Previously on the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War: Stone Cold Steve Austin infiltrated Vince McMahon’s hospital room dressed as a doctor, hit him in the head with a bedpan, and gave him a forced enema. Vince Russo seriously working through some psychosexual issues during this period.
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 October 12, 1998.
Best: Stone Cold Concrete
Vince McMahon realized last week that no matter where he goes, Stone Cold Steve Austin can find him, hurt him, and destroy his stuff. In response, he decides to drive a Corvette to the show with a personalized “WWF 1” license plate and leave it parked, unattended, in the middle arena parking lot, near a bunch of easily commandeered construction vehicles of mass destruction. We’ve never seen the Corvette before right now, so I’m sure everything will be fine. In what I assume is an unrelated incident, Stone Cold Steve Austin arrives to the arena driving a cement mixer.
Austin comes to the ring and declares that he’s going to make McMahon’s life a living hell, and can’t wait to be the special guest referee for the WWF Championship match between Kane and Undertaker at Judgment Day because he’s going to raise his own hand. In response, a furious, wheelchair-bound McMahon shows up on the stage accompanied by a K-9 unit, giving us a somehow more absurd than concrete in a Corvette moment wherein Steve Austin flips off a dog.
As you might notice in that picture, McMahon is also accompanied by some kind of large, boss-type male in a mask. That becomes important later, since we’re just introducing shit and immediately paying it off tonight. McMahon angrily books Austin in a tag team match against Kane and The Undertaker with The Rock as his partner, comments on how Austin “violated” him, and declares that if Austin pulls any anarchic redneck nonsense at Judgment Day, he’s fired. Austins says Vince doesn’t have the balls to fire him, prompting one of the greatest clapbacks in WWE history:
“I don’t have balls? I’ve got balls the size of grapefruits and you’ll be picking the seeds out of your teeth!”
Shout-out to Vince McMahon for ruining breakfast forever.
The Rock, seen here wearing a Dan Severn-style sweatshirt with no pants, isn’t happy being Stone Cold Steve Austin’s partner. He’d “just as soon slap the taste” out of Austin’s mouth than help him win doubles fighting against a pair of fire monsters.
Mark Henry and D’Lo Brown show up wondering why Rock’s stopped paying attention to the Nation of Domination, prompting friendly people person Dwayne to call them “jabronis” and drag them off-screen for a role-knowing-centric talking-to. This apparently goes so well that during the main event, Henry and Brown return to beat the shit out of The Rock at ringside, turning heel on a heel to purportedly turn him face. Purportedly.
This, of course, leaves Austin to battle Kane and The Undertaker 2-on-1, which he’s been doing for like a month anyway. The bout suddenly ends, however, when the immense authority figure guy in the mask shows up like some kind of Guardian Angel and unmasks to reveal former nWo member RAY TRAYLOR!
Yes, it’s the World Wrestling Federation return of disgraced prison guard turned beloved hero of children turned insane swat team member Big Boss Man.
As you know if you’ve been watching these shows for a while, it’s a really bad idea to let him that close to a K-9 unit. It’s also probably a bad idea to let him get this close to a guy who’ll eventually murder him via hanging on live pay-per-view in the next calendar year, but that’s neither here nor there. Boss Man teams up with Kane and Undertaker to beat down Austin 3-on-1, without even The Rock to help him, and the grapefruit seeds of the Corporate Ministry have been planted. Vince McMahon guaran-damn-tees that his plan will work THIS TIME.
Best: It’s Just (Not) A Deadly Game!
Wheelchair-bound Vince McMahon stripped wheelchair-bound Triple H of the Intercontinental Championship off-screen sometime between last week’s episode and this one, so we’re having a one-night, eight-man tournament to crown a new champ. There’s no way Survivor Series ’98 exists like it does unless they write this Raw and think, “c’mon, we could do a better anime tournament arc than that.”
The most popular decision in round one happens during Mankind vs. Mark Henry when Mankind decides the mandible claw needs a stat buff and accentuates it with last week’s popular new Superstar, Mr. Socko. He hasn’t yet figured out that people will believe he’s carrying around a sock if it’s not on his foot, so he has to actually take off his shoes to retrieve it. Honestly, I’m not sure if I prefer the believable terror of a sweaty guy jamming his game-used sock in your mouth, or the absurdist comedy of the sock serving as a dude’s sweatpants Stunt Bulge until the end of a match.
As a fun side note, Mark Henry is now parlaying his sexual harassment lawsuit into an attempt to get Chyna to love him via poetry, like you do. The poem, for your records:
Chyna, to see you smile is like watching the sun rise
the more that it happens the brighter the skies
I only wish and only dream that somehow that you feel the same
I’ll wait the time, travel the distance
take my chance and be persistent
my only wish is that we have the best
I’d give all of that if I could have once chance
Worst: Round One Of The Tournament Is Pretty Iffy, Though
Speaking of Mark Henry poems, unfortunately, the Intercontinental Championship tournament also marks the return of the Blue Blazer to the World Wrestling Federation. He shows up to attack Ken Shamrock and Steve Blackman after Shamrock taps out Blackman with an ankle lock. The corresponding stories here are that (1) Owen Hart has been depressed since believing he paralyzed Dan Severn a few weeks ago and wants to return to his old stupid “fun” WWF gimmick, and that (2) Blackman is injured but being forced to compete by Mr. McMahon, mirroring the WWF’s very real policy of working people to death for profit. I guess fans didn’t see Vince McMahon as enough of a dick without that “being a dick to Steve Blackman” heat.
You know how they just introduced Vince McMahon’s Corvette at the top of the show, almost immediately destroyed it, and acted like it was one of Vince’s prized possessions? That happens on a smaller scale in the first round tournament match between Jeff Jarrett and X-Pac. Jarrett avoids the Bronco Buster using the Nature Boy Special, then goes under the ring to grab his signature guitar case. You know, that guitar case that Jeff Jarrett’s always using. Inside he finds Al Snow’s head instead of a guitar, which distracts him long enough for a roll-up loss. Again, probably would’ve been a great bit if dude didn’t walk to the ring holding a caseless guitar over his head in 100% of his matches for the past 20 years.
Round one finishes off (heh heh, hello, ladies) with Val Venis defeating Marc Mero. This ALSO ends in a distraction, as Terri Runnels counters Jacqueline’s Interference From The Neighborhood and entices Mero long enough for Val to recover and put him away with a Fisherman Suplex. After the match, Sable interrupts his scheduled interview time with Michael Cole to stalk and assault Jacqueline for cutting her hair last week, presumably triggered by watching her roll around at ringside with a different, untrained, blonde manager.
The highlight is this random group of identical dudes in the crowd who wrote HELLO LADIES across their chests.
I don’t think I’ve ever had this many friends who wanted to go to a wrestling show with me and act a fool, but if I did, I guarantee you I’d be the blank space.
Best: Ken Shamrock Is Good At Tournaments
Round two starts off quickly with Ken Shamrock achieving his Final Form: an insane, robotic MMA murderer who will no-sell your dumb pro wrestling shit and break your bones. I don’t know why they didn’t just go with this out of the gate. Val’s in there trying to throw clotheslines, so Shamrock just bleep bloops, chop blocks him in the legs, and bends his ankle around. At his best, Shamrock was out there setting the template for what would make Brock Lesnar work so well as a pro wrestler.
After the match, Val gets intimidated by his suddenly announced opponent for Judgment Day: a returning Goldust, now outfitted in a golden Ric Flair WrestleMania XXIV robe. He props Val up in the ropes and gives him a Big Valbootski to the dick for fucking his wife. It’s psychologically interesting that when Dustin Runnels was a God-fearing every man he was the heel and the guy finding a wedding ring in his mistress’ vagina was the hero for mocking him, but now that the preacher has turned back into a sexually threatening Oscar statue, he’s the hero. Again, these would be fun topics for think pieces if an upcoming Raw didn’t feature 10,000 people gleefully cheering for Stone Cold Steve Austin to murder Vince McMahon in front of them, execution style, with a pistol. Wrestling is something else, guys.
Anyway, back to Shamrock. Now that he’s in the finals, he realizes he’d have an easier time against X-Pac than Mankind, who has kinda sorta had his number over the past few week and was seen talking shit about his chair-swinging abilities. Shamrock remedies this by showing up and swinging a chair at Mankind’s leg, injuring him and leaving him susceptible to the second X-Pac roll-up victory of the night.
Instead of walking to the back to cut a promo about what a bad-ass he is, Shamrock does the smart thing by IMMEDIATELY JUMPING X-PAC. They have a short match (that would’ve been GREAT if they’d saved it for Judgment Day, but wouldn’t have made as much sense in regard to the narrative of the tournament), Shamrock continues his unstoppable walking rage coma, and taps out Pac to become the new Intercontinental Championship. Triple H has to sit there at ringside and watch.
Honestly, bless this version of Ken Shamrock for being the only guy in the tourney to put aside his extracurricular bullshit and execute a gameplan to win the thing. Ken Shamrock was absolutely the Billie Eilish ‘Bad Guy’ of 1998 WWF: he’d have been a smash #1 hit if Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Mankind, and Triple H hadn’t remixed ‘Old Town Road’ and sat at the top of the charts for like 20 weeks.
This Week In Non-Tournament Action
In this week’s only non-main event non-tournament match, the New Age Outlaws defend the Tag Team Championship against LOD 2000. It’s the restructured version with Road Warrior Animal and “Puke,” as (formerly) Drunk Hawk sits in on commentary to let us know he’s dealing with a painkiller addiction and has put in the work to get sober. He understands that he needs to take on a support role on the team until he’s back on his feet, but is looking forward to an upcoming six-man tag to show that he’s on the road to recovery. This should’ve been the formal end of the angle forever, by the way, but you know it isn’t.
The match falls part when the great enemies of sobriety, the Disciples of Apocalypse, show up to beat up Hawk for some reason. Droz and Animal eventually find their way to the floor to help out, leaving the Outlaws alone in the ring to receive the JVC KABOOM OF THE WEEK:
Jim Ross repeatedly, hilariously covers for the boom box by saying it’s NOT a JVC, because JVC boom boxes don’t “fall apart.” The Headbangers really should’ve worked on their timing for this, though, because they fuck it up and accidentally destroy the Road Dogg’s face for real. Between this and last week’s hit on the Insane Clown Posse, Mosh and Thrasher are becoming the Kings of Sloppy Strong Style.
It’s finally time for the first of many Judgment Days, featuring a WWF Championship main event and … something else! Maybe! We haven’t figured out the entire card yet, but we will by Sunday. See you then!