What the World Was Reading: RAW Magazine – May/June 1996

by Logan Scisco

After having covered an alternative to WWF Magazine last week, we continue that
idea in this week’s column, reviewing the very first issue of RAW Magazine from May/June 1996 (I
wonder if this is worth anything to collectors today).  RAW
Magazine
was the brainchild of Vince Russo, who wished to have a magazine
that would cater to more mature and knowledgeable fans.  This followed Russo’s failed attempt to
launch a newsletter under his magazine personality Vic Venom.  RAW
Magazine
was bi-monthly in its circulation until 1998 and when the WWF
launched its brand split, RAW Magazine
became exclusive to the RAW brand in 2004. 
That was an incredibly stupid decision and was one of the reasons I
finally cancelled WWF Magazine.  Why should you have to buy two magazines to
keep up with one company?  RAW Magazine continued until the summer
of 2006, when it and the newly christened Smackdown!
Magazine merged into a new WWE Magazine that ceased publication in
the fall of last year.

Vader is the cover man of the first issue of RAW Magazine, but the big selling point
was lots of photographs of Sunny, which you can see in the insert in the top
right corner of the page.  The picture of
Vader is taken from his assault on WWF President Gorilla Monsoon the night
after the Royal Rumble, which caused Vader to be indefinitely suspended until In
Your House 6.
You can purchase some Coliseum Video releases of WrestleMania
for $19.95 each, but if you want the greatest WrestleMania of the them all –
WrestleMania XII – it will run you $39.95. 
If you want to buy WrestleMania III or WrestleMania IV, though, you are
out of luck.  That is not the first time
that I remember those tapes not being for sale either so I am not sure what was
going on there.  You can also purchase
“Spring Explosion ’96,” which are the matches from In Your House 6.  I never understood why the WWF felt the need
to brand those shows after the fact
for tapes.  “Spring Explosion” is such a
generic name anyway, but the company has gone back to it with “Fast Lane.”  Parallels to the Dark Ages continue!
Vince Russo’s “From the Editor” piece discusses how he is
happy to launch RAW Magazine so that
he can “can the fluff and get down to the stuff!”  In what could be written about the product
today, he rips the company for catering too much to kids because of
demographics, although he admits that catering WWF Magazine to kids in the mid-1990s paid dividends with improved
sales.  He says that hardcore fans ripped
him for doing so, though, which is why he has launched this new product.
And what will a subscription to RAW Magazine set you back in 1996? 
If you wanted two years you had to pay $19.97.  One year cost $11.97.  What really irked me, though, is that they
make the cutout portion to get your subscription run into the column on the
next page.  That is a bad layout
decision.
Our first piece of RAW
Magazine
is an extended “Informer” column, which is loaded with new rumors.
The Smoking Gunns are unhappy that they were stripped of
the tag team titles in February. 
Evidently, they see nothing wrong with not having defended the titles in
thirty days due to Billy’s neck injury. 
Unfortunately, they did not have the precedent of Brock Lesnar to fall
back on.  The Informer proceeds to rip
the Gunns for dominating a weak tag team division, but it says that they can
earn more respect if they listen to Ted DiBiase, who is looking for a new
team.  It suggests they could be called
the “Hired Gunns,” which would not have been the worse idea in the world I
suppose, but the Gunns would not have saved the awful Corporation stable, which
was going bankrupt by early 1996.
The Informer also lets us know that Hunter
Hearst-Helmsley has eyes for Marlena, laying the foundation for an eventual
feud with Goldust that would kick off in the fall of 1996.  Similarly, we get another piece of
foreshadowing as the piece says Owen Hart and the British Bulldog will team up
more, thereby adding “some life back into the tag team division,” although they
never coined themselves as “The New British Bulldogs,” as the piece suggests.  We also hear that all those “parental
discretion” spots Sunny filmed for RAW made her seven figures.  Like Vince had that money to throw around in
1996!  The Informer says that Sunny is
making overtures toward Shawn Michaels, but if that fails she might buy Vader’s
contract from Jim Cornette.  A
Vader-Sunny pairing would have been such a train wreck and Vince may have been
tempted to make Vader a new Bodydonna, providing us with lots of workout
vignettes from the Mastodon!
Vic Venom then pens an extended “Venom RAW” column, where
he talks openly about World Championship Wrestling.  Of course, since the WWF cannot use WCW
photographs, we get the Huckster and the Nacho Man:
Venom says that WCW is an embarrassment to wrestling, but
he does take some digs at the WWF for insulting his intelligence with the Red
Rooster and Outback Jack.  He rips the
company for having nostalgia for the 1980s by employing old WWF talent,
although he exempts Sting and Ric Flair from that list.  This is probably the first time that Sting
was actually mentioned in a WWF publication. 
For fans watching both companies, there is some fun humor here, with
Venom saying Elizabeth has a “shoe fetish” – a dig at WCW running lots of finishes
involving women’s shoes at this time – and that WCW never told us how “that
Giant [fell] off the roof of the Cobo Arena and [came] back to wrestle 15
minutes later.”  Some of the humor is
juvenile, with Venom calling Eric Bischoff “Eric Ripoff.”  The highlight of the article is that it criticizes
WCW booking, citing how they squandered Razor Ramon and Diesel.  However, by the time that this issue hit
newsstands Ramon and Diesel were on their way to WCW and would help it overtake
the WWF in the ratings by forming the New World Order.
Keith Elliot Greenberg, who typically did the
pay-per-view recaps for WWF Magazine,
handles a cool column in this issue entitled “The Night the Belt Changed
Hands,” that talks about an important title change in WWF history.  The subject for this month is the Ultimate
Warrior-Rick Rude Intercontinental title match at WrestleMania V.  As you can tell by the picture, albeit
obscured by the crease in the middle of the pages, Donald Trump was a fan of
the match.
The article provides a blow-by-blow summary of the match,
as well as its context, which includes the Warrior beating the Honky Tonk Man
at SummerSlam 1988 and Rude picking a fight with the Warrior at the Royal
Rumble.  For such a “smart” magazine, the
recap still portrays wrestling as a real competition, with the Warrior’s loss
pegged to him being too “preoccupied with memories of the attack [at the
Rumble] to concentrate on protecting his championship.”  As a history buff, I did enjoy this feature,
which would reappear in subsequent issues as it provided the context for the
match, what happened, and then summarized what happened after, namely the
Warrior going on to win the WWF title at the next WrestleMania.
Speaking of the Ultimate Warrior, we get a full page ad
about all of the items you can get from him. 
It hypes Warrior University, Warrior’s World, Warrior Workout #1, and
Warrior…The Comic Book.  I remember that WWF Magazine sent subscribers a copy of
the comic book with an issue of the magazine. 
As a kid, who dabbled a little into older comics, I was excited to get
something free, but had no idea what I was looking at when I opened the
pages.  I should have known the quality
would be poor, after all, the ad lets me know that “It’s B…A…D…D.”
A career retrospective piece is provided about the
Dynamite Kid, who it says most fans have probably forgotten.
The article chronicles Dynamite’s British origins, his
Canadian battles with Bret Hart, and his run with Davey Boy Smith in the
WWF.  It is a sanitized view of his
career and his reputation has taken a hit over the years due to revelations in
Bret Hart’s book about his family life and other shoot interviews that talk
about how he was a locker room bully. 
Matthew Randazzo’s Ring of Hell even
blamed him for the Chris Benoit murders, as Benoit emulated Dynamite’s
style.  On a happier note, though, I
still cannot get over how young Davey Boy looks in this picture
Vince Russo then provides his top ten list of best WWF
champions.  If there were any marks
reading this magazine, they had to weep when they saw #10, who Russo says did
not have the “whole package” because they were not a “complete wrestler.”  Not mentioned is the fact that he is working
for the rival company
And Pedro Morales? 
He may not be able to beat the Mountie in the Scott Keith Blog of Doom
Intercontinental title tournament, but he did enough with the WWF title to rank
#4 on this list.  Rankings for the others
were as follows:  9-Ric Flair, 8-Randy
Savage, 7-Ultimate Warrior, 6-Yokozuna, 5-Diesel, 4-Pedro, 3-Bob Backlund, and
2-Bruno Sammartino.  Sorry, but any list
that puts Diesel’s title run, which sank the company’s financials, over Randy
Savage, Hulk Hogan, and the Ultimate Warrior loses all credibility.  Is there any surprise over who #1 happened to
be?  This person probably made sure to
shed a tear.
Our main story is about “A Man Called Vader” or in Vince
McMahon’s case “A Man Called the Mastodon.” 
Thank god Jim Cornette talked McMahon out of that idea.
The article, written by Greenberg, says Vader has never
achieved his full potential because he is out of control, wrecking promotions
and hotel rooms along the way.  It says
that one of the reasons Vader attacked Gorilla Monsoon is that Vader looked up
to Monsoon as a kid, but did not react well when Monsoon told him that he ran a
“law and order administration” and that he would be fired if he got out of
line.  Vader also did not appreciate
Monsoon getting into the ring after he blew a gasket following his elimination
from the Rumble match.  It warns that
Vader will plunge the WWF into a state of lawlessness, but really, all of the
momentum came out of Vader’s push when he failed to win the WWF title at
SummerSlam.
And then we get the real reason people bought this
magazine:

You can pay to see even more today on Skype, but you
cannot invent a time machine and get these types of “Sunny days” back.  Leave the memories alone!
A brief recap piece follows all of that to document Razor
Ramon’s attack on Goldust on a January RAW episode before the Royal Rumble.
A similar feature comes next and it gives play-by-play of
the Bret Hart-Diesel cage match at In Your House 6.  The booking of that match did little to help
Bret, as Diesel was primed to win the title before the Undertaker interfered.
The only real highlight of the article is the last
line:  “While the Hit Man experienced a
victory as his boots hit the arena floor, Big Daddy Cool was experiencing a
much different place…a place that he would never forget…a place some people
would call…HELL.”  Or in the case of
D-Generation X in the 2000s, Little People’s Court.
Keith Elliot Greenberg then questions the WWF’s decision
to install “Rowdy” Roddy Piper as the interim WWF President following the
injuries Vader inflicted on Gorilla Monsoon.
You see, Piper is out of control.  He gave Vince McMahon an airplane spin upon
being introduced as commissioner and, in a nice tribute to the past, it brings
up that “the last time Piper was given a special forum, he transformed into his
personal asylum,” using it to attack WWF superstars such as Jimmy “Superfly”
Snuka.
There is yet another recap of a Bret Hart title match,
this time his In Your House 5 title defense against the British Bulldog.  This was Bret’s only clean victory on
pay-per-view during this title run and it is an underrated bout.  The blade job is one of Bret’s best.
The last time we saw a “Fantasy Warfare” article, it
concerned the 1-2-3 Kid and Bob Holly. 
On this occasion, we get two WWF superstars that the fans would really
like to see matched up:
There were rumors in 1996 that the company wanted to run
Shawn Michaels-Ultimate Warrior for the title, but all we got was the Warrior
feuding with Goldust and Jerry “the King” Lawler.  Talk about disappointing.  The match is framed as Warrior’s power versus
Michaels’ speed.  Both men’s egos are
deemed to be their biggest detriment for a possible encounter.  Unlike Vince Russo, Greenberg refuses to
commit to a winner, saying that it is “too close to call.”  There was nowhere to write my own winner, so
there will be no analysis given from ten-year-old me on this issue, but as a
fan I would have cheered for Michaels.
We the get some exclusive photographs of Ahmed Johnson
being taken to a hospital after wrestling Jeff Jarrett at the Royal
Rumble.  Ahmed received a severe
concussion from the match, but he only missed two days of television tapings,
so he was okay!
And are you SURE you do not want any Warrior gear?

This was a decent first issue.  It had some good content at the beginning,
but after the Sunny photos we just got a lot of mark-type pieces that you would
expect to find in WWF Magazine.  Next week, we will go back to the pages of WWF Magazine and look at its August 2000
issue, which promises to discuss “Chyna’s secret.”

What the World Was Watching: Survivor Series 1997

by Logan Scisco
Jim Ross &
Jerry “the King” Lawler are doing commentary tonight and they are live from
Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  This is the
first exclusive pay-per-view pairing of Ross and Lawler, as Vince McMahon has
given up regular commentary duties.

Opening
Contest:  “The Road Dogg” Jesse James,
“Bad Ass” Billy Gunn & The Godwinns defeat The Headbangers & The New
Blackjacks when James and Gunn are the survivors after Gunn pins Thrasher with
a flying leg drop at 15:25:
Other Eliminations:  Bradshaw pins Henry Godwinn with a cradle out
of an abdominal stretch at 3:51; Phineas Godwinn pins Barry Windham with a
lariat at 5:11; Gunn pins Mosh after countering a bulldog with an inverted slam
at 8:40; Thrasher pins Phineas with a Mosh Pit at 12:37; James pins Bradshaw
with a schoolboy at 13:44
This is the entire tag team division, Legion of Doom
excluded, as we approach the end of 1997 and when you look around it’s not that
surprising that the WWF was willing to give James and Gunn a run with the titles.  James and Gunn are actually the most over
team in the match, with Gunn booed heavily when he steps into the ring and
enduring some chants questioning his sexual preferences.  Gunn just rolls with it and gives the crowd a
one finger salute, only riling them up more. 
As it is, this match is just a vehicle to continue James & Gunn’s
rise through the tag division and give them a justification for facing the
Legion of Doom for the tag team titles later in the month.  The crowd isn’t into most of the guys in this
thing so it dies a slow and painful death and on a couple of eliminations it’s
not clear whether wrestlers are pinned or not. 
It reminds me of the accelerated Survivor Series tag match on the Free
for All the previous year.  Gunn
completely whiffs on his finishing move, which just makes it all worse.  Last year’s tag team opener with Furnas &
LaFon this wasn’t.  Rating:  DUD
Kevin Kelly and
Sunny tempt us to call the Superstar Line to find hear from the night’s winners
and losers.  I have a feeling that when
the real controversy broke out later in the evening that people were
flooding in calls, but they got little for their money.
The Truth
Commission beats The Disciples of Apocalypse when The Interrogator is the sole
survivor after pinning Crush with a sidewalk slam at 9:58:
Other Eliminations:  The Interrogator pins Chainz after a sidewalk
slam at 1:18; Skull pins the Jackal with a spinning sidewalk slam at 2:50;
Skull pins Recon after a lariat at 5:20; Sniper pins Skull with a bulldog at
6:29; The Interrogator pins 8-Ball with a sidewalk slam at 8:50; Crush pins
Sniper with a powerslam at 9:47
The good thing about the Survivor Series in this format
is that it allows you blow off factional feuds like this fairly easily.  The Truth Commission head into this at a
disadvantage because the Jackal has to wrestle to make this a true four-on-four
encounter and predictably, he’s the first man on his team to be
eliminated.  However, he just goes and
does commentary for the rest of the match, which has no heat.  On the bright side, if you love sidewalk
slams this is your match.  Before there
was the Great Khali you had the Interrogator, who was repackaged three
different times and failed to get over in any of those incarnations so
eventually the WWF let him go.  However,
this was at the time where they really wanted to make him the star of the
group, so regardless of the fact that the DOA were still cheered by parts of
the fan base, they are jobbed out again. 
By the way, this was Crush’s last WWF pay-per-view appearance before
jumping to WCW, thereby finishing up his run of futility with the company.  The reason this isn’t a DUD is that it kept a
pretty good pace.  Rating:  *
Fans share their
thoughts on who they think will win tonight’s championship match between Bret
Hart and Shawn Michaels.
Kelly hypes
America Online’s chat about the show. 
Steve Austin is participating in the chat and says that he is going
forward after his neck injury
.
Team USA (Vader,
Goldust, Marc Mero, and Steve Blackman) give a promo.  Blackman doesn’t relay much intensity, but
promo work was never his strong point.
Team Canada (The
British Bulldog, Jim Neidhart, Doug Furnas & Philip LaFon) sees Furnas
renounce his American citizenship.
Team Canada (The
British Bulldog, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, Doug Furnas & Philip LaFon)
beats Team USA (Vader, Goldust, Marc Mero & Steve Blackman w/Sable) when
the Bulldog is the sole survivor after pinning Vader after hitting him with the
ring bell at 17:46:
Other Eliminations:  Blackman gets counted out at 5:44; Vader pins
Neidhart after a splash at 7:31; Vader pins LaFon after a splash off the second
rope at 9:07; Furnas pins Mero with a rollup and holding the tights at 11:57;
Goldust gets counted out at 16:58; Vader pins Furnas after a Vader Bomb at
17:34
This is the blowoff for the 1997 feud between Canada and
the United States and it ends with more of a whimper than a bang.  The Patriot suffered a debilitating bicep
injury before the show, so he was penciled out and Blackman was put into the
match.  This is an odd match on paper
because Furnas and LaFon just returned and only one of the wrestlers on Team
Canada was actually born there, a fact that Ross brings up on commentary.  Team USA are the heels, but it’s nothing like
the dynamic that was present at Canadian Stampede four months prior.  The Bulldog does get a massive pop for
vertically suplexing Vader, though. 
Blackman is presented as the new “supreme fighting machine” (my words,
not the WWF’s) and his karate-style is put over strong and the heels have to
gang up to eliminate him.  Goldust is
brooding over family issues and has a broken hand so he refuses to tag in and
Vader tires of that and tosses him into the ring.  Goldust just decides to walk out after that,
which sets up a new feud with Vader and basically costs Team USA the
match.  The match had some fun moments, like
a great power match between Furnas and Vader, but when the Goldust-Vader issue
took over it limped over the finish line. 
Rating:  ***
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Ross and Lawler
talk to Jacquelin Cook, who won the Survivor Series Super Supper Sweepstakes so
she and ten friends can have dinner with a WWF superstar.  Luckily, she picks Steve Austin and not Bret
Hart for her dinner guest.
A long video
package hypes Kane-Mankind.
Mankind says that
the next match won’t be a wrestling match because it is going to be him against
a brick wall.
Kane (w/Paul
Bearer) beats Mankind with a Tombstone at 9:29:
I’m surprised that they didn’t put this match after the
first two in order to break up the string of Survivor Series matches.  Like Sin Cara and Glacier, Kane had special
lighting for his early matches, but it makes some spots on the arena floor hard
to see.  This is Kane’s first televised
singles match and Mankind takes his usual sick bumps to get him over.  Heading in, everyone knew who the winner of
this match would be, but Mankind gives this a good effort and produces a pretty
good David-Goliath struggle.  Rating: 
**½
Michael Cole
interviews Commissioner Slaughter and Vince McMahon.  Slaughter says security has been stepped up
in the backstage area and McMahon says that Bret-Michaels will hopefully happen
tonight, since it has been cancelled several times before.  Cole asks him who is going to win, as a wink
at the smart fans, to which McMahon replies “I don’t know” which leaves you
with the impression that something is wrong. 
It just feels eerie.
Dok Hendrix
interviews Ken Shamrock, Ahmed Johnson & The Legion of Doom.
Ken Shamrock,
Ahmed Johnson & The Legion of Doom defeat The Nation of Domination when
Shamrock is the sole survivor after making Rocky Maivia submit to the ankle
lock at 20:37:
Other Eliminations:  Rocky Maivia pins Hawk with a Rock Bottom at
2:15; Johnson eliminates Faarooq with a Pearl River Plunge at 4:39; Maivia pins
Johnson when Faarooq trips Johnson and holds his leg down at 6:18; Animal pins
Kama Mustafa with a schoolboy at 10:53; Animal gets counted out at 15:00; Shamrock
forces D-Lo Brown to submit to the ankle lock at 17:12
This Ahmed-Nation issue is a little out of hand, since
this feud has been going on since the summer of 1996.  I mean we have headed into Tito Santana-Rick
Martel territory here.  Ahmed gets a measure
of revenge on Faarooq by eliminating him, but Faarooq returns the favor and
they brawl to the locker room because the feud must continue!  After those sequences, the crowd completely
dies as Animal takes the offensive.  The
only thing that wakes them up from time to time is to taunt Maivia.  As the crowd works up a “Rocky’s gay” chant,
I have to wonder what future generations will think of these fans since it is
no longer acceptable to chant those things and how editing that stuff out will
butcher future releases of this show. 
Jesse James and Billy Gunn come out and get Animal eliminated, but don’t
fear because that allows Shamrock to mount the comeback and by proxy, build up
a feud with Maivia that will carry into 1998. 
This thing had a hot start, but completely died around the eight minute
mark.  Shamrock-Maivia brought it back at
the end, but it took forever to get there. 
Rating:  *½
Cole interviews
some fans about who is going to win the WWF championship match later tonight.
A video package hypes
Steve Austin-Owen Hart
.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve
Austin beats Owen Hart (Champion w/Team Canada) with a Stone Cold Stunner to
win the title at 4:01:
This is a weird dynamic for Austin’s return, since he’s
in hostile territory but he manages a mixed reaction to show how over he
is.  Jim Neidhart tries to attack Austin
before the bell, but eats a Stunner and that allows Owen to get the advantage.  Sensing trouble, Owen tries to get counted
out and when that doesn’t work he chokes Austin with a microphone cord and
tells the referee “disqualify me” and when the referee tells him no and to
break it, Owen says “NEVER!”  Shortly
after that, Austin gets Owen in the ring and then hits the Stunner and wins the
title.  Really awkward match to watch,
but Austin came back too quickly and was very fragile.  Also, if someone broke my neck in the ring I
wouldn’t want to be out there with them very long either.  Watching this at the time, though, I had a
lot of reservations about Austin’s future in-ring career.  Thankfully, those reservations proved to be
unfounded, at least in the short term.  Rating: 
A video package
hypes Bret Hart-Shawn Michaels
.
WWF Championship
Match:  “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn
Michaels (European Champion) beats Bret “the Hitman” Hart (Champion) when Bret
submits to the Sharpshooter to win the title at 11:00:
Well, this is the infamous “Montreal Screwjob” whereby
Bret refused to lose to Michaels in Montreal and instead of running with the
agreed upon finish, which was a double disqualification, Vince McMahon had
referee Earl Hebner ring the bell when Michaels had Bret in the Sharpshooter to
cause a title change.  While this match
is tough to watch as a Bret fan, I do believe that McMahon and crew were justified
in what they did because it made no sense to have Bret forfeit the belt and
head to WCW as an undefeated champion. 
They couldn’t have run Michaels-Bret on RAW and had a title switch
there, which would have cheated the paying pay-per-view customers, so that was
off the table.  You can sense the
frustration that the WWF booking staff felt if you watch Jim Cornette’s 1997
Timeline shoot interview, as he says it was chaos trying to come up with a
reasonable finish for the match.  In the
end, all parties are to blame for what unfolded, some more than others.  Watching this match fifteen years later, with
the entrances showing both guys coming to the ring from their locker rooms, it
feels a lot like a funeral to the “Bret Hart” era that has existed in the company
since he won the WWF title in 1992.  This
match is probably the most controversial and arguably most significant match in
wrestling history, as it generated some of the momentum that led to the WWF
overtaking WCW, helped cement Vince McMahon’s status as a heel, and it still
generates a great deal of debate today.  There
is some nice continuity in the sense that five years ago when these two faced off
at the Survivor Series they both had singles titles, with Bret as the WWF
champion and Michaels as the Intercontinental champion.  As a match, it is actually a good prelude to
the Austin era since they brawl into the crowd and up the aisle before the
official bell.  The pacing is a little
slower than usual and there is only one near-fall, which might be owed to Bret
being paranoid about a fast count finish. 
It’s a little weird to rate this match, since the screwjob ended it
abruptly and before it was supposed to, but I guess you have to work with what
you have.  Rating:  ***
The Final Report Card:  The only real appeal of this show is the
screwjob, but if you hope to see any extracurriculars after the bell rings then
you aren’t going to get them on the Coliseum Video release, as the show ended
very quickly after the bell and missed Bret Hart destroying equipment and
everything else.  This is a show that you
can easily bypass as it has little redeeming value outside of the legacy of the
main event.  In fact, I would say it’s
the worst Survivor Series up to this point.
Attendance: 
20,593
Buyrate: 
0.89

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – November 3, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Jim Ross, and Jim
Cornette are in the booth and they are live from Hershey, Pennsylvania.
McMahon interviews
Steve Austin, who reiterates his hatred of Owen Hart and says that he attacked
Ahmed Johnson last week because he wants to make sure Owen held onto the
Intercontinental title at Survivor Series. 
Ahmed comes out and says he respected Austin until last week and
proceeds to challenge Austin to a match. 
Austin gets a “hell yeah” from the crowd to agree to the match, but in
storyline terms that is non-sensical since Austin’s reinstatement was not
supposed to take effect until the Survivor Series.
Sunny comes out to
do guest ring announcing duties for the next match.  She makes some ten year old’s night by giving
him a kiss on the cheek.

Opening Light
Heavyweight Championship Tournament First Round Contest:  Aguila beats Super Loco with a moonsault at
5:11:
The brackets for the tournament are as follows:  the winner of this match faces the winner of
Taka Michinoku and Devon Storm.  The
other side of the bracket sees Jerry Lynn face Eric Shelley and Flash Flanagan
face Brian Christopher.  It’s a crime
that Tajiri was not in the tournament based on his recent work.  Super Loco is Super Crazy, but he’s not very
proficient with his moves and makes himself look foolish by getting tangled in
the ropes in a fake dive spot and then missing a flying spinning kick off the
top rope, so that probably explains why he wasn’t long for the WWF.  Loco also keeps shrugging after every move or
taunt at the crowd, which is strange. 
This is a complete spotfest and the pacing is really awkward, but the
result is not in doubt since Ross was putting Aguila over hard despite him only
getting twenty percent of the offense. 
Having Brian Christopher on commentary for this didn’t help either.  Rating:  *
A pre-taped Jim
Ross interview with Dustin Runnels and Terri is shown, which is where Runnels
starts a heel turn by saying he’s tired of Terri and how she won’t let him be
who is wants to be.  Runnels says that
when Terri was gone for a month he found someone who let him express himself,
that he doesn’t love her, and walks out after giving back his wedding
ring.  Ross rants about how Goldust
should be ashamed of himself when the segment finishes.
A long video
package chronicles the Bret Hart-Shawn Michaels feud.
The Austin-Ahmed
match looks like it is happening next, but after Ahmed makes his entrance Kane
comes out and destroys him with two Tombstones. 
Mankind runs in after that and gives Paul Bearer the Mandible Claw and
blasts Kane with a piece of metal, but like Michael Myers in the Halloween
films, Kane sits up as we head to a commercial break.  I remember being very angry about this since
I really wanted to see Austin-Ahmed
.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your Steve Austin t-shirt, which comes in its special can of “whoop
ass.”  It’ll cost you $30 (plus $6
shipping & handling)!
My copy of the
show fast forwards through the next segment, but the end of it sees Steve
Austin give Kama Mustafa a Stone Cold Stunner, while the Legion of Doom brawl
with other Nation members.  I think
Austin came out and challenged the Nation to a fight since he didn’t get to
face Ahmed Johnson and this was the result
.
The announce crew
switches out, like WCW used to do on Nitro, as Vince McMahon comes out with
Jerry Lawler to do commentating duties with Jim Ross.  Jim Cornette hits the showers.
Michael Cole
interviews D-Generation X and Shawn Michaels kisses Triple H and Chyna in
response to a “Shawn is gay chant.”  He
doesn’t dare do that to Rick Rude.  DX
bullies Cole, who leaves the ring in disgust, and Michaels makes fun of Hulk
Hogan’s guitar taunt with his European title. 
Michaels says next week he is going to walk naked, which makes McMahon
freak out, and he’ll beat Ken Shamrock as well. 
Commissioner Slaughter comes out and DX dons face guards with windshield
wipers to block Slaughter’s spitting. 
Slaughter isn’t amused and orders Michaels to face Shamrock tonight.
Marc Mero is irate
backstage because Sable isn’t ready and he barges into her locker room with her
only half clothed.
Marc Mero
(w/Sable) beats Savio Vega with a TKO at 2:31:
So yes, this is our second match of the night and the
first in nearly an hour.  Mero continues
to steamroll his way through the lower midcard, but this boxing gimmick is just
not working.  He sets up the TKO with
another low blow to end this dull contest.
Cole interviews
Sable about how she feels about Mero’s recent low blows in matches, but before
she can say much, Mero ends the interview and says if Cole wants to interview a
real superstar he can talk to him next week.
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to find out why Goldust has a broken hand.
Dog Collar
Match:  Vader defeats The British Bulldog
(w/Team Canada) at 3:32:
Ross announces that the Patriot has a torn tricep muscle
and will not be at the Survivor Series. 
The Bulldog brings Jim Neidhart, Doug Furnas, and Phil LaFon with him as
they are part of Team Canada at the Survivor Series in a match that has
received very little attention.  Instead
of this being a straight up match, you win by touching all four corners.  This is also the first dog collar match in
RAW’s history.  Since the match is no
disqualification, Team Canada beats up Vader and his comrades on Team USA,
Goldust and Marc Mero, are not helping because they are heels.  Most of the match we don’t even see, as LaFon
and Furnas cut a return promo.  Vader
wins, to the surprise of the announcers who don’t even keep up with the match.  Rating: 
¼*
After the match,
Team Canada beats on Vader in the corner until a man, later identified as Steve
Blackman, comes in and attacks the heels with karate.  They play it off like a random fan charging
the ring and they play it well, with Vader laying on top of Blackman to block
the blows of the heels.
The announce crew
hypes the house show circuit
.
“The Road Dogg”
Jesse James & “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn beat Jesus & Jose when James pins
Jose after Gunn hits a flying elbow drop to the back of Jose’s head at 5:19:
McMahon never knows the names of the Boricuas, which
shows you where they stand on the WWF totem pole.  McMahon also lets us know that we won’t get
any more comments from Jeff Jarrett because of time constraints, so the second
part of his interview will be aired on Livewire.  I’m sure Jarrett was thrilled about
that.  This match sees James debut the
origins of his shaking knee drop spot, but the rest is very uneventful as the
crowd doesn’t care who wins as both teams are heels.  This just serves to give the yet to be named
Outlaws another victory.  Rating: 
¾*
Non-Title
Match:  Ken Shamrock beats “The
Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels (European Champion w/D-Generation X) by
disqualification when Triple H interferes at 7:48 shown:
This match was triggered by Michaels interfering in
Shamrock’s match against Bret Hart on last week’s show.  Shamrock dominates Michaels before DX’s
numbers come into play.  Rick Rude comes
out midway through the match as I begin speculating on how Michaels keeps
coming up with the money to pay Rude for protection.  Talk about another storyline mystery we never
got to the bottom of.  Michaels carries
Shamrock to a good match here, but Shamrock botches several sequences.  Shamrock makes Michaels tap out to the ankle
lock behind the referee’s back, thereby providing a justification for him to
receive a title match with Michaels after Survivor Series, and predictable
interference from DX ends the match.  Rating: 
***
After the match,
Triple H gives Shamrock a Pedigree on Rick Rude’s briefcase as the show goes
off the air.  What does this mean for
Bret Hart?!?!
The Final Report Card:  This show was paced very poorly, with only
one match in the first hour and they were really trying to cram everything in
by the end.  It was really odd not to
have Bret or Owen Hart on the show, which was another sign that Bret’s title
reign was coming to an end.  The main
event was good, but it’s not enough to lift the show out of thumbs down
territory since there weren’t any other redeeming elements.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.6 (vs. 4.0 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – October 27, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Vince McMahon and
Jim Ross are in the booth and they are taped from Tulsa, Oklahoma
.
McMahon interviews
the Nation of Domination and apologizes for the racist slogans posted in their
locker room last week.  That’s not good enough
for Faarooq, who says that it does not make up for 400 years of racism in the
United States.  Rocky Maivia takes the
mic as McMahon is ushered out of the ring and warns the Hart Foundation that
they have created a race war with the Nation and Faarooq challenges them to a
match next week.  The Hart Foundation
comes out and Bret accepts the challenge, says there is no racial prejudice in
Canada, and tells Faarooq that D-Generation X is to blame for their problems.  DX comes on the Titantron and makes some Ku
Klux Klan references and says that they heard the Harts use the “n-word” and
that leads to the Nation beating down the Harts on the ramp.  Bret seems to have suffered an ankle injury
in the melee, which bodes poorly for his title defense against Ken Shamrock
tonight.
A clip of Bret
Hart on Mad TV is shown.

Opening
Contest:  Triple H (w/D-Generation X)
beats Goldust (w/Marlena) with the Pedigree at 5:36:
Rude does Helmsley’s announcing duties and lets us know
that Helmsley is the “future of the World Wrestling Federation.”  Helmsley’s theme music is in need of an
overhaul since he’s still using Ode to Joy, which does not fit the group.  Michaels does commentary, but says little of
note.  Chyna works in her usual
interference by slamming Goldust on the entrance ramp when he ends up outside
of the ring and Marlena gets in some interference by slapping Helmsley later in
the match.  However, when Marlena is
working in these blows, Chyna gets into the ring and clocks Goldust with
Marlena’s purse and the rest is academic. 
This is probably the best Goldust-Helmsley match since they had to work
a faster pace under the TV time constraints. 
After the match, Michaels tells McMahon and Ross to “suck it” and
McMahon is not happy about that.  Rating: 
**
Jim Cornette rants
against the cage match WCW put on at Halloween Havoc between Hulk Hogan and
Roddy Piper.  There’s no real point in
this and it’s the weakest of Cornette’s rants so far.
A small video
package shows highlights of a presentation of Oklahoma wrestling legends like
Jim Ross, Bill Watts, Jack and Gerald Brisco, and Danny Hodge that happened in
the show.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  Ahmed Johnson
defeats Owen Hart (Champion) by disqualification when Steve Austin interferes
at 6:19 shown:
Ahmed was in a gray area at this stage of his WWF career
because he could not be legitimately reduced to jobber status, but he was
nowhere near the heights he achieved in 1996. 
Ahmed proceeds to dominate Owen in this plodding match, which the Nation
of Domination comes out to watch, and you can tell that he is making an effort
to work a less stiff style.  Ahmed hits a
spinebuster, but Steve Austin runs in through the crowd and gives him a Stone
Cold Stunner and Owen retains the title heading into Survivor Series.  Rating:  ½*
Call 1-900-7374WWF
to find out who the three superstars were that did not make it to the WWF’s
recent European tour!
Ross interviews
Mankind, who says Dude Love just wanted to have fun and he thought he had a
truce with Paul Bearer for both of them to leave each other alone.  He says he will retaliate by making Paul
Bearer’s life a living hell and will complicate Kane’s path towards the
Undertaker.  Commissioner Slaughter comes
out and says that he will not sanction Mankind’s match with Kane at Survivor
Series, so Mankind puts Slaughter in the Mandible Claw.  Mankind had absolutely no chance of beating
Kane at Survivor Series, but this was a good promo that made you want to see
the match.  It’s also been a bad couple
of months on the job for Slaughter thus far.
A video package
hypes the Bret Hart-Ken Shamrock WWF title match on tonight’s show
.
WWF Championship
Match:  Bret “the Hitman” Hart (Champion)
wrestles Ken Shamrock to a no contest at 10:31 shown:
Again, Montreal did not have to happen as they could have
done a title switch here if they wanted to get the belt off of Bret.  I like to think of this as a continuation of
the issue between these two from WrestleMania XIII, but the announcers don’t
reference that.  Bret works the leg for a
long time and Shamrock does a good job selling the damage.  Shamrock has an excellent ankle lock counter
to the Sharpshooter, but Earl Hebner gets bumped during that and is not there
to register Bret tapping out.  Bret
proceeds to nail Shamrock with a chair and apply the Sharpshooter, but Shawn
Michaels runs in and blasts Bret with Sweet Chin Music.  Shamrock doesn’t appreciate this and snaps on
Michaels and WWF officials run into the ring to put an end to this.  That just leads to Bret attacking Michaels,
as another referee tends to Hebner who is still down from a slight nudge during
that Sharpshooter counter.  Shamrock
still lacked a strong character at this time and if this match happened a
couple of years later it would have been much better.  Rating:  **½
WWF Champion Bret
Hart tells the announcers that after the Survivor Series he isn’t going to have
to worry about Shawn Michaels anymore. 
That’s true in more ways than one.
-“The Road Dogg”
Jesse James & “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn beat The New Blackjacks when James pins
Bradshaw after Gunn hits Bradshaw with a chair at 2:14:
McMahon reminds viewers during this match that they can
watch Hulk Hogan fight the Undertaker on the Survivor Series flashback special
tomorrow night, which he promises is not “another bad Hulk Hogan movie.”  It’s also fitting that the WWF picked a
Survivor Series match that Hogan lost. 
McMahon also tells viewers that Gorilla Monsoon is very sick and in the
hospital, which was when Monsoon was diagnosed with cancer.  This is an abbreviated match where James and
Gunn steal another win and continue to move up the tag team ranks.
After the match, a
brawl breaks out between James, Gunn, and the Blackjacks and James and Gunn
tear about the Blackjacks cowboy hats after the Godwinns and Headbangers
interject themselves.  This is to hype a
Survivor Series match between these teams at the pay-per-view
.
Kane and Paul
Bearer come out and Bearer rants some more against the Undertaker.  They also accept Mankind’s challenge for the
Survivor Series
.
D-Generation X
cuts a promo where Shawn Michaels moons Bret Hart.  Again, McMahon expresses his disgust.
Marc Mero
(w/Sable) beats Flash Funk with the TKO at 3:48:
Mero’s comeback continues in this match, but Funk gives him
all that he can handle.  Mero brings back
the Merosault, but it just does not fit well the rest of his offense.  Funk hits a moonsault for two, but Mero hits
a low blow behind the referee’s back like his match last week against Brian
Christopher and then finishes Funk off. 
The only thing that the crowd cared about was Sable.  Rating:  *¾
Ross interviews
Jeff Jarrett, who says that he left the WWF in 1995 because Vince McMahon put
limitations on him.  He says he had no
chance of advancement in WCW because he was not one of Eric Bischoff’s
boys.  He points out that the WWF shows
have great action from beginning to end, but WCW does not have that.  Jarrett might have wanted to look at this
video before he decided to ditch the WWF and head to WCW’s sinking ship in
1999.
The Road Dogg and
Billy Gunn come down to ringside, playing with the pieces of the New Blackjacks
cowboys hats that they destroyed earlier in the show.  They refuse to tell Ross why they have an
interest in the next contest.
Non-Title
Match:  The Legion of Doom (WWF Tag Team
Champions) beat Savio Vega & Miguel Perez (w/Los Boricuas) when Hawk pinned
Perez after the Road Dogg tripped him at 2:49:
It doesn’t take long for the Road Dogg and Gunn to steal
the LOD’s shoulder pads and they put them on and do a pose down.  What’s puzzling is that all of this happens
and Animal just sits on the apron and does nothing.  The match slowly unfolds until the Road Dogg
tries to trip Hawk, but accidentally trips Perez, and Dogg and Gunn run away
with the LOD’s shoulder pads.  I’m
surprised that the company never really got behind Savio and Perez as a tag
team threat because both were quite proficient in the ring.  They were just tossed into a terrible stable.
Ahmed Johnson
tells Steve Austin has entered his zone and it is his time to score on Austin
in his zone and get him.
Tune in next week
to see the beginning of the light heavyweight championship tournament and hear
more comments from Jeff Jarrett!  Also,
Steve Austin will be here!
The Final Report Card:  The entire month has been filled with
anti-WCW attacks, but it’s not showing any significant gains in the ratings of
the company or filling the bottom line. 
As was the case with most of the taped RAWs, this one lacked the
atmosphere of the live episodes and the show really died after
Bret-Shamrock.  Still, the first hour was
strong enough to warrant a neutral rating and by the same token, at least the
booking staff is giving most people in the company something to do.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.3 (vs. 4.3 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Neutral

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – September 29, 1997

by Logan Scisco
Michael Cole
narrates a video package about Steve Austin’s rampage of Stone Cold Stunners.
Vince McMahon, Jim
Ross, and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are in Albany, New
York.
McMahon interviews
D-Generation X.  Rick Rude makes a sales
pitch to McMahon based on what Steve Austin did last week.  Shawn Michaels gloats about beating down the
Undertaker last week.  Hunter Hearst
Helmsley, who Shawn refers to as “Triple H,” which is the first time I recall
hearing that in Helmsley’s career, talks about getting impatient to get his big
break.  Helmsley’s voice just does not
jive with this group or rhetoric and it is tough to take him seriously.  Commissioner Slaughter arrives and orders
Helmsley to fight the Undertaker.  The
Hart Foundation appear at the top of the ramp and Bret says that D-Generation X
have committed crimes that they will pay for tonight.  A somewhat dry segment, but this promo is
where Michaels and Helmsley debuted their sophomoric personas that would be a
big part of DX.

The announcers
talk more about One Night Only and the end of the European championship match
is shown
.
Opening
Contest:  Vader beats The British Bulldog
by disqualification when the Hart Foundation interferes at 5:22 shown:
Ross points out that Vader beat Ken Shamrock last night
in Japan, but really makes no sense in recent storylines since Shamrock was
taken out of the Intercontinental title tournament because he was not medically
cleared to compete.  However, the
semi-final that he would have been a part of is tonight.  Anyway, this contest is meant to preview the
tag team flag match at Badd Blood.  You
might be asking what flag match, since it has received little build the last
couple of weeks, but that will feature the Patriot and Vader against the
Bulldog and Bret Hart.  The match has
some weird booking, as the Bulldog gets some impressive power spots which would
usually elicit a face reaction and Vader appears like a big bully.  Vader hits the Vader Bomb, but the Hart Foundation
charges the right and attacks him before the referee can count the Bulldog down
and that finishes this standard TV match. 
Rating:  **¼
After the match,
Bret Hart puts Vader in a ring post figure-four, but the Patriot runs out for a
brief save until he is also mauled by the Hart Foundation.  The Harts make sure to attack him with
Canadian flags to call attention to the flag match stipulation
.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your VHS copy of One Night Only for $19.95 (plus $6 shipping and
handling)! 
A video package
hypes Faarooq.  Since it focuses on his
football background I’m sure that Jim Ross had something to do with this.  The problem with this video package is that
it makes you a fan of Faarooq, who is supposed to be a heel.
Intercontinental
Championship Tournament Semi-Finals: 
Faarooq (w/The Nation of Domination) defeats Ahmed Johnson (w/The Legion
of Doom & Ken Shamrock) by disqualification at 2:26:
Just when you thought this feud was over it came back
like the villain in a horror film.  This
isn’t much of a match as Faarooq gets in some offense, Ahmed responds, and then
when the referee tries to prevent Ahmed from bashing Faarooq with the ring
steps, Ahmed slaps him and that draws a disqualification.  Faarooq advances to the finals to face Owen
Hart at Badd Blood.  This has been a
terrible tournament.
After the match,
Ahmed’s faction brawls with the Nation and the faces win
.
Dok Hendrix hypes
the Nassau Coliseum house show, which features Bret Hart defending the WWF
title against the Undertaker, the Legion of Doom facing Shawn Michaels &
Hunter Hearst Helmsley, and Steve Austin & Dude Love facing The British
Bulldog & Owen Hart in a Long Island street fight.  This is a great card that sounds better than
Badd Blood
.
The latest edition
of Brian Pillman’s XXX Files sees him in bed with Marlena and he says he will
not face Dude Love unless the WWF puts some structure in place to keep Goldust
away from him.  He proposes handcuffing
Goldust to the ring post to prevent unwanted interference.
Dude Love comes
out to do guest commentary for the next match
.
Goldust defeats
The Sultan (w/The Iron Sheik) with a bulldog at 5:41:
McMahon tells us that Goldust and Marlena are renewing
their wedding vows next week on RAW and Dude Love tells the audience that if he
beats Brian Pillman at Badd Blood that Goldust will get a no disqualification
match with Pillman right after.  They
adopt the Randy Savage strategy in this one, with the Sultan taking 90% of the
offense until Goldust hits two moves to win. 
This was only five minutes, but it felt like fifteen.  Rating:  ½*
Steve Austin is
shown arriving to the arena
.
Austin comes out
and McMahon tells Austin that if he does not care about his safety then he
doesn’t either.  Austin says he doesn’t
care if he’s fired and McMahon responds by giving him three options:  provide a medical clearance for next week, a
return to action if he absolves the WWF of liability if he gets injured, or he
can be fired.  Austin says he’ll think
about it in his own “diplomatic” way.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  Jesus & Jose
defeat The Headbangers (Champions) by disqualification when the Godwinns
interfere at 7:11 shown:
Before the match, Ross goes into a hilarious rant about
how Commissioner Slaughter has no brains because of his decision to let Steve
Austin present the Intercontinental title to the winner of the Owen
Hart-Faarooq match at Badd Blood.  The
Headbangers lackluster tag team title reign continues here as the crowd refuses
to react to anything in the match.  The
heat segment on Thrasher lasts so long that I think the Boricuas honestly run
out of moves to do.   Jesus appears to
have the match won for his team with a super hurricanrana on Mosh, but the
Godwinns run in to make sure the Headbangers retain the titles so they can face
them for the belts at Badd Blood.  We are
somewhat accustomed to champions looking weak in the current era, but the
Headbangers had to be the most poorly booked tag team champions in WWF history
up to this point.  Rating:  *½
Call 1-900-737-4WWF
to find out if Goldust is suspicious of Marlena’s time with Brian Pillman and
if she’s really not enjoying herself.
McMahon interviews
Owen Hart, who comes out in an “Owen 3:16” shirt that reads “I just broke your
neck” on the back.  He also has a
SWAT-style security detail with him. 
Owen says that he’s confident that he’ll beat Faarooq at Badd Blood, but
Steve Austin’s latest antics are scaring him. 
Owen tries to persuade McMahon to fire Austin next week, but as Owen
celebrates to leave, one of the security guards takes off their helmet to
reveal Austin and he gives Owen a Stone Cold Stunner before fleeing through the
crowd.  In a nice touch, the crowd blocks
the other SWAT guys from pursuing Austin.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your VHS copy of One Night Only for $19.95 (plus $6 shipping and
handling)!
Backstage, Jim
Neidhart is shown guarding Owen Hart, who is on a stretcher nursing his neck
.
Footage of
contractors building the Hell in a Cell is shown.
The Undertaker
defeats Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Shawn Michaels & Chyna) by
disqualification when Rick Rude interferes at 1:51:
During the Undertaker’s entrance he is attacked by Bret
Hart and the British Bulldog and they, in turn, are attacked by Vader and the
Patriot.  As the Hart Foundation is
repelled, Michaels and Helmsley put the boots to the Undertaker for a couple of
minutes before the Undertaker and Helmsley end up in the ring to start this
match.  The Undertaker makes short work
of Helmsley, but before he can hit a Tombstone, Rick Rude hits him with a
briefcase and draws the disqualification.
After the bell,
D-Generation X beat down the Undertaker and Michaels hits him with Sweet Chin
Music.  DX puts the Undertaker in a body
bag, but the Undertaker sits up and tears his way out and forces DX to
flee.  Michaels tries to run backstage,
but a red light keeps him from doing so, so he climbs the Titantron as the
Undertaker gives Helmsley a Tombstone on the stage as we close the show.  A nice go home segment for this feud.
The Final Report Card:  This show had some good moments, with the
closing segment putting over the main event and Austin being his usual badass
self.  However, the matches were just
atrocious this week and were a chore to sit through.  Bulldog-Vader was solid, but after that the
ring work went into a rut and never recovered. 
I’ll give this a neutral rating as the non-wrestling segments
effectively advanced the major angles, but I got the feeling that much of the
show put more emphasis on hyping the RAW after Bad Blood than the actual
pay-per-view.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.7 (vs. 4.0 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Neutral

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – September 22, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Jim Ross narrates
a video package that discusses the history of Madison Square Garden.  It even mentions the birth of
Hulkamania.  The subtle purpose of this
video package is to inform the audience that a big event is going to happen
tonight
.
Vince McMahon, Jim
Ross, and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from New
York City.

Opening
Intercontinental Championship Tournament First Round Contest:  Ahmed Johnson beats Rocky Maivia with the
Pearl River Plunge at 4:54:
Commissioner Sergeant Slaughter orders the Nation of
Domination away from ringside before the bout and Ross informs us that Ken
Shamrock will not be able to compete in the semi-finals, so Faarooq will
advance despite losing and will face the winner of this contest.  Ahmed gets a great pop from the crowd,
showing that he still had potential if he found a way to quit injuring his
opponents.  This is a fun match from a crowd
reaction perspective as they loudly boo Maivia every time he seizes the advantage.  Unfortunately, the match isn’t as fun to
observe, with Ahmed slashing his hand on a nail by the announce table after
being thrown over the top rope being the only notable moment.  Did this guy walk under ladders backstage or
something?  He’s always finding freak
ways to get hurt.  It’s amazing to look
back and imagine that Maivia, who did not look anywhere near Ahmed’s level in
this match, would be Intercontinental champion by January while Ahmed would be on
his way out of the company.  Rating: 
*
Steve Austin
appears in the crowd and says that someone is getting their ass whipped
tonight.  McMahon does not look happy
about that announcement.
Floyd Patterson,
Chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission, is shown in the crowd.
The announce team
recaps the European championship match at One Night Only
.
McMahon interviews
the Undertaker and mentions that the winner of the Hell in a Cell match at In
Your House:  Badd Blood will face the WWF
champion at Survivor Series.  The Undertaker
gives some generic comments about Shawn Michaels, which brings out the
Heartbreak Kid with his new European title and Michaels says that the WWF is
conspiring against him with all of these stipulations for Badd Blood.  Michaels repeats the fact that he doesn’t lay
down for anyone and that he will be one step ahead of everyone that wants to
bring him down.
Sunny comes out to
be the guest ring announcer for the next match
.
The Legion of
Doom defeats Faarooq & Kama Mustafa by disqualification when D-Lo Brown
interferes at 2:30:
The crowd is hot for the LOD’s entrance, but go mild for
everything else.  Less than two minutes
in all hell breaks loose and the LOD prepare to give Faarooq the Doomsday
Device, but D-Lo Brown interferes and all hell breaks loose.  After the bell, Rocky Maivia comes in and the
Nation do a four-on-two beatdown and Ahmed Johnson’s save attempt goes nowhere.  WWF officials eventually intervene to stop
the carnage.  All of this is building to
a six man tag at Badd Blood.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your VHS copy of One Night Only for $19.95 (plus $6 shipping and
handling)!  That shipping and handling
charge is pretty outrageous.
Jimmy Snuka’s dive
off of a cage against Don Muraco in October 1983 at Madison Square Garden is
shown
.
Intercontinental
Championship Tournament Semi-Final Match: 
Owen Hart (w/Police Crew) defeats “The Loose Cannon” Brian Pillman
(w/Marlena) by disqualification when Goldust interferes at 3:53 shown:
Pillman comes out with his left arm in a sling, which he
says he broke while having a good time with Marlena in the shower.  He says he is going to forfeit, but
Commissioner Slaughter comes out, demands medical evidence of Pillman’s injury,
and when he tosses a microphone at Pillman, Pillman catches it with his broken
arm.  Based on this evidence, Slaughter
orders that the match go on under threat of expulsion from the WWF.  Pillman and Owen proceed to move in slow
motion into basic wrestling moves until Owen gets hit by Marlena’s purse and
decides to wrestle the match normally. 
This does not last long, though, as Goldust charges the ring, makes sure
to deck Owen first, and then tries to go after Pillman, but WWF officials
restrain him so Pillman can get away with Marlena.  It would have been interesting to see if Owen
could have gotten a good match out of Pillman, but the booking of this match
did not allow that to happen.  This would
be Pillman’s last RAW match before he passed away.  Rating:  *
After the match,
Owen cuts a funny promo where he dedicates making the finals of the
Intercontinental championship tournament to Bret.  However, before he can finish, Steve Austin
attacks him from behind and teases attacking police officers.  McMahon runs into the ring and tries to talk
sense to Austin about his medical condition and Austin responds by giving
McMahon a Stone Cold Stunner before being taken to jail.  McMahon oversells the Stunner by convulsing
all over the canvas, but all silliness aside, this planted the seed for the
explosive Austin-McMahon feud of 1998
.
A video tribute is
given for Dick “the Bulldog” Browser
.
Jerry Lawler talks
with Rhonda Shear, host of USA Up All Night, who promotes her show.
Falls Count Anywhere Match: 
Cactus Jack beats Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) with a piledriver
through a table at 9:14 shown:                                                                                                             
This is booked as Dude Love-Helmsley, but this is the
famous segment where Dude Love and Mankind step aside so that Cactus Jack can
take their place.  The crowd really loves
that piece of booking and a loud “ECW” chant breaks out.  Chyna turns the tide for Helmsley, as per
usual, and they brawl to the back, which brings back images of WrestleMania
X.  Speaking of which, thank god they did
not use the stupid stipulations of that “falls count anywhere match” for this
one.  What’s funny about this match is
that you have some white collar professionals in suits sitting in the expensive
seats around ringside and they don’t really know what to make of the brutality
on display in this match.  Chyna and
Cactus have a fight over a chair and Helmsley nails Cactus in the back, which
sends Chyna into the steps and incapacitates her.  Helmsley secures some near-falls as they
battle up the ramp with a litany of foreign objects, but when Helmsley goes for
a Pedigree on a table he sets up near the entrance, Cactus responds with a low
blow and a beautiful piledriver through a table to secure the win, just before
Chyna can make the save.  A very creative
brawl that provided a fitting finish to the Foley-Helmsley 1997 feud and it was
also enhanced by having Jim Ross on commentary. 
I don’t know if Vince McMahon would have known how to call this
thing.  Rating:  ****
Call 1-900-737-4WWF to hear about everything
that happened in the United Kingdom with WWF superstars!
Footage of Andre
the Giant slamming Big John Studd at WrestleMania I is shown
.
Ross and Lawler
talk some more about the European championship match at One Night Only
.
European Champion
Shawn Michaels comes out with a chair, which he sets up in the ring, and calls
out the Undertaker so he slap him around “main event style.”  The Undertaker finally arrives and although
he fends off an attack by Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Michaels decks him with the
chair and D-Generation X work him over.
-WWF Champion Bret
Hart tells the fans that he does not care who wins the Hell in a Cell match
because he knows he can beat either of them at Survivor Series.  This promo shows that Bret really is the odd
man out as far as booking is concerned.
Non-Title
Match:  Bret “the Hitman” Hart (WWF
Champion) defeats Goldust via submission to the Sharpshooter at 9:40 shown:
I hope Bret wore a cup for this match considering
Goldust’s latest match against a member of the Hart clan.  Bret spends most of the match working the leg
and Lawler spends most of the match speculating on what’s happening to
Marlena.  I have no problem with Bret
working the leg, but when it happens for seven straight minutes without leading
to anything, the match gets boring really quickly.  Goldust “builds momentum” (in Ross’s words),
but pulling off a bulldog is ridiculous considering how much Bret has worked
the leg.  The finish is somewhat nice, as
Goldust lifts his leg to catch Bret’s aerial attack, but Bret realizes “why am
I jumping straight down on someone’s exposed boot?” and applies the Sharpshooter
for the victory.  Rating:  **
After the bell,
Shawn Michaels runs into the ring and attacks Bret and Hunter Hearst Helmsley
joins in the beatdown.  Owen Hart, The
British Bulldog, Rick Rude, The Undertaker, and Jim Neidhart get involved in the
brawl, which leads to the Undertaker chokeslamming Bret and Michaels to stand
tall at the end of the show.  This was
Neidhart’s return, but what makes it amusing is that he kept wanting to attack
Rude, but Rude had to try to tell him to leave him alone since Neidhart beating
on him would void his Lloyd’s of London insurance policy.
The Final Report Card:  The first hour was very pedestrian before the
McMahon-Austin segment, but after that the show got rolling.  Anytime you get a **** match on RAW it is worth
a thumbs up rating and Cactus-Helmsley is still fondly remembered today.  In light of what we know about concussions it
is a little hard to watch, but for pure entertainment value it is tough to top.  The show was also a small tryout for Jim
Ross, as he took over lead commentary duties when McMahon went out and he did a
great job, especially with the Cactus-Helmsley match.  A really good show in the second hour, but I
would expect no less from a show held in Madison Square Garden.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.4 (vs. 3.7 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – June 23, 1997

by Logan Scisco

The show opens
with a small clip and tribute to former WWF champion Stan “The Man” Stasiak.
Vince McMahon and
Jim Ross are in the booth and they are coming to us from Detroit, Michigan.
The New Nation of
Domination are interviewed by McMahon and Ahmed says that McMahon never backed
him when he came back from his injury last year for a shot at the WWF
title.  Ahmed says he doesn’t respect the
Undertaker because he’s just a slave to Paul Bearer and Faarooq says that Ahmed
coming into the Nation is like Martin Luther King aligning with Malcolm X.  D-Lo repeats what others have said in this
segment and Kama says that Ahmed will bring the WWF title to the Nation.  At the end of the segment, Crush comes out
with some other men on motorcycles and they surround the ring.  Crush says his organization is called the
Disciplines of Apocalypse and a brawl breaks out.  A combination of WWF officials and police
separate the combatants and DOA gets a chant from the crowd.  Ladies and gentlemen, the gang wars have
begun.

The Legion of Doom
cut a pre-taped promo, where they say that all hell is going to break loose
when they face the Godwinns in the tag team tournament this evening.
The formation of
Steve Austin’s team for Canadian Stampede on last week’s show is replayed.
Former UFC
Champion and then-NWA World Champion Dan Severn comes out to do commentary for
the next match.  Since Severn is a soft
spoken guy, this isn’t the best role for him.
Opening
Contest:  Ken Shamrock defeats Rockabilly
(w/The Honky Tonk Man) via submission to the ankle lock at 2:34:
Hearing McMahon talk about the “appalling” way that state
legislators are treating UFC is surreal. 
You would think that McMahon had bought the company and was promoting is
as a legitimate alternative to the form of sports entertainment that he was
offering audiences at this time. 
Shamrock easily rolls through Rockabilly in this encounter, intimidates
the Honky Tonk Man into leaving the ring, and then teases a confrontation with
Severn at the announce table before shaking his hand.
The Godwinns
promise to do things differently in the WWF from now on and Henry Godwinn
promises to get revenge for his neck injury suffered at the hands of the Legion
of Doom a couple of months ago.
Ahmed Johnson
giving the Undertaker a Pearl River Plunge on last week’s show is the Army Slam
of the Week.
The announce team
talks about whether Marc Mero is jealous of Sable’s new popularity.  You can buy the new WWF magazine and read
Vince Russo’s article about it!
Tag Team
Tournament First Round Match:  The Legion
of Doom defeat The Godwinns when Hawk pins Henry following a flying clothesline
at 3:42:
The Godwinns heel turn consists of them shedding their undershirts but they still have the slop and they use it when the LOD make
their entrance.  These teams have some
good chemistry, but they rush to get their stuff in and the wheels start to
come off of the match by the finish.  After
the match, the Godwinns attack the Legion of Doom to cement their heel turn in
the eyes of the fans.  Rating: 
After the Godwinns
have done their damage, the Hart Foundation hits the ring and beat down the
Legion of Doom.
Paul Bearer tells
The Undertaker to shut up and listen to him, which leads to the Undertaker
choking him and Vader, who is his tag team partner tonight in the tag team
tournament.  Vader looks terribly weak in
this segment, since the Undertaker makes him go to one knee with a one hand
choke.
Owen Hart says
that being booked in a triple threat match for his title is a conspiracy and is
a way for McMahon to see that his Intercontinental championship is placed into
the hands of an American.  He promises a
surprise tonight.
Steve Austin hypes
his Cause Stone Cold Said So video.
Flash Funk says
he’s one of the greatest fliers of all time and he looks forward to facing Sabu
in the next match.
Interpromotional
Match (ECW vs. WWF):  Sabu (w/Bill
Alfonso) and Flash Funk wrestle to a double count out at 4:38:
Paul Heyman is on commentary for this match to give the
television viewers background on Sabu. 
Using Funk for these interpromotional matches is not a bad idea because
Funk had wrestled Rob Van Dam and Sabu in ECW and was someone you could trust
in the ring to make the ECW guys look good. 
There was also no risk in having him lose because he wasn’t doing
anything of note in the company at this point anyway.  Since the WWF had higher production values
than ECW, Alphonso’s whistle is more annoying than usual.  Funk damages Sabu’s arm on a moonsault, as he
comes crashing down onto Sabu’s arm with his knees when executing the move, and
both men battle to a disappointing count out after a match that had some nice
spots in it.  Sabu fails to put Funk
through a table after three attempts, though. 
Rating:  **½
Mankind’s failed
attempt to convince Steve Austin that he should be Austin’s new tag team
partner on last week’s show is played
.
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shipping & handling)!
Non-Title Match:  Mankind defeats The British Bulldog (European
Champion) by disqualification when the Bulldog uses a chair at 4:10:
Mankind is wearing an Austin 3:16 t-shirt and a “Pick Me
Steve!” sign and he dedicates the match to Steve Austin, thereby continuing his
campaign to be Austin’s tag team partner. 
Austin calls into the show and says that he wants to give a shout out to
his brother who was stepped on by a bull. 
However, he makes sure to note that he isn’t concerned about his
brother’s welfare but wants the $30 his brother owes him, which is a nice way
to express concern and incorporate it into the character.  Austin says he doesn’t care about Mankind’s
welfare either and would rather defend the titles alone.  Both men put together a quick match where
Mankind nearly wins with the Mandible Claw, but the Bulldog escapes and blasts
Mankind twice in the head with a chair. 
I’m really worried about what Foley is going to be like if he reaches
seventy with all the head trauma that he incurred over the course of his career.  Despite taking two blows to the head, Mankind
still recovers and puts the Bulldog in the Mandible Claw to get a nice crowd
pop.  Rating:  ** 
Intercontinental Champion Owen Hart tells
WWF President Gorilla Monsoon that Brian Pillman should be allowed to be in his
corner for the triple threat because Hunter Hearst Helmsley gets Chyna and
Goldust will have Marlena.  Monsoon
agrees.
McMahon and Ross
discuss the importance of the Intercontinental title in WWF history.  It’s sad to watch this when you consider how
far that belt has fallen in modern times
.
Triple Threat
Match for the Intercontinental Championship: 
Owen Hart (Champion w/Brian Pillman) defeats Goldust (w/Marlena) and
Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) after pinning Helmsley after a Goldust flying
elbow drop at 7:04 shown:
This is the first televised
triple threat match in WWF history and Pat Patterson, the first
Intercontinental Champion, is the special guest referee.  The two challengers, Goldust and Helmsley,
are former Intercontinental champions and their title wins are shown prior to
the match.  Goldust appears to win the
match with a Curtain Call three minutes in, but Owen had put his foot on the
bottom rope during the count.  Patterson
refuses to change his mind, so Gorilla Monsoon comes out and shows him an
instant replay and the match is restarted. 
One of the refreshing things about this match is that it doesn’t rely on
the “toss one guy out and let’s have a one-on-one match” formula that future
triple threat matches would use.  Chyna
steals the show in another match by giving Goldust a hurricanrana and Owen
moves out of the way when Goldust tries to break up a pin he has on Helmsley
and retains the title.  This was a decent
contest and all of the guys acquitted themselves well, but the commercial break
and restart killed what the match could have been.  Rating:  **½
Bret Hart and Jim
Neidhart are interviewed by McMahon and Bret says that he isn’t worried about
the American team that has been assembled at Canadian Stampede.  Bret calls out “The Hitman” Tommy Hearns and
says that there is only room for one of them in Detroit.  Hearns jumps the barrier and gets in Bret’s
face and when they get ready for an encounter, Hearns knocks down Jim Neidhart
with a combination of punches.  WWF
officials hit the ring, though, to prevent a Bret-Hearns confrontation.  The crowd gets worked into a “USA” chant
.
Savio Vega
interrupts an interview of the New Nation, but gets beaten down and whipped by
Faarooq, Kama, and D-Lo Brown
.
Brian Christopher
cuts a pre-taped promo saying that he dominated USWA in Memphis for years and
he is ready to dominate the WWF light heavyweight division.
“Too Sexy” Brian
Christopher (w/Jerry “The King” Lawler) pins Scott Taylor after a Tennessee Jam
(flying leg drop) at 2:54:
This is another preview of the WWF light heavyweight
division and it is also a clash of the future Too Hot/Too Cool tag team
combination.  Christopher was never a
significant draw in the USWA, but I felt that he was a good midcard talent.  Lawler sidesteps the question on commentary
about whether he is Christopher’s father, which will be a running gag for the
next several years of WWF programming. 
This is a serviceable squash for Christopher, but this light heavyweight
division really needs someone that is going to “wow” crowds because mat based
wrestling is not going to get it done.
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear about Shawn Michaels, Sid, Yokozuna, and Maury Povich!
Paul Bearer says
there are no problems between the Undertaker and Vader concerning tonight’s tag
team tournament match.
Tag Team
Tournament First Round Match:  Faarooq
& D-Lo Brown (w/Kama Mustafa) defeat The Undertaker & Vader (w/Paul
Bearer) when Faarooq pins Vader with a clothesline at 4:59 shown:
The New Nation is without Ahmed Johnson, who suffered a
knee injury in the opening segment. 
Ahmed is shown watching the action in the back, but you can tell by his
body language that he knows he’s lost a major push.  The winner of this match faces the Legion of
Doom in the semi-finals.  DOA comes out
in the first couple of minutes and they waste no time attacking D-Lo Brown and
nearly everyone in the match gets involved in the brawl, with the Undertaker
hitting anything that moves.  From a
booking standpoint it would appear that Faarooq chose the wrong partner, since
D-Lo doesn’t have the size to deal with Vader or the Undertaker.  However, the Undertaker nails Vader in the
face after they jaw with each other and that leads to Vader jobbing to a
clothesline as if this was the Survivor Series. 
This was an awkward contest that didn’t get sufficient time to
develop.  Rating:  *½
After the match,
Bearer sends Vader after the Undertaker, but the Undertaker survives the
onslaught and Tombstone’s Vader.  Bearer
tells the Undertaker that he’s made his casket and he’s going to tell the world
his secret next week.  The Undertaker
just does a throat slashing gesture and leaves.
The Final Report Card:  Ahmed’s injury added another blow to the
Undertaker’s WWF title reign because it eventually saddled him with facing
Vader at Canadian Stampede.  However,
that match wasn’t much of a draw since the Undertaker easily dealt with Vader
on this show and Vader was hardly the menacing monster he was a year
earlier.  You can also see that the WWF
is slowly pushing D-Lo Brown.  He was the
only member retained from the old Nation of Domination, but he got some
microphone time for the first time in his career on this show and he also got a
main event spot.  Despite the awkward
main event, this show had some bright spots like the debut of the triple threat
match and the Funk-Sabu match and that’s enough for a thumbs up from me.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.4 (vs. 3.3 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – June 16, 1997

by Logan Scisco
Vince McMahon and
Jim Ross are manning the announce table and they are from Lake Placid, New
York.  McMahon says that there was a
fight between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels before last week’s RAW and that both
men were injured.  Bret will be back in a
few days, while Shawn will be back in 4-6 weeks.  Since Michaels is out there will be a tag
team tournament and the winners will get to face Steve Austin and a partner of his choice for the tag
team titles
.
McMahon
reluctantly interviews Steve Austin, who isn’t happy to hear about the tag team
tournament.  Austin says he doesn’t need
a partner and Mankind appears on the Titantron and says that he feels that they
have a bond.  Austin says he doesn’t need
a freak walking around him and they proceed to make fun of Shawn Michaels
routine.  McMahon’s facial expressions
during this routine are priceless. McMahon says that Austin will face Brian
Pillman tonight with members of the Hart Foundation handcuffed around ringside.  Ken Shamrock comes down to confront Austin
about getting Stunned on last week’s show and Shamrock challenges him to a
match tonight.  Austin says that’s fine
after he gets done with Pillman
.

Call 815-734-1161
to get your copy of Cause Stone Cold Said So for $19.99 (plus $6
shipping & handling)!
Brian Pillman
tells McMahon that it’s a conspiracy that the Hart Foundation is handcuffed
around ringside for his match with Steve Austin tonight.
The New Blackjacks
say that the tag team tournament is their opportunity for tag team glory.
The British
Bulldog & Owen Hart say that they are going to get their belts back from
Steve Austin after they win the tag team tournament.
Opening Tag Team
Tournament Contest:  The British Bulldog
& Owen Hart defeat The New Blackjacks when the Bulldog pins Bradshaw after
an Owen spinning heel kick at 3:50:
This is an interesting concept for a tournament since
Austin still has an opportunity to keep the titles by facing the winning team
in the finals.  I’m surprised that the
Headbangers were getting a push during this time but not the New Blackjacks
since they looked much more imposing and credible.  The crowd is dead for this, since the New
Blackjacks have very little following and the American fans hate the Bulldog
and Owen.  However, both teams put in a
decent effort and Owen and the Bulldog advance when the referee has his back
turned to get Barry Windham out of the ring shortly after all hell broke loose.
Rating: 
**
Jim Ross recaps
the dissolution of the first version of the Nation of Domination on last week’s
show
.
McMahon interviews
WWF Champion The Undertaker and Paul Bearer and Bearer hijacks the interview
and says that the Undertaker will do what he says as long as he has a secret
over his head.
McMahon interviews
Ken Shamrock, who tells Austin that it’s time to knuckle up
.
Hunter Hearst
Helmsley (w/Chyna) pins Phineas Godwinn with a Pedigree at 3:33:
What an odd match. 
Ross announces that Helmsley will face Mankind at the Canadian Stampede
pay-per-view.  Prior to the match Chyna
manhandles a ring attendant for no apparent reason.  Chyna interferes, as can be expected, and the
crowd is into that more than the match, working up a “Chyna” chant.  Phineas, who had a way with women as we saw
in the Bodydonnas feud in 1996, abandons a Slop Drop to kiss Chyna on the
apron, but that ends up costing him the match. 
After the match, Henry Godwinn comes down to the ring and yells at
Phineas for not being aggressive enough. 
Henry blames McMahon for Phineas’ loss. 
Was the booking crutch of this time that everyone had a beef with the
boss?  A decent match that went the
appropriate length.  Rating:  **
Headbanger Mosh’s
flying clothesline on Rob Van Dam on Shotgun Saturday Night is the Sega Saturn
Slam of the Week
.
Faarooq tells
McMahon that there will be two new members of the Nation of Domination and that
they are going to appear tonight. 
Faarooq promises that they will be bigger, better, and blacker
.
Sunny comes down
to be the guest ring announcer for the next match because the WWF has no idea
what to do with her.  Paul Heyman is
going to be on guest commentary.
Interpromotional
Match (USWA vs. ECW):  Chris Candido
defeats “Too Sexy” Brian Christopher by disqualification at 2:40:
USWA and ECW were engaged in a small feud at this time,
so this is that feud being played out on national television.  USWA was also in its death throes at this
point.  This is Candido’s first RAW match
since the summer of 1996.  Since we are
in the Northeast, Candido is the de facto face and Christopher plays the
heel.  In fact, Candido gets more of a
reaction in this one match than he did in his entire career as Skip in the
WWF.  Ross works up Heyman on commentary
into a rant about how Christopher is Lawler’s son.  This leads to Lawler running down and
breaking up a super hurricanrana attempt and he and Rob Van Dam beat up Candido
until Tommy Dreamer runs out and makes the save.
Ahmed Johnson cuts
a pretaped promo and he says that he will do things the easy way in tonight’s
match and work with the Undertaker.
-Dok Hendrix hypes
the Nassau Coliseum house show which features the Undertaker facing Steve
Austin for the WWF title, the British Bulldog defend the European title against
Sid, the Legion of Doom face the Godwinns, Hunter Hearst Helmsley faces
Mankind, and the New Nation of Domination faces the Hart Foundation in a six
man tag team match.
Footage of a house
show at the Skydome in Toronto is shown where the Hart Foundation was greeted
with cheers.
Jim Neidhart says
that he is going to show Goldust that crime does pay
.
Goldust
(w/Marlena) defeats Jim “the Anvil” Neidhart with an uppercut at 3:44:
Goldust has drawn some really bad opponents lately that
do nothing to cover for his weaknesses in the ring.  The British Bulldog comes out halfway through
the match and he confronts Marlena, who slapped him on last week’s show.  Goldust comes to his manager’s aid, but gets
double teamed.  However, Neidhart can’t
even win after THAT to show how low he is on the WWF totem pole despite being
part of its top stable.  Rating: 
¼*
Steve Austin tells
the audience that he has Brian Pillman right where he wants him and he promises
to “rock” Ken Shamrock’s world.
“Stone Cold”
Steve Austin beats “The Loose Cannon” Brian Pillman by disqualification when
the Hart Foundation interferes at 8:20:
Per the stipulation for this match, each of the members
of the Hart Foundation are handcuffed to the ring posts.  Owen really gets into the handcuff
stipulation, as he spends parts of the match complaining about it and then
getting on the apron and trying to leverage the handcuff off his wrist.  Austin takes advantage of the stipulation by
beating up each defenseless member of the Hart Foundation around ringside.  Pillman’s nose gets busted open during the
match, but it is apparent from this match that Pillman can’t go anymore as he
resorts to chokes and other stalling techniques.  When the referee gets in Austin’s face about
his beating of Pillman, Austin gives him a Stunner.  Owen picks the pocket of the downed referee
and unlocks himself and other members of the Hart Foundation and that produces
a beat down that ends the match. 
Disappointing is probably the best word to describe this encounter.  Rating:  *
After the bell,
Ken Shamrock, Goldust, and Mankind run off the Hart Foundation.  When the dust settles, Austin and Shamrock
are left in the ring and Shamrock thwarts Austin’s attempt at a sneak attack by
giving him a belly-to-belly suplex. 
Austin doesn’t like that and he and Shamrock brawl until the Legion of
Doom separate them.  Goldust gets on the
house mic and tells Austin that the Hart Foundation wants him to fight
everyone.  Goldust suggests that Austin
team with he, the Legion of Doom, and Shamrock to face the Hart Foundation at
Calgary Stampede and Austin agrees, albeit reluctantly
.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your copy of Cause Stone Cold Said So for $19.99 (plus $6
shipping & handling)!  What?  They aren’t going to have Sable dance
seductively around a video tape?
Steve Austin’s
Stone Cold Stunner to the referee of his match with Brian Pillman is the Super
Soaker Rewind segment
.
McMahon interviews
the Hart Foundation and Pillman gives a nice promo that says the ten man tag at
Canadian Stampede has been signed in blood
.
Sable comes out to
be the guest ring announcer for our next match
.
Tommy Rogers
defeats Bobby Fulton with the Tomikaze at 2:47:
This is a battle between the old Fantastics and they were
recruited by Jim Cornette who was trying to get some veterans some work in the
WWF when the company was putting a light heavyweight division together.  This match allows Ross to go back to his
glory days in the NWA and he gives us some excellent background on both
participants, making them both seem very distinguished in the eyes of the
viewing audience.  Some idiots in the
crowd chant “boring”, but there isn’t anything wrong with this and the finish
gets some “ooh’s” from the crowd.
After the match,
Marc Mero comes out and doesn’t appear happy that Sable is in the ring and
waving at fans.
The Headbangers
say that they would love to win the WWF Tag Team titles.
Tag Team
Tournament Match:  The Headbangers defeat
Jerry “the King” Lawler & Rob Van Dam when Thrasher superplexes Mosh onto
Lawler at 3:59:
They haven’t yet released a bracket for this tournament,
but I would assume that the winner of this match will face Owen and the
Bulldog.  Van Dam acquits himself well in
the match, jumping about 15 feet in the air for the yet to be named ***** Frog
Splash.  Lawler appears to have the match
won after giving Thrasher a piledriver, but the Sandman comes in
behind the referee’s back and gives him a low blow with his Singapore cane and
the Headbangers advance.  If Van Dam
wrestled this as a handicap match it would’ve been better.  Rating:  *½
The Sandman and
Tommy Dreamer want to go after Van Dam after the match, but they are held back
by WWF officials and Paul Heyman
.
Ahmed Johnson and
the Undertaker and Paul Bearer are in the back and Ahmed tells McMahon that
they are ready.  Bearer tries to tell
Ahmed to listen to him, but Ahmed tells him to shut up.  Bearer is really great in this role.
Footage of recent
interactions between the Undertaker and Ahmed Johnson is shown
.
Faarooq &
Kama Mustafa defeat The Undertaker & Ahmed Johnson (w/Paul Bearer) when
Kama pins the Undertaker after a lifting side slam at 3:46:
Prior to the match, Faarooq welcomes out the new member
of the Nation of Domination, who is Kama Mustafa.  He looks like a generic jobber from the
1980s, though, without the “Supreme Fighting Machine” attire that he wore in
1995/1996.  The Undertaker wrestles the
whole match and if you don’t know what that means after a few years of watching
wrestling then you must not be very observant. 
As the match slowly goes on, McMahon and Ross throw out some names for
the other member of the Nation like the Junkyard Dog, Abdullah the Butcher
(?!?!), Butch Reed, and Mr. Hughes. 
Ahmed beats up Bearer, which costs his team the match and the crowd is
shocked that the Undertaker was pinned cleanly. 
Rating:  *
After the match, Ahmed
helps the Undertaker to his feet only to give him a Pearl River Plunge and he
joins the Nation of Domination.
The Final Report Card:  Ahmed joining the Nation was a great
storyline development, but it would be short-lived since he was injured shortly
after this.  Oh what might have
been.  The rest of the show advanced the
proper storylines, but it never seemed to click as far as the matches were
concerned.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.4 (vs. 3.3 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Neutral

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – June 9, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Vince McMahon and
Jim Ross are in the booth and they are live from Hartford, Connecticut.

Opening
Contest:  The Legion of Doom & Ahmed
Johnson defeat The Nation of Domination (w/D-Lo Brown & Clarence Mason)
when Ahmed pins Faarooq after a Pearl River Plunge at 6:06:
Savio doesn’t care to give the Nation’s salute prior to
the match and that creates a beef between he and Faarooq.  The crowd is hot for this opener and the
booking of the match helps as the faces dominate much of the action.  The match continues the storyline of the
Nation falling apart as Savio and Crush are too distracted to tag in to help
Faarooq because they are jawing too much with Mason and walk out on Faarooq
after he confronts them.  Faarooq also
gets some nice hang time when taking the Pearl River Plunge from Ahmed.  This was a really entertaining squash to
start the show.  Rating:  **
Hunter Hearst
Helmsley, carrying the King of the Ring crown, and Chyna are interviewed by
McMahon.  Helmsley says that he should
have been the King of the Ring last year, but missed out because of McMahon’s
politics.  Helmsley says that it’s his
time to rise to the top of the World Wrestling Federation.  He issues an open challenge to the locker
room and Mankind appears on the Titantron. 
Mankind asks for a rematch from the King of the Ring and comes out, but
gets attacked with the crown by Helmsley. 
Helmsley did okay with this promo time, but some of his exchange
demonstrated his lack of acting skills at this stage of his career.
Sunny models as
Raw is War t-shirt, which you can buy for $25 (plus $6 shipping & handling)
by calling 815-734-1161!
Footage of the
British Bulldog winning the European championship in the winter is shown
.
European
Championship Match:  The British Bulldog
(Champion) and Goldust (w/Marlena) wrestle to a double count out at 7:14 shown:
This is the first European title defense on RAW and
McMahon hypes it as a big deal.  I
suppose that the booking team realized that it made little sense for the Bulldog
to have a title that was never defended on television.  This is a methodical match, which has been
the Bulldog’s forte when he’s not facing a technically gifted opponent, and it
ends with a really weak double count out, as both men mindlessly brawl after
Goldust ends up outside of the ring following a body press.  Rating:  ½*
After the match,
the Bulldog hot shots Goldust on the steps and goes to hit him with a chair,
but Marlena gets in the way.  As the
Bulldog tries to decide whether to use the chair, Ken Shanrock rushes the ring
and slams the Bulldog and the two tease a confrontation before the Bulldog
decides to leave.
Dok Hendrix is
outside of the Nation of Domination’s locker room and we can hear them arguing
in there.  Faarooq storms out of the
locker room and tells Hendrix that he is going to the ring to talk.  Hendrix goes to talk to Crush and Savio Vega
and Savio rants in Spanish and Crush tells Hendrix that the Nation is fine
.
Ross interviews
Faarooq and some black members of the Nation. 
Faarooq says he rescued Savio Vega and Crush’s career, but they just
stabbed him in the back so he fires them from the Nation.  Faarooq then fires the other flunkies in the
Nation except D-Lo Brown, which includes Clarence Mason.  Faarooq promises that a new Nation will be
formed that will be more powerful and loyal to him.  Faarooq challenges Ahmed Johnson and the
Undertaker to a tag team match on next week’s show so that they can become the
first victims of the new Nation
.
Footage of Steve
Austin “Pillmanizing” Brian Pillman’s ankle in October 1996 is shown
.
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear more about what is going on between Shawn Michaels and
Bret Hart!
Paul Heyman and
Tommy Dreamer are shown walking through the crowd
.
The Headbangers beat
Doug Furnas & Philip LaFon after Thrasher pins Furnas when LaFon
inadvertently splashes Furnas at 3:34:
Furnas and LaFon are continuing their “most exciting team
in the history of the WWF” gimmick, which is just incredibly lame and
unbecoming of the structure of their team. 
I’m really not sure what the logic of giving them this gimmick was other
than the WWF just giving up on both guys and realizing that they weren’t going
to make it in the tag division.  If
anything, LaFon and Furnas would have been nice additions to the Hart
Foundation, but they are really out of place in a heel role without a manager.  There isn’t anything wrong with this match
except for the finish, which is botched since Thrasher and Furnas are too far
from the opposing corner.  Rating: 
*½ 
Jerry Lawler is
with Rob Van Dam in the back and Lawler tells McMahon that ECW doesn’t want Van
Dam to compete, but he’s going to tonight
.
Clips of the
infamous gun incident between Pillman and Austin from late 1996 are shown.
McMahon and Ross
recap the entire show thus far.
McMahon interviews
Steve Austin, who comes out to an explosive reaction.  McMahon says that Austin’s attack on Brian
Pillman last night at the King of the Ring was unbecoming, but Austin says it
brought a smile to his face.  Austin says
he’ll kick Pillman’s ass all over the ring tonight and he volunteers to be part
of the five man team to face the Hart Foundation at the Calgary Stampede and
that he’ll wrestle the Hart Foundation five-on-one if he has to.  This is a great promo because it sets up two
matches and appeals to the American fan base, which sees Austin as a hero, and
makes Austin come off as a heel to the Canadian audience, which was the Hart
Foundation’s center of fan support
.
In an interesting
piece, the WWF uses pieces from its AOL website to show how great the King of
the Ring was.  It’s like Twitter before
there was Twitter
.
Rob Van Dam
(w/Jerry Lawler) defeats Flash Funk with a split legged moonsault at 4:28:
During Van Dam’s entrance, Dreamer tries to attack Van
Dam with a chair, but is held at bay by WWF officials.  Funk is falling into Koko B. Ware territory,
as he’s an entertaining act that hasn’t won a match over a significant opponent
for a while.  Both guys showcase their
aerial offense, which is a refreshing change of pace on the show, and put
together a solid match that would be more than acceptable by Nitro
cruiserweight standards.  Rating: 
**½
After the match,
Heyman hopes the guardrail to attack Lawler, but Lawler beats him down and
Dreamer hops the barrier and brawls with Van Dam.
Ken Shamrock comes
out to do commentary for our next match.
Non-Title
Match:  Sid pins Owen Hart
(Intercontinental Champion w/Jim Neidhart) after a chokeslam at 4:13:
This is a match that was made following the King of the
Ring six man tag, where Owen pinned Sid to win the match for his team.  Sid makes one guy’s day who has “Sid is God”
painted on his chest by giving him a fist bump. 
Owen works the leg, which is the only strategy he can realistically try,
and when Neidhart interferes Shamrock is outraged, so he gives Neidhart a
belly-to-belly suplex on the floor which is an impressive sight and generates a
big crowd reaction.  Left to his
longsome, Owen can’t fight off the “Master and Ruler of the World.”  I’m puzzled by this booking because Sid was
on his way out of the company, but it did make Shamrock look like a bad
ass.  Rating:  **
Sable comes out to
model the Raw is War t-shirt.  However,
Marc Mero comes out and gets her after she’s nearly finished her seductive
dancing routine.
The final part of
Mankind’s interview with Jim Ross is shown and Ross said that he felt really
helpless at the end of the interview and wished he had not taken the
assignment.  Mankind says that he wishes
Vince McMahon took him while he was good and he thinks of that when he applies
the Mandible Claw to an opponent.  It is
a rather dark interview, as Mankind talks about pain and suffering.  This is the interview where Mankind puts Ross
in the Mandible Claw at the end and Ross sells it like death
.
Rockabilly (w/The
Honky Tonk Man) beats Bart Gunn with the Shake Rattle N’ Roll at 2:53:
So we go from something very serious to Rockabilly.  Talk about the contrasts in 1997 booking.  The alleged storyline here is that the Honky
Tonk Man got the match signed so Rockabilly could move on to other feuds.  See, that’s what made this particular era
nice.  Nearly every match had some type
of issue behind it and didn’t appear random. 
A slow, glorified squash that gives closure to the Smoking Gunns feud,
which has to constitute one of the most subdued blowoffs to a feud in WWF
history.
The Hart
Foundation is shown talking strategy in the back before they chase off the
camera man
.
Steve Austin
“Pillmanizing” Brian Pillman’s ankle on Superstars in October 1996 is the Super
Soaker Rewind segment
.
Steve Austin comes
down to wrestle Brian Pillman, but the Hart Foundation attacks him.  Mankind runs out and makes a small save and
then runs into the ring and starts to wrestle Pillman, which sets up this bait
and switch match…
Mankind defeats
“The Loose Cannon” Brian Pillman by disqualification when Owen Hart interferes
at 5:12 shown:
You can tell throughout this match that the crowd is not
happy that they did not get Austin-Pillman. 
The match is a train wreck, as it builds little momentum for either
guy.  The reception of the match is so
poor that McMahon and Ross are forced to acknowledge it on commentary.  Mankind applies the Mandible Claw, but the
Hart Foundation intervenes and Austin and Shamrock come out and force the Hart
Foundation to flee.  Rating:  ¼*
After the Hart
Foundation flees, Austin gives Mankind an evil eye and gives Shamrock a Stone
Cold Stunner as we go off the air
.
The Final Report Card:  This show was building nicely until the
swerve at the end that was disappointing for all parties.  The WWF was really testing some of its fans
by hyping Austin-Pillman twice but not delivering the match.  There were some good points of storyline
development throughout the show, with the Nation of Domination breaking up and
starting a reformation and Ken Shamrock starting a grudge with the Hart
Foundation, but there wasn’t much else to report.  I might’ve gone thumbs up before the bait and
switch at the end, but instead I’ll go neutral this week.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.2 (vs. 3.4 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Neutral

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – June 2, 1997

by Logan Scisco

McMahon recaps
last week’s tag team championship main event and the events that unfolded after
the match.  McMahon also recaps the
Undertaker’s interaction with Paul Bearer at the end of last week’s show.
Vince McMahon and
Jim Ross are in the booth and they are broadcasting from Huntington, West
Virginia.  This is the go home show for
the King of the Ring pay-per-view
.

The Undertaker
comes out and says that while it would’ve been great to break Paul Bearer’s
neck last week, it wouldn’t have helped him out of his present
circumstances.  The Undertaker talks
about how he knows he won’t go to hell after he’s dead because he’s living it
now, thereby destroying the last vestige of the original Undertaker
gimmick.  The Undertaker says that he’s
having to take on Bearer as his manager, but hopes he burns in hell for all
time.  This is such a great spin on the
manager-wrestler relationship, with a wrestler being forced to take on a
manager that he absolutely loathes.  Predictably,
Bearer comes out and he’s not happy and he reprimands the Undertaker for
cutting a promo without his approval. 
Bearer talks about how he and the Undertaker are going to rule the
world, which brings out Sid, who is making his return from a back injury.  Sid calls Bearer a “fat man” to a massive pop,
showing that Sid can get a pop for the stupidest phrases, and he puts over the
Undertaker’s title reign.  However, Sid
says he can’t respect the Undertaker after he took back Bearer and he demands a
rematch for his WWF title for tonight and promises to powerbomb the Undertaker
to hell.  The Undertaker accepts without
hesitation.  Just when you think that’s
over with, the Nation of Domination comes out and Faarooq says that a black man
is going to rule the WWF by next week’s show. 
He also says that the Undertaker is a weak man for giving into Bearer.  A crazy, yet effective opening segment that
showed some psychological vulnerability of the Undertaker for the first time in
his career.
Ahmed Johnson says
that Faarooq may have plans to be the first WWF champion but that isn’t going
to happen because he’s going to take him out tonight
.
A video package
hypes the opening bout between Faarooq and Ahmed Johnson
.
Opening
Contest:  Faarooq (w/The Nation of
Domination) defeats Ahmed Johnson after Ahmed is thrown into the ring steps on
the floor at 3:07:
This is yet another battle in the continual struggle
between Ahmed and Faarooq.  Ahmed
showcases a nice array of power moves, but the Nation of Domination intervenes
to turn the tide.  The Undertaker comes
out to lend Ahmed a hand, but the fighting on the floor sees the Undertaker
inadvertently whip Faarooq into Ahmed, who then collides with the ring steps
and the astute Faarooq rolls Ahmed into the ring to get a cheap win on his way
to the King of the Ring main event this Sunday. 
There just wasn’t a lot here.  Rating: 
*
After the match,
Ahmed gets into the Undertaker’s face and gets a chokeslam for his efforts.
Steve Austin’s
attack on Bret Hart at the end of last week’s show is played
.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your King of the Ring inflatable chair for $59.99 (plus $11 shipping
& handling)!  I had the worst of luck
as a kid with inflatable things, as they usually got a hole within the first
week and then you had to try to duct tape them back together after refilling
them with a vacuum cleaner.
McMahon interviews
the Hart Foundation.  Bret is back on
crutches after Steve Austin’s attack at the end of last week’s show and McMahon
brings WWF Tag Team Champions Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin onto the
Titantron.  Bret says he won’t face
Michaels at the King of the Ring because of his renewed injury.  Michaels isn’t happy that Austin ruined his
match with Bret at the King of the Ring, but Austin says he doesn’t care
because he tried to take Bret out for good. 
Michaels and Austin continue to jaw and Michaels heads towards Austin’s
locker room and they argue about who needs who the most.  The Hart Foundation confers in the ring after
seeing these events and Brian Pillman proposes that Michaels take his place at
King of the Ring against Austin and Austin says that’s fine and he’ll face
Pillman on the RAW after King of the Ring.
Footage of Bob
Holly upsetting Owen Hart in a non-title match on RAW two weeks ago is shown
.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  Owen Hart (Champion
w/The Hart Foundation) defeats Bob “Spark Plugg” Holly via submission with the
Sharpshooter at 3:16:
If they wanted to make Holly a credible threat was it
really a wise move to job him to a debuting D-Lo Brown on last week’s
show?  At least we have an
Intercontinental title match with some backstory.  This is Holly’s first crack at the
Intercontinental title since 1995, when he faced Jeff Jarrett in an
entertaining series of matches on the Action Zone and actually held the belt
for a few minutes before then-WWF President Jack Tunney vacated his
victory.  This is a technically
proficient match, but they have to rush things since we are now in the Russo
era and most matches can’t go over four minutes.  Owen counters a Holly hurricanrana attempt
with a powerbomb, which is the same mistake Holly made on last week’s show, and
quickly finishes Holly off to retain the title. 
Rating:  **
Shawn Michaels
says that he will take on the challenge of facing Steve Austin at the King of
the Ring
.
A video recaps the
second part of Mankind’s interview with Jim Ross last week
.
The Headbangers,
the Honky Tonk Man, and Jim Cornette try to set a Super Soaker ambush for
Sunny, but she gets them with a three way shot from her Super Soaker.  Sunny’s lack of acting skills are really
exposed in these commercials
.
Footage of Chyna
attacking Hunter Hearst Helmsley after she was blinded by powder from Marlena
the last time Helmsley faced Goldust on RAW is shown
.
#1 Contenders
Match for the European Championship:  Goldust
(w/Marlena) defeats Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) with a schoolboy after
heel miscommunication at 3:49:
Goldust facepaint makes him appear like the second coming
of The Stalker.  The winner here gets a
shot at the European title next week on RAW. 
Ross tries to sell this as an equal feud, but Helmsley has won most of
the television encounters.  Goldust and
Helmsley exchange some basic moves until Chyna grabs Goldust on the apron.  Marlena then goes after Chyna and Helmsley
accidentally gives Chyna a high knee, which knocks her off the apron, and that
enables Goldust to score the upset. 
McMahon acts like Goldust has accomplished some kind of career goal by
getting to face the British Bulldog for the European title next week, but it’s
hard to buy since Goldust hasn’t come out and said that he wants to win the
European championship.  Helmsley doing
the job may not make sense because of his place in the King of the Ring
tournament, but it showcases some vulnerability and might make fans think he
and Chyna would have a blowup that would cost him his semi-final match with
Ahmed at the pay-per-view.  Rating: 
*
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to find out about a photo shoot some WWF superstars did recently
.
Shawn Michaels
hurricanrana on the British Bulldog is the Sega Slam of the Week
.
The Legion of Doom
cut a brief promo and Hawk promises that they are going to send Shawn Michaels
teeth down Austin’s throat
.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  The Legion of Doom
defeat “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels & “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
(Champions) by count out at 6:58 shown:
I wonder if one of the reasons for the Michaels-Austin
pairing was allowing McMahon to compare the crowd reactions of Michaels and
Austin since they made separate entrances. 
Michaels bumping is a tad overdone in the early stages of this one as he
is clotheslined out of the ring, leaps into the guardrail, and then flops like
a fish until he ends up on top of Austin. 
The crowd is pretty divided between both teams, but it seems like the
LOD has a few more supporters in the arena as several “LOD” chants break out
during the match.  Michaels and Austin heel
it up by nailing Hawk with a tag title belt behind the referee’s back, but it
fails to get a three count.  The Hart
Foundation wander down to ringside and Michaels confronts them (after flying
out of the ring after taking a right hand) and Austin does not appreciate
that.  The tag champions end up brawling
on the floor and that gives the LOD a victory without the belts to irritate the
crowd.  This was a good carry job by
Michaels and Austin since the LOD added very little to the match’s value.  Rating:  **¾
We are shown the
third part of Mankind’s interview with Jim Ross.  Mankind discusses the Cactus Jack character
and competing in death matches in Japan.
King of the Ring
First Round Match:  Mankind defeats Savio
Vega (w/The Nation of Domination) after heel miscommunication at 3:02:
Jerry Lawler joins the commentary team because he faces
the winner in the semi-finals.  For the
first time in his WWF career Mankind elicits some cheers from the crowd during
his entrance and thereby begins the process of a face turn.  McMahon reveals that Mankind is confused why
Paul Bearer doesn’t want to manage him anymore. 
Savio really steps up his game for this match and hits an awesome
looking flying body press onto Mankind on the floor.  Lawler goes on a hilarious rant on commentary
about the size of Mankind’s house and links it to Mankind jumping off the roof
of his house as a kid.  Mankind traps
Savio in the Mandible Claw, but when Crush tries to give Mankind a heart punch
to break the hold, Mankind moves and Crush nails Savio in the head and that
advances Mankind in the tournament.  That’s
the third screwy finish tonight for those keeping score at home.  Rating:  *¼
After the match,
Savio and Crush brawl in the ring and Faarooq, instead of trying to play
peacemaker, walks off
.
McMahon and Ross
run through the King of the Ring card for this Sunday
.
Sable comes out to
model the inflatable King of the Ring chair. 
Seeing Sable try to act seductive around an INFLATABLE CHAIR is
hilariously bad.  Ross lets us know that
the chair can seat “a wide body.”
-The Undertaker
chokeslamming Ahmed Johnson earlier in the show is the Super Soaker Rewind
segment
.
Non-Title
Match:  The Undertaker (WWF Champion
w/Paul Bearer) defeats Sid with a Tombstone at 4:47 shown:
Sid made it seem in his opening promo that this was for
the title, but Howard Finkel announces it as non-title, so I guess he was
wrong.  This is as slow as their
WrestleMania match, as these two guys just don’t have good chemistry with each
other, but at least they aren’t being given twenty minutes tonight.  The Undertaker hits a flying clothesline out
of nowhere and gets the victory with the Tombstone before he’s quickly beaten
down by the Nation.  Sid tries to help
out, but he’s overwhelmed as well.  I
found little redeeming value in this and it made Sid look quite weak
(not that the WWF was banking on his value anymore).  Rating:  DUD
Tune in next week
to see Steve Austin square off with Brian Pillman!
The Final Report Card:  This RAW card was absolutely stacked, as we
got another battle between Faarooq and Ahmed, a quasi-dream match for the tag
team titles, and a WrestleMania rematch between Sid and the Undertaker.  Despite that, though, this show still didn’t
defeat Nitro.  The show went downhill
after the tag team title match, which started the second hour, but I’m still
going to award it a thumbs up because the storytelling in hour one was nicely
done.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.3 (vs. 2.5 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – May 12, 1997

by Logan Scisco
Vince McMahon
recaps last night’s In Your House pay-per-view
.
Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Newark, Delaware.
The Hart
Foundation arrives on the ramp and Bret hypes the qualities of each
member.  Bret gives a great promo that
blasts Austin for his behavior and “barnyard clichés.”  Bret says he has a surprise to announce, but
he gets irritated by the crowd berating him and leaves before revealing it.
Call
1-815-734-1161 to get your Austin 3:16 t-shirt for $20 (plus shipping &
handling)!

King of the Ring
First Round Match:  Ahmed Johnson defeats
Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) by disqualification when Chyna interferes at
3:51:
The 1997 edition of the King of the Ring tournament was
the weakest in history, with only eight men participating.  Helmsley is on a small winning streak, but he
hasn’t faced anyone of Ahmed’s caliber in a couple of months.  If you close your eyes and listen to the
commentary of this match it is eerily similar to the Booker T-Triple H contest
from WrestleMania XIX as Ross and Lawler discuss Ahmed’s troubled past.  This is a very abbreviated contest and Ahmed
appears headed for a clean win until Chyna gets a chair and nails him with it.  After the match, Ahmed and Helmsley engage in
a small brawl on the stage.  Helmsley
losing here was a small upset, since it was assumed that Ahmed’s feud with the
Nation would cause him to lose this match, but he would be reinserted into the
tournament when Vader was too injured to face Crush in another first round
match.  Rating:  *
Sunny hypes the
Super Soaker by attacking The Headbangers with it
.
Vince McMahon
interviews Steve Austin, who comes out with one of Bret Hart’s crutches and
says that sooner or later he will be the WWF champion.  Austin says the quickest way to kill a snake
is to chop its head off and he says Bret is the head of the snake of the Hart
Foundation.  However, Austin says he
wants to have fun with his endeavor, so he’s going to start with the ass of the
snake, which is Brian Pillman (who he alludes to carrying in the “bush
leagues”).  Great promo to set up
Austin’s angles for the next six months.
A video package
showcases Ivan Putski, whose son, Scott Putski, will be making his debut
tonight.
Scott Putski
defeats Leif Cassidy with a release German suplex at 4:05:
Another day, another job for Cassidy as he was the
resident WWF jobber at this time.  Putski
shows some raw talent and has a good look, but his debut took place without any
build so the crowd doesn’t know what to make of him.  Somehow Putski avoided getting an
embarrassing gimmick out of the gate, but that may be because the WWF was using
him as a babyface.  Putski misses a few
cues, but Cassidy does a good job covering for them.  An okay match, but the spots needed to be
more fluid.  After the match, Cassidy
snaps and blasts Putski with a suicide dive. 
However, Putski clotheslines him over the top rope when they get back
into the ring.  This whole thing
showcased Cassidy losing his mind, which eventually manifested itself in the
“Head” gimmick.  Rating:  *½
The Legion of Doom
say they can’t wait to mistreat two members of the Nation of Domination like
small animals.  Uh, poor choice of words
there?
The Legion of
Doom beat PG-13 when Hawk pins both members after a Doomsday Device at 1:58:
In this contest the Legion of Doom were scheduled to face
two members of the Nation of Domination and PG-13 assumed that it would be
Faarooq and Crush, but they were forced to compete by their Domination
brethren.  For people that hate PG-13
this is your match, as the LOD squash them like bugs.  In Jamie Dundee’s shoot interview he said
that this match cost them a job in ECW because it made them damaged goods.  This was the end of PG-13’s tenure in the WWF,
so no more raps for the Nation from here on out.
Mankind is shown
with a man who has bandages wrapped around his face backstage, who we assume is
Paul Bearer
.
Dok Hendrix hypes
the next Madison Square Garden house show. 
The Undertaker & Sid face Vader & Mankind, Ahmed Johnson faces
Faarooq, the Legion of Doom & Steve Austin face Brian Pillman, Owen Hart
& the British Bulldog, Goldust takes on Hunter Hearst Helmsley, and Rocky
Maivia faces Savio Vega.
Mankind comes out
and brings Paul Bearer, who has his face wrapped in bandages, with him.  Bearer says that he is giving the Undertaker
one more chance to get back together with him or he will reveal a secret that
only the Undertaker knows.  He alludes to
the fact that this deals with the Undertaker’s dead mother and father and
thereby kicks off one of the more fascinating and well done angles of 1997.
                                                 
McMahon interviews
Faarooq, who has been named the number one contender for the WWF title.  Faarooq says that there has never been a
black WWF champion even though Ahmed Johnson was Intercontinental champion and
Bobo Brazil (!!!) was U.S. champion decades ago.  He gives a race centered promo of how blacks
are discriminated against and how he’s going to change that with his fists and
feet.  Despite the controversial content,
this is by far the best promo Faarooq has given thus far in his WWF career.
Non-Title
Match:  The Undertaker (WWF Champion)
defeats Savio Vega (w/The Nation of Domination) by disqualification when the
Nation interferes at 3:55 shown:
We join this one in progress and Savio works the leg
after a Nation member grabs the Undertaker’s leg when he runs the ropes.  The announcers miss an easy storyline
concerning what might happen if Savio wins here, since Faarooq is the number one
contender and it might create more rifts in the Nation.  The Undertaker makes a comeback out of
nowhere and hits the Tombstone, but the Nation predictably invades the ring and
beats down the champion.  Rating: 
Sable models an
Austin 3:16 t-shirt and you can get yours for $20 by calling 815-734-1161!
Rob Van Dam
defeats Jeff Hardy with a split legged moonsault at 2:28:
This was part of an ECW angle where Rob Van Dam and Sabu
declared their allegiance to the WWF and aligned themselves with Jerry
Lawler.  Lawler hypes Van Dam on the
microphone and Van Dam says ECW is low budgeted and low talented.  So basically our storyline here is that Van
Dam is making an unauthorized appearance in the WWF.  Van Dam nearly flies into the first row on a
plancha and since we are in Delaware he gets a few “you sold out” chants.  A very impressive squash for Van Dam, who
works in the ***** Frog Splash and his split legged moonsault, which wows the
crowd.
Part two of Dustin
and Terri Runnels interview with Jim Ross is shown.  Dustin talks about his relationship with his
young daughter Dakota and talks about how he wanted to be like his father and
pulled it off.  He says that he hopes
that his father is proud of him.
Ross interviews
WWF Champion The Undertaker on the Titantron. 
The Undertaker says that he may have to unleash a demon to deal with the
Nation of Domination and that there are some secrets that are better left
untouched
.
Non-Title Four
Team Elimination Match:  Owen Hart &
The British Bulldog (WWF Tag Team Champions) defeat The Headbangers, Doug
Furnas & Philip LaFon & The New Blackjacks at 6:59 shown:
Order of
Elimination:  Windham pins LaFon with a
lariat at 1:42; Thrasher pins Bradshaw during the commercial break by falling
on top of his after a suplex when Furnas and LaFon trip Bradshaw; Bulldog pins
Thrasher with a running powerslam at 6:59 shown
None of the teams get an introduction, as they are forced
to stand in the dark until the Undertaker completes his promo.  This is quite a random match and realistically,
none of these teams are on Owen and Bulldog’s level in physique, experience, or
overness.  Furnas and LaFon continue to
be depushed as they are eliminated less than two minutes into the match because
of a miscommunication spot.  The New
Blackjacks also continue their lack of direction by going out during the
commercial break.  The Headbangers
seemingly win after Thrasher superplexes Mosh onto Owen, but Owen puts his foot
on the ropes and the referee waves off the count.  Lawler keeps referring to this as the “Raw
Bowl” but that doesn’t make any sense because the Raw Bowl in 1996 was held on
New Year’s Day and was a parody of the college football season.  Nevertheless, the Headbangers acquit
themselves well with some smooth double teams, but the Bulldog and Owen emerge
on top when all hell breaks loose and get the victory.  I have no idea what the point of this was
since it didn’t put over any new contenders and the whole thing was a mess
until it got down to the last two teams. 
If they wanted to put over the Headbangers as legit contenders they
should have just scheduled a match between them and the champions.  Rating:  **
Chyna beating up
Flash Funk at In Your House is the Super Soaker Slam of the Week
.
Bret Hart and the
rest of the Hart Foundation come down to the ring.  Bret tells the rest of the Hart Foundation to
go back to the dressing room.  Bret calls
out Shawn Michaels and when Shawn arrives works in a nice burn about how his
career is “hot and cold.”  Bret goes on a
hilarious anti-American rant and says Shawn didn’t face him like a man at
WrestleMania XIII and he continues ranting as the show goes off the air. 
The Final Report Card:  Aside from the bait and switch at the end of
the show, this was a great effort of storytelling on the WWF’s part.  We have lots of things to follow next
week.  First, what is Bret’s major
announcement?  Second, what is Shawn
Michaels going to do in response? 
Finally, what is the Undertaker’s secret?  The glue of the top storylines is what held
the show together, but this show provided nothing too terribly offense in two
hours and that’s an accomplishment.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.8 (vs. 3.2 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: In Your House: Cold Day in Hell

by Logan Scisco
Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Richmond, Virginia
.

Free for
All:  Rockabilly (w/The Honky Tonk Man)
defeats “The Real Double J” Jesse James with a DDT at 3:10:
Talk about the very definition of a lower midcard
match.  This is the continuation of the
Rockabilly-Jesse James feud, which is a feud that seems very out of place by
1997 standards.  I caught the clipped
version of this match on YouTube and its very tolerable because it eliminates
some of Rockabilly’s slow offense.  The
DDT Rockabilly delivers at the end of the match is vicious.  This was a simple squash for Rockabilly, but
it’s not like he was going anywhere with this 1980s-style gimmick.  However, I have to ask again:  If they were going to push Rockabilly why did
they job him out in his first match a month ago?  Rating:  ½*
The Hart
Foundation tells Jim Ross that they have procured front row tickets for
tonight’s event and they bought them from scalpers outside of the building.
Now onto the
pay-per-view…
Opening
Contest:  Hunter Hearst Helmsley
(w/Chyna) pins Flash Funk with a Pedigree at 10:02:
The Funkettes had been axed because of budget cuts, but
the storyline explanation was that they were afraid of Chyna and decided not to
show up.  Interestingly enough,
Helmsley’s Titantron still shows the lady friends he was bringing to the ring
in 1996.  Helmsley’s small feud with Mankind
began the previous night on Shotgun Saturday Night, when Chyna gave Mankind a
low blow to help Helmsley get out of the Mandible Claw.  Predictably, Chyna interferes several times
to put Helmsley in control of the match. 
Helmsley does a better job mixing up his offense, but the crowd is still
bored until Funk starts flying around on his comeback.  Funk goes for the Funky Flash Splash, but
Helmsley crotches him and delivers a brutal super side suplex to set up a clean
victory.  After the match, Chyna crotches
Funk on the top rope.  A good opener, but
Funk looked much more impressive than Helmsley. 
That’s not who got the push, though. 
Rating:  **
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear from the winners and losers of tonight’s matches.  It’ll cost you $1.49 a minute!
Ross interviews
Ken Shamrock on the Titantron and Shamrock says that although he was attacked
by Vader and Mankind on the Free for All, he isn’t going to be shaken.
-Todd Pettengill
interviews Rocky Maivia, who admits that success may have come too soon but
says that he has learned a lot.  Maivia
says that tonight’s match is about his determination and not his destiny.  You can sense more attitude in these promos
from Maivia, which is foreshadowing the Rock character.
Mankind defeats
“The Rock” Rocky Maivia with the Mandible Claw at 8:47:
This was supposed to be Sid-Mankind, but like the last
pay-per-view Sid was not available, so Maivia was plugged into this spot to
give us a battle of the future Rock N’ Sock Connection.  Mankind was on the verge of a face turn
through the shoot interview segments with Jim Ross that were aired on RAW,
while Maivia was quickly plummeting down the card after a disastrous run as
Intercontinental champion.  There’s
another small story behind this match and that is that Mankind eliminated
Maivia from the Royal Rumble in January, so Maivia is trying to get a small
measure of revenge here.  The crowd boos
Maivia each time he is on offense, but they do pop for him giving Mankind a
Rock Bottom on the entrance ramp.  Both
guys are really trying to raise the status of this match to more than a run of
the mill midcard match, but the crowd is having nothing to do with it.  Maivia hits his finishing flying body press,
but Mankind has a great counter by applying the Mandible Claw and gets the
victory.  Foley wrote in his book that
after this match he told some guys in the back that the WWF should cut Maivia
loose because he just “didn’t have it”, but I think that isn’t justified if you
watch this match.  You can see glimpses
of a future star in Maivia, but he was in desperate need of a repackaging.  Rating:  **½
Buy your Austin
3:16 t-shirt by calling 815-734-1161 and then paying $20 (plus shipping &
handling)!
Crush losing the
gauntlet match to Ahmed Johnson on Raw is shown
.
Pettengill
interviews Ahmed, who says that he is used to overcoming the odds.
Gauntlet
Match:  The Nation of Domination defeats
Ahmed Johnson when Faarooq pins Ahmed after a Dominator at 15:45:
The stipulation here is that if Ahmed wins the Nation of
Domination will be forced to disband.  At
the time, this seemed to be the final blowoff for the never ending Ahmed-Nation
feud.  Prior to the bell, WWF President
Gorilla Monsoon throws the Nation of Domination out of ringside and says that
only one wrestler will be allowed in the ring at a time.  This shows Clarence Mason’s legal ability has
really been in decline since 1995 because the old Mason would’ve outmaneuvered
Monsoon and forced Ahmed to defeat ten members of the Nation as they surrounded
the ring with billy clubs.  Ahmed and
Crush run through a DUDesque encounter that last five minutes, with Ahmed
countering the heart punch with a spinning heel kick and pinning him.  Savio gives it a go and the crowd grows
restless about the lack of action ten minutes into the contest.  Savio lasts seven minutes in a match that
wouldn’t crack ½* and when it appears that he’s going to lose, he grabs a chair
and wears Ahmed out with it to set up Faarooq’s entry into the match.  Faarooq shows that his separated shoulder
injury was a rouse, but Ahmed catches him with a Pearl River Plunge, of which
Faarooq inexplicably kicks out, drawing the biggest heel reaction of the night
thus far.  Faarooq quickly recovers and
finishes an exhausted Ahmed shortly thereafter to keep the Nation of Domination
intact.  This told a good story during
its last three minutes, with Savio weakening Ahmed and Ahmed  being too exhausted to secure a victory, but
it took forever to get there and it made this match a great cure for
insomnia.  Rating:  ½*
A recap is
provided for the issue between Ken Shamrock and Vader
.
Pettengill
interviews Vader, who says that his attack on Shamrock earlier in the evening
was a way to play with his mind
.
No Holds Barred
Match:  Ken Shamrock defeats Vader by
submission with an anklelock at 13:23:
The only way to win this match was by knockout or
submission and this was an excellent way to debut Shamrock, since it provided a
transition from his UFC background to the squared circle of the WWF.  Vader was also an ideal opponent, since he
was seen as the toughest guy on the roster. 
Shamrock doesn’t have his awesome theme music yet and it’s more
befitting a late 1980s jobber than the World’s Most Dangerous Man.  Vader always loved stiff matches and he gets
all he can handle from Shamrock, who goes Antonio Inoki on Vader’s legs.  Vader counters that with Memphis, as he
continually rolls out of the ring to avoid Shamrock’s offense.  Although this is a work, it is a smooth one
and they do a good job mixing in brawling and MMA-style offense with
professional wrestling moves.  During the
last couple of minutes, Shamrock just absolutely mauls Vader, which is
something that professional wrestling fans had never seen before and when Vader
tries to pose over Shamrock after knocking him down, Shamrock surprises him
with a takedown and finishes with the anklelock, which legitimately messes up
Vader’s ankle and puts him on the shelf for a couple of weeks.  This wasn’t your conventional wrestling
match, but it was a breath of fresh air when compared to other things
on the card.  Rating:  ***
Pettengill
interviews Steve Austin, who says that after he defeats the Undertaker he’s
going to go after the Hart Foundation, who will be at ringside for the WWF
title match
.
Pettengill
narrates some highlights of Steve Austin’s interactions with the Undertaker the
last couple of weeks
.
WWF Championship
Match:  The Undertaker (Champion) pins
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin with a Tombstone at 20:09:
Oddly enough, this is the only title match on the entire
card.  WWF history is a funny thing
because a year after this pay-per-view it would be the Undertaker coming to
Austin’s aid in an attempt to help him keep the WWF title.  The Hart Foundation comes out and takes their
positions in the front row and Austin has a hard time keeping his concentration
on the Undertaker.  Austin wears down the
Undertaker’s legs and the Undertaker responds in kind.  The problem with this is that neither guy
really sells the leg damage long enough and it renders a good sixty percent of
the match meaningless.  Even Ross is
forced to drop his euphemisms for a boring match.  Austin and Hebner have a fun sequence where
Austin flips off Hebner behind his back and Hebner reciprocates when the
Undertaker tosses Austin across the ring. 
Austin hits a Stunner after a hot shot, but Brian Pillman hops the
guardrail and rings the bell prematurely and this changes the momentum of the
match to allow the Undertaker to reverse an Austin Tombstone attempt into his
own version and retain the belt.  A lackluster
main event that does few favors for the Undertaker, as he receives a mixed reaction
when he’s announced as the winner and he eats a Stone Cold Stunner at the end
of the broadcast.  Rating:  *½
After the match,
the Hart Foundation jumps the guardrail and attacks the Undertaker, but they
leave Bret alone and Austin goes into the crowd, dumps Bret out of the
wheelchair, and clears the ring with one of the Hart Foundation’s crutches.
The Final Report Card:  The Shamrock-Vader encounter was the most
interesting part of the pay-per-view and it delivered, but the rest of the show
lacked the same “big match” feel.  Even
the WWF title match played sideshow to what the Hart Foundation was doing at
ringside and it hurt some of the quality of the main event.  Overall, I’m giving this a thumbs down
because although Vader-Shamrock was good, the first two matches weren’t all
that important and the gauntlet match and WWF title match didn’t live up to the
hype.
Attendance: 
9,381
Buyrate: 
0.57
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – May 5, 1997

by Logan Scisco

A video package
recaps last week’s major events between Steve Austin and the Hart Foundation
.
Vince McMahon,
Jerry “the King” Lawler, and Jim Ross are in the booth and they are
broadcasting from Green Bay, Wisconsin. 
This is the go home show for In Your House:  Cold Day in Hell.
The Hart
Foundation comes out for our opening promo. 
Bret Hart thanks his fans from different parts of the globe who are
wishing him a quick recovery and his comments toward American fans are censored.  Owen looks great in this segment, since he
has his two Slammy Award trophies and all four of the belts of the Hart
Foundation on his arms.  Bret hypes the
greatness of the Hart Foundation and says that since the Hart Foundation has
destroyed Steve Austin they are going to target Shawn Michaels next.
Steve Austin’s
interactions with the Undertaker at the end of last week’s show are the Castrol
Super Clean Slam of the Week
.

Opening Contest:  Rockabilly (w/The Honky Tonk Man) defeats
Ahmed Johnson by disqualification when Ahmed uses a guitar at 3:55:
For the first time that I can recall, Ahmed is not
wearing his red trunks and is wearing long black tights to the ring
instead.  This look makes Ahmed appear
more menacing, but this look would be better for a heel Ahmed character.  Ross calls Rockabilly’s offense in this match
“vintage Honky Tonk Man” which means that it’s dry and boring.  Rockabilly dominates 95% of the match, but he
releases a sleeper hold and brings a guitar into the ring, but Ahmed gets hold
of it and smashes it across Rockabilly’s head to lose the match.  The booking of this contest is puzzling,
since Ahmed needs to be built for his gauntlet match at In Your House.  Props to Billy for taking a guitar shot to
the head from Ahmed because that’s akin to putting your life on the line.  Rating:  DUD
The Hart
Foundation is shown looking for Shawn Michaels in the locker room
.
A video package
hypes Ken Shamrock and focuses on his family life
.
Vader defeats
Goldust (w/Marlena) with a Vader Bomb at 4:46:
Ken Shamrock comes out for commentary for this match and
he repeats the same talking points of not liking bullies and Vader won’t be
able to push him around.  This is a
standard back and forth match, with Goldust trying to wear down the bigger
Vader with striking moves, but that backfires and Vader gets a clean victory.  After the match, Vader dares Shamrock to get
into the ring and Shamrock accepts the challenge, but Mankind runs into the
ring to go after Shamrock.  However,
Goldust comes to Shamrock’s aid and helps him clear the ring.  Rating:  **
Jim Ross interviews
Dustin and Terri Runnels in a shoot interview, where Dustin is candid about his
relationship with his dad.  Dustin talks
about the controversial Goldust character and how he didn’t understand why
Scott Hall didn’t want to wrestle him. 
Dustin says that he still doesn’t have his father’s respect
.
The Hart
Foundation attacks a man coming out of the men’s restroom, but it’s not Shawn
Michaels.  Despite realizing their
mistake, the continue the attack anyway
.
Gauntlet
Match:  Ahmed Johnson and Two Jobbers
defeat Crush at 2:27:
Faarooq promised that Crush would face three street wise
brawlers, but the first two are jobbers that weigh less than a feather.  The first two jobbers are easily dispatched,
but a third jobber quickly runs out in a mask and delivers a Pearl River Plunge
and defeats Crush.  The masked jobber is
obviously Ahmed Johnson, but Ahmed unmasks just so everyone in the audience
gets it.  That was a nice twist that made
the segment worth watching.
The Hart
Foundation runs through the parking lot looking for Shawn Michaels.
Sable models the
Austin 3:16 t-shirt.  To get it call
815-734-1161 and it will cost you $20 (plus shipping & handling)!
McMahon interviews
Shawn Michaels, who has seemingly avoided the Hart Foundation thus far in the show.  Michaels says that he isn’t trying to save
Steve Austin every week and is really trying to go after the Hart
Foundation.  Michaels says that Bret Hart
may not like American society, but he likes getting paid in American money and
that if Bret doesn’t like it in the United States he can leave.  As Shawn goes to leave after high fiving fans
around ringside, Bret and Brian Pillman appear on the Titantron and Bret
challenges Shawn to face Jim Neidhart tonight. 
Michaels appears to accept and Neidhart comes out, but once Michaels
ties up with Neidhart, Owen Hart and the British Bulldog appear and ambush the
Heartbreak Kid.  However, the Legion of
Doom comes to Shawn’s aid and run off the heels
.
Doug Furnas &
Philip LaFon defeat the Legion of Doom when LaFon pins Hawk after an Owen hot shot
at 4:51 shown:
This is a rematch from last week and if you recall,
Furnas and LaFon blamed their loss on a lack of fan support.  This is also a de facto number one contenders
match, since there’s a lack of credible tag teams in the company at this
time.  Furnas and LaFon are a team that
could have benefitted immensely from a manager, since neither guy was great on
the mic.  Furnas and LaFon do a great job
selling the LOD’s power offense, but this one is seriously limited on time like
last week’s encounter.  When the LOD appear
set for victory, the British Bulldog distracts Animal and Hawk botches Owen’s
interference, but Furnas and LaFon score their biggest victory in a long time
to even this TV feud at one match a piece. 
Rating:  **
Shawn Michaels is
shown brawling with members of the Hart Foundation backstage in the midst of
WWF officials, but Steve Austin shows up and Pillman quickly wheels Bret away
from the scene
.
McMahon interviews
WWF Champion The Undertaker, who has lost the WWF belt.  The Undertaker rants about having his belt
stolen and says that the person that stole it is playing a “deadly game.”  He promises to make the person that stole his
belt pay dearly tonight and he tells Steve Austin that it will be a cold day in
hell before he becomes WWF champion.
Sunny comes out
and models the Austin 3:16 t-shirt.
Austin is shown
refusing medical treatment after being knocked off the stage on last week’s
show
.
Non-Title
Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve Austin defeats
The British Bulldog (European Champion) with a Stone Cold Stunner at 7:03
shown:
While it’s terrible to say that a devastating injury was
good for business, Austin’s neck injury did wonders for his character because
it made him more of a brawler, which was more suited for the Attitude Era.  This match is evidence of this, since Austin
comes to the ring ready to explode on the Bulldog, but does so with technical
moves and it doesn’t seem to fit.  The
Bulldog sucks a lot of momentum out of the match with a long chinlock segment
and goes to finish with a running powerslam, but Austin slips out of his grasp
and delivers a Stunner out of nowhere for the victory.  Austin still hadn’t gotten that kick-Stunner
sequence down yet.  A disappointing
matchup, but this was the WWF grinding their wheels until they could get past
In Your House.  Rating:  *½
After the match,
Owen and Jim Neidhart hit the ring and the Legion of Doom come to Austin’s
aid.  Doug Furnas and Philip LaFon rush
the ring and then Shawn Michaels comes down. 
Unlike the 1998 Attitude Era brawls, this one illicit very little crowd
reaction until the Undertaker shows up and attacks the Hart Foundation, who
have his WWF title.  The faces eventually
stand tall and clear out, leaving Austin and the Undertaker, with the
Undertaker laying the WWF title between them and they brawl to close out the
show
.
The Final Report Card:  At the time, putting Austin against the
Undertaker for the WWF title at In Your House seemed to be an odd choice.  Austin was engaged in a feud with the Hart
Foundation, which was the top feud in the company, but the top prize in the
promotion was around the waste of another top face.  From the WWF’s perspective, it was best to
sell a pay-per-view with Austin in the main event, but I didn’t give him much
chance to win since it seemed that if Austin was going to win the title that he
would win it at a bigger event.  The WWF
tried to make an Austin-Undertaker matchup intriguing, but honestly it didn’t
really click since most of the RAW’s leading up to In Your House centered on
Bret’s interaction with Austin.  I’ll
give a neutral rating this week because while the wrestling was acceptable, the
promos didn’t add much to the show and the story throughout the show of the top
guys searching for other guys to beat up was like a bad B movie.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.8 (vs. 3.2 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Neutral

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – April 21, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Footage of the
Undertaker tossing a fire ball into Paul Bearer’s face at In Your House last
night is shown
.
Vince McMahon, Jim
Ross, and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from
Binghamton, New York
.
McMahon interviews
Steve Austin, who will face Bret Hart in a street fight tonight.  McMahon announces that Austin will get a
title shot at the next In Your House pay-per-view, but Austin just tells him to
shut up because Bret Hart is the topic of conversation tonight.  Austin demands that Bret show up within a
minute to fight him, but Bret pops up on the Titantron with the Hart Foundation
and says that he’ll face Austin in a street fight tonight.  Bret runs down the American fan base lust for
violence and complains that Austin has a title match at In Your House.  After those comments, Austin heads to the
locker room.

Opening
Contest:  The Sultan (w/The Iron Sheik)
defeats Ahmed Johnson by disqualification at 4:50:
At the beginning of the match, McMahon makes the
outrageous claim that during the WWF’s tour of South Africa Ahmed received more
acclaim than Nelson Mandela ever did.  This
is a boring brawl, but Ahmed does bust out an impressive facebuster from a
suplex position.  Ahmed is on the verge
of putting the Sultan away when the Nation of Domination shows up on the
entrance stage.  Ahmed grabs a 2×4 and he
bashes the Sultan with it to make a statement to the Nation and loses.  Rating:  ½*
Sunny comes out in
an oversized Undertaker t-shirt.  Hendrix
urges us to buy it for $20 (plus shipping & handling) and that we should
call 815-734-1161 to get it.  It’s so odd
seeing the WWF sell merchandise on their shows like this fifteen years later.
Austin is shown
trying to break into the Hart Foundation’s locker room and Bret gets some WWF
stooges to tell Austin to go away.
Ken Shamrock comes
out for commentary and McMahon announces that Vader will face Shamrock at In
Your House in a No Holds Barred match.
Ross announces
that Tiger Ali Singh won the sixteen man tournament for the second Kuwaiti
Cup
.
Vader’s bullying
of a Kuwait newscaster on “Good Morning Kuwait”, which earned him a trip to a
Kuwaiti jail, is shown.  Lawler shows off
a funny drawing of Vader shoveling camel dung in the desert based on this
incident.  Shamrock says he doesn’t like
bullies, thereby making him the first WWF superstar to advocate the “Be a Star”
campaign’s agenda, and he challenges Mike Tyson to a match in the WWF.
-Footage of Austin
yelling at McMahon at ringside after slapping off his headset during the
commercial break is shown
.
Get your tickets
for the WrestleMania Revenge Tour, where Sid & The Undertaker battle Vader
and Mankind, Ahmed Johnson faces Faarooq, and Steve Austin & The Legion of
Doom battle the Hart Foundation!
Street
Fight:  “Stone Cold” Steve Austin defeats
Bret “the Hitman at 8:23:
The purpose behind this one is that Austin is angry about
not finishing off Bret last night and thinks he can do it here, while Bret is
reluctant to fight Austin on his own. 
Before the match can get underway, Owen Hart and the British Bulldog
attack Austin from behind and Bret joins in for a three-on-one attack.  However, Shawn Michaels comes through the
crowd with a chair and eliminates Owen and the Bulldog.  Bret goes to Pillmanize Austin’s leg, but
Austin moves and then begins wearing out Bret’s knee with the chair.  Austin applies the Sharpshooter and refuses
to break the hold when WWF officials hit the ring.  Pat Patterson eventually helps the officials
get Austin off of Bret.  No official
winner is declared in this one, but for all intents and purposes Austin won
this battle of the feud.  This is
somewhat difficult to rate, but it was an entertaining brawl.
WWF President
Gorilla Monsoon tells Austin that he’s out of control and Austin says he’s not
done tonight and doesn’t care about Monsoon’s rules.  Monsoon bans Austin from the arena, to which
Austin threatens him up, and all of this takes place as the Hart Foundation
helps Bret to the locker room.  Seeing
Monsoon and Austin go at it is quite entertaining since the voice of the 1980s
is facing off with the top superstar of the 1990s.
Tiger Ali Singh
pins Salvatore Sincere with a spinning heel kick at 4:49:
In the discussion of guys the WWF put money on that never
panned out, Tiger Ali Singh has to be near the top of the list.  This is Singh’s RAW debut and he would
disappear for a year after this match. 
The match is technically fine, as Sincere dominates much of the action
and sells well for the rookie, who needs more proficiency running the
ropes.  A random spinning heel kick gets
the victory, but it’s an underwhelming debut. 
Rating:  *½
Paramedics take
Bret to the ambulance and the Bulldog and Owen are great here, as they keep
yelling at the paramedics for bumping over cables and wires and not adequately
taking care of Bret.  Like a horror film,
the camera pans inside the ambulance, where Austin is in the driver’s seat and
he moves to the back to attack Bret. 
Owen and the Bulldog come to Bret’s aid, but more damage has been
done.  That’s one of the more creative
attack segments in wrestling history, capped by Owen’s “what kind of crap is
this?” at the end.
Owen and the
Bulldog are shown looking for Austin backstage
.
Rockabilly (w/The
Honky Tonk Man) defeats “The Real Double J” Jesse James with a Shake, Rattle, and Roll at 8:48:
Since their match at In Your House last night was so
great we get a rematch between these two. 
Rockabilly is such a terrible gimmick, as Billy is just wearing his
usual cowboy attire.  There’s a funny
exchange on commentary as Lawler says he trusts the Honky Tonk Man’s judgment
and Ross asks him “What’s going on?  Are you two related?” to which Lawler responds
“Maybe.”  Like the previous night’s
encounter, this one goes on far too long and it kills the crowd.  After a ridiculously long time, Rockabilly
hits the Shake, Rattle, and Roll to get his first victory.  Really? 
Why give Rockabilly the win here instead of last night when he
debuted?  After the match, James attacks
Rockabilly but is nailed from behind by the Honky Tonk Man, who delivers two
sick guitar shots.  Rating:  ¼*
Austin is shown
arguing with Shawn Michaels in the locker room and WWF President Gorilla
Monsoon attempts to mediate to no avail. 
It’s as if Monsoon is trying to mediate a conflict in an eleventh grade
classroom.
Mankind’s
head-first plunge through an announce table last night is the Castro Super
Clean Slam of the Week
.
Mankind says Paul
Bearer didn’t cry when his flesh was burning last night.
Non-Title
Match:  The Undertaker (WWF Champion)
defeats Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) by disqualification at 12:14 shown
when Mankind interferes:
It’s the beginning of an era, as the Undertaker doesn’t want to wait for Helmsley’s ornate entrance and decks him in the aisle.  McMahon makes a great comment as he claims Helmsley can’t love Chyna because he can’t love anyone except for
himself.  I know he’s talking about the
character, but fifteen years later it can make you laugh.  This is merely a placeholder match, since
nothing is on the line and it doesn’t advance a specific story.  Dustin Rhodes, without his Goldust gear, is
shown sitting in the crowd with Marlena, who Ross acknowledges as “Terri”
thereby setting up the quasi-shoot interview he will give on RAW about his
life.  The Undertaker withstands a lot of
punishment, but during his comeback Mankind appears with a blowtorch, which is
just an insane plot development. 
Helmsley wisely flees and Mankind KO’s the Undertaker with the metal
casing of the torch, but after he lights it up again, the Undertaker sits up
and fights Mankind through the crowd. 
Well, the match wasn’t that exciting, since it was largely a kick-punch
affair, but that twist at the end was wild. 
Rating:  *
After the
Undertaker and Mankind brawl to the back, Marlena chokes Chyna with a leather
strap from behind in the crowd and Goldust/Dustin Rhodes brawls with
Helmsley.  That was a great plot point
for Marlena-Chyna, since Chyna made her debut choking Marlena from the crowd a
couple of months prior to this.
The Motel 6 Rewind
is Austin’s attack on Bret earlier in the show
.
Austin comes out
to be interviewed by McMahon a second time. 
Austin says he accomplished his objective tonight and he says he doesn’t
need the crowd’s support.  Austin says
that the Undertaker will experience a cold day in hell at In Your House and
tells McMahon he won’t be a role model as WWF champion.  Owen and the Bulldog attack Austin at the end
of his promo and McMahon tries to help Austin, but Owen tosses him into the
corner.  Shawn Michaels comes out and
saves Austin for the second time and McMahon is perplexed, seemingly having
lost control of his show.
-As we get ready to
go off the air, Brian Pillman emerges from the crowd and he attacks Austin with
a chair.  Pillman goes to Pillmanize
Austin’s ankle, but Michaels makes the save for the third time.
The Final Report Card:  This was the first RAW of the Russo era and
it began with a bang.  Bret was taking
some time off for knee surgery, so this was a good way to write him out of the
ring for a while.  The ambulance attack
put another memorable moment in Austin’s career and really sold Austin’s rebel
image to the audience.  The show also
made a minor plot point that becomes big later: 
the bigger on screen role of Vince McMahon as a character, since he got
physically involved at the end and the camera focused on his reaction to Austin
getting laid out by Owen and the Bulldog. 
As a mark, I remember watching this show in 1997 and thinking that the
show had moved in a different direction and that I really liked it.  After seeing it fifteen years later, I still
enjoyed the Bret-Austin action, but I have to admit that the rest of the show
is terrible.  Still, a thumbs up because
the parts you remember are the good ones and the chaos at the end left you
eagerly anticipating next week’s episode.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.8 (vs. 3.4 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – April 14, 1997

by Logan Scisco
Vince McMahon and
Jim Cornette are taped in the booth in Muncie, Indiana, while Jim Ross and The
Honky Tonk Man call the action in South Africa. 
It’s a simulcast of sorts, even though the South Africa action was also
taped beforehand.
-Call 815-734-1161
to purchase your Undertaker poster for $29.95 (not including shipping &
handling)!

Opening
Contest:  The Godwinns defeat The Legion
of Doom when Henry pins Animal after the British Bulldog nails Animal in the
back of the head with his tag team title belt at 6:05 shown:
This match was set up by the Godwinns inadvertently
slopping the Legion of Doom on last week’s show.  This is standard fare between two brawling
teams until Owen Hart and the British Bulldog make their presence known at the
end of the match and cost the Legion of Doom the contest.  It’s not a huge setback for the LOD, though,
since they get a title match with the Bulldog and Owen in six days at In Your
House.  Rating:  **
Footage of “The
Real Double J” Jesse James breaking The Honky Tonk Man’s guitar two weeks ago
is shown
.
Hunter Hearst
Helmsley (w/Chyna) pins “The Real Double J” Jesse James with a Pedigree at
11:49 shown:
This is a match from South Africa and the Honky Tonk Man
talks about how he’s got the perfect mystery man to face James at In Your
House.  There is some “amateur” wrestling
both men employ here, which is quite boring, but Jim Cornette makes some it
tolerable by cracking some current event jokes. 
This is a very start and stop contest, as James’s offense builds
momentum until Helmsley abruptly cuts it off with a maneuver with his knee and
going to a rest hold.  Honky Tonk Man
gets tired of watching the match, so he nails James in the gut as Chyna
distracts the referee and Helmsley gets the victory.  The piped in crowd noise made this match come
off better than it actually was.  Rating: 
James says that he
can’t wait to beat Honky’s mystery man at In Your House this Sunday
.
Non-Title
Match:  Savio Vega (w/The Nation of
Domination) pins “The Rock” Rocky Maivia (Inercontinental Champion) with a
schoolboy at 14:29 shown:
This is another bout from South Africa.  Ahmed Johnson cuts an unintelligible promo in
the split screen during the opening stages of the match and Cornette proceeds
to rant about it.  Savio puts the
audience into a coma with about seven minutes of nerve holds, although Faarooq
and Crush try to rile up the crowd around ringside to draw heat.  After eleven minutes, the pace finally picks
up as Maivia makes the comeback and Savio kicks out of what will become the
Rock Bottom by the end of the year. 
Savio manages to outmaneuver the inexperienced Maivia near the corner
and scores the victory with a handful of tights and the Nation does a brief
beatdown before Ahmed Johnson shows up. 
This was terrible until it hit the closing sequence.  Savio’s victory gives him some momentum for
his title match with Maivia at In Your House, but it would’ve been better to do
this a couple of weeks prior to this show so that match would have more time to
build.  Rating:  *¼
Steve Austin
convincing WWF President Gorilla Monsoon to give him a match with Bret Hart at
In Your House near the end of last week’s show is shown
.
McMahon interviews
Austin, who accuses McMahon of holding him down in the past but says that he
can’t hold him back anymore.  Austin
pledges to beat Bret at In Your House and that Bret is copying his mannerisms
and logo.  Simple stuff from Austin here
and it’s not like he can say a lot more for this feud right now
.
Goldust defeats
The Sultan (w/The Iron Sheik) by disqualification when Hunter Hearst Helmsley
and Chyna interfere at 3:01 shown:
This is our third bout from South Africa.  Goldust’s paints his face like a leopard,
which causes McMahon to speculate that Goldust might have ebola.  Marlena is missing in action because of the
bearhug she endured at the hands of Chyna at WrestleMania.  The Sultan delivers a nasty looking
piledriver, as he holds Goldust vertically and then suddenly drops into the
move.  It looked safe, but it earned a
ten for the visual effect.  Helmsley
interferes after we catch a few minutes of action, since this one is joined in
progress after a commercial break, and he and the Sultan do a beatdown before
leaving.  The beatdown was nice, but the
match wasn’t going anywhere prior to Helmsley’s interference.  Rating:  ½*
Call
1-815-734-1161 to get your Undertaker poster for $29.95 (not including shipping
& handling)!
To continue the
international flavor of the show, a Bret Hart promo from Kuwait is aired and he
says that he stands for truth, justice, and what’s right, which is something
that the American fans have forgotten about.
Vader & Mankind
(w/Paul Bearer) defeat The Headbangers by disqualification at 5:33:
We’re back in the United States for this contest.  The Headbangers do a good job handling Vader
early, but Mankind soon makes the save and becomes a one man juggernaut that
fights both Headbangers.  Vader and
Mankind dominate the rest of the way until Mosh spits some type of liquid into
Mankind’s eyes and gets his team disqualified. 
Mankind sells it like he can’t see and he ends up putting Vader in the
Mandible Claw by mistake.  That was a
nice touch, but having the Headbangers blind Mankind was odd booking.  This was a glorified squash, but they let the
Headbangers save face.  Rating: 
*
As the lights flicker
in South Africa, the Undertaker gives a promo over the PA system and says that
he’s going to make sure Mankind burns in hell after In Your House this Sunday.
Revealing photographs
of Sable, which will appear in the next Raw magazine, are shown
.
Footage of the ladies
of the WWF in their bikinis at the Slammy’s is shown
.
The Commandant, the
leader of the Truth Commission, cuts a promo in South Africa and says that his
group of commandos is soon to enter the WWF. 
He also repeats a lot of the content of the promo he did last week
.
Ahmed Johnson
defeats Crush (w/The Nation of Domination) with a schoolboy at 8:40 shown:
Our last match of the night comes from South Africa.  The announce team makes some illusions to
dissension within the Nation of Domination and says that Crush has been
criticized lately for his performance, thereby sowing the seeds for the “gang
warfare” angle that would emerge by the fall. 
Crush methodically focuses his offense on Ahmed’s kidneys, but he
acquires the same rest hold sickness that plagued Savio early in the show.  Ahmed doesn’t even get in that much offense,
as he avoids a heart punch and puts Crush away with a roll up shortly
thereafter after coming off the ropes. 
The only redeeming part of this match was Jim Ross, who made it seem
like the fate of the world rested on an Ahmed victory.  Rating:  ½*
After the match,
Faarooq tells Ahmed that the Nation will get rid of him.  Faarooq says that if Ahmed can beat the
Nation, he will disband the group.  Ahmed
doesn’t respond
.
The Final Report Card:  Four
weeks ago, the WWF put together a great go home show for WrestleMania, but this
was the exact opposite.  The back and
forth between the American and South African venues just didn’t work and it
didn’t help that nearly every match on this card was below average.  I often wonder how the Undertaker felt about
this title reign, since most of it was eclipsed by the Bret-Austin storyline.
Show Rating:  2.2 (vs. 3.5 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down