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 26, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Vince McMahon and
Jim Ross are in the booth and they are live from Evansville, Indiana
.
Ross interviews
Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels, who come out separately and to explosive
reactions (although Austin’s is far bigger). 
Ross obviously asks if they can co-exist and both men say yes because
they don’t like the Hart Foundation.  The
Legion of Doom, who are penciled into the first match on tonight’s show, come
out to confront the challengers for the tag team champions and get a promise of
a title match.

Opening
Contest:  The Legion of Doom defeat Jim “The
Anvil” Neidhart & Brian Pillman (w/The Hart Foundation) by disqualification
when Owen Hart & The British Bulldog interfere at 4:23:
Bret isn’t on crutches anymore and this is Pillman’s
first match on RAW.  You can tell Pillman
just isn’t the same on his reconstructed ankle, as his movements are not as
fluid around the ring.  The match is
rather messy, as Hawk nearly sends Pillman back to the hospital after a botched
gorilla press slam and Animal and Pillman collide at a high speed when Pillman
doesn’t go over the top rope on a clothesline. 
The LOD are set to win by setting up Pillman for a Doomsday Device, but
the tag team champions run in and cause a disqualification.  Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels show up to
save the day, but when the Hart Foundation flees, Michaels inadvertently
catches Austin with a baseball slide and they brawl as WWF officials try to
break them up.  The crowd was hot for the
LOD, but this match was terrible when you think of the experienced hands that
were putting it together.  I would’ve
fired all four men for another lousy effort like this, but the crowds loved
seeing the LOD regardless of their faults. 
Rating:  ½*
Paul Bearer, who
looks like a completely new man without the funeral parlor makeup, is shown
looking at his watch backstage.  Bearer
tells McMahon and Ross that he left his secret in a safe deposit box with an
attorney and the attorney has the only key. 
Bearer says he’s not the same man and he’ll reveal the Undertaker’s
secret if he doesn’t return to him tonight. 
I’d easily argue that this angle was Bearer’s best work in his WWF
tenure
.
D-Lo Brown (w/The
Nation of Domination) defeats Bob “Spark Plugg” Holly with a powerbomb counter
of a hurricanrana at 3:09:
This is Brown’s in-ring debut and he brings the active
competitors in the Nation of Domination to four.  Holly is coming off an upset victory over
Owen Hart last week and it was actually a big deal to beat the champion in a
non-title match back in 1997.  Faarooq
does guest commentary for this match and he implies that McMahon is a
racist.  This match is really a vehicle
for Faarooq to rant about how this match is what viewers want to see since a
black man is facing a white man.  D-Lo
acquits himself well in this contest, which is a glorified squash.  Even if it lost momentum near the end, the
crowd liked the finishing spot.  Rating: 
The Undertaker
says he has to make a decision tonight.
Jerry Lawler cuts
a very controversial promo, which you can find on YouTube today, where he says
that Dusty Rhodes doesn’t like his son because Dustin married a “gold digger
from Georgia”, dressed like a “fag”, and says that Dustin’s daughter should be
married “Target” because everyone in Georgia “had a shot at it.”  You can tell by McMahon’s voice that he’s not
very happy Lawler dropped so many controversial lines during the non-Warzone
part of the show.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your King of the Ring inflatable chair for $59.99 (plus $11 for shipping
& handling)!  $60 for an inflatable
chair?  Interestingly enough, it looks like
Buh Buh Ray Dudley is involved in the commercial as an extra.
King of the Ring
First Round Match:  Jerry “the King”
Lawler defeats Goldust (w/Marlena) with the Flair pin at 5:20:
Lawler gets a nice pop for his entrance because
Evansville was a territory for the USWA. 
He also gets some loud chants from the crowd, which is the first time
that you have seen Lawler get that type of crowd support in his WWF
tenure.  The fact that Lawler is in the
tournament shows how weak this year’s field is. 
In a nice piece of continuity, the announce team shows footage of Lawler
confronting Goldust about his sexuality in December 1996 which began Goldust’s
face turn.  Goldust no sells the
piledriver, thereby offending all of the USWA fans in attendance, and he gives
the move to Lawler to draw some boos. 
The match is a poor brawl, but the crowd enhances it a lot by reacting
big to everything Lawler does.  After the
match, Goldust attacks Lawler and sends him down the ramp with a right
hand.  Rating:  *½
McMahon asks
Austin what he thinks the chances are that he and Shawn Michaels win the tag
team titles tonight, but before Austin can respond he’s attacked by Brian
Pillman, Owen Hart, and the British Bulldog
.
When we return
from commercial break, Austin goes to Shawn Michaels locker room and argues
with him.  Supposedly Michaels was also
attacked and he complains that Austin was not watching his back
.
“The Rock” Rocky
Maivia defeats Flash Funk with a flying body press at 3:33:
This is a match where both guys desperately need a win
because they are engaged in prolonged losing streaks.  During the match, the Headbangers come out of
the crowd with some of the inflatable King of the Ring chairs and they sit in
them and do guest commentary.  After Funk
hits Maivia with a pescado, the Headbangers go over and attack them for some
reason.  For another reason, the match is
not thrown out by the referee and during the fighting, Mosh hits Funk over the
head with a boom box and Maivia catches Funk with a flying body press for the
victory.  After the match, Funk and
Maivia shake hands and threaten revenge. 
I don’t think a tag team between these two is the answer to Maivia’s
problems.  Rating:  *
A clip of the second
part of Mankind’s interview with Jim Ross is shown and he talks about not
wearing a protective cup and how he was harmed by it.
Brian Pillman’s
victory over a jobber with a neckbreaker on Shotgun Saturday Night is our Sega
Saturn Slam of the Week
.
Bret Hart and the
Hart Foundation hype the match Bret has with Shawn Michaels at the King of the
Ring.  I’m interested to see what the
booking of this match would have been like if it had gone according to plan.  Pillman says that he’s going to tear Austin
apart at the King of the Ring and the British Bulldog and Owen Hart make it
known that they are not losing the tag team titles tonight.
Ken Shamrock comes
out to do commentary for our next match
.
King of the Ring
Replacement Match:  Ahmed Johnson defeats
Vader with a spinebuster at 3:04:
This match would have been a pay-per-view main event
caliber match a year earlier but the stock of both men has fallen significantly
in 1997.  The interesting stipulation for
this match is that Vader challenged Ahmed for his spot in the King of the Ring
semi-finals since he was not cleared to compete last week.  Therefore, if Ahmed loses then Vader will
face Hunter Hearst Helmsley in the King of the Ring semi-finals.  A match between these two was a King of the
Ring first round match a year prior as well and Vader won that match with
outside interference.  Predictably, this
match is a brawl as both men deliver some haymakers to each other, but Vader is
ill-advised to charge Ahmed in the center of the and ring and loses.  This was too abbreviated a match to really
mean anything.  Rating:  *¼
Are new members
headed into the Nation of Domination? 
Call 1-900-737-4WWF to find out!
Paul Bearer says
that the Undertaker is running out of days to keep his secret safe.
Hunter Hearst
Helmsley (w/Chyna) defeats Rockabilly (w/The Honky Tonk Man) with a Pedigree at
3:16:
Rockabilly enters this match with some momentum, as he’s
scored a few victories the last couple of weeks against the “The Real Double J”
Jesse James and Goldust.  The real star
of this match is Chyna, as she pulls Rockabilly off of Helmsley after a Rocker
dropper and bodyslams the Honky Tonk Man when he tries to hit Helmsley with a
guitar.  Helmsley achieves a somewhat
clean victory, but the only reason anyone was taking note of him at this stage
of his career was because of the mystique Chyna created for him.  Rating:  *¾
The Undertaker
tells McMahon that life is about making decisions you don’t want to and the
Undertaker tells Bearer to do what he has to do and that he will do what he has
to do
.
Sable models the
King of the Ring inflatable chair
.
Another part of
the second portion of Mankind’s interview with Jim Ross is shown.  This interview sees Mankind discuss seeing
Jimmy Snuka splash Don Muraco from the top of a cage in Madison Square Garden
in 1983 and the Dude Love character
.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve
Austin & “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels defeat The British Bulldog
& Owen Hart (Champions w/The Hart Foundation) when Austin pins the Bulldog
after Michaels hits Sweet Chin Music at 10:24 shown:
McMahon tells us that Austin and Michaels will face the
Legion of Doom in a title match next week if they capture the belts here.  It’s always entertaining to see Michaels, the
Bulldog, and Owen bouncing all over the ring and that’s what happens in the
opening moments of this match when the challengers take it to the
champions.  The Bulldog crotches Michaels
on the ropes to turn the tide, which draws a great reaction of despair from
Austin, and Austin saves the match by breaking up pins from a Bulldog running
powerslam and an Owen belly-to-belly suplex. 
All of the tricks of a great tag match are employed here, which include
the false tag or situations where the challengers have the champions pinned but
the referee is not in position to make a count. 
The pace of this match is also insane, as everyone is working 100 miles per
hour to get everything in.  They do a
creative end to the all hell breaks loose finish as Owen goes to his corner and
Michaels feigns that he is going to, but blasts the Bulldog with Sweet Chin
Music for good measure.  A great tag team
match that was a nice way to end Owen and the Bulldog’s seven months of
dominance in the tag team division.  I
would have liked a few more false finishes, but everyone was firing on all
cylinders in this one and the crowd with it from beginning to end.  Rating:  ****¼
The new champions
don’t get much time to celebrate as the rest of the Hart Foundation attacks
them.  Bret stays on the ramp, but Austin
goes after him and his surgically repaired knee as Michaels endures a
four-on-one beating.  Eventually the Hart
Foundation divots to save Bret and Austin gets away.
Austin and the
Bulldog argue in the locker room, with Austin insisting that he won the tag
team titles by himself
.
Paul Bearer comes
out to be interviewed by Vince McMahon. 
Bearer says there were three graves in the cemetery when the Undertaker’s
parents were buried and the Undertaker comes out before Bearer can talk
anymore.  The Undertaker says that he
hates Bearer and regrets what he must do to him tonight.  The Undertaker begins to choke Bearer out,
but based on what Bearer is telling him he lets him go and seemingly bows down
to him as the show plays out
.
The Final Report Card:  The hot crowd in Evansville made this show
come off very well and the tag team title match in the main event easily
warrants a thumbs up rating.  The ending
of the show with Bearer and the Undertaker was also well done and helps
establish more momentum for that storyline in the weeks ahead.  This is definitely one of the best RAW
episodes of 1997
.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.7 (vs. 3.3 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.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your Austin 3:16 shirt for $20 (plus shipping & handling)!
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: 
*
Call
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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

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 28, 1997

by Logan Scisco
A video package
summarizes the interactions between Bret Hart and Steve Austin on last week’s
show.  There’s a cool timeline in the
bottom right of the screen that tells the time of their various interactions on
last week’s show
.
Vince McMahon,
Jerry “the King” Lawler, and Jim Ross are in the booth and they are coming to
us from Omaha, Nebraska.
Brian Pillman
comes out and says that he has a sensitive side and asks the crowd to pray with
him.  Pillman prays for Bret Hart’s quick
and successful recovery, the people that enjoyed the street fight on last week’s
show, and the destruction of Steve Austin. 
Austin comes on the Titantron and says Pillman better pray that he doesn’t
come down to the ring because Bret won’t be there to save him.  Pillman taunts Austin further, so Austin
arrives, but outwits a sneak attack by the Bulldog and Owen and makes his exit
through the crowd.  Pillman continues his
prayer with Owen and the Bulldog, who continue to pray for Bret.  Owen does a hilarious job, as usual, but
Austin comes down with an axe handle and breaks up the Hart Foundation’s
prayer.  A great opening segment, with
Pillman doing a great job on the mic. 
Austin’s heat is off the charts here.
McMahon tells us
that Bret Hart is on his way to the arena and the announce crew hypes Owen Hart
challenging Rocky Maivia for the Intercontinental title and the British Bulldog
facing the Undertaker.
Pillman is shown
continuing his prayer in the locker room.

Opening
Contest:  Flash Funk pins Rockabilly
(w/The Honky Tonk Man) with a hurricanrana at 4:22:
You can tell this is a great crowd because Rockabilly
actually gets a reaction.  Bret is shown
arriving in the arena in the back of an ambulance under an armed guard, which
is a great visual.  Funk flies all over
the place in an attempt to make this the first interesting match of Rockabilly’s
career, but Rockabilly finds a way to slow things down when he seizes control.  Rockabilly dances too much after a tornado
DDT and he wants the Honky Tonk Man to deck Funk on the apron, but
miscommunication results and Rockabilly gets pinned.  However, to get his heat back, Rockabilly
nails Funk with the Honky Tonk Man’s guitar. 
Rating:  *
Owen and the Bulldog
wheel Bret out onto the entrance ramp and he rants about how America hates
people that tell the truth.  Bret tells
the crowd that they are sick and depraved because of their lust for violence
and the crowd pops huge for that.  Bret does
a great put down of the “USA” chant by saying “my mother’s American” and
smiling and says he’d love to send Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels to the
hospital this evening.  This was another
awesome promo and Bret was at his best on the mic with this anti-American
character.
Doug Furnas &
Philip LaFon say that they haven’t been accepted by American wrestling fans
because they are wrestlers and not entertainers.  They complain that they haven’t won the tag
team titles because the crowd isn’t behind them.  This was Furnas and LaFon’s heel turn, but
they lacked the mic skills to make this work
.
The Legion of
Doom defeat Doug Furnas & Philip LaFon when Animal pins Furnas after a Hawk
flying clothesline at 3:46:
The Legion of Doom had broken Henry Godwinn’s neck with a
Doomsday Device on the Shotgun Saturday Night leading up to this show.  This match is an interesting clash of styles,
as the Legion of Doom’s power offense goes against the technical skills of
their opponents.  They run through an abbreviated
tag team formula, with everyone getting involved around the three minute mark
and the Legion prevail because they are the only credible face team in the tag
division.  I wish I could have seen these
two teams square off on pay-per-view.  Rating: 
Ross interviews
Furnas and LaFon, who demand a rematch because the referee cost them this
encounter.
The Headbangers
interrupting Sunny’s segment on Shotgun Saturday Night is shown
.
Sunny comes out to
model the Austin 3:16 t-shirt, which you buy for $20.00 (plus shipping &
handling).  Finally, a piece of
merchandise that actually made the company money!
McMahon interviews
Ahmed Johnson, who sent the Sultan to the hospital with his 2×4 attack last
week.  Ahmed flips out thinking about the
gauntlet match he has with the Nation at the In Your House and tells Vince to
remember he was a gang member.  Vince’s
reply is hilarious:  “I think we’ve had enough
of this.”
The British
Bulldog preps Owen for his match with Rocky Maivia for the Intercontinental
title and Brian Pillman offers some prayers with the
Marlena’s attack
on Chyna on Raw last week is the Super Clean Slam of the Week.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  Owen Hart defeats “The
Rock” Rocky Maivia (Champion) with a bridge cradle at 8:24 to win the title:
The British Bulldog wheels Bret onto the entrance ramp so
that he can watch his brother wrestle for the Intercontinental title and Owen
dedicates the match to Bret.  In a
telling sign, the Hart Foundation is the most hated group on the roster, but
Maivia comes out and does not even generate de facto face heat during his
entrance.  Owen spends a good deal of the
match working the leg and kicks out of the soon to be named Rock Bottom when
Maivia stages his comeback.  Owen floats
over Maivia during this rally and wraps him up in a bridging cradle and that’s
enough to give Owen his first WWF singles title.  The Bulldog and Bret stage a fun celebration,
with Bret taking the belt and the Bulldog wheeling him in circles.  Owen bumped around well for Maivia, but his
victory didn’t feel like a big deal because of who he beat for the belt.  Rating:  **½
Steve Austin comes
out with a wheelchair and an axe handle and sits in the center of the ring.  Austin asks the crowd if they want to see a
wheelchair match and he asks Bret to come out. 
However, Austin changes his mind and says that he’d just end up getting
out of the wheelchair and destroying Bret. 
Austin tells the Undertaker that at In Your House he’s going to win the
title, but as he turns to leave, the Hart Foundation appears on the Titantron
and Bret promises Austin that he will end up in the ambulance that he arrived
in for tonight’s show
.
Vader’s outburst
on Good Morning Kuwait that got him detained in Kuwait is shown
.
A video package
highlights Ken Shamrock’s UFC career and what he has done in the WWF so far.
Vader defeats “The
Real Double J” Jesse James with a Vader Bomb at 1:35:
If they sought to effectively rebuild Vader, they would
have had him ambush James during his entrance and beat him to a pulp without an
actual match taking place.  As it stands,
we do get a match, but a massacre is a better way to put it as Vader destroys
James with his big moves.  The crowd pops
big for the beating.
Ross interviews
Vader and asks if Vader has any remorse or shame for what he did in Kuwait and
how he embarrassed his family and the WWF. 
Vader says he has no regrets and he apologizes for nothing.  Ross asks Vader if he overreacted and Vader
begins to bully him.  Ross breaks kayfabe
and calls Vader “Leon”, trying to sell this as Vader breaking from the script,
but Shamrock comes to Ross’s rescue and gives him a belly-to-belly suplex.  The crowd is hot for Shamrock-Vader, so the
segment did what it was supposed to do
.
Goldust tells
Marlena that she isn’t to follow him to the ring tonight when he faces Hunter
Hearst Helmsley
.
Goldust defeats
Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) by count out at 4:46 shown:
This is like the Godwinns-Smoking Gunns feud in 1996 in
the sense that the feud went on forever without giving us any quality matches.  I’m quite surprised they never tried to run a
mixed tag team match on pay-per-view out of this pairing.  Yes, the Marlena-Chyna parts wouldn’t have
set the world on fire, but they could have easily booked around it.  This match proceeds like many of their
previous ones, with Goldust starting with a quick flurry and Helmsley slowing it
down.  Luckily we get a commercial break
to spare us much of that.  Marlena comes
down to ringside when Chyna attacks Goldust and when Goldust distracts Chyna, Marlena
throws powder in Chyna’s eyes.  Blinded,
Chyna goes after Helmsley and raises him off his feet with a choke, which is
something I bet she wishes she could do these days.  That costs Helmsley the match and honestly
this was the first tolerable match in their feud.  Rating:  **
WWF Champion The
Undertaker appears on the Titantron and gives some generic comments about
facing Steve Austin at In Your House.
Sable comes out
and models an Undertaker t-shirt, which you can buy for $20 (plus shipping
& handling).
Brian Pillman
prays for the British Bulldog to have the strength to defeat the Undertaker.
Non-Title Match:  The Undertaker (WWF Champion) defeats The British
Bulldog (European Champion) by disqualification when Owen Hart interferes at
1:10 shown:
Like Owen earlier, Bret is wheeled onto the entrance ramp
and the Bulldog speaks highly of Bret. 
The Bulldog doesn’t quite understand non-title, as he pledges to win the
WWF title for the Hart Foundation.  After
the Bulldog turned heel in 1995, he and the Undertaker seemed to face off on
Raw at least two times a year in singles matches and those matches were usually
main events.  There’s not much in this
one, as we cut to a break twenty seconds in and Owen interferes to prevent the
Bulldog from getting finished off after a chokeslam. 
-Steve Austin runs in to go after Owen and the Bulldog
and Austin proceeds to grab the WWF title and celebrate with it.  The Undertaker confronts him, but quickly
eats a Stunner after Austin throws the WWF title to the ground.  The Undertaker quickly revives himself,
though, and chokeslams Austin.  Austin
recovers and notes that Bret is by himself on the entrance ramp and goes near
him, but Jim Neidhart appears and rescues Bret. 
Bret smiles and smashes Austin with his crutch and Austin falls off the
entrance ramp as we close the show.  Paramedics
tend to Austin, thereby making Bret’s prophesy of Austin riding to the hospital
in the ambulance he arrived in come true. 
A great closing segment and we now have the complete Hart Foundation of
Bret, Owen, Bulldog, Neidhart, and Pillman.
-The camera cuts to Pillman in the back who looks into
the camera with a smile and crazy eyes.
The Final Report Card:  This Raw was bolstered by some great promo
work and a hot crowd that got behind many of the big moments on the show.  Owen winning the Intercontinental title made
all of the anti-Maivia diehards happy and there was a great story arch in this
show as well, with Bret promising to send Austin to the hospital and accomplishing
that goal at the end of the show.  A
great effort of storytelling that put you on the edge of your seat for next
week’s show.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.7 (vs. 3.4 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – March 31, 1997

-A video package
highlights Bret’s heel turn last week.
Vince McMahon, Jim
Ross, and Jerry “the King” Lawler are on commentary tonight and they are taped
from Peoria, Illinois.

Opening Contest
for the European Championship:  The
British Bulldog (Champion) and Owen Hart wrestle to a no contest at 12:09
shown:
Both guys revert to their natural roles here, with the
Bulldog playing face and Owen playing the heel. 
Owen keeps the Bulldog grounded for much of the match and they work
through a great sequence where Owen misses a missile dropkick, the Bulldog
applies a Sharpshooter, and Owen powers up to connect with an enziguri.  Owen also does an awesome flip off the top
rope to avoid getting knocked off and eats a suplex on the ramp.  Near the end, the referee is bumped and Owen
tries to use a chair, but the Bulldog wrestles it away from him.  Bret Hart then runs in, tackles the Bulldog,
and uses the chair to calm him down and then gets between both men.  Bret gets on the microphone and says that the
fans want the Bulldog and Owen to tear each other apart and it makes no sense.  He makes fun of American talk shows and seeing him educate Owen and Bulldog about American values
is hilarious.  Owen forces out a few
tears to add some effect to the occasion and a group hug seals the deal and
ends the Owen-Bulldog and Owen-Bret feuds simultaneously.  I was getting into the match until the no
contest, but this is a great example of tying together a lot of loose ends and
moving all parties into a different storyline. 
Rating:  ***¼
Sunny comes out to
do guest commentary for the next match. 
She makes fun of Ross’s cowboy hat.
El Mosco pins
Super Nova after a springboard moonsault at 3:53:
So why is Sunny out here to do guest commentary again?  Ah, well she and Ross hype the house show
circuit because none of the commentators cared to get educated to call this
match.  Sunny then goes over to the
Spanish announce table and speaks decent Spanish.  This is another small spotfest, but it’s not
as crazy as you would see in a six man tag. 
Sunny gets more heat than either guy. 
This was good filler, but it’s not going to factor into any future
storylines.  Rating:  *½
Call 815-734-1161 to
buy your Undertaker poster for $29.95 (plus shipping & handling).  $30 for a poster?
Ross interviews the
Legion of Doom and Animal says that Bret Hart has no right to insult the United
States.  The Legion of Doom say that the
tag team belts will be theirs after In Your House
.
“The Real Double J”
Jesse James beats Jerry Fox with a pump and handle slam at 1:26:
James has a young kid with him as a guest manager, but the poor
kid doesn’t know what to do when he comes out from the curtain and James tries
to get him to dance to his song with no success.  Honky Tonk Man is on commentary for this
match and says that James is near the top of his list.  James makes short work of Fox and Honky steps
into the ring and puts over James.  Honky
gives James his guitar and offers him his tutelage, but James smashes the
guitar and rejects Honky’s offer.
Chyna’s attack on
Bart Gunn on last week’s show is the Playstation Slam of the Week.
Dok Hendrix hypes In
Your House:  Revenge of the Taker.
Crush & Savio
Vega (w/the Nation of Domination) defeat Rod Bell & Adam O’Brien when Savio pins O’Brien after a Demolition Decapitation at 3:17:
The Nation attacks the jobbers before the match and they are
subsequently dominated by the much larger heels.  Shawn Michaels calls into the show and says
that he’ll show up and get some promo time on next week.  The jobbers get a hot tag sequence, but Crush
puts a stop to that with a side suplex off the second rope and O’Brien falls
victim to a double team not long after. 
The WWF should’ve pushed the Nation as a tag team because they were
easier to tolerate in a tag setting than in singles matches.
A video package hypes
Ken Shamrock.  Shamrock will have a no
holds barred exhibition on next week’s show
.
Paul Bearer comes out
and admits that he made a mistake and wants the Undertaker to take him
back.  The Undertaker comes out and
carefully locks a coffin that is sitting at ringside.  It’s refreshing to see a face being so
cautious.  The Undertaker tells Bearer
that he does owe him for helping him lay many past opponents to rest, gives him the WWF title, but then nails him. 
The Undertaker goes to hit Bearer with the urn, but Mankind comes from
underneath the ring and throws a fireball into the Undertaker’s face.  Sid runs out, but Mankind and Bearer flee
into the crowd and Sid runs after them.
Sid tells McMahon
that if Mankind wants to play with fire he is playing with the wrong man because
the Undertaker will make him burn in hell
.
Goldust defeats
Hunter Hearst Helmsley by disqualification when Chyna interferes at 9:44 shown:
In this match, Chyna and Marlena are barred from
ringside.  Goldust charges the ring to
go to work on Helmsley, but soon falls victim to Helmsley’s traditional,
plodding offense.  We do see a new side
of Helmsley, though, as he goes aerial to hit Goldust with a double axe handle
on the floor.  Goldust hits Helmsley with
the Curtain Call, but Chyna comes out and interferes and that gives Goldust his
first televised victory over Helmsley. 
After the match, Helmsley shoves Pat Patterson out of the way when he
tries to get him away from Goldust, but Patterson fights back, only to have
Helmsley and Chyna beat him down. 
Goldust recovers and the crowd wants him to go after Chyna, but Helmsley
gets her to leave with him.  The match
was okay, but these two really struggle telling a story in the ring.  Rating:  *½
McMahon interviews
Steve Austin, who says that he never quit at WrestleMania.  He says he doesn’t care if he’s cheered or
booed because he’s all about kicking someone’s ass.  Bret Hart appears on the Titantron and says
he’s done with Austin, but Austin says Bret will have to kill him first to make
that so.  Austin busts out a great line
of one day going to Bret Hart’s grave and Bret’s tombstone reading that he’s laying there
because Steve Austin whipped his ass.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  “The Rock” Rocky
Maivia (Champion) defeats Bret “the Hitman” Hart by disqualification when Bret
refuses to break the ring post figure-four at 10:32 shown:
Although Bret was “above” the Intercontinental title at this
stage of his WWF career, it didn’t appear out of the realm of possibility that
he might win the belt here, especially considering how poorly they had booked
Maivia up to this point.  This match was
set up by Bret’s attack on Maivia on last week’s show.  Tony Atlas is shown watching yet another Maivia
match in the crowd and at the time you might’ve thought that the WWF was going
to bring him in and have him randomly feud with Maivia.  Bret methodically outwrestles the
inexperienced Maivia and for the first time in his singles career misses his
second rope elbow drop.  Maivia manages
to hit his flying body press, but Bret rolls through and nearly wins the
title.  Bret then locks in the ring post
figure-four and refuses to break it, causing a disqualification, but it does
lure Steve Austin out and he’s quickly ambushed by the Hart Foundation.  The Legion of Doom run out to make the save
and the Harts flee to fight another day. 
This turned into something decent when Maivia made his comeback, but the
rest was rather pedestrian.  Rating: 
**¼
Tune in next week to
see Sid face Mankind!
The Final Report Card:  This show
did a good job advancing the promotion’s major angles and on the strength of
that alone, the show earns a thumbs up. 
The wrestling wasn’t that good, but the show helped the fans place more
of an investment into Austin, Chyna, and Bret’s heel character and that’s what
helps drive business.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.7
(vs. 3.4 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

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

by Logan Scisco

Vince McMahon and
Jerry “the King” Lawler are live from the Manhattan Center in New York, New
York
.

Opening
Contest:  The New Blackjacks defeat The
Godwinns after Windham pins Phineas following a Bradshaw lariat at 5:51:
The New Blackjacks are the repackaged Barry Windham and
Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw and while this idea may have worked in theory, it had a
couple of problems.  First, people
usually prefer the original and second, many WWF fans were unaware of the
original Blackjacks because the WWF didn’t care to emphasize its history at
this time.  The crowd is dominated by
smarks and ECW fans, who don’t care for either team here, but we do see Ken
Shamrock in the audience during the course of this contest.  A sloppy brawl is what we get out of both
teams before a train wreck of a finish sees Phineas pinned despite having his
foot on the bottom rope.  Another referee
comes out to inform the original referee that he messed up, but the original
referee refuses to reverse the decision so the Godwinns slop him.  This did nothing for all parties
involved.  Rating:  ½*
The Eliminators
show up and give Total Elimination to an unfortunate ring attendant and Paul
Heyman steps into the ring and says that ECW is in the house.  The Eliminators should’ve roughed up the ring attendant after taking him hostage, though, because it looked silly to have him stand there like a statue while the Eliminators got into position to hit him with their finishing move
.
Stevie Richards
(w/The Blue World Order) defeats Little Guido with a Stevie Kick at 3:39:
This is our first ECW feature match and Raven makes a
cameo less than a minute in, coming from the locker room and
staring down Richards.  Goldust appears
in the split screen and says that ECW is like a B-movie.  This is a basic match without any psychology,
but its purpose was to put over the Blue World Order and Stevie Richards in
anticipation of ECW’s Barely Legal pay-per-view and it effectively did
that.  Rating:  **
Sunny says Marlena
will not be in any condition to beat her in the arm wrestling match they are
going to have tonight
.
Arm Wrestling
Match:  Marlena defeats Sunny:
The Honky Tonk Man facilitates this and Sunny gets one of
the loudest pops of the evening before she rips off Rick Rude’s opening speech, with
robe and all.  Making this an arm
wrestling match is odd, but Vince Russo hadn’t developed the evening gown match
yet, so this is what we get.  It unfolds
like any other arm wrestling match you’ve ever seen, with Sunny playing the
heel rule and constantly pulling away. 
Regardless, the crowd is pretty into it and after making a comeback,
Marlena wins, only to have Sunny throw powder in her eyes.  This brings out Savio Vega, who wants to take
advantage of the weakened Marlena, until Goldust runs in and gives us…
Goldust
(w/Marlena) defeats Savio Vega (w/The Nation of Domination) via
disqualification when Crush interferes at 8:43 shown:
Miguel Perez is doing guest commentary and he says he has
no idea what has happened to Savio. 
Savio finally has some different ring gear, which effectively
distinguishes him as a heel.  The problem
with heel Savio is that his offense consists of chokes and nerve holds and it
sucks the life out of the match.  Things
pick up a little bit when Goldust makes the comeback, but then things fall
apart again as Savio barely connects on a spinning heel kick and both guys run
out of ideas.  Crush interferes when
Savio has the advantage, which makes little sense, and Perez comes to Goldust’s
aid.  Rating:  ½*
Lawler interacting with Tiny Tim on Raw in 1993 is shown.
Lawler interviews
Ken Shamrock in the audience and takes credit for Shamrock’s success.  Shamrock says he doesn’t know Lawler and
that’s the segment.  Really?
Call
1-900-737-SLAM to vote for Best Finishing Move for the 1997 Slammy Awards.  Your choices are Shawn Michaels’ Sweet Chin
Music, Marc Mero’s Wild Thing, Sid’s powerbomb, Steve Austin’s Stone Cold
Stunner, and Bret Hart’s Sharpshooter.
Taz (w/Bill
Alphonso) beats Mikey Whipwreck via submission with the Tazmission at 3:29:
Heyman says the show has sucked aside from the ECW stuff
and I have to fully agree with him.  Sabu
makes an appearance by taking out Taz’s crew, which the camera nearly misses,
and comes near the ring, where Taz can’t quite elevate Whipwreck enough to
crash onto Sabu on the floor. 
Nevertheless, Sabu is pulled to the back by Taz’s entourage and Taz
quickly finishes Whipwreck.  A decent
squash for Taz, but the WWF’s camera crew needed to be better positioned to capture
Sabu’s dive live.  They do a better job
handling the replay, though.
The Legion of
Doom and The Headbangers wrestle to a double count out at 7:39 shown:

The Legion of Doom’s return to Raw is the “surprise” that McMahon had been
promising to viewers throughout the evening. 
Who says Vince doesn’t know his audience?  The crowd does make Vince smile during this
match by chanting that Nitro, Hulk Hogan, and Eric Bischoff suck.  This match is booked wrong, as the Legion of
Doom dominate the action, but have to do it over the course of eight minutes,
which really exposes them.  Worse, they
aren’t even booked to go over.  Was it
really necessary to protect the Headbangers here?  The Legion of Doom should’ve come out and
squashed some random guys in less than two minutes.  Rating:  ½*
Another “Tell Me a
Lie” video is played for Shawn Michaels. 
I would normally say this is unnecessary since Dr. James Andrews told us
last week that Michaels would be returning, but I enjoy the song
.
Tommy Dreamer
(w/Beulah McGillicutty) pinned D-Von Dudley (w/Sign Guy Dudley) after a DDT on
a chair at 4:29:
Dreamer and D-Von let everything go here, as D-Von takes a frying pan to the head and has Dreamer baseball slide some steps into his
face.  This is really a prelude to the
hardcore era in the WWF, as chairs get involved for a variety of maneuvers,
including the finish.  It’s a garbage
match, but an entertaining one when compared to the lousy WWF stuff on the
show.  After the bout, Buh Buh Ray comes
in and the Dudley’s give Dreamer a Dudley Death Drop.  The Sandman then comes out of the crowd to make
the save.  Interestingly enough, you
could play this match before the first ECW One Night Stand pay-per-view that took place over nine years later and it would make perfect sense.  Rating:  **
After the
Dreamer-Dudley match, Lawler irritates Heyman and provokes a brawl between the
two and McMahon gets lost amidst the ECW crew
.
Jim Ross recaps
last week’s events, which culminated in Sid winning the WWF title
Jim
Cornette also narrates Bret Hart’s rampage through the locker room after losing
the title.
McMahon announces
that Bret Hart and Steve Austin will face each other in a no holds barred match
at WrestleMania
.
Todd Pettengill
interviews Shamrock and his family. 
Shamrock compliments the Undertaker, thereby sparking his interest in
MMA.  Pettengill does a poll for who the
fans would like to see win at WrestleMania between Austin and Hart and the
crowd firmly sides with Austin
.
The Legion of
Doom’s Doomsday Device on Mosh after tonight’s tag team match is the WWF Full
Metal:  The Album Rewind for this week
.
The Undertaker
defeats Faarooq (w/The Nation of Domination) by disqualification when the
Nation runs in at 10:50 shown:
Faarooq disses the UFC and Shamrock on his way to the
ring and Shamrock teases jumping the guardrail and going after him. 
The Nation takes out the Undertaker’s leg on the floor, but Faarooq
really doesn’t know how to take advantage of that.  After what feels like an eternity, the Nation
does the predictable run-in to draw the disqualification and the Legion of Doom
come to the Undertaker’s aid as we go off the air.  This one was a chore to sit through as
neither guy seemed motivated and the constant striking grew tiresome.  I always try to look for any redeeming quality
a match might have, but this had nothing. 
Rating:  DUD
The Final Report Card:   I’m not sure if the WWF guys intentionally
put together bad matches since they knew that the ECW crowd was going to
upstage them in terms of crowd reaction, but the WWF was clearly overshadowed
on this show.  Of the WWF matches, none
of them broke ½* and it was an embarrassing display of what the company had to
offer.  In the WWF’s defense, most of its
top talent was overseas on a European tour, but there’s little excuse for this effort.  The ECW experiment
demonstrated Vince’s desire to do anything to get back into the Monday Night War with WCW and it did pop a rating here, but the WWF-ECW on-screen relationship
would fizzle when McMahon wanted the WWF to beat ECW in any invasion angle that
developed and Heyman wisely vetoed it. 
Although the show was an interesting experiment at the time, it’s a
chore to sit through today and is really not worth your time to check out
unless you need to cure insomnia.
Show Rating: 
2.5 (vs. 3.0 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: In Your House – Final Four

by Logan Scisco

Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Chattanooga,
Tennessee.
There was no Free
for All match for this show, as the Free for All featured promo battles between
the four participants in the Final Four match.

Opening
Contest:  “Wildman” Marc Mero (w/Sable)
defeats Leif Cassidy with the Wild Thing at 9:30:
Cassidy continues his run as the king of the jobber to
the stars in the company during this time, as he pushes Mero to the limit by
focusing on the knee for much of the contest. 
Sable was starting to show more of a mean streak during matches and in
this one, she helps Mero get to the ropes when he’s trapped in a figure-four
and sets him up for a Mero suicide dive. 
The crowd doesn’t buy into the psychology, but I liked it because that
was the only way that Cassidy had any chance against Mero.  This would be Cassidy’s last pay-per-view
appearance until the 1998 King of the Ring, where he would return as Al Snow,
which was a gimmick better suited for the company.  Mero was supposed to go from this match to
WrestleMania, where he was set to take on Rocky Maivia for the Intercontinental
title, but he tore his ACL and was sidelined for six months, during which time
he lost all of his momentum, his ability to do major aerial maneuvers, and had
to start carrying his wife’s bags into the arena.  Rating:  **¼
Jim Cornette and
Sunny urge us to call into the WWF Superstar line at 1-900-737-4WWF.  Only $1.49 a minute!
Shawn Michaels
“Lost Smile” speech from Thursday Raw Thursday is shown.
Kevin Kelly
interviews Sid, who is going to face the winner of the Final Four match for the
WWF title tomorrow night on Raw.  Sid
says that he’s going to take back what is his.
Faarooq, Crush
& Savio Vega (w/The Nation of Domination) defeat Flash Funk, Bart Gunn
& Goldust (w/The Funkettes & Goldust) when Faarooq pins Bart after
Crush leg drops Bart in the back of the head at 6:42:
All of the faces in this match had experienced run ins
with the Nation of Domination recently, so that was what prompted this match to
be signed.  It’s quite a fall for Goldust
to be affiliated with two midcard talents after he challenged for the
Intercontinental title on the last pay-per-view.  Funk is the MVP of the match as uses his high
risk offense against the Nation, but they quickly catch on and in a great spot
they catch him when Bart throws him over the top rope and beat him down on the
outside of the ring.  Bart has the match
won for his team with a flying bulldog, but the numbers of the Nation are too
much to overcome and the faces go down in defeat.  Just a standard six man tag that wasn’t given
enough time to develop.  Rating: 
**
The Honky Tonk Man
is hanging out with the WWF America Online crew.  Honky doesn’t quite get the Internet, since
he urges fans to call in.
Dok Hendrix
interviews Steve Austin and Austin is offended when Hendrix suggests that he
doesn’t have a convincing victory over any of the men that he’s facing in the
main event tonight.  Austin argues that
he won the Rumble and that shows he can beat anyone at anytime.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  Rocky Maivia
(Champion) pins Hunter Hearst Helmsley with a German suplex at 12:29:
This was supposed to be Helmsley defending the Intercontinental
title against Ahmed Johnson, but Maivia’s victory on Thursday Raw Thursday made
him the new champion and in kayfabe Ahmed was injured by a Nation of
Domination attack on that same show to give us this rematch.  Like their Raw battle four days prior,
Helmsley controls most of the match and grows frustrated that Maivia keeps
kicking out of his offense.  However,
unlike their match on Raw, the crowd isn’t solidly behind either guy and it’s
much slower, with Helmsley working in several chinlocks.  Goldust wanders out when Maivia is in a
vulnerable position and the distraction enables Maivia to the retain the
title.  These matches aren’t doing much
for Maivia since he doesn’t appear to be on Helmsley’s level.  This was technically proficient, but you
could hear crickets in the crowd.  Rating: 
**
After the match,
Goldust gets on the apron to confront Helmsley, but as he does so a muscular
woman chokes Marlena and Goldust comes to her aid.  This marks the debut of Chyna, who will
create a bigger splash in wrestling than anyone could have anticipated in 1997.
Kelly interviews
Vader and Paul Bearer, who run down Vader’s opponents in the Final Four match.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  Doug Furnas &
Philip LaFon beat Owen Hart & The British Bulldog (Champions w/Clarence
Mason) by disqualification when Owen hits LaFon with his Slammy at 10:26:
Furnas and LaFon can’t even get an entrance on
pay-per-view.  Most of the heat for the
match isn’t on the action between the two teams, but instead for the miscommunication
spots between Owen and the Bulldog.  A
great one is when Owen slaps the Bulldog, so the Bulldog clotheslines him and
panics when LaFon takes advantage with a splash off the top rope, so he breaks
up the pinfall.  The Bulldog has LaFon
beat with a running powerslam, but before he can complete the move, Owen nails
LaFon in the back with his Slammy and gets his team disqualified.  After the match, Owen and the Bulldog argue
some more and Owen gets really heated when the Bulldog touches his Slammy.  This had a great pace and had a nice
combination of action and storyline development, but Furnas and LaFon could not
generate any sympathy from the crowd and it hurt how the match came across.  This match was the end of the
Furnas/LaFon-Owen/Bulldog feud, which failed to get Furnas and LaFon over as
the top babyface team in the promotion.  Rating: 
***
Hendrix interviews
the Undertaker, who says that he’s going to win the WWF title by hook or by
crook.  What the Undertaker says is very
simple, but his voice makes it seem like if you get in his way that he’s going
to kill you and that enhances its quality.
-Kelly interviews
Bret Hart and Bret says nothing can stop him from winning tonight.
Final Four
Elimination Match for the WWF Championship: 
Bret “the Hitman” Hart defeats The Undertaker, Vader (w/Paul Bearer),
and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin to win the title at 24:06:
Order of
Elimination:  Bret eliminates Austin by
throwing him over the top rope at 18:09; the Undertaker eliminates Vader by
sending him over the top rope after a low blow when he attempts a Vader Bomb at
22:33; Bret eliminates the Undertaker by clotheslining him over the top rope at
24:06
The WWF didn’t normally do multi-man matches at this
point, so this was a special attraction that was well suited for the concept of
In Your House.  The rules for the match
are that there are no disqualifications or count outs and elimination can occur
by pinfall, submission, or being thrown over the top rope.  I was disappointed by the over the top rope
stipulation since I felt that the bookers would take the easy way out and they
do, since all of the eliminations go that route.  The opening of the match provides something
for everyone, as Austin and Bret have a technical showdown in the ring and the
Undertaker and Vader brawl on the floor, which results in Vader opening up a
nasty cut above his eye.  Austin tweaks
his knee when the Undertaker tries to toss him over the top rope and Bret
eliminates him shortly thereafter, sparking rumors that he was originally
supposed to win the match (which have since been debunked).  The clear
crowd favorite is the Undertaker, but he’s screwed out of the title here as
Austin gets involved and his attempt to cost Bret the title backfires.  A wild and entertaining brawl that lived up
to the hype, but the eliminations needed to be staggered better because the
first one took too long and the last two happened too close together.  Rating:  ***¾
As Bret celebrates
with his title, Sid comes out and confronts him as the pay-per-view goes off
the air.
The Final Report Card:  The undercard of the show is nothing special
until you get to the tag team title match, but the main event delivers and
considering the low prices of these shows at the time it was well worth the money.  All seemed right with the world now that Bret
was champion for the fourth time, but the crowds were becoming more vocal in
their desire to see the Undertaker as champion and the WWF had a different
direction that they wanted to go in with the title, which we will touch on in
our next review of the Raw after this show.
Attendance: 
6,399
Buyrate: 
0.50
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Royal Rumble 1997

by Logan Scisco
Vince McMahon,
Jerry “the King” Lawler, and Jim Ross are in the booth and Ross is sporting the
black cowboy hat that will become his trademark for the first time.  Lawler tells McMahon that he’s in the Royal
Rumble, but McMahon doesn’t believe him.

Free for
All:  Mascarita Sagrada, Jr. & La
Parkita defeat Mini Vader & Mini Mankind after Sagrada pins Mini Vader with
a La Magistral cradle at 4:30:
I must admit that it’s hilarious seeing Mini Vader and
Mini Mankind come down to the real Vader and Mankind’s theme music.  1997 and early 1998 were a year when the WWF
had midget wrestling serve the role that the Divas division currently serves,
namely to provide a bathroom break during the show and a way to cool down the
crowd before big matches.  There isn’t a
great flow to this match, as it’s just the minis jumping around, but Mini
Mankind does pull out the Chris Hamrick bump to the floor.  This was quasi-entertaining, but the allure
of it wore off fast.  Rating: 
Now onto the show,
where the Spanish announce table is featured prominently.  The poor guys would have their announce table
broken on many shows in the coming years.
-A video package
hypes the Hunter Hearst Helmsley-Goldust Intercontinental title match
.
Opening Contest
for the Intercontinental Championship: 
Hunter Hearst Helmsley (Champion w/Curtis Hughes) defeats Goldust
(w/Marlena) with a Pedigree at 16:50:
This is an interesting choice for an opener since both
guys don’t set the world on fire, but looking at the lineup for this show, I
have to concede that their options were limited.  Mr. Hughes returns to the WWF with this
contest.  He wouldn’t be around for long,
as Chyna would replace him by WrestleMania. 
Adding a manager really improved Helmsley’s credibility, since his track
record as a singles was very lackluster in 1996.  Goldust, still angry over Helmsley’s advances
at Marlena over a month ago (and they call Marc Mero jealous) rips into
Helmsley during his entrance and uses the ring steps as his weapon of choice.  Unfortunately, after the first couple of
minutes the match just dies, as Goldust works over Helmsley’s knee and
Helmsley’s offense can’t put a lot of heat on the match.  The crowd pops more when they see shots of
Marlena and the people in the front row are too busy showing NWO signs.  Hughes interferes to keep Helmsley from being
pinned after getting nailed with the Intercontinental title and when Goldust
confronts him, Helmsley seizes advantage and gets the victory.  They tried to combine technical wrestling
with brawling in this one, but it just wasn’t clicking with the crowd and it
hurt the match.  Rating:  *
Bret Hart says he
might be a marked man in this Royal Rumble, but that’s nothing new to him and
he’s going to win.  Mankind says the
Rumble is a time for him to hurt people he doesn’t like.  Hard to disagree with that reasoning.
Kevin Kelly and
Sunny are working the WWF Superstar Line tonight, so call 1-900-737-4WWF to
hear comments from the winners and losers!
A video package
chronicles the Ahmed Johnson-Faarooq feud
.
Ahmed Johnson
defeats Faarooq (w/The Nation of Domination) by disqualification when the
Nation interferes at 8:43:
After over four months of hype, this is the long awaited
confrontation between Ahmed and Faarooq. 
Faarooq might have set a wrestling record for the size of his
entourage.  There’s some great continuity
in the early going, as Faarooq targets Ahmed’s kidneys.  The crowd heat for this one blows the last
match out of the water, which more than makes up for some of the slow spots in
the action.  Faarooq is a great character
and pulls out some hilarious spots where he yells at the crowd and Ahmed is
able to capitalize and regain the advantage. 
Ahmed destroys the Nation after they interfere and in a spot that becomes
one of the most memorable of the event, he quasi-Pearl River Plunges a Nation
member through the French announce table. 
This was a drawn out TV match, but you would expect that since it’s the
first match in the Ahmed-Faarooq feud.  Rating: 
**
Terry Funk says
that he’s ready to rumble tonight
.
Todd Pettengill
interviews Faarooq and the Nation of Domination.  Faarooq chastises some Nation members for not
helping him when he was in trouble and he says that he’s going to end Ahmed
Johnson’s career.
Vader defeats The
Undertaker with a Vader Bomb at 13:20:
When this match was first booked, there were some
questions about why the WWF was making this money making match a midcard event
at the Rumble.  Unintentional hilarity
ensues during the entrances, as the lights do not come on when the Undertaker
gestures up towards the sky.  The
Undertaker continues to show the new flexibility of his character by giving
Vader a Rock Dropper in the early going and outslugging the big man.  You would think that these two would have
some great chemistry, but that’s not the case here as we get a slow and
plodding big man match.  The match gets
so dull that Pettengill goes into the crowd and interviews a Shawn Michaels fan
that bought her tickets by babysitting lots of kids in the San Antonio
area.  Ross drops a creative hint that
Jim Cornette and Vader are no longer working together because the referee
working the match is one that Vader injured a year ago and Cornette would not
allow that to happen.  Minor plot points
like that is just something you don’t see anymore.  Paul Bearer eventually wanders out and hits
the Undertaker with the urn and that enables Vader to score the upset and
thereby provide us with the reason why this match was used in the midcard:  to continue the Undertaker-Bearer feud.  For me, the association of Vader with Paul
Bearer is the day that Vader ceased being a serious contender to the WWF
championship.  After the match, the
Undertaker, angered at the result of the match, takes out his frustrations on
the referee and chews out McMahon at ringside. 
The whole tirade is eerily similar to what we would see in Montreal
eleven months later with Bret Hart.  The
match was too stop and go for my taste and there were way too many dead spots
between meaningful action.  Rating: 
*
Steve Austin and
the Bulldog give reasons why they are going to win the Rumble.  I like the Bulldog’s the most:  he’ll win because he’s “bizarre.”
Perro Aguayo,
Hector Garza & El Canek defeat
Fuerza
Guerrero, Heavy Metal & Jerry Estrada when Aguayo pins Guerrero after an
elbow drop at 10:54:
This is our customary AAA match of the show and despite
being just north of the border, the crowd cares very little for this match and
sits on their hands.  At least it
functions as a way to cool the crowd down for the Rumble match.  Vince and Lawler are completely out of their
element calling this match and Ross takes over many of the announcing
duties.  Think of him as playing the role
that Mike Tenay did in WCW when it came to the cruiserweights.  Unfortunately, a lot of his material doesn’t
relate to the WWF’s audience, since he talks about Canek’s battles with Lou Thesz.  Aguayo keeps teasing aerial maneuvers to the
floor during the match and the one that he does do, a simple dive from the apron,
goes awry.  It takes us about eight
minutes to get a semblance of a heat segment, but it takes Garza’s corkscrew
body press onto Estrada on the floor to illicit a reaction.  This match had no flow to it, with different
combinations of guys fighting each other in ninety second increments before
switching off, and I had to utter a sigh of relief when it was finally put out
of its misery.  Rating:  ½*
To show you how
far the crowd is gone, they don’t even pop when Finkel announces the WWF’s
worked figure for the crowd:  60,177
.
“Stone Cold”
Steve Austin wins the 1997 Royal Rumble by eliminating Bret “the Hitman” Hart
at 50:26:
For the first time since 1994, wrestlers in the early
part of the show are working double duty in this match, which shows how shallow
the depth chart was in the company at the time. 
Also, like 1994, this Rumble did not have a clear winner coming in,
which was nice.  The buzzer and clock are
malfunctioning in the early going, thereby depriving the crowd of part of the
fun of the Rumble match. While the King of the Ring victory in June was nice,
this is really Austin’s coming out party, as he lives up to the pledge he made
prior to the show by tossing ten “pieces of trash” over the top rope.  Much like Diesel’s run in 1994, the crowd
gets louder and louder for Austin as he tosses midcard talent like Phineas
Godwinn, Bart Gunn, and Jake “the Snake” Roberts in the early going and Savio
Vega and “The Real Double J” Jesse James much later.  Austin’s one-on-one runs through the Rumble
are stopped by the British Bulldog, who he kept sneak attacking during this
period, and Bret Hart, which gives us a great visual of Austin looking bug eyed
towards the entrance.  Aside from
Austin’s performance, the storyline about dissension between the British
Bulldog and Owen Hart continues, as Owen eliminates his partner from the
match.  Mexican legend Mil Mascaras is
also loathe to give a WWF superstar a rub from eliminating him, so he opts to
eliminate himself with an ill advised flying body press to the floor.  The last major highlight of the match is
Jerry Lawler being the wild card entrant. 
Lawler tells McMahon that “It takes a king…” before heading into the
fray, but he’s quickly dispatched by Bret Hart, enabling Lawler to go back to
the announce table and say “…to know a king” to complete his phrase and he
proceeds to keep commentating like nothing happened.  In a plot point that becomes important for
the next pay-per-view, Austin’s Rumble win is shrouded in controversy as Bret
tosses him near the end of the match, which the referees don’t see because they
are trying to break up a brawl between Mankind and Terry Funk, and Austin comes
back in and tosses Vader, the Undertaker, and Bret to win the match.  Bret throws a tantrum after the match,
pushing around the referees and yelling at the commentary team.  We’ll cover more fallout of Austin’s victory
when we recap the next edition of Monday Night Raw.  The Bret-Austin showdown was the big
highlight of this Rumble, but there weren’t a lot of other memorable moments
and most of that is due to the quick pace of eliminations in the first half of
the match.  Rating:  **¾
A video package
recaps the Sid-Shawn Michaels feud
.
Pettengill
interviews Shawn Michaels, who says that despite having the flu he’s going to
use the power of San Antonio to win back the WWF title.
WWF Championship
Match:  “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn
Michaels (w/Jose Lothario) pins Sid (Champion) with Sweet Chin Music to win the
title at 13:48:
This was Lothario’s swan song as Michaels manager and it
was long overdue, as his presence was not needed during Michaels first run with
the title.  This is the reverse crowd
dynamic that was present in Madison Square Garden at the Survivor Series when
Sid won the title.  With crowd dynamics
like that, it’s somewhat disappointing that they didn’t try to have a rubber
match at a more neutral site that would have an equal share of smarks and
marks.  Sid concentrates on the back for
nearly ten minutes, but Shawn shrugs it off during his comeback, which is
something that really gets on my nerves since it renders that portion of the
match meaningless.  In another ridiculous
spot, Sid powerbombs Michaels on the arena floor, but Michaels recovers mere
moments later to get back into the ring. 
In a nice piece of continuity with their Survivor Series match, Michaels
blasts Sid with a camera after the referee gets bumped.  The finish to this match was never in doubt,
since the main selling point of the show was to see Michaels regain the title
and the WWF, unlike WCW, had a knack for sending the crowd home happy.  This was not on the same level as their
Survivor Series match, since the back and forth action was limited, potentially
by Michaels illness, and it’s hard to buy into Michaels winning a match in Hulk
Hogan-like fashion.  At the time, logic
held that Sid had fulfilled his purpose as a transitional champion and after
this show would do some jobs to some of the main event and upper midcard
talent.  However, that reasoning proved
very premature.  Rating:  **½
The Final Report Card:  On paper, you would think that the Alamo Dome
would provide a great setting for a pay-per-view.  It’s a large venue and most times when you
pack a large number of wrestling fans into an arena you are going to be
guaranteed a great atmosphere.  However,
aside from the main event and parts of the Rumble, this is the quietest crowd
for a big time pay-per-view that you will ever see.  In terms of the show, nothing stands out
except for Austin’s spots in the Rumble and at the time that wasn’t worth the
price of admission since Austin would have bigger moments in 1997.
Attendance: 
60,525
Buyrate: 
0.70
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – January 13, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Vince McMahon and
The Honky Tonk Man are in the booth and they are taped from Albany, New York.  This is the go home show for the Royal Rumble
.

Opening
Contest:  Hunter Hearst Helmsley &
Jerry “the King” Lawler defeat “Wildman” Marc Mero & Goldust (w/Sable &
Marlena) by disqualification at 11:21 shown:
To think that this tag match was predicated on the final
of a Karate Fighters tournament.  Goldust
throws off his entrance attire in the aisle and charges the ring, demonstrating
that he means business tonight.  There’s
lots of stalling since Lawler is in charge of most of the action for his team
and Helmsley flees when Goldust is tagged in. 
These factors make the match very disjointed and also make it difficult
to build a decent heat segment. 
Eventually, Goldust gets his hands on Helmsley after the hot tag, but
refuses to release a choke, gets his team disqualified, and decks Mero after
they lose.  The story they are trying to
tell here is transparent, but the match quality suffered as a result.  Rating:  ½*
WWF Champion Sid
cuts a promo in the vacant Alamo Dome and says that he’s going to destroy Shawn
Michaels in front of family in San Antonio this Sunday.
Shawn Michaels
cuts a promo in the midst of some crazy fans in San Antonio and says that Sid’s
attack on Pete Lothario last week has released the monster inside of him.  A fat Latino lady keeps grabbing Shawn during
the interview and that’s worth a laugh
.
Bret Hart, who is
limping around on an injured ankle that Austin Pillmanized on Superstars, comes
out to do guest commentary.
-Footage of Marc
Mero yelling at Sable on Shotgun Saturday Night and Rocky Maivia coming to her
aid is shown.  This was supposed to
foreshadow a Mero-Maivia program where Mero would be the heel, but he was
injured before that could happen
.
Rocky Maivia
defeats The British Bulldog (w/Clarence Mason) by count out at 9:06 shown:
Bret puts over Maivia’s potential on commentary, but the
crowd doesn’t buy into him.  They aren’t
booing him, but just don’t react to his early offense against the Bulldog.  However, I don’t think it’s a problem with
Maivia as much as it is a crowd that is burned out from the taping.  Owen comes out and stands in front of Bret,
which seems more of an indictment of Bulldog’s abilities than anything
else.  There’s very little action in this
match, as the Bulldog uses chinlocks to slow down the action.  Steve Austin comes out when both men go over
the top rope, chop blocks the Bulldog, delivers a Stunner, and then flees to the
back where Bret and Owen follow him. 
This is hardly a great way to put over a young face, but it does sew the
seeds for the emergence of the Hart Foundation to torment Austin after
WrestleMania XIII.  Rating:  *
The Nation of
Domination says that it has unity and Crush says he’ll dominate the Undertaker
tonight using whatever means are necessary.
Steve Austin’s
attack on the British Bulldog earlier in the show is the Starburst Fruit Twists
Rewind segment
.
The Undertaker defeats
Crush (w/The Nation of Domination) by disqualification at 8:35 shown:
The Undertaker must not be a fan of the PG-13 rap,
because he interrupts it and forces the Nation to scatter.  Both guys work up a good pace at the
beginning of the match, but can’t sustain it and by the time we head to
commercial we’re getting too much of an exchange of punches and kicks.  Crush just doesn’t look comfortable with this
gimmick and the only heat he can generate is yelling at the crowd not to call
him a Jailbird.  We get our third
inconclusive finish of the evening as the Nation runs in before the Undertaker
can Tombstone Crush and Vader runs in to do some damage as well.  Ahmed Johnson tries to make the save with a
2×4, but PG-13 jump him and Faarooq seizes control of the 2×4 and wears him out
with it.  Rating:  *
The Final Report Card:  This RAW was more about the storylines and it
showed with the poor match quality. 
Austin’s attack on the Bulldog keeps the Bret-Austin feud going and is going
to draw in more actors and was the highlight of the show.  That also sustains a distrust angle between
Owen and the Bulldog that is taking place. 
However, there just wasn’t a lot to get into on this show as it seemed
like the company wanted to fast forward to the Rumble so it could move onto
bigger and better things.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.3 (vs. 3.4 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – December 9, 1996

by Logan Scisco

-A video package recaps the
Undertaker-Mankind feud.
-Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and
Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are wrapping up the taping in
New Haven, Connecticut.

-Opening Non-Title Contest:  Sid (WWF Champion) defeats Hunter
Hearst-Helmsley (Intercontinental Champion) via count out at 2:56:
These
champion vs. champion matches were always interesting and they did a nice job
establishing an internal pecking order in the promotion.  That said, I don’t agree with the booking
here as Helmsley gets beaten from pillar to post, is powerbombed, and crawls to
the locker room to fight another day.  It
makes Sid look strong, but does little for the Intercontinental title or those fighting for it.  Helmsley continues a RAW jobbing streak,
since Marc Mero has pinned him in several tag contests and he was destroyed
against one of the more popular stars on the roster in this bout.
-Footage of Mankind and the
Undertaker’s boiler room brawl at SummerSlam is shown.
-Goldust (w/Marlena) defeats Bart
Gunn with a chop block at 6:01 shown:
Bart
was getting a small singles push during this period, as he came close to
beating Hunter Hearst Helmsley for the Intercontinental title on WWF Superstars
prior to this show (see my comment about Helmsley above).  This is a paint by numbers television match,
with Goldust seizing the initial advantage and Bart making a comeback after the
break.  Bart hits his finisher, which was
a bulldog at this point, but Goldust kicks out of it and finishes shortly
thereafter to keep himself in the middle of the midcard.  The finish is really strange, but I like
random finishers every once and a while because they condition crowds to react
to the little stuff.  After the bout,
Billy comes out and runs down Bart on the house mic until Bart comes to his
senses and runs him off, thereby continuing that feud.  Rating:  *½
-Highlights of the Undertaker’s
match with Mankind at In Your House: 
Buried Alive are shown.
-Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw and Zebekiah say that “The Real Double J” Jesse James is making a mistake by
agreeing to face them in a handicap match tonight.
-In the Karate Fighters Holiday
Tournament get a quick video package recaps the action.  Yes, back in 1996 a KARATE FIGHTERS
TOURNAMENT got a video package.
-Handicap
Match:  “The Real Double J” Jesse James defeats Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw & Zebekiah after pinning Bradshaw after a heel miscommunication spot at
5:50:
This
is the blowoff to the short feud on TV between these two.  The heels use their numbers to gradually wear
James down and cheat, but when Zebekiah tries to hit James
with his branding iron, in plain view of the referee, James moves and Bradshaw
takes the blow to create the finish. 
After the match, Bradshaw attacks Zebekiah, gives him a lariat, and
brands him to send him back to the USWA, where he would be the last Unified
champion of the promotion before it shut its doors in 1997.  The crowd was not into this contest at all.  After this bout, Bradshaw would be taken off
of TV for a while and repackaged as part of the New Blackjacks with Barry
Windham, who was ditching his Stalker gimmick. 
Rating:  *½
Ross interviews Bret “the Hitman” Hart about
his title match with Sid this Sunday at In Your House.  Bret says things are getting crazy in the WWF
and that he wants the WWF title
-Flash Funk’s Tumbleweed
variation on the Goon on last week’s Raw is the Acclaim Slam of the Week.
-The ending of the
Mankind-Undertaker match at SummerSlam is shown.
-No Holds Barred Match:  The Undertaker pins Mankind (w/Paul Bearer)
with a Tombstone at 9:47 shown:
After
these two have fought in boiler rooms and buried alive matches on pay-per-view,
the WWF decided to throw a bone to the fans and let them see these two fight it
out for free.  There is some nice
continuity in the match as the Undertaker anticipates Mankind’s Pearl Harbor
job when he gets into the ring and seizes the offensive.  However, this is a shorter version of their
Survivor Series bout and honestly, I’m starting to tire of this feud.  Mankind is not looking nearly as strong as he
did three months ago, as the Undertaker has dismantled him on three consecutive
occasions at this point (Buried Alive, Survivor Series, and here).  Foley really wouldn’t find a new direction
for the character until the summer of 1997 when he turned face and feuded with
Hunter Hearst Helmsley.  After the
finish, the Executioner attacks the Undertaker and applies the Asian spike in an attempt to make us buy the In Your House pay-per-view
to see the Armageddon Match between them. 
I feel bad for any fan that did that. 
Rating:  **
Tune in next week
to see the Smoking Gunns explode!
The
Final Report Card:  The
Undertaker-Mankind match probably brought in more viewers than last week’s
show, but it wasn’t a pay-per-view caliber match and came off as underwhelming
for such an intense feud.  It also didn’t
help that the Undertaker beat Mankind clean at the Survivor Series, so he’d
already gotten revenge in storyline terms. 
I still can’t believe that they jobbed Helmsley so quickly to Sid.  I understand making Sid look strong heading
into the In Your House pay-per-view, but they didn’t need to make Helmsley look
like such a paper champion either.
Monday
Night War Rating:  N/A (vs. 3.3 for
Nitro)
Show
Evaluation:  Neutral