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WWF Raw
January 19, 1998
Fresno, California

Hour 1Hour 2Hour 3Composite
3.744.214.07

Written by: John Petrie

WWF RAW Hosted By: Jim Ross, Michael Cole and Kevin Kelly.

- This week's show is dedicated to the late Juanita McMahon, who it is my
understanding was Vince McMahon's stepmother.

- They start off showing what went down between Kane and the Undertaker
last week, followed by footage of Kane throwing the Undertaker in the
casket at the Royal Rumble, then setting it ablaze. Ninety seconds in and
I've already been more entertained than the entire first hour of Nitro!
There would be very few times that I'd turn back for the remainder of the
evening.

- The lights dim and the Undertaker's music starts up: his OLD music. Paul
Bearer makes his way to the ring amidst boos from the fans. Bearer gloats
over how he played all the fans for suckers. "You suck!" the crowd roars
over and over. Bearer just eats it up, asking the fans "is that right?"
The interview from that point drags on much too long, though, until the
lights dim again and the Undertaker's charred, chopped casket is wheeled
to the ring by men in robes. The Undertaker's blue light and music is
suddenly replaced by a flash of fire, the red lights and music of Kane,
who pops out of the box. With Kane in the ring Paul Bearer declares the
Undertaker dead and gone once and for all.

They show Tyson at the Rumble ripping up a WCW sign. They then hype the
Rumble replay.

- DeGeneration X is in the back. Hunter Hearst Helmsley says he proved
what a loser Owen Hart is. HHH challenges Owen to a match next week,
offering to put up the European Title. Shawn Michaels then says he feels
guilty for what he's done to the Undertaker, and that as a favor to the
fans he'll do everything in his power to track the Undertaker down and
bring him back to the WWF. Two points here: the WWF really wants us to
think the Undertaker has been "run out" of the WWF. Secondly, this whole
"search" by Michaels is pretty much a parody of the missing Undertaker
angle which lead up to SummerSlam 1994. More on this in a bit.

- THE NOD vs. THE DOA
The crowd goes wild over the DOA for some strange reason.

I swear, this was actually an okay match (though probably for the best a
quick one). The six men kept the action going continuously. Just a few
minutes in all six men get into it, drawing the double-DQ, which draws a
huge "boo" from the crowd. Rocky Maivia then runs in to help the NOD,
followed close behind by Ken Shamrock. Mark Henry and Ahmed Johnson also
end up in the ring. The NOD bid hasty retreat.

A black hearse pulls up to the arena.

- "MARVELOUS" MARC MERO (w/ Sable) vs. TOM BRANDI
Mero makes Sable put on a robe.

In the ring Brandi gently prompts Sable to move aside, then he blindsides
Mero. The match starts off okay, but then slows down a bit. Someone
brings Sable a bunch of flowers at ringside. Mero jumps out of the ring
and orders her to leave (though she never does). Brandi tosses him back
and the ring and they continue to go at it, trading moves and pin
attempts. Sable eventually jumps up on the apron, drawing the referee
over. Mero lands a low blow and puts Brandi away with the TKO.

Overall a so-so match. They seem to be implying that Sable maybe has a
"secret admirer", and that we're supposed to think it's Brandi, though
probably it'll turn out to be someone else. I think. Actually I'm not
quite sure where they're going with this, and they're taking their sweet-
ass time getting there.

Quick look at Tyson's dressing room door.

Shawn, Hunter and Chyna sneak up on the hearse. After a brief confab on
the procedure for opening the door they whip it open ... revealing
several scantily clad young women. Shawn and Hunter are mobbed and
dragged into the back of the hearse. Chyna gives a look a sister of a
sex-crazed guy would give and closes the door behind them.

- A pair of limos pull up and Tyson, along with his entourage and Shane
McMahon-Vince's son, are in the house. The crowd can be heard reacting
and while it's noticeably better than the reception at the Rumble, it's
still filled with a lot of boos.

- THE QUEBECERS vs. CACTUS JACK/"CHAINSAW" CHARLIE
Just like that the Quebecers are back in the WWF.

Cactus comes to the ring with a barbed-wire baseball bat, while Charlie
has his spark-spitting chainsaw. The match itself is wild and short.
After some brawling on the floor the Quebecers take control of the match,
keeping Charlie in the ring. Cactus eventually can no longer stand seeing
Charlie being beaten and comes into the ring. The ref tries to push him
back out, so Cactus applies the Mandible Claw-essentially ending the
match. The mayhem continues as Charlie is knocked to the floor. Cactus
then clotheslines both Quebecers out over the top rope (as well as
himself). Charlie, meanwhile, climbs onto the ropes and does a
springboard splash (Vaderbomb) onto all three on the floor. The brawling
continues until Cactus chases the Quebecers off with the baseball bat.
Cactus' music plays, even though it's the Quebecers that have won via DQ.
Charlie is shown yanking up his mask a couple of times, giving the crowd
a big wink and a look at his real face (the face of Terry Funk).

A wild return for the Quebecers, but not a very auspicious one.

Shawn (who apparently can't go all night as he claims), Hunter and Chyna
come across the Mexican Minis in the back. They try to get some info
regarding the whereabouts of the Undertaker, but are unable to get over
the language barrier.

- Mike Tyson is shown in the back talking to Pat Patterson, Sgt. Slaughter
and the other WWF road agents. (You know ... the old ex-WWF wrestlers who
come out and break up fights and such.) Tyson seems to be genuinely
enjoying himself.

- BLACKJACK BRADSHAW (w/ Blackjack Windham) vs. JEFF JARRETT
Jarrett is accompanied by Jim Cornette and the Rock & Roll Express. This
match is for the NWA North American Heavyweight Title. Cornette makes a
few quick comments at the announcer's desk. He again calls the WWF an
"outlaw organization".

Jarrett gets substantial help from the R & R Express, but Bradshaw is
able to fight most of it off. Cornette jumps up on the apron, distracting
the ref. Bradshaw looks to Windham to give him a hand, but Jarrett ducks
Windham's charge and Bradshaw is viciously clotheslined instead. Barry
Windham gives one remorseful look as Jarrett covers for the pin, then
joins in on the NWA beating of Bradshaw. Cornette does a happy dance as
Windham lays the boots to Bradshaw. Windham returns to the NWA fold,
giving Cornette two former Four Horsemen as part of his sable. (With Paul
Roma and Sid possibly coming in soon, Cornette could actually put
together a complete Four Horsemen unit.)

D-X is in the back discussing strategy. Suddenly a shadow falls over
them. Bad memories of Leslie Nielsen flood back to me.

WWF WAR ZONE Hosted By: Jim Ross and Jerry "the King" Lawler.

- The lights dim and the Undertaker's music plays. The Man From the Dark
Side makes a slow (and I do mean SLOW) descent from the ceiling. There's
then a stretch where all we can see is flash bulbs and lighters in the
crowd. Finally the ringpost flares go off and we see that it's Shawn
Michaels who has dropped from the ceiling (or walked to the ring-who
knows what happened in the dark). Shawn is wearing the Undertaker's ring
gear over his own clothes. Hunter and Chyna then come to the ring towing
a barbecue grill behind them. In an incredibly long interview segment,
they make a ton of jokes about the Undertaker and fire. They play with
marshmellows, hot dogs and a jumbo salami (which features in a number of
the lewd jokes). Hunter rips on Owen Hart a bit. He also takes a potshot
at Ric Flair and his "Space Mountain" ride (declaring it broken down,
then offering the California girls a ride on his own rocket. Inset salami
shot). Michaels takes a few shots at Mike Tyson, the Undertaker, and
finally Steve Austin, telling him that all the geezers he's sent "down
south" will tell him what we all know about Michaels: that he lays down
for no one.

Damn funny stuff at times, but at over sixteen minutes this went way,
way, WAY too long.

- Tyson is yakking it up in the back with the Legion of Doom. Sunny decides
to cozy up to him as well.

- LOS BORICUAS vs. TAKA MICHINOKU/OWEN HART/HEAD BANGERS
The Honky Tonk Man sits in for color commentary.

Just a few minutes into this one Owen tags in and slaps the Sharpshooter
on one of the Boricuas for the win. Outside the ring he talks quickly to
Michael Cole, saying he accepts Helmsley's offer at a European Title
match.

Tyson is in the back with the Nation of Domination. He says something
like "I'm down with you!" and shakes Faarooq's hand.

- ROCKY MAIVIA vs. AHMED JOHNSON
Ahmed looks a bit strange with his mustache shaved off.

Embarrassing match. Ahmed is a bit rusty, but it's Maivia who does a
terrible job as nearly half the blows and shots in the match don't
connect. During a pounding in the corner the camera happens to be in the
wrong position, picking up an entire series of kicks which are pulled
short by nearly six whole inches! Rocky throws punches which come closer
to hitting me than they do Ahmed! That aside, the crowd is really into
this one. Mark Henry comes to the ring and after a few minutes nails
Ahmed with a chair, allowing Maivia to slam Ahmed and get the pin. Ken
Shamrock comes out after the match to spare Ahmed a further beating.

Tyson has now found Cactus Jack and "Chainsaw" Charlie. Tyson's entourage
looks on warily as Tyson asks whether it's better to nail someone in the
back of the head or in the back with the barbed-wire baseball bat.

- Tyson has now been cornered by DeGeneration X. He gets a good feel of
Chyna's muscles as Shawn pitches the merits of a spot in D-X.

- THE NEW AGE OUTLAWS vs. THE GODWINNS
The NAO are dressed in overalls. Billy Gunn is carrying a fuzzy pink toy
pig. Road Dog tries to talk the Godwinns out of fighting, but the pig
farmers are quick to attack.

A yawner of a match, but with a few decent moves. The Outlaws get the win
when Gunn nails Phineas with the fuzzy pig. Henry Godwinn checks it after
the NAO have left the ring, finding it stuffed with a chunk of brick.

On last look at Tyson backstage as Vince McMahon makes his way to the
ring. "They're booing him out of the building!" exclaims Jim Ross.

- McMahon introduces Tyson, who gets about a 50/50 reaction from the crowd.
The cameras are able to pick out a few pro-Tyson signs. McMahon asks
Tyson who some of his favorite WWF wrestlers have been. Tyson names
Bruno Sammartino and Nikolai Volkoff, adding that he's been a fans since
"way back" and that he's pleased to be part of the World Wrestling
Federation. McMahon begins to make the announcement that on March 29th,
at the Fleet center in Boston, Massachussetts, Mike Tyson will ...

*KEE-RASH!*

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin, who hasn't been seen all night makes his way
to the ring. Numerous WWF officials fill the ring behind him, making sure
he doesn't get close to Tyson. McMahon asks Austin why he has come out?
Austin says he's sick of seeing Tyson suck up to the WWF Superstars.
Tyson looks puzzled and offers to shake hands. Austin ignores it and
continues, saying he respects what Tyson has done in the world of boxing,
but that "by stepping in this ring you're messing with 'Stone Cold' Steve
Austin, and that's something you don't do! Let me make this short and
sweet: Steve Austin wants a piece of Mike Tyson's ass!" Vince starts
shaking his head no, to which Austin tells him to shut up. Austin
threatens to knock Vince's lights out. "I respect what you done Mike, but
you're out here calling yourself 'the Baddest Man on the Planet!' Right
now you got your beady little eyes locked on the yes of the world's
toughest SON-OF-A-BITCH!" Austin says he can beat him any day of the
week, and in case he has any problems hearing, he flips Tyson the double
bird. Tyson give kind of a "you .. me ... let's get it on!" gesture and
shoves Austin to the mat!

The crowd explodes. Bodies begin piling on Austin to hold him back.
Tyson's entourage backs him to the opposite side of the ring. Austin is
pinned on the ring apron with a member of Tyson's entourage under him,
then dragged to the outside. McMahon, shown going through a slow burn,
begins yelling at Austin: "GET OUT OF HERE! YOU RUINED IT! YOU RUINED IT,
DAMN IT!!!" McMahon takes a few swings at Austin, then throws a few kicks
at him as he's being pulled away from the ring. The crowd is chanting
"Austin! Austin! Austin!" Shane holds his father back from going after
Austin. Stone Cold is escorted from the ring area as they cut to a
commercial.

- Back from the break they replay what just happened. Cut to the back where
McMahon is attempting to apologize profusely. Tyson entourage members off
camera are swearing. Tyson demands that McMahon bring "that coward" out
there. Someone threatens to bust Stone Cold up. Tyson looks in the camera
and calls Austin a "faggot" just before the show fades out.

- Next week: Owen Hart vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Euro Title match.

Comments:

A simply incredible ending. When something like this didn't happen at the
Rumble I figured nothing like it would. I also figured Shawn Michaels would
be the one to get in Tyson's face. McMahon once again managed to make it
look like a massive shoot situation was taking place.

The rest of the show was good, but it did have its flaws. The matches of the
first hour were okay, but the quality dropped way off in the second. The
interview segments also went far to long at the start of both hours. Still,
things kept moving along well with only a few lulls (unlike Nitro, which at
times seemed to stop completely for a coffee break or two).

It's unfortunate that buried amongst all this is the intriguing NWA angle.
This thing is proceeding much like many fans had hoped the WWF/ECW agreement
would. It'll be interesting to see who else Cornette brings in, who turns
away from the WWF and joins the NWA, and where it all ultimately leads.

I mentioned something last week about not liking to be in the dark about
what was going to happen, and that it was nice to have a few ideas as to
what's going on. I also said that feeling is lessened when I at least feel
as if the WWF knows what it's doing. Well, it sure seems like the WWF has
got this whole thing figured out (or at least have a number of solid
scenarios with which to work on) going into WrestleMania. I don't know if
they'll be able to top this, but at least I know they seem to have something
huge in the works for WrestleMania and the weeks leading up to it.


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