Previously on the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War: Stone Cold Steve Austin held a gun to Vince McMahon’s head in the middle of the ring while everyone cheered, proving that WWE has created an environment in which everything is a “work,” so if, say, Tommy Dreamer shot someone and then killed himself live at WrestleMania, wrestling fans would scramble to be the first person on the Internet to call it a “work.”
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 26, 1998.
Best/Worst: Vince McMahon Is Extremely Upset About That Whole ‘Everyone Wanting To Watch Him Get Murdered Execution-Style Live On Raw’ Thing
This week’s Raw opens with Vince McMahon surrounded by a cadre of lawyers, asking the WWF Universe™ about not having morals, not having values, not having any human decency, and, you know, wanting to see him get his brains blown out by a disgruntled former employee with a handgun. Instead of discussing the sociopolitical ramifications of that, we’re pivoting to the fact that Stone Cold Steve Austin stuffed a “mysterious letter” into Vince’s pocket during the scene, which turned out to be a legal document, hence the lawyers. Austin’s been rehired by somebody, and Vince promises to take the issue all the way to the SUPREME COURT if he has to. First of all, I wish I lived in a world where the Supreme Court had to spend their time resolving pro wrestling stories. Second of all, I’m pretty sure that picture of Vince with his lawyers looks like every picture of the U.S. court system since its inception. Just a whole bunch of old white guys in suits protected by an evil cop, getting called assholes by 10,000 random poor people.
Later in the episode, Austin shows up and explains that he told the cops ahead of time that his handgun was a toy, which is why nobody stopped him. I appreciate them giving us a ground-covering explanation for that, although it does beg the question of whether or not you could get away with murdering someone in front of a crowd on live television if you just told the cops ahead of time that your murder weapon wasn’t real. Pretty sure that knife and bow and arrow he threatened Vince with were real, and also he punched and kicked him a bunch, so [shrug].
Mr. McMahon’s response to this is to angrily book an ‘I Quit’ match between Austin and The World’s Most Dangerous Man Ken Shamrock for the night’s main event, because that’s what you do when you run a wrestling company and one of your wrestlers pretended to murder you with support from local police. Austin mentions that his new contract includes a guaranteed title shot (which will become important later), and we quickly find out that it was none other than Shane McMahon who brought Austin back. Shane’s upset about never being loved by his dad — a situation that hasn’t gotten any better in the past 20 years — and declares that he’s no longer a boy, he’s a MAN. With little boy PUNCHES, but from an ADULT MAN.
Vince is so distraught that he leaves the show early, and Austin and Shane share a Mean Joe Greene moment as Shane’s following him out. You’d think Austin’s own personal motto of “don’t trust anybody” would’ve kicked in at some point here, but we’re just gonna have to let him figure it out himself.
Worst: A Night Of Bullshit Finishes
The worst part about an Attitude Era Raw or Nitro deciding to do a screwjob finish for one of their show’s matches is the fact that once they’ve remembered they can do a fuck finish, they believe they can do it NON-STOP for HOURS. This is one of those episodes, where barely anything actually matters, and nobody benefits. Let’s run down the list.
A European Championship match between X-Pac and Steve Blackman that could’ve been a bad-ass karate battle ends in two minutes when Real Man’s Man Steve Regal shows up in his Tims to punch the European Champion a bunch for not being from Europe. “Being from Europe” has never been a prerequisite for holding said championship, as only one of the six champions up until this point were European — only two of the 27 European Champions ever were from Europe — but try explaining that to a guy who shaves in the woods while driving a bulldozer and hand-squeezing his own orange juice.
The funniest non-finish of the week goes to The Godfather vs. Tiger Ali Singh, which gets stopped by the referee when everyone gets so bored they start doing The Wave. Seriously. The crowd gets so audibly and visibly bored that they start entertaining themselves, so the wrestlers just start “brawling uncontrollably” (i.e. punching each other like in a normal match) and the ref calls it off. CASTIGO ACEPTABLE! They do history’s least convincing pull-apart brawl while we all wonder how bad Tiger Ali Singh had to be to make four minutes of a Raw feel like watching Shoah in its entirety, on mute.
The Insane Clown Posse make their in-ring debuts on this week’s show, teaming up with their fellow Oddities against Kaientai. The highlight here is a Sunday Night Heat promo not included in the episode where Violent J says, “Kaientai, it’s time to die and die!”
As you probably already know if you’ve ever seen ICP wrestle, they’re actually not bad at it. The World Wrestling Federation doesn’t have much faith in them, though, so after they’ve been in the ring for about 20 seconds they throw the referee on the ground and get disqualified. I mean, all right. Shout-out to Raw for giving us the novelty of a Michigan-based clown rap group dropping big legs on Sho Funaki.
Goldust vs. Marc Mero also gets a short-sighted finish, as Goldust gets disqualified again for propping his opponent up in the corner and giving them a running kick to the middle turnbuckle. Into their balls. He also does the old-timey “babyface kisses the heel valet to shut her up” thing, which went out of style around the same time as stripping a heel manager to reveal they’re wearing women’s lingerie. Man, southern wrestling had some serious sexual hang-ups.
After the match, Sable shows up and gives all wrestling fans a metaphorical kick in the nuts by challenging Jackie to a one-on-one match at Survivor Series.
Remember that terrible finish to the Dungeon Match between Ken Shamrock and Owen Hart from Fully Loaded, with Hart knocking out Shamrock behind the referee’s back and moving the unconscious dude’s arm up and down from slightly out of view to “tap out?” They do that exact same finish here in the main event, minus the wood-paneled basement, with the same knocked out guy. You could be forgiven for having forgotten it, as it happened almost three whole months ago. That doesn’t even address the fact that a guy lost an ‘I Quit’ match by tapping out instead of saying, “I quit.” Gonna pretend Vince Russo was hard at work writing up the Deadly Game tournament and let Ed Ferrara freestyle this Raw by himself or something.
Best: Fresh Brood
The most eventful match with a finish ends up being Kane’s relative squash of Gangrel (featuring awesome bug-eyed Gangrel selling, pictured). After Kane wins, Christian gets into the ring and tries to help Gangrel beat him down 2-on-1. When that doesn’t work, EDGE shows up and chop-blocks Kane, officially forming The Brood and making it 3-on-1. The attack still doesn’t keep Kane down and the (spoiler alert) vampires bail, but the stage is set for Edge and Christian figuring out how to make WWE work for them and being one of the greatest tag teams of all time. It’s funny how many characters, teams, and pushes exist because they didn’t know what to do with Kane some weeks.
Best: WWE Wildside
You know how people make fun of WCW for bringing in KISS way past their expiration date? Don’t know why I felt the need to mention that. In an unrelated story, here’s California glam-rockers Mötley Crüe performing a song from 1989 on a 1998 episode of Raw. D-Generation X (minus Triple H, who is injured, and Chyna, who is on a “leave of absence from the WWF” after being arrested for failing to appear at a court date for Mark Henry’s sexual harassment claim) show up in support of the band and bang their heads. Wouldn’t it be cool if the promotion had a tag team actually known for Headbanging? Anyway, please don’t notice the Confederate flag on Tommy Lee’s drum kit.
Crüe is here to promote their “first ever greatest hits album,” give Jerry Lawler some reheated sex tape jokes about Tommy Lee, and introduce the WWE Universe to their bodyguard Andrew Martin. You might know him best as Test, seen here giving a random planted fan La Atlántida for trying to get involved in the concert.
Somewhere at home, a 22-year old Stephanie McMahon who tuned in to see her brother cut a promo on her dad is watching this like, “ooh, who is that guy?”
The Outlaws would return later in the night to have the absolute Worst match on the show, which doesn’t look bad on paper: a Tag Team Championship match against Mankind and Al Snow.
That should be good, shouldn’t it? Only none of the four can get on the same page or figure out what kind of match they wanna have, so everyone does their own thing, and nothing gets accomplished. Billy Gunn and Road Dogg are doing their normal “singles stars who just happen to be having matches at the same time” thing, Al Snow’s trying to get over by being too much like Mankind, and Mankind’s making that impossible by already BEING Mankind. They do a big thing where they can’t figure out if they wanna win by sticking a sock in somebody’s mouth or hitting them with a mannequin head, and you’re at home screaming at your TV like, “OH MY GOD JUST DO A FUCKING ELBOW DROP, IT’S FINE, YOU’RE WINNING.” D’Lo Brown and Mark Henry show up to beat up the Outlaws afterward, as if this entire thing wasn’t enough of a disasterpiece.
FROM OUTTA NOWHERE
Speaking of things that shouldn’t be bad but super are, The Rock defeats Darren “Puke” “The Droz” Drozdov with the People’s Elbow. Pretty sure that’s the first dude to ever actually get pinned by the power of the Normal Elbow Drop With Theatrics. Droz, bless is heart, is just the drizzling shits as a pro wrestler, and never looks like he knows what he’s doing, what he’s supposed to do next, or what he just did. Rock’s good enough to keep things together, but not enough of a dynamic personality into tricking anyone into thinking the match is good.
After the loss, Droz blames Sober Hawk for some reason, and Droz and Animal walk out on him. It’s enough to make you relapse and want to throw yourself off the TitanTron, isn’t it?
It’s a DEADLY FLAME as Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker, and Kane punch each other inside a flaming steel cage. Plus, The Rock is upset about being removed from the Deadly Game tournament — too bad, he would’ve had a great chance of winning — Hawk falls off the wagon again, and Vince McMahon finds a son to replace Shane. See you next week!