Previously on the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War: If you’re even thinking about changing the channel to our competition, fans, do not. Because we understand that Mick Foley, who wrestled here at one time as Cactus Jack, is going to win their World Title. Huh! That’s gonna put some butts in the seats. Heh!
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 January 11, 1999.
Worst: Mankind Has Already Lost The WWF Championship
Not officially, but we’re getting there.
This week’s show opens with a lengthy “promo parade” in the modern WWE style. When I say lengthy I mean lengthy, too, as the show that “defines sports-entertainment” (™ Michael Cole) spends over 21 minutes talking about what everybody’s going to do instead of, you know, doing anything. D-Generation X starts it off with the Road Dogg’s catchphrases, which brings out Mankind. That brings out The Corporation with a Shane McMahon promo, followed by a Rock promo, followed by a Vince McMahon promo. It’d be rough if we weren’t relying some of the best characters and talkers in the history of professional wrestling and also Shane McMahon.
Mankind is the new WWF Champion something something butts in seats, and thanks D-Generation X and Stone Cold Steve Austin for ostensibly winning it for him. He wants to face Stone Cold in the main event of WrestleMania, but Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy show up and announce a “Corporate Royal Rumble” featuring members of The Corporation and D-X, with the winner getting the number 30 spot in the Actual Royal Rumble. Rock wants a rematch with Mankind at the Royal Rumble, but Mankind says he’s already beaten the Rock twice and Rock’s “not championship material.” Rock tries no disqualification, no count-outs, and even “The Corporation is banned from ringside” as stipulations to get Foley to agree, so Mick digs his own grave by saying it’ll be an “I Quit” match. If you know your WWE history or have seen Beyond the Mat, you know this is among the worst mistakes ever made by a WWF Champion. Foley makes sure to pause and then scream the words, “I QUIT!!!” into the microphone, which will definitely not come back to haunt him. Nope, everything’s fine, can’t wait to see Mankind and Stone Cold fight at WrestleMania.
Vince McMahon wants to get the championship off of Foley now, though, so he books Mankind vs. Kane for the WWF Championship for later tonight. Why he couldn’t just speak up and also book Mankind vs. The Rock and why Rock had to like, barter his way into a rematch is unclear.
The thing they never tell you about Mick Foley’s inspirational WWF Championship win that shocked the world and turned the tide in the Monday Night War is that it’s one of the limpest and most helpless title runs of all time. Firstly, it’s over in 20 days. Mick held the WWF Championship on three occasions for a combined reign of 36 whole days. Secondly, he won with help from Stone Cold Steve Austin and half a dozen members of D-X, sure, but the very next week they have him about to lose the championship to Kane via Tombstone when The Rock runs in and causes a distraction, and Stone Cold has to make the save. It’s a very clear statement that The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin is the important WrestleMania feud, and even THEY, the World Wrestling Federation, can’t figure out how Mankind ended up champion. In case that’s not clear enough, Austin, who more or less won the championship for Mankind and literally just saved him from being attacked, hits him with a Stunner, because he can. DTA. Thirdly, it (21-year old spoiler alert) ends with Mick losing the championship via a bullshit soundbite swerve after being handcuffed and having his entire head caved in while his wife and small children sob and shriek from the front row.
That win sure was good, though!
Rumble, Young Factions, Rumble
As mentioned, the members of D-Generation X have been tossed into a Corporate Rumble, but must also compete in additional matches to make sure they’re beaten and worn down. The first of these is the New Age Outlaws, who lose a number one contender match against Blue Blazer Mystery pals Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart when Debra causes a distraction by trying to flirt with Chyna (pictured).
This only happens after Debra first tries to seductively distract Billy Gunn, and fails because she tries to use her cleavage.
HIS NAME ISN’T “MR. BOOBS,” DEBRA, DO YOUR HOMEWORK.
This is confirmed later in the evening when Valvenis, Fiend of Porn, finds a lovely young woman in the front row and starts flirting with her. It turns out this is Ken Shamrock’s “sister,” Ryan, making her debut as more or less the new Mrs. Yamaguchi. Mrs. Yama-new-chi. Ryan’s battling some extremely 1999 makeup choices here but has always been one of my biggest wrestling crushes — I really fell for anyone in that “confused family member who wandered into the wrestling show and accidentally got involved” spot, I guess — especially by the time she ends up in WCW as The Maestro’s valet, “Symphony.”
Anyway, what’s important right now is that Shamrock runs out and kicks the shit out of Val for talking to his sister. Realizing this is an easy way to piss off a guy he hates, Bill Ass randomly appears and straight up pulls his pants down in front of her. Poor Ryan had to see two assholes in one night. It works, though, as Ken flies into a rage, attacks Gunn, and agrees to an Intercontinental Championship match at the Royal Rumble. This would actually end spectacularly badly for Gunn for a number of reasons that we’ll get into over the next few weeks. For now, know that (1) he loves to love asses, not boobs, and that (2) if you bring your relative to the wrestling show Val Venis WILL try to fuck them.
X-Pac has a much easier road to the Corporate Rumble as he’s up against Al Snow, who’d just lost Head to a thieving Goldust on the previous night’s Sunday Night Heat. Goldust shows up and uses Head as a distraction, allowing Pac to hit the X-Factor and win. Which is weird, because Snow was already getting destroyed, and the distraction happened when he was already on the ass-end of a Bronco Buster. So, [shrug].
Finally, fourteen-time world champion before he won any world championships Triple H defeats 11-time world champion before he won any world championships Edge in under three minutes, because “Triple H vs. Edge” doesn’t mean anything yet. It’s so inconsequential, in fact, that there’s a post-match Bloodbath from The Brood and Triple H doesn’t even get it. Road Dogg does. I guess H didn’t want to spend the rest of the night washing corn syrup and food coloring out of his hair.
So, as you might have guessed, the Corporate Rumble is an attempt to justify Vince McMahon going against Shawn Michaels’ “iron clad” decree that he’d be number two in the Rumble and get his ass kicked by Stone Cold Steve Austin instead of being number thirty, as planned. McMahon shows up as a “surprise entrant” at the very end, roughly 10 minutes in, and dumps out Triple H and the Big Boss Man while they’re fighting near the ropes. He thinks he’s won, but D-X ALSO has a surprise entrant: Chyna, because the match declared that EVERY member of D-X would be involved. Vince tries to stall and run interference with The Stooges, but Stone Cold shows up to cause his second omnipresent show-ending interference in a row to get McMahon’s attention so Chyna can throw his ass at the ground.
Chyna wins, gets the number 30 spot, and makes history by being the first woman to enter the Royal Rumble match. She’ll also make history by being the first woman to eliminate someone in the Rumble, which ends up being her stalker turned pretend boyfriend turned transphobic bullying target Mark Henry, currently dealing with his best friend being blackmailed into servitude by Terri Runnels’ feigned miscarriage. Regardless, Chyna really made her presence felt in the 35 goddamn seconds they gave her in the Rumble, despite her having the best possible entry number and entering last. For comparison’s sake, The Blue Meanie lasts about three minutes. But hey,
Worst: A Joke That Was Already Old In 1999
This week’s most important historical development is probably the debut of Gillberg, aka lifelong jobber Duane Gill being dressed and presented as former WCW World Heavyweight Champion Bill Goldberg, only shitty. Well, shittier. WWF fans loved and still love this, despite it not even being an original gag when it debuted. WCW themselves had Goldberg wrestle a jobber version of himself named “Johnny Attitude” — get it — who was short and dorky and couldn’t knock people down with a spear seven months earlier on Nitro. It’d be like WCW making videos about how the Huckster and the Nacho Man are actually terrible and old. Even the pyro being lame bit was stolen from Chris Jericho doing the same gag at Fall Brawl months earlier.
Gillberg gets pinned by Luna Vachon after botching the Jackhammer, which legitimately looks better than the version Bill’s doing these days. At least Duane got Luna up and down without almost killing her.
As a fun historical anecdote, Goldberg and Gillberg would eventually meet when Goldberg joined WWE in 2003, in a segment where Gillberg actually got the better of him thanks to The Rock. So yeah, Gillberg historically greater than Goldberg.
Worst: Also Debuting This Week
Have you been wondering what’s up with Dennis Knight getting kidnapped and imprisoned in a dungeon by Bradshaw and Faarooq? No? Well, here’s the answer anyway: The Undertaker is the one who ordered the abduction and imprisonment, because he wanted to see if he could turn a simpleton pig farmer turned yokel strip club bouncer into a goth.
He accomplishes this in an unnecessarily long on-stage sacrifice, where he slits his own wrists and draws the Undertaker cross symbol on Knight’s chest with a knife. The crowd spends most of this murmuring to themselves about this white nonsense and shooting Taker in the face with laser pointers. Undertaker makes Knight drink wrist blood from an evil pimp cup and christens him “Midian,” after what was essentially a Middle Eastern religious co-op that pops up in the Bible and the Quran. Undertaker’s been all about Saudi Arabia longer than we thought, I guess. That name will get changed to “Mideon” soon, and Knight would basically serve as a gopher for the Ministry of Darkness until evolving into a “naked” gimmick where he only wore a fanny pack and a thong so it felt like you were constantly looking at his nutsack. Vince Russo’s only two speeds in 1999 are “DREADED GOTHIC DARKNESS “and “lol balls and boobies.”
Best: Sprints McMahon
Before we wrap up, I want to make sure to note that this week’s episode features one truly bright spot: this montage of Shane McMahon continuing to train his dad for the Royal Rumble by making him run around in the snow, punch hanging meat like he’s Rocky Balboa, and chase a chicken. The “chicken cam” is maybe the first time WWE decides it’s totally okay to put a camera in an impossible place. We’ll see that come back strong during Halftime Heat in a few weeks. It’s such a memorable segment that Stephanie McMahon named it her “favorite Raw moment” during Raw 1000.
Next Week, Assuming We Stay In Quarantine And Old Wrestling Shows Is All We Have To Cover
Mark Henry touches a penis in front of his mom and throws up about it. Plus Dan Severn “comes out of retirement,” Goldust and Al Snow have a match where the winner gets Head, and The Undertaker promises another sacrifice for the Royal Rumble. All this and things that DON’T make you feel super embarrassed to watch pro wrestling, next week on Raw is War!