The Best And Worst Of WWF Raw Is War 3/30/98: Furious Syxx

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Previously on the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War: We covered WrestleMania XIV, and the AUSTIN ERA, hard comma, HAS BEGUN! Mike Tyson turned on D-Generation X, Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie won the Tag Team Championship for like half a second, and Sunny returned with a repackaged post-apocalyptic hockey goalie Legion of Doom. Also, Kane is now moral enemies with Pete Rose for some reason.

If you haven’t seen this episode, you can watch it on WWE Network here. Check out all the episodes you may have missed at the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War and Best and Worst of WWF Monday Night Raw tag pages. Follow along with the competition here.

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And now, the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War for March 30, 1998.


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Before we get into the actual A and B-stories of the post-WrestleMania Raw, I need to compliment the episode for being more full of actual progressing wrestling stories, debuting characters, alignment shifts, and so on than almost any wrestling show I’ve ever seen. They do more stuff that matters and actually affects the show on this one episode than they do in an entire YEAR of Raws now.

Here’s just a sample of it, before we get into the really important stuff:

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As seen at WrestleMania, the Legion of Doom are now refocused and gently repackaged as L.O.D. 2000, with a flame-chested Sunny as their manager. Instead of, say, slogging through an 8-minute back and forth match with the Godwinns, the Legion of Doom remember they are the goddamn Road Warriors and destroy the Los Boricuas B-Team of Jose and Jesus in 34 seconds. The crowd loves it, I love it, and it’s honestly a shame that they nerfed them again and sent them into Days of Our Lives undercard purgatory before the end of the year. I guess that’s what happens when you’re shifting to a younger roster and your top tag team debuted in 1983. Still, pretty much any L.O.D. 2000 segment minus alcoholism is a Best for Sunny alone.

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You know how The Rock and The Nation of Domination, specifically Faarooq, have been at odds over the past few weeks? Remember how Faarooq left The Rock hanging at WrestleMania, leaving him to get his lunch eaten by a bull-testosterone-raging Ken Shamrock? The Rock apologizes for his role in the disagreements early in the show, asserts that Faarooq has always been the leader of the Nation, and promises that by the end of the night, the Nation will be stronger than ever. Yes, Faarooq is the only person in the world to hear that and not go, “oh shit, they’re all turning on me, aren’t they?”

Rock and Faarooq tag against Shamrock and Great Value Ken Shamrock Steve Blackman — he’s more affordable, yes, but at least store brand Ken Shamrock doesn’t come with a bunch of weird side effects and a crushed box-top — and sure enough, Rock pulls the trigger on a turn. He holds out his hand for a tag, and when Faarooq finally drags himself over, Rock doesn’t take the heel shortcut and just hop off the apron … he RAISES HIS HAND and makes Faarooq stand up to tag him, cranking that pre-planned dick move up to 11. THEN he hops off the apron, leaving Faarooq to get destroyed, and that’s that.

When it’s over, Faarooq calls Rock back into the ring to receive a John Anderson ‘Seminole Wind’-quality ass kicking, and the two brawl. They get pulled apart and you think it’s over, but Faarooq gets back on the mic and tells him the ass kicking isn’t over, so Rock cocks the eyebrow and activates the sleeper agent Nation. They all beat down Faarooq, Rock declares himself the ruler of the Nation (calling back to his Gennifer Flowers promo from WrestleMania, even), and they all pose on Faarooq’s corpse. You can practically see the rockets they’ve strapped to The Rock’s ass here.

Note: Blackman also does a run-in after a Jeff Jarrett vs. Aguila match, and if you want to know how much I liked THAT one, here’s a screencap of Aguila “missing” a moonsault that Jarrett completely no-sells. Y’all should at least sign Mongo so I have some jokes to write.

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The Piper image would almost be TOO obvious here, wouldn’t it?

This episode features the first vignette for the debuting Val Venis, who we see lounging naked in bed watching a screener tape (or whatever) of his upcoming porno film, Live Hard. Val assures us that Bruce Willis is great, but he’s better. Clearly he’s never seen Color of Night. Anyway, the best part of any Val Venis appearance is Jim Ross going into “oh God my mama’s watching” mode, which is the mode most of us instinctively go to when wrestling gets too porny or embarrassing.

The only question I’ve ever had about Val is, “why is he a wrestler if he’s already a successful porn star?” At least with occupations like “prison guard” or “garbage man” or “local clown” you just justify it as a second job. Val’s starring in kayfabe skin-flicks with Jenna Jameson, I know that pulls in more cash even in 1998 than defeating Headbanger Mosh in the first hour of Raw.

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Speaking of The Big Valbowski (eventually), THREE ORIENTAL MEN (JR’s words, not mine) arrive to attack TAKA Michinoku after a loss to ‘Wildman’ Marc Mero. As we and a small amount of people in the crowd here know, those three men are Smackdown’s future number one announcer Sho Funaki, Terry Boy (aka MEN’S Teioh, not to be confused with Women’s Teioh, which comes in the pink bottle), and goddamn wrestling God Dick Togo. They get called “Club Kamikaze” for a hot second, but we eventually come to know them by their proper faction name, Kaientai. Well, the proper name is “Kaientai DX,” but the Japanese abbreviation for “deluxe” doesn’t vibe well with the World Wrestling Federation’s resident dick-pointers.

And speaking of dick-pointing, we’ll have the dreaded YAMAGUCHI-SAN here soon, and pee-pees around the world will begin fearing the chop-chop. If you don’t get that reference because you didn’t watch wrestling in 1998 and/or aren’t an old person, don’t worry, you will. And sorry in advance.

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To show you how packed this show is with firsts, that Mero/Michinoku match also starts with a first. Not a good one, but it’s there. Luna Vachon shows up demanding a match with Sable, and Sable agrees to it any time, any place, under any stipulation. Luna’s proposed stipulation: WWF’s first Evening Gown Match, which she explains as, “the winner is the one with the most clothes left on.” She then says she’ll strip Sable down to her bra and panties, if she even wears them, which Luna suggests she doesn’t, because she’s a slut. I would’ve closed caption-capped that, but the caption intern thought she called Sable a “squat.” That would been a lot funnier, tbh.

And that’s not even the only first-time match stipulation announced on the episode!

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While they’re setting up the old blue-bar steel cage for the night’s main event, because this show happened in the long long ago before they figured out to just assemble the cage before the show, hang it above the ring, and lower it at match time with some ominous music they’ve still for some reason never uploaded to YouTube, Paul Bearer and Kane show up demanding another shot at the Undertaker. This time they want a match Paw Bear saw in his dreams; a match where the winner is the man who sets his opponent on fire.

This, of course, becomes WWF’s first-ever Inferno Match. I won’t spoil it for you, but who do you think wins? The Undertaker, or his brother, the guy who wrestles in a complete body suit? This would become Kane’s signature match, which is hilarious, because he’s the only guy they had who could catch fire without actually dying for like 20 years. He ends up competing in all of them, ending with a 1-4 record (counting the Bray Wyatt “Ring of Fire” match) because MVP also used to wrestle in Power Rangers clothes. I always hoped they’d do an Inferno Match between two guys who wrestled in trunks, just to see what would happen.

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Even the stale-as-petrified-bread NWA angle gets a boost this week, as the New Midnight Express vs. Same Old Headbangers match features the debut of then-NWA World Heavyweight Champion Dan Severn. I couldn’t find a picture of him, so enjoy that screencap of Mayor Mike Haggar.

Severn was in the middle of a four-year run with the NWA Heavyweight Championship here, was the first man to ever compete in the UFC and WWF at the same time, and even held the 10 Pounds Of Gold and the UFC Heavyweight Championship at the same time. Do that, Brock Lesnar. Severn’s also a legit MMA legend with a 101-19 lifetime record, and if you’ve never seen him fight, imagine an extremely boring bear who might take 30 minutes to hug you to death, but you’re fuckin’ dying. Televised wrestling had no idea what to do with him in 1998, but his first appearance is great, as they let him stay strong and silent and then throw the Headbangers around while wearing a suit. Brother was like a real-life Bond Villain. If he’d come up in 2004 instead of 1994 he’d probably be the biggest star in the world, or at least he’d be in NXT right now suit-tossing the Undisputed Era.

Hilarious fun fact: Dan Severn’s middle name is “DeWayne.”
Not hilarious fun fact: every single time Severn appears from now until he leaves the WWF, I will get mad at nobody being able to say his name. It’s always Dan “Sevrin’.” Jim Ross’ favorite TV show must’ve been Levrin’ and Shirley. Thank God he didn’t stick around long enough for Michael Cole to start calling him The Vennern Sevrin’.

Best: The Important Stories Are Advancing Things, Too!

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Imagine, if you will, that they’ve decided to redesign the Universal Championship. Say Roman Reigns won it at SummerSlam, and the next night on Raw, they wanted to give him a new version of it that was black and blue to match his whole motif. You know for a fact they’d have a “championship celebration” or a “coronation” or something, with an authority figure bringing everyone to the ring to look at it, make a big long tiresome heel speech about it taking credit for Roman’s win, then bring Roman out for ANOTHER long promo, all to set up some match for later in the night, which would then involve a bunch of backstage segments with the authority figure and some “intrigue” where nothing really happens and a DQ with some run-ins. The show would go off the air with someone else holding up the belt, and Cole asking us WHAT THIS MEANS for next week, or the pay-per-view, or WWE Arabian Nights, live from Iraq or whatever.

Here, Vince McMahon opens the show with a brand new WWF Championship belt over his shoulder to present to Stone Cold Steve Austin. Austin walks to the ring, looks at his belt, looks at the new one, throws the old one on the damn ground onto Vince’s feet, takes the new one and poses with it. AND THAT’S IT. That’s the entire transition between the old belt and the new one. I would kill for ANYTHING to be this efficient today.

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It’s almost hard to put into words how good this opening segment is. Over the past few weeks, Vince McMahon’s taken Austin’s disrespect to heart, to the point that he told the crowd that “hell no” he didn’t want Austin as WWF Champion. Now that Austin’s won it, he wants to reassure Austin that those things were just figures of speech, and that he’s actually quite proud of Austin, because he thinks he’s a “hell of a guy.” He thinks they can work together — Austin’s brawn and Vince’s brains — to make Austin the best WWF Champion ever. He even halfheartedly says he “loves” Austin, which causes Austin to go into Terminator mode, because nothing scares sociopathic redneck murderer Stone cold Steve Austin like someone saying they love him.

Ultimately, Vince drops his famous line to Austin about how they can do things the easy way — Austin listening to him, and doing what he “suggests” — or the hard way, which just means he’ll be forced to do things Vince’s way anyway. Austin asks if he can have 10 seconds to think about it and Vince happily agrees, which, of course, leads to Austin kicking him in the stomach and sending him into turkey-having-a-seizure mode with a Stone Cold Stunner.

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Things are different now, though, and Vince McMahon doesn’t have a WrestleMania to promote, so we find out via Jeffrey Weinerslav that Vince has called the cops on Stone Cold Steve Austin. This is back when the cops actually seemed like cops, and weren’t just your local wrestling promotion of 5-foot-4 guys and the one tall bald guy wearing black polo shirts, so it was actually a threat. Vince goes outside to wait for them (with picture-in-picture video updates, distracting us from the only bad parts of the episode, like the Kurrgan match), and when they show up, sure enough, Vince has Austin taken away in cuffs. It’s actually kind of quaint to watch Raw and not expect Stone Cold Steve Austin to get arrested for something. At least Vince didn’t pull a gun on him or anything. I typed that as a reference to the Brian Pillman angle, but haha, they actually do another gun angle later. Nothing makes you feel better as a wrestling fan than watching 10,000 people cheer for the company’s top babyface to murder a man with a handgun in the middle of the ring.

Anyway, Austin’s taken to the Local Police Facility and uses his one telephone call to call back into Raw, promising that he’s going to show up next week and show Vince McMahon how pissed off being arrested in the middle of a wrestling show makes him. Poor Vince McMahon, he really should’ve nipped this shit in the bud early.

Best: Re-Generation X

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Here’s an idea that really could’ve bombed: the night after WrestleMania XIV, less than 24 hours after what a lot of people thought might be the final night of Shawn Michaels’ career, Triple H shows up to cut a solo promo on Raw announcing that Shawn Michaels sucks eggs, and now HE is the leader of D-Generation X. The entire crowd is like, “eeeeh, okay?” They’d need something really bombastic, at least moreso than Bob Holly, to make H seem like an actual threat, and not just a lonely mid-carder who lost his coattail ride the top.

Thankfully, they had one of those things:

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The Kid, aka nWo member slash possible mascot Syxx-Pac, returns to the World Wrestling Federation and cuts a pretty hot fire promo announcing that Hulk Hogan sucks — instant pop — Scott Hall and Kevin Nash would be there right now if they weren’t being held hostage by Eric Bischoff and the WCW, and that the new D-Generation X is going to be a lot cooler and more dangerous than the old one. Because these quasi-shoot promos hadn’t been done to death at this point it seriously pops, and the crowd goes from “ehhh” to “YEAH WOOO” by the time he’s done. If Pac hadn’t show up here and finished this promo, H’s entire career might’ve played out differently. He always had an upside, but he didn’t really make anyone go, “oh, he might be The Guy,” until like, 2000-2001.

To really bring the idea of a new D-Generation X home, they play a big role in the night’s main event. You see, Cactus Jack and Chainsaw “Terry Funk” Charlie won the WWF Tag Team Championship from the New Age Outlaws at WrestleMania in a dumpster match, but had those titles vacated when it was determined they put the Outlaws in an dumpster, but not thuh dumpster. They should’ve called it a That Specific Dumpster Match, but I digress. A cage match is set up to name the undisputed champions, and that’s when Trips, Chyna, and El Kid return to fuck up the former champions’ Christmas.

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Pac hits Cactus Jack with a chair like three times, because that’s about to become its own Olympic sport, and the Outlaws add a spike piledriver onto a chair to finish him off and win back the titles. That leads to a huge beatdown of Jack and Charlie by D-X, and since the rest of the roster’s either caught up in their own issues or in jail, nobody’s there to help the faces. The show goes off the air with Triple H, the future X-Pac, and the New Age Outlaws crotch-chopping at the top of the cage while the D-X theme plays. It’s a new era, Triple H has refashioned his pussy posse as camouflage foot-soldiers in his weird rise to the top, and the Attitude Era is all the way the hell on.

Really exceptional, unforgettable show this week with almost no watchable wrestling. Get used to that, because Raw’s going to ride it back to the top.