The SmarK Rant for the Monday Night Wars–02.03.97

The SmarK 24/7 Rant for the Monday Night War – February 3 1997

– Welcome to the 2 hour era of Monday Night RAW, as these shows are now a little over 3 hours total, and I’m sure they’ll have to be split up for technical reasons pretty soon.  (Ha ha, NOPE.  In fact they just dodged the issue completely by dropping the 1997 version of the show and restarting back in 1995 again, before the channel was cancelled completely a few weeks later.  I have a month missing in my archives, so I’ll have to redo those ones for February, and then about a month’s worth of these left over from March ’97 before I’m gonna have to start reviewing the shows for real again, by the way.  My current feeling is alternating weeks of RAW and then Nitro, because two hours a week is about the most I can take.  Like holy hell, how did I get the time to retreat to my office and do these monstrosities for four hours at a time back in 2007?  No wonder my wife never saw me.  Also, thank JEBUS that this is the point where I ditched that stupid new format for the rants and went back to the classic way.  Every time I read one of them I want to go back and rewrite the match results properly.) 

MONDAY NITRO!

– Live from Mempho

– Your hosts are Tony & Larry

– Oh, goodie, Hulk Hogan and the nWo kick things off to talk about Roddy Piper. This time they’re on a “mission from God” and they’re gonna confront Piper TONIGHT and put the title on the line if he’s man enough to show his face tonight. Piper’s a coward, you see, unlikely to accept such a bold challenge.

Ultimo Dragon v. Ray Mendoza Jr.

Mendoza flips out of a wristlock, but gets tossed by Dragon, who follows with a dive. Back in, Dragon throws kicks for two and a senton gets two. Mendoza comes back with a clothesline out of the corner as Tony tries to interpret Piper’s senile ramblings. Apparently “The battle isn’t over until you get home” isn’t just the crazed babbling of an aging wrestler, but something quite deep and open to interpretation. Mendoza wraps up Dragon with a leglock for two, but they head up and Dragon brings him down with a rana and finishes with the tiger suplex at 3:12. Mendoza was game, but they had no time or real direction. **

Billy Kidman v. Glacier

Glacier kicks Kidman down off a legsweep and follows with a tilt-a-whirl slam and clothesline. Spinkick in the corner and he fires away with palm thrusts, and a rolling elbow puts Kidman on the floor. Kidman fights back in with a flying headscissors and goes up, but gets caught by a superkick on the way down, and that’s it at 2:07. Total squash for Glacier. 1/2*

Juice Train v. La Parka

Rather subdued entrance for La Parka. Ice Train overpowers him to start and gets hiptosses into a clothesline, then powers him down. We hit the chinlock, but La Parka fights out and dropkicks him down. To the top for a leg lariat that puts Train on the floor, and La Parka follows with a spinning tope con hilo. Very nice. Back in, Parka charges and hits boot, and Train flattens him with a lariat, helped along by the 360 sell by La Parka. Parka keeps coming with a crossbody out of the corner, but Train awkwardly catches him and powerslams him, nearly dropping him on his head in the process. His followup: A suplex. This is why Train never went anywhere. Parka fights back while we head to the back, with the Outsiders having beaten up Lex Luger. Back to the match, as Train gets a belly to belly for two. My god, what if we don’t get that Jeff Jarrett v. Lex Luger match tonight? People will RIOT! Steroid Splash finishes at 5:15. * They had no idea what to do with La Parka.  (Boy, that’s an understatement.) 

– The Four Horsemen join us, united once more. Well, except that Arn Anderson isn’t there. Gotta love this company. (To be fair, that wasn’t Arn’s fault.  His retirement match was the week before.)  Debra gets a HUGE chunk of promo time to go on about Jacqueline in a feud that no one cares about, and Mongo offers to take Luger’s place against Jarrett tonight.

Harlem Heat v. The Steiner Brothers

Booker trades power moves with Scott to start and brings him down with a sidekick, but Scott replies with a press slam. The Steiners clean house and the Heat regroups. Back in, Stevie Ray attacks Rick and pounds him down, but Rick gets a powerslam for two. Scott comes in with an armbar and locks in the dreaded Steiner Recliner, but back then it was just called a chinlock. Rick comes back in and runs into a bicycle kick from Stevie, and he’s YOUR gremlin-in-peril. Booker gets the sidekick for two. And that heat segment ends quickly, as Rick makes the hot tag to Scott about 15 seconds later, and the Faces of Fear run in for the DQ at 5:00. This was just going through the motions. *1/2

HOUR #2! This is the hour that secretly wrote “The DaVinci Code” under a pseudonym, and then sold the rights to Dan Brown.

Mike Enos v. Dean Malenko

Enos controls with a headlock to start, then takes Dean down with a tackle. He blocks a crossbody with a slam, but Malenko takes him down with a wristlock. He dropkicks the arm in the corner and takes him down with another wristlock, and goes to work on the arm with a hammerlock. Malenko takes him down with a drop toehold, but misses an elbow and Enos pounds him to set up a powerslam for two. Syxx joins us at ringside and steals the cruiserweight title, while Enos gets a running powerslam on Malenko. Malenko tries to come back, but Enos clotheslines him down again. He also blocks a suplex attempt from Malenko and tries his own, but Dean reverses to a small package for the pin at 7:07. This was booked as a heavyweight v. cruiserweight type match, with Enos blocking most of Dean’s stuff due to his “size”, but really it’s not like anyone buys Enos as a threat anyway. *1/4

Diamond Dallas Page v. Renegade

Renegade powers him down in the corner, but Page throws elbows in response. Renegade comes back with a handspring elbow and goes up, but Page crotches him and the Diamond Cutter finishes at 1:59. Not much of a match. * The Outsiders come out and look menacing, but Sting and Randy Savage lurk in the stands and are equally menacing, so everyone backs off. Bet you didn’t think that people standing 500 feet apart could be so exciting.

Alex Wright v. Super Calo

Calo flips out of a wristlock, but Wright takes him down and works on the arm. They each miss a dropkick, but Wright hits one of his own to take over. Calo tries to come back with a springboard out of the corner, but slips and falls and Wright gets a headlock. Calo gets his springboard on the second try, but Wright pounds him down again and suplexes him for two. Calo tosses him and follows with a high cross to the floor. Back in, Wright counters another crossbody with a dropkick and stomps him down in the corner. A pair of headscissor takedowns puts Calo on the floor and Wright follows with a pescado. Back in, Wright goes up, but Calo brings him down with a superplex for two. Sloppy headscissors off the top and Calo goes up again, but misses a senton off the top. Wright gets crazy hangtime on a missile dropkick and finishes at 6:20. Looking like a car wreck most of the way, but it was mostly watchable after they got their shit together. **

Chris Benoit v. Konnan

Konnan attacks to start and gets the rolling clothesline, into the seated dropkick. He drops a leg and puts Benoit into a Stump Puller, but Benoit fights up and muscles him to the top rope. Superplex follows, but Konnan comes back with a crucifix powerbomb for two. Another try is countered by Benoit with a german suplex, but here comes Jacqueline for the DQ at 4:16. What a waste of money that chick is. Another match that never got going. *1/2

Jeff Jarrett v. Mongo McMichael

Mongo attacks during the strut, and a powerslam gets two. Elbow misses and Jarrett takes over with an atomic drop, and a crossbody gets two. Dropkick puts Mongo on the floor, and Debra holds him up on the floor for the countout at 2:21. Man, they’re really TRYING to find bad finishes this week, aren’t they? DUD

– Speaking of bad finishes, Roddy Piper and his kid join us and declines the title shot against Hulk Hogan, declaring that he’s already beaten him and thus has nothing left to prove. Hogan and Eric come out to confront him, and Piper’s all SHOOTING and stuff, because he’s like “Terry, please don’t”. But Hogan keeps pushing him and finally Piper snaps and attacks, as we just totally forget about the title match that they’ve been advertising all night.

MONDAY NIGHT RAW!

– Live from Skydome.

– This is the “Royal Rumble RAW”, which was supposed to mean showing the whole match, but instead means showing the final minute instead.  (Boy howdy, lemme tell you how happy the PPV providers were to hear that Vince wanted to show the Rumble on free TV.  The answer is “About as happy as they were when he introduced the WWE Network and started undercutting them every show.”  Hence the change, since he couldn’t yet afford to alienate them.) 

Steve Austin v. Vader

Austin gets into a brawl with Bret Hart before the match, and then attacks Vader in the corner and stomps a mudhole, but Vader takes over and fires away in the other corner. Short clothesline and he goes up, but Austin goes low and the ref is bumped. Vince, by the way, gets the funniest line of the show thus far, calling the 25,000 filling half the stadium a “capacity crowd”. We take a break and return with Vader missing a butt splash, and Austin drops an elbow for two. Vince then TOPS himself, claiming that they don’t do bait-and-switch tactics and will present the title matches tonight as promised. Vince did a bait-and-switch of his own DEATH, for god’s sake! The poor ref gets wiped out again and Vader brawls with Austin to the floor, as the arena is so blacked out that they nearly disappear into the shadows. The whole thing is thrown out at 5:25. OK, but short. **

Flash Funk v. Savio Vega

Savio works on the arm to start, but misses a charge and Funk gets a sunset flip for two. Savio ducks a clothesline and gets a sideslam, then chokes him down. Funk makes the comeback and runs Savio into the corners, and a flying splash gets two. Somersault legdrop and he goes up, but he hits poor D-Lo Brown with a crossbody instead, and then heads back in for another try. That misses, and Savio gets the pin at 4:19. Weak. *1/2

– Jim Ross brings out Sid for one of his nonsensical promos about how he’s the master and ruler of the world. Man, if anyone needs an Ultimate Warrior-style DVD to bury him, it’s this guy.

WWF World tag titles: Owen Hart & British Bulldog v. Doug Furnas & Phil LaFon

Bulldog grabs a headlock on LaFon, who takes Bulldog down with a leglock to escape. Bulldog charges and hits boot, but comes back with the powerslam, which LaFon escapes. Bulldog puts him down with the lariat out of the corner, but Owen comes in and walks into an armdrag. Owen pounds him in the corner, but LaFon counters a monkey flip and goes back to the arm again. Furnas comes in with a hiptoss, and Owen lets Bulldog have a go at it. Bulldog pounds the back, but Furnas takes him down with a headlock, and Furnas has to reverse out of that. Owen comes in with a leg lariat, which Michael Hayes calls an “enzuigiri”. See, even smart wrestlers can sound dumb. The champs work Furnas over in the corner and Bulldog draws LaFon in to allow some double-teaming in the corner. Furnas gets a sunset flip on Owen for two, but Bulldog breaks it up and works on the back. Owen goes to a neckvice, but Furnas escapes with the electric chair. Bulldog again cuts off the tag and draws LaFon in, while Furnas gets a small package for nothing. Furnas keeps fighting back on Owen, but he gets a neckbreaker and then goes to argue with a posing Bulldog. This allows Furnas to roll him up for two, and it’s more arguing from the champs, and we take a break.

Back with the champs double-teaming Furnas, apparently having settled their differences, and a double-clothesline gets two for Bulldog. Furnas comes back with an overhead suplex on Bulldog, but it’s hot tag LaFon and noggins are knocked. Owen gets a crossbody, rolled through for two by LaFon. Suplex gets two for LaFon. Tornado DDT gets the pin, but Owen’s foot is on the ropes. Small package gets two. Vicious sidekick gets two. Finally Bulldog just dives in and legdrops LaFon in frustration, and the champs work him over, but Bulldog dumps his own partner out of the ring by accident. Bulldog slams LaFon while Owen claims a knee injury, and takes the countout loss at 11:28. ***1/4

– Let us take you back to the Rumble for another two seconds of the match, as Ahmed Johnson eliminates Faarooq. This leads to a backstage promo from Ahmed, where he, uh, I dunno, tells us that he enjoys cottage cheese sandwiches and thinks that Boris Becker was underrated in his prime. That’s the best I can get out of it, sorry.

Crush v. Goldust

Crush slugs away to start, but Goldust clotheslines him out of the corner and dumps him with another clothesline. Back in, Goldust takes him down with a drop toehold and works on the arm. He takes Crush down and holds an armbar, hanging on through a slam by Crush, but now HHH joins us at ringside, which distracts Goldust enough for Crush to lay him out on the floor. Back in, Crush works on the back. Belly to belly gets two. He goes up and misses a fistdrop, and then Goldust backdrops out of a piledriver attempt. Goldust DDTs him and makes the comeback, and a bulldog gets two. He goes for the Curtain Call, but Savio Vega sneaks in with a leg lariat, and the Heart Punch finishes him at 8:14. This one nearly put the whole front row to sleep. 1/2*

– Coming soon: The Blackjacks return! Except they’re younger and shittier.

– Vince McMahon brings out Shawn Michaels for an interview, and he compares himself to Muhammad Ali and vows to be the biggest asshole in the business if it means keeping the title. He calls out Bret Hart, who joins us for a reply. He calls Shawn a degenerate in a nice bit of unintentional foreshadowing, but Steve Austin returns to attack Bret, while Sid comes out and stares Shawn down. We take a break and return with Shawn laying the belt down at Bret’s feet to be a punk, but then Bret puts his foot on it to prevent Shawn from getting it. Nice. He tosses the belt at Shawn and flips him off.

– Earlier tonight, Tiger Ali Singh signs his WWF contract. He should have just quit right there, because it was all downhill for him.  (Oh my, how timely this debut has suddenly become now that Tiger Ali Singh 2.0 is WWE champion!) 

Intercontinental title: Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Marc Mero

Everyone is banned from ringside. I barely even remember Curtis Hughes as HHH’s bodyguard anyway. Mero works the arm to start and hiptosses him, and HHH backs off. Armdrags from Mero set up a dropkick and HHH backs off again. Mero backdrops him out of the corner and they brawl outside, where HHH meets the post. Back in, Mero tries a slingshot splash, but lands on the knees. HHH pounds him with knees on the ropes. They slug it out and Mero gets a rollup for two, but HHH uses the knee to take over again. We take a break and return with HHH missing a blind charge and Mero making the comeback. Flying headscissors and clothesline and Mero slugs away in the corner and HHH bumps to the floor. Mero follows with the plancha as Vince and JR go on and on about how there’s no bait-and-switch tonight, on the show called THE ROYAL RUMBLE RAW, featuring no Royal Rumbles. Back in, Mero slugs away in the corner, but runs into a boot. HHH goes up and Mero brings him down with a rana, but he hurts his knee and only gets two. HHH comes back with a backbreaker and pulls the turnbuckle off, but Mero catches him with the samoan drop. Merosault gets two. HHH tries to whip Mero into the steel, but he blocks and points it out to the ref. While the corner gets rebuilt, HHH whips out the brass knuckles and knocks Mero out at 10:44. Always a good match with these two. ***

Non-Bait-And-Switch Main Event: Faarooq & Mankind v. Undertaker & Ahmed Johnson

I just love Vince going on about how they wouldn’t promise a match like this and then not deliver, as though three midcarders and one main event guy was somehow a match that Nitro would even waste time promoting. I’m pretty sure this show was taped anyway, so it’s not like they were doing on-the-fly booking changes like Nitro was. Big brawl to start and Ahmed gets the spinebuster on Faarooq, but Faarooq goes low in response while Undertaker and Mankind brawl down the aisle. Faarooq gets a sleeper, but Undertaker breaks it up and then walks into a clothesline from Faarooq. He comes back with his own clothesline and goes old school, then goes after Mankind again. The rest of the Nation joins us and we take a break. Back with Mankind catching Undertaker in the Mandible Claw, but Ahmed breaks it up with the tiger bomb for two. Faarooq breaks that up with the Dominator for two. Mankind goes low on Undertaker and charges at him with a chair, but that gets kicked back in his face as the NOD attacks Ahmed. He chases him off with the 2×4 while the heels double-team Undertaker, and then saves Undertaker and chases Faarooq off as well. This leaves Mankind and Undertaker to finish this “tag” match one-on-one, as Vader now runs in and splashes Undertaker. A chairshot goes awry and he hits Mankind by mistake, and Undertaker gets rid of him without breaking too much of a sweat. Tombstone finishes Mankind at 7:45. Just a big mess, with no continuity and a lot of pointless brawling. **

– Wrapping things up, Michael Cole notes that wrestling is hitting a boom period, exploding off the charts at that point. Kinda like last week, huh?

The Pulse: They need to split this show up now, for my own sanity if nothing else, because 3:12 is WAY too long for one sitting. RAW has two PPV caliber matches on free TV and at least some semblance of direction, so it wins with ease, but nearly blows it by going on about bait-and-switch and matching up La Femme Nikita against Robin Hood.

(2017 Scott Sez:  I was checking and wondering why the Feb. 10 RAW show was missing, but it turns out there wasn’t any show that week, it was THURSDAY RAW THURSDAY!  So stay tuned next week for a fresh redo of that!)