Monday, May 25, 2020

RAW After Mania (March 30th, 1998): Business Picks Up

The night after the Austin era is born...

We open the show with Vince McMahon carrying the new Big Eagle WWF Championship... or as others would call it, the "Attitude Era" WWE Championship. This isn't that belt, as it has a blue strap and the old WWF block logo on it. Then out comes new WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin, who quickly tosses aside the Winged Eagle belt and takes the new title... and then after words are exchanged, Austin KICK WHAM STUNNERs Vince and celebrates with the crowd... thus kicking off the Austin vs. McMahon feud that would push the WWF into the stratosphere.

Jumping ahead, McMahon calls the cops to arrest Austin... because sure, why not? This will lead to next week's segment, where Austin wears a suit, goes all corporate, takes a picture, and then Austin reveals his ruse and punches Vince in the nuts. For some reason, I had thought at the time that segment taking place the night after Mania, but turns out that wasn't the case. Either way, this was shots fired.

So, I'll skip the less important bits and just focus on the major ones... such as the Rock turning on Faarooooooooooooqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqq and assuming leadership of the Nation Of Domination during a tag match. This was a good thing, because it meant the Nation was going to get cool, suave music as opposed to the militant stuff since their days as a black racist group. It also gave DX a rival group to contend with; something that would fill the midcard for the middle of 1998.

And as far as DX is concerned, welp, Shawn took his ball and went home, but ol' HHH picked it right up and brought ol' X-Pac, freshly fired from WCW and with a lot to say about Eric Bischoff and how Nash and Hall would be right with him if not for contractual obligations... which I doubt because I'm sure they like the extra bucks and creative control... but this is a big deal since you had a featured WCW guy willingly jump to WWF and he wouldn't be the first. This would also kick off the silly DC Invades WCW skits that are far less of a big deal than the current WWE canon would have you believe. (For example, they drive a jeep with a rocket launcher, not a fucking tank. That's like calling Rey Mysterio a ten-foot roided-up bodybuilder.)

A pretty historically significant show that laid the ground work for the following year's worth of television and the first bit of momentum that would see RAW eventually end Nitro's 83 week long run of ratings dominance. Give it a watch if you haven't because it's quite a ride.


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