What the World Was Watching: Monday Night RAW – January 30, 1995

Vince McMahon and Shawn Michaels are doing commentary this evening and they are still taped from Palmetto, Florida.  The green screen that they are broadcast against is jarring.

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What the World Was Watching: Monday Night RAW – January 23, 1995

Vince McMahon apologizes to Lawrence Taylor for Bam Bam Bigelow’s conduct at the Royal Rumble and announces that Bigelow has been suspended without pay.

Vince and Shawn Michaels are doing commentary and they are live from Palmetto, Florida.  Vince puts over how Michaels won from the #1 position and Michaels says he is going to put some moves on Pamela Anderson.  It is so weird to see the winner of the Rumble not getting a twenty minute promo to start the show.

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What the World Was Watching: Royal Rumble 1995

A limousine pulls into the backstage area and Pamela Anderson walks out.  She goes to her locker room as WWF wrestlers, led by Dink of all people, hoot and holler.  What?  You expected respectful manners out of a group of wrestlers?

As a side note, when you have been watching tons of television tapings from Liberty, New York in a high school gym for weeks on end it really makes you appreciate the bigger venue that this show is in and it makes everything seem more important.

Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler are on the mic and they are live from Tampa, Florida.  What is hilarious about the opening is that Vince tries to introduce the Spanish announce team and Hugo Savinovich just stays seated with his back to the camera.

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What the World Was Watching: Wrestling Challenge – January 22, 1995

With a few work-related obligations out of the way for the immediate future that absorbed the last month of my time, we return to the WWF in 1995.  We are less than twenty-four hours away from the Royal Rumble in Tampa, Florida, but before we get there we have “go home” broadcast of Wrestling Challenge.

Gorilla Monsoon and Ted DiBiase are in the booth and are still in Liberty, New York.

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What the World Was Watching: The Action Zone – January 22, 1995

Todd Pettengill is live from Tampa, Florida from the location of the Royal Rumble.  Jim Ross and Gorilla Monsoon are in the booth calling the taped matches which are still from Liberty, New York.  As long as it gets Todd out of the booth it is fine with me.

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What the World is Watching: Monday Night Raw – January 16, 1995

The intro video package has the old Star Trek theme playing since William Shatner will be in Bret Hart’s corner when he faces Jeff Jarrett in tonight’s main event.

Vince McMahon and Shawn Michaels are doing commentary and they are still in Houston, Texas.  This is the “go home” show for the Royal Rumble.

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What the World Was Watching: WWF Superstars – January 14, 1995

Vince McMahon and Jerry “The King” Lawler are doing commentary and they are still in Newark, Delaware.

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What the World Was Watching: WWF Superstars – January 7, 1995

Vince McMahon announces that the Smoking Gunns are not going to be in the tag team tournament because Bart Gunn suffered a knee injury when his horse fell on him in a rodeo.  Yes, that is the best excuse that the company could come up with but it fits the cartoonish product at the time.  In reality there was no injury and Vince simply decided to push another team for the tournament and that team is the one that will take the Gunns place: the 1-2-3 Kid and Bob “Spark Plugg” Holly.

McMahon and Jerry “the King” Lawler are doing commentary and they are taped from Newark, Delaware.  The show was taped on December 14, 1994.

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What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – February 15, 1999

A series of narrated photographs recaps last night’s St. Valentine’s Day Massacre pay-per-view.

Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Birmingham, Alabama.

Commissioner Shawn Michaels comes out and welcomes out the participants in the WrestleMania main event:  WWF Champion Mankind and Steve Austin.  Before anything can be said between them, Vince McMahon interrupts, wearing a neck brace and selling his beating from Austin the previous night.  McMahon claims to be a broken man and that he wants a fresh start with Austin on the condition that Austin apologizes.  Austin does apologize, but only for beating McMahon more than he intended.  McMahon tells Michaels that people deserve a WWF title rematch between Mankind and the Rock because their match last night ended in a draw so he needs to do his job and book it for tonight.  Mankind says he needs a week to recover, bringing out the Rock, who continues to goad Michaels into booking a title match for this evening.  Mankind decides to take on the Rock after all and to make sure that there is a winner Michaels announces that tonight’s title match will be a ladder match.  After that, McMahon welcomes out Paul Wight, who he says will be the special guest referee of the title match at WrestleMania.  Austin simply flips him off from the ring to end the segment.

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What the World Was Watching: St. Valentine’s Day Massacre: In Your House

So after being away for several months due to some work obligations, “What the World Was Watching” returns by picking up where we left off in 1999.  The Steve Austin-Vince McMahon rivalry is continuing and they are set to do battle in a steel cage match where if Austin loses then he surrenders his WrestleMania title shot.  The Undertaker is busy with his Ministry of Darkness nonsense and Mankind is keeping the Rock busy before WrestleMania.

Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are doing commentary and they are live from Memphis, Tennessee.

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What the World Was Reading: WWF Magazine – June 1995

by Logan Scisco


We return this week to cover my first-ever purchase of a
wrestling magazine:  the June 1995 issue
of WWF Magazine.  I remember getting it at Kroger when I went
with my dad on a grocery trip on a Sunday. 
We passed the magazine section and I wanted it, so he bought it for
me.  I clearly read this issue a lot as a
kid because the cover no longer exists. 
For example, this is what the cover looked like:

And what my copy looks like today:
I am sort of afraid to turn the pages because it might
disintegrate in my hands, but the demands of the Blog persist, so here we go.
The first page in shows that we are definitely in the
Dark Ages as there is a “Can You Guess the Secret Superstar” feature.  This shows a childhood picture of a wrestling
star and you have to guess who it is. 
With so many youngsters depicted, it is a shame they did not get Gorilla
Monsoon to lend his stamp of approval to it. 
This month’s superstar is clearly The Roadie, with such hints as “This
Secret Superstar sincerely believes that Willie Nelson recorded the hit song
‘On the Road Again’ in his honor!” and “This Secret Superstar claims to have
been affiliated at one time or another with such legends as Reba McEntire,
Vince Gill, Wynonna Judd, and Garth Brooks!” 
So, our picture of the future Road Dogg:
The next quick feature is “Federation FANatics,” which
shows some pictures of WWF fans talking about what they like and dislike.  Normally, you would think this feature would
be for younger fans, but oh no, we have a pretty old dude by the name of Louie
Payan that wants to share his thoughts!
While telling us that he loves working on his yard (and presumably keeping young heathens off of it) when
not watching the WWF, Mr. Payan, seventy-five years young, lets us know that he
loves the excitement of the WWF (in 1995?) and that if he were WWF President he
would suspend those who interfere in other people’s matches!  Unfortunately, he does not gripe about not
seeing Lou Thesz lace up the boots for one last WrestleMania because if 1995 WWF
was like today, that might just happen!
This month’s letters to the editor features a small gem
from a quasi-smart fan from Israel by the name of Ilan Zilbershtein.  He demands to know why Shawn Michaels, and
not Diesel, was named number one contender after Survivor Series and got to
wrestle Bob Backlund in the Garden for the WWF title.  The response given seems to come straight
from Vince McMahon’s mouth, saying that Diesel is a worthy competitor because
he is “7 feet tall and weighs well over 300 pounds!”  There is also something thrown in there about
how Diesel shows better sportsmanship, but I think that is a distractor.  Another fan gives us ten reasons why the
Undertaker is called the Undertaker:
We are then treated to a few music and video reviews by
Man Mountain Rock and Jerry “The King” Lawler for the “That’s Entertain MAT”
feature.  Rock highly recommends Bush’s Sixteen Stone album, while Lawler bashes
The Brady Bunch Movie by likening it
to the Hart family.  This was during
Lawler’s feud with Bret Hart, which had been ongoing for two years, so that was
to be expected.
This month’s “Rookies to Legends” column actually does
talk about a future WWF legend: 
Sid. 
Speaking of Sid, why isn’t this guy in the Hall of
Fame?  Does the induction not coincide
with softball season?  The piece
predictably glosses over Sid’s popularity in the 1992 Rumble, saying that he
became a full-fledged rule breaker after SummerSlam 1991.  Any mention of him wrestling down South, even
in a tongue-in-cheek manner, is disappointingly not used.  The article just recaps how Sid came in as
Shawn Michaels’ bodyguard before WrestleMania, how he has turned on him, and
warns us that the WWF will never be the same again!
In sadder news, this month’s magazine provides a small
obituary for Big John Studd, who had recently passed away from Hodgkin’s
disease.  It gives a few facts about his
battles with Andrew the Giant and highlights his 1989 Rumble win.  I remember being shocked that this guy won a Rumble because that was during a phase of
my fandom when I thought that Hulk Hogan would win everything, so the fact that
this guy I had barely heard of won the Rumble was pretty shocking.
These magazines also go really well with our discussions
on the Blog.  Scott was recently asked
about the WWF’s move to the In Your House format and this magazine reminds the
fans that starting in May the WWF will have pay-per-views every month.  You see, the WWF HAD to do this in order to
“meet the demand of our millions of loyal fans.”  The magazine promises that In Your House will
provide “seven action-packed, bodyslammin’, sharpshootin’ pay-per-view events
to air in those months between the BIG FIVE.” 
Yes, those of us who had the privilege of watching In Your House IV can
attest to this!
The magazine keeps giving us lots of lists, this time
giving us five reasons why King Kong Bundy is bald.  I bet Vince loved this stuff.  In fact, I can see John Cena using this material if he had to feud with Bundy today:
And Lex Luger wants your letters so that he can tell you
how to improve your “Body, Mind, and Spirit.”  Lex is all about educating the youth of America about fitness,
health, and drugs!  With such an awful
gimmick like this at the time, no wonder Lex headed for the greener pastures of
WCW.
One of the really cool columns of the magazine is
“Fantasy Warfare,” which breaks down the attributes of two WWF superstars that
have yet to face off in the ring.  This
month talks about the 1-2-3 Kid and Bob Holly, who had a one-day reign as tag
team champions in January 1995.  Bob
Holly in 1995 was a big superstar in WWF
Magazine
as they ran several pieces prior to this hyping how all the big
managers in the WWF were wanting to take Holly under their wing.  What is humorous about the piece is that it
tries to make Holly look like less of a jobber, saying that he lacks many key
wins, but that is “due to the lack of competitive matches he has received.”  Of course, in the next paragraph under “Key
Losses” it tells us that he recently lost to Bam Bam Bigelow.  Despite the evidence moving in the Kid’s
favor, the Editor (Vince Russo) predicts that Holly would win because of his
weight advantage.  I actually included my
own handwriting in the “What’s Your Prediction” part of this piece which
embarrassingly reads “Holly would win because he is quick and more heavy.”  Yes, sound analysis from nine-year-old me.
It is monthly interview time and our subject this month
is Razor Ramon, cruising the streets of Miami. 
He hopes to win the next King of the Ring and says that
he would not mind facing Diesel for the WWF title.  There is a heel vibe to this interview, as
Ramon continually makes fun of the interviewer and says he would not care if he
was booed by the fans, thereby feeding into the idea that the WWF was flirting
with a Ramon heel turn in 1995.  That
would have been the ideal booking strategy since the roster was too heavily
loaded with faces.
Since Russo is the editor of the magazine, one is not
surprised to see a lengthy piece about Jeff Jarrett because everyone knows the
country music gimmick he was sporting in 1995 screamed “next big thing.”
In this five page article, Russo discusses how Jarrett
made him wake up at two in the morning and immediately fly out to the West
Coast so he could hear about the shooting of “Ain’t I Great:  The Motion Picture!”  Everything about this Jarrett gimmick
screamed small time Memphis because let’s face it:  how much credibility is a heel going to have
if we are told he is doing all these big projects and yet we see none of
them?  At least the Miz has that lousy
direct-to-video WWE film.  Anyway, we
find out that Hollywood threw a big parade in Jarrett’s honor and they proceed
to deface a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Jarrett:
And you think the magazine’s writings about the Hollywood
aspirations of superstars are over?  Well
think again as the next piece talks about Bret Hart fielding offers as
well!  Seems funny that the WWF was all
about getting their wrestler’s side projects in 1995 but is scared of them
doing anything outside of the company today. 
We are told that Hollywood is facing “an endangered species” of leading
male action stars and we are reminded that “women sometimes refer to them
as…HUNKS” and that Bret might be able to fill that role.  Russo’s writing in this magazine can be
entertaining, but he clearly has very slanted views about women.  Well, the purpose of this piece is to breakdown
Bret’s venture into TV drama by serving a role on Lonesome Dove:  The Series.  Bret played the character of Luther, who was a wandering trapper.  We
are told that Bret’s performance was as flawless as “Arnold transposed into the
Terminator and Stallone became Rambo.” 
This is a picture of Bret in the role:
Bret wrote in his autobiography that he hoped his role on
Lonesome Dove would let him get out
of wrestling, but the series was short-lived and he had to return.  He did get an appearance on the Simpson and
did have an entertaining angle on Mad TV with Will Sasso, but that was really
it for the Hitman, despite the article promising that he was getting lots of
offers in 1995 and was just waiting for the right project!
We are treated to a breakdown of the results of
WrestleMania XI.  Now compare this write
up and detail with last week’s magazine:
It just does not compare. 
One of the nice touches was that you got quotations from the
participants in the matches.  Ted DiBiase
rips Bam Bam Bigelow, bordering near burial, by saying that he is embarrassed
that Bigelow just lost to a football player. 
I remember going to a Thunder taping where Bigelow wrestled in 1999 and
he was STILL getting LT chants.  We even
get some delusional responses, as Bob Backlund proclaims that “We won!  The chicken-wing prevailed!” following his
disappointing “I Quit” match with Bret Hart. 
And of course, we have to be reminded of all he celebrities that
attended to try to disguise a lackluster show. 
Jonathan Taylor Thomas, remember that guy?  And Salt-N-Pepa needs to return to a WWE
booking meeting, if only to tell them to “push it” regarding Daniel Bryan:
A recap is provided for the night after WrestleMania show
as well, which featured Sid turning on Shawn Michaels, Diesel making the save,
Alundra Blayze regaining the WWF Women’s title from Bull Nakano, and the debut
of Bertha Faye.  Well, at least three of
those things were significant.  The
facial expression of Vince in this action shot is priceless:
And remember the WWF Superstar Line?  Well, these were all the cool features in the
summer of 1995!  I wonder what the
valuable prize was on the WWF trivia, and I have a hard time believing people
would call to hear Stephanie Wiand’s thoughts on the company.
“The Supreme Fighting Machine” Kama gets the
most over the top feature in this month’s magazine as Russo talks about how he
would fare against TJ Combo, a character in the video game Killer Instinct.  In fact,
seeing these two side-by-side sort of screams “gimmick infringement,” no?:
There are a few gems in this piece.  One talks of how Killer Instinct will be released as the first game for Nintendo’s
64-bit game system due out in the fall of 1995 called “Project Reality.”  Of course, it would take until the fall of
1996 for the eventual Nintendo 64 to hit U.S. stores.  We are also treated to a Kama promo about TJ
Combo, with Kama saying that “Not even this…cartoon character” could withstand
his arsenal and he is insulted that Combo would be any match for him!  Kama promises to bring some kick boxing, judo
karate, and good ol’ fashioned wrestling to a future bout, but he did not say
jiu-jitsu, so I am not sure how good his chances are.  Russo says that he figured out who would win
by feeding all the statistics for both men into the “World Wrestling
Federation’s Cray Computer” and although Combo beat the tar out of Kama in the
fight, Kama knocked him out with an uppercut to win.  What else did the WWF run on this Cray
Computer in 1995?
The back of the magazine features our usual “smart fan”
features, this time from the “Informer.” 
It teases the return of Barry Windham, who it says had a previous
alliance with “Irwin R. Schyster.”  It
says that they may team together again and it is amusing to think of the U.S.
Express 2.0 coming back under a tax gimmick. 
I guess that could work, a pair of heels who are patriotic but couch
their patriotism in paying taxes to the state, thereby making them the heels of
every man, woman, and child in the good ol’ U.S. of A.  Of course, Windham would not return for
another year so that point is moot.  We
are also informed that Sid is looking for a manager and may turn back to Harvey
Wippleman.  The most hilarious comment is
that “Jean Pierre Lafitte got into the face of Tatanka and accused him of being
just as responsible for the neglect of his grandfather Jean Lafitte as the
white man” thereby prompting a locker room scuffle between the two.
Another “smart” feature was Vic Venom’s “The Bite,” this
time written by him and not a guest writer, which is what the column turned
into by 1999. 
He rips Roddy Piper for calling for the bell at
WrestleMania XI because Backlund never quit. 
He alleges that Bret “Drip Man” Hart got his “bagpipe-wielding,
skirt-wearing friend” to rig the match in his favor.  Aldo Montoya’s upset of Intercontinental
Champion Jeff Jarrett is also blown off because clearly the referee missed one
of Jarrett’s shoulders from coming off the canvas!  It also fawns over the sexiness of Bertha
Faye and lets us know that “she is definitely Vic Venom’s kind of woman!”
This month’s “Private Eye” piece showcases the
Headshrinkers going to get a haircut. 
You see, it is all part of Captain Lou Albano adapting them to American
culture.  The WWF ran this angle so many
times during the 1990s with this, Barry Horowitz and Hakushi, Bradshaw and Taka
Michinoku, etc. and it met with failure EACH TIME.  It was like if you saw someone involved in an
angle like this it was immediate death. 
I mean, who is going to root for guys that are afraid of getting their
hair cut and holding stuffed animals?:
In our letters to the superstars segment, Alundra Blayze
tells a fan that if she had to date a superstar it would be Diesel or Bret
Hart, but you see, she cannot because they are married!  Well, we know that was not something that
stopped Bret on the road.  Bob Backlund
blasts a fan for not picking up a dictionary when the young man questions where
Backlund gets his big words from.  Shawn
Michaels tells a fan that if he had to do it over again he might have chosen
Bret Hart as a bodyguard because he “could have done a much better job.”  Oh, I am sure he could have!
Lastly, we get our Scoop Sullivan cartoon, about a young
fan who can morph into a federation superstar. 
This time, Mantaur keeps cheating against Doink, prompting Sullivan to
go underneath the ring and make a run-in. 
This feature would not last much longer in the magazine and the cartoon
did a good job showing how few people were attending WWF events in 1995 as NO
fans can be seen!  Some of the rhetoric
in this magazine, such as Sullivan’s character telling Mantaur “Back off
Furball!” is also eerily reminiscent of the awful language we get in promos
today.  Coincidence?  I think not. 
Unfortunately, my magazine is in such bad shape that it is hard to see
the full cartoon:
Next week we will look at the December 1999 issue of WWF Magazine, allowing us to look at all
of the great merchandise WWF fans were able to purchase at that time and how
Chris Jericho wants to square off with Steve Austin!

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 19, 1997

by Logan Scisco
We return to May
1997 after I missed posting a review because of a hectic work schedule.
Vince McMahon narrates
highlights of last week’s interaction between Bret Hart and Shawn
Michaels.  Off-air footage of Michaels giving
Bret Sweet Chin Music and Steve Austin rescuing him from a beat down by the
Hart Foundation is shown.
-Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are coming to us from Mobile,
Alabama.
Steve Austin comes
out to be interviewed by Jim Ross. 
Austin points out that he doesn’t care about Shawn Michaels, but came to
his aid because the Hart Foundation turned its back to him.  Shawn Michaels comes out, dressed like a member of the Village People, and Michaels says he doesn’t care about
Austin either.  Michaels runs down his
accomplishments, but Austin is unimpressed and they brawl until WWF officials
hit the ring and separate them.  The Hart
Foundation, minus Bret Hart, appears on the Titantron and Owen challenges
Austin and Michaels to a tag team title match against he and the Bulldog on next week’s show.  Michaels and Austin
have a fun fight over the microphone and argue over how they’ll face Owen and
the Bulldog with another partner, with Austin pulling out the best line in saying
that he’ll get “someone who’s 75 pounds or 75 years old,” and they brawl some
more.  Great mic work from both guys and
they did a great job selling the animosity between their characters
.
-Ross and Lawler
tell us that the King of the Ring tournament is going to continue tonight, but
Vader will not be facing Crush and there is a surprise for who takes his place
.

King of the Ring
First Round Match:  Hunter Hearst
Helmsley (w/Chyna) defeats Crush (w/The Nation of Domination) after Savio
accidentally crescent kicks Crush at 3:55:
Vader was taken out of this match because of injuries
suffered at the hands of Ken Shamrock in their match at In Your House.  As a result, Hunter Hearst Helmsley was
plugged in, which was hardly the surprise that viewers were looking forward to.  Gerald Brisco says that Helmsley is allowed
back into the tournament because he was informed last week that the only way to
advance in the tournament was by pinfall or submission.  This booking of the tournament always puzzled
me.  If Helmsley was always supposed to
win, why book him to lose in the first round and then put him back into the
tournament?  Despite this being the
Attitude Era, a heel-heel matchup like this was still unusual for the time and
the crowd doesn’t know what to make of it. 
Helmsley does a great job bumping for Crush and it easily makes for
Crush’s best match in awhile.  In a fun
finish, both guys call for help, but Nation miscommunication costs Crush the match.  Rating:  *¼
After the match,
Savio and Crush argue with each other and Faarooq has to run into the ring as a
mediator.
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Non-Title
Match:  Bob “Spark Plugg” Holly defeats Owen
Hart (Intercontinental Champion w/The British Bulldog & Jim Neidhart) with
a small package at 3:33:
Fans, interviewed outside of the arena, wish the best to
Holly because he is fighting in his native Alabama.  Lawler makes sure to wreck that, though, by
interviewing two Alabamians who aren’t too bright.  Holly’s race car driver gimmick is really out
of place with the Attitude Era, as it is a relic from the WWF Dark Ages.  The crowd is hot for the match, since Holly
is the hometown guy, and this match reminds of you of the old NWA title matches
where the champion faced the hometown favorite. 
Owen and Holly run through some smooth sequences and Owen goes for the
Sharpshooter, but Holly surprises him with a small package and scores the
upset.  Holly brought this match up a
couple of years later on the “Raw is Owen” episode and mentioned how Owen
volunteered to do the job for him in his hometown.  Remember the days when the WWF made sure not
to job people out in their hometowns?  Rating: 
**¼
The Undertaker
says that it is time to address Paul Bearer and he tells him there are some
events that are better to have never seen the light of day
.
Sunny advertises
the newest Super Soaker by squirting Jim Cornette
.
Shawn Michaels
tells Jim Ross that he has found a partner to face Owen Hart and the British
Bulldog next week and that is Ken Shamrock
.
Part one of Jim
Ross’s “shoot” interview with Mankind is shown. 
These interviews really changed Mick Foley’s career in the WWF as he was
getting lost in the shuffle of the midcard at the time that these interviews
were done.  This interview plays Foley
jumping off of his house doing the Superfly Splash, which is credited with
sparking the backyard wrestling craze. 
Foley discusses how he was ostracized as a kid and ate strange things
.
Lawler tells
viewers that Rob Van Dam can’t come back on RAW because Paul Heyman enacted
legal proceedings after Van Dam appeared on last week’s show and squashed Jeff
Hardy
.
Scott Taylor
defeats Leif Cassidy with a small package at 2:40
This is Taylor’s “debut”, even though he had been a
jobber for the company for years prior to this. 
This can be aptly called a light heavyweight contest, as Cassidy pulls
out a suicide dive and Taylor pulls off a slingshot body press to the arena
floor.  Cassidy appears in control of another
match, but when he goes for a suplex-facebuster combination for the second
time, Taylor surprises him with a small package.  Cassidy continues his descent into madness
after the match.  This was good while it
lasted.
Austin
accidentally walks in on Sable, who is in the midst of changing.  Austin says he’s just looking for a tag team
partner.
Bret Hart arrives
at the arena, having recently upgraded to crutches, and he’s flanked by the
other members of the Hart Foundation
.
We get our first
taste of the WWF recapping events multiple times in the same show, as the
Bret-Shawn interaction from last week’s show is replayed
.
Vince McMahon arrives
in the announce booth to do commentary for hour two of the broadcast
.
The Hart
Foundation comes out and Bret Hart is here to announce his surprise.  Bret says that Shawn Michaels is going to
return to action at the King of the Ring and he says that since he’s going to
return at the King of the Ring they might as well have a match.  Bret challenges Michaels to a match, where if
he doesn’t beat Michaels in less than ten minutes that he will never wrestle in
the United States again.  Michaels
appears on the Titantron and says that Bret couldn’t beat him in an hour at
WrestleMania in 1996, so he’s insane to think he can beat him in ten.  Michaels proposes that the Hart Foundation be
present at ringside and each of them be handcuffed to a ring post to ensure
they don’t interfere.  Michaels busts out
his infamous “Sunny days” comment, which obviously peeves Owen and the Bulldog,
and Bret accepts the challenge
.
Rockabilly (w/The
Honky Tonk Man) defeats Goldust by disqualification after Goldust hits Honky
Tonk Man with a guitar at 4:00:
Before his match, Goldust has Marlena and his daughter
Dakota come to the ring, but Dakota doesn’t quite follow the routine on the
microphone she’s supposed to.  I guess
that’s to be expected since she’s two years old.  Goldust busts out some Dusty Rhodes
mannerisms and moves like the bionic elbow.  Goldust intercepts the Honky Tonk Man
when Honky tries to attack him with the guitar and he smashes it over Honky’s head.  Somehow,
this gets Goldust disqualified despite Honky not being an active participant in
the match.  This match was actually going
to somewhere before that stupid finish.  Rating: 
*
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McMahon interviews
Ahmed Johnson about what he thinks about Faarooq playing the race card.  Ahmed says he doesn’t appreciate the question
and he says that Faarooq is telling the truth when he says that a black man
hasn’t gotten a shot lately at the title. 
Ahmed promises to be the Hank Aaron of the WWF and be the first black
WWF champion
.
The Brooklyn
Brawler tells Steve Austin that he should pick him to be his partner.  Austin isn’t impressed, tosses the Brawler into
the Raw set, and tells him he’s a big loser. 
Austin chooses Harvey Wippleman as a partner instead, which is just
hilarious
.
Faarooq (w/The Nation of Domination)
defeats “The Rock” Rocky Maivia with a Dominator at 2:45:
It’s a battle between the current and soon to be leader
of the Nation of Domination and Maivia dominates much of the action.  Maivia hits a beautiful Rock Bottom on
Faarooq and its insane to think that someone had not made him change that to
his finisher yet.  Maivia goes for his
flying body press, but Faarooq crotches him and hits his only big move of the
match, his finisher, to win.  The Nation
comes into the ring to beat up Maivia after the match, but Faarooq calls off the
dogs to the surprise of everyone.  Maivia
looked really good here, arguably better than he had in a while and this match
made him look like a very credible challenger to the main event talent.
Backstage, the
Hart Foundation are shown attacking Bob Holly
.
McMahon interviews
WWF Champion The Undertaker who calls out Faarooq for playing the race
card.  There’s something about the
Undertaker character talking about race that is really awkward.  The Undertaker tells McMahon that it is not
the time to talk about Paul Bearer’s secret. 
A bandaged Paul Bearer appears on the Titantron and discusses being at
the Undertaker’s parents burial.  The
Undertaker is left speechless for the first time of his career as Bearer threatens
to expose his secret unless the Undertaker comes back to him.  The Undertaker says he needs more time, so
Bearer promises to give him seven days to consider his options.
-:”Stone Cold”
Steve Austin defeats Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart by disqualification when Brian
Pillman interferes at 1:44:
Brian Pillman comes out to do guest commentary and it
doesn’t take long for Austin to drag him over the announce table and dump him
onto the arena floor.  Pillman doesn’t
take kindly to that and he attacks Austin with a crutch and the Hart Foundation
pounds away on Austin until Shawn Michaels makes the save.  This makes some sense in storyline terms, but
the WWF really needs to watch out for these run-in finishes at the end of shows
because it is becoming very predictable.
Ross announces
that WWF President Gorilla Monsoon has ordered Austin and Michaels to team up
next week against the Hart Foundation for the tag team titles.  Neither Austin or Michaels are happy about it
and they end the show as they started it, by fighting each other as WWF
officials try to separate them.
The Final Report Card:  The backstage vignettes provided some
hilarity for the evening and the show does have some historical context because
of the “Sunny days” comment, which precipitated a real fight between Bret and
Shawn.  That fight cancelled their
planned King of the Ring contest, which had to anger the WWF brass since they
were likely banking on a big buyrate for the show.  The Undertaker-Bearer storyline remains well
done, but it is being overshadowed by the Bret-Austin-Michaels feud
.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.1 (vs. 3.6 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up