – is hoisted up in the air. The Undertaker promises to sacrifice Austin and his symbol goes up in flames. The Austin promo was solid here, but the Undertaker’s Ministry garbage is already old at this point. I think I just have Austin/Undertaker fatigue. 0 for 5
– Mankind is shown talking to himself, upset that Austin does not consider him a friend, as he exits the boiler room of the arena.
–Steve Blackman defeats Tiger Ali Singh (w/ Babu) with a pump kick at 2:13
As I keep getting exposed to bad Tiger Ali Singh matches, it goes to show how the hype for this guy was completely unwarranted in the fall of 1997. In fact, the hype for both Singh and Taka Michinoku appeared unwarranted by this point since Michinoku was DOA after losing the Light Heavyweight title. At least they put Blackman over clean as a sheet here.
– After the match, the Blue Blazer comes to attack Blackman, but trips running down the ramp. Blackman attacks him, but Owen Hart appears and slams Blackman on the ramp. You see, they are not the same person!
– Mankind looks for Steve Austin backstage, with a garbage bag over his shoulder. He finally finds Austin’s locker room.
– Get the new edition of Rolling Stone. Steve Austin is profiled in it!
– Mark Henry (w/D-Lo Brown) beats Darren Drozdov (w/Animal) with a splash at 3:27
We are just getting vague updates about Hawk’s condition after falling off the Titantron a few weeks ago, so someone must have come to their senses and realized that that segment was in poor taste. Henry is a bumping machine in this match, taking a nasty spill to the floor and flipping himself into the steps. Chyna walks out and instead of decking Henry, she decks Droz, thereby helping Henry pick up the win. Very rough bout, but that is more on Droz than Henry. Rating: ½* (0 for 6)
– A camera catches the New Age Outlaws talking strategy with Shawn Michaels, the Big Bossman, and Ken Shamrock.
– No Holds Barred: Triple H & X-Pac (w/ Chyna) defeat The Big Bossman & Ken Shamrock 8:18:
This is Triple H’s first in-ring appearance on RAW after he returned from injury on last week’s show. The Big Bossman starts the match by wanting to use his night stick and then tosses it aside like a moron to wrestle a regular bout. There is a funny moment early in the match when X-Pac asks the audience if they want him to tag Triple H, which gets a tepid response. In another fun spot, the steps fall on the Big Bossman after his attempt to ram them into X-Pac fails. According to the statistics we received at TLC two months ago, that should have killed him. One thing that irks me about matches like this is that they should function as tornado tags since the rules are suspended (see LOD/Nasty Boys at SummerSlam 1991 for this same criticism). Eventually, the New Age Outlaws walk out, but when Billy Gunn gets the opportunity to deck Triple H with a chair he nails Shamrock instead. SWERVE! Somehow this leads to a disqualification, or something like that, in a NO HOLDS BARRED match. Rating: *½ (0 for 7)
– Mankind exits Steve Austin’s locker room.
– D-Generation X celebrates their swerve in the locker room.
– Steve Austin arrives in his locker room and finds a trash bag with a beer in it.
–Steve Austin & Mankind beat The Rock & The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer) by disqualification when the Big Bossman and Ken Shamrock interfere at 8:18:
Mankind must have stiffed Earl Hebner on some shirt sales because he starts the match before Austin even comes to the ring. The excitement is too much for Michael Cole, who has lost his voice by this point in the show. This bout is a vintage Attitude Era brawl, with four-way action starting the match and everyone getting in their big spots before the inevitable run-in by the Corporation. Rating: ** (1 for 8)
– After the bell, the Bossman handcuffs Mankind to the top rope while the Undertaker blasts Austin with the timekeeper’s bell and a chair. The Undertaker carries Austin up the ramp and the druids tie Austin to the Undertaker’s symbol, raising it as the show goes off the air. And where is Kane? Somehow all this ridiculousness means that Austin is in trouble at Rock Bottom because the Undertaker has taken his “mind, body, and soul.” People say the 1994 Rumble stuff is bad, but this is much, much worse. I was laughing at my television due to how stupid this was. 1 for 9
The Final Report Card: Survivor Series was a great show from a storytelling perspective, but the company is in a dead period before the eventual Rock/Austin showdown at WrestleMania. The lack of a strong build for Rock/Mankind, which is relying heavily upon what happened at Survivor Series and not much else, and fatigue with the Austin/Undertaker feud means that something in the midcard needs to stand out, but nothing is since it is so weak. Think about it: Owen Hart is basically a comedy act with this Blue Blazer story, the LOD 2000 storyline has fizzled after Hawk fell off the Titantron, the Godfather is wandering around with Val Venis as a quasi-tag team, and the Brood are just randomly inserted into matches with very little direction. As things stand, Mark Henry is arguably the MVP of midcard storylines because at least his issue with Chyna is interesting. Another criticism of this show is that the company could have gotten a few more weeks of mileage out of the Outlaws feigning that they had gone corporate. They burned through that storyline too quickly. Just skip this show if they ever upload 1998 RAWs to the Network and get to Rock Bottom. You will not miss anything.
Monday Night War Rating: 5.15 (vs. 4.2 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation: Thumbs Down