The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 04.14.97
The Observer newsletter back issues are apparently down at the moment due to server issues (and who hasn’t been THERE, am I right?) so I guess I’ll continue on with 1997 instead. God knows I had to do this one eventually.
Taped from a combination of last week’s arena (Muncie, I think it was), plus South Africa. It’s kind of a mess.
Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jim Cornette in the US and Jim Ross & Honky Tonk Man in Africa.
The Legion of Doom v. The Godwinns
Ostensibly both teams are babyfaces at this point, although the Godwinns are getting ready to turn. This stems from the drive-by slopping last week, although it’s unlikely that Hawk could remember what happened anyway. PIG immediately tries a piledriver for the first time in his entire career, and Hawk no-sells it. Shocking, I know. Henry pounds away on Animal, which gives Vince a chance to work in one of his pet phrases: “Mixing it up”, although it’s “rough house style” in this case. Hawk gets a half-hearted tag and comes in with a suplex on Phineas, then continues to no-sell all of Henry’s stuff until he finally misses a charge and posts himself. So weird to hear Vince interchangeably referring to them as “Legion of Doom” or “Road Warriors”. We take a break and return with the Godwinns working on Hawk’s arm while Hawk looks like he could not possibly care any less about working this match. Hot tag to Animal and he at least seems halfway into the match, cleaning house until Bulldog & Owen head out and hit Animal with one of the belts, giving Henry the pin at 6:10. Animal selling the lovetap from Bulldog like a gunshot to the head was ridiculous as well. Obviously the LOD was not particularly keen on making anyone look good in a losing effort here. ¼* Hawk here was pretty much the definition of “Job face”.
Jesse Jammes v. Hunter Hearst Helmsley
So we’re in South Africa for this one and the commentary is missing for some reason, although they did have a disclaimer at the start of the show about technical issues. Jammes works on the arm as the sound is nearly muted and it’s like watching old wrestling from the 50s or something. It’s also because they’re working a damn armbar for 3:00. Finally the commentary kicks in while Jammes slugs away and then goes back to the arm again while the commentary vanishes into the ether. We take a break and return with Hunter taking control with a neckbreaker for two. Were they talking at length about something that needed to be erased from commentary or something? Hunter drops a knee for two and we hit the chinlock as this is just the WORST with no commentary. Hunter holds the chinlock FOREVER until Jammes makes the comeback with his shaky arm punches, and he catches Hunter coming off the top rope, with a clothesline. Punches in the corner, but now Honky leaves commentary and trips up Jammes, and KICK WHAM PEDIGREE finishes at 11:48. Have I mentioned how tremendous the storyline of Jesse Jammes and Billy Gunn both being a couple of huge fucking losers was? DUD Honky threatens to get into the ring and face Jammes like a man, but then backs down and decides to wait for his protégé to defend his good name on Sunday.
Rocky Maivia v. Savio Vega
Really, no Faarooq to lead the Nation here in South Africa? We also get the strange treat of hearing the original vocals rapping on the Nation theme without PG-13 over top of them. Savio takes him down off a headlock and walks on the back, but Rocky takes him down to control again while Ahmed watches from the back with a 2×4. Yeah, I feel like he’s smart to carry that around with him. Cornette pops in from the US to suggest that Ahmed take “Hooked on Ebonics”, which is definitely a tad bit racist coming from Cornette. Rock works the arm while the various announcers all take turns getting their shit in and it’s a mess. Rocky misses a charge and Savio takes over with a spinkick out of the corner. Savio was actually in phenomenal shape here. Vega chokes away in various manners as they seem to be trying to have an even more boring match than the previous one. And then the commentary disappears again as we take a break and return with Savio STILL doing a resthold. The dreaded nerve pinch continues for upwards of 5:00 while Faarooq heads down to ringside to give orders, and Savio switches to a chinlock instead. Finally Rocky comes back with a bodypress for two, but Savio goes to the fucking nerve pinch AGAIN. Seriously, what happened to the commentary from this episode? Maybe JR & Honky just fell asleep along with everyone else. Rocky finally makes the comeback, but Savio gets a crossbody for two. Rocky with a catapult into the corner, but Savio blocks a monkey flip and then misses a blind charge of his own. Rocky comes back with his goofy punches and a fisherman’s suplex gets two. Rock Bottom gets two, which I believe was the first time he did that move. DDT and Rocky goes up with a flying bodypress, but Savio escapes the shoulderbreaker and rolls him up with a handful of tights at 14:34. Way too long. The Nation beats Rocky down afterwards, but Ahmed makes the save with his 2×4.
And then the Nation and Faarooq were all never seen again.
Well, at least that first hour seemed shorter than it was, I suppose.
Steve Austin joins us to kick off the second hour, and nobody can hold him down any longer! Vince notes that talent can’t be held down. Unless it goes on Twitter and insults a military veteran. Then talent goes on job duty. Anyway, Steve thinks that Bret has not yet been screwed because Austin will be the one to do it.
The Sultan v. Goldust
Back to South Africa to really crank up the excitement, and the commentary is missing again. It’s like they’re TRYING to find ways to make this episode more interminable. We immediately take a break and return with Goldust pounding away in the corner as we get another “Presented in the most complete form possible” disclaimer. There’s gotta be some kind of story with this. Sultan bails and gets some advice from Iron Sheik on the floor. That advice? “Don’t forget to tell Vince that you have kids who want to be wrestlers.” We get a lengthy chinlock while the USA Sunday Night Heat lineup is silently plugged, but Goldust makes the comeback and HHH runs in for the DQ at 3:52. Jesus. DUD Sultan beats on Goldust in the name of whatever vague Arabic country he was supposed to be representing.
Meanwhile, in Kuwait, Bret Hart is here to stand up for what’s right, which is everything but all the crap that American wrestling fans stand for. This was of course a really brilliant character turn for Bret, where he acts like a babyface in all the foreign countries that still cheer him, and a heel in America.
The Headbangers v. Mankind & Vader
We continue to recycle the few guys that were around for the tapings last week to find new matches for this week. Well, at least we’re back in the US so there’s commentary again. Vince pretends that he’s talking “live” to Honky Tonk Man in South Africa because everyone watching is apparently a complete moron. Vader beats on Thrasher, but misses an elbow and the Bangers double-team him. A gang Bang, you could say. What? Mankind fights with both Bangers on the floor and Vader heads out to help beat on them as this is complete nonsense with guys just walking around the ring doing stuff. Back in the ring, Mankind with a double arm DDT on Mosh and Vader follows with an avalanche, but Mosh doesn’t really sell and Vader gets annoyed and hauls him back to the heel corner. Mosh randomly “spews some sort of liquid” into Mankind’s eyes for the DQ at 5:45. Mankind is blinded by whatever mysterious liquid was in Mosh’s mouth and he puts Vader out with a Mandible Claw by mistake. “A hush here in the United States!” declares Vince. Yeah, that’s because everyone in the arena saw the Headbangers and went to go take a shit. This was a giant mess from sloppy start to shitty finish. -*
Meanwhile, in South Africa, Undertaker cuts a spooky promo that is supposedly being played for the open air stadium but is obviously just overdubbed while they tell the fans to cheer and hold up Undertaker signs.
Meanwhile, at the Slammy Awards, various chicks are in bikinis. 1997 Sunny’s rack nearly saves the show on its own. They’ve actually showing clips of this all night, and the segment that it was leading up to was just all the same clips cut together in one segment. This show is a flaming disaster of a trainwreck.
The Commandant does his Col DeBeers ripoff promo back in South Africa. Probably not a great idea to have someone doing a fake South African accent in South Africa.
Ahmed Johnson v. Crush
If this is anything but a DQ finish I will poop my pants in shock. Literally fill my pants with poop. This is your main event, for those keeping track such as myself. The match that you, as a viewer of this awful program, were theoretically supposed to be excited about enough to watch this disaster for two hours. Crush bails after some stalling, but Ahmed boots him out of the ring once he gets back in. And then it’s Crush’s turn to throw Ahmed out, where the unnamed D-Lo Brown gets his cheapshots in. Crush brings him in with a suplex and drops the leg for two as Jim Ross is trying so incredibly hard to make this sound like anything interesting because he’s SHOCKED and OFFENDED by every blow from the heel. We take a break with JR still aghast and return with the commentary gone again and Crush in control with…wait for it…a resthold. There are now three other Nation members at ringside as they could not make it any more obvious that the finish is going to be everyone running in for the DQ. Ahmed gets a slam but I think misses an elbow. It wasn’t really clear what he was doing there or what the end result was. Crush with a piledriver for two. And suddenly JR returns and he’s even more excited than before! IT’S A SLEEPER FROM CRUSH, BAH GAWD! Those Nation guys are a pack of wild dogs, bah gawd! Ahmed Johnson is a stallion from Pearl River and…oh, the commentary is gone again. Thank god. Crush uses his belt for some choking behind the ref’s back and then it’s BACK TO THE SLEEPER. Bah gawd. Can you imagine actually having to sit through this awful card in the stadium? And this is the BEST STUFF FROM THE SHOW that they picked for RAW. Crush sets up for the deadly HEART PUNCH, but Ahmed counters by, uh, moving, and rolls him up for the pin at 8:46. My pants are filled with poop in shock at getting an actual finish. DUD, so at least it wasn’t in the negatives.
This was not only one of the worst episodes of RAW in history, but also one of the worst episodes of any WWF program I can ever remember watching. Not only that, but according to various sources, this was the show that bombed so badly that Vince decided to hire Vince Russo as head writer.
So, you know, not good.
Next up: In Your House – Revenge of the Taker, legendary for being one of the worst PPVs of all time in its own right. I haven’t review it in a long while, so we’ll hit it with a fresh perspective in a few days.