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WWF Sunday Night Heat- August 2, 1998

by Scrooge McSuck

- I'm writing this review up in August of 2013. Today, the WWE has weekly shows broadcasted throughout North America in the form of Monday Night Raw (3 hours), Friday Night Smackdown! (2 hours), and Main Event (1 hour). International markets have Superstars (1 hour) and Vintage Collection (1 hour), while there's also weekly NXT shows (1 hour) and when summer is over, the return of Saturday Morning Slam (30 minutes). Back in 1998, however, other than Monday Night Raw, there was nothing readily available. Shotgun Saturday Night aired in select markets in graveyard timeslots, and that was pretty much it. So when someone decided to have a weekly show air first-run, quality matches on Sunday Night's, it was a huge boost for the WWF, who's main competition was producing 4 different wrestling programs a week.

Sunday Night Heat has always "enjoyed" a roller coaster experience, constantly being revamped despite mostly being relegated to a C-Show, where mostly undercard performers competed in meaningless matches. There would be an occasional bone thrown at viewers in the form of a title match, but for the most part, what we got, depending on the year, was countless matches featuring Brian Christopher, Val Venis (post-push), Stevie Richards, and the Mean Street Posse. However, much like other start-up shows (MAIN EVENT!), the earliest shows actually featured higher caliber performers than the piss-break guys.

- Jim Ross and Jerry "The King" Lawler are at ringside to provide commentary. Shane McMahon, along with several pairs of floatation devices, wanders to ringside to join them. This was fairly early in Shane trying to establish some kind of personality. He's trying to be a "ladies" man here, but he wouldn't really find himself until the double-cross at Survivor Series '98... but that's probably going to be a focus in shows leading up to that PPV, so pretend I didn't say anything. Short and sweet: He f*cking sucks on commentary.

Edge vs. "Double J" Jeff Jarrett (w/ Tennessee Lee):

This has a "20-minute time limit", as if any undercard match during the Russo era was getting more than 4-minutes. I might have noted this before, but Tennessee Lee is probably better known as Col. Robert Parker in WCW, or if you really want to get old school, or Robert Fuller if you go back to the Territory days. Jarrett attacks before the bell and chokes away with his own jacket. Whip is reversed and Edge takes him down with a flapjack. Edge hits the Spear, but it's only a transitional move at this point. It's becoming quite clear that Shane is bad enough to make Vince sound good commentary. Jarrett ducks a clothesline and hits The Stroke, a new move he's introduced, but doesn't bother to cover. Jarrett with a body press from the top, but Edge rolls through for two. Jarrett connects with a DDT and chokes away. Edge counters a suplex with two of his own, and a front suplex to finish the trifecta for a two count. Edge with an inverted atomic drop and clothesline to send Jarrett to the floor. Whip, Lee accidentally trips Jarrett, and THAT'S enough for the three count at 3:59 (see what I mean?). Post-match, Jarrett and Lee exchange words. Match was OK, but played second banana to the commentary. Common rule in wrestling: the commentary team should be getting the wrestling over, not themselves. Just a little tidbit for everyone out there.

- Jerry Lawler brings out D-Generation X'ers Triple H, X-Pac, and Chyna to discuss any possible distention between them over the Intercontinental Title. Nope, none, although it was teased for a little bit before being dropped. Well, that was pointless, but they did get some of the A-level talent on Heat for the first episode.

- We get an "interesting" video entitled "Droz's World", which includes testimonials from Mr. Heavenly Body himself, Tom Prichard. Droz also shows off a weird witch tattoo on his right butt cheek. Okay?

Darren Drozdov & The Headbangers vs. KaienTai (w/ Yamaguchi-San):

Last Monday, Val Venis was in the shower with Mrs. Yamaguchi-San, and Yamaguchi-San threatened to, and I quote, "choppy choppy his pee-pee." No, THAT WAS NOT MADE UP BY INTERNET SMARKS. IT REALLY HAPPENED. Before the match, Venis comes out with his newest "love" interest and has some fun. Mosh and Funaki start. Criss-cross ends with a back drop and arm drag from Mosh. Droz and Togo have a go, next, with Togo working in the Jannetty clothesline over-sell in record time. Togo and Teoh with a double bulldog, but Droz is TOO STRONG. He's not that big, but compared to Kaientai, he's Andre the Giant. We take a break, but not before a commercial for WWF War Zone for N64 and PS1 (spoiler: it sucks by todays standards, and was merely OK in 1998). We come back with Thrasher taking a thrashing (such amazing wordplay, huh?). Togo misses a corner dropkick, but Funaki keeps Thrasher in their corner. He misses an elbow drop, and in comes Droz with the hot tag. Clotheslines and slams for all! All three Kaientai get whipped together, and Droz finishes Teoh with a Liger-Bomb at 4:21 (see?).

- In a cheap plug for USA Network's Pacific Blue, Val Venis picks a fight with Mario Lopez, who promptly jumps the rail and tries to force himself sexually onto Val. Whatever, no one cares about A.C. Slater anymore... especially since his season of Dancing With The Stars was, like, 5 years ago.

WWF European Championship Match:
D'Lo Brown (w/ Mark Henry) vs. Ken Shamrock:

Remember when D'Lo wore a chest protector for what seemed like forever? It was a pretty fresh "injury" at this point, having suffered a torn pectoral muscle at the hands of Dan "The Beast" Severn. D'Lo won the title from Triple H a couple of weeks back, in a title change that just seems ludicrous, even by 1998 standards. Brown fails at a sneak attack and Shamrock takes him over with a Japanese arm drag. Brown dumps Shamrock to the floor, where he's greeted with a clothesline from Mark Henry. Back inside, Shamrock practically no-sells the attack as Steve Blackman and Dan Severn (in a suit) show up. Brown with a slam and elbow drop for two. Whip to the corner is reversed and Shamrock takes him over with a belly-to-belly suplex. SLUGFEST! Good thing Shamrock isn't in there with either of the Nasty Boys. Hurricanrana sends Brown to the floor, where he has words with Severn. Severn responds by running in and tackling him, drawing a DQ at 2:53 (see?). Post-match, Shamrock throws a hissy, Blackman tries to make peace, and Severn doesn't care. I'm with Severn on this one.

- Video of Bart Gunn trying to score because he KO'ed Dr. Death Steve Williams in the Brawl For All. I'm sure Jim Ross loved watching that.

Kane & Mankind (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. The Rock & Owen Hart:

Interesting Main Event, considering all four are technically heels, but the Rock was getting some minor baby face reactions, ditto Mankind, and Kane was always kind of cool to like, leaving Owen as the only purely disliked heel in the match. The Rock is the reigning Intercontinental Champion, going into his 8th month as Champion, during an era when titles changed hands constantly. Winner here gets a title shot "tomorrow" night on Raw. Mankind and Owen start. Unless they use a bag of popcorn as a weapon, I expect a train wreck. Mankind works the arm, but misses an elbow drop. Rock comes in and pounds away. Kane tags in and retaliates with the same. Whip to the corner, Kane follows with a clothesline and elbow drop. Whip, and Rock comes back with the "Layin' the Smackdown" DDT for two. Rock sends Kane to the floor with a clothesline, but Kane no-sells, does a nice standing leap to the apron, and hangs Rock up across the top rope. Kane to the top, and he connects with the flying clothesline. Back from commercial, Mankind is getting worked over, making him the default face-in-peril. Owen misses a spinning heel kick and Mankind takes him down with a Double-Arm DDT. Kane with the silent hot-tag and he goes to work on Owen. Chokeslam is countered with kicks to the leg, and an enziguri brings the big man down. Missile dropkick gets two. Kane hits the Chokeslam anyway, but a tombstone is interrupted by the Rock. A brawl erupts on the floor, and Owen beats the count back in for the cheap victory at 6:47. Heel vs. Heel matches almost never work, and this was no exception. The crowd really didn't care, despite four fairly over Superstars in action.

- Michael Cole interviews WWF Champion "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, in his Locker Room, of course, to end the broadcast.

Final Thoughts: For a "premiere" episode, this could've been worse. There was a strong focus on wrestling, even if the matches were considerably short. There seemed to be more focus on the undercard of course, since Heat was typically taped before Monday Night Raw. On the other hand, the Main Event was a bit of a cluster-fuck due to confused crowd allegiance, and those promos for Droz and Bart Gunn seemed either pointless and/or really lame, as if there was little effort put into making them seem important. Droz has piercings and weird tattoos? Where do I go to purchase tickets to the next WWF Live Event? It's a decent waste of an hour, but we'll see what Week #2 holds for us.

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