WrestleMania XIV isn’t simply one of the all-time great WrestleManias in WWF/E history, it’s one of the most important, pivotal events in wrestling history. Having been on the losing end of the Monday Night Wars for 84-weeks heading into this edition of Monday Night RAW, the WWF needed a spark.
What they got was a wildfire.
The ascension of Stone Cold, the hype surrounding Mike Tyson, the departure of Shawn Michaels, and a loaded young roster that included the New Age Outlaws, The Rock, Triple H, and Kane, just to name a few, as well as the continued evolution of The Undertaker, all converged to produce one of the greatest eras in WWF/E history forever known as the “Attitude Era”.
As important as WrestleMania XIV was, the next night’s RAW was even more so. Kicking the Austin/McMahon story into high gear, setting up the “inferno” match between Kane and The Undertaker, and the featuring debut of the “new” D-Generation X (including the surprise return of Sean Waltman), RAW #253 ranks easily as one of the very best editions of RAW in show history.
Context isn’t an issue when watching this one. All previous PPVs, SNMEs, and prior editions of Monday Night RAW are readily available for viewing on the Network.
WWF Monday Night RAW #253 (WATCH)
Date: March 30, 1998 – Location: Pepsi Arena, Albany, New York
Attendance: 11,202 – Rating: 3.8 (NITRO: 4.2)
Commentators: Jim Ross, Michael Cole, & Jerry Lawler – Interviews: Jim Ross, Kevin Kelly
CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME
WWF World Heavyweight Championship: Stone Cold Steve Austin
WWF Intercontinental Champion: The Rock
WWF Tag Team Champions: VACANT
WWF European Champion: Triple H
WWF Light Heavyweight Champion: Taka Michinoku
NWA World Tag Team Champions: The Headbangers (Mosh & Thrasher)
The show opens with highlights of WrestleMania XIV before the usual RAW is WAR opening. In the arena Jim Ross and Michael Cole welcome us to the show and talk about Stone Cold Steve Austin and the big “steel cage” match for the vacant WWF Tag Team titles as well as a major announcement from Triple H regarding D-X.
The crowd in Albany is hot as Vince McMahon comes to the ring with the brand-new WWF World title belt and tells Austin there is an easy way and a hard way, that Austin can either be flexible and adapt or be forced to do it anyways. After thinking about it for “ten seconds” Austin hits Vince with a Stunner before asking the crowd to give him a “hell yeah” if they want to see him continue to do things the hard way.
A promo for the WrestleMania XIV encore airs next before we see replays of the opening segment, including footage of McMahon having trouble walking during the break. Backstage the Stooges loosen Vince’s tie, give him water, and check his neck.
— Tag Team Match – (WATCH – 15:23)
L.O.D. 2000 (Road Warrior Hawk & Road Warrior Animal) w/Sunny vs. Los Boricuas (Jose & Jesus)
The L.O.D., who returned the previous night at WrestleMania XIV, hadn’t been on RAW since a loss to the New Age Outlaws on February 23, 1998. This one is just a squash. Jose goes over the top before Jesus is taken out first with a shoulder block from Hawk and then the Doomsday Device for the pin at 34-seconds. After the match Sunny gets on the microphone and announces the team as “L.O.D. 2000”.
WINNERS are The Legion of Doom (Road Warrior Hawk & Road Warrior Animal) w/Sunny (Pin, 0:34)
Kevin Kelly is backstage in the security office of the Pepsi Arena where Kelly says Vince McMahon has just gotten off the phone with the police, telling them he wants Stone Cold Steve Austin arrested. Next is a classic “WWF Attitude” promo.
After a break we see another replay of the Stunner on Vince McMahon and McMahon struggling to walk. Kevin Kelly is in the dressing room and says that D.O.A. tried to “smarten up” Stone Cold to McMahon having called the cops and Austin saying “Vince doesn’t have the balls to have me arrested.”
— Singles Match (WATCH – 20:34)
Chainz vs. Kurrgan w/Jackyl
Kurrgan was still unbeaten at this point, and that’s about all he had going for him as the Oddities stable was still about a month and a half from debuting. This is another non-match used more for hyping the main event and to show clips of Vince waiting for the police to show up. In the end Kurrgan puts his Paralyzer claw hold on the head of Chainz for the three-count at 2:15. After the match Kurrgan drags Chainz to the back via the Paralyzer.
WINNER is Kurrgan w/Jackyl (Pin, 2:15)
Backstage we see the police show up as they go to a break. After the break we get a Mankind promo for Jakks Pacific “Slammer” action figures before going backstage where Vince and the police start walking to the back as Michael Cole asks if Vince will really have Stone Cold arrested. Vince tells the police officers where to go and they march off to find Austin.
— Singles Match (WATCH – 25:52)
Special Guest Ring Announcer & Commentator: Tennessee Lee
Aguila vs. “Double J” Jeff Jarrett w/Tennessee Lee
Jarrett rides a horse to the ring in the dark. There’s a metaphor for Jarrett’s career in there somewhere. Aguila, who nearly won the Light Heavyweight title the night before at WrestleMania, looks like a jobber in this one. The future Essa Rios and Jeff Jarrett both botch a twisting splash off the top. No matter, Jarrett simply stands up and puts Aguila in the figure-four for the submission win at 2:38. As Jarrett celebrates Steve Blackman runs in and drops Jarrett. Lee hides behind the referee which gives Jarrett the time to attack Blackman from behind before heading to the back.
WINNER is “Double J” Jeff Jarrett w/Tennessee Lee (Submission, 2:38)
Backstage Vince supervises as the police take Steve Austin away in handcuffs. After a break we see a replay of Austin being arrested after which Vince McMahon comes to the ring to explain why Austin was arrested. A solemn Vince says that a cooling-off period for Austin is warranted, that Austin made his choice and so too did Vince.
The Warzone kicks off next and JR hypes the big announcement from Triple H regarding D-X, leading to a backstage promo from Triple H about the future of the WWF being “X-rated”, followed by a promo for the undisputed Tag Team title “steel cage” main event.
Intercontinental Champion The Rock is backstage with the rest of the Nation of Domination (Faarooq, Kama Mustafa, D’Lo Brown, and Mark Henry). JR asks Rock about WrestleMania XIV and Rock says that Shamrock left Rock hobbled and spitting up blood and that Rock is going to lay the smackdown on Shamrock “in a major way tonight.” Rock then tells Faarooq he showed Rock something he should have seen a long time ago, that Faarooq was the reason Rock joined the Nation and is still Intercontinental Champion and that “after tonight, I guaran-damn-tee the the Nation will be the strongest it’s ever been.”
The Warzone opens with replays of Austin Stunning McMahon, the RAW debut of L.O.D. 2000, and the arrest of Stone Cold before the Nation makes their way to the ring for the next match.
— “Tag Team Grudge Match” (WATCH – 40:22)
The Nation of Domination (Faarooq & WWF Intercontinental Champion “The Rock” Rocky Maivia) w/D’Lo Brown, Mark Henry, & Kama Mustafa vs. “The Lethal Weapon” Steve Blackman & “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” Ken Shamrock
The Rock argues with Faarooq over who will start the match only to tag Faarooq in before getting too close to Shamrock. The match is all Shamrock and Blackman with Faarooq taking all the punishment. Faarooq hits a spinebuster on Shamrock and goes for the tag but Rock, after demanding Faarooq stand up to make the tag, walks away, leaving the rest of the Nation in shock. Shamrock reverses a powerslam attempt into the belly-to-belly for the pin at 4:23 as Rock walks behind the curtain.
WINNERS are “The Lethal Weapon” Steve Blackman & “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” Ken Shamrock (Pin, 4:23)
After the match Faarooq calls Rock out for an “ass whippin'”. Rock comes out and goes nose-to-nose with Faarooq until Faarooq takes Rock down. Rock walks up the ramp when the other members of the Nation turn on Faarooq before Rock comes back in and hits a huge Rock Bottom on Faarooq. Rock gets on the microphone and tells Faarooq that Rock is now the “ruler of the Nation of Domination.”
A 10-321 WWF Rewind is next of Pete Rose being tombstoned by Kane at WrestleMania XIV. After a break we get replays of the attack on Faarooq before WWF European Champion Triple H and Chyna come to the ring.
Triple H says that Shawn Michaels dropped the ball with Mike Tyson and that ball is now in Triple H’s court. Triple H says that tonight is the “genesis of D-Generation X”, the formation of the “D-X army.” To start an army, Triple H says, you look to the kliq. Then out comes Sean Waltman, returning to the WWF after nearly 2 years. Waltman rips Hulk Hogan, tells Triple H he’ll do anything for him, and says that Kevin Nash and Scott Hall are being held hostage by WCW. Waltman says it’s a new day for D-X and the WWF.
Next is the “Bop It” Slam of the Week featuring Sable powerbombing Luna Vachon at WrestleMania XIV. After a break we see a classic Val Venis vignette hyping his impending “penetration” of the WWF.
Before the next match can begin Luna Vachon appears on the stage and challenges Sable to an “Evening Gown” match at Unforgiven ’98, telling Sable she’ll strip her down to her bra and panties. “That is,” says Luna, “if you wear bras and panties, you little slut!” Sable says she’s kicked Luna’s ass before and it’ll be her “pleasure to do it again!”
— Singles Match – “Non-Title Match” (WATCH – 1:04:13)
WWF Light Heavyweight Champion Taka Michinoku vs. “Marvelous” Marc Mero w/Sable
Mero chokes Taka with his wrist tape until Sable rats him out to the referee. With the referee’s back turned Mero goes low on Taka before hitting the TKO for the pin at 1:37. After the match Sable checks on Taka until Mero pulls her away.
WINNER is Marc Mero w/Sable (Pin, 1:37)
Out of the crowd run three Japanese guys (or “Oriental men”, as JR calls them), Sho Funaki, Dick Togo, and “Terry Boy” Men’s Teioh, who beat down Taka Michinoku before leaving through the crowd.
After a break we see the Headbangers and New Midnight Express in the ring and the tail end of a Jim Cornette promo introducing the NWA World Heavyweight Champion Dan Severn.
— NWA World Tag Team Championship (WATCH – 1:11:27)
Special Guest Commentator: Jim Cornette
The New Midnight Express (Bodacious Bart & Bombastic Bob) w/Jim Cornette vs. The Headbangers (Mosh & Thrasher)(c)
This tag title match isn’t all that bad, featuring some decent psychology and action for the short time. With the referee distracted Bob cheap shots Thrasher, setting up the Rocket Launcher for the pin at 4:02 for a New Midnight Express win, their first and only NWA World Tag Team Championship, ending the Headbangers sole reign at 41-days.
WINNERS and NEW NWA World Tag Team Champions, The New Midnight Express (Bodacious Bart & Bombastic Bob) w/Jim Cornette (Pin, 4:02)
After the match Cornette instructs NWA World Champion Dan Severn to get in the ring and throw the Headbangers around, which he easily does while exhibiting the least amount of enthusiasm and charisma possible! Seriously, his face never moves. The man is a robot.
Suddenly Stone Cold Steve Austin is calling in from jail to speak with Jim Ross at ringside. Austin calls McMahon an S-O-B and says that he’ll see McMahon next week on RAW, that Vince will find out what “Austin 3:16” means.
After a break, as officials set up the “big blue cage”, Kane and Paul Bearer stand on the stage to address The Undertaker. Bearer says it’s not over and then challenges Undertaker to face Kane in an “inferno” match at Unforgiven ’98.
As the last of the cage is being put together we see footage of Terry Funk (“Chainsaw Charlie”) in the trainer’s room having ointment put on a hellacious bruise suffered in the “dumpster” match at WrestleMania XIV. As Jack and Funk make their way to the ring we go to break, seeing another WrestleMania XIV encore promo.
— Vacant WWF Tag Team Championship – “Steel Cage Match: Pinfall or Submission” (WATCH – 1:32:13)
Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie vs. New Age Outlaws (“Bad Ass” Billy Gunn & “Road Dogg” Jess James)
This match is an all-out war. After a few minutes of brawling Billy Gunn handcuffs Funk to the cage by the neck. Cactus Jack does his best to fight off the Outlaws and tries to climb out of the cage when Sean Waltman, joined by D-X, bashes Cactus in the head with a chair, knocking Jack back in the ring. The Outlaws hit a crushing spike piledriver on a steel chair on Cactus Jack for the pin at 4:38 to win their 2nd WWF Tag Team titles as a unit and the 5th for Billy Gunn.
WINNERS and NEW WWF Tag Team Champions, New Age Outlaws (“Bad Ass” Billy Gunn & “Road Dogg” Jesse James) (Pin, 4:38)
After the match the New Age Outlaws join D-X and begin to maul Terry Funk and Cactus Jack before posing together as the show comes to a close.
Full of some great action, great promos, and all-time classic moments, this edition of Monday Night RAW is as good as they get. Five weeks after this edition of RAW the WWF would win their first ratings battle against WCW in 88-weeks, turning the tide in the “Monday Night Wars”.
Already subscribed to the WWE Network? Then check out this classic edition of RAW, or every other RAW ever. And don’t forget to let us know what you think in the comments below.
Thanks for reading – until next week, see ya at ringside!
Watch every RAW episode, this Sunday’s WrestleMania 33 PPV, and loads more content only on the WWE Network. Your first month is FREE! Click here to subscribe to the WWE Network.