It’s the day after the Royal Rumble where Shawn Michaels defeated Sycho Sid, avenging his mentor Jose Lothario and regaining the WWF World Heavyweight Championship. But the bigger story is Stone Cold Steve Austin winning the Royal Rumble despite being eliminated. He was thrown over the top rope by Bret Hart, but the refs were too busy breaking up a fight between Mankind and Terry Funk so they never saw his elimination. Today on Raw, we start out with Bret Hart delivering a message. He says he was screwed by Shawn Michaels at In Your House. He was screwed by Stone Cold at the Royal Rumble. He’s been screwed by the WWF. And he’s been screwed by Vince McMahon. He then declares that since it doesn’t look like he’ll be getting a title shot, he’s done with the WWF and then promptly walks out through the crowd. Stone Cold comes out afterwards and says, among other things, “Ever since you came back, you ain’t done nothin’ but cry.” At this point Vince McMahon takes his leave to go talk to Gorilla Monsoon to figure out what they need to do going forward.
After a couple of filler matches (Farooq VS Bart Gunn, anybody?), Vince finally comes back and has Gorilla Monsoon in tow for a major announcement. Monsoon reaffirms that the referee’s decision is final and therefore Austin is indeed the winner of the Royal Rumble. However, since the last three eliminations in the match were illegal, Monsoon has decided to set up a four way match between Stone Cold, the Undertaker, Vader, and Bret Hart, if he’s willing to accept. The winner of this match will go on to face the World Heavyweight Champion at WrestleMania, whoever that may be.
Austin is none too pleased with that and comes out to deliver some choice invectives right to Gorilla Monsoon’s face: “You call yourself the Gorilla, yet you come out here and heehaw like a jackass. When I get done with them, I’ll toss your carcass around the arena too!” He’s finally interrupted by Bret Hart who says “I accept” and begins brawling with Austin right there. The two men are eventually joined by Vader and the Undertaker for no discernible reason, other than to give us a little preview of what their match at the next pay per view will entail.
Over on Nitro, we start off with the Macho Man coming out for the first time since Halloween Havoc. He plops down a folding chair and takes a seat in the middle of the ring and says he’s not leaving until somebody in charge comes out to talk to him. After a bit, they try to start the match anyway. Chavo Guerrero comes out first but gets thrown out of the ring by Savage. Chavo’s opponent Max gets the same treatment, as does the ref, the head of security, and Alex Wright for some reason. Suddenly, Sting rappels down from the top of the United Center and then walks casually down the aisle towards Savage. Sting brandishes his bat at Savage, but once again, Sting gives the other man in the ring the weapon and turns his back on him. Savage decides to just give the bat back though and both men leave together through the crowd. The announcers are totally baffled.
Later, Chris Benoit and Kevin Sullivan have an all out brawl before their scheduled match can even begin. They spill out into the crowd and fight up the stairs and into the lobby of the building. And just like most of their matches, they wind up in the public restroom bouncing each other's’ heads off the porcelain. They make their way back towards the ring, grabbing beers and sodas from crowd members and throwing them in each other’s face. The men almost accidentally find themselves in the ring finally where the ref signals for the bell to start the match, which I think is hilarious. Eventually, Benoit goes for his patented diving headbutt, but Kevin Sullivan has managed to get his hands on the bell and slams it into Benoit’s head as he lands, putting him down for the count.
The program ends with the usual Hogan cameo. The Giant must have picked up on this as well because he comes barrelling out of the back towards the ring to get his hands on Hogan, but is stopped by security. I guess he’ll have to wait until this Sunday at the first nWo pay per view, “Souled Out”.
Verdict: I almost gave it to Raw this week on the strength of Stone Cold’s charisma as well as the half shoot/half work promo that Bret gives early in the show. However, I thought the shoehorned four way face off at the end of the show was just sloppy. In comparison, all the storytelling on Nitro is well done and compelling and everyone has a clear motivation.
Winner this week: Nitro
Score to date: Nitro 50, Raw 17
(Television Ratings: Raw - 2.2; Nitro - 3.7)