Previously on the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War: The Undertaker tried to embalm Stone Cold Steve Austin on live television and hasn’t been sent to prison for attempted murder, for some reason. Also, Shawn Michaels is back and prepared to do the bare minimum as the evil corporate commissioner!
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 November 30, 1998.
Best: I Know Who Killed Me
This week, we’ve got four concurrent stories that progress throughout the episode:
- Stone Cold Steve Austin being (rightfully) extremely upset that two of his co-workers at the fighting store tried to kill him for real last week, and seeking revenge
- The Undertaker and Paul Bearer trying to rid themselves of Kane by having him committed to a mental institution, presumably one with fireproof walls
- The Corporation trying to break up D-Generation X and quell the uprising of jobbers unofficially led by Mankind
- Mark Henry taking the woman he stalked and then sued for sexual harassment out on a date
The Austin and Undertaker stories weave together, of course, so let’s talk about them first.
Raw is supposed to open with that Insane Clown Posse and The Headbangers versus The Oddities rivalry continuing, but an angry Stone Cold Steve Austin arrives to the arena with a shovel, stomps directly to the ring, and unleashes one of his trademark 30-Second Furies on the heels. You know how John Cena gets a +10 to all attributes when he has to “overcome the odds?” Austin gets that stat boost when a crowd has gathered and he has to walk in and fight all of them. Here’s Austin giving Violent J of the Insane Clown Posse a Stone Cold Stunner, if you wanted to check “seeing that” off your pro wrestling bucket list.
They probably didn’t let Shaggy take one after selling a chair to the head like a Family Guy character and almost breaking his own arms on a second rope powerbomb. Austin declares that he’s not going to wait the 13 days until Buried Alive, and will Shovel Knight the Undertaker before the show’s over.
She’s Not Grown Up, Now
Austin heads backstage to look for the Undertaker and ask around, and look who he runs into:
Yes, that’s future Authority leader, Women’s Champion, and WWE chief brand officer Stephanie McMahon making her first appearance on WWF television, not counting that time she ended up at Rowdy Roddy Piper’s Halloween party. She’s played like a total NPC and not identified by name, in a nice bit of understated foreshadowing. She hasn’t seen the Undertaker around anywhere, but oh boy, is she gonna be seeing a lot of him soon.
Austin’s shovel quest takes him into the bowels of the 1st Mariner Arena (eventually renamed the Ruppert Jones Center) and, in a moment of brilliant deductive reasoning, decides to look for The Undertaker inside a freezer that’s door is mysteriously propped open.
Aw man, who could’ve seen that coming? Thankfully there was a camera man standing right there filming the incident for live television, so presumably he, one of the hundreds of other WWF personnel, one of the thousands of people watching in the arena on the TitanTron, or one of the five million people watching at home can lend a hand and get him out of there.
With Stone Cold Steve Austin permanently incapacitated, I guess, Undertaker and Paul Bearer’s next idea is to call out Kane to the ring and hold him down so a bunch of disorderlies from a Local Mental Institution can put him in a straight jacket and take him away (ha ha). Kane isn’t stupid, just developmentally disabled due to some combination of parental neglect and childhood trauma and imagined fire damage and girlfriend murder, so he dumps Taker over the top rope so he lands on his feet (as he does) and bails out into the crowd.
A little later in the show, Paw Bear finds Kane backstage and rats him out to Undertaker. Undertaker gets tossed over and through some unused banquet equipment, but regains the advantage with a steel chair to the head. With Kane down and out, Taker begins to put him in a body bag (yeahh!) and tells Paul to fetch the orderlies. What he doesn’t realize is that he’s fallen right into Kane’s trap, as Stone Cold Steve Austin has been freed from his frozen prison, presumably by Kane himself, and is hiding behind the room dividers.
King of Spades Steve Austin breaks the shovel over Undertaker’s forearms in the general vicinity of his head. When Paul returns with the orderlies, Austin’s obviously gone, and Undertaker is nowhere to be found. He checks the body bag, sees a 7-foot tall guy in a Kane mask, and assumes everything’s fine. I really do appreciate them having Paul look in the bag, because if this segment happened today, Paul would just assume the zipped up body bag with nobody around it is acceptable and ship it off to the asylum without checking.
Of course, when Paul and the orderlies get the bag loaded into the paddy wagon, the camera cuts to Stone Cold Steve Austin and Kane watching it drive away. Cue ‘Oregon Spirit.’
With “Kane” gone, Paw Bear looks for the Undertaker backstage to share the Good News. He runs into Austin instead, who leads him back to the freezer where Kane is waiting. Kane’s 100% the guy you want with you inside a freezer. They triumphantly drag Paul to the ring to administer a fate worse than death, with options including Kane setting him on fire with gasoline, and Austin “gutting his fat ass” with a pair of scissors. I talked a lot about how Austin holding a gun to Vince McMahon’s head in the middle of the ring for firing him felt like it was way too much, but at least this time somebody tried to murder him first. If your co-worker attempts murder on you and nobody steps in to help for an entire week, I think you get pulp revenge privileges.
Paul’s response to all of this:
Eventually we come to find out that Austin doesn’t actually want to kill a man with a pair of scissors on live TV — Austin has never wanted to be the murderer in these situations; Brian Pillman’s the one who pulled a gun on HIM, Undertaker was trying to embalm HIM, and even the gun-to-the-head was a local police-approved bit to make a guy pee himself — so they come up with a new idea. They’re gonna drag him outside and introduce him to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
And that’s how Raw ends: with Kane and Stone Cold Steve Austin tossing Paul Bearer down a manhole and closing it up behind him. It’s the best way to “bury someone alive” without having to drive a backhoe into the arena and spend ten minutes covering somebody with dirt.
Next week, of course, The Undertaker will handle being hit with a shovel, being body-bagged, being driven to an insane asylum under a false identity, and his manager getting his neck broken falling head-first into a dark-ass night sewer like a rational adult. BREAK OUT THE SYMBOLS, FOLKS, WE’RE GOING CRUCIFYIN’!
Best, Mostly: Save The Date
While this is going on, Mark Henry is taking Chyna on their previously agreed-upon date! Again, the whole thing is a little iffy considering that Mark Henry was physically and professionally stalking her for several weeks, got her removed from her job due to a restraining order as a result of a bad-faith sexual harassment claim, and only agreed to drop the suit if she agreed to go out with him, “no sex involved,” but here we are. Mark’s filled with childish glee about his chance to finally romance this woman via poetry and non-stop lip-licking, and convinces D’Lo Brown to dress up like a chauffeur and drive them around. Chyna immediately noticing that it’s D’Lo is really funny, honestly, as is Mark getting her a bouquet of flowers that cost $1.99.
So they go to a local restaurant — shout-out to Henry for actually taking her to a real restaurant, and not to a loosely arranged group of tables with a potted plant behind them someone set up backstage at Raw — and things go better than you’d expect. Mark’s poem about about needing a woman in his life doesn’t go over well, but he gets her out of her shell by dancing around her like she’s Britney Spears at the 2007 Video Music Awards:
When Mark excuses himself for a moment, the date is interrupted by three random bar-crawling assholes you’ll be SHOCKED to hear aren’t the future members of the Mean Street Posse. These three notice Chyna sitting by herself and engage her in a very 1998 conversation that could’ve been written by Tommy Wiseau.
Guy: “Sup baby, how about me and you get on the dance floor, cut a little RUUUUG?”
Chyna: “Hey, how about you get lost?”
Guy: “Do I make you horny, baby? Come on, baby, me and you, on the dance floor, baby.”
Chyna: “I’m gonna say it one more time, get lost.”
Guy: “Yo I’m talking to you, I’M TALKING TO YOU, BITCH!”
Chyna: “What did you call me?”
Guy: “I said BITCH.”
Chyna, who is fed up with this world, knocks the guy on his ass with a forearm. I love the idea that Chyna would use forearm strikes in a real fight. Mark returns and joins in and breaks one of the dudes’ necks by hurling him head-first into the bar. Going forward, Chyna will no longer love Johnny. She will love MARK.
Degenerating A D-Generation
X-Pac is mad about that whole “being betrayed and smashed in the face with a chair by a guy who claims to be his friend” last week and calls out Sexy Commissioner. Michaels threatens to send Pac, “back to that money pit in Atlanta,” where he’ll assumedly be made the leader of the black-and-green New World Order X alongside a crotch-chopping Van Hammer and Mike Enos and Wayne Bloom in airbrushed South Park shirts. He just said the parts in quotes, the rest of that was me. I’m mentally ill, sorry.
Michaels won’t fight Pac because he’s retired — no matter how much of a banger that match would’ve been in late 1998, hoo boy — and instead books him in a European Championship match against already-Intercontinental Champion Ken Shamrock. Steps for breaking up D-Generation X, so they don’t get in the way of The Corporation:
- get X-Pac killed
- get the New Age Outlaws to switch teams, because they’ve always been total dirtbags and probably would
Speaking of the Outlaws, Big Boss Man and Ken Shamrock run interference and get them disqualified to keep them from losing to The Brood, despite (1) it being a non-title match, (2) it only having been going on for a couple of minutes, and (3) the Outlaws not doing that badly? I don’t know. The Corporation’s just trigger happy when it comes to sending Boss Man and Shamrock out to the ring to commit violence against anyone who hasn’t signed up. Eventually, most of them do!
Anyway, X-Pac does well in his European Championship defense but ends up getting taken to the woodshed thanks to Shawn Michaels distracting the referee and Big Boss Man sneaking in some night stick shots. When it looks like all hope is lost, an upright-walking Triple H finally makes his return from injury and boots Shamrock in the head for the disqualification. H and Pac exit, stage right, and give the Corporation a good old fashioned dick-pointing on their way out.
Pretty funny that Triple H returns on the same episode where Stephanie McMahon makes her official on-screen debut. You can’t control destiny, folks.
WWE Eliminates Jobs
The Corporation’s big victory on this episode is in booking Mankind in a ladder match for the Harcore Championship, and sending out The Rock to make sure he loses it. Rock is rocking his track suit top with just his trunks and shoes, no pants or knee pads, and it’s super weird. More on him in a minute.
The most important thing to note is that this is probably the first bad ladder match in WWE history, thanks in part to the inclusion of the Big Boss Man. I liked the Boss Man a lot as a performer … well, most of the time, but the man was death to gimmick matches. He had the first bad ladder match, he’ll have the first bad Hell in a Cell match against the Undertaker, and in late 1999 he’ll attempt to destroy cage matches, Hell in a Cell matches, and even dog ownership in his feud with Al Snow. He is to every other gimmick match what deciding not to wrestle during commercials over the summer did to 2-out-of-3 falls matches.
Later in the episode, The Rock gets a match with Al Snow in a bout that presents the complete spectrum of wrestling quality. The highlight here is 1000% The Rock deciding not to drop The Corporate Elbow on Snow, and instead choosing to deliver it on an inanimate mannequin head. Jim Ross’ deadpan call of, “don’t tell me that The Rock is gonna give the Head the damn Corporate Elbow,” is incredible.
Snow manages to get a visual pin on Rock by using Head as a weapon while the referee’s down, but goes to the well one too many times and eats a Rock Bottom for the loss. By the way, in celebration of The Rock, we find out that “Buried Alive” has been rechristened “Rock Bottom.” I wish WWE would try to do this in 2020. “Coming up this Sunday on WWE Network, Seth Rollins will challenge Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship at In Your House: The Stomp.” Michael Cole would love to announce Bayley competing at “Driving Dana Brooke Into The Mat Now, Boom, What Impact, Bayley Now With The Cover, And Gets The Three” brand pay-per-view.
After the match, Mankind shows up and tries to get some revenge, but gets easily taken down by The Corporation. The beatdown continues until Mankind and Snow are bailed out by the Job Squad, who really shouldn’t have much of a chance in a fight against Boss Man, Ken Shamrock, and The Rock. I guess Bob Holly and Duane Gill are suddenly a major threat because they’re wearing matching t-shirts. I say that as a joke, like that’s not the entire build to the past four years of the Survivor Series.
Also On This Episode
Speaking of Duane Gill, he gets another victory over Marc Mero thanks to interference from ECW’s The Blue Meanie. If you aren’t familiar with his character, he’s named after the antagonists from the 1968 Beatles animated film Yellow Submarine. I wish ECW had gone all-in with naming their wrestlers after villains from 30-year old animated films, just to see Sabu put on a top hat and wrestle as “Edgar Balthazar.”
Sable promotes Attitude™ brand cologne and eau de toilette, available by mail for only 25 bucks. Shane McMahon would do it himself, but he doesn’t sell anything.
Shane’s turning Sable into one of Barker’s Beauties because that’s, quote, “what she’s good at,” and gets cologne sprayed in his mouth when he gets too close. Shane sells drinking cologne as a, “nice breath spray,” because again, Shane McMahon. You could shoot him in the chest with a shotgun and he’d just kinda wink and shrug at you and be like, “okay, quite frankly lots of people have guns, I don’t know why you’d try to shoot the fans like that.”
Speaking of ad sales, we get a brief promotion for The Undertaker and Stone Cold Steve Austin’s appearances on the cover of TV Guide. Jim Ross: “They might be sold out, and if you so you have to be forced to the selection of the recent retiree Hulk Hogan, or the Stone Cold Steve Austin wannabe, Goldberg!” Just wanna point out that Hogan was WWE Champion four whole years later, and that Goldberg was champion five years later. And again 17 years later.
Anybody else old enough to remember when WWE was the wrestling promotion that made fun of everyone else for promoting old folks and the untrained? Join us in spring of 2020 for Sting vs. The Undertaker and Goldberg vs. Tyson Fury, only in Saudi Arabia!
The Baltimore Ravens were in attendance at this Raw. Ray Lewis reportedly left the arena before Stone Cold threatened to stab Paul Bearer and has no idea what you’re talking about.
The Godfather continues to be part of the worst and most concerning segments of the week. This week, he accompanies Val Venis to the ring for a match against Tiger Ali Singh, which would be bad enough without them referring to Tiger’s manager as a, “little monkey.” To be fair, Vince Russo’s entire concept of middle eastern culture is Aladdin and the guy’s named “Babu,” so I get what they’re going for. It’s kinda racist, but not in the way you’re thinking!
Val actually ends up winning by disqualification thanks to the appearance of the PRETTY MEAN SISTERS. Jacqueline distracts the Godfather and the referee so Terri Runnels can, as JR puts it, return to “familiar territory” and uppercut Venis in the junk. The referee sees it anyway, and calls for the DQ. Up until this point in the show they’d six run-ins in six matches, with four disqualifications.
After the match, the Jackal and his Acolytes (Faarooq and Bradshaw) show up and attack the heels, because reasons. Like The Brood, they’re just metalheads during a Motograter performance: standing around waiting for the Ministry to get started.
Finally, here’s Steve Blackman going for that Dean Malenko Ciclope pop by dressing up as the Blue Blazer to attack Owen Hart and Jeff Jarrett after Jarret’s match with Goldust. Look how happy he is to have a fancy wrestling outfit and character development beyond, “owns sticks, does karate!”
The Undertaker gets revenge on Stone Cold Steve Austin using a symbol, not a cross, Triple H returns to the ring, and Owen Hart randomly unretires so Jim Ross will stop making jokes about him hitting Goldust “with his AARP card.” All this, plus the results from WWF Capital Carnage, next week!