December 30, 2008
Justin Rozzero

As we come upon the 10 year anniversary of Mick Foley’s first WWF World Championship victory (12/29/98), I thought I would post this retro review. I attended this Raw taping live and have added a lengthy live notes post to kick it off. Enjoy!

WWF Raw is War 1/4/99 (Taped 12/29/98)
Centrum Centre
Worcester, MA
Announcers: Michael Cole & Jerry Lawler

OK, I will give a little background on my personal experience with this show before we get to the review. Let us start at the beginning. In the summer of 1998, WCW put on a House Show at the Providence Civic Center, which I attended. I actually had no intention of going, but I ended up buying the tickets on an impulse. A month or so before the show, Bret Hart and the Nitro Girls were appearing live at the Warwick Mall and would be signing autographs on the morning that tickets went on sale. So, I tagged along with some friends who were buying tickets with the sole intention of meeting the Hitman and the Nitro Girls, specifically Spice. Of course, as we waited in line, I was convinced to buy a ticket by my friends and I caved and we ended up with floor seats. It was cool meeting Bret but I really didn’t say anything of substance besides asking him how he was three times. I did get to meet and get a picture with Spice which was clearly the highlight of the day. So, we fast forward a little bit and we are live at the House Show. The first half of the show was sluggish and boring. A particularly abysmal Stevie Ray vs. Steve McMichael battle had pretty much killed the crowd. However, during intermission, the ring announcer gets on the mike and tells us that Goldberg had flight issues and was stuck in Philadelphia. Of course, this killed the crowd even more. Following that announcement, though, the announcer then told us that we could all get a full refund at our Ticketmaster location since Goldberg would not be appearing. Well, to say that totally turned the crowd around would be an understatement. I don’t remember much about the second half of that show, but I do know that the crowd was now red hot and into everything knowing they were now there for free. Right around the time of this show, it was announced that Raw is War would be hitting Worcester, MA at the end of December and Worcester just happened to be where I was attending college at the time. Of course I would be home on Winter Break at that point, but it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up…plus we just happened to have just enough money from our reimbursed WCW tickets to land awesome floor seats for Raw.

Well, December 29 rolls around and of course we in the Northeast get whacked with a major snowstorm that day. So, my Mom was very concerned with 5 18 year old guys trekking up Route 146 to Worcester in major snowfall. Well, I told her we were going no matter what, so as a belated Christmas gift she decided to rent us a Limo to ride to and from Worcester in. So, the five of us piled in the limo and off we drove into the cold, dark and snowy night. An hour later and we rolled up in front of the Centrum and were on top of the world. Of course, our limo was immediately swarmed by fans who thought we may be someone important, and they were quite disappointed to see the 5 of us step out of there. We headed inside the arena and you could just feel that something special was about to happen. Of course, the Mankind/Rock match had not even been announced yet and the rumors on the net were that neither Undertaker nor Steve Austin would be returning until the next live Raw on 1/11. Plus, we knew nothing major ever happened on a taped Raw, but we were excited none-the-less. Well, let’s just say the awesomeness built and built throughout the night as everything unfolded. Once the Main Event hit, the arena was at a fever pitch. Nearly 10 years later, I still get Goosebumps watching the Main Event. When that glass broke and Austin came storming out it literally felt like the arena was going to explode. Everyone just lost their mind. We head been so wrapped up in the match that we totally forgot about the possibility that Austin may show up, even though it had been foreshadowed by Shawn Michaels earlier in the night. And then the unthinkable happened as the loveable loser Mick Foley won the WWF World Title. It was madness inside the Centrum .We were hugging and high fiving people we didn’t even know and were completely lost in the moment. I can only compare it to being live at an arena when your favorite team wins a Championship or big game. We had all been Foley fans for so long and it all seemed so unlikely that what happened could actually happen that very night. The limo ride home was great as we knew we had all experienced something special. Well, it was great for four of us, except for my friend Adam, who randomly got sick and threw up for some reason. The whole night definitely goes down in my mind as the greatest night of my wrestling fandom and definitely is the exact reason as to why I will always be a fan: because moments like that can happen at any time and you only hope to be a part of it.

- We open the show with a look back at last week’s Raw when Mr. McMahon fired Shawn Michaels as Commissioner. Michaels did not take it well as he then superkicked McMahon, possibly costing him his job. Kevin Kelly gives us a quick retrospective of Michaels’ career but it is interrupted halfway through by Mr. McMahon yelling to stop the video. We cut to the arena to see the entire Corporation heading to the ring to a loud chorus of boos and an “Asshole” chant. Lawler tells us that last night on Sunday Night Heat, Shawn said he will be here tonight. Vince reiterates that Michaels’ promise, but advises that the fans not hold their breath at the possibility. Vince says that bravery is not among Shawn’s admirable qualities and asks the fans to forgive him for firing Michaels as the Commissioner, as he thought he needed to make an example out of him. He says that no one will ever again disparage his son Shane and that anyone who had anything to do with the recent emotional scarring of Shane will pay. We pan up to the Titantron and see Shawn Michaels walking backstage to a big pop. “Sexy Boy” fires up and HBK walks out to the top of the ramp with a mike in his hand. He tells Vince that the sheriff is back in town, but this time he is not alone. This time, he says he has brought the cavalry with him. And with that we hear the strains of the DX theme as Triple H, Chyna, X-Pac and the New Age Outlaws walk out and flank HBK. Michaels says that according to his lawyers, his commissioner contract is iron clad and that, according to Vince himself a few weeks back, Michaels would have to answer to no one. He says that Vince can’t fire him and that the only way Shawn can vacate his post is to resign. Shawn says that Vince will be singing to the tune of Sweet Chin Music for a long time and then gets down to business. Michaels says that Vince made his dream come true so now he will make Vince’s dream come true. We head to the Titantron and see footage of Vince drawing his number for the Royal Rumble. In the clip, Vince muses out loud that he “hopes to draw number 2”. We cut back to Shawn who reminds Vince that he has say-so over all WWF competitors and that Vince is now considered a WWF competitor since he entered the Rumble. Shawn then officially changes Vince’s Rumble entrance number from 30 to 2, also reminding us that Steve Austin will enter first. The crowd is chanting “2” during the announcement and pops big time when Shawn makes it official. Michaels also lets us know that sometime tonight he will leave the building to get Mr. McMahon a surprise…and he guarantees that the surprise will drive him “Stone Cold crazy”. Michaels tells the boys in the back to “hit OUR music” as Cole and the King are in shock that Austin may show up tonight. We head to the table and Lawler can’t believe that McMahon has to enter as number 2 at the Rumble. They pump up tonight’s show a bit and then we head off to break.

1) Steve Blackman defeats Ken Shamrock after a Billy Gunn Fameasser at 3:24 in a non-title match; Shamrock is still WWF Intercontinental Champion

Shamrock is sporting double gold as he heads down to the ring for this non-title matchup. Cole lets us know that Billy Gunn has been hounding Shamrock for weeks but that Ken is refusing to give him a Title shot. The bell rings and Shamrock blindsides Blackman with a punch. Blackman recovers and lands a kick to the gut and a bodyslam. He hits a running elbow and a few chops as Cole says it seems as if DX has forgiven Michaels. Shamrock is whipped hard into the corner and Blackman remains in control. Blackman lands a few more shots in, but Shamrock hits a nice Powerslam for 2. We pan over to the aisle as the crowd stirs and see Dan Seven making his way to the ringside area. Cole tells us that last week was Severn’s first appearance in 2 months as he had been sidelined with a neck injury courtesy of Owen Hart. In fact, the Beast is still sporting a neck brace here. Shamrock hits a nice snap suplex and drops a knee as Lawler says that Severn should want none of Shamrock. Blackman gets a small package for a near fall, but Ken lands a nice clothesline to regain control. Shamrock spots Severn and asks why he is at ringside. Blackman grabs Ken and whips him to the buckle and then hits a dropkick to his back. Blackman hits a backbreaker and then whips Shamrock in. Ken ducks a leapfrog and then drills Blackman with a belly-to-belly suplex. Shamrock is up and taunts Severn, who gets up on the apron. Ken punches him, but Severn pops right back up on the apron, causing Tim White to turn on the action to try and get the Beast down. The crowd fires up as Billy Gunn hits the ring and nails Ken with the Fameasser, allowing Blackman to pick up the upset win. Shamrock is pissed and he storms out of the ring and up the ramp to try and find Gunn. Grade: 2

- We take a look at the latest issue of Southwest Airlines’ Spirit magazine which featured Mr. McMahon and the Rock on the cover and in depth story on the WWF inside and then head off to break.

- Upon returning we get the WWF Rewind which is just a recap of what happened at the end of our last match. We cut back to the show and see Billy Gunn and Ken Shamrock going at it backstage. They get some stuff shots in, whipping each other into the walls and doors but are eventually separated by referees and agents. Back in the arena now and Mankind is making way out, confusing Michael Cole who says that he isn’t scheduled to wrestle tonight. Mankind says it’s been a crazy couple weeks and that he has learned a bit about himself. He has done some things for the first time, including the first time he ever grabbed another man’s testicles in his life, referencing the testicular claw he gave to Pat Patterson last week. He then says it was the first time he used the words “suck it” without using “please” in front of it. Finally, he learned he has a new favorite hobby: kicking the McMahon’s family asses. Mick says he has a little favor to ask and that is a World title shot at the Royal Rumble. He says he deserves it, not just because he made Shane cry and whimper or because he bounced Vince’s head off some beer kegs but because he sees all the signs in the crowd that read “Foley is God”. He says he is not God, but that he is pretty damned good and that he beat the Rock at Rock Bottom and deserves a shot at the Rumble. He tells Vince to get his ass to the ring, calling him “Dad” in the process. Vince answers the call and heads out to the top of the ramp. Vince calls Mick a disillusioned, decrepit, disfigured monster and that Mankind’s name connected with the WWF Title stains the honor of being champion and stains the WWF itself. He said the Mick had his chances in the past but he blew it by not listening to Vince and instead listening to the fans. Vince can’t understand all the cheap motels, bad food and bodily punishment Mick suffers through just to hear the roar of the crowd. Vince says that Mick soiled the McMahon name when he put his hands on Shane and is amazed that Foley would even ask to be the #1 contender. He says that Mick hasn’t earned it or paid his dues. He says maybe some day he can climb the ladder and regain his Hardcore title, but that him being WWF Champion is laughable. Vince tells Mick he won’t get a Title shot at the Rumble, but tonight he can have a match against Triple H and the winner is entered into the Royal Rumble match. Vince directs us to the Titantron and we see footage from 2 weeks ago when Mankind beat down Shane. Vince tells Mick that Shane will be the guest referee for his match tonight and then tells him to have a nice day as he heads off stage. We cut to the back where we see Chyna talking to her friend Sammy as we head to break.

2) Mark Henry defeats Goldust by disqualification at 3:30 after Goldust uses the Shattered Dreams

Sexual Chocolate heads to the ring as Cole discusses how Henry lost to Triple H on Heat last night because he was distracted by Chyna. Goldust is out to a pretty good pop as Cole and Lawler recap our last segment. We get a lock up to start and Henry shoves Goldust down to the mat. Henry backs him into the corner but misses an elbow. Henry regains control and slugs away at Goldust. Goldust is whipped in, but ducks a clothesline and lands a few kicks. Henry charges and Goldust scoops him up and puts him down with a Spinebuster for 2. Goldust whips Henry in, but Mark reverses it and catches Goldust with a Powerslam. Henry continues to slug away as the announcers talk about the wedge that may be driven between DX and Mankind. Henry slams Goldust and then drops a big elbow on him. Goldust battles back with some punches but Henry is able to catch him and press slams him down face first. Henry hits a Legdrop and goes for the pun but he is distracted by the emergence of Chyna and Sammy. Goldust sneaks up from behind and takes Henry down with a sit out rear slam. Goldust looks to the crowd and then picks Henry up and sets him up in the corner spread eagle. Goldust charges and hits the Shattered Dreams, drawing the DQ and giving the win to Henry. After Goldust leaves, Sammy and Chyna come in the ring. Chyna has the mike and says she has a confession to make. She says the “other night” with Henry was incredible but says she isn’t enough woman for him and that he is way too much man for just one woman. She officially introduces Mark to Sammy, a tall exotic dancer. Chyna says that she and Sammy want to help Mark take a load off his mind and upon hearing that, Henry faints and crashes to the mat. Grade: 1.5

- We cut to footage of Jesse Ventura’s inauguration as Governor of Minnesota. It is kind of funny hearing Jesse mention Terry, Tyrell and Jade at another venue outside of a Wrestlemania. We now get a quick promo of the new Jesse home video and then go to break.

- Back from break and we take a look at Dennis Knight who is chained up in a dungeon and yelling for help. Cole tells us that Knight was attacked by the Acolytes last week and tossed in the trunk of a car.

3) Godfather and Test battle to a no contest at 1:58

We see highlights of last week when the Corporation beat down the Godfather so they could have Kane take his place against Billy Gunn. Test comes out to some strange Diesel-esque theme music as we see highlights of last week when Test and Val Venis threw down after Test interfered in Val’s match against Road Dogg. Test attacks after the bell, landing a boot and then a series of knees to Godfather. Cole goes into Test’s background as a bodyguard for Motley Cruë. Test shoots Godfather in, but he eats a boot to the face and a clothesline. Godfather slams him down and drops a leg for 2. Godfather pushes Test into the corner and drills him with the Ho Train. We pan up and see Val standing at the top of the ramp. Test gets up and kicks Godfather in the face, sending him to the floor. Test follows and the two brawl outside. Test slams Godfather hard into the post as the bell rings because the ref has lost control, I would assume. Val runs down the ramp and he and Test brawl until they are broken up by the officials. Grade: 1

- We take a look backstage and see Michaels and DX sitting around talking as we head to break.

- We return to see the Slam of the Week which recaps the beating Mankind gave Shane McMahon two weeks ago on Raw, setting up the events of earlier tonight.

4) Triple H defeats Mankind with a sunset flip at 2:53 to earn a spot in the 1999 Royal Rumble match

Shane arrives in his referee garb and enters to some Miami Vice like theme music. Hunter and Chyna enter first as Cole reminds us that if anyone touches Shane, Vince has said they will pay. Mankind hits the ring and we are under way. Shane gives a funny smirk to Mankind as the bell rings. Mick gains control early, smacking Hunter and then clubbing him in the back. He takes hold of the arm and works it over a bit, but Triple H slugs his way out of an armbar. Hunter rams Mick’s head to the buckle and grabs an armbar of his own. Mick fights his way out and whips Hunter to the buckle and then follows with a bulldog. Hunter shoots Mick in and hits a back elbow and clothesline to take Mankind down. Cole talks about how DX has adopted Mankind in recent weeks and given him a family. Hunter is yanked through the ropes and to the floor by Mankind who then follows up with a baseball slide dropkick. Mick slugs Hunter back to the floor as he tries to get in the ring. He gets back up on the apron and buries a shoulder in Mick’s gut and then floats in with a sunset flip. Mick is holding the ropes, but Shane kicks his hand off and then slides in and hits a fast count to give Triple H the cheap win. Grade: 1.5

- Mankind is in shock as Shane taunts him with some crotch chops. Hunter grabs the mike and tells Mick that he is sorry but business is business and a win is a win and that he will take it because it is about the WWF Title. He then wishes Mick a Happy New Year and Pedigrees Shane for him. Hunter tells Mick that Shane is all his and then heads off to the back. Mick says he will show Shane a move that Jim McGonagall showed him back at Ward Melville High. He wrenches in a stiff armbar and tells Shane he will break his shoulder. Shane is screaming in pain and that draws out Vince, Patterson and Brisco. Mick tells Vince to stop where he is or else he will break Shane’s arm. Mick says he changed his mind and doesn’t desire a Royal Rumble title shot…but rather he wants one tonight instead. Vince says OK but Mick says it isn’t enough. He wrenches on Shane even harder and asks “Dad” to make it no disqualification. Shane is screaming and Vince caves, granting Mick the stipulation. Mick relents on the hold and tells Rock he will see him later tonight. The McMahons and stooges are headed up the ramp and the Rock comes out to confront them. He can’t believe Vince gave in like that and says he isn’t ready to defend the title tonight. Vince says he had to and tells him to get ready.

- We return from commercial and get a quick recap of what just went down between Mankind, Triple H and the McMahons.

5) Edge wrestles D-Lo Brown to a no contest at 4:27

Edge enters through the crowd and Cole tells that he is unique, to say the least. The Royal Rumble is just 3 weeks away and is brought to us by 10-10-220. D-Lo is just returning from a relaxing trip to Aruba according to Cole. We take a look back at last week’s show when D-Lo called Jacqueline and Terri “glorified ring rats” and told them to recognize. D-Lo is still rocking the chest protector here and gains the early control with a side headlock and shoulderblock. Edge lands a dropkick as Lawler says he is still nervous about the “Stone Cold surprise”. Edge hits a headscissors takedown and sends D-Lo to the floor. Edge follows that up with a no hands Plancha over the top and the slides back into the ring. Edge heads back out and charges, but D-Lo picks him and stun guns him on the barrier. Brown pitches Edge back in and hits a Legdrop. D-Lo lays some chops in, but Edge reverses it and hits a chop of his own. Edge charges D-Lo in the corner but catches a boot to the gut. D-Lo loads up the running powerbomb and nails it for a 2 after some taunting of the crowd. D-Lo slams Edge and heads to the middle rope, but Edge avoids an elbow. Edge whips D-Lo in and catches him with a leg lariat. He whips brown to the corner and charges, but D-Lo flips him to the apron. Edge heads up top and comes off with a cross body for 2. The crowd stirs and Cole tells us that “it must be that time of the month” because PMS is headed to ringside. Terri is beginning to show and is rubbing her stomach on the way down. Edge comes off the top but D-Lo catches him with an awesome powerbomb. Terri is on the apron and D-Lo goes to confront her, but Terri slips as she backs down the steps and crashes to the floor. She is holding her stomach and crying as D-Lo is in shock. Lawler claims that Brown never touched her. Jackie is screaming at D-Lo as Terri is writhing on the ground. The paramedics head down along with Tony Garea as the crowd breaks into a “D-Lo Sucks” chant. Terri is loaded onto the stretcher and wheeled out as the fans shower Brown with boos. Lawler says there has been a lot of controversy as to who the father is and that Terri had no business at ringside. And we fade out to break. That was actually a really fun match before the chaos broke out. Grade: 2.5

- We are back from break and recap the last segment. We cut live and Terri is crying as the doctors check her out. D-Lo is standing behind them with his head buried in his arms. As we come back to the arena the lights go out and the red glare and ominous music cue up and through fire and brimstone, we have Kane. He is flanked by Shane, Patterson and Brisco. As Kane climbs in the ring, we see that he has a piece of paper stuck to his back that reads “Brisco Bros. Body Shop”. Pat walks behind Kane in the ring while making the gesture that Kane is crazy. Shane has the mike and says that we have a special handicap match tonight: Kane vs. Patterson & Brisco. They beg Shane but he says this is payback. Vince comes on stage and says that he said earlier that everyone responsible for Shane’s suffering would pay. Kane chokes out Brisco with his tie and then is offered a cigarette by Patterson. Kane stalks Pat, but Brisco attacks from behind. Kane beats him down and hits a chokeslam. Patterson grabs a chair at ringside, but when Kane turns around, he opens it up and pretends he was getting it for Kane to sit in, which was pretty funny. Kane kicks the chair out of the ring and then chokeslams Patterson as well. Shane is providing running commentary as Kane crotches Brisco on the post and then drops an elbow on “Uncle Patty’s” knee. Kane then turns his attention to Shane, grabbing him by the throat, but both Vince and Shane threaten to send Kane back to the asylum and he relents. Shane tells Gerry to go to Brisco’ Bros. Body Shop because that is what he gets for not taking care of him. Cole reminds us that Vince signed Kane out of the asylum for as long as works for the Corporation. Shane heads up the aisle and hugs Vince as the Stooges recuperate in the ring.

- We come back from break to get another clip of Dennis Knight chained in the dungeon, yelling for help. We see the Acolytes come into the room and tell Knight that “it’s time” and “he is ready for you”.

6) Road Dogg defeats Al Snow with a Piledriver at 8:33 to retain the Hardcore Championship

Al Snow sets Head up on the ramp and then ducks behind the curtain, peeking his head out and yelling at his disembodied friend. Snow is still covered in blood from a recent bloodbath he received. Head has duct tape around its mouth. Road Dogg heads out and picks up Head, but Snow ambushes him and kicks him down to the steel. They battle down towards the ring and Dogg slams Snow into the steps. Dogg pulls out a table and chair. Snow hops on the apron and comes charging off at Dogg, but he just tosses the chair in Snow’s face on the way down. Al hits Dogg as he tries to set the table and then pastes him with the chair. Al sets up the chair and jumps off it with a leg lariat, sending Dogg over the railing. Snow sets up the table and then blasts Dogg with the chair again. He puts Dogg on the table and then goes for a moonsault off the barricade, but Dogg moves and Al crashes and burns. Dogg gets 2 and then pastes Al with a cookie sheet a few times for another near fall. Cole informs us that Road Dogg won the title 2 weeks ago from Big Boss Man. The two men battle back towards the dressing room alongside the ramp. Al slams Dogg into a steel pole, but Dogg recovers and sets up a table against the barrier. He then hiptosses Al through the table in a pretty sick move and follows that up with an axehandle from the ramp. Al is up and the two battle backstage. Al slams him into a wall and then chokes and sprays him with a house. Snow picks up a box of toilet paper and slams Dogg with before breaking a broom over his back. Dogg battles back and throws him into a cart full of flowers. Jerry thinks they were leftover Christmas poinsettias. Snow grabs one of them and slams Dogg in the head with it. He then whips Dogg into a pile of steel pipes. Dogg recovers and toss Snow into some beer kegs, which, even though they toppled right over, Cole estimates to weigh around 80 or 90 lbs a piece. Dogg slams Al’s head into some steel trunks and then whips him into some steel barricades. Dogg tries to spray Al with a fire extinguisher, but it is empty so he just hits him in the face with it instead. The impact sends Snow careening through a door and out of the arena, setting off the fire alarm in the process. Dogg follows him outside and we see that it is still snowing pretty heavily in downtown Worcester. Dogg pastes Al with a snow shovel and then puts him in a cart and wheels him into a big garage door. They are both up now and trading blows. Al whips Dogg into a fence and then hits him with a parking cone. Dogg recovers and hits a nasty piledriver onto some wooden palettes for the well earned victory. Man that was a battle. We were still in the early days of the WWF Hardcore division, so this match was sort of a trendsetter for the style of wild brawl we would see in the WWF over the next 4 years. There were some really stiff shots and the visual of the snow plus the stiff piledriver to end it were fantastic. Road Dogg heads back to the arena and we see that the fire alarm is still going off. Dogg comes back to the ring and celebrates to a huge pop. Grade: 3

- We take a look at the Acolytes dragging Knight down a dark hallway and throw him through a door and then head to break.

- We return from commercial to see DX walking backstage with HBK. Hunter hands him some keys and they hug. Shawn says he will be right back and heads out a back door. After he walks outside, Hunter says “maybe, maybe not” and X-Pac says “what goes around comes around”. We cut outside and see that Shawn can’t get the key to work. He walks back to the door but that door won’t open and he sees that he is locked out. He knocks and is calling for Hunter to come back and open the door when we hear someone say “Hey Shawn!” Michaels turns around and Michael Cole says “oh no” and we fade right to break. When we come back from break we see a bloodied Shawn Michaels face first in the windshield of the car. Lawler implies that the Corporation did it, and he is proven correct as we take a look at the reply. We see Boss Man and Test jump Michaels, but the cameraman is knocked over and we can hear Vince yelling and directing his troops. We cut back live and Shawn is being loaded onto a stretcher. The visual of the bloodied Michaels buried into a windshield with the snow falling all over him was a fantastic sight. They didn’t show any of this stuff in the arena, so I remember that everyone was confused as to why he never appeared again that night and had no clue about it until the show aired the next week. We take one last look at the busted windshield and then head to the ring for our Main Event.

7) Mankind defeats the Rock to win the WWF Championship at 10:00 after Steve Austin hits the Rock with a chair

Mankind heads to the ring flanked by his “adopted family” DX. He is followed by the Champ who has the entire Corporation backing him up. The stage is set and the bell rings and we are off and running. Cole pumps up the importance of the Championship and asks Lawler if he could imagine Mankind as champion. King says it would be a joke. Rock starts off in control, hammering Mankind to the mat and then stomping him to the floor. The Corporation goes to pounce, but Rock backs them off and lays a few shots in. Mankind turns the tide and slams Rock’s head into the announce table and then beats on him all around ringside. Rock reverses a whip and sends Mankind careening into the steps. Rock picks up the stairs and slams them on Mick’s back as Cole and Lawler take veiled shots at WCW and their weekly run-in finishes. Rock drags Mick around the outside and then takes him down with a suplex on the floor. Rock then gets up and pushes Cole out of his chair and steals his headset. He runs through his catchphrases and goes to pour some water on Mankind, but Mick slugs him and they fight onto the table and to the floor. As Mick gets back on his feet and the camera pans around, it is then that you can see an 18 year old Bigelow34 a few rows deep loving the insane action. Mick grabs the headset and says that “Mankind is looking really good and showing a lot of testicular fortitude”. He turns around and Rock pastes him with the ring bell and then chokes him with the mike cord. Mankind climbs up on the table and Rock follows suit. Rock punches him and then drills him with a huge Rock Bottom through the table. The shot of Vince and Shane cringing as the crowd goes nuts is awesome. Rock tosses Mankind back in the ring and pounds away on him, getting a near fall. Rock chokes Mick on the middle rope which then allows Shane to get a cheap shot in as well. Lawler takes more shots at WCW as Rock hits a side Russian leg sweep for 2. Rock whips Mick in to the corner but eats an elbow on the charge. Mick takes him down with a clothesline but Rock recovers and hits an elbow to the face. Rock slams him down and hits the Corporate Elbow for a 2. The Corporation is stunned. Mick ducks a clothesline and hits a neckbreaker. Mick hits the ropes, but Boss Man grabs his leg. Rock grabs the belt and drills Mankind in the face with it. I thought for sure that was the end at the time, as did most of the crowd, but Mick kicks out at 2 ½. Mick ducks another belt shot and hits then DDTs Rock onto the belt for a 2. Mick pulls Mr. Socko out and locks the Claw on the Rock. Shamrock climbs in the ring and drills Mick with a chair, but Billy Gunn dives in the ring and spears him to the floor. As they crash outside, all hell breaks loose and the troops all start brawling around the ring. We then cut to one of the most famous wide shots of all time. The glass breaks and every single person in the Worcester Centrum stand up at once and nearly blow the roof off the place with arguably the loudest pop you will ever hear. Steve Austin powerwalks to the ring, slides in and crushes the Rock in the head with the steel chair. He drags Mankind on top and 3 slaps of the mat later history is made. The pop from the glass breaking through the 3 count is so loud and sustained it is amazing. You can hear the gasping and anticipation in the crowd as they figure out what is about to happen. The aftermath is just tremendously written and shot as we quick cut between Austin laughing, the McMahons angry and in shock, the Rock loopy and out of it and DX celebrating with the new Champion. Michael Cole does a really good job wrapping up Foley’s life story as the crowd is just going insane. Vince is apoplectic as Shane carries the Rock up the ramp. Mankind stands proudly on top of the WWF, surrounded by DX and thousands of truly happy and proud fans. Road Dogg officially announces Mankind as the new World Champion. Mick then tells Vince that he feels great and says hi to his kids at home. He then does a big victory lap around the ring as we fade out. The whole match and angle was such a great story and truly delivered a fantastic and memorable payoff. Grade: 5

Final Analysis

Well, if you ever want to show someone what was so great about the Attitude Era Raws, this is the one to go with. It had everything that exemplified the era. We saw some solid storyline developments, a great show long angle that unfolded and played out perfectly, a tremendous hardcore match, a red hot crowd and a fantastic main event with a legendary moment. The way the entire Mankind story played through the whole show was just picture perfect booking. Plus, Mankind was the perfect person for the role, as he was always the loveable loser. He was always the bridesmaid and was never someone you envisioned as a World Champion. Also, at this point he was pretty much universally loved and considered one of the true good guys in the business, so you were genuinely happy to see him win the big one. All of those qualities just added to the shock and awe when he finally picked up the victory and out played the evil Boss. They also did a great job with the Austin surprise, as they vaguely referenced it at the very beginning but his name was never really mentioned again in the arena. We got so caught up in the match live that we totally forgot about him until the glass broke. I could go on and on about how much I love this whole show, but I will stop here for now. The last thing I will mention is that this episode was a perfect example of why WWF was light years better than WCW at this point in the war. When January 4, 1999 rolled around, I was set to watch Nitro and tape Raw. I figured I had already seen Raw and WCW was pimping the New Year’s Nitro big time, saying it would be a gigantic show, live from the Georgia Dome. Well, I made it about 10 minutes into Nitro before I changed my mind. That Nitro ended up being pretty good, but even throwing everything they had out there, they just couldn’t top the tremendous storytelling and presentation and, most importantly, payoff that the WWF was doling out week after week. Final Grade: A+

MVP: The Main Event
Runner Up: Road Dogg & Al Snow
Non MVP: Tony Schiavone
Runner Up: Mark Henry

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