Previously on the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War: The cool rebels at D-Generation X took a CNN studio tour, then added 1998 computer graphics to the footage to make it look like they’d blown up the building with a cannon. Also, Yamaguchi-san introduced the new generation with the new Japanese attitudes!
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War for May 18, 1998.
Best: The Bearer Of Bad News
If your brain remembers this episode at all, it’s probably because of the ridiculous image of Kane getting “complicated DNA testing” done while wearing a ski mask and a windsuit. Jim Ross makes the call:
“Earlier today, Paul Bearer and Kane went to a medical facility just outside Nashville, as you know Paul Bearer has promised that tonight he will prove without a shadow of a doubt that he is indeed the father of Kane. Apparently Paul Bearer will use complicated DNA testing to prove that he is indeed Kane’s father.”
You can tell it’s 1998 because the mention of DNA testing is accompanied by footage of whirling robots and constant explanations of how complicated it is, instead of just being a way to push act two into act three on every episode of every procedural for the past 20 years. Bearer’s giddiness at being able to announce that he’s “Kane’s daddy” is briefly infectious, but then the esteemed Dr. Charles Woosley announces the results publicly and Paul instantly pivots to, “your mama wasn’t nothing but a damn two-bit whore!” Weird flex, but okay.
That of course brings out the Undertaker for MAD PUNCHINGS, and Kane overwhelms him until The Man They Called The Man They Call Vader runs in to even the odds. Vader is still facing Kane in a “mask vs. mask” match at Over the Edge, which is still a little like booking Brutus Beefcake in a hair vs. hair match against Bobby Lashley.
Best: Hello, Ladies
Valvenus, Fiend of Sex finally makes his in-ring debut this week against Scorpio, and unfortunately he’s just a normal wrestler with a dusting of sexuality instead of the unstoppable fuck machine we were hoping for. Like, the way Val was built up in his vignettes, his debut match should’ve been him hitting a hip-toss, then grabbing his crotch with both hands and crossing his eyes and slowly tipping over in ecstasy. In retrospect, they should’ve at least turned him into late ’90s Joey Ryan with a super human penis. Or ended every Val match like the MMA fight at the end of Bruno.
Anyway, Porny Lorcan puts Scorpio away with the MONEY SHOT, a splash he should’ve just turned into a top rope senton and called ASS TO MOUTH. I’m going to guess that putting a fake wrestling porn star against 2 Cold Scorpio for his debut match was 100% on purpose.
Best: Austin Screwed Austin
The opening segment of this week’s show is a fantastic promo from Vince McMahon in which he reveals that he’s barred from the arena tonight to give him time to recover from the “devastating clothesline” Vince hit him with last week, and even claims that Austin has a concussion. Austin, dealing well with being asked to not be inside a building he wants to be inside of, smashes a security guard’s face into the loading bay door and stomps him within an inch of his life.
While this is going on, Vince sets up an evil main event: Dude Love will take on Dustin Runnels, the artist formerly known as The Artist Formerly Known As Goldust, and if Dude wins, Runnels has to work for free for a month. If Runnels wins, which he definitely won’t because he just had knee surgery and is out here limping, he becomes the number one contender to Austin’s WWF Championship. Dustin, realizing he’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t, throws hands at everyone and gets beaten down.
Eventually that brings out Austin, who challenges McMahon and the Stooges to a 3-on-1 fight. Vince hilariously backpedals and says he can’t possibly fight in his street clothes, but agrees to a 2-on-1 handicap match featuring two of the three men Austin just challenged. Which two? You don’t know, Hulk Hogan, you don’t know! But spoiler alert, it’s probably the two who didn’t immediately back down.
Oh, and then the police show up to arrest Austin for slobber-knocking his way into an arena he’d been barred from. Whoops!
With Austin arrested, Vince and the Stooges go into gloating overload. What they don’t consider is that Austin is a famous celebrity and also a white male, so all he has to do to keep from being taken to prison for an on-camera assault on live television is make an apology he doesn’t mean. Austin “apologizes” to the guy he beat up by telling him he’s a stupid piece of shit, then flips him off with both hands. Honestly this works best if you just assume real cops have never been to a wrestling show, and Vince McMahon just has a box of Hot Cops cop outfits he hands out to disposable henchmen so his on-screen machinations look legit and nobody asks questions.
Worst: While this is all going on, we have a super disappointing match between Dude Love and Dustin Runnels, because again, Dustin had just had knee surgery. Sometimes you’ve got to book matches like this, but it’s depressing to see a guy like Goldust introduce a new persona and immediately have it thrown in the garbage in a 30 second loss he wasn’t even physically able to fight through. The highlight is Dude having a heart “tattoo” on his arm with Vince McMahon’s initials over it.
When it’s time for the street fight, we find out that Austin’s opponents are, sure enough, Gerald Brisco and Pat Patterson, seen here entering from their official Pro Wrestling Tees store backstage. Lawler says it looks like they just wandered in from the Waffle House. Jim Ross makes the call:
“Well, the Brisco Brothers Body Shop getting a big plug there, of course Pat Patterson works there part time, he does rear-end work there, down in Tampa. I guess it’s worth the drive, I don’t know.”
Sgt. Slaughter — now once against “Sergeant,” even though Lawler mentions him still being the WWF Commissioner — is suddenly announced as the special guest refereee, and a shot of Austin “fans” in the crowd (and Al Snow, more on him in a second) gives away the game to anyone who has spent the past four decades looking at Vince McMahon’s neck.
3-on-1 proves to not be enough Odds Stacking to stop Stone Cold, and he’s able to kick Brisco and Patterson’s asses and hit Sarge with a Stone Cold Stunner. Dude Love shows up to make it 4-on-1, but he gets beaten up too, causing shadow protocol to begin. The guy in the Austin mask from the previous crowd shot hops the rail and briefly acts like a crazy fan until Austin turns his back, at which point we find out that wait just a minute, folks, it’s Vince McMahon in a KUSHIDA-quality skin suit.
So let the record show, Mr. McMahon didn’t screw Stone Cold Steve Austin … Stone Cold Steve Austin screwed Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Sexy Hobo Fighter Is Still On His Way
This week’s voiceover, which is probably just Powerman 5000 lyrics or something:
“Undaunted, he heads for the horizon like some Spanish galleon’s quest, searching for the water’s edge, where an unknown terror awaits. The mysteries of this life unfold when we embrace the edge, and then let go.”
Vampires. The unknown terror is vampires. OCEAN VAMPIRES.
Worst: Snow, Informer
One of the strangest attempts at a mystery this week is the reveal that Jerry Lawler has hired a new, personal “bodyguard” to protect him from random attacks like the one Undertaker threw on him last week, and that he’s brought this person into the arena with a sheet over their head. Throughout the episode, security guys show up and have to look under the sheet to make sure it’s not Steve Austin. This gets like, five separate segments to build drama.
And then, boop, it’s revealed that the mystery man is Al Snow, a character we’ve already seen sneaking into and around the arena for the past couple of weeks. It’s like they did a mystery and forgot they’d already solved it two weeks ago. The weirdest part is that Snow is instantly too annoying to be a bodyguard, so Lawler makes him stand in the front row and not say anything. And his only contribution to the show is standing beside a masked Vince McMahon, presumably to make sure no fans get to him? I don’t know. If they’re all supposed to be in cahoots and that was done in that roundabout way on purpose, I can’t decide if it’s great character work to have a masked narcissist still think people will recognize and bother him in a mask, or a total waste of time. Maybe it’s both?
Regardless, I’m considering this the moment when Vince got this idea:
Also On This Episode
The Disciples of Apocalypse defeat the even more depressing, Sunny-less Legion of Doom 2000 thanks to another dose of TWIN MAGIC, which reminds us that “moderate cheating” and “assuming nobody’s paying that much attention” always beats “old guys out looking to prove they can still win fights.” Seriously, the WWF’s obsession with the Road Warriors as Clint Eastwood types who are dressing up like post-apocalyptic hockey goalies while the world passes them by is the most disheartening shit.
After this loss, they demand a six-man tag team match against Skull, 8-Ball, and the homie Chainz to prevent any more twin-switching mishaps, because having both interchangeable twins as legal participants in a match will make avoiding that … easier? The L.O.D. tells Kevin Kelly and the Disciples to “not worry about” who their partner will be. I can’t tell you who it is yet, but I can assure you that he’s gonna HE’S GONNA he’s gonna HE’S GONNA PUKE! HE’S GONNA PUKE HE’S GONNA PUKE.
The New Age Outlaws successfully defend the WWF Tag Team Championship against The Rock and Owen Hart thanks to interference from Faarooq, which will be an important allegiance to remember in a couple of weeks when these guys are doing blackface segments and you need “but they have a BLACK FRIEND” to support it.
Marc Mero reveals that he has a signed contract that gives him legal ownership of Sable, because their names on the sheet in BIG FONTS. Mero, who seems to think it’s a great idea to force his wife into indentured servitude on national television and have her still stand by the ring during his matches and affect their outcomes, loses when his slave wife yells at the referee about him cheating. GOOD JOB, EVERYONE.
Finally we have Kai En Tai vs. The Headbangers, which (1) spotlights how much taller everyone in the World Wrestling Federation in 1998 is than these Japanese guys, and (2) wastes some more TV time while Vince Russo figures out what he wants to do with a bunch of little Japanese guys. Spoiler alert: it’s Bushido Cuckolding, but that’s still a little over a month away.
This quickly turns into an Everybody Fights scenario thanks to a run-in from Bradshaw and TAKA Michinoku, a beef that’ll be settled at Over The Edge: In Your House in an exciting Puro House Rules match.
- Don Callis trades in his South African militia for a group for season 4 of American Horror Story
- the thrilling debut of VOMIT
- Vince McMahon runs afoul of his own terrible understanding of the justice system
- D-X’s invasion of WCW gets even more embarrassing
- Be there! And also suck it!