WWF Shotgun Saturday Night: January 18, 1997

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Greetings from sunny Florida, where my wife and I am vacationing for the next week. Updates through our timeline may be sporadic, dependent on how much writing I can get done in the early mornings on the veranda – but I’ll be back at it full tilt before long.
Last week on Shotgun Saturday Night, nobody had a match go above *. But it’s not about the wrestling, because Sunny “made love”, according to Todd Pettengill, to Fondle Me Elmo. Elmo, showing all the resistance of a young man in bed with … well, 1997 Sunny, lasted about 4 seconds.
This week, Goldust gives birth, and there’s a good chance I’ll say some bad words in response to it. ALL THAT AND MORE!
Live from Shawn Michaels’ ass-crack in San Antonio, the site of the Royal Rumble, we have a pretty loaded show. Goldust takes on Steve Austin, while Triple H and Rocky Maivia meet (for the first time? A glimpse into our future?). VINCE MCMAHON compliments JIM ROSS on his lovely new cowboy hat; a gimmick he wasn’t taking a particular liking to but would wind up being his defining trait. SUNNY dances on a nearby bar, potentially getting liquored up for a date with Bert and Ernie later. Boy is SHE gonna be disappointed.

HUNTER HEARST HELMSLEY vs. ROCKY MAIVIA (in a non-title match)
TODD PETTENGILL stops Hunter on his way to the ring, and in light of his title defense against Goldust tomorrow, he calls this one a “Tuna Match”. Enunciation is nobody’s friend in Texas tonight! A huge “ROCKY” chant takes over the bar, with everyone plastered enough to forget they hate everyone’s favorite Sunshine Boy.
The elbow Kleenex is a particularly fine touch. Rock powerslams Hunter, and takes over with an armdrag. “HOWSE O FIRE!” crows Vince McMahon, while a mustachioed BLACKJACK BRADSHAW pounds on the apron in support of something. Hunter gets to his feet, but misses an elbow and winds up stuck in that firey house armdrag again. Atomic drop changes matters, but running in is JAKE “THE SNAKE” ROBERTS with the snake in hand. Vince screams that Hunter is afraid of snakes, completely ignoring the fact that Rock bounced out of there at warp speed. This calls for a commercial break.
Back from a timeout, Jake has joined the commentary team, and Hunter has Rocky trapped in a headlock. Apparently Jake has an exceptionally large snake ready to debut at the Rumble – oh my! How was he never offered a spot in DX with talk like that? He’ll be competing in his record 6th Rumble, how weird does THAT sound now? Hunter uses the high knee, but Rocky kicks out to loud cheers. A headlock features a little cheating via Helmsley’s feet on the ropes, but he’s caught and told to knock that off by the referee because using that position from a horizontal base adds absolutely no advantage at all. While Hunter ponders this theory, Rocky powerslams him, and that brings out MARLENA. She’s working over a lit cigar, and Jake offers to show her his snake. I ain’t putting nothin’ past THIS show. The boys hit the floor, and after Rock is slammed into the ring steps, Hunter puts the moves all over Marlena. GOLDUST charges in, because apparently Helmsley is far too stupid to spy a set up, and he takes off into the street for the count out at 9:30. This was clearly a rough draft of their future wars, the kind you’d bring to your boss and be told “start over, this is garbage”. 1/2*
SUNNY does the Macarena with SEVERAL IMBRED LOCALS.
Over at a Blackjack table, THE HONKY TONK MAN is dealing to MINI MANKIND and HISTERIA, who are rapidly losing their formerly fat stacks. Honky cleans them out by flipping over a 25 on the final hand; a fine Blackjack score if I ever saw one. I’d be real curious to find out what the story behind all the copy-cat mini wrestlers was. Just the result of too many lines of cocaine, or an actual effort to put the midgets over with Genuine WWF Gimmickry.
BOB BACKLUND is back in New York City, stopping traffic and wondering where the hell Shotgun Saturday Night went.
MINI MANKIND and HISTERIA vs. MASCARITA SAGRADA and VENOM
TODD PETTENGILL asks Mankind for his strategy, which is delivered completely in Spanish. The wrestlers are given by-lines here, such as Mankind’s “How big is his Paul Bearer?” and Sagrada’s “2-Parts tequila, 1-Part lime juice”. Neither Venom nor Histeria are midgets, and appear to be far taller than the likes of Rey Mysterio Jr or Billy Kidman on the other channel. Venom snaps off a rana on Histeria, and follows with a springboard headscissors takeover that sends Histeria to the floor. Venom is rapidly behind with an Asai Moonsalt, and Sagrada is finally tagged in to a big pop. He armdrags Mankind to the floor, and is right behind with a plancha off the top. Back to the big guys, while STEVE AUSTIN joins the announce booth. Steve’s tired of being censored on RAW, and explains he uses 4-letter words so that there’s no way to misconstrue his messages. Austin: “Now what the hell is this in the ring? Are these cats in the Royal Rumble? I wish these guys were in the ring, because that’s the most colorful garbage I’ve ever seen in my life.” JR starts sucking his kneecaps, to no surprise. Max Mini hits a super rana on Mankind, and follows with a triple jump senton from the apron to the floor, and a HUGE pop. Great crowd tonight. Histeria finishes Venom out of nowhere with a powerbomb, and for the first time that I EVER remember, Max Mini’s on the losing end of a match at 6:01. *1/2
In the Alamo Dome, WWF Superfans GEORGE and ADAM have taken their seats and are holding up their signs, with their energy level set to their usual “near seizure”. I’m fairly sure they’ve been waiting for the Rumble for going on 6 weeks now? Yikes.
TERRY FUNK comes bursting through the crowd, set to make his WWF return in the Rumble tomorrow night. Funk: “This is my state!” Austin: “Wrong!” Funk: “This is my town!” Austin: “Wrong!” Funk: “This is where I wanna be!” Austin: “Ain’t gonna be here very long!” Austin needs a permanent job behind the desk, let’s start by replacing JBL. He prefers to know what number he’s going to be given, and ideally he’d start at #1 and be the last man standing. Austin: “Don’t let yer teeth fall out.” He says there’s nobody in the WWF, and none of the “snake sucking scumbags” in WCW that want a part of him. He challenges TODD PETTENGILL to a fight, and calls his mother a whore. Austin: “Shut up you old bag of wind.” He starts looking for the “Okie Asshole”, before setting his eyes on Austin. Austin: “He’s a senile old man, don’t cross the guardrail stupid! How ‘bout a couple of Geritol tabs son? You don’t need to lay down for me son, I’ll knock your ass down.” Eventually Steve has enough of his mouth, and gets all up in Funk’s grill. Funk starts bitch slapping him and asking to rumble, so Austin obliges by beating the ever loving shit out of Terry before the referees knock it off. Fantastic stuff, Austin is so much money at this point, putting out even better stuff than his eventual (and much more fondly remembered) babyface work a year later.
FAAROOQ (with Clarence Mason, Kona Crush, and D’Lo Brown) vs. DOUBLE-J
Faarooq and Crush have absolutely no desire to chat with TODD PETTENGILL when asked, piefacing him. Faarooq “Loves Vowels” according to his by-line. Jesse’s microphone fails to start properly, making for an embarrassing live karaoke session of “With My Baby Tonight” with Todd on his way in. Which is fine with me, I don’t need a third week of the Todd Pettengill Karaoke Power Hour. James drops Faarooq with a backdrop suplex, while Vince theorizes we’re not likely to see a lot of “scientific wrestling” here. Dominator quickly finishes at 1:54. DUD
GOLDUST (with Marlena) vs. STEVE AUSTIN
The boys lock up, and Goldust holds on JUST a little too long, causing Austin to flip out and stomp his ass in the corner. Goldust fires back with an elbow, and drops Austin with a clothesline. Austin goes low, right into the Golden Globes, and spears Goldust repeatedly in the corner. This crowd is decidedly pro-Austin, which is interesting considering they were playing by the “rules” by giving Rocky a hero’s welcome earlier in the night.
After a quick break, Austin’s reading the referee the riot act for god knows what reason, giving Goldust a chance to sneak up and deliver an uppercut. TERRY FUNK rushes back in for the early DQ at 3:10, and while he brawls with Austin, bloody EVERYONE hits the ring. THE HEADBANGERSTHE GODWINNSFAAROOQROCKY MAIVIA, and SAVIO VEGA all start brawling. HUNTER HEARST HELMSLEY sneaks up on Goldust with a pool cue and smacks him over the back of the head. Austin and Funk start trading punches in the beer tent, and in the grand tradition of WCW, WE ARE OUT OF TIME!

This was easily the best of the Shotgun series to date, with more emphasis on trash talking and storyline progression, and ZERO mention of Goldust’s alleged giving of birth. Just centre more shows around Austin, and we’re rock solid.