MONDAY NIGHT RAW
October 12, 1998
X-Pac . . . makes the most out of the little time that he’s given and puts on a couple of memorable performances.
Ken Shamrock . . . may not have been the crowd favorite on this night, but still winds up with gold by proving to be the best wrestler amongst the field.
The Rock . . . teams up with the man who would become, arguably, his most legendary rival.
Triple H’s knee injury forced him to be stripped of the Intercontinental Title on 10/8, which sets up a one night tournament to decide the new champion.
ROAD DOGG/BILLY GUNN © vs. ANIMAL/DROZ (WWF World Tag Team Titles)
This is gone as soon as it’s here. The work is as stripped down as it gets, aside from Animal getting in his shoulder tackle and Road Dogg’s knee drop. DOA attack Hawk on the floor and the Headbangers bust open Dogg with their boom box and the match gets thrown out.
Quarterfinal: KEN SHAMROCK vs. STEVE BLACKMAN
Despite being so short, it’s surprisingly fun to watch. They both show a certain intensity, and Shamrock is the perfect jerk by targeting Blackman’s bad knee. Blackman’s comeback looks like he didn’t exactly know what to do with his knee. He doesn’t do any kicks and he keeps his movements minimal, but he also doesn’t really sell either. He’ll do something like whip Shamrock into the corner and let Shamrock charge back at him so that he can do a lariat. Shamrock takes the first opening he gets to take Blackman down and get on his ankle lock for the quick submission.
Quarterfinal: VAL VENIS vs. MARC MERO
Although it doesn’t have the body part work to use a crutch for a story, this is still a decent enough match. It’s very busy, if nothing else. The exchanges are smooth, and the only thing that doesn’t quite work is Val getting spiked by Mero’s DDT because nothing really comes out of it. Mero seems to have the match won, but Terri Runnels distracts him and Val gets the pin with a fisherman suplex.
Quarterfinal: MARK HENRY vs. MANKIND
This is the first match that feels completely skippable. It’s fun enough to watch Henry use his weight to wear down Foley’s ankle, although it’d seem more appropriate if Foley were facing Shamrock in the next round rather than six days later. And, it even seems like its getting somewhere when Mick can’t go along with a whip into the ropes. But, then Mick forgets about his bad wheel so that he can duck a lariat and give Mark the double arm DDT, and then finish him with the Mandible Claw. With how easily it was for Foley to beat him, it looks like they shouldn’t even have bothered letting Henry get in any offense at all.
Quarterfinal: X-PAC vs. JEFF JARRETT
Hands down. This is the best match of the first round. It’s got all the intensity of Shamrock/Blackman, and these two have worked with each other enough that their work looks as smooth as Venis/Mero. It also helps that they get a little bit of time (at least compared to what the other matches got) to work. There’s an especially smart moment when Pac misses a senton, and Jarrett goes for the figure four. He hadn’t done anything to wear down the leg, but it’s still plausible that he’s stunned enough that Jarrett can at least get the hold on. But, Pac isn’t quite as hurt as it seems, and when Jarrett takes the bait, Pac counters with a small package for a near fall. Honestly, that really should have been the finish, it’s a relatively smart way to end a fun sprint. Instead, we’re treated to a ref bump and Jarrett’s attempt to cheat backfiring on him.
Semifinal: KEN SHAMROCK vs. VAL VENIS
While squashes weren’t very common on TV at this point, there’s really no reason that this shouldn’t have been one. Shamrock jumps Val on his way to the ring and works over his back, which keeps him stationary for Shamrock to get on the ankle lock for another submission. Shamrock doesn’t show much as far as personality goes, but he really doesn’t need to, considering how short this is. The only thing that seems out of place is the Boston crab, where Val crawls for the ropes, gets dragged to the center, and crawls back and gets the break. It’s not an uncommon sequence, but, someone as skilled in submissions as Shamrock, shouldn’t be applying the hold so poorly. Then again, it could be argued that it’s done intentionally to continue wearing Val down.
Val’s comeback is the only thing that really doesn’t belong, with the way Shamrock works him over, it certainly doesn’t stand to reason that a few strikes and a Russian Legsweep should hurt Shamrock enough that Val can stand over him and play to the crowd. Considering the post match angle with Goldust attacking Val, it’s probably lucky that they went with a clean finish, rather than being the third that involves someone getting distracted and losing as a result.
Semifinal: X-PAC vs. MANKIND
Although the finish makes X-Pac look lucky rather than good, it was something of a necessity in this case. Shamrock’s interference to cause Mick to lose heats up their PPV match in six days, and it’s also the perfect setup for the finals. The plunky, and banged up, underdog versus the machine who ran though both of his previous opponents in short order. The match itself isn’t really notable outside of a couple of bumps that Pac takes on the floor. But, considering that Foley’s career is best known for the bumps he took, one could point to this match as an example of him actually getting in some offense in his career, even if a decent chunk of it is punching and brawling.
KEN SHAMROCK vs. X-PAC (Tournament Final for the WWF Intercontinental Title)
Anyone who uses the term “X-Pac Heat” to describe an apathetic crowd reaction to a wrestler ought to watch this match to see how incorrect that phrase really is. He may have worn out his welcome in 2000-01, but the crowd reactions to him when he tries fighting back is second only to Austin. Shamrock picks up where he left off with Val Venis, singling out X-Pack’s injured neck, including a Dragon sleeper on the apron that had him screaming in pain. All that Pac really has to fight back with are kicks and chops, but, considering that this doesn’t go very long and the story of Pac being behind the eight-ball from the get-go, it wasn’t like he needed to roll out a ton of offense. The bronco buster may be a crowd pleasing spot, but it could have easily been left by the wayside, and nobody would have thought anything of it, especially since he’d already gotten to use it on Foley.
Unfortunately, X-Pac’s luck runs out after two lucky breaks. He tries a spin kick when Shamrock gets up from the bronco buster, and Shamrock catches the leg, and segues right into the ankle lock. Unlike Blackman and Venis, X-Pac tries to fight out of it and crawls to the ropes to force the break. Shamrock isn’t to be denied though, and he just yanks him back and puts it back on, forcing the tap out. Shamrock comes out of this looking enormous. He wins all three matches relatively easily. Even if one takes into account the fact that Blackman was previously injured and that he got the jump on both Venis and X-Pac, Shamrock still had to earn those wins. His wrestling skills are fully on display with his ability to not only win all three matches with the ankle lock, but to get the hold on in three completely different ways.
STEVE AUSTIN/THE ROCK vs. THE UNDERTAKER/KANE
Even though this match gets the most time, which the main event ought to, there really isn’t a whole lot to it. Aside from a few crowed pleasing things, such as Austin and Rock working together early on, Rock doing the People’s Elbow (not too long before it became his finisher), and his nutshot to UT, it’s mostly just punching and kicking, along with some rest holds and choking from UT and Kane. The one smart touch is when Kane breaks up the Rock Bottom, since Rocky had used it to beat UT a couple of weeks before this. The heels work over Rock, and Austin gets the hot tag and throws a bunch of fists, and looks unstoppable, having no problem with both UT and Kane, including getting tied up in the ropes and freeing himself. Big Bossman runs in and KO’s him with the nightstick to end the show. All things considered, five minutes of this could easily have been given to the previous match. This wouldn’t have lost anything significant, and some extra time to work could had led to a longer comeback from X-Pac and created some more excitement about his possibly winning the title.
Conclusion: There’s nothing mind-blowing in the actual wrestling, but the booking of the tournament is very well done (aside from Foley vs. Henry), and the tournament has several fun matches even with them all being extremely short.