The Best And Worst Of WWF Raw Is War 7/27/98: Loaded For Bare

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Previously on the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War: Are Kane and The Undertaker in cahoots? Can The Undertaker and Stone Cold Steve Austin co-exist? Is Mr. McMahon behind everything? These questions and, “what’s that cuckolded Japanese guy going to do about his hot wife sleeping with the Canadian porn star on the wrestling show,” when Raw becomes War!

If you haven’t seen this episode, you can watch it on WWE Network here. You can watch the pay-per-view that comes before it here.

Check out all the episodes 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 Raw was fun to watch, and things happened!

Up first, let’s talk about the most important story of the weekend.

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About The Fully Loaded Bikini Contest* But Were Afraid To Ask

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*But first, I want you to really take your time and soak in that “tale of the tape” by “Lucas.” There’s so much to discover here, from “bombs,” to the increasingly terrible descriptions of said bombs, to the “butt” category dropping measurements entirely to tell you what Lucas thinks of them. It’s a work of art, really, like if Over The Garden Wall had been written by a horny 11-year old.

What’s amazing here is that “Lucas” starts showing up as a crack WWF dot com reporter on shows like Sunday Night Heat, where he looks like the son Michael Cole never had with Maffew from Botchamania. To tie a big absurd bow on this aside, the guy who wrote “34 DD (Double Delights)” is currently, I shit you not, the executive director of digital education at Yale University. No, seriously.

Never give up on your dreams, kids. One day you’re following Bombastic Bob around backstage trying to “get a word” for your fake fighting Internet edition of Maxim, the next you’re working for the place that educated Nathan Hale, Cole Porter, and five U.S. Presidents.

Anyway, back to the bombs.

Sable And Jacqueline Threw Bombs

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Bikini contest, obviously

It’s so hard to explain the how and why of WWE bikini contests. They’re essentially a cross between the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and a general popularity contest, plus one of those live fan participation events where a host will hover his hand over someone’s head and measure their success or failure on cheers. For something like 10 years, arbitrary popularity performance contests like this (or pillow fights, or wrestling in gravy) became the norm for “women’s wrestling” in the company, and it all started with Sable. Sable had performed well at WrestleMania XIV, but you can’t hold up a big cardboard sign with JACK OFF TO THIS written on it in magic marker to a hammerlock exchange.

To set this off on the right note, Dustin Runnels prays for everyone about to witness a contesting of bikinis and reminds us to get our souls right because Jesus is going to come back soon.

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Jacqueline goes first, wearing a number from the Vampirella collection. It’s one of those “swimsuits” that you couldn’t imagine someone swimming in, and is so impractical that if a stripper wore it on stage you’d wonder why she didn’t start off leaving more to the imagination. You gotta build, Jackie. Also, please note Jerry Lawler stalking around in the background of all of these shots like he’s about to run a panty raid on the Pi Delta Pi.

When it’s Sable’s turn, she reveals that Mr. McMahon has asked her to dress conservatively at this pay-per-view bikini contest. She doesn’t want to do that, though, so she removes her top and reveals that she’s painted sparkly hand-prints on her boobs.

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There’s so much going on here. Firstly, Lawler acts like he’s been shocked into a horniness coma by Sable’s PG-13 nudity, despite the pay-per-view opening with a backstage segment of Lawler getting a “sneak peek” at Sable without her top on. Secondly, the shock of seeing Sable in a body paint “top” is lessened by the fact that Jacqueline’s been in the ring with her entire actual boob hanging out for like two minutes.

Incredibly, the follow-up on Raw the next night involves Sable being “disqualified” by Mr. McMahon for not actually wearing a bikini to the bikini contest — sorta like when SI’s swimsuit issue is a picture of a completely naked lady lying on a beach with sand covering her nipples, a “swimsuit” I’m pretty sure they don’t sell at Target — and followed up by him browbeating her in the ring and calling her an “ungrateful bitch” until she TAKES OFF HER SHIRT TO REVEAL A BIKINI IN DEFIANCE OF A TYRANNICAL REGIME.

We really don’t give Vince Russo enough credit for being the Erich Sokol of wrestling writing.

Also, A Wrestling Pay-Per-View Happened

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Oh right, right. Here’s everything you need to know about WWF Fully Loaded: In Your House ’98, the most successful In Your House in WWE history, at least until Triple H decided to home-invade Randy Orton.

Fully Loaded: In Stu Hart’s House

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Aside from the bikini contest, the most ridiculous content from Fully Loaded has to be the DUNGEON MATCH, in which Owen Hart literally invites the World Wrestling Federation Into His Dad’s House to have one of those unsanctioned basement wrestling matches you might’ve had with your friends in the ’90s. He’s facing Actual Fighter Ken Shamrock, with Actual Fighter Dan Severn as special guest referee. For a pretend fight in his dad’s basement. I really can’t emphasize that enough.

Look at the outfits at play here:

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Shamrock looks like he just replaced his trunks with shorts and his boots with wrestling shoes, but peep Dan Severn over there. Ultimate Dad’s rocking a pair of skin-tight biker shorts for some reason and has a T-SHIRT TUCKED INTO THEM. The white K-Mart shoes with white socks really bring it together. He manages to look worse than Owen, who showed up to the fight in an Owen Hart t-shirt (smooth) and Zubaz pants. And an elbow pad, because of all the elbow drops he’s going to be doing in this wood-paneled street fight, I guess?

Because they can’t even book a basement fight without a bunch of bullshit, Severn accidentally gets kicked in the face and completely knocked out, which is what happens when a trained UFC Champion becomes a referee. Hart smashes Shamrock in the back of the head with a dumbbell, then, because the match is submission only, “taps out” Shamrock with a gentle face tug by moving Shamrock’s arm himself. Severn, who is a total idiot, thinks this is legit.

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To be fair, those shorts were probably cutting off the circulation to his brain.

Did They Co-Exist?

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Marky Two Belts

The only other important plot point of the pay-per-view (unless you count the Hideo Nomo hat Mr. Yamaguchi-san wore to do commentary on a Val Venis match) is the follow-up on important questions asked in the “previously on” section, such as, “are the Undertaker and his brother Kane in cahoots,” and, “can the Undertaker and Stone Cold Steve Austin co-exist??”

If you’ve ever watched wrestling before, you know that the answer is, “yes, yes they can.” Two singles stars teaming up are instantly able to destroy any tag team, per the Wrestling Rules Amendment of 1996. It’s especially easy when they’re going up against another team of two singles stars who already squashed an accomplished tag team to become champs. The more honest answer to the question is, “yes, but only briefly, as I’m sure they’ll be punching each other in a few weeks so the Tag Team Championship belts are just props.”

At Fully Loaded, Undertaker initially refuses to tag in and help Steve Austin defeat Kane and Mankind. The crowd starts booing him and egging him on, so in a moment of frustration he realizes that either (1) he needs to put aside his pride for a minute and win this match, or (2) it’s going to look really obvious and fishy if he doesn’t at least PRETEND to wrestle Kane, because CAHOOTS. Taker finally tags in, lights up both dudes in a furious Hot Tag House Afire, and wins the Tag Team Championship for his team. He also carries both belts out by himself and doesn’t give one to Austin, because he “won the match by himself,” and also because being a 7-foot tall undead wizard mortician doesn’t excuse you being a jerk.

And now, the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War for July 27, 1998.

Best: Who Got Cahoots? Who Got The Only Sweetest Thing In The World?

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The next night’s Raw starts off with a brilliant segment in which Vince McMahon confronts the Undertaker again and uses HISTORY AND BASIC OBSERVATIONAL SKILLS to recognize that he’s full of formaldehyde-laced shit. Vince says that tagging in Austin and Tombstoning Kane was great because it’s exactly what HE would’ve done to throw Austin off the scent, and — get this — remembers WrestleMania and brings up the fact that it took three Tombstones to defeat Kane then. Why’d it only take one at Fully Loaded? Hey, remember when Vince McMahon seemed like a three-dimensional character with a brain instead of a 100-year old fish in a turn of the century business suit who just showed up to growl and get punched in the face?

At Fully Loaded, the New Age Outlaws challenged Mankind and Kane to a Tag Team Championship match. Now that Austin and Undertaker are the champions, McMahon makes the match the Outlaws vs. them, to test whether or not they’re a real team. Undertaker stands around pouting, unhappy that his cahoots are about to be discovered, and/or upset that Vince’s micromanagement has taken the focus away from his great new Castlevania goth rock entrance theme remix from Fully Loaded.

But can they co-exist??

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Yes, of course. Temporarily, at least. What, you thought they were gonna put Billy Gunn and Road Dogg over Stone Cold Steve Austin and the Undertaker? That’d be like putting the Boogie Woogie Man over the goddamn Road Warriors in 1986.

They do a great job of paralleling the action from Fully Loaded here, though, with Austin now being the one to pick up the slack for the team and decimate both of his opponents to win the match. This is enough for Undertaker to finally accept Austin as his partner and hand over one of the Tag Team Championship belts, and Austin “apologizes” to Taker in the only way he knows how: by tossing him a beer. Jim Ross’ call of, “A COLD BREWSKI ON A HOT SUMMER NIGHT” is underrated and as close to classic rock poetry as he’s ever gotten. ‘Early Mornin’ Stoned Pimp’ era Kid Rock heard that call and was like, “that should be my entire gimmick.”

Kane and Mankind attack them as the show goes off the air, making this week’s episode feel a little more like Nitro than it should. Still, great stuff from the main event scene. As I’ve said before, WWF was a great main event and a terrible undercard, while WCW was a great undercard with terrible main events.

Best/Worst: European Nation

Bae: come over
Me: can’t, about to challenge for the European Championship
Bae: it’s Vader time

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At Fully Loaded, D’Lo Brown managed to retain the European Championship when The Godfather helped him cheat to beat X-Pac. On Raw, Brown immediately loses to Jobber To The Stars Vader, who rips off Brown’s chest protector, splashes him on the floor, and rolls back into the ring for a count-out win. D’Lo’s championship record so far is “two wins because somebody else won for him, and a loss,” because nothing drains your ability to win wrestling matches more than being a WWE Champion. Plus, Vader lost badly to Mark Henry at Fully Loaded, and honestly should’ve be pinning anyone, much less champions, in his current state of hopelessness.

There’s some good here, mostly in the opening promo where D’Lo says he’s been on the phone with the promoters from Euro Disney — you mean Disney? — setting up D’Lo’s great, ongoing misunderstanding that being “European Champion” makes him king of the continent of Europe. D’Lo Brown crawled so Kurt Angle could walk.

In Other Nation News, The Godfather Finally Has His Gimmick

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The Godfather teams up with Mark Henry to face the L.O.D. 2000 — more on them in a sec — and finally debuts his “hoes.” Because it’s the World Wrestling Federation and 1998, being an actual pimp makes him an instant babyface for the crowd, who is just here to see punching and barely-covered-up boobs. Godfather managed to carry this gimmick all the way through to the modern WWE Hall of Fame, where the understanding became that the dangerous and often brutal world of sex trafficking and prostitution is performed by lovable guys who just love to have fun. Look at all his girlfriends! He’s very popular!

In other words, you’d have to be drunk to understand WWE’s idea of pimping. Oh, hey, here’s some good news …

Worst: Road Warrior Hawk Is Drunk

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Due to their ongoing feud with the Disciples of Apocalypse, the abandonment of the team by former manager Paul Ellering, and some reported “bad news” delivered by telephone before the show went on the air (per Jim Ross), the formerly mighty Road Warrior Hawk is now a bumbling alcoholic. The WWF had decided to use Hawk’s real-life drug addiction and alcoholism as a storyline, against the wishes of both members of the team, leading to one of their grossest angles ever. They play up this guy’s real life demons, build to a segment where he “commits suicide” by falling off the Titan Tron, and then reveal that third L.O.D. member Puke had been enabling his addictions the entire time to steal his spot on the team. It’s enough to make both guys quit the company, which is saying something, since they’d been totally fine wrestling Skull and 8-Ball for six months.

In a pre-match interview, Hawk looks bloated and his face paint’s smeared all over body. When they make their ring entrance, he pulls a Batista at WrestleMania 35:

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WWE Network

Hawk spends the entire match on the apron looking like he’s about to barf or fall asleep (or both), and Jim Ross openly wonders why any of this is happening and why Hawk’s allowed to be in a wrestling match in this condition. When it’s time to hit the Doomsday Device, Hawk just falls off the ropes to the floor. This is going to get worse before it gets better, which is never, so buckle up, folks.

What’s Puke Up To Right Now?

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Why, he’s being pre-Crisis Mike Mizanin, of course!

This week begins the vignettes for “Droz’s World,” an MTV The Real World-style series in which Darren Drozdov hangs out at his nice house, shows us his weird pets, and occasionally pukes into a bucket. This is the only way they could get the guy who “pukes on command” to actually puke on command. I’m not sure what the tone’s supposed to be here, as they have him start a Mark Henry story and cut away from it as he’s talking — presumably to get us interested in the next installment, featuring the full story? — and have him shoot guns in a field to show what he does when ugly women try to date him. HE SHOOTS THEM WITH A GUN.

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Yeah, this definitely sounds like the kind of guy who’d try to make his friend kill himself to get onto a tag team he’s already technically a part of. It’s Droz’s World~!

Best: Billy Gunn Gets A Second Opinion

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Remember last week when wrestling legend Dr. Death Steve Williams was brought in as the ringer for the Brawl For All tournament and barely defeated a one-eyed guy via decision? This week he faces the least accomplished member of the Smokin’ Gunns, Bart, and gets knocked on his ass.

Dr. Death seems to be ahead on points (haha) in the first two rounds, but hurts himself trying to avoid a takedown in round three. Without his legs under him, he starts throwing Lisa Simpson punches at the air looking for a knockout, and The Southpaw™ Gunn sends him to fucking Narnia with a left to the face.

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It’s such a shocker that Jim Ross is quiet for like 10 seconds trying to figure out what to say, and somewhere in the back Vince McMahon has thrown his headset on the ground and ordered some intern to rewrite the rest of the tournament. It’s the first knockout of the Brawl for All tournament and arguable its first notable or exciting moment, and it gives Bart an inflated sense of self-confidence in his boxing skills that’s good enough to carry him to the tournament championship. It also gives him enough confidence to think he should try to fight a legitimate toughman legend in a boxing match at WrestleMania XV, which is somehow funnier in retrospect than it was in real-time.

Worst: Meet My Tag Team Partner, George Glass

Former Brawl for All competitor BRAKUS actually wrestles a match on this episode, defeating Los Boricuas member Jesus with a spinebuster where Jesus doesn’t move his legs at all, so it looks like you’re picking up and gently dumping a fence post.

Also, Brakus wears a chainmail bib to the ring, and since he’s got the dexterity of an LJN WWF Wrestling Superstar, it sways back and forth like Jan Brady’s hair when she walks.

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This’ll definitely get back that heat you lost losing a punch-fight to a way smaller guy!

Best: Always Pounding Ass

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To catch you up on one of the stories that’s been happening outside of Raw, Terry Funk and Scorpio decided to stop being tag team partners on a random episdoe of Shotgun Saturday Night. That set up a tag team match pairing Funk and Bradshaw against Scorpio and his new tag team partner, Faarooq. Funk told Bradshaw that he was going to take time off after the match to heal from injuries, so Bradshaw freaked out about it.

He sits in on commentary for Faarooq and Scorpio vs. the Disciples of Apocalypse (woof), and gets SUPER AGGRO about everything, yanking Jerry Lawler by the shit for trying to make conversation and randomly interfering to attack both teams. This notably leads to an in-ring Frye vs. Takayama fight between Bradshaw and Faarooq, which is (spoiler alert) the first time they realize they’re the only person they know as tough as the other. This will eventually lead to a lifelong friendship involving occult worship, small business entrepreneurship, and one of them getting super rich and forgetting the other exists. You know, like a normal friendship.

Fully Fallout

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Raw features a couple of additional followups to Fully Loaded, including a triple threat match for the Intercontinental Championship pitting champ The Rock against X-Pac (who he lost to in a tag team match a couple of weeks ago and then defeated via multiple distractions and two referees) and Triple H (who he fought to a time limit draw in a 2-out-of-3 falls match at Fully Loaded).

If you’re wondering why’d they’d do a 2-out-of-3 falls match with a time limit just to have the third fall be a draw, check this out: the triple threat match on Raw ends via count-out. Yes, a triple threat match ends via count-out. This is a bad idea stolen directly from the Raven vs. Saturn vs. Kanyon match on Nitro two weeks earlier where Saturn and Kanyon fought to the outside and got counted out, giving Raven the cheap victory. Only Raw “switches it up” by having The Rock abandon the match and get counted out, meaning he “loses” a match with no winners and remains the champion. Both of those match finishes are stupid, but Raw’s version is exponentially worse, as it completely breaks the rules of pro wrestling AND invovles a championship.

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We also get a followup on the Owen Hart situation, as D-Generation X member and technical WWE Hall of Famer Jason Sensation shows up dresesd as Owen again to yell at him in Owen voice. “Owen voice” meaning his impersonation of Owen, not the announcer “Owen voice” the Internet would give a name to a little under a year from now.

ANYWAY, Hart goes up the ramp to beat up this little nerd and gets confronted by Dan Severn, who is wearing a giant suit again and has his wits about him. I guess he watched Fully Loaded back and realized what a goober he’d been in the basement fight, and wants answers. They start fighting, but it ends before it can really get going because of interference from Ken Shamrock, who is ALSO deeply Pissed Meal about what went down. Master strategist and constructive thinker Severn attacks Shamrock for the interference and chokes him out while referees and officials pose around them to make it look as much like a Renaissance painting as possible.

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Best: Get To The Choppy

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Because he can’t leave well enough alone (and/or because Canadian porn has no consequences), Val Venis takes an on-camera shower with Mr. Yamaguchi-san’s wife. I’m not sure why she’s wearing a scrunchie (or whatever that is) in the shower, but that’s neither here nor there.

All you really need to know is that when Val is wrestling Brian Christopher, Kaientai shows up on the stage and elaborately slices a tube of deli meat with a samurai sword. In case Val couldn’t get the subtle symbolism, Yamaguchi confirms that Val’s contribution to the dissolution of his marriage requires a very specific penalty: the chop-chopping of his pee-pee.

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You’d think ritualistic genital mutilation would be enough for Val to break it off with Yamaguchi-san’s wife, but she’s awfully cute, so he continues to risk it. Thankfully he has an electrician friend who’s experienced in losing his dick, but … we’ll cover that when we get there.

Next Week:

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Next week’s show features the exciting climax of the Val Venis vs. Mr. Yamaguchi-san storyline, as well as Tiger Ali Singh’s long-awaited return (cough), a fat woman getting naked as a funny joke, the first ULTIMATE OPPORTUNISM from Edge, and more of the thrilling 1998 content you tune in for.

If you’re not here next week, you don’t want to know what I’m planning to do with this sword.