Previously on the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War: We learned about the Fully Loaded ’98 bikini contest, saw the Godfather get his first “hoes,” and learned about Road Warrior Hawk’s kayfabe but also definitely real substance abuse issues.
Previously on Sunday Night Heat: The first ever episode of Sunday Night Heat featured the official debut of Shane McMahon as an excited color commentator who is COOL because he has SEX with WOMEN. Plus, Val Venis got into it with AC Slater, as if he doesn’t have enough problems right now.
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 Raw was fun to watch, and things happened!
Best: Cahootway To Hell
The previous week’s Raw ended with Stone Cold Steve Austin tossing a beer to The Undertaker, setting up the idea that they might actually get along as a tag team (and as Tag Team Champions) despite being opponents at the upcoming SummerSlam ’98. The first episode of Sunday Night Heat ended with Owen Hart and The Rock defeating Kane and Mankind by count-out in a number one contender match, so Raw follows through with the logical endpoint: Austin and Undertaker vs. Rock and Owen for the tag titles, and Vince McMahon still losing his mind trying to convince everyone that Undertaker’s in cahoots with Kane.
Raw opens with The Nation calling out the tag champs to do it right here, right now, and the champs answer. Undertaker’s still carrying both tag belts, and Austin’s still power-walking like 10 steps ahead of him because he’s Stone Cold Steve Austin. Undertaker’s Spidey-sense tingles and makes him realize Kane’s behind them, though, and Austin ends up going into the ring alone and getting beaten down 2-on-1. Undertaker heads up to have a “confrontation” with his brother and gets attacked by Mankind. It’s honestly pretty refreshing when you can actually follow the wrestling story based on what happens on the shows and not have to make up a bunch of shit in comedy columns to force your way through it.
With the Tag Team Championship match booked, we get a follow-through on the challenge from Fully Loaded and match between the #2 and #3 ranked teams, Kane and Mankind and the New Age Outlaws. If you ever wondered what “D-X” stood for — and you didn’t — here’s professor William Gunn to explain:
The match serves an important purpose: to continue the separation of Mankind and Kane by having Mankind take on an “underdog” role of sorts, and by having Kane continue to be nigh-unstoppable. The Outlaws pull Mankind out of the ring while Kane’s doing his fire-bending thing and beat him down, but can’t ever seem to figure out a gameplan for Kane himself. This is going to be crucial to getting fans to cheer for Mankind as a babyface (which is happening soon), because if he was just an insane guy who didn’t feel pain, you wouldn’t have any connection to him. As a fragile, flawed underdog hero, though? That’s money.
It also sets up the followup at SummerSlam, which sees these two teams competing again for the Tag Team Championship in a finish that pays off the plot points established here, calls back to previous histories between the competitors, and introduces some consequences for the idea that Kane’s in cahoots with someone much more dangerous and powerful than his partner.
Midway through the episode, Vince McMahon and The Stooges cut a promo about how Undertaker accepting a beer from Stone Cold last week but conveniently turning his back while Kane attacked Austin is further proof of the dreaded cahoots, and demands answers from all involved parties. Undertaker shows up to respond, but Stone Cold interrupts him to explain that It Don’t Make A Damn To Stone Cold™. They trade barbs about SummerSlam, and Undertaker gets under Austin’s skin by saying that since they’re tag team partners, Austin’s under his protection now, and will be the “safest S.O.B. in the World Wrestling Federation” until the pay-per-view. Nothing makes a belligerent redneck madder than someone trying to take care of him. America, I’m looking in your direction.
Undertaker and Kane are doing a really terrible job of remaining clandestine about their pro wrestling tandem murders, by the way. The main event ends with Mankind running in and attacking the Undertaker, and Kane showing up to “help” with a steel chair but “accidentally” hitting Mankind. Undertaker picks up the chair and hits Mankind again, just because. Taker and Kane could be out here throwing double chokeslams on everybody and they’d still be like, “you don’t know what you saw, we aren’t friends, just two independently contracted 7-foot-tall supernatural assassins who don’t feel pain and also are related.”
Determined Excellence shows up as well, and the show ends with another Everybody Fights segment.
Well, “the show ends” that way, but the final shot is of something much, much different. Let’s take you back now to July of 1998, when a Japanese pro wrestling manager with a beautiful young second wife ran afoul of a Canadian porn star, and things escalated until deli meats were getting cut in half with samurai swords to illustrate what happens when someone, and I quote, choppy-choppies your pee-pee.
Best: That’s Bris, Baby
Confident that his pee-pee will remain intac-tact, Val Venis teams up with TAKA Michinoku to face Kaientai. What Val doesn’t know is that Mrs. Yamaguchi-san is actually TAKA’s sister, presumably making her “Kyoko Michinoku,” possibly in all caps, and when you diss TAKA you diss yourself. TAKA flips on Val, helps Kaientai beat him into unconsciousness, and reveals his family link while everyone does sexy hip swivels:
With Val incapacitated, Kaientai carries him to the back and beats him down even more, before dragging him into a mostly empty dressing room. There we find what looks like a nightstand about to be used for sacrificial circumcision. The only thing I don’t like about this is that Dick Togo was named “Dick Togo” before, and didn’t get the name because he tried to get that dick to go on Raw.
At the very end of the show, security bursts into the dressing room to find a completely nude Val hung up with his dick draped over the end table, Mrs. Yamaguchi-san in the background looking like Mary Magdalene at the crucifixion, and Mr. Yamaguchi-san about to do the deed. The lights cut out before we can see anything, and we’re left to believe that pee-pee fall down go boom.
What actually happened is somehow ten times as absurd, but I won’t spoil it for you yet. Unfortunately they didn’t go with my fantasy booking, which was that Val’s penis had a face like Vampire Hunter D’s hand, and when they severed it it flopped around the room killing everyone.
Worst: WWE Network Choppy-Choppy Your I-C-Pee-Pee
One thing you won’t find on the WWE Network version of this week’s Raw is the opening match between Oddities member Golga and Marc Mero. In fact, you won’t see much of the Oddities on the Network in their original form at all, for a ridiculous reason: the Insane Clown Posse’s Oddities theme.
Per all the resources I can find about it online, wrestling super fans Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope had gotten popular enough from their music to do some guest spots on ECW and had been asked to both record a new entrance theme for the Oddities and perform it live at SummerSlam ’98. ICP were working without contracts, more or less for free, in exchange for WWF promoting them and their music during the shows. Per the Insane Clowns, who are still not sure how magnets work, the company didn’t hold up their end of the deal. So now you can’t find anything involving their music on the Network, the Oddities get a dumb cartoon sound effects soundalike, and as far as I can tell, ICP themselves only show up incidentally.
Not that you’re dying to watch Marc Mero vs. Golga, but here’s a clip of it on WWE.com, entrance theme intact. I’m guessing this one got cut via a combination of ICP’s involvement and Golga wrestling the entire match in a South Park t-shirt, and not even one of those fake airbrushed ones like the New Age Outlaws used to have.
Worst: Back Off, He’ll Take You On; Hegstrand To Take On Anyone
Last week, Road Warrior Hawk got so sad and drunk about a phone call and his general place in the world that he showed up to work like Jeff Hardy at Victory Road 2011, smeared his makeup all over his body, and fell off the top rope. This week, he apologies to us, the WWE Universe, not as Hawk, but as “Michael Hegstrand,” to make sure we know the guy we saw last week was the real person who plays Hawk and not a WWF character. Even though it’s totally the WWF making a real-life addict pretend to be an addict for wrestling stories. This is never, ever going to be a good look.
Hawk has a match against Jeff Jarrett, who’s going through his own problems: he can’t seem to get on the same page as his manager, Tennessee Lee, and loses when Lee can’t get his belt off in time to give Jarrett a foreign object. It like, gets stuck in the loop on his pants. That’s two strikes for Lee now, and it makes you wonder if Jarrett had watched any Col. Robert Parker footage from WCW before hiring this guy to manage him. All he ever really did was dress up and get punched in the face about things.
Worst: Tiger Ali Stinks
Remember Tiger Ali Singh, the son of Tiger Jeet Singh who was briefly positioned to be a new international hero in the World Wrestling Federation? After being gone for like a year and a half he’s back, in Attitude Era form! Now he’s an arrogant foreigner who comes to the ring with a manservant named “Babu” and pays overweight women money to take off, then put back on their clothes. Imagine if the Million Dollar Man was also playing a racial stereotype, and Virgil wore a turban.
Sometimes in these columns I put over Vince Russo and the 1998 WWF Creative team for being able to put together logical, fun-to-follow wrestling stories, but I also need point out how unbelievably bad the show got whenever it was time for someone to do something “funny.” Some characters and performers ARE funny, but the people who make the calls rarely are, and you can see everything bad about Russo’s vision of the WCW and Vince McMahon’s vision of a modern WWE in their comedy.
Also On This Episode
People still booing your Brawl for All tournament like a month into it? Why not put some butts at ringside, so they can be distracted and maybe shut up while the wrestlers hurt themselves?
Here, The Godfather defeats Scorpio. Godfather offers Scorpio the choice of getting his ass kicked or spending the night with three of the Godfather’s Finest Hoes®, and Scorp turns down a paid-in-full foursome to put on some boxing gloves and look bad on TV for five minutes. In retrospect, I wish they’d booked an angle where the Godfather rises in the ranks for like a year, becomes WWF Champion, and stays champ for like 2 1/2 years without wrestling because of his vast, international network of available prostitutes. But then I guess he’d lose a lot of cash going out of pocket like that. As the song says, “pimping is difficult.”
X-Pac and Triple H find themselves in a number one contender match to see who’ll face The Rock at SummerSlam for the Intercontinental Championship, and surprise! Triple H wins. The big story here is that Chyna interferes on H’s behalf, after remaining neutral in all other D-X on D-X violence. I guess she determined which member was more excellent.
H and Pac have a nose-to-nose confrontation after the match, and the show works overtime to convince us that there’s distension in the group. Not to spoil anything, but the payoff is that they’re all just joking, which feels more like a way to stop having to write the story than a planned swerve. Who’d they even be swerving, themselves?
Finally, D’Lo Brown finds himself in a match against the man who tore his pectoral muscle and made him have to start wearing a chest protector, Dan ‘The Beast’ Severn. At Fully Loaded, Brown escaped a match with Ken Shamrock by shoving Severn and causing him to interfere. On Raw, Brown escapes the match with Severn by punching Shamrock in the face. The MMA guys are still huffing and puffing and blowing each other’s houses down, and D’Lo By God Brown keeps leaving as European Champion. It’s not making D’Lo seem very tough, but it’s certainly making him look like he knows how professional wrestling works.
Oh, also, if you’re wondering why The Godfather moved on to face Scorpio in the Brawl for All despite losing to Severn in the previous round, Severn said he withdrew from the tournament because he’s got “nothing to prove,” and wants to fight with his hands unbound. Also, somebody probably realized they were gonna have to book Bart Gunn into the finals now and didn’t want “the worse of two Smoking Gunns” shoot KO’ing an Ultimate Ultimate Champion.
- Mankind wants answers, and also to not be hit in the head with a steel chair several more times
- Chyna initiates a Determined Excellence “split”
- Michael Cole gets a Val Venis/Mrs. Yamaguchi-style on-screen shower courtesy of Stone Cold Steve Austin
- the thrilling conclusion to Choppy Choppy Your Pee-Pee, featuring a special celebrity guest
All this and more, next week on our write-up of a 20-year old episode of Raw is War!