BY RAJ NATION
Welcome to the latest in Professional Wrestling from Poor Scholars: WWE Retro Video of the Week.
Our first iteration of ‘Retro Video’ takes us back to the summer of 1998; arguably the best period of storytelling in WWE history. After a five-month buildup of the Undertaker-Kane feud, which came to a clash at Wrestlemania XIV, and a termination at the following month’s Unforgiven Pay-Per-View in the infamous Inferno Match, Undertaker set his sights on Stone Cold Steve Austin. On this episode of Raw, Vince McMahon ordered a triple threat match between Undertaker, Kane, and Mankind to determine the No. 1 Contender.
Although Undertaker was still one of the top babyfaces in the company at this time, his vying for the WWE Championship would put him on course towards his first heel run (and eventual formation of the Ministry of Darkness) since his character’s introduction in 1992. It was also around this time that Undertaker and Kane cahoots rumors began entering the storyline, and many could make the argument that this night in particular was the unofficial beginning of Mankind’s face turn which led to him winning the WWE Championship within the next year.
Five of the biggest faces of the “Attitude Era” make this WWE Retro Video of the Week memorable. In the Raw main event, Mankind refused to ‘fight my friend Kane’, the Undertaker mysteriously was nowhere to be seen, and Kane’s red entrance lights never went back to normal. It was only after winning the match that the wrestling world was shocked to see Kane take off his mask and reveal Undertaker in disguise.
Talk about plot twist! In retrospect if you watch the video, some of the tip-offs include Kane’s movements being a tad askew from his norm, and for some reason he pins Mankind in Undertaker’s signature pin. I’m just guessing that Mark Calloway forgot which outfit he wore.
With all that action, it was Vince’s announcing that stole the show (as far as we’re concerned) and earned this honorary WWE Retro Video of the Week.
Now, Vin-man was never renowned for his commentary. In fact, he was downright awful alongside Jerry “The King” Lawler for a good portion of the 90s, before the Montreal Screwjob and creation of the Mr. McMahon character. Most of the time he yelled like he was in his vinegar strokes stages, and there were frequent instances where you couldn’t understand a word he said. He straight up tarnished Shawn Michael’s title victory at Wrestlemania XII.
So what happened when he put on the headset for this Raw main event?
0:49 mark: “This is what the WWF is all about! Yes! Kane and Mankind—Mankind refused to fight Kane! The Undertaker didn’t have the guts to show up!”
RN: At a time when the Ratings War was at its most intense, Vince McMahon summarized his company as being headlined by a man who won’t wrestle someone he’s friends with, and another man who embodies cowardice.
1:17 mark: “Yeah! That’s it! Drag him around the ring!”
RN: McMahon shows us his strong affinity for non-wrestling maneuvers. JR tries to save the comment by comparing Mankind to a carcass
1:27 mark: “…And Kane now…Kane?”
RN: At this point, Vince is just confused. He’s probably also wondering why Kane forgot how to pin. The look on his face coupled with the tone of his voice is absolutely priceless.
And THAT, ladies and gentleman, is your Poor Scholars WWE Retro Video of the Week.