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Ring Crew Reviews: WWE Monday Night Raw – January 5, 1998

May 27, 2015 | Posted by Jack Bramma
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Ring Crew Reviews: WWE Monday Night Raw – January 5, 1998  

• Follow me on Twitter – @RingCrewReviews

• With the WWE Network expanding further into the Monday Night Wars, I thought I would dive in with a review of the first RAW of 1998.

• With a cold open, we start on Stone Cold with some ECW-like, hand-held grittiness. He says the word going round is that everyone is gunnin’ for SCSA, but he’s got another story for them. He knows everyone has a pager and when they look at their pager, they’ll see the 316 and know their ass belongs to SCSA. If that sounds completely random, Austin did the same thing with Rock a couple years later when they redid their bridge angle from late in 97.

• Then, we get the usual open.

• JR, Kevin Kelly, and Cole welcome us to the first RAW of 1998. JR hypes that tonight we will get an announcement on Tyson’s involvement at Mania XIV.

Farooq vs. Ken Shamrock. Farooq is joined by D’lo and Kama Mustafa (Godfather), but minus Rock who volunteered Farooq for this match. The crew puts over how Shamrock has had problems with the NOD including making D’lo and Kama tap in back to back weeks, but the monkeys in the truck cut all the way back to September when Farooq puts down Shamrock with a spinebuster. Shamrock was inflicted with the eponymous “internal injuries” including a “punctured lung” and an as-yet undiagnosed blood capsule.

• JR calls Shamrock a “future WWF champion” as Farooq pummels him while he steps through the ropes. I know it has a lot more to do with his UFC background, but Shamrock’s entrance attire seems like a ripoff of Marc Mero’s mid 90s, boxer gear. ANYWAY, Shamrock comes back with shots to the breadbasket as Cole puts over how both men will be in the RR. Shamrock with a standing dropkick and he clotheslines Farooq out. JR’s all WHERE’S ROCK as Shamrock suplexes Farooq back in. Farooq politely stands still, so Shamrock can try a crucifix, but Farooq counters by falling on him. Farooq shitcans Shamrock out, so Shamrock can search for new internal organs to sell. SHAMROCK chant as he gets a desperation small package for 1, 2, no. Another shitcan. BUT WAIT! THE ROCK HAS COME OUT! We take a break and are back to Shamrock countering out of the Dominator but getting booted back down. TOTHECHINLOCK! Rock gives the NOD a prep talk that leaves them quizzical and the crowd rowdy. ROCKYSUXROCKYSUXROCKYSUX! Farooq drops Shamrock with a press slam drop to his knees or some shit. Shamrock comes back with a rana, but Farooq goes to the eyes to cool down Shamrock. Kama gets a chair as Rock runs interference. Farooq gets tossed into the chair by Shamrock. Belly to belly suplex and Farooq taps to the AnkleLock at 5:06. This was fine. Shamrock is at least an enthusiastic seller and damn athletic even if completely clueless. Unless Rock’s master plan was for Kama to hit Farooq in the head with a chair, I’d say that’s their fault. **

• Post-match, Rock goes face to face with Shamrock as KK hypes their IC title match at the RR. Rock takes off his glasses, so you know he means business. BUT WAIT! STEVE AUSTIN HAS COME OUT! STUNNER FOR SHAMROCK! STUNNER FOR ROCKY! He exits through the crowd before the NOD can retaliate. Awesome stuff to build off the very first segment.

• Meanwhile, the crew gives us a rundown of the rest of the show:
1. Paul Bearer promo about his status with Kane.
2. Owen Hart vs. Savio Vega.
3. Exclusive footage of the HITC match from Badd Blood for the first time ever on RAW.
4. HBK calls out UT.
5. Don King discusses negotiations with Vince about Tyson.

• Jim Cornette comes out with a few suits. He talks about how there needs to be more RASSLIN’, RESPECT, and TRADITION. Guys like Lou Thesz and Jack Brisco know what he’s talking about, so he’s brought out the bastions of rasslin’, respect, and tradition: the heads of the NWA. As a show of good faith, these fine gents not named Thesz or Brisco have decided the winner of the next match is going to be the new NWA North American Heavyweight Champ. All of these guys scream old and out of date, so let’s hope the wrestlers fare better.

NWA North American Heavyweight Championship: Barry Windham vs. Jeff Jarrett. Well, 1 out of 2 ain’t bad. Windham looks terrible – closer to Dr. Death or JBL than the Windham you’d remember. Of course, Windham was fresh off doing a stint with the fed through the second half of 96 as The Stalker, so this is hardly his first appearance in years. Jarrett is wearing a teal, orange, and white smock like he’s a rejected Mortal Kombat clone of Sub Zero or Scorpion.

• Cornette joins the boys on commentary to filibuster the rest of them out of the show. Cornette continues yammering about anything and everything from the 80s he can remember including Flair, Race, Jerry Jarrett, Zubaz, the Power Glove, Geraldo finding Al Capone’s vault, the Commodore 64, Deloreans, acid wash jeans, and Booger from Revenge of the Nerds. ANYWAY, Jarrett with an armdrag and he struts. Blackjack runs off into a hiptoss and MOARSTRUTTING! We get a riveting split screen so Cornette can bring up the apocryphal nonsense that Abe Lincoln was NWA Champ in the mid 1800s. Meanwhile, Blackjack uses the power of the not loaded punch to dazzle us. Jarrett tries a Thesz press but gets hotshotted into the ropes. Suplex and a gutwrench get a nearfall. JR mostly abstains until he dishes dirt with Cornette about payoffs for this charade, but Cornette dodges. Jarrett gets caught in a Bulldog powerslam for 1, 2, no. Clothesline from 80s mullet hell gets 1, 2, foot on the ropes. After monologuing for the better part of the Monday Night Wars about in-ring action, the NWA brass have seen enough after 3 minutes of moderately fought action, and Cornette waffles Blackjack with El Kabong de Tennis Racket. Jarrett drapes the arm for 1, 2, 3 to become champ at 3:37. JR: “This smells like a premeditated plan to me.” I’d pay good money – roughly $9.99/month – to watch JR sleuth out wrestling schemes. Who was driving the White Hummer? Who paid off Nick Patrick for the phantom fast count? Who was behind GTV? Who are these people and why did Rikishi do it for them? What happened to Kane’s doppelganger on May 19th? And so on. *

• Post-match, Jarrett struts. BUT WAIT! STUNNER! STONE COLD IS OUT OF CONTROL! This segment is capped off with Austin’s hilariously over the top mocking of the strut and flipping off Jarrett.

• This is one of those segments that’s awesome when it’s a guy like Austin that you love and a guy like Jarrett that you hate, but if done today, and Cena came out and trashed Cesaro like a pile of garbage after he won the IC title, everyone would hate it.

• Meanwhile, Shamrock is in the back. He gives a line reading worthy of Ed Wood as he says that he and Austin are both marked men, and he can’t wait to get him in the RR.

• Sunny is out next as guest ring announcer.

The Truth Commission vs. The Disciples of Apocalypse. I have absolutely zero recollection of The Truth Commission. Cryus from ECW is known as The Jackyl and he leads a band of goons including Kurrgan who would garner more fame in The Oddities, but tonight, no Kurrgan. Instead, it’s Sniper and Recon. Recon is Bull Buchanan and Sniper is a guy who had various cups of coffee around with various military names including Sniper, Rambo, and The Mercenary. They are a paramilitary, militia sort – camo, berets, and the like.

• Skull and 8-Ball tonight for the DOA. It’s a brawl at the bell with the DOA isolating Recon. He eats a Bossman attack from 8-Ball. Jackyl joins the crew on commentary but plays dumb as to the whereabouts of Kurrgan. Skull tags in and he promptly dumps out Recon. Bling Bling proves entirely worthless as he gets tossed into the rail like a jobber. Jackyl: “I DID WHAT YOU AND EVERYONE ELSE IN THE WWF COULDN’T DO! I MADE HIM!” Recon continues getting beat up with a double big boot. Sniper snipes Skull from behind and Recon shitcans him out. After some CLUBBINGBLOWS, the Truth Commission continue with jobber offense 101 as Jackyl predicts a “revolutionary of blood” on commentary. Recon wants a splash off the top, and Jackyl calls him “High Spot” as he whiffs and eats canvas. High times for the future tag champ. 8-Ball in and cleans house with clotheslines by himself. He tries to end it with a patented side slam, but it devolves into a brawl. BUT WAIT! KURRGAN THE INTERROGATOR! I wouldn’t call it a run-in considering that Kurrgan is setting a glacial pace to the ring. He moves so slow that the DOA pin his boys with a DDT for 1, 2, 3 to take it at 3:40. Post-match, Kurrgan no sells everything and the jobbers no sell the match to Pearl Harbor the bikers. Kurrgan puts down both with a big boot and the Von Erich claw. Let’s just say, The Truth Commission didn’t exactly make a memorable impression. 1/4*

• DX is out next. HBK is WWF champ, and Trips is Euro champ. Trips though has a bad wheel after hurting his knee and is wheeled out by Chyna, and then gets on crutches. H and HBK make note of Chyna’s breast implants which makes me think this is their TV debut. Trips cuts a promo on Owen Hart, while Shawn continues staring at Chyna’s cans and Chyna is on the verge of corpsing in the entire segment. Triple H busts out the baseball metaphors just to talk about his “wood”. He calls out Owen and snidely refers to him as a “niblet” that “floats back to the surface” which of course would eventually lead to Owen getting over as The Nugget. Owen answers from the TitanTron and says nothing of note, so H tells him to watch his back.

• Funnily enough, the boys still hype HBK calling out Taker later, even though he was just in the ring and seemed more interested in Chyna, lollipops, and possibly narcotics than cutting a promo.

• Time for the War Zone to increase ratings spots for USA.

Savio Vega vs. Owen Hart. Vega is joined by Los Boricuas. Lawler says that with 12 children, Stu and Helen Hart produced more tragedies than Shakespeare, but still admits that he was THIS close to beating HBK last week to become WWF champ. Owen cautiously stays away from the ropes to avoid the stable as he hiptosses down Savio. Thesz press and GnP from Owen. He mounts in the corner for more of the same as JR notes that his popularity is growing by leaps and bounds. Owen with a missile dropkick, and he kips up. BUT WAIT! MY GOODNESS, DX! They are on the ramp and that allows Savio to take over on the floor. Back in, King puts over the Boricuas as the guys who “put the panic in Hispanic”. Owen ducks a shot and gets a roll up, but Savio takes him back down with a roundhouse. Owen escapes out of a chinlock with a jawbreaker. Crossbody gets 1, 2, no. After a distraction from Boricua 1, Savio shitcans Owen out for the requisite posse beatdown. Owen sells not a shot of it and just lays there on all 4’s. Jack Doane and his full head of hair can’t believe the Boricuas didn’t manage one effective low blow between the 3 of them and ejects the lot of them to no pop at all. Savio whiffs on a Stinger Splash, but then still won’t go down from some clotheslines like he’s Vader or something. Owen hits the spinwheel kick and rolls Savio into the Sharpshooter. The Boricuas can’t take a hint and no sell ejection to interfere. Owen still overcomes and cradles Savio for 1, 2, 3 all while taunting the H’s at 4:08. Post-match, The Boricuas try again but Owen still won’t sell for them, so Savio kicks him in the dick and they carry him up to DX. H smacks him around a bit and then pays off the bounty to Savio. Miraculously, Owen STILL is just sitting there with barely a decent sweat going.

• This was some pretty awesome bastardry on Owen’s part in trying to Terminator his way through an entire stable just to get to H. Match was eh, but at least it had some energy and some bells and whistles with Boricuas. *1/2

• On another note, HBK is pretty awesome in his blatant disregard for everything going on around him and just seems above even selling the angle. It’s the height of kayfabe-breaking unprofessionalism, but it’s damn charismatic. This would be the same cool heel vibe “invented” by Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. Of course.

• Paul Bearer is on his way to the ring to address Kane’s status. Last week, Kane looked to be on the losing end of a 7-on-1 thrashing at the hands of his previous victims, but UT made the save. Of course, Bearer and UT were still on the outs at the time, so Paul took that one a little personally. He’s looking worse for the wear tonight and heartbroken. Bearer gets the stick and says that he hopes HBK destroys UT at the RR which draws boos. Bearer lays it on thick and says that he hates UT’s guts for taking Kane away from him. Bearer can’t track Kane down, but he knows he’s watching. PLEASE COME HOME, KANE!

• Meanwhile, we cut to the back where Austin has dropped a table on Mark Henry.

Marvelous Marc Mero vs. Tom Brandi. We get footage of Mero bossing Sable around in recent weeks including making her wear a potato sack and a reindeer costume. That was the last straw for noted women’s liberation advocate, Tom Brandi, formerly Salvatore Sincere and more recently, The Patriot (not Del Wilkes), though he could pass for Paul Roma. Regular (see: skimpy) attire for Sable tonight. Brock Lesnar was only 20 at the time, so there’s always hope for all you lonely hearts out there.

• Mero suckers Brandi in on the floor and throws Sable at him to distract. Mero takes over as the crowd chants for SABLESABLESABLE. Mero bobs and weaves as JR wants a DQ because this is rasslin’, not boxing and reads Earl the riot act. Brandi tries a Perfect flip off a Mero clothesline but doesn’t quite pull it off. The SABLE chants are getting to Mero, and he heads up top but Brandi crotches him. JR calls that a “patented Golota” which is quite the idiosyncratic boxing reference. Brandi fires up in shitty fashion for the 10 punches in the corner. Bulldog off the top gets 1, 2, no. Brandi can’t muster a shine, so Mero cuts him off going to the eyes. Brandi shrugs it off and elbows him to the floor for the requisite collision with Sable and Mero. Sable sprains her ankle or some shit, and Brandi pulls his best Hogan in the MegaPowers by trying to carry her to the back for medical attention. Mero ain’t no clown though, and like a true bastard, lands a double sledge off the apron, promptly knocking Brandi and Sable on their asses. MY MAN! Mero, breadwinner that he is, knows that medical bills won’t pay for themselves, so he finishes off Brandi before attending to his wife. TKO puts down Brandi. Mero wants another BUT WAIT! THE RATTLESNAKE! He Stuns Mero presumably for the DQ at 3:46 but no official announcement.

• Post-match, Sable seems more interested in Austin then either her husband or her prospective savior, Brandi. Match was a pile of whatever until yet another Stone Cold run-in to spice things up. *

• Stunner count to recap: Rock, Shamrock, Jarrett, Mero, and Mizark.

Flash Funk vs. The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust. Funk is 2 Cold Scorpion, and if you aren’t familiar, he was New Day before New Day was New Day… or something. This is his WCW vignette but gets the idea across.

• Goldust, on the other hand, was completely buried by Austin last week as he was Stunned while wearing a diaper and tossed into a porta-potty AKA Crapper 3:16. The burial isn’t over as Goldust is in black face this week with an afro, boom box, and Slick Rick chains.

• Funk is apoplectic at being out-stereotyped especially by a white guy and pounds him down to start. The afro wig comes off in the scuffle, and Funk drops him with a backdrop and dropkick. Goldust takes a breather for a Flair Flop. After recovering, he pulls Funk to the floor to work him over. Back in, Luna trips up Funk, and Goldust stays on the attack. Funk comes back with a few rights and a nice 360 pump kick. Funk calls for the 450. Back suplex and he heads up top, but Luna dumps him for the DQ at 2:35. Post-match, Goldust tries to warm up the cinders of his heat with a Curtain Call on Funk. That’s short-lived as Vader jumps him, and Goldust exits stage right like a bah gawd scalded dog. The PC police really killed Goldust as a character in the mid 90s for a solid decade before finding his niche as a comedy guy with Booker. As is, this was 5 minute I’ll never get back. DUD

• We get a recap of last week where Foley did a promo with all three of his personas – The New Age Outlaws had beat up Dude Love; Mankind was out of town; so it was left to Cactus Jack to come back. Cactus brought company with him: a chainsaw-wielding Terry Funk doing his best Leatherface as Chainsaw Charlie. A very ECW plus horror movie segment.

The Headbangers vs. The New Age Outlaws. No entrance for the bangers tonight. The NAO, in South Park shirts, are tag champs but not in DX, so they are kinda heatless and Road Dogg’s pre-match shtick is not quite over yet. He says it’ll be a cold day in hell before the Headbangers ever get the tag belts. Apparently, it was cold in Parts Unknown back in Sept. at Ground Zero: In Your House when the Headbangers won the belts in a four-way.

• Not even the crowd or the commentary has time for the Headbangers, as JR puts over the LOD and their upcoming title shot at RR and the crowd chants for LOD at the bell. The NAO instantly go to the double-teaming on Mosh. Thrasher breaks it up with clothesline off the top that misses by a couple feet in distance across the ring. Bangers clear the ring with dropkicks as JR finally relates the issue between these teams: a boom box broken over Thrasher’s head. Back in, Billy works a headlock but whiffs on a dropkick into a hip toss. He runs into an armdrag and Mosh goes to the armbar. Billy escapes to bring in Dogg. He eats a hiptoss and armdrag as well. A double front suplex follows from the Bangers. BUT WAIT! YOU SMELL THAT?! IT’S NOT JR’S CHITLINS, IT’S THE GODWINNS! Which is only the third time or so tonight, someone has made an appearance at the top of the ramp during a match. Billy folds up Thrasher with a powerbomb/back suplex hybrid out of the corner. For those of you keeping count, there’s Funk/Cactus, Bangers, Godwinns, LOD, and the NAO in the same segment. That may not be a stacked division in terms of abilities at the time, but it is a testament to the booking that all of their mini-angles make sense at the same time. Dogg works over Thrasher with the usual. They both go for a dropkick but Thrasher eats it low. Kilt and all. Lukewarm tag to Mash. He dirties house as the Godwinns take a hike of their own accord. Flying clothesline from Thrasher and a double flapjack on Billy. Tim White is having to appear deaf, dumb, and blind to stay out of the way of all the cheating. RockaBilly counters out of the Stage Dive with a roll up for 1, 2, 3 at 5:00.

• Post-match, The NAO want a beatdown but are chased off by Cactus and Charlie with his chainsaw that has fake sparks coming off it. The Bangers end up looking like complete afterthoughts though. Every single match so far has had post-match shenanigans. At least this felt like a match – beginning, middle, end – unlike most of the wrestling tonight. *1/4

• Next up is a vignette on the negotiations between Tyson and WWF. Don King cuts a taped promo from his office where he keeps repeating the name and date of the show – Wrestlemania on March 29 – but makes sure to specify that the deal isn’t done yet.

• Meanwhile, we get yet another hyping for the HITC footage from Badd Blood. The ridiculously incessant pandering and hyping is kind of annoying now with every PPV ever at our fingertips. But to teenager me at the time, PPV’s were genuinely special attractions that I almost never saw and had no access to (either due to money constraints or cable company restraints). This made the footage on RAW a genuine selling point that I would want to see.

• Finally, we get the full blown recap video of the HITC match. No still photos or fades to black. Actual, honest-to-God, PPV footage of the match… from October to help set up their feud and casket match going into the RR.

• HBK is out next for his promo. He says that Owen didn’t have the guts to show his face earlier, but maybe Undertaker will the undead stones to face him. He hypes the casket match, mocks UT, and says he’s beat UT – (“NOTHING MORE THAN A LOSER!”) so many times but he’s such a glutton for punishment that he’ll have to show him again. HBK says he wants to give some of his fans a little extra and teases a dance, but instead wants UT to bring his old, dead carcass out. But JR, how is business? JR: “I think business is about to pick up.”

• Cue the druids who roll out the casket covered in DX graffiti from last week. HBK thinks it’s a ruse from DX and tries to play it cool. BUT WAIT! H AND CHYNA ARE AT THE TOP OF THE RAMP! HBK still doesn’t put it together until Taker appears and goozles him into the casket which HBK overplays and oversells akin to SS2K5 against Hogan but not that blatant. WE’RE OUTTA TIME, TUNE IN TO THE ROYAL RUMBLE!

• Follow me on Twitter – @RingCrewReviews

The final score: review Average
The 411
Let's see: Austin Stunning everyone, run-ins at the top of the ramp for practically every match, no matches going above 5 minutes, midcarders with storylines, something other than 50/50 booking. Yes, the Vince Russo era is truly underway. This was a nice change of pace from today's product, but the matches were a barrel fire. If nothing else, the show feels faster with no lengthy promos and no one really getting multiple segments other than Austin. Also, it's hard not to shake the feeling that the writers heard about this so-called "Attitude Era" and just threw on this episode - the first RAW of 98. They saw Austin stunning everyone for the entire show and decided it was time for Orton to do the same on 4/20.

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RAW, Ring Crew Reviews, WWE, Jack Bramma