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WWF RAW- June 22, 1998
by Doc Allen
Live from Austin, Texas. Our hosts are Jim Ross, Michael Cole (first hour), and Jerry Lawler (second hour).
Mr. McMahon strolls out to the usual chorus of boos. He brings out Kane, giving him an opportunity to break his "silence of 20 years." Paul Bearer is seen watching via satellite. Vince predicts that Kane will fulfill his destiny at the King of the Ring and put his tragic past behind him. Kane holds up a voice box to his throat and vows to set himself on fire if he doesn't win the WWF title. Well, sheeeet, now they HAVE to put the belt on him, they'll never follow through with that stipulation. Paul doesn't like the sound of that and flips his lid.
King of the Ring Tournament:
Ken Shamrock vs. Mark Henry (with the Nation of Domination)
Sgt. Slaughter has the Nation tossed yet again. Henry isn't fazed and delivers hard Irish whips. Shamrock comes back with strong kicks, Henry answers with a power slam. Leg drop by Henry, who is too confident to make a cover. Henry hits an elbow drop to the spine, softening Shamrock up for a Bear Hug. Shamrock's sunset flip is blocked and Henry regains the Bear Hug. Shamrock escapes again and nails a hurricanrana. Vader runs and attacks Henry with a body avalanche. Shamrock capitalizes with a belly to belly suplex to win at 4:36. Good short match, *½.
Winner: Ken Shamrock
Edge is seen lurking in the stands.
DX ruin yet another Super Soaker commercial, this time sending the director into a rage. They spray him down. I'll race you to KB Toys for a soaker.
Dustin Runnels vs. X-Pac (with Chyna)
Dustin is seen praying beforehand, probably asking for a push. X-Pac tells Dustin to s*ck it and lights him up with fast kicks. Quick X-Factor, followed by a baseball slide dropkick. Hard Irish whip by X-Pac, but Dustin blocks his bulldog with a draping lariat. Dustin hangs X-Pac on the top rope and hits a clothesline for 2. Chyna helps with a back elbow shot, and X-Pac grabs a chinlock. Dustin escapes but X-Pac fires off a heel kick for 2. Dustin escapes another chinlock and rallies with clubbing offense. Chyna trips Dustin and X-Pac hits a spin heel kick to win at 5:32. Not bad, but not all that interesting either. It was pretty disappointing to see the Texan crowd not care much for Dustin, *.
Paul Bearer is interviewed in his living room. He knows that Kane would set himself on fire, but he won't let it come to that.
Jerry Lawler enters the ring to handle his business with the idiotic Al Snow. Jerry has it on good authority that Snow has disguised himself in a dress and is hiding somewhere in the arena. Right on cue, Snow (dressed like a stunt grannie) and Head (wearing Lawler's crown) answer the call. Al berates Head for stealing King's crown, stunts like this are why they're banned from Walmart. Jerry gives him a contract to face Too Much at King of the Ring in exchange for a meeting with Mr. McMahon. If Al does the "J.O.B. on the P.P.V." then he's history. Al doesn't want to wait for Sunday and lays down to get pinned now. Too Much run out, but Snow pops up to beat them with Head. Looks like the KOTR match is on. This was all total death.
Kevin Kelly lurks outside Stone Cold's dressing room.
Edge is now brooding in the shadows of the stage.
The Hell in a Cell is hanging above the ring again.
King of the Ring Tournament:
Marc Mero (with Jacqueline) vs. Jeff Jarrett (with Tennessee Lee)
This is heel vs. heel, so the fans chant for Sable. Mero scores first with an armdrag and powerbomb. Double springboard moonsault by Mero gets 2. Jarrett awkwardly drops Mero knee-first onto the top rope. They trade counters while the fans fall asleep. They wake up when Jacqueline trips Jarrett in the midst of a strut. Lee chases after Jacqueline, and the ref doesn't see Mero's low blow. Mero hits the TKO, but the ref is busy dealing with Lee. Sable struts in, sending Mero into a rage, and easy pickings for Jarrett's DDT and pin at 4:30. This was a heatless mess, ½*.
Winner: Jeff Jarrett
Jarrett tells Kevin Kelly that he's already the King of Country Music, so it makes sense that he'll soon be the King of the Ring.
Road Dogg (with Billy Gunn) vs. Kane
This is heel vs. heel, but Road Dogg's antics on the mic make him the de facto babyface. The ref ejects Gunn immediately. Road Dogg thumbs the eye and unloads punches. Kane answers with vicious blows. The fans fall asleep again while Kane methodically dominates. Road Dogg comes back with jabs and a clothesline outside, reviving the crowd. Kane snaps Road Dogg's neck on the ropes and hits the flying clothesline. Road Dogg blocks a chokeslam with a low blow, but Kane hits a chokeslam anyway. The Tombstone piledriver ends it at 4:04. Lackluster outing, Kane looks less than main event-worthy, ¾*.
Paul Bearer vows to be at King of the Ring on Sunday. His living room lights flicker, his wife screams, and The Undertaker attacks! Taker starts throwing furniture and the feed is dropped.
Edge vs. Jose Estrada
This is Edge's official in-ring debut on Raw! He shakes off Jose's ambush attempt and throws him outside for a somersault senton! Edge wins via countout at 1:07. This kid has some potential, he might amount to something. The match ended prematurely due to Estrada suffering a legit injury, DUD.
Kane and Mankind are spotted brawling in the locker room.
Jose Estrada is loaded into an ambulance, looks like he legitimately hurt his neck taking Edge's senton.
King of the Ring Tournament:
Dan Severn vs. Owen Hart
They spar until Severn goes for the throat and gets a takedown. Belly to back suplex by Severn, Owen answers with an enziguri. Fisherman suplex by Owen gets 2. Backbreaker by Owen, right into a chinlock. Severn counters with a throw, Owen responds with a swinging neckbreaker. Owen fetches a chair, Severn tries to use it, and the ref doesn't see X-Pac ambush Owen with another chair. Severn wins with a Stretch Muffler at 2:57! Another good short match between these two, I wonder if they ever had the chance for a proper longform match, *½.
Winner: Dan Severn
Back from commercials, a bloodied Owen Hart is still sulking in the ring. The Nation calls out DX, who arrive on cue. Sgt. Slaughter and a host of referees stop them from brawling.
King of the Ring Tournament:
Intercontinental Champion The Rock vs. European Champion Triple H (with Chyna)
The Rock cheap shots from behind for the early advantage. Triple H absorbs many blows before hitting a swinging neckbreaker. Suplex by HHH, then a knee drop for 2. Rock fires back with a DDT for 2. Rock's vertical suplex gets another 2 count, so he hits the Peoples' Elbow. Triple H finds his second wind for a comeback. Rock smashes HHH into the steps and doesn't see Chyna sneaking up for a DDT. Triple H gets a hot nearfall! They trade sleepers, fans chant "Rocky sucks!" Rock avoids Chyna's belt shot and blocks a Pedigree with a low blow. Rock nails a Fisherman suplex for the win at 8:07. These two have many classic matches ahead of them, but this one was merely okay, **½.
Winner: The Rock
The ring fills with DX and The Nation of Domination for a wild brawl.
Meanwhile, Mankind tortures Kane in the locker room. Kane looks distraught and in the midst of a mental breakdown.
Back from commercials, Mankind is crouched in the ring. The Hell in a Cell lowers while he explains the significance of a portrait of American and Confederate soldiers shaking hands years after the Civil War.
Mankind vs. Billy Gunn (with Chyna)
Mankind attacks Gunn before the bell and pummels him into the buckles. Rear naked choke by Mankind, but Gunn rolls over to break out with punches. Mankind clotheslines them both outside. Chyna jumps Mankind, but the ref simply calls her off. Mankind bonks Gunn into the barricades to maintain his advantage. Gunn reverses an Irish whip into the steps. Back to the ring, Mankind hits an elbow drop for 2. Gunn grabs a sleeper hold, Mankind knocks him into the buckles. Clothesline by Mankind, then the dreaded elbow drop from the apron! Mankind hoists the steps but Gunn dropkicks them into his face! Gunn hits a Fame-asser, but Mankind reverses a piledriver into a catapult. The Mandible Claw ends it at 5:39. They maintained great intensity throughout, **½.
Mankind sprints away to find Kane. He returns to the locker room but Kane is nowhere to be seen.
Sable returns for another giant pop. She plays ring announcer and introduces WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin to the live crowd. Austin yanks the mic away and orders Sable to go backstage and flip VInce off right in his face. Austin is a marked man, but he isn't hard to find, and dares anyone to come out to beat his @ss. He accepts Kane's challenge for the First Blood match at King of the Ring, because Kane's big, dead @ss will belong to him. If Kane is dumb enough to set himself on fire, Austin will bring all the marshmallows, hot dogs, and beer to enjoy the human campfire. Kane appears on the stage and summons a blood shower for Austin. The pyro explodes and Kane leaves Austin with much to think about.
Final Thoughts: Overall, this was kind of a dull episode, but they did an adequate job setting the table for King of the Ring. The live crowd was uncharacteristically dead for this era, which hurt the show immensely at times. I'd recommend this one for completionists only.
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