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The Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War for December 21, 1998

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Previously on the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War: The Brood has started handing out Bloodbaths, The Corporation robbed the New Age Outlaws of the Tag Team Championship, and D-Generation X “spoofed” the Corporation. The quotation marks are doing a lot of work there.

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.

Hey, you! If you want us to keep doing retro reports, share them around! And be sure to drop down into our comments section to let us know what you thought of these shows. Head back to a time long forgotten when WWE TV was fun to watch, and things happened!

And now, the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War for December 21, 1998.

Worst: Shane, Shane, Go Away

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The hook of this week’s Raw is that Vince McMahon has gone away on business and left Shane McMahon to be the “boss” and center of attention who brushes off insults and challenges from top stars without even considering selling them, books himself into main event matches, and ends up winning in the end. This probably played a lot better in 1998, before we had to live through it for years.

So yeah, Mr. McMahon leaves Raw to “get in a quick workout,” since he’s training for the Royal Rumble. Not sure why he chose to get that workout in between 8 and 10 PM on Monday night while Raw’s happening, but knowing what we know now, I guess Raw IS the part of Vince’s weekly schedule he cares about the least. “Quite frankly I’ve gotta go to the laundromat, pal, Paul Heyman is in charge. Unless he actually makes any decisions, in which case I will hurry back and reverse them.” Amid a ring-to-stage promo battle between The Corporation and D-Generation X, Mr. McMahon The Third makes (1) Billy Gunn vs. Intercontinental Champion Ken Shamrock, (2) Road Dogg vs. Hardcore Champion Big Boss Man, and (3) Triple H and X-Pac vs. The Rock and The Corporation’s “insurance policy,” Test.

Because he’s Shane McMahon, he also ends making a match between himself and Mankind, which everyone except Shane knows is a terrible idea. I mean, they think it’s terrible because Shane will get beaten up. The rest of us think it’s terrible because Mick Foley’s in the middle of a meteoric ascent to the top of the promotion and the World Championship and probably shouldn’t be slumming it in sports-entertainment segments against the living Fantasy Camp that is Shane McMahon. Either/or. The best part of the entire segment is Mankind attempting to do D-X taunts. It’s the human equivalent of a dog trying to say, “I love you.”

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WWF Was Obsessed With Dusty Finishes In December 1998

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The easiest way to describe the NWA booking convention known as the “Dusty Finish” is as follows: you have somebody the crowd likes win a championship match to pop them, but someone reveals that the finish wasn’t completely on the level — maybe somebody’s foot was on the rope, or a second referee caught someone using a foreign object, or the like — and the crowd favorite still “wins,” technically, but the villain remains champion. WWF didn’t do this nearly as much as the NWA (and eventually WCW), but for like a month in 1998 they were all about it.

At Rock Bottom, Mankind defeated The Rock in a WWF Championship match and thought he was WWF Champion. But whoops, Mr. McMahon popped in and said that since The Rock didn’t say the words “I quit” and merely passed out in the Mandible Claw, and because the championship can only change hands on a “pinfall or submission,” Mankind “won,” but Rock was still champ. Eight whole days later, Bad Ass Bill Ass ends up in a match against Intercontinental Champion Ken Shamrock. Gunn reverses a victory roll into a pin of his own, pinning the champ and, presumably, winning the Intercontinental Championship. The referee hands him the championship, the announcer announces him as the new champ, the works … but then Commissioner Shawn Michaels shows up and explains that while he made the match between Gunn and the IC Champion, he never said it was for the Intercontinental Championship, so while Gunn “won,” he’s not champion.

Theory: Vince Russo “came up with this idea” and was super proud of it, did it twice in eight days, and then stopped when somebody was like, “oh, right, like the Dusty Rhodes thing.” And Russo was like WHO THE FUCK IS DUSTY RHODES, BRO.

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To his credit, the Road Dogg realizes that he’s in the same non-title boat as his tag team partner and actually goads Boss Man into putting the Hardcore Championship on the line before they start wrestling. Hey, nobody ever said Billy Gunn was the smart one. Billy Gunn wasn’t even the “smart one” in the Smoking Gunns, where his tag team partner’s greatest career accomplishment was throwing wild right hands and convincing himself he was an expert boxer just in time for Butterbean to shake his brain like a Polaroid picture.

Both of these matches are surprisingly good, reminding us yet again that Dogg and Gunn were way better as singles wrestlers, even if they never had any real singles wrestling successes, and were WWF’s platonic ideal of two randomly paired-up wrestlers with nothing in common we accept as a legitimate tag team. There are two highlights here for me:

  • Boss Man pulling powder out of one of those pockets on his cargo vest, only for Road Dogg to kick it back into his face, as you do. This is good because it validates why a wrestler would put a bunch of pockets on their gear, which rarely ever makes sense, especially when people put “pockets” on the butt cheek of their sparkly hot pants like they need to keep their wallet in there while they wrestle. It’s also good because the announce team identifies the powder as, “stuff he confiscated down in Georgia,” suggesting that the wrestling prison guard made a cocaine bust and keeps a sandwich baggie of it on his person at all times. And instead of like, doing cocaine, he throws it in the faces of his enemies to incapacitate them. Now all I want is a drug dealer wrestler who plays mind games on his opponents by constantly trying to get them high against their will during matches.
  • Boss Man also uses a noose as a weapon during the match, which foreshadows his untimely death at WrestleMania XV.

Actually, sorry, no, the highlight is the finish, in which Mankind “sneaks up” on Boss Man in comical fashion and throws a net on him. It all happened so quickly, there was no way he could stop it.

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With the net in place, Mankind blasts Boss Man in the face with a steel bar — possibly one of the CLANGY POLES, I’ll have to go back and check — to give Road Dogg the Hardcore Championship. Part of me wishes the weapon attack hadn’t happened, and that Boss Man had just crumpled and gone unconscious under the weight of a small net.

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Joey Ryan is ruining the business!

Mankind vs. Shane McMahon is what you’d expect, for better or worse. It’s more “moment” than match, with Mankind giving a clearly out-matched Shane a steel chair to hit him with, and then kicking his ass for not doing it hard enough. The Stooges run interference, leading to some Three Stooges-style prat falls and “Mr. Jocko,” aka the Testicular Claw (pictured). The Rock eventually shows up to interfere properly, which brings out D-Generation X for an Everybody Fights. X-Pac hits Shane with a Bronco Buster, called the “Buckin’ Bronco” at this point, to fire the first shot in their upcoming one-on-one feud.

The real storyline development happens in the main event.

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Throughout the show, Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco talk to each other in worried tones about how if Shane McMahon ruins Raw and gets his ass kicked, they’re going to lose their “Christmas bonus.” It turns out that Christmas bonus is KANE, sadly not dressed in his Christmas Creature attire. Last week’s show saw Kane get beaten down by the Corporation and committed to an insane asylum, so this week he shows back up ready to do the Corporation’s bidding. It’s the classic tale of an evil company abusing one of its mentally ill employees and convincing them that they’ll never be happy if they don’t shut up and do what they’re told. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything. Also the mentally ill employee’s brother works there and he’s a murderous necromancer who just tried to embalm a dude on live television and died in a high-stakes, literal burial.

Mr. McMahon returns just in time to stand at ringside and supervise Kane showing up and throwing D-X at the ground by their necks. Raw goes off the air with Kane about to chokeslam Chyna as well, but we don’t see it, because this show does its best to remain family friendly, and would never show something that’d make its audience deeply, deeply uncomfortable.

Anyway, Here’s Mark Henry In A Cock Vice

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The B-story of the episode, incredibly, is Mark Henry not showing up for his tag team match with D’Lo Brown against The Headbangers because he wants to sneak in a quick threesome with two of his co-workers. The co-workers recently best known for betraying the men in their lives and attacking them in the balls until they die. This goes wrong for Mark, somehow, and what begins as a sensual backstage date with PMS and a WWF camera man turns into him getting blindfolded, ball-gagged, handcuffed to a slab, flogged, and C-clamped in the balls. Terri Runnels also briefly licks whipped cream off of Mark’s belly so Jerry Lawler can lose his mind about how they’re “making a sexual chocolate sundae.” Quick note: If you’d like to never be sexually aroused again, watch this episode and listen to Michael Cole say the phrase, “Hot wax and … vibrators??”

While D’Lo’s trying to wrestle two guys by himself, Lawler keeps getting “updates” on what Mark and PMS are doing. This includes a timeless Richard Gere bit where Lawler asks an unseen person off-screen, “HOW MANY GERBILS?” At least we don’t have to see that part. I don’t think I can handle Michael Cole watching someone get a rodent tricked up their ass and insincerely yelling, “Oh my!” Eventually Henry wanders out in his underpants covered in whipped cream residue and other non-specific bodily fluids, but it’s too late. D’Lo loses a handicap match, and now his partner’s faced with the handicap of trying to wrestle with a dick flattened by hydraulic press.

By The Way, That’s Not The Only R-Rated Christmas Content

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Freddie Blassie stars as Bad Santa in “An Attitude Christmas.” He tells mall moms to sit on his lap while crotch chopping at them, stares at boobs in a moment of subtle cinematography, and decrees, “HO HO HO, SANTA’S GONNA GET SOME TONIGHT!”

Amazingly, this isn’t even close to the worst vignette of the night.

The Progressive Politics Of Jeff Jarrett

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“You know what pisses me off? World hunger. Holy wars Politics. Ugly women in politics. Madeleine Albright. Janet Reno. PIGS. You know what else pisses me off? Women with semen-stained dresses. Monica Lewinsky. SEMEN-STAINED DRESSES. More pigs. That really pisses me off. Hilary Clinton? Stand by your man? You really piss me off.”

Veep

Speaking Of Hilary Clinton

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She’s one of PEOPLE‘s 25 most intriguing people of the year, which really pisses me off. You can also read about Stone Cold Steve Austin, who does not appear on Raw, in this magazine. The Undertaker, also not appearing on this Raw, can be “entered” (oh my) in this month’s Tattoo magazine. Read about Wildman Marc Mero, ALSO not appearing on this Raw, on the bulletin board at your local YMCA.

You Know What Else Pisses Jeff Jarret Off?

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Elizabeth Warren! But also, “being unmasked as the Blue Blazer.” The Blazer has a match with Steve Blackman that gets ruined by Owen Hart interference, gets saved by Goldust, and leads to Jarrett being unmasked to the shock of most. They keep doing these Blue Blazer matches and unmaskings and having Cole and Lawler be like, “OH WOW, SO AND SO IS THE BLUE BLAZER,” with no end in sight. They just keep doing the end of the angle every week. At some point you’d think one of these people would be like, “the ‘Blue Blazer’ is just an outfit and anybody can put it on, but it’s obviously and repeatedly Owen Hart and Jeff Jarrett trying to do a bit. Let’s kick their asses about it. The end.” BUT KING, WHO IS THE BLUE BLAZER, REALLY REALLY?

In Other Raw Mystery News

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Road Warrior Hawk didn’t die when he somehow committed a one-man murder suicide on Raw! No, stupid! He just broke his entire left arm, which is what usually happens when you fall to your death. He’s clean now, though, and ready to reveal the story’s big secret: that DROZ is, in fact, the pusher man who knocked Hawk off the various wagons so he could take his spot in the Legion of Doom. Droz shows up and attacks him, which brings out Animal to separate them, but not take sides. Whose side should Animal take? His lifelong tag team partner and best friend who has been dealing with substance abuse and addiction for a long time, was emotionally and socially abused, and almost died in an on-air murder disguised as a suicide? Or should it be the other guy, who can throw up on command, but not really? What a Gordian knot!

Viscous Red Liquid Is Thicker Than Water

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Al Snow is the latest victim of The Brood’s “Bloodbath,” getting doused and flipping out about it, screaming, “NOT AGAIN!” I think Al Snow might’ve actually decapitated a lady at some point, which is why he carries around that mannequin head and pretends it’s alive. Those Wal-mart protesters were onto something.

It’s also worth noting that Snow easily pins Gangrel before the Bloodbath occurs, suggesting that Gangrel and his friends are more into dumping stage blood on people than they are winning wrestling matches. Oh, and speaking of both the JOB Squad and not caring about winning matches, The Acolytes get into a sort-of match against Bob Holly and Scorpio (in his final Raw appearance ever) that ends with the Jobbers winning by pity disqualification because Faarooq and Bradshaw kicked too much of the shit out of them.

The “Job Squad”:

Next Week:

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Join us next week for the final 1998 Raw, featuring Shawn Michaels paying the price for only being a MOSTLY crooked commissioner — WWE management employees have to COMMIT to being evil, they can’t just dabble in it — and the legendary SPIDER LADY returns.

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