This will be the first in a series of looks at shows that I attended live many years ago. Coming up, this will include Wrestlemania 14, ECW Heat Wave 1998, Slamboree 1998, WCW Nitro from 09/21/1998, and RAWs from 06/07/1999 and 08/30/1999.
There is a lot of mythology about the 1/4/1999 episode of RAW, with people flipping channels when Tony Schiavone spoiled the WWF title match and the finger poke of doom. Not for me, because I was there in Worcester, MA for the taping the prior Tuesday (12/29) with my then girlfriend who worshipped Chyna. (If she only knew indeed) But I actually didn’t get to watch much on that Monday, since I was at the FleetCenter watching the Bruins brutalize the Calgary Flames’ 5th string emergency call-up from Junior A named Tyrone Garner. And earlier that day a chunk of ice flew off an 18 wheeler and through my windshield. I was busy that day.
Opening segment is Vince and Co., who are interrupted by HBK and DX. Michaels tells him that even if he was fired, his contract as commissioner is iron clad. He then promises a “stone cold” surprise. Couldn’t have just said surprise? Really. And Vince will be #2 in the Royal Rumble and Stone Cold will be #1. And that whole thing was a catastrophe, as I have covered. This year of 1999 did not age well at all.
IC Champ Ken Shamrock took on Steve Blackman in a decent enough match, and Dan Severn awkwardly comes to ringside in a neck brace. With ref distracted, Billy Gunn runs in and hits Fameasser on Shamrock, allowing Blackman to win this non-title match. Somewhere Wade Barrett says, “I won’t be jobbing on TV when I’m IC champ!”
Rock and Vince are on the cover of the Southwest Airlines magazine, which is apparently a thing that happened. That said, I do think the quality of airline magazines has improved over time. The IcelandAir magazine was actually pretty good.
Mankind comes out and tells us that he enjoyed grabbing Pat Patterson’s balls. Alrighty. He calls out “dad” and here’s Vince who says that Foley’s name would “stain” the WWF title and says no to Mankind’s request for a title match at the Rumble because he’s just gonna get hit in the head 200 times with a chair anyway. I made that last part up, but he gets to face HHH later to qualify for the Rumble…with Shane-O-Mac as ref, who promptly does a quick 3 count. HHH does an odd tease of heel-dom, saying he’ll take the win, but then Pedigrees Shane, which probably foreshadows an upcoming 2016 angle.
Mankind then puts Shane in some sort of Stu Hart Dungeon stretch hold and does the Edge/Rollins blackmail thing to get a title match tonight, which Vince grants. This has to be the only time we saw Foley use an amateur base. Rock is pissed at Vince for agreeing to this, probably because this is the period where Rock had to wear a shirt to hide his man boob surgical scars. But that does plant a potential seed of dissension in the group.
Some very strange and often terrible angles ensued on this show:
– Goldust (who got a HUGE pop for some reason) gets DQ’d for kicking Mark Henry with Shattered Dreams. Chyna provided a distraction, and says to Henry that he was great the other night. But she’s not enough woman for him, so she introduces Sammie who ended up being transgender. Not fit for a wrestling angle mainly because those are very sensitive issues. And suffice to say that wrestling promoters are generally not the best at addressing such issues. While that’s not exactly a hot take, it’s true. It’s damn true.
– We see Dennis Knight tied up in chains, as he’s becoming Mideon, then naked Mideon, then God knows what.
– Edge took on D-Lo in a pretty nice 5 minute match. I was a big fan of D-Lo at this time. Marlena and Jacqueline come down, and as Brown approaches, a “pregnant” Marlena falls off the apron and they stretcher her out. This was so stupid, and I had to sit there and listen to my markish girlfriend yell at ME for that just because D-Lo was nearby, but didn’t do anything. And of course we would find out later that she was never pregnant.
– Kane beat up on Patterson and Brisco on orders of Vince for their failure to protect Shane. For two old guys, they were bumping like crazy. During this period, Patterson took one of my favorite table bumps of all time, getting chokeslammed through the table by Undertaker at Over The Edge 1998. Kane goes after Shane, so he’s then stopped.
– In a delightful piece of business that I forgot about: Road Dogg beat Al Snow in a crazy fun hardcore match. They end up going outside and no one has any footing because it was actually snowing out at the time. You’d think the guy named Snow might have the edge here, but alas it was not to be. Dogg wins with a piledriver on a pallet in a scene that would never be permitted in a million years today. I recall the drive to and from Worcester not being the most pleasant adventure.
– HBK is with DX again and HHH gives HBK a key to a car because he’s off to get the “stone cold surprise”. But the key doesn’t work, and the Corporation PUTS HIM THRU THE BACK WINDOW OF THE CAR. Ok, we don’t see it, but it’s implied and Michaels has a crimson mask. Maybe it was those Marines from Syracuse again, taking a trip east down I-90 to finish the job they started in ’95. Or maybe it was Jannetty getting karmic revenge for the Barber Shop incident. In any event, I thought this was weird: at the time I thought he was set up by HHH but that heel turn wouldn’t happen until that pile of excrement known as Mania 15.
– Mankind with DX vs Rock with Corporation: I figured there was NO WAY they do a title change on a taped RAW even going against the big Georgia Dome show for which WCW went all out. (All out suck, as it turned out) Was assuming screwjob finish or no contest with Rock retaining all the way to Mania. This match was no DQ because of the Foley/Shane hostage crisis. In all the mayhem, the glass breaks and the place loses its [poop]. Saying the place came unglued doesn’t do it justice. Austin of course his Rock with an unprotected chair shot to the head (rare since Rocky usually got his hands up) and he puts Foley on Rock for the win. Probably the happiest I have ever been at a wrestling show, to see a guy like Foley win the big prize for the first time because it was so unexpected. He gets on mic to let lil’ Dewey and Noelle know that Daddy-o did it.
Verdict: There is a lot of crap here, something that people forget about the Attitude Era. But the build to Mankind-Rock was great, so much that even Michael Cole is tolerable filling in for the ailing Jim Ross. Throw in that Road Dogg-Snow match and the chance to see Michaels bloodied and this show is pretty must see. Keep the FF button handy for the 2nd and 3rd quarters of this show though.