Previously on the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War: It was time for a St. Valentine’s Day Massacre Inside Your House as Bob Holly became the new Hardcore Champion, the Big Boss Man was kidnapped by goths, and Vince McMahon got his ass beat by Stone Cold Steve Austin inside (and outside) a steel cage before unleashing the debuting Big Show and still losing.
If you haven’t seen this episode, 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.
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War for February 15, 1999.
Best/Worst: Giant Bomb
Now that In Your House: St. Patrick’s Day Slaughter is in the books, the main event for WrestleMania XV is etched in stone: Mankind will defend the WWF Championship against Royal Rumble winner Stone Cold Steve Austin. And by, “etched in stone,” of course, I mean that it will be the plan between 11 on Sunday night and roughly 10:55 on Monday.
Mr. McMahon, seen here making a face like an angry chicken, opens the show by asking two things of Commissioner Heel Turn and the proposed Mania-eventers: a truce with Stone Cold, on the condition that he apologizes, and closure to the Rock and Mankind Last Man Standing match from last night that ended in a physically improbable steel chair double knock-out. Rock and McMahon manipulate Mankind and Shawn Michaels into agreeing to a WWF Championship ladder match for the night’s main event, which seems like a terrible idea considering the past month of non-stop beatings Mankind’s taken and the fact that McMahon literally just debuted a new, 7-foot tall henchman. Vince is immediately like, “ha HA, you FELL FOR IT, also here’s the special guest referee for the match at WrestleMania, MY NEW 7-FOOT TALL HENCHMAN!”
Meet Paul Wight, a gamma-radiated Bob Seger in a “no gimmicks needed” t-shirt. That’s a brave shirt to wear when you debuted as the fake son of Andre the Giant who lives in a mountain full of cold water and works for a cartoonish cabal of wrestling super villains who will sign you up for a monster truck sumo battle, stand by and watch as you are killed, and then reanimate your corpse in time to have a Devil’s Triangle with a mummy.
The funny part is that they give him a gimmick almost immediately — he becomes “Big Nasty,” which then becomes “The Big Show” — because “guy in the Corporation who is slightly taller than Test” isn’t very marketable. Maybe they should’ve given him a “smokes cigarettes” gimmick.
Sure enough, it turns out to be a BAD idea to put the WWF Championship on the line in a ladder match 24 hours after a Last Man Standing match, six weeks before WrestleMania, when your challenger’s the chosen hero of your evil boss and they just debuted a new guy who’s as tall as the ladders. Mankind puts his sock in Rock’s mouth at the top of the ladder and looks like he’s going to win, but Gimmickless Paul shows up, gives him AAAAAH THE CHOKESLAM off the ladder, and formally ends the Rock vs. Mankind feud (for now) by giving Rocky his third WWF Championship in three months.
I’d recommend checking this out if you’ve never seen it, if only for anthropological reasons. This is the Mankind vs. Rock match everyone’s forgotten, even though it’s ostensibly the most important one as it blows off this leg of the rivalry and sets the stage for WrestleMania XV. Even the “bad” Rock and Foley matches are really good. I’d also recommend watching it to see what happens in the rare instance when Stone Cold Steve Austin’s ability to speak into a microphone breaks. Listen to him on commentary during the match and take a drink every time he says, “make no mistake about it.” He drops one at the very end of the match when the camera’s on him and you can see his brain and face think, “Jesus Christ, son, why do I keep saying ‘make no mistake about it?'”
Pour one out for Mick Foley, by the way. The guy’s been the MVP of the show for months now, is one of the most popular and respected performers on the show, and whose title win “turned the tide in the Monday Night Wars,” but in one chokeslam he goes from facing Stone Cold Steve Austin in a championship main event at WrestleMania to slumming it with Big Show in the middle of the card and (20-year old spoiler alert) having to win a match just to ref the main event. That’s always going to feel a little disappointing. Foley prime was wasted at WrestleMania. At Mania 13 he fails to win the tag titles by getting counted out. He won a dumpster match for them at Mania 14, but is right back to getting his ass kicked and being helpful at best at 15. The guy hits his arguable career peak right before 16, but “retires” a month before it and ends up being the saddest part of a bad main event. I’d say he didn’t really get his true “WrestleMania moment” at all until his match with Edge at 22, and even that’s just about his willingness to fall backwards into fire.
And Now, In A Completely Unrelated Story
The Ministry of Darkness, seen here looking like The Ministry of Dark Hallways, drop a bombshell on the WWF Universe: The Undertaker is not the leader. He answers to an unidentified Greater Power. Think of him like The Pope, and the Greater Power like God. That’s the relationship. But who is the Greater Power, Austin? Who is the Greater Power all along?
In case you missed it, the “heart and soul” of the Corporation, The Big Boss Man, was abducted by the Ministers at In Your House: St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. “Heart and soul” are the Undertaker’s words, not mine. If your heart and soul are both a disgraced Georgia prison guard who used to wear a Confederate flag patch on his shoulder and handcuffs people to things so he can beat them with a night stick, you’re either Vince McMahon or the United States government. Or, in our current situation, you’re both.
But yeah, no, Boss Man was kidnapped at the pay-per-view and we find out on Raw that he “escaped.” Undertaker helpfully confirms that they kidnapped him but let him go to send a message that they can take anyone they want, whenever they want, and presumably indoctrinate them in the glowing blue light of the Lord of Darkness. Technically The Brood make things darker than The Undertaker but you know what, let’s not split hairs. Boss Man interrupts and challenges The Ministry to a six-man tag team match, and neither the unreliable explanation for what happened to Boss Man between Sunday and Monday nor the Corporation vs. Ministry six-man ending two minutes in with a theatrical non-finish clues the viewers in to the collusion.
Before we get to that, though, let’s take a step back and recap the Monday night adventures of Sunday Night Heat’s worst announcer, Shane McMahon.
Best/Worst: That’s A Nice European Championship, Would Be A Shane If Something Happened To It
Triple H, who is a good boyfriend who did not deserve to be betrayed and abandoned, congratulates Chyna on pinning him at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre because it’s the “first time [she’s] ever been on top of a man.” I wonder why she wanted to stop being a silent bodyguard for your dick-pointing and do good work for the people who run the company where you both work?
H and X want a rematch and call out Chyna, who shows up with future best friends Kane and Shane, ready to kick assonance and take names. Shane gives Chyna the night off for good behavior and ends up getting challenged in her place — “little bitch” is bandied around — which Shane agrees to, pending X-Pac putting the European Championship on the line. A singles title being defended in a tag match? What is this, Monday Night Raw?
Fun note: Shane says he doesn’t have “proper ring attire” and they call him a “puss,” so he decides to just wrestle in sneakers, windbreaker pants, and a football jersey. Yes, Shane McMahon’s in-ring attire for the next 20 YEARS is based on this one instance where he wasn’t ready for or expecting a match. Really puts Shane into context, doesn’t it?
After some classic Shane-O-Mac Ground and Pound, Kane counters a Bronco Buster with a chokeslam of sorts and clears up Chyna to pass the European Championship to Shane behind the referee’s back. Shane blasts Pac with it, pins him, and becomes European Champion in only his second match ever. As you may be aware, this begins the curious trend of Shane being shoveled into a number of angles and matches and always over-performing in the ring, which stays pretty great until it starts blowing up in our face circa 2016 and stays mind-numbingly terrible until modern Smackdown creatively craters.
Now that we’ve covered Shane’s sudden but inevitable title victory we can jump back to the Corporation vs. Ministry six-man, which ends with Shane being revealed as Undertaker’s latest occult kidnapping victim. It’s only temporary, however, as Undertaker merely abducted him to give him a folder of mysterious information he wants delivered to Shane’s father at the top of the corporate ladder. Is that what was in the “lockbox” Vince wanted from Shane a few decades later?
You’d think Undertaker’s nine-year relationship with Vince McMahon as one of his top stars would’ve afforded him the ability to deliver paperwork WITHOUT having to seize and threaten his family members, but here we are. What, Gangrel can’t run errands? You’ve got to put on your best Satanic bath robe and kidnap folks and interrupt six-man tag matches in the middle of Raw for what could’ve just been an e-mail? Undertaker’s got a great career ahead of him in middle-management. We find out where this is going over the next few weeks, but I hope the folder just contained a single sheet of paper with I’M EVIL, YOU GUYS ARE EVIL, LET’S DO BUSINESS written on it in Mideon’s tit blood.
P.S. if you are one of Vince McMahon’s other children, you should really start locking your doors.
Worst: Shamrock, Unlucky In Love
While we’re on the topic of people making terrible life decisions, let’s talk about Ryan Shamrock.
Her brother, Ken, is world famous for being both a combat sports champion and a complete maniac who blacks out at the first sign of trouble and starts throwing hands at anything that moves. She decides to go watch him perform at a WWF show and, despite everything I typed in the first sentence, thinks it’d be a good idea to be visibly turned on by the Canadian porn star wrestler who very clearly wants to piss off her brother. After Ken attacks, Ryan decides the next best step is to star in an amateur porno with her new porn star boyfriend, start accompanying him to the ring to help him cheat in matches, and serve as an implied prostitution go-between for the porn star and a guy who chooses to call himself, “Mr. Ass.”
Val’s first relationship in the World Wrestling Federation saw him flirt with another wrestler’s family member while she sat in the crowd, make shower porn with her, use her as leverage in a wrestling feud, and then callously dump her out of the blue when the feud was over. At In Your House, Val Venis won the Intercontinental Championship with help from Ryan, ending his feud with her brother. So Ryan, who I should remind you is a wrestler’s sister who Val flirted with as she sat in the crowd until she made shower porn with him and let him use her as leverage in one of his wrestling feuds, comes to the ring with him like, “things are great, NOTHING bad’s gonna happen to me today!”
After she helps Val retain the Intercontinental Championship against Bill Ass by falling off the ring apron and pretending to hurt herself — a trick she must have picked up from one of her boyfriend’s OTHER short-lived ex-girlfriends — Val celebrates by bringing her into the ring and unceremoniously dumping her.
To make matters worse, Monsieur le Cul finds her backstage and tries to offer her at least Two Words of support, but Ken, who is still out of his mind but in the right to assume someone else at work is trying to hook up with his hot stupid sister to take the piss out of him, jumps and relentlessly throttles him. You live by the ass, you die by the ass, Billy. You’d think this would all be building to a multi-man Intercontinental Championship match at WrestleMania featuring all the “important men” in Ryan Shamrock’s life, but you’d be forgetting what happens when cocaine hits the ventral tegmental area of Vince Russo’s brain and makes him hit “randomize” on his plans.
Can Never Unsee: Val Venis Debuts A Signature Move
If Alex Wright tried that move he’d kill a man. Also, hahaha what the fuck
Eventual, Hilarious Best: The Bart, The
Bob Holly won the Hardcore Championship at In Your House by pinning Al Snow in the sand down by the river, and that motivates him to grab a live microphone and cut the worst-ever version of the Dolph Ziggler, “I’ll been BUSTING MY ASS here for X AMOUNT OF YEARS and everybody KNOWS I’M THE BEST but MANAGEMENT KEEPS HOLDING ME DOWN FOR SOME REASON” promo you’ve ever heard. Imagine Dolph if he was Chris Cooper’s character from American Beauty. That’s Bob Holly. Bob successfully defends his newly won leather strip with broken shards of metal glued all over it against Steve Blackman when Blackman is attacked from behind by Droz and an enormous, apparently rubber fire hydrant wrench. I wonder if Sting’s baseball bat could cut that wrench in half?
The important development comes after the match, when Bob proclaims his general hardcore greatness and is confronted by the man who knows him better than anyone: his former New Midnight Express tag team partner and Brawl for All winner Bart Gunn.
In case you can’t quite place it, Bart looks like Randy Orton would’ve looked if he’d wanted to be a pro wrestler, but didn’t grow up related to a bunch of them. He wrestles like it, too. Bart signs his name on the figurative dotted line for a shot at the Hardcore Championship on next week’s show, and we’re finally getting some closure to the “Bodacious Bart couldn’t knock out Bombastic Bob” plot point from the tournament that every human brain’s thought process has consigned to oblivion.
The best part? The announce team mentions in passing that boxer, toughman, and former Marc Mero antagonist Butterbean is interested in a Brawl for All match against Bart. Sure enough, here’s Beano in the crowd giving a thumbs up and looking like Bill Cosby had a baby with Tony Soprano.
Keep your head on a swivel, Bart.
Wait, that actually might’ve been the problem.
Also On This Episode
News has broken that Sable’s going to be on the cover of Playboy magazine, so she’s MEAN all of a sudden. No heel turn, no gradual change. One week she’s a happily waving hero to the people and the less fortunate, and one week she’s wearing sunglasses, using the phrase “each and every one of you” — a true WWE heel signifier if there ever was one — and openly dumping on the stalker who helped her win that strap match against Luna Vachon. To illustrate, please enjoy this picture of her looking like Vampirella stepped into The Matrix while sauntering through ankle-deep sludge in an arena back hallway. Use a cup when you get water, guys, damn.
In other “women’s division” news, a wholly untrained Debra McMichael gets wrestling gear and steps into the ring as Jeff Jarrett’s tag team partner to take on D’Lo Brown and Ivory. It’s as good as it sounds. The referee loses control pretty quickly and calls it a double disqualification, which Debra punctuates by shattering one of Jeff’s balsa wood guitars on Ivory’s back. I wish she’d hit her in the back of the head instead, so Ivory could maybe get amnesia and not realize she worked hard enough to go from the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling to the WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION only to still be wrestling people who barely belong on G.L.O.W.
It’s a banner week for Raw is War as one of WCW’s worst tag teams joins the roster, Chyna faces X-Pac one-on-one in the kind of match they’re still telling us they “can’t do” 20 years later, and a teddy bear loses an Inferno Match. All this and more when Raw Remains War, next week!