What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – September 8, 1997

by Logan Scisco


A video package
recaps the events of last night’s In Your House:  Ground Zero pay-per-view
.
Vince McMahon, Jim
Ross, and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from
Cincinnati, Ohio
.
McMahon interviews
Commissioner Sergeant Slaughter, who receives a chorus of boos.  Slaughter pledges that there will be law and
order in the WWF and that Steve Austin will be suspended until he receives a
doctor’s order that allows him to compete. 
Slaughter announces the beginning of a tournament to crown a new
Intercontinental champion, with the finals to be held at In Your House:  Badd Blood, and Austin must present his title
to the winner.  Austin comes out to a big
reaction, pledges to deliver a can of whoop ass to Slaughter’s front door, and
makes fun of his weight.  The last part
might seem cheesy, but Austin delivers it in such a bad ass manner that John
Cena should take notes.  On his way out,
Austin gives Slaughter a Stone Cold Stunner, which makes the crowd lose its collective
mind, and he teases attacking McMahon before WWF officials intervene.  THIS is what you call an opening segment.

The Undertaker’s
plancha at Ground Zero last night is the Discovery Zone Rewind segment.
Footage of Steve
Austin giving Jim Ross a Stone Cold Stunner at Ground Zero last night is shown,
along with his recent Stunner to Sergeant Slaughter.  Slaughter really sold his like a champ, as he
lifted his legs on the way down to give the move more impact.  After these are shown, WWF officials tell
Austin to get out of the building.
The announce crew
discusses the lingering Bret Hart-Vader feud and their recent encounters on
Friday Night’s Main Event
.
Opening Non-Title
No Holds Barred Contest:  Bret “the
Hitman” Hart (WWF Champion) wrestles Vader to a no contest at 7:46 shown:
Bret goes for the cheap heat by running down Pete Rose
and Bret establishes that this is a no holds barred match by blasting Vader
with the WWF title as he gets into the ring. 
Bret uses the ring steps too, but Vader proceeds to overcome that and
maul him with big strikes.  Vader hits
the powerbomb, but when he goes for a Vader Bomb, the British Bulldog runs down
and gets involved.  The Patriot makes the
save to even the odds, but Owen Hart runs out to make it 3-on-2.  Bret grabs a chair to accelerate the
destruction, but Steve Austin prevents the Patriot from taking a spike
piledriver on it and tries to go after Owen, but Owen and the rest of the Hart
Foundation flee.  This was a fun match,
even with all of the interference, and the no contest verdict was justified
based on what they are building up.  Rating: 
***¼
Sergeant Slaughter
is shown pacing in the locker room, favoring his neck
.
The action of last
night’s Fatal Four Way tag team match is chronicled by the announce crew and
footage of the Headbangers celebrating their title victory with their fans in
Louisville is shown.
The Godwinns
destroy some jobbers, which were scheduled to face the Headbangers, and Henry
Godwinn gets on the mic and challenges the Headbangers to a match after their
fluke victory on last night’s pay-per-view. 
The Headbangers accept the challenge.
Non-Title
Match:  The Godwinns defeat The
Headbangers (WWF Tag Team Champions) when Phineas pins Mosh after Uncle Cletus
hits Mosh in the back of the head with a horseshoe at 3:05:
This match has an odd dynamic, as the announce team makes
fun of the Headbangers attire and what they stand for while hyping the
viciousness of the Godwinns.  Remind me
again why the Headbangers were booked to win the titles in the first
place?  The Godwinns put Thrasher in
peril, but after Mosh hits Phineas with the Mosh Pit, an unknown man in
overalls (the soon to be revealed Uncle Cletus) interferes behind the referee’s
back and gives the Godwinns a victory.  Rating: 
Ross interviews
the Godwinns after the match and Henry says that they have brought their Uncle
Cletus to the WWF in order to watch their backs. 
Uncle Cletus was played by Tony Anthony, who viewers of the WWF in the mid-1990s
will recognize as T.L. Hopper, the evil plumber.
The announce crew
discuss the Ground Zero ”indecent proposal” match between Brian Pillman and
Goldust.
Sunny lets us know
that she is going to be in the locker room and showers tonight getting some
scoops on the latest WWF news and introduces Dude Love, who she dances with by
the entrance.
Dude Love brings
out Goldust for a first round Intercontinental title tournament match against
Brian Pillman, but Pillman calls in from home and says he refuses to wrestle
until the WWF guarantees his safety.  He
then has a tape played of “Brian Pillman’s XXX Files,” where he alludes to
having wild sex with Terri last night. 
Goldust looks humiliated as the segment comes to a close.
Max Mini pins
Piratita Morgan with a La Magistral Cradle at 2:38:
This is the usual Max Mini-type match where he flies
around a lot, gets knocked down a few times by a bigger opponent, and then
magically gets a roll up to win.  This is
OK filler, but I never got the point of using the minis in late 1997 and early
1998.
Ross explains the
Hell in a Cell match which has been signed for In Your House:  Badd Blood between Shawn Michaels and the
Undertaker.
A video package
chronicles the feud between Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker
.
McMahon interviews
the Undertaker, who tells ShawnMichaels that last night was only the beginning
of his struggle against death.  He makes
sure to emphasize that Hell in a Cell will have no way of escape, so Michaels
will have to hear the music of the bells that will signal his demise.  Michaels appears on the Titantron, says that
he is a survivor, and he will survive again at Hell in a Cell.
Sunny interviews
the Hart Foundation.  Owen says that he
is not scared of Steve Austin and he will put him out of the WWF a second time
if he tries to touch him.  As insurance,
he says that Bret and the British Bulldog will accompany him in his
Intercontinental tournament match against Goldust.
Intercontinental
Championship Tournament First Round Match: 
Owen Hart (w/Bret Hart & The British Bulldog) defeats Goldust by
disqualification at 2:08:
The brackets for this tournament are:
*Brian Pillman-Dude Love
*Owen Hart-Goldust
*Ken Shamrock-Faarooq
*Ahmed Johnson-Rocky Maivia
Goldust attacks Owen prior to the bell and decides to
give Owen too many low blows in view of the referee and gets disqualified.  I think that is the only time that I ever
recall seeing this finish.
After the match,
the Hart Foundation does a beat down on Goldust until Steve Austin makes the
save with a broom.  Austin once again
threatens McMahon before leaving
.
As Goldust goes to
leave the ring, Brian Pillman calls in to show part II of his “XXX Files”,
where he says that he is getting ready to take a shower with Terri.
McMahon interviews
the Hart Foundation and Bret says if Sergeant Slaughter wants to save face that
he should suspend Steve Austin from the WWF for life.
Call
1-900-737-4WWF if you want to hear Brian Pillman’s phone conversation with WWF
officials as he sped away with Terri at Ground Zero last night.  The call will cost you $1.49 per minute!
Savio Vega comes
out to do guest commentary because he’s the “king of the triple threat match”
after winning one last night at Ground Zero
The
upcoming triple threat is scheduled to be a match between the Patriot, Hunter
Hearst Helmsley, and the British Bulldog, but while the Bulldog makes his
entrance, Helmsley, Shawn Michaels, and Chyna attack him and go after his right
knee.  Meanwhile, the Patriot just stands
in the ring in a great display of sportsmanship.
Hunter Hearst
Helmsley (w/Chyna) defeats The Patriot & Savio Vega when he pins Savio
after ramming Savio’s head into the Patriot’s at 11:40 shown:
With the Bulldog injured, Savio demands a place in the
match and after he punches Helmsley this one gets underway.  I really hate that the triple threat is being
used in a throwaway match like this because the stipulation needs to be used
for a special circumstance.  The match
gets zero reaction until Shawn Michaels wanders back out to do guest
commentary.  Literally NOTHING happens in
this match and random pin attempts
that are broken up simply because there is a third man in the ring.  One interesting thing happens when the
Patriot cradles Helmsley, but does so with his shoulders on the mat and instead
of trying to see a double pin, which would logically make him the winner, Savio
breaks it up.  Speaking of which, that is
a finish to the triple threat that I do not think has ever been tried, so
bookers take note.  About fifteen minutes
in, if you add the commercial breaks, the crowd works up a very audible
“boring” chant.  Savio takes out the
referee with a spinning heel kick while trying to block a Pedigree attempt by
Helmsley and our finish ends up really convoluted as the Patriot is crotched
going to the top rope when Savio slingshots Helmsley into the corner, but
cannot get a pin because there is no referee. 
Savio then takes a swing at Michaels when he gets on the apron and that
allows Helmsley to whip Savio into the Patriot, who is napping on the top
buckles, and score a very underwhelming victory.  This has to be the worst triple threat match
I have ever seen.  Rating:  ¼*
After the match,
Michaels takes out the Patriot and Savio Vega and Los Boricuas and Vader charge
the ring.  The heels arm themselves with
chairs in the ring to fight off their attackers and the Hart Foundation walks
out as the show goes off the air.
The Final Report Card:  This was a really weird show because you
expect RAW to have an okay first hour and a great second hour.  Instead, this show had a pretty good first
hour and a really lousy second hour.  The
triple threat nearly kills the show and likely did in the ratings as this was
the lowest rated RAW in three months, but Steve Austin’s antics in the first
hour save it from being a complete waste of time.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.2 (vs. 4.3 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Neutral

What the World Was Watching: In Your House: Ground Zero

by Logan Scisco


This is a bittersweet show for me to review because I
wanted my dad to take me to this show as a young fan, but he refused because I
had school the next day.  The WWF rarely
runs pay-per-views in Kentucky, so let’s just say I was not happy missing this
show.
Vince McMahon,
Jerry “the King” Lawler, and Jim Ross are in the booth and they are live from
Louisville, Kentucky
.
A video package
recaps the Brian Pillman-Goldust feud.

Opening Indecent
Proposal Contest:  Brian Pillman pins
Goldust (w/Marlena) after hitting him with a loaded purse at 11:05:
The stipulation in this match is that if Pillman loses he
will leave the WWF forever, but if he wins he gets Marlena for thirty
days.  This match also has the
distinction of being Pillman’s last pay-per-view match before his death.  Since this is not a match on RAW, Pillman
does not have to wear a dress and Goldust attacks him before the official
bell.  Due to the stipulations, this
match has more intensity than their SummerSlam encounter and when Goldust is in
control the match is fine, but when Pillman takes over it slows to a
crawl.  Pillman takes a hot shot from the
top rope to the guardrail and Goldust proceeds to hit the Curtain Call, but the
referee gets bumped as Pillman takes the move. 
Marlena tries to hit Pillman with her loaded purse, but Pillman grabs it
and blasts Goldust for the victory.  Rating: 
**¼
After the match,
Pillman grabs Marlena and gets out of dodge fairly quickly before Goldust
revives.  Fulfilling his broadcast
announcing duties, Lawler grabs the purse that is still in the ring and reveals
to the audience that there was a brick inside of it.
Highlights of
Brian Christopher delivering a Tennessee Jam to Scott Putski on a chair on a
July episode of Shotgun Saturday Night are shown.
Light Heavyweight
Exhibition:  “Too Sexy” Brian Christopher
defeats Scott Putski by referee stoppage at 4:41:
Despite the storyline, Christopher gets a decent pop
because Louisville was a USWA territory and they work up a “Jerry’s kid” chant,
which Ross latches onto and says that they definitely would know if Christopher
is Lawler’s son or not.  This is a very
proficient contest as both men run through their usual offenses, but the crowd
still does not care about the light heavyweight division despite the WWF hyping
it since July.  Christopher delivers a
pescado on Putski on the floor, but Putski suffers a knee injury when catching
him and that ends this match prematurely. 
To my knowledge this was Putski’s last WWF match, which is unfortunate
because he had a potential.  Rating: 
**
After the match,
Lawler gets on the house mic and chastises Putski’s injury as WWF officials
help him to the locker room.
Sunny says that
Brian Pillman called her on his cell phone and she heard lots of things taking
place in their car, so if you want to find out what is going on call the
Superstar line tonight at 1-900-737-4WWF!
A video package
recaps the WWF gang wars
.
Triple Threat
Match:  Savio Vega defeats Crush and
Faarooq after he pins Crush with a spinning heel kick at 11:38:
This is the old Nation of Domination exploding and is the
quasi-blowoff to that feud since the gangs wars really fizzled out after
this.  If you want to look at the
long-term success you might have to say that the Nation of Domination won since
they would exist until late 1998 as a full faction.  The amazing thing, though, is that none of
the factions held the tag team titles. 
The look on Crush’s face as he shows up just reads “yeah I am losing
this match and I am just here for a paycheck.” 
The triple threat was still a new match at this point, as this was only
the third televised one, so Ross has to make sure to explain the rules, but it
sticks to a formula most WWF triple threat matches have where one man is
incapacitated for several minutes so the other two competitors can have a
one-on-one match.  Faarooq embraces the
no disqualification nature of the match by whipping both men with his belt and
using low blows.  The match has lots of
near-falls, but it is a huge choking, punching, and kicking affair.  Near the end of the contest, Crush and
Faarooq form an alliance and give Savio a double suplex, but the referee
refuses to count the fall when both men cover him.  Crush and Faarooq proceed to go at it, with
Savio getting tossed to the floor multiple times when he breaks up some pin
attempts.  Crush and Savio give Faarooq a
spike piledriver and Faarooq eats a Crush heart punch, but Savio catches Crush
by surprise with a spinning heel kick and captures the victory.  I will give these guys credit and say that
everyone tried.  Rating:  *½
Call 815-734-1161
to get your copy of Cause Stone Cold Said So for $19.99 (plus $6
shipping & handling)!
Mini Match:  Max Mini defeats El Torito with a sunset flip
at 9:18:
The “minis” have not been used in a while, but the WWF
began using them some more near the end of 1997.  Max Mini was a repackaged Mascarita Sagrada,
Jr.  The crowd really gets into Max
hopping around and cannonballing onto Torito through the ropes.  Torito loves to bite Max on the rear end and
Max gets angry that the referee is not doing anything about it, so he bites the
referee’s rear end.  The referee chases
Max out of the ring and in a funny moment, Max leaps into Lawler’s lap at the
announce table and puts on his crown as the crowd chants” Jerry’s kid.”  They work in some false finishes off of a Max
hurricanrana and a Torito powerbomb and Max eventually surprises Torito with a
sunset flip.  This match had its moments,
but it would have been better suited as a four minute match than being given
nearly ten minutes.  The finish was also
a letdown after all of the spots that led to it.  Rating:  **
A video package
recaps Steve Austin’s neck injury and how it has forced he and Dude Love to
forfeit the tag team championships.
Before the Fatal
Four Way, Sergeant Slaughter tells Jim Ross that presiding over the forfeiture
of the tag team championships is not one of his favorite parts of the job, but
he is doing it for the fans.  Dude Love comes
out and says that since Steve Austin helped him win the belts that he will not
defend them without him and gives his belt to Slaughter.  Austin comes out, threatens Ross, McMahon,
and Slaughter for showing videos of his neck injury and not allowing him to
wrestle and he tosses his tag title belt on the ground and tells Slaughter to
pick it up and give him twenty. 
Slaughter leaves with the belts and Ross tells Austin that he wishes him
a good recovery.  Austin responds by
giving Ross a Stone Cold Stunner to a huge pop.
Dok Hendrix
interviews Owen Hart & the British Bulldog and Owen says that he is
disgusted by Austin’s actions against his good friend Jim Ross so he is going
to lobby for Austin’s arrest for assault.
Pre-taped promos
are aired for the Godwinns and the Headbangers for tonight’s Fatal Four Way tag
team match.
Michael Cole
interviews the Legion of Doom, who say that their big goal in this match is to
get revenge on the Godwinns.
Fatal Four Way
Elimination Match for the WWF Tag Team Championships:  The Headbangers defeat Owen Hart & The
British Bulldog, The Legion of Doom & The Godwinns to win the titles at 17:20:
Order of
Elimination:  The Legion of Doom are
disqualified at 9:35; The Headbangers eliminate the Godwinns when Thrasher pins
Phineas with a sunset flip at 12:45; The Headbangers eliminate Owen Hart &
The British Bulldog when Mosh pins Owen after Steve Austin gives Owen a Stone
Cold Stunner at 17:20
There is a long feeling out process to start the match
and Owen and the Bulldog refuse to tag in until Hawk “tags” the Bulldog with a
right hand.  Since there is very little
happening in the first ten minutes, Lawler and McMahon choose to hype the One
Night Only pay-per-view in a few weeks. 
The Legion of Doom are the most over team in the match, but their reign
of futility continues when they beat the Godwinns with their slop bucket.  The Godwinns and Headbangers resume their
WrestleMania XIII showdown which has the same result as Thrasher pins Phineas
with a sunset flip despite Phineas being tied up in the ropes.  The ending at this point seemed academic, as
the Headbangers were nowhere near the team Owen and the Bulldog were, but that
does not take into consideration Steve Austin, who interferes to give the
Headbangers the upset win.  This booking
decision made zero sense at the time other than for pure shock value as the
Headbangers were a lower midcard tag team that had not won a match of note in
months.  It would have made more sense to
put over the Godwinns, who were already feuding with the Legion of Doom, which
was the big tag feud happening in the company at the time.  As a random fact, this was the second Fatal
Four Way elimination match that the Headbangers won on pay-per-view in 1997, as
they won the Fatal Four Way elimination match at WrestleMania XIII.  Okay match after the Legion of Doom were
eliminated.  Rating:  **
A video package
hypes In Your House:  Badd Blood.
Slaughter is shown
tending to Ross backstage, who has an ice pack on his neck.
A video package
hypes the Bret Hart-Patriot title match
.
­-Sunny interviews
the Patriot, who says he beat Bret Hart once and he will do it again.
Cole interviews
WWF Champion Bret Hart, who promises to take out his aggression toward American
fans in his title defense tonight
.
WWF Championship
Match:  Bret “the Hitman” Hart (Champion) defeats
The Patriot by submission to the Sharpshooter at 18:40:
This is second time in 1997 that the WWF champion is not
featured in the last match.  This title
defense appeared so academic to me in 1997 since I never thought the Patriot
was on Bret’s level and one month of build was not enough to erase that.  The Patriot opts to work the arm in the early
going and Bret target the legs.  The
British Bulldog wanders out and trips the Patriot when he runs the ropes and
Bret nearly wins with a school boy.  The
Patriot pushes Bret into the Bulldog on the apron and does a school boy
reminiscent of his July upset, but Bret kicks out.  The Patriot delivers Uncle Slam, but the
Bulldog pulls Bret out of the ring and the referee does not disqualify Bret for
some reason.  Vader wanders out to even
the odds and tosses Bret into the steps, but the referee decides to let that go
too, which I guess you can consider the equivalent of a professional wrestling
make up call.  The Patriot has completely
forgets about the leg injury he is supposed to have, which really irks me, and
hits the Patriot Missile, but Bret kicks out at two and transitions into his
moves of doom.  The ref gets bumped on a
Patriot elbow, so he is out of position to count another Uncle Slam, and both
men trade near-falls off of a small package. 
The Patriot puts Bret in the Sharpshooter, but that is a mistake since
Bret knows how to escape his own hold and he maneuvers out and applies the hold
to defend the title.  The finishing
sequence was really nice and this worked up a great pace after the ten minute
mark.  The finish would have come across
better if the Patriot had sold the leg better, though.  Rating:  ***½
After the match,
Bret gives the Patriot a piledriver, snaps the Patriot’s American flag in half,
and chokes him with it.
Cole interviews
Bret Hart and the British Bulldog and Bret says that the Patriot is a loser
just like Americans and the Bulldog promises that Canada and Great Britain will
win their war against the United States.
A video package
hypes the Undertaker-Shawn Michaels main event
.
Shawn Michaels
tells the announce crew that he does not rest in peace for anyone
.
“The Heartbreak
Kid” Shawn Michaels wrestles The Undertaker to a no contest at 16:20:
Michaels immediately hides behind the referee after the
Undertaker’s entrance, so the Undertaker decks the referee before the opening
bell can sound and Michaels decides he’s not going to wrestle.  Slaughter orders Michaels back to the ring
and in one of the greatest spots I can remember, the Undertaker picks up the
limp referee and tosses him over the top rope and onto Michaels.  Michaels follows that up with a hilarious
spot where he pounds on the door of the In Your House set out of desperation,
but he can’t get the door open and the Undertaker proceeds to beat the life out
of him with no referee to speak of.  Earl
Hebner is forced out by Sergeant Slaughter and Michaels embraces him and
demands the Undertaker be disqualified, but Hebner refuses and the match
finally gets officially underway. 
Michaels continues to bump around like a pinball as the Undertaker
shakes off his short spurts of offense. 
Michaels tries to use a chair, but the Undertaker blocks it with a big
boot and Hebner grabs the chair to prevent the Undertaker from using it, which
produces a ref bump when Michaels knocks them into each other.  Michaels hits two flying elbow drops for two
as Rick Rude comes out and tosses Michaels brass knuckles.  Michaels uses them and a third referee,
brought by Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Chyna, slides in and counts two.  Michaels does not care for that and KO’s the
third referee and D-Generation X triple teams the Undertaker, with very focal
fans in the first row questioning their sexual preferences.  The Undertaker takes the brass knuckles from
Michaels tights and uses them but Hebner’s slow count lets Michaels kick out at
two.  Hebner gets chokeslammed for that
and referee Tim White frantically runs out and calls for the bell to throw the
match out.  This brawl needed some blood,
but it was a great way to keep the feud going and let people know if you could
reduce interference that Michaels would get destroyed by the Undertaker.  I also appreciated the creative spots, especially the use of the In Your House set.  Rating:  ****
After the match,
Michaels hits the Undertaker with Sweet Chin Music and D-Generation X takes out
a crew of WWF officials.  The Undertaker
revives and Tombstones Helmsley and he and Michaels are eventually separated by
the WWF roster.  As Michaels gets away,
the Undertaker gets loose and takes out about half the roster, Michaels
included, with a plancha and Michaels and D-Generation X scurry away as the
Undertaker stands in the ring with a chair as the pay-per-view goes off the
air.
The Final Report Card:  This pay-per-view was shaping up as a three
hour episode of RAW until the last two matches, but those matches are very good
and Michaels-Undertaker effectively set up Hell in a Cell at Badd Blood.  Despite its quality, this show did the second
lowest buyrate of a pay-per-view by the company in 1997 (D-Generation X would
the lowest) so fans must have read through the booking and figured that Bret
was going to retain the title and the Undertaker-Michaels feud would continue
for another pay-per-view.
Attendance: 
4,963
Buyrate: 
0.45
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – August 18, 1997

by Logan Scisco
Vince McMahon,
Jerry “the King” Lawler, and Jim Ross are in the booth and they are in Atlantic
City, New Jersey.  There are lots of ECW
fans in the house and you can see their signs everywhere in the audience.  There are so many signs that they practically
coat the floor audience.
McMahon interviews
Rick Rude, who claims that he is a mercenary and is willing to provide
insurance to anyone willing to pay for it. 
He pledges that once he is paid he makes sure to give the intended
victim a “Rude Awakening.”
Owen Hart and the
British Bulldog deliver a taped promo against the Legion of Doom, where they
promise to deliver some punishment in advance of the Ground Zero Fatal Four
Way.
Commissioner
Sergeant Slaughter is shown arguing with Shawn Michaels in the locker room, but
no audio is provided
.

Opening
Contest:  Owen Hart & The British
Bulldog defeated The Legion of Doom when Owen pins Animal after Henry Godwinn
hits Animal with a slop bucket at 4:57:
These two teams have wrestled several times in 1997,
mostly when Owen and the Bulldog held the tag team titles and both teams are
vying for the “favorite” label heading into Ground Zero.  This is your standard television contest and
when all hell breaks loose in the ring, the Godwinns interfere and give Owen
and the Bulldog the victory.  After the
match, the three teams brawl with each other to emphasize that every team will
be for themselves at Ground Zero. 
Evidently the Godwinns-LOD issue is building for a house show taking
place in Chicago this Saturday.  Rating: 
**
Mankind cuts a
pre-taped promo saying that he is not sure if the Undertaker can trust him in
their match against Shawn Michaels and Hunter Hearst Helmsley tonight
.
Shawn Michaels
tells the announce team that he is tired of being painted into a corner.  He says that he is not supposed to face the
Undertaker until Ground Zero and that he does not want to team with Hunter
Hearst Helmsley because they are not partners.
Sunny comes out to
be the guest ring announcer for our next match because she has nothing better
to do
.
Brian Christopher
says that his loss to Taka Michinoku a couple of weeks ago was a fluke and to
prove it he is going to beat Flash Funk.
Flash Funk says
that he is not a stepping stone.
Flash Funk pins
“Too Sexy” Brian Christopher with the Funky Flash Splash at 3:40:
The sound crew messes up the ring entrances, as they play
Flash Funk’s theme music for Christopher and it does not fit Christopher’s
entrance mannerisms.  The problem with
the light heavyweight division is on display in this match as expanding the
weight limits and categories could have involved some previously established
superstars like Funk.  Of course, that
may not mean much since Funk hardly wins matches anymore, but it would at least
give some guys something to do.  When
Christopher goes for the Tennessee Jam, Lawler leaves the announce table and
tells Christopher to go for the piledriver and this distraction allows Funk to
crotch Christopher on the top rope and finish him off.  Funk has racked up a two match RAW winning
streak, but the bookers still do not have anything for him to do.  Rating:  **
After the match,
Sunny consoles Lawler over his son’s loss as McMahon and Ross hype the house
show circuit, as well as the Monday Night Raw coming from Madison Square Garden
on September 22nd.
The Undertaker
says his patience with Shawn Michaels has run out and he will settle the score
with him before Ground Zero and if Mankind gets out of line he will be taken
out as well
.
Sergeant Slaughter
and Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Chyna are showing arguing backstage, but like
Michaels segment earlier there is no audio
.
Ken Shamrock
beats The Sultan (w/The Iron Sheik) via submission to the ankle lock at 3:16:
Shamrock survives a some token resistance from the
Sultan, which includes the Iron Sheik breaking his Iranian flag across
Shamrock’s back, and then gives both of them belly-to-belly suplexes.  A hurricanrana and ankle lock get the
victory.  Rating:  *
The announce team
talks about tonight’s tag team main event
.
The Nation of
Domination, with their new acquisition Rocky Maivia, come out and demand that
Jim Ross interview them.  The crowd works
up a “Rocky sucks” chant and Faarooq tells the crowd that Ahmed Johnson was
kicked out of the Nation because he was a token black man.  Maivia says he got tired of the crowd
chanting for him to die and he became a part of the Nation for respect.  Maivia says that the Nation are not racist,
but the Disciples of Apocalypse are, and the Nation will win the respect of the
WWF through any means necessary.  Maivia
is still a little raw on the mic, but he sounds natural and conveys intensity.  The DOA appear on the Titantron and Crush
challenges the Nation to come out to the parking lot for a brawl and the Nation
accept
.
Goldust and
Marlena are shown playing with their daughter Dakota on the beaches of Atlantic
City.
Dok Hendrix hypes
the Madison Square Garden Monday Night Raw show, which will feature a triple
threat match between Bret Hart, the Undertaker, and Steve Austin.  I need to see if there is footage of that match.  Shawn Michaels will also be in attendance and
there will be a 25 man battle royal, with the winner to face the WWF champion
at the next Madison Square Garden show
.
Hunter Hearst
Helmsley and Chyna tell the announce crew that they are tired of paying for
Shawn Michaels crimes and Helmsley tells McMahon that if he wants a fight then
he has one
.
Helmsley and
Chyna’s interview is cut off as the Disciples of Apocalypse and the Nation of
Domination brawl in the parking lot, but as the groups brawl, Los Boricuas
steal DOA’s motorcycles and drive off.
“The Real Double
J” Jesse James defeats “The Loose Cannon” Brian Pillman by disqualification
when Goldust interferes at 1:46:
James gimmick is so played out that he does not bother
singing on his way to the ring anymore. 
You can tell when Ross calls these matches that he thinks this whole
storyline is ridiculous since he knows what Pillman used to be capable of in
WCW.  James plays around with Pillman, by
lifting his dress and “fondling” him, which is a little distasteful.  Pillman appears to have another match won,
but Goldust runs out, carefully elbow drops James, and costs Pillman the match.
Michael Cole
interviews Goldust on the entrance ramp and Goldust says he wants Pillman to
wear a dress for another week because he looks so beautiful.  Pillman grabs the house mic and asks Goldust
to give him one more match and if he loses that match then he will leave the
WWF forever.  However, he says that if he
defeats Goldust then he gets Marlena as his personal assistant for thirty days.  When Goldust refuses, Pillman says that
Dakota is his love child and Marlena accepts Pillman’s challenge. 
Goldust is not happy with that at all. 
Pillman’s craziness was well suited for this feud, but unfortunately it
never came full circle.
Vader says that
the next segment will see “Vader Time.”
The Patriot
defeats Vader (w/Paul Bearer) with Uncle Slam at 5:00:
The ECW-like crowd takes to Vader and cheers loudly as he
tears into the Patriot.  The Patriot hits
the Patriot Missile as Bret Hart wanders out and Vader blocks a sunset flip
with a sit down splash and focuses his offense on the upper sternum, which is
quite unique.  The Patriot blocks a Vader
Bomb with his knees and then surprises Vader with Uncle Slam to capture another
big win.  An okay big man match, but this
had several blown spots that were hard to mask. 
Rating:  **
After the match,
Bret Hart distracts the Patriot and Vader does a beat down.  Vader prepares to give the Patriot a Vader
Bomb, but Bret enters the ring and drapes a Canadian flag over the
Patriot.  Vader does not like this,
breaks the Canadian flag over his knee, and starts brawling with Bret until the
Hart Foundation interfere and do a beat down on him.  This segment makes Vader a face and he will
remain in that role until he leaves the company
.
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear updates about Steve Austin, Mark Henry, and Ahmed
Johnson, a possible managerial shakeup in the company, who is soliciting Rick
Rude’s services, and why Shawn Michaels has been seen with Brakus
.
Cole interviews
WWF Champion Bret Hart, who says that he is not scared of Vader and prefers to
face him sooner rather than later.
Owen Hart’s spinning
heel kick on Goldust on Shotgun Saturday Night is the Stridex Triple Action
segment
.
A video package
recaps Steve Austin’s neck injury.
A taped interview
between Jim Ross and Steve Austin in Philadelphia, where Austin will be
medically checked out tomorrow.  Austin
says that he was temporarily paralyzed at SummerSlam and Owen Hart has hell to
pay.  Austin says that he does not care
what the doctors say because he will be back and he will be at Ground Zero.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your VHS copy of SummerSlam 1997. 
It will cost you $23.95 (plus shipping & handling)!
Mankind & The
Undertaker defeat “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels & Hunter Hearst
Helmsley (w/Chyna) by disqualification when Michaels hits the Undertaker with a chair at 8:29:
The atmosphere surrounding this match is like a Lethal
Lottery tag match, with no one appearing to trust who they are partnered
with.  Michaels avoids the Undertaker for a while and after the Undertaker shrugs
off some of Michaels offense, Michaels bails and calls out Rick Rude, who
slowly walks to the ring when we head to a commercial break.  Mankind is placed in peril, but this match is
nowhere near the quality of last week’s singles match between Michaels and
Mankind.  A funny announcing moment
happens during the double KO segment, when Ross compares it to a mugging on the
Boardwalk, which destroys the peaceful image of Atlantic City that McMahon has
been at pains to explain during the entire show.  When all hell breaks loose, Rude attempts to
hit the Undertaker with a chair, but the Undertaker turns around and stops that
and stalks Rude into the ring.  However,
that leads to Michaels picking up the chair and smashing the Undertaker over
the head with it for the finish  This match never felt like it got going until the sick chair shot that
ended it.  Rating:  *½
After the bell,
the Undertaker gets up and reveals a nasty blade job, where you can see a clean
cut above the Undertaker’s forehead with blood dripping out. Michaels hits the
Undertaker with the chair a second time, but the Undertaker stirs from that so
Helmsley, Rude, Chyna, and Michaels all head for the locker room.
The Final Report Card:  There were some decent storyline developments
on this show, like Vader’s face turn, Rick Rude explaining who he was, and the
Pillman-Goldust feud going to a whole new level, but the main event was really
disappointing.  Still, most of the
matches were decent and that’s enough to give the show a neutral rating, since
it was nowhere near good, but was also not terrible.  By the way, due to the U.S. Open, RAW did not
air for the next two weeks, but we will review the August 29th
“Friday Night’s Main Event” that aired
 on USA.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.2 (vs. 4.0 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Neutral

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – July 7, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Vince McMahon
discusses the events at last night’s Canadian Stampede pay-per-view.
McMahon and Jim
Ross are in the booth and they are live from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
McMahon interviews
Bret Hart, who will face the Undertaker at SummerSlam for the WWF title.  Bret says that he’s not anti-American, but
he’s pro-Canadian.  Bret promises his
Canadian fans that he will beat the Undertaker for the WWF title at SummerSlam
and if he loses he says that he will never wrestle again on American soil.  Bret brings Owen out, who will defend his
Intercontinental title against Steve Austin at SummerSlam, as well as the
British Bulldog, who will defend his European title against Ken Shamrock at
SummerSlam.  Bret has the Canadian
national anthem played on the Titantron to commemorate the fact that Raw is
finally in Canada, but as the anthem ends, Steve Austin attacks Bret, Owen, and
the Bulldog with a chair and flees.  Talk
about an easy way to draw a large amount of heel heat.

-Brian Christopher
comes down to ringside to do guest commentary for the opening match
.
The Great Sasuke
provides some pre-recorded comments that are in Japanese.  The comments are not translated for the
audience, so I’m not sure what the point of that is.
Opening
Contest:  The Great Sasuke defeats Taka
Michinoku with a thunder firebomb at 5:47:
This is a rematch from last night’s entertaining contest
at Canadian Stampede and it takes less than a minute for Sasuke to go to the
air and deliver a somersault plancha onto Michinoku.  Christopher’s commentary distracts from part
of the match as he’s trying too hard to be funny and it’s not coming across
well to the television audience.  Taka
nearly kills himself by botching an Asai moonsault, but luckily for him, Sasuke
catches him as he falls to the arena floor. 
Sasuke goes over again to cement his status as the top light heavyweight
in the division heading into the yet to be started light heavyweight
tournament.  This had a few botches that
their match at Canadian Stampede did not have and I enjoy that match better,
but this was still a good effort that exposed both of them to American fans.  Rating:  ***
A video package
discusses the WWF gang wars.
Savio Vega (w/Los
Boricuas) defeats Crush (w/DOA) by disqualification when Chainz attacks Savio
at 2:19:
Los Boricuas shakes hands with the Spanish announce team
in a show of ethnic solidarity on their way to the ring and the DOA are really
over in Canada.  Considering how over the
DOA were in their early run, it seems like the WWF blew a major opportunity
with this group.  Since both men have
their respective groups, this is a de facto lumberjack match and that leads to
a quick disqualification before this really develops into anything.  After the match, both groups brawl with DOA
coming out on top.
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to get news about Shawn Michaels, Sid, and SummerSlam!
Paul Bearer says
that he’s not going to apologize for his remarks last week because he didn’t
kill anyone.  He insists that Kane told
him that the Undertaker burned down his parents funeral parlor.  He discusses how Kane is disfigured, which we
would learn is not true in 2002 when Kane lost his mask to Triple H.  Bearer says that Kane hates the Undertaker
and wants his revenge.
-McMahon asks Steve
Austin in the locker room who he might choose as a partner and Austin says he
doesn’t care who his partner is.  Austin
says Mankind is a freak and the WWF might as well choose his partner because
they screw him over all the time anyway and tells McMahon to shut up, which
causes McMahon to cut off the interview.
-Call 815-734-1161
to get your copy of Cause Stone Cold Said So for $19.99 (plus $6
shipping & handling)!
Tag Team
Tournament Finals:  Owen Hart & The
British Bulldog (w/Brian Pillman & Jim Neidhart) beats Faarooq & D-Lo
Brown (w/Kama Mustafa) by count out at 6:50:
This tag team tournament has been rather lackluster, with
the better teams being eliminated in the tournament’s early rounds.  Faarooq and D-Lo Brown are sort of the
anti-Cinderella story as they vanquished Vader and the Undertaker in round one
and the Legion of Doom in round two, but no one really wants to see them in
this spot.  The Nation puts the Bulldog
in peril with some boring offense and a brawl ensues between all of the participants
except Owen when Kama pulls down the top rope and Owen falls to the floor which
creates our finish.  That’s a fitting
ending to this lackluster tag team tournament. 
Rating:  *½
After the match,
Mankind comes down to the ring to tell the Hart Foundation that they are going
to get killed next week.
McMahon interviews
Austin in the locker room again about his match with Hunter Hearst Helmsley
tonight and Austin says that he isn’t above punching a woman’s lights out.  Talk about a shoot comment that wasn’t
intended to be that way.
“Stone Cold”
Steve Austin defeats Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) with a Stone Cold Stunner
at 6:13 shown:
A battle of the last two King of the Ring tournament
winners is what we get here.  You can
tell by the tone of McMahon’s voice on commentary that he doesn’t quite
understand Austin’s appeal to the audience. 
The crowd is equally divided here and despite being in Canada there are
some pro-Austin elements present.  After
both men go back and forth for five minutes, Chyna trips Austin when he runs
the ropes and leaves a chair for Helmsley, but Mankind takes the blow for
Austin and that leads to a Helmsley defeat. 
Standard television fare here.  Rating: 
**¼
After the match,
Austin tells Mankind to get into the ring and he says Mankind should shake his
hand and that will make them a tag team. 
Mankind wants a hug instead and Austin obliges, but then gives him a
Stone Cold Stunner and tells Mankind never to trust anyone and that he won’t
tag with him because he sucks.  Mankind
gets on the mic and tells Austin as he leaves that he wanted a friend so
drastic measures will be taken next week that will change the WWF forever.
-The next clue for
the SummerSlam One Million Dollar Challenge has Sable in a bubble bath and her in
room 2A.
Sunny comes out to
do guest ring announcing duties for our next match.
-Footage of Brian
Christopher beating Scott Putski on last week’s show is played and McMahon says
that Ivan and Scott Putski have issued a challenge to face Christopher and
Lawler on next week’s show and Lawler says that he accepts the challenge.
“Too Sexy” Brian
Christopher pins Eric Shelley with a Tennessee Jam at 3:51:
Shelley has the attire of an early ‘90s jobber, but he
gets a big pop because he’s announced from Canada.  Shelley tries one of the worst pescados I’ve
ever seen and he moves awkwardly in the ring, which probably explains why he
never got a spot on the main roster. 
Christopher steamrolls through another light heavyweight opponent here
to build momentum for him before the light heavyweight tournament.  Rating:  *
After the match,
Christopher and Lawler beat up Shelley to serve as an example to the Putskis.
Jim Ross says that
Shawn Michaels will be on next week’s Raw. 
Evidently he won’t be ready to compete in the ring because he would be
Steve Austin’s partner if that was the case.
Clips of Steve
Austin getting in the face of authority figures are shown to hype the Cause
Stone Cold Said So
VHS tape.
McMahon interviews
Steve Austin and Austin says that he will say what he wants when he wants to
and nobody is going to stop him.  Austin
says if he doesn’t pick a tag team partner WWF President Gorilla Monsoon will
pick one for him, but he says Monsoon can go ahead and pick someone.  Austin says if he loses to Owen Hart at
SummerSlam that he will kiss his ass. 
This was a great angry and intense promo by Austin.
Goldust says that
he will give Bret Hart his final curtain call tonight.
Bret “the Hitman”
Hart beats Goldust by reversing a sunset flip into a pinning combination at
7:25:
Bret wastes no time going after Goldust, who is
floundering without an angle right now, but DOA comes out for a closer
look.  This brings the Hart Foundation to
the ring before we go to a commercial break. 
A few fans in the front row are messing with the color palette of my TV
as well with some bright pink shirts to show their support for Bret.  The Legion of Doom and Ken Shamrock show up
on the ramp, followed by Steve Austin, thereby putting more emphasis on those
outside of the ring than those inside of the ring.  Nothing comes of this, though, so what was
the point of having them surround the ring in the first place?  Rating:  **
The Final Report Card:  Depending on what you enjoy watching
determines whether you like this show. 
The opening light heavyweight match is good, as can be expected, and
Austin-Helmsley and Bret-Goldust is perfectly acceptable wrestling.  There are some parts that are dry like the
tag team tournament final and the other light heavyweight match, but I think
the good elements overwhelm the bad and Austin’s behavior on the show puts it
in the thumbs up category.  However, I
think that they were at the point of nearly overexposing Austin a bit as he had
NINE segments on this two hour show.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.5 (vs. 3.4 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: In Your House – Canadian Stampede

Vince McMahon,
Jerry “the King” Lawler, and Jim Ross are in the booth and they are live from
Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  All of the
announcers are wearing cowboy hats, with Lawler’s looking ridiculous as it
swamps his head.
-As Scott pointed
out in a previous review of this show, this was the last two hour WWF
pay-per-view.

Free for
All:  The Godwinns defeat The New
Blackjacks when Phineas pins Barry Windham with a small package at 5:34:
This was the last Free for All match in WWF history.  The New Blackjacks are the faces, as the
Calgary crowd takes to their cowboy gimmick, and they put together one of their
better efforts in recent memory as they dominate much of the match against the
newly turned Godwinns.  However, this
effort isn’t enough to give them a much needed win as Henry helps Phineas block
a suplex attempt and give the match to the Godwinns.  Rating:  *½
Now onto the
pay-per-view, which has another awesome 1997 black and white video package
.
A video package
hypes the Hunter Hearst Helmsley-Mankind match.
Opening
Contest:  Hunter Hearst Helmsley
(w/Chyna) and Mankind wrestle to a double count out at 13:12:
This is a rematch of the 1997 King of the Ring finals and
that’s pretty much what the entire feud has been based on thus far.  The match works a more brisk pace than their
encounter the previous month, which is to be expected since neither guy had to
wrestle a match earlier in the night.  It
doesn’t take long for Chyna to get involved, as she breaks up a Mandible Claw
and then works a nice spot where Helmsley whips Mankind into her and she slams
him into the steps.  This is a nice
combination of a bloodless Attitude Era-type brawl and a scientific encounter,
as Helmsley spends the middle of the match working the left leg.  Helmsley also shows a great deal of
improvement in this match, as he diversifies his moveset and does not resort to
long stalling spots.  The match built
very well and made you want to see a rematch from these two, so it accomplished
its intended purpose and I don’t mind the double count out here.  Rating:  ***¾
The Honky Tonk Man
and Sunny encourage us to dial the WWF Superstar Line to hear from the winners
and losers of tonight’s matches.
-Dok Hendrix
narrates a video package of the WWF’s participation in the Calgary Stampede
parade.
-Hendrix interviews
the Hart Foundation and Steve Austin interrupts the interview but is held back
by WWF officials.  Bret Hart says that
the Hart Foundation will prove itself by beating Austin and his team
five-on-five.
-Before our next
match starts, Helmsley and Mankind fight back into the crowd and Chyna tries to
get involved to protect her man.  The
crowd loves it.
The Great Sasuke
defeats Taka Michinoku with a tiger suplex at 9:58:
This light heavyweight exhibition introduces the WWF to
athletes from Michinoku Pro Wrestling in Japan and it’s a good thing in that it
shows a more high-flying light heavyweight style than the WWF had been
showcasing on television up to this point. 
This match is really like a video game in that it combines a small
segment of mat wrestling, a series of strikes from both guys, and then the high
risk moves that both men are known for. 
Michinoku hits the Michinoku Driver, but Sasuke kicks out at two and
finishes Taka shortly thereafter when he counters Taka’s dive off the top rope
with a dropkick.  You may wonder why
Sasuke went over, since Michinoku eventually became the cornerstone of the
short-lived Light Heavyweight division, but the WWF anticipated that he would
be the first champion.  However, Sasuke
said he would only defend the title in Japan and would not drop it on WWF
television and when McMahon heard those comments he fired Sasuke and Sasuke was
never seen in the WWF again.  A really
entertaining contest that had great pacing and made both guys look like
significant threats in the light heavyweight division.  Rating:  ****
Helmsley and
Mankind are shown continuing their fight outside of the arena.  Helmsley is slightly busted open and he takes
a pipe to Mankind’s back.
A commercial for Cause
Stone Cold Said So
is aired.  Buy
your copy for $19.95 (plus $6 shipping & handling) by calling 815-734-1161.
-The commentators
say that Ahmed Johnson should have been fighting the Undertaker in the next
match, but he suffered a knee injury two weeks ago and was replaced by Vader.
-Hendrix interviews
Vader and Paul Bearer and Bearer says that the Undertaker killed his whole
family and Vader is going to beat the Undertaker like he did at the Royal
Rumble and win the WWF title.
WWF Championship
Match:  The Undertaker (Champion) defeats
Vader (w/Paul Bearer) with a Tombstone at 12:39:
The Undertaker’s title reign in 1997 was loaded with lame
duck title defenses and this one of them as Vader was hardly a threat to anyone
at this point in time, jobbing to Ken Shamrock two months earlier and being
absent from last month’s King of the Ring pay-per-view.  Still, with Ahmed Johnson on the shelf and
all of the top talent booked into the ten man tag main event, the WWF had to go
with someone and you could do much worse than Vader.  Despite this, Ross tries to build Vader up as
someone who really can win this match, talking about his Japanese
exploits.  Everyone has their working
boots on tonight, as both men knock each other around with reckless abandon and
avoid a rehash of their boring Royal Rumble encounter.  The crowd wants to see the Undertaker tear
apart Bearer, but Vader consistently comes to his manager’s aid.  They do a great false finish where Vader is
chokeslammed off the second rope after the Undertaker gives him a low blow to
block a Vader Bomb and the crowd works itself into a frenzy as the Undertaker
runs through a chokeslam and impressive Tombstone to send Vader to the
showers.  As far as big man matches go,
it doesn’t get much better than this. 
This match could have easily rebuilt Vader as a heel, but this was his
last dance in the WWF main event scene as a singles.  Rating:  ***¾
A video package
chronicles all of the chaos in the WWF right now with the gang wars and the
Austin-Hart Foundation feud
.
Hendrix interviews
Steve Austin and his team for the ten man tag. 
Each member of the team cuts a quick promo, except for Austin who heads
for the ring.
Farmer’s Daughter
sings the Canadian national anthem before the ten man tag.
Howard Finkel
recognizes Ralph Klein, premier of Alberta, and Stu and Helen Hart.
Bret “the Hitman”
Hart, Owen Hart, The British Bulldog, Jim “the Anvil” Neidhart & “The Loose
Cannon” Brian Pillman defeat “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Goldust, Ken Shamrock
& The Legion of Doom when Owen pins Austin with a schoolboy at 24:31:
Since we are in Canada we have an inversion of the usual
face-heel alignment.  However, the Legion
of Doom are so popular on both sides of the border that they are still
cheered.  Austin is booed out of the
building, which he seems to enjoy.  The
crowd loses its mind when the Hart Foundation come out and Bret gives his
mother his shades and Lawler makes a great joke about how he didn’t know they
came in bifocals.  You might think that
they would keep Bret-Austin separate for a while to start this match, but you
would be wrong as Bret and Austin go toe-to-toe at the beginning and the crowd
vocally cheers Bret’s offensive moves and loudly boos Austin.  Austin even hooks a Million Dollar Dream,
which Bret counters by kicking off the ropes, and Austin finds a way to escape
so he’s not pinned like Survivor Series 1996. 
Everyone runs through their trademark spots, but in a ten man tag it’s
difficult to get a pin in those situations so the match continues.  They do an interesting spot where both sides
incapacitate someone on the other side, as Austin damages Owen’s right leg with
a chair and Bret damages Austin’s right leg with a fire extinguisher in
retaliation.  Eventually both men return
from receiving medical attention, with Owen returning
second and breaking up an Austin Sharpshooter on Bret.  Austin proceeds to pick a fight with the Hart
family and in the midst of the chaos, Austin is rolled into the ring where Owen
surprises him and finishes him off.  This
was creatively booked and it did a nice job keeping the focus on Bret-Austin,
as they had two small singles matches within the confines of this matchup.  It’s also a sad match from a historical perspective
since three of the five men on the Hart side are no longer with us, Stu and
Helen are gone, and Owen was the only member of his team still in the WWF in
December 1997.  Rating:  *****
After the match,
the teams continue to brawl and WWF officials and Alberta police have to
separate the Harts from Austin’s team. 
Austin isn’t happy to see his team lose and he interrupts the Hart
celebration by attacking Bret with a chair and this gets him arrested.  Undeterred, Austin makes sure to flip off the
Canadian fans on his way to the back. 
After Austin is taken away, the Hart family celebrates in the ring.
The Final Report Card:  Was there something in the water on the night
of this show or what?  Everyone put in a
great effort tonight and it produced the best WWF pay-per-view of the year and
perhaps of all-time from a workrate perspective.  If there is one pay-per-view that you need
for your collections from the 1990s, this is arguably it.  An easy thumbs up for this show.
Attendance: 
12,151
Buyrate:  0.59
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

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

by Logan Scisco

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

The Legion of Doom
cut a pre-taped promo, where they say that all hell is going to break loose
when they face the Godwinns in the tag team tournament this evening.
The formation of
Steve Austin’s team for Canadian Stampede on last week’s show is replayed.
Former UFC
Champion and then-NWA World Champion Dan Severn comes out to do commentary for
the next match.  Since Severn is a soft
spoken guy, this isn’t the best role for him.
Opening
Contest:  Ken Shamrock defeats Rockabilly
(w/The Honky Tonk Man) via submission to the ankle lock at 2:34:
Hearing McMahon talk about the “appalling” way that state
legislators are treating UFC is surreal. 
You would think that McMahon had bought the company and was promoting is
as a legitimate alternative to the form of sports entertainment that he was
offering audiences at this time. 
Shamrock easily rolls through Rockabilly in this encounter, intimidates
the Honky Tonk Man into leaving the ring, and then teases a confrontation with
Severn at the announce table before shaking his hand.
The Godwinns
promise to do things differently in the WWF from now on and Henry Godwinn
promises to get revenge for his neck injury suffered at the hands of the Legion
of Doom a couple of months ago.
Ahmed Johnson
giving the Undertaker a Pearl River Plunge on last week’s show is the Army Slam
of the Week.
The announce team
talks about whether Marc Mero is jealous of Sable’s new popularity.  You can buy the new WWF magazine and read
Vince Russo’s article about it!
Tag Team
Tournament First Round Match:  The Legion
of Doom defeat The Godwinns when Hawk pins Henry following a flying clothesline
at 3:42:
The Godwinns heel turn consists of them shedding their undershirts but they still have the slop and they use it when the LOD make
their entrance.  These teams have some
good chemistry, but they rush to get their stuff in and the wheels start to
come off of the match by the finish.  After
the match, the Godwinns attack the Legion of Doom to cement their heel turn in
the eyes of the fans.  Rating: 
After the Godwinns
have done their damage, the Hart Foundation hits the ring and beat down the
Legion of Doom.
Paul Bearer tells
The Undertaker to shut up and listen to him, which leads to the Undertaker
choking him and Vader, who is his tag team partner tonight in the tag team
tournament.  Vader looks terribly weak in
this segment, since the Undertaker makes him go to one knee with a one hand
choke.
Owen Hart says
that being booked in a triple threat match for his title is a conspiracy and is
a way for McMahon to see that his Intercontinental championship is placed into
the hands of an American.  He promises a
surprise tonight.
Steve Austin hypes
his Cause Stone Cold Said So video.
Flash Funk says
he’s one of the greatest fliers of all time and he looks forward to facing Sabu
in the next match.
Interpromotional
Match (ECW vs. WWF):  Sabu (w/Bill
Alfonso) and Flash Funk wrestle to a double count out at 4:38:
Paul Heyman is on commentary for this match to give the
television viewers background on Sabu. 
Using Funk for these interpromotional matches is not a bad idea because
Funk had wrestled Rob Van Dam and Sabu in ECW and was someone you could trust
in the ring to make the ECW guys look good. 
There was also no risk in having him lose because he wasn’t doing
anything of note in the company at this point anyway.  Since the WWF had higher production values
than ECW, Alphonso’s whistle is more annoying than usual.  Funk damages Sabu’s arm on a moonsault, as he
comes crashing down onto Sabu’s arm with his knees when executing the move, and
both men battle to a disappointing count out after a match that had some nice
spots in it.  Sabu fails to put Funk
through a table after three attempts, though. 
Rating:  **½
Mankind’s failed
attempt to convince Steve Austin that he should be Austin’s new tag team
partner on last week’s show is played
.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your copy of Cause Stone Cold Said So for $19.99 (plus $6
shipping & handling)!
Non-Title Match:  Mankind defeats The British Bulldog (European
Champion) by disqualification when the Bulldog uses a chair at 4:10:
Mankind is wearing an Austin 3:16 t-shirt and a “Pick Me
Steve!” sign and he dedicates the match to Steve Austin, thereby continuing his
campaign to be Austin’s tag team partner. 
Austin calls into the show and says that he wants to give a shout out to
his brother who was stepped on by a bull. 
However, he makes sure to note that he isn’t concerned about his
brother’s welfare but wants the $30 his brother owes him, which is a nice way
to express concern and incorporate it into the character.  Austin says he doesn’t care about Mankind’s
welfare either and would rather defend the titles alone.  Both men put together a quick match where
Mankind nearly wins with the Mandible Claw, but the Bulldog escapes and blasts
Mankind twice in the head with a chair. 
I’m really worried about what Foley is going to be like if he reaches
seventy with all the head trauma that he incurred over the course of his career.  Despite taking two blows to the head, Mankind
still recovers and puts the Bulldog in the Mandible Claw to get a nice crowd
pop.  Rating:  ** 
Intercontinental Champion Owen Hart tells
WWF President Gorilla Monsoon that Brian Pillman should be allowed to be in his
corner for the triple threat because Hunter Hearst Helmsley gets Chyna and
Goldust will have Marlena.  Monsoon
agrees.
McMahon and Ross
discuss the importance of the Intercontinental title in WWF history.  It’s sad to watch this when you consider how
far that belt has fallen in modern times
.
Triple Threat
Match for the Intercontinental Championship: 
Owen Hart (Champion w/Brian Pillman) defeats Goldust (w/Marlena) and
Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) after pinning Helmsley after a Goldust flying
elbow drop at 7:04 shown:
This is the first televised
triple threat match in WWF history and Pat Patterson, the first
Intercontinental Champion, is the special guest referee.  The two challengers, Goldust and Helmsley,
are former Intercontinental champions and their title wins are shown prior to
the match.  Goldust appears to win the
match with a Curtain Call three minutes in, but Owen had put his foot on the
bottom rope during the count.  Patterson
refuses to change his mind, so Gorilla Monsoon comes out and shows him an
instant replay and the match is restarted. 
One of the refreshing things about this match is that it doesn’t rely on
the “toss one guy out and let’s have a one-on-one match” formula that future
triple threat matches would use.  Chyna
steals the show in another match by giving Goldust a hurricanrana and Owen
moves out of the way when Goldust tries to break up a pin he has on Helmsley
and retains the title.  This was a decent
contest and all of the guys acquitted themselves well, but the commercial break
and restart killed what the match could have been.  Rating:  **½
Bret Hart and Jim
Neidhart are interviewed by McMahon and Bret says that he isn’t worried about
the American team that has been assembled at Canadian Stampede.  Bret calls out “The Hitman” Tommy Hearns and
says that there is only room for one of them in Detroit.  Hearns jumps the barrier and gets in Bret’s
face and when they get ready for an encounter, Hearns knocks down Jim Neidhart
with a combination of punches.  WWF
officials hit the ring, though, to prevent a Bret-Hearns confrontation.  The crowd gets worked into a “USA” chant
.
Savio Vega
interrupts an interview of the New Nation, but gets beaten down and whipped by
Faarooq, Kama, and D-Lo Brown
.
Brian Christopher
cuts a pre-taped promo saying that he dominated USWA in Memphis for years and
he is ready to dominate the WWF light heavyweight division.
“Too Sexy” Brian
Christopher (w/Jerry “The King” Lawler) pins Scott Taylor after a Tennessee Jam
(flying leg drop) at 2:54:
This is another preview of the WWF light heavyweight
division and it is also a clash of the future Too Hot/Too Cool tag team
combination.  Christopher was never a
significant draw in the USWA, but I felt that he was a good midcard talent.  Lawler sidesteps the question on commentary
about whether he is Christopher’s father, which will be a running gag for the
next several years of WWF programming. 
This is a serviceable squash for Christopher, but this light heavyweight
division really needs someone that is going to “wow” crowds because mat based
wrestling is not going to get it done.
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear about Shawn Michaels, Sid, Yokozuna, and Maury Povich!
Paul Bearer says
there are no problems between the Undertaker and Vader concerning tonight’s tag
team tournament match.
Tag Team
Tournament First Round Match:  Faarooq
& D-Lo Brown (w/Kama Mustafa) defeat The Undertaker & Vader (w/Paul
Bearer) when Faarooq pins Vader with a clothesline at 4:59 shown:
The New Nation is without Ahmed Johnson, who suffered a
knee injury in the opening segment. 
Ahmed is shown watching the action in the back, but you can tell by his
body language that he knows he’s lost a major push.  The winner of this match faces the Legion of
Doom in the semi-finals.  DOA comes out
in the first couple of minutes and they waste no time attacking D-Lo Brown and
nearly everyone in the match gets involved in the brawl, with the Undertaker
hitting anything that moves.  From a
booking standpoint it would appear that Faarooq chose the wrong partner, since
D-Lo doesn’t have the size to deal with Vader or the Undertaker.  However, the Undertaker nails Vader in the
face after they jaw with each other and that leads to Vader jobbing to a
clothesline as if this was the Survivor Series. 
This was an awkward contest that didn’t get sufficient time to
develop.  Rating:  *½
After the match,
Bearer sends Vader after the Undertaker, but the Undertaker survives the
onslaught and Tombstone’s Vader.  Bearer
tells the Undertaker that he’s made his casket and he’s going to tell the world
his secret next week.  The Undertaker
just does a throat slashing gesture and leaves.
The Final Report Card:  Ahmed’s injury added another blow to the
Undertaker’s WWF title reign because it eventually saddled him with facing
Vader at Canadian Stampede.  However,
that match wasn’t much of a draw since the Undertaker easily dealt with Vader
on this show and Vader was hardly the menacing monster he was a year
earlier.  You can also see that the WWF
is slowly pushing D-Lo Brown.  He was the
only member retained from the old Nation of Domination, but he got some
microphone time for the first time in his career on this show and he also got a
main event spot.  Despite the awkward
main event, this show had some bright spots like the debut of the triple threat
match and the Funk-Sabu match and that’s enough for a thumbs up from me.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.4 (vs. 3.3 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – June 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
1-900-737-4WWF to find out who has been romancing “Psycho” Sid!
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