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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to get your copy of Cause Stone Cold Said So for $19.99 (plus $6
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

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – March 24, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Vince McMahon, Jim
Ross, and Jerry “the King” Lawler are on commentary tonight and they are live
from Rockford, Illinois.  Ross announces
that Mankind will face the Undertaker for the WWF title at the next In Your House.

Opening Contest
for the WWF Tag Team Championship:  The
Headbangers defeat The British Bulldog & Owen Hart (Champions) by
disqualification when the Bulldog shoves the referee at 9:33 shown:
The Headbangers earned this title shot by winning the
four team elimination match the previous night at WrestleMania XIII.  Owen and the Bulldog keep posing in front of
each other on their way to the ring, continuing their storyline.  Ross informs us at the beginning of this
match that the winner will be penciled in to face the Legion of Doom at In Your
House.  The Bulldog accidentally knocks
Owen off the apron when he runs the ropes and that leads to an argument between
the champions.  Owen teases walking out
prior to the commercial break, but when we get back he’s back on the
apron.  Owen’s walk out puts the Bulldog
in peril, though, and Owen tags the Bulldog back in after receiving the hot
tag, so the champions argue over that as well. 
The Bulldog gives Mosh a running powerslam, but when he goes to throw
Owen on top of Mosh, Owen takes offense to that and they argue, leading to
referee Earl Hebner getting pushed out of the way and leading to a
disqualification.  A terrible ending to
what was shaping up to be a pretty good match and it helped make the
Headbangers a credible team in the eyes of the fans.  Rating:  **¾
After the bell,
Owen gets on the mic and says he’s tired of carrying the tag team
champions.  He demands a shot at the
Bulldog’s European title.  The Bulldog
agrees to put his title on the line, but it’ll be the only shot Owen will get.
Mankind, in the
arena’s boiler room, says that Paul Bearer is gone and he desperately needs
him.
Mascarita Sagrada,
Jr.’s leap off the stage onto Mini Vader is the Playstation Slam of the Week.
Bret Hart pops up
on the Titantron and says he has some things that he wants to talk about.  He promises not to use profanity so McMahon
promises to give him some time later in the show.
Hunter Hearst
Helmsley (w/Chyna) pins Bart Gunn with a Pedigree at 7:04:
The WWF has literally nothing to give Bart Gunn at this
point, so he’s just being dragged out to play the Tito Santana role here and
give Helmsley a decent match.  Goldust
cuts a promo in the split screen during this one, since he and Helmsley will
face off next week.  McMahon goofs,
though, and says it’s for the Intercontinental title.  The match puts over Chyna more than Helmsley,
as she pulls down the top rope to ruin a Bart bulldog attempt, slams Bart on
the floor, and then rams him into the ring post.  Those are the only parts of the match that
the crowd reacts to.  After that
interference, the outcome is simply academic. 
Rating:  *½
Highlights of the
1997 Slammy Awards, the last one held for over a decade, are shown.  Rocky Maivia won the New Sensation of the
Squared Circle, Sable won Dressed to Kill, the Undertaker won the Tattoo Award,
Owen Hart claimed a Slammy for himself, Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart won Match
of the Year, Hunter Hearst Helmsley won Best Hair, Mankind won Loose Screw,
Steve Austin won Freedom of Speech, Arnold Skaaland won the Lifetime
Achievement Award, and Sable won Miss Slammy.
Venum, Super Nova
& Discovery defeat
El Mosco,
Hyseria & Abismo Negro when Super Nova pins Negro with a hurricanrana at
4:11:
The question that lingers over this match is can the AAA
guys put on a match worth watching for the WWF fan base?  Bret Hart doesn’t have much faith in Mexican
wrestling, as he comes into the split screen and in a soft voice demands time
to speak.  This is just a spotfest, but
it’s a lot better than any of the other AAA action we’ve seen thus far in 1997.  I’ll give it an average rating for the
entertainment value, but you won’t see any psychology in this.  Rating:  **
Call
1-203-359-5440 to book your stay on the Wrestle Vessel II!
In a taped interview,
Rocky Johnson and Rocky Maivia talk about WrestleMania XIII.  Johnson talks about how he used his own money
to buy a ticket to WrestleMania because he was proud of his son and he was not
going to stand back and watch his opponents brutalize him after the match.  Johnson promises not to get involved in his
son’s matches ever again and they hug.
Dok Hendrix urges
us to order the replay of WrestleMania XIII.
Flash Funk (w/The
Funkettes) defeats The Brooklyn Brawler with the Funky Flash Splash at 3:07:
The Honky Tonk Man is on commentary and he gives a great
crazy rant about how he has so much energy that he kick started a 747 earlier
in the day.  An easy squash for Funk that
gives him a chance to showcase his aerial offense.
Call 8-15-737-1161
to order your customized WrestleMania XIII custom hockey jersey for $69.99 and
your denim jacket for $99 (plus shipping & handling)!
McMahon interviews
Ken Shamrock on the Titantron and Shamrock says he stopped the submission match
at WrestleMania because Steve Austin could not respond to his commands and
defend himself.  This interview is just
to recap the submission match for the fans who didn’t watch WrestleMania last
night.
Bret Hart comes out
and apologizes to his international fans for his actions last night.  For his fans in the United States, though, he
apologizes for nothing because they cheered Steve Austin after he was a beaten
man at WrestleMania.  He also complains
that the American fans cheered for Shawn Michaels and screwed him out of the WWF
title despite the fact that Michaels posed for a gay magazine.  Bret does a great job narrating his
experience in the WWF since he returned in November and he was always better
doing promos as this jaded wrestler character than at any other time in his career.  Bret says that he has no respect for American
fans anymore and they can kiss his ass. 
With Bret’s rant over, Shawn Michaels comes out and says Bret hides his
faults from the fans and is fake.  Shawn
says he wrestles for fun, whereas Bret is a mark for himself and that the fans
can cheer for whomever they want.  Shawn
says he’s willing to fight Bret and that Bret only knows he was in Playgirl
because he flipped through the pages. 
Shawn turns to leave, but Bret attacks him from behind and puts him in
the ring post figure-four until Sid runs out and makes the save.  This was a long promo segment, especially
Bret’s opening monologue, but once Shawn appeared it turned into something
special and the segment solidified Bret’s heel character in the eyes of the
fans.
Non-Title
Match:  “The Rock” Rocky Maivia (Intercontinental
Champion) defeats Leif Cassidy with a flying body press at 2:24 shown:
We join this one in progress and it doesn’t take long for
Bret Hart to come down for guest commentary.  Bret and Vince go back and forth as Maivia
rallies after a powerbomb and quickly puts Cassidy away.  After the match, Bret attacks Maivia from
behind and goes briefly goes after his leg before leaving and flipping off a
young fan at ringside.
Ahmed Johnson beats
Savio Vega (w/the Nation of Domination) by disqualification when the Nation
interferes at 6:05 shown:
The Nation chooses to watch the match from the entrance ramp
instead of coming to ringside.  Ahmed
pulls out a few neat spots in the match, one of which includes a cannonball off
the top rope, but the match has no momentum whatsoever.  Savio’s ring work has really plummeted since
he began working as a heel.  Predictably,
the Nation interferes when Savio is in trouble, but Ahmed holds them at bay
with a 2×4 and then makes a deal with them whereby they agree to have one of
them face Ahmed at a future In Your House and if Ahmed wins, they will all leave the
WWF.  Rating:  *¼
Paul Bearer tells
McMahon that he doesn’t want to talk to him right now
.
Bret Hart’s attack on
Shawn Michaels on tonight’s show is the Karate Fighters Rewind segment
.
McMahon interviews
WWF Champion The Undertaker in tonight’s main event interview segment.  The Undertaker puts over his victory at
WrestleMania until Paul Bearer walks out. 
Bearer says he wants to talk with the Undertaker, as Mankind appears on
the Titantron calling for Bearer to return to him, but before this goes
anywhere we run out of time.
The Final Report Card:  The
Bret-Shawn interaction was the premier highlight of the show, but the rest was
very forgettable.  That’s a problem with
this era since you had some hot acts at the top, but the feuds below it weren’t
very interesting or were not as well developed. 
Having Mankind as the number one contender after WrestleMania was a bit
of a head scratcher as well, since he had hardly done anything since October.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.5
(vs. 3.0 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – March 10, 1997

by Logan Scisco
We get a new
television intro and theme song for Raw, as this is the debut of Raw is
War.  We also see the debut of a new
entrance set, with the Titantron and entrance ramp
.
Vince McMahon, Jim
Ross, and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from
Worcester, Massachusetts.
Ross interviews
WWF Champion Sid, who says that he’s very skeptical of teaming with the
Undertaker to face Vader and Mankind tonight and says that he thinks the
Undertaker will reunite with Paul Bearer. 
The Undertaker comes out and says there is no hidden agenda because if
Sid was injured he couldn’t face him for the title at WrestleMania and in a
twist, the Undertaker says he doesn’t want Sid as his partner because if he got
injured in the tag match then Sid would remain WWF champion.  Paul Bearer, Vader, and Mankind then appear
and Bearer calls Sid and the Undertaker cowards.  A brawl breaks out between the two sides and
although the faces stand tall, the Undertaker takes a shot in the back from
Vader that he attributes to Sid and they stare each other down as we head to a
commercial break.

Opening Non-Title
Contest:  “The Rock” Rocky Maivia
(Intercontinental Champion) pins Tony Rua with a flying body press at 1:36:
Before the match, the Iron Sheik and Bob Backlund tell
Maivia that the Sultan will beat him for his title at WrestleMania and Backlund
continues to rant as the Rock makes short work of Rua.  After the match, the Sultan runs in, but Maivia
dispatches of him and backs away, as Tony Atlas appears in the crowd and then
hugs Maivia before they head to the back. 
It would seem that the booking would be better to call for the Sultan to
beat down Maivia here, but it’s not like he had a chance of winning the title
at WrestleMania anyway.
Ahmed Johnson’s
destruction of Leif Cassidy on Shotgun Saturday Night is the Playstation Slam
of the Week
.
Heavy Mental,
Pentagon & Pierroth defeat The Latin Lover, Octagon & Hector Garza when
Metal pins the Latin Lover with a La Magistral cradle after the Lover misses a
frog splash at 7:39 shown:
The WWF’s working relationship with AAA continues with
this match, but the crowd doesn’t really know what to make of this since the
Mexican wrestlers were never given proper billing by the WWF on television.  Security tries to deal with Chyna in the
crowd, who McMahon calls “the bionic woman.” 
Brian Pillman also does a split screen promo about how he’s going to
return on Shotgun Saturday Night.  If you
saw the AAA six man at the Royal Rumble, this is basically the same affair,
with the action going nowhere and generating no reaction until the participants
take turns diving onto each other on the floor. 
The finish is quite awkward, as the Lover tries a frog splash when Metal
is already in a standing position, and Vince had to be shaking his head and
thinking that he got the wrong group of Mexican superstars to work for
him.  Rating:  ½*
Ahmed Johnson
beats Roy Raymond with a Pearl River Plunge at 2:01:
Ahmed doesn’t sell Raymond’s early offense and the Nation
of Domination appear and do their rap as action unfolds in the ring.  This show thus far is like an ADD person’s
worst nightmare.  Ahmed vanquishes
Raymond in short fashion and Faarooq calls Ahmed an Uncle Tom and says he
doesn’t know the streets.  Ahmed says
that he found some backup for WrestleMania and says that he’s going to bring
the city of Chicago with him, which translates into the Legion of Doom, who
make their way through the crowd.  The
LOD cut some PG-era promos, with Hawk saying that the faces will turn the
Nation into some dirty sweat socks, but the point is still conveyed.
Ross interviews
Owen and the British Bulldog on their way to the ring and Owen tries to
downplay that he lost the European championship finals to the Bulldog last week.
Non-Title
Match:  The New Blackjacks defeat Owen
Hart & The British Bulldog (WWF Tag Team Champions) by disqualification at
7:21 shown:
The Blackjacks run down Owen on the mic before the match
and when Bradshaw tells Owen he has pretty lips that starts a four way
brawl.  Bradshaw saying that based on his
locker room exploits does makes you chuckle. 
Based on their size, you would think that the Blackjacks would be
employing lots of stiff offense and power moves, but they don’t and it makes
their offense bland.  The finish comes
when Owen has Bradshaw trapped in a Sharpshooter and the Bulldog tries to cut
Barry Windham off, but the referee gets in his way.  The Bulldog tosses the referee aside and gets
his team disqualified as a result.  Owen
and the Bulldog made this match tolerable, but it wasn’t a good sign for the
Blackjacks because if you couldn’t have a good match with Owen and the Bulldog
then who could you have a good match with on the tag roster at the time?  Rating:  **
Call 1-900-737-SLAM
to vote for the 1997 Slammy Awards and the category of Loose Screw.  Nominees are Sid, Mankind, Steve Austin,
Seinfeld’s Kramer (!?!), and Bob Backlund
.
Taz and Bill
Alfonso come out and jaw with Lawler and Sabu tries to take advantage of the
situation to attack Taz, but Taz sidesteps his dive and Sabu goes through a
table as various ECW stars pull Taz away.
Miguel Perez pins
Leif Cassidy with a Victory Roll at 4:12:
Perez was being brought in as a Latin counterweight to
Savio Vega, but the WWF must not have seen a lot of dollar signs in that feud
so those plans were abandoned.  This is a
decent back and forth encounter, with some solid technical wrestling, but Perez
really needed to be memorable here and he wasn’t.  Rating:  **
WWF Champion Sid
says he has to worry about the tag match he has tonight and can’t worry too
much about defending the WWF title against Bret Hart in a steel stage.
Ross interviews
Ken Shamrock, who will be the guest referee of the Bret Hart-Steve Austin
submission match.  Shamrock says he’ll
show no fear at WrestleMania and he’s interrupted by Austin on the Titantron,
who says he hopes Bret wins the title next week so their match at WrestleMania
will be for the title.  Shamrock says he
isn’t afraid of Austin and Bret comes down to the ring.  Bret says he’ll win his WWF title back next
week against Sid and goes on a long list of people who have screwed him since
he’s returned to the company.  Bret says
he trusts Shamrock, but if he tries to screw him at WrestleMania it’ll be a big
mistake.  The thought of Shamrock
prematurely calling for the bell at WrestleMania is what kept running through
my mind with that closing line
.
Billy Gunn
defeats “The Portuguese Man O’ War” Aldo Montoya with a flying leg drop at
2:51:
The Honky Tonk Man comes out to do commentary to continue
to scout talent.  Despite being gone for
several months, Billy hasn’t received much of a repackaging, as he still has
the Smoking Gunns theme music and is wearing his jeans and cowboy boots as a
ring attire.  Gunn makes short work of
Montoya and looks impressive doing it.
Mankind, with Paul
Bearer, says that he and Vader are a team, but his promo gets cut off by going
to commercial break
.
Goldust
(w/Marlena) defeats Tim McNeany with a Curtain Call at 1:37:
Hunter Hearst Helmsley appears near the ramp with Chyna
and they watch as Goldust quickly runs through his offense and squashes
McNeany.  After the match, Chyna moves
toward the ring and as Goldust is distracted, Helmsley attacks him from
behind.  Chyna and Helmsley double team
Goldust until Marlena jumps on Chyna’s back and applies a rear naked choke,
which generates a MASSIVE pop from the crowd. 
WWF officials pour into the ring to break it up, but one of them (Harvey
Wippleman) gets gorilla pressed by Chyna and tossed onto some of his
colleagues.  Regardless of how you feel
about you Chyna today, you must admit that the WWF did a great job with her
debut.
Ross hosts a
“great debate” between Lawler and Paul Heyman, who has the Eliminators come as
backup.  They debate whether ECW should
exist.  The debate quickly devolves into
a shooting contest, with Lawler saying Heyman lives in his parent’s basement
and Heyman asking Lawler how the seesaws look in Louisville.  When the Dudleys, the Sandman, Tommy Dreamer,
and Beulah McGillicutty show up, Lawler asks for his backup to arrive, but no
one comes to his aid.  Some people
might’ve enjoyed this at the time, but it just came off as a desperate attempt
for attention by the ECW crew and the segment itself was a mess
.
Marlena’s attack
on Chyna is the Karate Fighters Rewind segment for this week
.
Vader &
Mankind (w/Paul Bearer) defeat Sid & The Undertaker when Vader pins the
Undertaker after a Sid powerbomb at 7:34 shown:
All semblance of tag team decorum is lost in this one, as
Vader and Mankind attack Sid when he makes his entrance and the Undertaker is
tardy and cleans house.  The Undertaker
and Sid eventually start fighting each other, with the Undertaker standing tall
by chokeslamming Sid and then going a plancha onto Vader and Mankind.  Sid returns the favor by powerbombing the
Undertaker, but he saves the Undertaker from a Vader Bomb to continue their
feud.  I give the creative team points
for trying to make this feud intriguing, but there just isn’t a lot of backstory
here for a WrestleMania main event.  The
match was fine for a TV main event, since it advanced the necessary angle and
did a good job working the crowd into a frenzy. 
Rating:  **
Bret Hart says
next week he’ll show that he’s the king of the WWF.
The Final Report Card:  This show had a lot of hit and miss
content.  The main event was serviceable
and the Chyna-Marlena interaction was fun, but nothing else really stood out.  The debate segment bombed, although I can see
why some on the Internet may have enjoyed it at the time, and the AAA six man
was terrible.  Overall, a middle of the
road show that advanced some storylines for WrestleMania but wasn’t compelling
for the entire two hours.  At several
points I wish I could’ve switched to Nitro.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.3 (vs. 3.5 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Neutral