As per the voice of the fans, Im going to start doing some old Raws to go with the other stuff Im doing. This is widely considered to be one of if not the best years for the company ever and that can mainly be attributed to the rise of Steve Austin from most popular guy on the show to megastar as he wins the world title in about four months. Ill be alternating back and forth, doing a show from this year and then a show from 01 as it was also requested. Lets get to it. Monday Night Raw Date: January 5, 1998 Location: New Haven Coliseum, New Haven, Connecticut Commentators: Jim Ross, Michael Cole, Kevin Kelly, Jerry Lawler To recap a few things, this is about a month and a half after Montreal. Shawn is WWF Champion and Austin has said that hes going to go after the WWF Title after handing the Rock the Intercontinental Title. Hes getting ready for the Rumble and thats probably what this is going to build to. There isnt much besides that as Ill cover the rest as we go. Lets get to it. Right off the bat something comical: the show is rated TV-PG. Thats so ironic its almost scary. We open with Austin coming into the back of the arena I think. Hes talking about everyone having a pager and saying that when their pager says 3:16 their ass belongs to Stone Cold. I thought the pager bit was before this show. DIG THAT WAREHOUSE OPENING SEQUENCE!!! Theres an insane energy that you can feel here. The fans are almost rabid. Oh damn I picked a GOOD night to start. Tonight: Mike Tyson is here to discuss his role at Wrestlemania. And scratch that as were just going to hear about Tyson. He would be there in three weeks I think. Farrooq vs. Ken Shamrock Shamrock had been in the main event of the last PPV so this should be annihilation. He was kind of running through the Nation on the road to the Rock and the IC Title. Shamrock could MOVE back then. Rock made this match apparently. You need a scorecard to keep track of everything going on here. Farrooq gets a Samoan Drop to break up Kens momentum. Rollup gets two as Shamrock is getting back in. Both of these two are in the Rumble. Rock saunters, and thats the only word to describe it, down to the ring as we take a break. Back with a backslide getting two for Shamrock. Rock sends DLo and Kama away. Ok no he doesnt. That was odd. Farrooq does an odd move where he gets a gorilla press and drops to his knees to drive the top of his head into the ribs of Shamrock. That was different. Shamrock makes a quick comeback with a rana and thats about all hes got. Rock tries to set up some heel shenanigans but the chair Kama holds up is slammed into by Farrooq. Belly to belly and the ankle lock ends it. Rating: C-. Total nothing match here but the energy in it was impressive. There was a point to this as it set up Shamrock vs. Rock a bit more and furthered the split in the Nation idea which would result in Farrooq being through out and doing nothing until he teamed up with Bradshaw way down the line. Rock and Shamrock stare each other down until Austin comes out and Stuns them both before leaving through the crowd. Expect a lot of random stuff like that this year. Kane may have left Paul Bearer! Paul speaks tonight. Owen vs. Savio later. Exclusive footage of the first Hell in a Cell match later. Don King is here to talk about negotiating with Vince. I thought Tyson himself was supposed to be here? Jim Cornette brings two guys to the ring as we take a break. Back and they are who I thought they were. Cornette has brought with him Howard Brody and Dennis Corraluzzo. If that second name sounds familiar, hes the NWA President that freaked out on Shane Douglas after Shane threw the NWA Title down to start ECW. This isnt going to end well. Cornette talks about the NWAs wrestling tradition. Hes going to bring tradition and honor back to professional wrestling. The next match is for the NWA North American Heavyweight Championship, which is more or less the IC Title of the NWA. NWA North American Heavyweight Championship: Barry Windham vs. Jeff Jarrett This would go on for awhile but I thought it was Bradshaw rather than Windham. Ah apparently that came later on. I knew I remembered Bradshaw being in there somewhere. Cornette sits down for commentary here. I think Jarrett had been in WWF for only a few months at this point so its not like he was doing anything. Windham is part of a team with Bradshaw at this point called the New Blackjacks so I guess thats how Bradshaw would get involved. Cornette goes into a big story talking about how you can trace the NWA Title back to 1904 which is still bogus and that if you look back to the Illinois State Wrestling Championship in 1848 which evolved into the NWA Title, it was held by Abraham Lincoln. You think theyre stretching far enough here? The match is more or less just kind of going on in the background while Cornette rambles. Theyre not sure if were using WWF or NWA rules. Windham keeps getting two and keeps confusing me as he looks A LOT like Bradshaw. Big powerslam by Windham gets two again. The two NWA suits keep complaining about various things as Windham gets the lariat. Cornette gets up and cracks Windham in the back as he goes for the Superplex. Jarrett falls on top for the title. Rating: D+. Like I said this was just kind of there while Cornette set up the angle. This went on for a few months and went nowhere. The key thing to notice here though is that everyone is doing SOMETHING. There is a point to every single thing you see on TV. It might not be interesting and it might not be good, but there is a point to it. Thats solid writing and it can help a lot. Austin comes out and Stuns Jarrett because he can. Its weird seeing him in long jeans. Ah Kelly fills us in by saying that Austin said hed get anyone in the Rumble. That helps a lot. Back from a break with Shamrock going off about Austin and saying Austin is the marked man there and he wants it to come down to the two of them in the final two. Sunny comes down to be the announcer for this next match. Sniper/Recon vs. Skull/8-Ball This is an interesting pair of teams. Sniper/Recon (Recon is more famous as Bull Buchanan) are part of the Truth Commission led by Jackyl who was going to be a huge part of a major angle but was more or less thrown out of the company after being a jerk in general. He wound up in ECW as Cyrus. Skull/8-Ball are the Disciples of Apocalypse, a biker team that was part of a biker faction. This was a very faction heavy time as there was also the Nation and Los Boricuas, the Latino gang. There you have four factions with 16 guys combined. That covers a lot of ground. The DOA here are more famous as the Harris Brothers, Creative Control, and the Blu Brothers in the mid 90s. Why they kept getting hired is beyond me. Jackyl gets on commentary here. He goes on one of his rants as Recon beats up Skull. Swinging neckbreaker puts Recon down. Ok Recon is bald. Got it. Hot tags on both ends as the crowd doesnt seem to care. Here comes Kurrgan, the monster of the Truth Commission, as Skull hits a DDT on Sniper to get the win. Rating: D-. Wow this was uneventful. These factions feuded for what felt like ever and nothing ever came of it. They all kind of just went away with nothing to show for it, much like a lot of other stuff during the Attitude Era. Nothing to see here other than more weak build for the Rumble where the winner was never once in doubt. Kurrgan beats up the DOA post match. Heres DX, which at this point is HHH, Shawn and Chyna. HHH is in a wheelchair and is the European Champion here. Shawn is WWF Champion as I mentioned earlier. As they come in we see a clip of Owen having Shawn beaten last week in a title match but Chyna broke a crutch over Owens head. We begin with, of course, boob jokes. HHH runs down Owen, saying that hes not ready to fight guys like them. And dont worry about the broken crutch because theres plenty more wood where that came from. Owen jumped Shawn after the last PPV so theres your explanation. HHH calls out Owen who appears on the screen. Owen says that he had Shawn last week. This is getting personal apparently. Owen talks about being the Black Hart and that he doesnt want to fight HHH when hes injured. He wants the right leg to heal so he can break his left leg. I like that line actually. HHH says watch your back. Theres going to be a Shawn promo later. Note though that Shawn was there with HHH. He didnt say anything but it makes HHH look more important. With the second hour starting we see Austin coming in and his opening promo again. This is officially the start of the War Zone show, meaning this is the more adult oriented show. Lawler also replaces Cole and Kelly on commentary. Owen Hart vs. Savio Vega Owen starts off all fast and hot as Savio is in trouble. Top rope dropkick and a nip up have Savio reeling. HHH and Chyna pop up on the ramp so Savio can get a shot in. Owen gets a rolling cradle for two but walks into a big spin kick to take him down. Cross body gets two and the Boricuas beat Owen down on the floor. And then the spinwheel kick sets up the Sharpshooter for the .not submission. One of the Boricuas distracts Owen who rolls Savio up easily for the pin a second later. Uh point to that? Rating: D+. This was a squash with Owen being in trouble for maybe 40 seconds. Total dominance for the most part to make Owen look good for HHH later on. Owen looked completely awesome here and thats all that matters. How was this almost five minutes long? Los Boricuas beat down Owen and take him up to HHH who slaps him around a bit. Shawn is there again which is a good point. Heres Paul Bearer who looks like hes about dead. Last week Kane was surrounded by seven guys that he had beaten up in previous weeks. This was all part of the huge and totally epic build to the first Taker vs. Kane match at Mania. They managed to not have them fight for seven months which made the feud. Taker refused to fight him until a few weeks after this. Anyway, Taker showed up to be the 8th guy that was going to fight Kane apparently but wound up helping him out. Kane then left alone and apparently Paul hasnt seen him since. According to JR he looks horrible, as in more horrible than usual. I was going to use that joke! His tie is all messed up and he has bags under his eyes etc. He bashes Taker and hopes Shawn destroys him as this is all his fault. He begs Kane to come home which somehow takes like two minutes. Austin has beaten up Mark Henry. We recap Mero being a total jerk to Sable and make himself the star of the team, which was totally dominated by Sable. Tom Brandi, a no name guy, tried to stand up for her, setting up this. Tom Brandi vs. Merc Mero Brandi is big and Italian. Mero is a boxer dude. Mero hides behind Sable and drills Brandi to start. He pounds on him for a good while until he gets crotched on the top rope like any good heel would. Bulldog gets two. Brandi is very, very bad on offense. If my memory serves me right, Kanye West has said one of his biggest regrets is not being able to see himself perform. Jerry Lawler beat him to that line by about ten years. Mero is thrown onto Sable who he yells at. Brandi keeps punching and I could be less interested. Brandi tries to help her and Mero takes over again. TKO ends it seconds later. And never mind no it doesnt as he sets for another but Austin comes in to Stun Mero and give him the DQ win. The TKO by the way is what Alex Riley uses if youre unfamiliar with the name. Sable kind of stares at Austin. Rating: D+. Wow there are a lot of bad matches tonight. Brandi was very bad out there but he was all the had somehow. One thing you could NEVER accuse WWE of in this era was being afraid of trying people out. There were constantly new guys being run out there in various spots on the card every five minutes. Often times they failed, such as here, but on occasion you would find someone, like say the Outlaws, that worked. More Austin recaps after a break. Flash Funk vs. The Artist Formerly Known As Goldust Goldust is in a WEIRD phase here. Think Lady Gaga on LSD and portrayed by Goldust. Funk is 2 Cold Scorpio as a pimp complete with Funkettes. Goldust tonight is a blackface pimp. Well of course he is. Lawler and Ross do the famous part from the Shaft theme. That gives me a very good image of Ross with an afro back in the 70s. Flash goes Rodney King on him and annihilates him to start. There goes the wig and Dustin does a Flair Flop in the aisle. Back in the ring and the Golden one takes over. Flash gets what we would call Trouble in Paradise for two. Flash goes up for the 450 (Funky Flash Splash) but Luna shoves him off for the DQ. Rating: N/A. I wanted to see that 450 but the JR/Lawler Shaft thing had me in stitches. Vader destroys Goldust as theyre feuding at the moment for no apparent reason. Vader was so worthless at this point due to horrible booking of him. We get a promo video on Steve Blackman, who they were trying to push as a big deal. I think you get how well that went. We get a video showing the debut of Chainsaw Charlie, Terry Funk carrying a chainsaw. Theres no way this could go bad is there? Headbangers vs. New Age Outlaws The Outlaws have the tag titles here but this is non-title. The Headbangers were on Regis and Kathy Lee this morning apparently. This is pre-DX for the Outlaws so theyre nothing here and just some young punks that lucked their way into the titles. Theyre in South Park shirts. This is when that show was a show was more or less considered a big joke that would go away in a few weeks, so that was definitely not something everyone would get. Yeah there were seven episodes of the show at this point. Thats amazing. The fans chant LOD as JR talks about them being American Originals. That never went anywhere but they pounded it into our heads enough. Well be talking to Don King once this match is over. This is of course another fairly weak match without much going on in it. The evil Godwins come out to look at the Outlaws. A member of both teams go for dropkicks but they land on each others feet for a double crotch shot. Lukewarm tags both ways and its Mosh in now. The Godwins are gone now. Thanks for that appearance there boys. The Headbangers botch the HELL out of a powerbomb/legdrop combo and Billy falls on Thrasher to get the pin. Rating: D+. And thats probably being generous. This again wasnt much at all as the match was never interesting and the end was never in doubt. Its ok at its very best but as usual not a lot going on here. This felt like an old Superstars match. Im not sure if thats a good thing or a bad thing though. Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie run off the champions. We get a package on the brief history of Tyson being in negotiations with WWF to be at Mania. This was, in a word, HUGE. Mainstream press came pouring in and the fans freaking loved it, making this a massive success. Less than a month after his Mania appearance, WWF took over Monday Nights again. What does that tell you? Don King says how excited he is about Mania. I feel slimy just watching this guy. He says were almost to a deal but there are a few more details to get together. He makes this sound HUGE, saying its a great moment and its affordable. How often do you hear that today? The show is affordable. True or not, it sounds good to hear that no? Mania is in 12 weeks. We get some clips from HIAC, which was amazing both back then and today. Here comes Shawn to close the show. I love this DX intro where they have the rapid fire clips of other things spliced into the regular clips. He calls out Taker and says hell win at the Rumble. Well he would but it didnt go as well as he had planned I dont think. Theres the gong and there go the lights. Some druids bring out a casket and I think I know where this is going. Shawn is laughing a lot and apparently this same one was brought out last week. Its covered in spray paint and there would be a joke inside the casket apparently. HHH and Chyna come out on the stage after a bit and I think you can fill in the rest yourself. Taker pulls Shawn in to end the show. Overall Rating: D+. This really wasnt very good at all. What really happened here? Austin stuns a lot of people, the feuds arent really moved anywhere, and Shawn is in trouble for running his mouth off. Contrary to popular belief, the Attitude Era shows werent all great. Now to be fair Im not sure the Era had officially started yet although the term Attitude was mentioned earlier. This wasnt horrible but it wasnt very good either. Itll pick up A LOT after Mania when Austin is the champion. Not bad, but not a great start to the year at all.