What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – May 5, 1998

by Logan Scisco

Michael Cole
narrates a video package recapping the events of last week’s show, where Steve
Austin escaped the show with the WWF championship.
Jim Ross and
Michael Cole are in the booth and they are taped from Richmond, Virginia.

Mick Foley walks
out to do the Love Shack, but is not wearing his Dude Love gear.  He complains about not getting an immediate
rematch with Steve Austin after Unforgiven and says Vince McMahon is trying to
get rid of him by booking him to face Terry Funk in a no holds barred match
tonight.  He says he won’t wrestle in the
Dude Love outfit anymore and he demands McMahon come out because “Cactus Jack”
wants answers.  McMahon comes out and
says that the match with Funk is a reward, not a punishment, because triumph
comes through adversity and that if Foley wins decisively he will become the
number one contender of the WWF title.  Steve
Austin then suddenly comes out and tears down the Love Shack.  McMahon came off as a master manipulator here
and his talk about triumph and sacrifice channeled the best evangelical
preachers in America.  1 for 1
Call 815-734-1161
to get your copy of the WrestleMania XIV video tape and a lifesize Steve Austin
poster for $44.95 (plus $9 shipping & handling)!
Opening
Contest:  The Rock & Owen Hart (w/The
Nation of Domination) beat Steve Blackman & Faarooq when Owen pins Blackman
with a spinning heel kick at 6:20:
Commissioner Slaughter tosses the Nation from ringside
before this bout and I find it humorous that Faarooq still doesn’t have a
unique entrance theme for his face character. 
Faarooq hits the Dominator just forty seconds into the match, which Cole
hilariously calls as “WOW!”, but Owen breaks the fall.  Blackman’s storyline arc is crazy at this
point, as he’s a proxy for Shamrock in his Nation feud and engaged in a lame
feud with Jeff Jarrett.  This match features
the first official call of the People’s Elbow, thereby giving the Rock’s whacky
elbow drop a name.  This match has really
good energy and Blackman’s multiple feuds intersect here (which is why that can
be a nice piece of booking) when Jarrett interferes and causes Blackman to be
pinned by Owen.  Rating:  **½ (2 for 2)
McMahon narrates a
video package hyping Gerald Brisco.  This
is pretty funny in light of Brisco being put in the Austin-McMahon feud and
Brisco makes clear that everything he has he owes to McMahon.  I love subtle stuff like this.
We get our first
Edge vignette, which sees him beating up a random man on the street and riding
a subway alone.
D-Generation X
cuts a generic promo and WWF Tag Team Champions The New Age Outlaws prepare to
defend the titles against the Disciples of Apocalyse, but LOD 2000 comes out
and challenges DX to an eight man tag pitting DOA and the LOD against Triple H,
the Outlaws, and X-Pac.  Hawk and DX go
back and forth in a comic exchange of questioning each other’s manhood which
shows that the parties involved don’t really like each other (which is why this
gets a point from me).  The DOA can’t be
happy that the LOD has hijacked their tag team title shot.  3 for
3
Dan Severn
defeats Savio Vega via submission to an armbar at 1:34:
Ross uses the match to hype UFC 17 and I’d love to see
Severn’s style critiqued by the WWE today, since it is definitely not “WWE
style.”  Severn hits some suplexes,
survives some Savio chops, and then puts Savio away with an armbar.
Jerry Lawler and
Paul Bearer are captured, supposedly off-camera, chatting in the locker room
and Bearer recaps how the Undertaker/Kane’s mother seduced him when he was
nineteen.  When we get back from
commercial, Lawler apologizes to viewers for having the conversation broadcast
over the air.  Lawler and Bearer were
great in this segment and the whole thing came off like a natural conversation
and not stiff like today’s segments.  It’s
amazing what you can do when you let people play to their natural
personalities.  By the way, this was
still during a “TV-PG” era!  4 for 4
A video shows
Sable training for her match, which the WWF is billing as a “public
confrontation”, with Marc Mero next week.
“Marvelous” Marc
Mero versus “Double J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) does not occur:
Before this match starts, Steve Blackman runs out and
attacks Jarrett.  The beatdown is quite
weak, but it keeps advancing that feud while protecting Mero for his confrontation
with Sable next week.
The Disciples of
Apocalypse illegal switch against the New Age Outlaws on last week’s Raw is the
Playstation Slam of the Week.
Jerry Lawler joins
Ross for commentary as we enter hour two.
D-Generation X
wrestle LOD 2000 & The Disciples of Apocalypse to a no contest when the
LOD-DOA partnership disintegrates:
Sunny is tossed from ringside before the match,
continuing the ejection of seconds tonight, and X-Pac follows since Chyna is
wrestling with Triple H and the Outlaws thereby making this the first match she
is wrestling against other men in the company. 
The crowd loves Chyna and it’s pretty amazing in retrospect how over she
was.  With women’s equality becoming an en vogue topic these days, I’m surprised
the WWE hasn’t made another attempt to bring in Kharma or another sizable woman
again and run a similar angle.  The
storyline that the announcers keep selling is that the DOA aren’t happy with the
LOD taking their title shot away, but that has some logic gaps because why didn’t
the DOA just complain to Commissioner Slaughter and get their title shot
reinstated?  An argument over the hot tag
emerges in the face corner and that turns into a brawl to end this.  Decent little match, but the most interesting
parts were when DX was in control.  Rating: 
** (5 for 5)
Footage of the LOD
and DOA brawling backstage during the commercial break is shown
.
Kane (w/Paul
Bearer) wrestles The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust to a no contest at 1:52:
We were supposed to get heel-heel with Jarrett and Mero
earlier and now we get a pairing between these two, which is also unusual.  Luna has seemingly been divorced from Goldust
at this point, with the Evening Gown match blowing off their partnership.  Kane is wearing a bandage on his right hand
to sell his loss in the Inferno match at Unforgiven.  Kane manhandles Goldust, but the Undertaker
runs out and attacks Bearer over the comments Bearer made about his mother
earlier in the show.  Kane and the
Undertaker then engage in the THIRD pull apart brawl on the show tonight.  Doesn’t Russo know of any other finish?
Mick Foley’s promo
a month ago where he bid goodbye to the Cactus Jack character is the Cinnaburst
Rewind segment.
A video package
recaps the history between Mick Foley and Terry Funk.
Val Venis
introduces us to the set of his latest video “Val Venis:  Soldier of Love” and Jenna Jameson makes a
cameo.
No Holds Barred
Match with Pat Patterson as Guest Referee: 
Mick Foley defeats Terry Funk with a stump piledriver on a chair at 14:12:
Steve Austin comes out to do commentary for this match
and Pat Patterson is inserted at the last second as the guest referee.  Austin’s mic malfunctions, reminding long
time fans of Jim Ross’s mic problems at In Your House:  Buried Alive in 1996, and he gets pissed off
and decks Lawler.  Foley puts a new twist
on the concession stand brawl by taking out the vendor and giving him a
suplex.  The vendor and Foley also take a
moonsault from Funk.  However, Funk
argues that his neck is hurt and the match to stop, but Foley continues the
attack.  For all intents and purposes,
this was a squash for Foley and that fits the storyline to make him the number
one contender for Austin’s title.  Funk
took an insane beating in this match and it had some brutal spots, but the
squash aspect of it overwhelmed putting on a more competitive match.  I also found it difficult to relate to Funk
continually kicking out of some of Foley’s moves near the end, probably because
Funk had not been built into a big threat during his WWF run so you knew he was
going to lose anyway.  Rating: 
*** (6 for 6)
After the match,
Foley smashes Funk’s head repeatedly into a chair and Austin comes into the
ring and tosses a beer into Foley’s face, causing Foley to inadvertently put
Patterson in the Mandible Claw. 
Patterson then tries to hit Austin with a chair, but Austin counters it in
time with a kick and Stunner.  The Dude
Love music then comes on and McMahon comes out dancing with the Dudettes.  Foley re-embraces his older character and
McMahon dances like a fool to the music by the entrance.
The Final Report Card:  Even though this RAW fell too much in love with
crazy brawls, there were lots of fun moments that made the show engaging and
memorable.  Chyna’s participation in the
tag match, the vendor getting destroyed by Funk and Foley, the Bearer segment
with Lawler, and McMahon’s opening promo and crazy dancing at the end were the
highlights of the show.  This show also
had a great storyline arc of McMahon getting Foley back on his side and
convincing him to go back to a gimmick that he trashed earlier in the show.
Monday Night War Rating:  5.5 (vs. 3.5 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – April 27, 1998

by Logan Scisco

Michael Cole
narrates a video package that recaps last night’s Unforgiven pay-per-view.  Tonight, Vince McMahon will make a decision
about WWF Champion Steve Austin’s future
.
Jim Ross and Michael
Cole are in the booth and they are live from Hampton, Virginia.
Footage of
D-Generation X preparing for their “invasion” of WCW Monday Nitro, who are
running Nitro in Norfolk tonight, which is about fifteen minutes from where Raw
is being hosted, is shown.

Opening
Contest:  Ken Shamrock & Owen Hart
wrestle The Rock & Mark Henry (w/The Nation of Domination) to a no contest
at 1:43:
Shamrock and Owen had teamed for a few weeks on the house
show circuit prior to this RAW and they were a ranked tag team in the Apter
magazines, so I was excited to see them wrestle here.  However, Owen turns on Shamrock and ditches
his lackluster four month run as a face. 
Owen works better as a heel, so I fully approve of this move.  Owen Pillmanizes Shamrock’s ankle, which
works to write Shamrock out of next month’s pay-per-view.  The beatdown, which extends to Steve Blackman
and Faarooq when they try to make saves, was excellent. (1 for 1)
Dude Love hosts the
Love Shack and gloats about beating Steve Austin last night.  He proposes stripping Austin of the title and
having the WWF put him against Shawn Michaels for the title or hosting a
tournament or just giving it to him. 
Very solid promo work for Foley, which included some classic heel
cockiness.  2 for 2
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to find out if a new manager is headed to the WWF!
D-Generation X
declares war against WCW in Norfolk.  WCW
fans cheer when Triple H asks them if Eric Bischoff sucks.
#1 Contender’s
Match for the WWF Tag Team Championship: 
Terry Funk & 2 Cold Scorpio beat The Headbangers via
disqualification when Thrasher pushes the referee at 3:14:
It seems weird that the winner of this match gets a WWF
tag team championship opportunity since neither team has accomplished much of
note in recent weeks, but the WWF tag ranks are really thin at this point.  This match is non-stop action from the bell,
with Funk moonsaulting the other three men as they brawl on the arena floor.  The finish is lackluster, but both teams keep
fighting after the bell and at least this match made the tag team titles seem
important.  Rating:  ** (3 for 3)
Triple H asks if
any of the WCW fans got free tickets for tonight’s Nitro.  X-Pac says high to Scott Hall and Kevin Nash
and Triple H demands that they let them go.
Steve Austin tossing
Dude Love off of Sawyer Brown’s stage at Unforgiven last night is the
Cinnaburst Rewind segment.
Vince McMahon
walks out and says he knows Austin was trying to hit him with the chair at the
end of last night’s Unforgiven pay-per-view, which draws a huge cheer from the
crowd.  He says he is not going to fire
Austin yet and that Austin will defend the WWF title tonight against Goldust
with Gerald Brisco as the guest referee. 
McMahon announces that if Austin lays a finger on Brisco that he will be
fired and stripped of the WWF title. Brisco says he will be impartial tonight
and is not afraid of Austin.  McMahon
closes by saying that any wrestler in the company would be a better
representative with the title than Austin right now.  It’s a McMahon promo, so does it really need
a rating?  4 for 4
WCW closes the
gate to the arena to keep D-Generation X from entering the arena with their
vehicle.  I wish WCW had let them in and
then had Scott Norton and Meng and kick their ass.
Segments of Jeff
Jarrett’s “musical performance” and altercation with Steve Blackman at
Unforgiven last night are shown.
Bradshaw beats Double
J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) via disqualification when Kamikaze interferes
at 1:14
Bradshaw doesn’t sell any of Jarrett’s offense and has
the upper hand until Kamikaze hits the ring and attacks him.  Taka Michinoku tries to make the save, but
also gets beaten down.  This time a
fourth man is with Kamizake, but he is masked and his identity is unknown.
Jerry Lawler comes
out to replace Cole on commentary for hour two.
Kevin Kelly
interviews Dude Love, who is irate that he has not been given the title.  Love confronts McMahon, who doesn’t
appreciate Kelly and the camera man being around and goes all Ronald Reagan on
them by saying that he is paying for the equipment and for them to shut it off.
Non-Title
Match:  The Disciples of Apocalypse (w/LOD
2000, Chainz & Sunny) beat The New Age Outlaws (WWF Tag Team Champions
w/D-Generation X) when 8-Ball pins Billy Gunn after an illegal switch at 3:35:
It’s like night and day having Ross and Lawler
back-and-forth in the booth versus the awful Ross-Cole team and it’s amazing
that it took so long for the WWF to just ditch Cole off the RAW
broadcasts.  Even more surprising that
they kept him around as Ross’s replacement. 
The DOA dominate much of the match and when Billy Gunn hits Skull with a
piledriver, 8-Ball makes an illegal switch and gives the DOA their first win in
ages.  To show how much heat the Outlaws
generated up to this point, the crowd goes nuts for the victory.  Rating:  *½ (5 for 5)
The Undertaker
beats Barry Windham with the Tombstone in 59 seconds:
And here I thought that Barry Windham was gone from the
company by this point.  The sad thing is
that THIS would’ve been a RAW main event if this was 1996.  It shows you how far the company has come
since then.  The Undertaker sends Barry
off to WCW with this squash.
After the match,
the Undertaker calls out Kane, who comes out after the commercial break with
Paul Bearer.  Bearer begs the Undertaker
for a truce and as he recounts the events of last night he reveals that Kane is
his son.  Excellent promo work from
Bearer here and I always say he doesn’t get the credit he deserves for his part
in this feud in 1997-1998.  6 for 6
The Undertaker’s
plancha on Kane and Vader at Unforgiven is the Castrol GTX Slam of the Week.
Kevin Kelly
interviews The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust and Luna Vachon.  Goldust says that he is a pure man that would
be a great representative of the company. 
Dude Love ambushes Goldust yelling “That’s my shot!” and WWF officials
have to pull him off of Goldust.
D-Generation X
comes back out and Triple H tells DOA that no one steals his buzz.  As Scott would say, “I love shoot comments
that aren’t supposed to be…”  Triple H
issues an open challenge to any member of the locker room that wants to face
him for the European title.  Skull walks
out, but Dan Severn walks past him and into the ring as Jim Cornette tries to
convince him not to fight Triple H. 
Cornette makes the mistake slapping Severn, which leads to Cornette being
placed in an armbar and choke. 
Unfortunately, this allows Triple H to get away.  This could’ve MADE Severn, but they pulled
back.  This makes Severn a face now.
WWF Champion Steve
Austin tells Michael Cole that he’ll defend the WWF title and says that Vince
McMahon isn’t going to get rid of him.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your copy of the WrestleMania XIV video tape and a lifesize Steve Austin
poster for $44.95 (plus $9 shipping & handling)!
The new Val Venis
vignette says that all men have “Venis envy” when compared to him.
Marc Mero walks
out and calls Sable to the ring.  Mero
says that Sable humiliated him at Unforgiven last night when Luna took her
evening gown off.  Sable counters that
she enjoyed the experience and she challenges Mero to a match on RAW in two
weeks.  She leaves before Mero answers
her challenge.  This was pretty poor
considering the past segments between these two, but that’s because they let
Sable dominate all the mic time.  6 for 7
Vince McMahon
shakes Gerald Brisco’s hand backstage and says that he will enjoy watching him
referee tonight’s main event.
WWF Championship
Match with Gerald Brisco as Guest Referee: 
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin (Champion) and The Artist Formerly Known as
Goldust (w/Luna Vachon) wrestle to a no-contest at 8:40:
Before the opening bell, McMahon jogs out and replaces
the timekeeper to further stack the deck against Austin.  Brisco dares Austin throughout the match to
hit him and counts quick falls for Goldust, but Austin resists and proceeds to
wrestle one of the faster-paced 1990s Goldust matches you will ever see.  Ross actually acknowledges that if Austin
loses the title that the crowd will riot, to which Lawler has a funny jab about
being there for crowd control.  Austin
hits a Stunner after a mule kick, but Brisco pulls a Nick Patrick and stops at
two because something is allegedly in his eye. 
Dude Love then runs in and brawls with Austin.  McMahon tries to take advantage of the
opportunity in a brilliant callback to the previous evening by trying to hit
Austin with the WWF title belt, but ends up KO’ing Brisco and that ends the
match.  This is one of those
underappreciated gems from the Attitude Era, but it’s a wild and fun match that
foreshadowed the Austin-Dude Love rematch that is to come at Over the Edge.  It’s also Goldust’s best match in ages.  Rating:  *** (7 for 8)
The Final Report Card:  This show had a little too much D-Generation
X and their “invasion” of WCW has been overhyped by subsequent WWE videos about
the Monday Night Wars.  However, some of
the segments were funny, like having a WCW fan claim that he didn’t pay for his
ticket and then asking for the company to free Scott Hall and Kevin Nash.  The main event was fantastic as well and
Austin really had his working boots on in his first run with the title.  The only missed opportunity was sidestepping
a Honky Tonk Man moment with Triple H and the European title with Dan Severn,
but you can’t always get what you want.
Monday Night War Rating:  5.7 (vs. 1.72 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

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 12, 1997

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

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