Previously on the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War: Extremely original and hilarious idea GILLBERG debuted, Mankind provided The Rock with the soundbite that’ll cost him the WWF Championship at the Royal Rumble, and Val Venis got put in the penile morgue for trying to flirt with Ken Shamrock’s hot sister.
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.
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War for January 18, 1999.
This week’s primary story is one you might be familiar with in 2020: a corporation having a couple of bad weeks and handling it by completely destroying everything around them.
Two weeks ago, Stone Cold Steve Austin and D-Generation X teamed up to help Mankind upset The Rock and become WWF Champion. Last week, Stone Cold returned to help Chyna win a “Corporate Rumble” designed to humiliate D-X and give Mr. McMahon the number 30 spot in the Royal Rumble proper. Also Kane got a championship match against Mankind when The Rock had to barter for one and then Rock got him disqualified, so things are tense all over.
This week, Rock’s supposed to face Kane one-on-one in a match made by Commissioner Michaels before the darkness came, so The Corporation spends the entire episode talking down to Kane about how he needs to follow orders and calling him a “retard” over and over. The World Wrestling Federation has a real love affair with “retard” as an insult, so much so that “The Big Red Retard” became one of Kane’s recurring nicknames. It was a different time. You have to understand, 20 years ago we had no IDEA that people with intellectual disabilities were human beings.
In addition to Kane and Rock’s issue, The Corporation has been tasked with (1) hunting and presumably killing Mankind to help soften him up for the Rock at the Royal Rumble, and (2) reasserting their dominance over the roster by going violently buck wild on anyone they come across backstage. For example, here are Ken Shamrock and the Big Boss Man jumping Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart and beating them around the head and neck with an entire hallway.
Boss Man knocks out both numbers by attacking Mankind backstage ahead of their scheduled Hardcore Championship match and throwing him into some free-standing chairs, which sets a dangerous precedent for the remainder of Mick Foley’s January. They find their way out to the ring after a few segments — this is before any 24/7 rules were attached to the Hardcore Championship, by the way, so falls still count anywhere, but you’ve got to actually like, do a match to get a “fall” going in the first place — and Mankind looks like he has it won with the dreaded Socked Fingertips In The Mouth. Unfortunately for Mick and eventually his family, The Rock shows up for the disqualification and absolutely BRAINS him in the back of the skull with a chair. Jesus Christ already, dude.
Not sure how Boss Man got disqualified in a match with no disqualifications, but I’m guessing it’s because the ref didn’t want to see that chair shot nine more times. BRB, trying to Bran Stark back in time and prevent Mankind from agreeing to any aspect of the finish at the Royal Rumble.
Meanwhile Ken Shamrock, seen here looking like the focal point of a Renaissance painting, ruins a Test vs. Bill Ass match (as much as “ruining” a match between those two is possible) and puts a broken ankle and the fear of God into Billy for mooning his sister last week. He fucks him up so bad he’s got Bill sobbing and clutching the ring steps and tapping away at them mindlessly to make the pain stop. As though “tapping out” gets you out of real life fights. Billy spends the next segment backstage on the floor while the Road Dogg squats over him like, “damn man, maybe next time don’t show your entire asshole to an MMA legend’s family to try to piss him off.”
Also I don’t think I’ve mentioned it yet, but yes, that’s future Smackdown General Manager (player!) Teddy Long on referee duty. Long, who started as a ref in the NWA before become the manager of tag teams like Doom (featuring Ron Simmons before he was a Satanic cultist) and the Skyscrapers (featuring The Undertaker before he was dead), joined the World Wrestling Federation as a ref again in late December. I think it’s matches like this one that fostered his dedication toward keeping bouts with non-finishes going as tag team matches.
Anyway, back to The Rock and Kane. In a nice middle finger to WCW’s Fingerpoke of Doom, Mr. McMahon brings out the entire Corporation and tells fans not to get excited about a main event, because there isn’t going to be one, as Kane’s just going to do the right thing and lay down for The Rock. If not, they’re sending Kane back to the “loony bin.” Seems like someone at that institution would get curious about the wrestling promoter bringing a 7-foot tall fire demon in for treatment and start watching the weekly shows to find out what the hell’s going on, but whatever. Kane, who wants neither of these outcomes, tells McMahon to go screw with a virulent arm gesture and gets attacked from behind by EVERYBODY.
After he’s been thoroughly beaten down, nWo style, Rock orders the Corporation to the back so he can finish the match on his own. Of course this is KANE we’re talking about, a true artist when it comes to selectively no-selling, so eventually he recovers enough to fight back. The Corporation then comes BACK out, which brings out Mankind to run interference with the same steel chair Rocky used to kill roughly 15% of his functioning brain cells earlier in the night. Rock flees backwards up the ramp, which has never ended badly for anyone, and is cut off at the pass by the appearance of a wild Stone Cold Steve Austin. Austin’s spent most of the show out in the parking lot drinking beers, possibly because he read the call sheet and read about the Mark Henry and Chyna segments coming up, but he wanders in at the end to make sure Foley gets more situational revenge. Foley clobbers Rock in the back with the chair — in the back, Rock — and the show goes off the air with the heroes (-ish) standing tall.
So, uh … about those Mark Henry and Chyna segments …
Worst: The Hall Of Shame
Over the past few months, the World Wrestling Federation has been trying to get Mark Henry to quit. He signed a 10-year, 10-million dollar contract back in 1996 to keep him from signing with WCW at the height of that sort of thing. Henry was a fairly accomplished weight lifter and strong man, and they thought for sure he was going to be a big deal. When he wasn’t, mostly due to a combination of inexperience and WWE rarely ever knowing how to write characters or stories for a person of color beyond “they love to have fun” or “they’re actually the racists,” they wanted out. So they turned him into “Sexual Chocolate,” had him do extended S&M bits with the Pretty Mean Sisters, and, as we’ve seen in recent weeks, paired him up with Chyna’s “friend” Sammy.
This week, we first find Chyna walking down a hallway with Henry following behind, begging her to not do what she’s about to do because his family is in attendance. That’s his mom in the above picture, by the way. We come to find out that Chyna has footage of Sammy trying to seduce Mark Henry in the locker room last week, and to make matters worse, gasp, Sammy’s actually a cross-dresser! Mark is into it and even compliments Sammy’s “tight ass” until he gets into blurred undercarriage territory, at which point he discovers Sammy’s …
Mark sells the fact that he briefly touched a penis by vomiting, and then Chyna declares she’ll never sleep with him and punches him in the balls. Henry’s mom then gently spanks him as the segment ends, and we catch up with them after the break walking down the hallway amidst more gentle hand and butt spanking. Honestly looking back on it, the stuff with Sammy’s not even as embarrassing as Mark Henry’s mom begrudgingly going along with the segment and half-assedly “spanking” her grown-ass son because someone told her it’d be funny. The complete lack of enthusiasm really sells it. Also, goddamn were the late ’90s insensitive as hell to everybody.
I’d also like to point out that the episode where Mark Henry vomits because he touched a cross-dresser’s penis and gets escorted out of the arena by his disappointed mother while being lightly bopped on the bottom opens with a video package about Martin Luther King Jr., because it’s happening on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. You can’t make this up. Sorry, did I type “can’t?” I meant wouldn’t.
The night’s not over for Chyna, though. She’s being punished for eliminating Mr. McMahon and winning the Corporate Rumble by being forced to compete in a handicap match against Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco. In case you thought this might play as an empowering look at how one strong woman could easily kick the dog shit out of two bumbling old morons, don’t worry, it’s mostly about how much fun the old morons are having touching her butt and boobs.
As a reminder, this is happening two weeks after Mick Foley won the WWF Championship in the unforgettable Raw ending that “turned the tide” in the Monday Night War. And like, sure, WCW Monday Nitro was pretty bad at this point, but it didn’t have Mean Gene throwing powder in Miss Elizabeth’s eyes so he could comically jiggle her tits against her will and then act like it was gross because he’s gay. Chyna gave them a double Testicular Claw at the start of the match, though, so I guess what’s good for the gander is good for the geese. But still, even for a guy in 1999, Vince Russo had some serious developmental and emotional disabilities as a storyteller. Anything that isn’t contingent on Rock, Austin, McMahon, and Foley ends up being way too goth or from the perspective of a middle-schooler who just found a weird old Playboy in the woods behind their house.
Sable shows up to help at one point, but gets instantly attacked and removed from the equation by Luna Vachon. It’s like ECW if it was booked on cocaine instead of poverty. Chyna kicks the Stooges’ asses after the groping and pins them, at least, so that’s something.
Speaking Of ‘Way Too Goth’
Undertaker gives Mideon his name — “Mideon” … well, “Midian,” the revised spelling comes later — and promises a second sacrifice at the Royal Rumble. He makes good on that promise by (spoiler alert) kidnapping and Satanizing a returning Mabel, turning him into “Viscera.” Mabel would start as a rapper, turn goth, and eventually become a big fat ladies man who loves to have fun to complete the triple crown of throwaway WWF gimmicks of the ’90s and 2000s.
Worst: Road Dogg And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Table
In other horned-up perverts versus goths news, Road Dogg has a hardcore match against Gangrel. Things are going pretty well until the finish, which is supposed to be Road Dogg putting Gangrel through a table with a running elbow drop off the apron. Yes, I watch Botchamania as well, go ahead and cue up ‘The View’ while you read this part.
Things start off pretty badly when Roadie drops the running elbow off the apron and the table doesn’t break. To his credit, he immediately calls an audible, runs back up onto the apron, and jumps off with what’s more or less a Boom Drop. The table only kind of breaks. He decides he’s going to save this finish or die trying, so he rushes into the ring and excitedly climbs up to the top rope. It’s at this point he starts second guessing himself, so instead of like, flying off the top turnbuckle with a Swanton Bomb or whatever, he ends up jumping off the outside of the second rope with the saddest little bunny hop you’ve ever seen:
When that STILL doesn’t completely break the table, Dogg pulls Gangrel up, moves him around a little, and Irish whips him into the one of the angled-up table halves. Nothing. It just flattens out. So he goes over AGAIN and tries to break the goddamn thing AGAIN with a vertical suplex. And that shits still doesn’t break. So having ostensibly having failed to break the table in a satisfying manner after five attempts, Road Dogg just poor Gangrel with two chair shots and pins him.
Next time Trevor Belmont wants to kill Dracula, he should try elbow dropping him through a banquet table without the metal lining removed.
Also Terrible On This Episode
I don’t know what happened this week, but WWF Creative seems to have completely forgotten how to tell a story. And I don’t mean the stories they’re telling aren’t “good” or “interesting,” I mean they’ve forgotten basic shit like who the characters are, why they’re doing anything they’re doing, and why you have to follow through with match stipulations if you make them.
For example, remember when Owen Hart accidentally “broke Dan Severn’s neck” during a match, announced his retirement from wrestling and revealed that he wasn’t actually retired, he was just using that as a smoke screen to dress up like the Blue Blazer and help Jeff Jarrett win matches? Or something? And then an angry Dan Severn spent several weeks showing up in a neck brace to try to guilt Owen about the entire thing? Yeah, it turns out Severn was actually NEVER INJURED AT ALL, and was on Owen’s side the entire time. We find out out when he’s supposed to be guest refereeing a Lion’s Den match between Steve Blackman and Owen Hart on Sunday Night Heat, dramatically removes the brace, and attacks Blackman for some reason.
On Raw, Severn low blows Blackman on purpose to get himself disqualified, and then spends the post-match trying to choke him out with a Dragon Sleeper. So like … okay? Why? Who is this for?
In a similar situation, Goldust and Al Snow have been feuding over Goldust stealing Head, so they have a “Winner Gets Head” match. Get it? Do you get it? Do you get the clever play on words? Al Snow wins, but Goldust beats him up after the match and leaves with Head anyway. So the stipulation didn’t actually matter, nobody’s going to even try to enforce it, and we just sat through the match for nothing. Goldust putting Goldust makeup on head like it’s a gift from Sting is literally the only highlight.
Finally, Vince McMahon Is Prepared For Stone Cold Steve Austin (And The Coronavirus)
Need someone to step in and help main-event your empty gym WrestleMania in the middle of a global pandemic so you don’t lose a weekend of money? Why not ask Mr. McMahon himself, seen here finishing his Royal Rumble training by beating up Dr. Tom and shit-canning some masked jobbers in an empty warehouse?
He’ll even hit you with some terrible looking Stunners, N64 video game style, which predate Stone Cold Steve Austin’s social distancing nut-shot version by over 20 years. Vince promises that at the Royal Rumble he’s going to get him some, so hopefully the Lucha House Party and Byron Saxton will be in there with him to validate this training.
It’s time for the Royal Rumble. It’s fun for the whole family! See you then!