Previously on the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War: A drunk Stone Cold Steve Austin and an even drunker Shawn Michaels brought it via satellite to challenge Mr. McMahon to a steel cage match at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre: In Your House. Also: Bluedust appeared and was way too important, Chyna betrayed D-Generation X to join the Corporation, and Val Venis had a Canadian shower with Ken Shamrock’s sister.
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 1, 1999.
Best: Time To Play The (Big) Game
On January 31, 1999, at Miami’s Pro Player Stadium — the only stadium fit for professional players — John Elway led the Denver Broncos to a 34-19 victory over the Atlanta Falcons and their legendary quarterback, Chris Chandler. The most important thing from the game, however, at least from the perspective of someone reading about it on a wrestling blog over 20 years later, is that 99’s Big Game® saw the debut of the World Wrestling Federation’s Super Bowl commercial. There are two versions, both of which you can watch below.
If you ever wanted to have zero faith in humanity’s ability to watch and understand the basics of pro wrestling, a WWE.com blurb about the commercial from 2013 notes that the commercials created “urban legends” about how folks thought the WWF Headquarters was really like that. You know, with wrestlers walking through the halls in their gear while employees riot and try to kill each other.
The spot lived up to its purpose — capturing the spirit, not only of The Attitude Era, but also of WWE overall. The chaotic scene of The Texas Rattlesnake whacking a shiftless executive with a chair and a blind referee roaming the halls captivated viewers around the world and created urban legends about what takes place inside the Stamford office building.
Of course, the employees crashing through conference room windows were created for dramatic effect, though we’d be remiss if we said we never saw a sleeper hold in the cafeteria. Nevertheless, even though the commercial aired more than a decade ago, WWE staff are still asked, “Do Superstars work there?” or “Are there wrestling matches in the office?”
The funniest part? WWE’s about to have wrestling matches in the office, and no, the Superstars have never technically “worked there.”
Best: It’s Halftime, Lookin’ At My Foley It’s About That Time
They’re about to have matches in the office, the Superstars don’t work there, and they’re having championship matches in empty arenas. Did the World Wrestling Federation enter into a Monkey’s Paw situation with Super Bowl XXXIII?
Thanks to a special edition of Sunday Night Heat where they aren’t afraid to cut away from Big Boss Man vs. Jeff Jarrett to get the timing right, WWF aired a pre-taped, empty arena, championship match between The Rock and Mankind. The match was actually taped on January 26 at the Tucson Convention Center in Tuscon, Arizona, the site of the February 1 Raw you’re about to read about … meaning Tuscon got a full episode of Raw with Mick Foley as the champion three days before he technically won it.
If you’ve never seen the match, it’s roughly 17 minutes of Rock and Mankind wandering around the building doing stage combat improv. Highlights include Mr. Socko rising up from a sea of chairs in the background while Rock tries to give a mid-match interview, Rock answering telephone calls while beating up Mick in somebody’s office, and, best of all, that moment where Rock throws salsa in Mick’s eyes, tastes it, and angrily declares, “It’s MILD!!” There is nothing worse than taking bite of salsa and finding out it’s mild, Rock, I’m with you. Mild salsa is like non-alcoholic beer. You may be familiar with the finish, in which Mankind pins Rock with a forklift which has, for some reason, been fitted with a WWF camera pointing straight down. Also The Rock’s face is a camera.
And there you have it, folks, the birth of one of WWE’s strangest idiosyncrasies: the idea that when you’re in the ring there are a fixed number of cameras, but when you’re in the back (or especially in the parking lot) there are like a billion nanomachines filming you from every imaginable angle. It’s why the truss falling on Roman Reigns randomly had a camera behind it, and how John Cena’s unconscious body became a camera when JBL tried to hit him with a car. So dumb.
Anyway, Halftime Heat is an absolutely terrible match that I fully recommend watching, as it’s two of the most charismatic stars of all time having fun and throwing food at each other. A truly unique, quarter-hour time capsule that at the very least served as a break from Chris Chandler interceptions and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s Celebration of Soul, Salsa and Swing.
Best/Worst: (Royal Rumble) Victor In Victoria
Our main story this week concerns Mr. McMahon, who has decided to go on a field trip with The Stooges to southeast Texas to try to find Stone Cold Steve Austin and goad him into throwing hands, thereby nullifying the steel cage match at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Vince has a great backup plan — a 7-foot tall man hiding under the ring to pop up at the end and throw Austin at the cage wall, which will probably not backfire — but first he’s going to try to bail on the entire thing thanks to a technicality.
McMahon spends the entire episode touring Victoria, with the major beats being:
- Patterson and Brisco dressing up like cartoon cowboys and getting hit in the nuts while trying to flirt with locals at a bar
- going to a barbecue restaurant because they heard it was where Austin has his “night time snack” (what is he, a toddler?), which ends with Vince hating common people food and Brisco, looking 100% like Tommy Lee Jones from No Country For Old Men, getting beans poured on his head for being a Karen about it
- going behind the counter at a GUN STORE in TEXAS, accosting a man they mistakenly identified as Austin, and almost getting shot to death
- finding Austin at a bar and trying to provoke him, only for Austin to calmly walk out and leave his friends in low places to handle McMahon and the Stooges themselves
This is a completely original idea from Vince Russo, which means it’s just a dumbed down version of a thing he watched a long time ago and assumed nobody else had seen. This one’s a gritty reboot of that time James J. Dillon went to Dusty Rhodes and Blackjack Mulligan’s ranch and got r-u-n-n-o-f-t with shotguns. McMahon is funny, but I’m not sure he’s “J.J. Dillon deadpan complaining about being chased by armadillos” funny.
Best: The Last Dance
At the Royal Rumble, Vince McMahon promised 100K to anyone who could eliminate Stone Cold Steve Austin. The Rock did that with a distraction, kinda sorta, so McMahon decided to give him the cash … only Mankind was there to attack the security guards, steal the money, and threaten to throw it out into the crowd unless Rock righted the wrongs of the “I Quit” match and gave him another shot at the WWF Championship. That was Halftime Heat. Mankind won, but … well, “changed his mind,” and decided to keep the money. This week, he uses the money to give Kurrgan a nest egg to support his family, buy Debra McMichael a sweater so she doesn’t catch a fatal chest cold, and, for undisclosed reasons, purchase a little person. That’s a maskless Max Mini, by the way, looking way too much like the WWE 2K Battlegrounds version of Justin Long.
Upset that he’s lost enough money to buy “five shirts,” Rock calls McMahon in Victoria and demands satisfaction. When McMahon can’t do anything about it, which makes sense as he couldn’t even get through a bowl of beans without them ending up on an old man’s head, Rock decides to take matters into his own hands. He challenges Mankind to a WWF Championship rematch at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre under Last Man Standing rules. This is a first in WWE, not to be confused with the “Armageddon Rules” match between The Undertaker and The Executioner that required decisions before the 10-counts. Mankind, who just got screwed in a pay-per-view match against The Rock with broadly similar rules, accepts the challenge. Sorry about your brains, Mick.
Worst: Successful Debra McMichael Line Reads
Mark Henry swipes right on Debra McMichael, who now owns a sweater she’s never going to wear because it doesn’t make her look enough like Lisa Ann in porn parody of The Office. Debra, being Debra, responds with, “Can you make me HOT … CHOKlit??” And then she looks at the camera and raises her eyebrows and nods a couple of times, for emphasis. You know, sometimes they pull back the veil and you can really see what Debra and Mongo had in common. Mark gets attacked from behind by Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart, because the WWF can’t seem to decide whether or not we’re supposed to cheer Mark for his rampant and aggressive sexual perversion, or be ashamed of him. Maybe it’s both?
Worst: Not The Mama
Over the past month or so, D’Lo Brown has been subservient to Terri Runnels and her girl gang because he thought he accidentally caused her to miscarry Val Venis’ love child. This week, Runnels convinces D’Lo that if he really feels bad about being nearby while she tucked and rolled off the ring steps, he’ll get his ass kicked by the Big Boss Man. Nailz was right about that guy, that’s all I’m saying.
Afterword, Henry and Brown have a conversation about the miscarriage in front of a WWF doctor, who is straight-up Dr. Nick Riviera from The Simpsons. The doctor reveals a shocking truth: he examined Terri, and Terri has NEVER BEEN PREGNANT. Not “she wasn’t pregnant when she fell,” she has never been pregnant. He says it a couple of times to make sure it’s clear. I uh, guess we’re going to have to have a difficult conversation about Dakota?
Dust To Dust
Speaking (indirectly) of Goldust, he shows up to kick The Blue Meanie’s ass for being “Bluedust” in the middle of Meanie’s audition to be the “Raw Boy.” Not sure why they needed to bag on the Nitro Girls almost two years after they debuted, but whatever. Lots of violence against commercial break dance troupes on this week’s shows. Goldust kicks Meanie in the balls while the fans cheer, and not a single person on the Earth knows which one of these dudes is supposed to be the good guy. I think “what if the weird guys hated each other” was as far as the writing team got.
Early in the episode, The Brood is supposed to have a six-man tag team match against the Ministry of Darkness, represented by Mideon, Viscera, and The Undertaker. Only, the Undertaker doesn’t stand on the ring apron, he sits on the stage in his big Undertaker throne like he’s Shao Kahn in Mortal Kombat.
The match ends quickly with a run-in from the Acolytes, and the full strength of the Ministry goes HAM on the vampires. Undertaker finally comes to the ring to order the hanging of Gangrel, which results in an absolutely gag-worthy close-up of Gangrel being strangled with blood and snot coming out of his face. Do not click on this! The line in the sand has been drawn: there’s only room for ONE monster-themed group of magical heels in the World Wrestling Federation.
Later in the night, the Acolytes have a hardcore tag team match — you guys starting a new division, or what? — against frenemies the Road Dogg and Al Snow. They beat the absolute dog shit out of them, because one team is giant football players empowered by the devil and the other is a horny stoner in sweatpants and a sub-Marty Jannetty Rocker who carries around a mannequin head. After the match, the Ministry plus three druids attack the Road Dogg. Quick, can you guess who those three druids turn out to be? There are so many options!
You guessed it! Edge, Christian, and Gangrel are revealed as The Lower Power. It was them, Austin. It was them all along! This unholy union merges the spoopy monster factions, gives some directionless young stars a rub, and gives The Undertaker some low-level underlings that can actually work and aren’t goddamn Phineas Godwinn and King Mabel. Plus, the shot of Undertaker welcoming Edge into the Ministry is a great first step toward the main event of WrestleMania 24. The Brood and Ministry union wouldn’t give us much, but it does increase the amount of bloodbaths on WWF TV, and sets up the dramatic WrestleMania hanging of a prison guard.
Worst: Billy Gunn Auditions For Val Venis’ Latest Film
Let me lay this out as clearly as I can:
- Ken Shamrock gets super pissed and violent about everything
- Val Venis wants to fuck everything that moves
- Bill Ass loves asses
- Val Venis flirted with Ken Shamrock’s sister, which caused Ken to get super pissed
- Bill Ass wanted a match with Shamrock, so he jogged out and pulled down his pants in front of the sister. Shamrock got violent about it.
- Val Venis then made a porno with the sister. Shamrock got super pissed and violent about it and attacks him with a chair.
- Billy made the save, but Val thought BILLY was the one who attacked him for some reason, and attacked Billy
This week, Shamrock sits in on commentary for a Val vs. Billy match and SCREAMS VERY MUCH in the style of STIMPY about how he’s REALLY MAD about what’s been going on with his sister. This exchange happens:
Lawler: “Wait a minute, wait a minute, you’re saying you never watched an adult movie?”
Shamrock: “Absolutely not! That stuff … that stuff is trash!”
Lawler: “Michael Cole has a huge collection of it.”
Cole: “Cover now, and a kickout … King, please.”
Ultimately this all leads to … [checks notes] Shamrock attacking Val Venis with a chair, Billy Gunn making the save, and Val seeing Billy with the chair and attacking him because I guess he doesn’t watch the show and thinks Billy’s the one that jumped him. Again. Pretty sure Russo just copy-pasted that in from last week’s script and meant to change it, forgot, and only remembered when he heard Val’s music.
Mostly Best: Caged (X-Pac) Heat
With Mr. McMahon in Victoria, Shane McMahon is left in charge of Raw. Shane McMahon as an authority figure is always a good idea, am I right, people who lived through 2016-2019 Smackdown? Anyway, Shane sics the Corporation on D-X at the top of the show so he can lower a steel cage — called “ominous” by Michael Cole at least five times — and make an emphatic point about how nobody can touch him. Only, you know, X-Pac has been hiding on the top of the cage this entire time, apparently, and rides it down to the ring (pictured). He kicks the shit out of Shane for a few glorious moments until Chyna, dressed in modern championship pay-per-view whites, gets into the cage and uppercuts Pac in the thing. Shane wears mom jeans and hugs a lady for winning a fight for him in a beautiful encapsulation of the kind of dude you want to see get the piss beaten out of him the most.
The main even to the night is Triple H vs. Kane in a steel cage match, which, you guessed it, also includes interference from Chyna. WWF cage match rules always involve you having to win by escaping the cage, which is antithetical to how fights work, but whatever. It’s a forever-year-old problem. At the end of the match, H and Kane are climing up across the ring from one another and Pac shows back up to climb up the outside and try to kick Kane back in. This brings out Chyna to attempt to do the same to Triple H, but H kicks off the “big bitch” — his words, not mine — and escapes to the floor to win.
- this surprisingly good match sets up a surprisingly GREAT Kane and Chyna vs. Triple H and X-Pac match at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre
- Kane sets off the post fire during the match, which briefly triggers the lights and turns the arena red. After a few moments, it fades back into normal light. Am I the only one who wishes that was a regular Kane move, and that it gave him a burst of invincibility? At least red light having supernatural power for those who learn to command it would explain why nobody could hurt early Kane or The Fiend until the lighting changed
- I think somebody put the cage walls on backwards, because Kane’s arm is FUCKED UP by the end
Also On This Episode
Droz continues running the Oddities gauntlet by defeating Kurrgan with a broomstick (?) to the throat. He continues beating down Kurrgan after the match for what feels like forever until the Oddities return to make the save. Between this and last week’s George Steele beating, you’d think the dumbass Oddities would stay near the ring, or at least pay attention? The Insane Clown Posse thinks magnets are miracles and were the smartest dudes in the Oddities by MILES.
Al Snow faces Al Snow in a hardcore match (not a typo), Val Venis continues to make great life decisions by hooking up with Ken Shamrock’s sister in front of everybody, and Stone Cold Steve Austin attempts to run the Corporate Gauntlet. Plus, the Steve Blackman vs. The Rock dream match you never knew you needed! See you then!