Previously on the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War: The titular war of Raw continued with Vince McMahon bringing in a K-9 attack unit and the Big Boss Man, and Stone Cold Steve Austin responding by flipping off the dogs and filling Vince’s prized Corvette (that we heard about for the first time) with cement.
If you haven’t seen this pay-per-view, you can watch it on WWE Network here. Check out all the episodes of classic Raw 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.
Hey, you! If you want us to keep doing retro reports, share them around! And be sure to drop down into our comments section to let us know what you thought of these shows. Head back to a time long forgotten when WWE TV was fun to watch, and things happened!
And now, the Best and Worst of WWF Judgment Day: In Your House, aka WWF House Arrest.
Up First: Sunday Night Heat
The biggest development from the Judgment Day: In Your House Kickoff Show edition of Sunday Night Heat (which you can watch on WWE Network here) is that the seemingly forever-injured Triple H is being forced to hand over his Intercontinental Championship to the increasingly like-a-murder-robot Ken Shamrock. The airing of grievances is hosted by original Intercontinental Champion Pat Patterson, who reminds us in dulcet French-Canadian tones that he once defeated 15 men in a tournament in Rio de Janeiro to win the title. The announce team handles this with the proper dignity and solemnity.
JR: “Patterson said, what did he say? He said in Rio De Janeiro he went through…15 men?”
King: “15 wrestlers in one night. I heard they all got behind him but Pat came out on top.”
JR: “I find that a little hard to swallow.”
Patterson hasn’t even researched the most basic facts he’d need to know for the segment, saying Triple H won the Intercontinental Championship at “WrestleMania,” prompting H to audibly yell “SUMMERSLAM!” at him. H eventually agrees to hand over the champion, but informs the delegation that he’s, in fact, got two words for them. “Suck it.” Ken Shamrock responds by not sucking it, preferring to follow Triple H to the back, hunt him down in the parking lot, and re-re-injure the already injured leg with a car door. If you tell an already enraged and baggy sweartshirted-up Ken Shamrock to suck your dick, you’re gonna have a bad time.
The Bearer Of Bad Chews
A totally not-suspicious-at-all Paw Bear shows up on Heat, and Michael Cole basically follows him around and snitches on everything he does. Michael Cole heard Paul Bearer was seen talking to the Undertaker! Michael Cole saw WITH HIS OWN EYES Paul Bearer go into Kane’s locker room! Paul’s response:
“FOR THE LOVE OF PETE, I’M HERE FOR THE FOOD, I’M HERE TO VISIT WITH SOME FRIENDS, I’M HERE TO WATCH THE BIG EVENT TONIGHT! … I SAID I’M HERE FOR THE FOOD, THE CAMARADERIE, WATCH THE SHOW, THAT’S AWL!!“
Narrator: it wasn’t all.
Val Venis And The Golden Package
Somehow that’s not a WWE Studios spy-thriller. Hire me to write it, you cowards.
Anyway, Val Venis sits in on commentary during a Scorpio vs. Jeff Jarrett match, and receives another visit from Goldust’s weird personal usher, this time with a present: a golden athletic cup. I was really hoping it was John Wayne Bobbitt’s head in a box. Either one. Val freaks out and stomps backstage, but not before dropping an unsolicited and deeply problematic understanding of political leanings:
“Well you know something, back when Dustin was Dustin and he was a hardcore right-wing conservative, and he had his brain closed, he had an opportunity, he had an opportunity to make something of himself, now he’s become a hardcore left-wing liberal, open-minded … in fact, he’s so open-minded, his brains are leaking all over the damn place! And that makes a man very dangerous. When you don’t have no brains left in the head of yours, it makes a man very dangerous.”
“Don’t have no brains” is icing on the cake. Putting his real-life political views aside (and onto his old libertarian blog) for a moment, you’d think the porn star who routinely sleeps with his rivals’ wives would prefer a colorful, sexual menace to a dippy missionary who Tebows before his matches.
If you’re wondering how the Scorpio vs. Jarrett match is, the finish is Al Snow somehow sneaking a full-sized mannequin head into the waistline of the referee’s pants without him realizing it, which distracts Jarrett. Oh, and here’s Scorpio having some trouble with the Trouble in Paradise.
Alone, Cold Steve Austin
Stone Cold Steve Austin arrives to the arena and is maturely disappointed by the fact that since he’s a referee for the Judgment Day main event and not actually competing on the pay-per-view card, Vince McMahon (and, more specifically, the Stooges) he can’t get dressed in the locker room. He has to go down to the production bunker where the refs dress and dress with them. Austin immediately kicks Mike Chioda’s ass about it, which doesn’t seem like it’s going to help much. Maybe he just saw all those clangy poles when he walked in and realized that if those things are around, somebody’s going through them, and it’s not gonna be him.
Also On Heat
D’Lo Brown and Mark Henry have decided that they and they alone are the Nation of Domination, and that everyone tangentially associated with the brand can go screw. To drive this home, they ruin a Godfather vs. Faarooq match and beat up both guys.
Really what you need to know here is that during a post-match commercial break, former Truth Commission impresario and Canadian cult leader The Jackyl returned to WWE TV (kind of) wearing Lee press-on nails to try to recruit Faarooq. Here’s something you’ve almost certainly forgotten about: you know how the APA were the “Acolyte Protection Agency,” because they’d previously been “acolytes” of The Undertaker? They were originally acolytes of The Jackyl. Jackylites, if you will.
Steve Blackman vs. Bradshaw ends with the Blue Blazer running in again, which is only really worth it for Owen trying to “cover his face” in front of cameras when he’s already wearing a mask. Love you, Owen. Sorry about literally all of this.
The only other thing that happens, unless you want me to recycle some 13 years ago Iron Sheik jokes when Vince McMahon promises to “humble” Stone Cold Steve Austin at Judgment Day, is an unsurprisingly terrible match between The Oddities and Los Boricuas. Yes, Los Boricuas still exist, somehow. It’s worth noting that both Los Boricuas AND the Disciples of Apocalypse outlived the Nation of Domination, which isn’t something you’d ever guess.
The highlight is the Headbangers randomly running out and continuing their quest to murder the Insane Clown Posse on TV for real. It’s just a 15 second scrap until the New Age Outlaws make the save, but by the time they’re out there Mosh has already beaten half the paint off Violent J’s face. I’m starting to think the Headbangers were just bonkers coked out and ready to throw hands at all times in 1998. More on that later.
Worst: You Don’t Have To Watch Like, Most Of This Show
There’s not much to remember about Judgment Day 1998. There’s a chance you only remember the finish to main event, and you probably only remember that because it helps set up the Survivor Series Deadly Game tournament. If you were watching live at the time, you probably remember being really mad about them jobbing out The Rock to Mark Henry, but this was back when a badly-timed loss could still be constructive to a story WWE’s telling, and not just a sad thing they do for six straight months at a time.
The opener is Al Snow vs. Marc Mero, if that tells you anything. It’s seven-ish minutes of perfectly acceptable 1998 house show wrestling, with Snow doing everything in his power to be also Mankind. If you ever need a clear example of “intangibles” and “it factor” in pro wrestling, go back to 1998 and watch Al Snow and Mick Foley more or less do the same character. No shade to Al, really, it’s just night and then a whole lot of day.
so I just realized something pic.twitter.com/F1g1GGadmZ
— Brandon Shroud (@MrBrandonStroud) October 11, 2019
LOD Droz Flies
Slightly more constructive from a storytelling perspective but less enjoyable in terms of “watching people do things” is the fully powered LOD 2000 and Disciples of Apocalypse six-man tag. The DOA are teaming with Paul Ellering here instead of Chainz, because the motorcycle gang is down to two identical racists and their Internet-obsessed manager who’s into newspapers and puppetry.
ANYWAY, the story here is that Drunk Hawk has gone sober and is trying to be a valuable member of the team again, so he tags in and kicks everybody’s ass. When they have the match won with a Doomsday Device, though — called the “Destruction Device” multiple times by JR, who is not even paying much attention to this undercard — Droz sneaks in and steals the pin. Hawk stands around looking sad about it, and oh boy, he has no idea how sad Droz is about to make him. No spoilers if you don’t know where this goes, but let’s just say Hawk’s about to have an eventful fall.
Best: The Two Good Matches
The best match of the night is probably the Light Heavyweight Championship match, which sees Christian (in full Gangrel cosplay) defeat TAKA Michinoku to win a championship in his first WWE match. Kaientai really hit a wall after that Val Venis choppy-choppy your pee-pee angle, where I guess Vince Russo was just like, “this was my masterpiece, it’s all downhill from here,” and completely forgot about them. And it sucks that the match doesn’t get more of a response, because they’re really putting themselves out there and busting their asses, but there’s literally zero build or story and nobody has any idea who Christian is. They barely know who Edge and Gangrel are.
D’Lo Brown vs. X-Pac for the European Championship would be the best match of the night, and probably still is due to it actually getting a crowd response, but loses points for this Jumping Nothing that ends the match. Look at that picture. I know countering a frog splash with the X-Factor sounds awesome, but D’Lo just looks like a moron throwing a frog splash when his opponent’s already on his feet. Randy Orton’s watching this like, “come on man.”
It’s good, though. Hey, raise your hand if it’s 2019 and you’re retroactively still excited for a Shane McMahon European title feud that begins with him winning it in a tag team match? Eh? Anybody? Anybody?
Goldust kicks Val Venis in the dick for all that stupid shit he said on Heat. Thank you, Goldust!
Speaking Of Saying Shit, Let’s Talk About The Headbangers
The New Age Outlaws vs. Headbangers Tag Team Championship match isn’t much, but man, the pre-match promo from Mosh and Thrasher is … something.
Trasher: “We got something to say to the New Age Outlaws. Road Dogg, you trashed our boom box with your face, now we can’t listen to our Marilyn Manson CDs backwards! And speaking of backwards, Billy Gunn, you country bumpkin’, we got two words for you … you SUCK!”
Mosh: “Right! And speaking of Rockabilly, what’s up with that hairdo? And you guys are supposed to be the Tag Team Champions, the only thing you’re tag teaming is each other! You guys sit around all night in the locker room, put each other over all you want, ’cause tonight you’re doing the j-o-b on the p-p-v.”
If you’re wondering, the match ends with Mosh getting boom-boxed in the fuckin’ face, which he absolutely deserved.
The best part of this is still Jim Ross’ undying dedication to loudly explaining how these aren’t JVC boom boxes, folks, because beloved WWF television sponsor JVC’s boom boxes don’t break! As if someone’s going to see Road Dogg murder Mosh’s face with a boom box and be like, “oh wow, a JVC will stop working if I smash someone with it? I need to be able to relentlessly attack my boom-box with a hammer at all time, no buys.”
Best: Mankind’s Problem Solving Skills
Mankind’s about to lose an Intercontinental Championship match to the new champion, crazy violence robot Ken Shamrock, but he doesn’t want to give Shamrock the satisfaction of a submission. But the pain is too much to handle! What does he do? Why, he applies the mandible claw to himself while the ankle lock is still on and causes himself to pass out in the hold, thereby losing the match. Hilarious. And also, what?
After the match, Howard Finkel announces that Shamrock won the match “via the mandible claw,” which of course causes hair-trigger-ass Ken Shamrock to flip out and start suplexing everybody. You know, I’d write a big think-piece in the middle of this about how 1998 WWF’s mid-card should be studied as an example of how valuable it is to a wrestling show to give everyone motivations and consistent personalities, but I hate that, “put some effort into your characters,” is framed as some kind of revolutionary advice.
What A Mark
The most surprising moment of the card is when D’Lo Brown, who we just watch lose the European Championship, and Mark Henry, embroiled in a sexual harassment and poetry angle with Chyna, team up to pin the hottest star on the show right now, The Rock.
The reason for the pin here seems to be to give The Rock his first challenger if/when he became WWF Champion, but it didn’t end up working out that way. It makes me wonder if they hadn’t yet fully figured out what they wanted to do at Survivor Series ’98 yet, or if they hadn’t decided whether it’d be a good idea to turn The Rock heel again as soon as he’s started getting mega popular. Or maybe they were brilliant geniuses who were snorting the pixie dust of creative wonder and booked this match as a misdirect, so we’d assume a babyface Rock would win at Deadly Game. There’s so much more going on in retrospect than in real time while you’re watching the product, so maybe I just miss shit that made sense.
Worst: And Finally, Your Main Event
Sometimes the “throw everything at the wall” WWF overbooking works, and sometimes it doesn’t.
Undertaker vs. Kane with Stone Cold Steve Austin as the guest referee makes watching paint dry feel like riding a roller coaster. This mess is excrutiating, partially due to the fact that you know Austin’s not going to do his j-o-b on the p-p-vv, actually count one of these dudes down, and make the other the champion. Paul Bearer shows up somewhere in the middle, because of course he does, and randomly turns on Kane to support The Undertaker, despite The Undertaker being the whole reason Kane turned against Paul.
When it’s time to go home, Undertaker’s laterally pressing and Austin’s refusing to count. Taker gets in his face, so Austin Stunners him, hits him with a steel chair, and then … counts both men down, declaring himself, the referee, the champion. Do you think Earl Hebner was in the back like, “motherfucker, we can DO that??”
Vince McMahon is obviously very unhappy about this, and reveals himself from behind glass in a press box behind the TitanTron. He clarifies that yes, this means Austin is in fact fired, and gets a bunch of trash thrown on his face. Austin seems shocked that the guy he gave a forced enema who just had his car filled up with concrete would have “the balls” to fire him, and here we are. Brother, you were asking for it.
Anyway, how will this situation resolve itself? Why, with an execution-style murder in front of 10,000 cheering fans!
SEE YOU ON RAW.