May 13, 2005
Al Snow vs. Val Venis
Raw is War
October 18, 1999
Columbus, OH Ė Schottenstein Center
1999 - If the year doesnít immediately bring to mind Prince, then it probably reminds you of the Mankind / Rock I Quit Match Ö or GTV Ö or the untimely death of Owen Hart. It was a year in which the WWF was arguably at its peak in popularity. The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin became household names and WWF superstars appeared all over the media, whether it be Sable in Playboy, Austin on Nash Bridges, or Triple H on MTV.
While many fans began their love for pro wrestling during this time, personally I was not a fan of the Russo-esque format. I didnít care for GTV. I didnít like the fact that matches rarely went past the 3-minute mark. And I wasnít a fan of titles changing hands every other week. While I continued to watch the programming, I probably missed more weekly episodes of Raw during this particular year than any year before or since.
Recently, I realized that a friend of mine, who literally lives 2 minutes away, had two oversized boxes of WWF TV video tapes in her living room. After glancing through the boxes of tapes a few weeks ago, which ranged from 1999 to last week, first I cleaned the drool from my mouth and then I borrowed as much as I could carry, eager to relive what I had forgotten as well as to put the footage on DVD and add some much needed details to the results section of TheHistoryofWWE.com.
So I came home and popped in the Raw is War episode from 10/18/99, one day after No Mercy. One day after the Austin / HHH No DQ match. One day after the historic Hardy Boyz / Edge & Christian ladder match. And one day after Chyna beat Jeff Jarrett to become the first ever WWF IC Champion.
While most of the show was still being booked in the Vince Russo pattern of a 20-minute promo to begin the show, many backstage vignettes to keep the ADD audience tuned in, and 90-second matches with plenty of run-ins, there was one gem in the dust that caught my attention Ė Al Snow vs. Val Venis.
The only real build up to the bout was that Venis had recently stolen Mr. Rocko (Mankindís sock puppet for the Rock). Although Mankind had regained the prop at No Mercy, Snow was Mankindís loyal friend and wanted a chance to get back at ďthe single fastest up and cumming athlete in the history of the World Wrestling Federation.Ē (Valís words, not mine)
Prior to Alís entrance, Val cuts a very heated promo to put himself over even more as a hated heel, referring to Al as Mankind's "pathetic, loser, gopher boy". He tells Snow to lay on the tracks, close his eyes, and expect to be run over by the Big Valbowski Express.
Al comes down the ramp with a smile on his face and quickly goes to work on Val in the corner. Val avoids a charge but is soon dropped with a nice clothesline from Snow. The battle soon goes out to the floor, with Venis sending Al into the barrier as the two brawl around the ring. An Irish whip on the floor sees Val taste the barrier, with Snow following with an elbow drop.
Back inside the ring, Val tries to trap Snow on the apron but Al hooks Venisí arms and administers a series of headbutts which daze the former porn star. Snow flips over Venisí back to enter the ring but catches a big boot to the face after running the ropes. Val runs the ropes and Snow catches him with what appears to be a reverse powerbomb, only for Val to roll through into a victory roll for the first 2-count of the match. Snow catches Val with a backslide seconds later for his own near fall. The two then trade 4 near fall reversals in quick succession.
Back to their feet, Snow appears to set Venis up for the Snow Plow, only for Val to reverse it, with Snow then reversing that into an inside cradle. After Snow gets a 2-count, Val reverses the inside cradle to gain his own near fall. Val catches Snow with two shots to the face, runs the ropes, but is shoved to the mat. Seconds later, Snow grabs Venis from behind by the legs and hits an overhead wheelbarrow throw.
With a maniacal grin on his face, Snow lands a DDT on Venis and gives the signal for the moonsault. Unfortunately, Val rolls out of the way of Snowís aerial attack and then hits the fisherman suplex for the certain victory, but surprisingly only scores a 2-count.
Snow soon gains the upper hand and drops Val with a beautiful German suplex into a bridge for yet another near fall. The two men block each otherís blows, with Val eventually landing a punch to the face and quickly follows with a side Russian leg sweep.
With Snow down on the mat, Val heads to the top rope in preparation for the Money Shot. Snow gets to his feet and climbs up to meet him but is eventually shoved to the mat. The Money Shot connects and Val scores the hard-fought win at 4:39.
10 near falls in less than 5 minutes. Not bad for Raw is War. I think these two did just about all they could with the time allotted, and the end result was a very fast-paced, entertaining, and hard-fought battle with a lot of very crisp wrestling.
After seeing this match and re-watching a good amount of footage from this time period, I can safely say that the good wrestling was there, you just had to go looking for it sometimes. Recommended.