What the World Was Watching: The Action Zone – March 26, 1995

Todd Pettengill narrates a video package to hype today’s Shawn Michaels-Adam Bomb main event.  The package makes no mention of their encounter a month ago on Superstars.

Jim Ross and Pettengill are in the booth and they are concluding the tapings in North Charleston, West Virginia.

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What the World Was Watching: The Action Zone – March 19, 1995

Doink and Bam Bam Bigelow cut promos on each other for today’s feature match.  Doink says he is going to win and let Lawrence Taylor know all of Bigelow’s secrets.  Bigelow rebuts that he thought he got rid of Doink for good at WrestleMania X but will finish things today.

Jim Ross and Todd Pettengill are doing commentary and they are still taped from North Charleston, West Virginia.

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What the World Was Watching: Monday Night RAW – March 6, 1995

Vince McMahon recaps how Bam Bam Bigelow and Lawrence Taylor traded verbal blows at the WrestleMania XI press conference.  McMahon promises us footage of the press conference.

McMahon and Jim Cornette are doing commentary and they are concluding the tapings in Macon, Georgia.

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What the World Was Watching: WWF Superstars – March 4, 1995

Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler are doing commentary and they are wrapping up the tapings from West Palm Beach, Florida.

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What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – February 20, 1995

Vince McMahon and Jim Cornette are in the booth and they are live from Macon, Georgia.  Less than 3,000 fans bought tickets to this show, illustrating just how cold the product was at the time.

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What the World Was Watching: The Action Zone – February 5, 1995

Jim Ross and Vince McMahon are covering the action, which is still coming from South Padre Island, Texas.  McMahon is replacing Todd Pettengill because Pettengill is on vacation.

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What the World Was Reading: WWF Magazine – June 1995

by Logan Scisco


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

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

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – June 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: King of the Ring 1997

by Logan Scisco

As more evidence
that the Undertaker was playing second fiddle to other superstars during his
title reign, the Steve Austin-Shawn Michaels match got top billing heading into
this show and it appears on the cover of the video cassette box.
Vince McMahon and
Jim Ross are in the booth and they are live from Providence, Rhode Island
.

Free for All:  The Headbangers defeat “The Real Double J”
Jesse James & Bart Gunn when Thrasher pins Gunn after a powerbomb-flying
leg drop combination at 5:42 shown:
The Headbangers were still trying to make a mark on the
company at this point.  They had received
a few title matches with Owen Hart and the British Bulldog, but had never
broken through.  However, you could
really call them the fourth most established time on the roster at this point
behind Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin, Owen and the Bulldog, and the Legion of Doom.  James and Gunn have nothing going on for them
in the midcard, so they are thrown as a sacrificial lamb to the Headbangers in
this opener.  The Headbangers work a dry
heat segment on James and finish Bart off quickly when he comes in after the
hot tag.  Rating:  *
Now onto the show…
Opening King of
the Ring Semi-Final Contest:  Hunter
Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) defeats Ahmed Johnson with a Pedigree at 7:42:
Ahmed has really been off his career track since winning
the Intercontinental championship at last year’s King of the Ring and Ross and
McMahon hype him as the odds-on-favorite, which is the sweet kiss of death in
wrestling circles.  For those that
followed the RAW reviews leading up to this match, these two faced each other
in the first round, which Ahmed won, but Helmsley was reinstated into the
tournament on a legal technicality and qualified after beating Crush.  The crowd is solidly behind Ahmed and he
completely dominates the match.  However,
Chyna distracts Ahmed and Helmsley hits a knee lift and a Pedigree, his only
offensive moves of the match, and advances to the finals.  This was a huge let down for the crowd, who
really enhanced the match prior to the finish. 
Rating:  *½
The Honky Tonk Man
and Sunny hype the Superstar line.
-Todd Pettengill
interviews Jerry “the King” Lawler and Lawler denies that he cheated to beat
Goldust to get to the semi-finals. 
Lawler calls him an idiot and walks towards the ring insulting the
crowd.
King of the Ring
Semi-Final Match:  Mankind beats Jerry
“the King” Lawler with the Mandible Claw at 10:22:
You could easily make the case that Mankind has the
easiest semi-final draw in the history of the King of the Ring tournament to
this point.  Mankind gets on the house
mic and tells the crowd that Paul Bearer has forgotten about him, but he isn’t
going to let that stop him from becoming the King of the Ring.  Mankind even works a “bang, bang” into his
promo to pay tribute to his past as Cactus Jack.  Lawler wrestles this one like he is in the
Memphis Coliseum by stalling and using the phantom object trick.  Lawler also utilizes an interesting strategy
in going after Mankind’s severed ear. 
Mankind takes a few risky bumps by plowing head-first into the ring
steps and then having Lawler toss his head back into the guardrail.  Lawler then piledrives Mankind on the floor,
which would’ve made Mankind a dead man in Memphis, and even pulls out a
dropkick.  However, Mankind kicks out of
a piledriver and after a tepid comeback catches Lawler with the Mandible Claw
when Lawler tries a sunset flip to advance. 
This match was better than I remember it being and Lawler really brought
his working boots for this one.  I’d
actually argue that Mankind was the one that hurt the match by not
matching some of Lawler’s intensity.  Lawler’s
King of the Ring record goes to 0-4 after this match.  Rating:  **
Ken Shamrock is
shown playing around in the AOL chat room
.
-Pettengill
interviews Brian Pillman if he feels responsible for tonight’s match between
Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels and Pillman says of course.  Pillman says that he also came to the show to
see Michaels beat up Austin, but Austin sneaks behind him and beats him up in
the men’s restroom.  We conveniently get
a camera shot of Austin giving Pillman a swirlie.
Goldust
(w/Marlena) defeats Crush (w/The Nation of Domination) with a DDT at 9:58:
Savio Vega is absent from ringside, which was probably a
request from Crush considering the tensions between the two lately.  Providence has some really dedicated fans who
yell “jailbird!” at Crush, something the WWF hasn’t encouraged since the later
half of 1996.  These two haven’t had good
matches in the past and this is no exception with Crush working a reverse
chinlock for nearly three minutes.  After
that he transitions to a nerve hold.  The
Nation tries to make some moves on Marlena to distract Goldust from a rally,
but Goldust floats over a gorilla press attempt and gets a victory.  Crush hasn’t won a match in what feels like a
century and you can tell that he isn’t very motivated.  This gives Goldust some momentum heading into
his match with the British Bulldog tomorrow night on RAW for the European
championship.  Rating:  DUD
Sable comes out
with a King of the Ring inflatable chair. 
Call 915-734-1161 to get your version for $59.99 (plus $11 shipping
& handling).  I really want to know
how many people bought these overpriced things. 
Howard Finkel sits in the chair, nearly falling out of it, and Sable
gives him a massage
.
Dok Hendrix
interviews Sid & The Legion of Doom about their match with the Hart
Foundation tonight.  Hawk promises that
they will serve a cold dish of revenge. 
Animal asks Sid if he’ll be there for a tag and Sid says not to worry
about him because he’s the ruler of the world.
Pettengill
interviews the Hart Foundation (Jim Neidhart, The British Bulldog, and Owen
Hart) about the six man tag tonight and the Bulldog says that his team will win.  Owen says that the LOD’s Halloween costumes
aren’t going to cut it tonight.  Neidhart
says he’s crazier than Sid
.
The Hart
Foundation (The British Bulldog, Owen Hart & Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart) defeat
Sid & The Legion of Doom when Owen pins Sid after a flying sunset flip at 13:37:
This is Sid’s return to pay-per-view since WrestleMania
XIII and this is Jim Neidhart’s first WWF pay-per-view since the 1994 Survivor
Series.  Sid is massively over and he’s
well suited to compete in a match like this where he doesn’t need to do a lot
and the other side can carry the workrate. 
The tepid reaction that the LOD are getting shows that their return has
not been very successful and they are living on borrowed time in the tag
division.  Everyone works in their
favorite spots in this contest, with Hawk no selling a piledriver from the
Bulldog, Owen slingshotting Neidhart off the apron for a shoulder block on
Animal, and Owen and Neidhart pulling some additional double teams from their
New Foundation days.  Sid eventually gets
the red hot tag and becomes a one man juggernaut, but when he goes to powerslam
the Bulldog, Owen surprises him with a flying sunset flip and scores a
surprising pin.  This was much better
than you’d expect and kudos to whoever laid this match out.  Rating:  ***
Steve Austin’s victory
speech at last year’s King of the Ring is shown
.
Pettengill
interviews Mankind, who appears to be nursing a neck injury from his match with
Jerry Lawler earlier in the evening. 
Mankind says he can’t wait to be king.
1997 King of the
Ring Finals:  Hunter Hearst Helmsley
(w/Chyna) defeats Mankind with a Pedigree at 19:27:
So the weakest King of the Ring tournament of all-time
closes with this match.  Ross won’t shut
up describing Helmsley as a “thinking man’s wrestler” and “cerebral.”  “Thinking man’s wrestler” must mean boring
because the first seven minutes of this match go nowhere and the crowd is dead.  That’s not surprising when you consider that
the crowd wanted Ahmed Johnson to destroy Helmsley in the semi-finals and they
are still lukewarm to the Mankind face turn. 
A large “boring” chant breaks out at the ten minute mark, as well as a
small chant for Sabu.  Things finally
pick up a few minutes later as Helmsley takes a back drop on the cement and
Mankind hits the Cactus elbow off the apron. 
Chyna interjects herself after a double arm DDT, a Mandible Claw, and
pulls Hunter out of the way of a Mankind dive from the apron to save Helmsley
and the crowd is all over her for that.  However,
she’s not tossed from ringside despite doing all of that in front of the
referee.  Helmsley Pedigrees a maskless
Mankind through the American announce table and Chyna blasts Mankind with a
septer, which makes Randy Savage’s blast on the Ultimate Warrior from the 1991
Royal Rumble look like a child hitting another with a plush toy, but it takes
another Pedigree to put Mankind away.  The first half of this match was horrid, but
things got much better after that point and make you forget the first half of
the match.  The match did a good job
putting over Mankind’s face turn and generated significant sympathy heat for
him.  It also sowed the seeds for the Helmsley-Mankind
feud that would dominate the summer of 1997. 
Rating:  **½
After the match,
Helmsley receives his royal garb for winning the tournament from Pettengill and
he blasts Mankind several times with the crown
.
A video package
hypes tonight’s Shawn Michaels-Steve Austin match
.
Bret Hart and
Brian Pillman come out with the Hart Foundation for the six man tag team match
and he puts over the skills of the Foundation. 
Bret announces that the Hart Foundation is challenging any five WWF
superstars to a match at the Canadian Stampede pay-per-view and Bret says he
will return at that pay-per-view.  Bret
wants to do color commentary, but WWF officials force him to leave.
Hendrix interviews
Steve Austin, who says that Shawn Michaels knows he’s the captain of the tag
team and puts over the tag team championships.
-Hendrix interviews
Shawn Michaels, who says he really doesn’t want to face Austin since they are
champions.  He seems a little annoyed
that some people think their upcoming match might be a classic
.
WWF Tag Team
Champions Collide:  “Stone Cold” Steve
Austin and “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels wrestle to a double
disqualification at 22:34:
The WWF billed this as the first time that sitting tag
team champions faced each other on pay-per-view, which is really tortured logic
to sell a match that really doesn’t need it. 
The opening of the contest is disrupted by a Special Olympian falling
over the guardrail, but to Michaels credit he helps the guy out.  This one starts with a prolonged feeling out
period and one of the more interesting spots in the beginning is Austin
countering a Michaels Thesz press with an inverted atomic drop.  The crowd is equally divided between the two
men and the breakdown is as you would expect with the female crowd backing
Michaels and Austin being supported by the men. 
After a series of momentum changes, we get a ref bump and Austin hits
the Stunner.  Austin gets fed up with
that and gives a Stunner to the referee after he brings him to his feet, but
eats a Sweet Chin Music shortly after that. 
A second referee runs down, but he checks on the first referee instead
of counting the fall, so Michaels nails him with Sweet Chin Music in
frustration.  Out of this we get a double
disqualification after referee Earl Hebner runs out and simulates the moves
that both guys have done to the referees. 
WWF officials prevent the two from continuing their struggle, but they
continue to argue after the match.  The
crowd works up an audible “Austin” chant, which isn’t bad for a guy whose King
of the Ring tournament victory in 1996 was greeted with crickets.  This was a great match with a hot crowd and
is an underrated technical match from this period.  A clean winner would have been nice, but
Michaels wasn’t jobbing to people during this time and the WWF wasn’t going to
feed Austin to Michaels with the momentum he was building with the crowds.  Rating:  ****
Pettengill
interviews Faarooq and the Nation of Domination and Faarooq says he will make
history tonight and become the first black WWF champion.
Hendrix interviews
WWF Champion The Undertaker and Paul Bearer. 
Hendrix tells the Undertaker that his fans will always love him, but
Bearer hijacks the interview before the Undertaker can speak and tells the
Undertaker that he’ll do what he says tonight
.
WWF Championship
Match:  The Undertaker (Champion w/Paul
Bearer) pins Faarooq (w/The Nation of Domination) after a Tombstone at 13:44
The WWF did what they could with the storyline for this
match, but it is really tough to play a controversial race angle when the title
is being held by a guy with a dead man gimmick. 
This would Faarooq’s only appearance in the main event as a singles
competitor in the WWF.  Bearer plays an
interesting role in this match as he critiques every little thing that the
Undertaker does.  The Undertaker has an
interesting take on the rope walk spot by launching himself into the Nation
when he is attempting to give Faarooq the move. 
Like Chyna helping Hunter Hearst Helmsley tonight, the Nation keeps
interfering to keep Faarooq in control of the match.  During the match, Crush takes issue with
Savio Vega interfering in the match and Faarooq has to try to play
peacemaker.  This distraction allows the
Undertaker to surprising Faarooq with a Tombstone and retain.  After the match, the Undertaker chokeslams
Savio and Crush.  This was good for a RAW
match, but it wasn’t really pay-per-view caliber.  Still, it was a better match than the one they
had on RAW in March.  Rating: 
**
After the match,
Bearer tells the Undertaker to give Faarooq three chokeslams.  The Undertaker doesn’t want to do it, but he
is forced to comply.  All the while
Bearer wears the WWF championship belt over his shoulder and acts like he’s hot
stuff.  Ahmed Johnson runs down and confronts
the Undertaker about his relationship with Bearer and when the Undertaker tries
to attack him, Ahmed gives him a Pearl River Plunge.  This confrontation makes me wish that Ahmed would not have gotten hurt so that we could’ve had an
Undertaker-Ahmed match at the next pay-per-view.
The Final Report Card:  The first half of the card doesn’t offer
much, but the second half puts out a surprising six man tag that you can appreciate
if you have followed the careers of the Hart Foundations crew, a nice match between
Michaels and Austin, and a King of the Ring final that cemented Mick Foley’s
face turn.  The main event shouldn’t have
been the main event, but this is during a time when the WWF champion closed the
show more times than not.  A lot of
reviewers don’t care for this show, but I didn’t find it to be tedious or
inoffensive.  The Providence crowd was
hot and made even the most mundane matches interesting.
Attendance: 
9,312
Buyrate: 
0.50
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

Scissor Sid!

Scott,


If Sid had not scissored Arn Anderson and faced Vader at Starrcade 1993, was Vicious supposed to go over for the title?  If so, had they planned for Sid to be 'the guy' in WCW?  In the end, he probably would have just been the fall guy to drop the belt to Hogan anyway, but it's still interesting to know whether major plans were changed by that ridiculous scissor incident.

He was not only scheduled to win the belt and be the guy, they had taped several weeks of footage with him as champion at the Disney tapings.  It was a done deal, signed sealed and delivered.  And yeah, him dropping the belt to Hogan seems like the likeliest way things would have gone down.  

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – March 17, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Vince McMahon, Jim
Ross, and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from
Syracuse, New York
.
The Undertaker’s
plancha on Vader on last week’s Raw is the Playstation Slam of the Week.

Opening
Contest:  The Legion of Doom defeat Crush
& Savio Vega (w/the Nation of Domination) by disqualification at 6:47 shown
when Faarooq interferes:
The small stipulation for this contest is that Ahmed
Johnson and Faarooq are barred from ringside. 
However, when you are talking about the Nation of Domination, that just
subtracts one of five guys they usually bring to the ring with them.  This starts as a wild brawl, but then becomes
a no-selling contest between both teams. 
For example, there’s no excuse for Savio standing up after being given a
piledriver by Hawk.  Faarooq attacks
Ahmed with a night stick as he watches the match in the back and that enables
him to make the run-in before Vega eats a Doomsday Device.  Ahmed eventually runs out and makes the save
and JC Ice eats a Pearl River Plunge and D-Lo Brown takes the Doomsday Device
like a champ.  The crowd was hot for the
interference at the end, but this was quite sloppy in the middle.  Rating:  *½
Call
1-900-737-SLAM to vote for the Larry Flynt Freedom of Speech Award.  The nominees are Jerry Lawler, Paul Heyman,
Steve Austin, Howard Stern, and Faarooq. 
By the way, your vote will cost you 99 cents
.
The announce team
says that WWF President Gorilla Monsoon is flying to the arena to clear up some
controversy over whether tonight’s steel cage match between WWF Champion Sid
and Bret Hart is for the WWF title or not. 
Another rumor floating around is that Shawn Michaels is planning to show
up
.
Hunter Hearst
Helmsley (w/Chyna) defeats Flash Funk (w/the Funkettes) with the Pedigree at
5:46:
The entrances for these two take nearly four minutes and
Funk’s theme is not catchy enough to sustain my interest for such a long dance
to the ring.  Funk dominates a lot of the
action, which is pretty surprising considering his position on the card, and
he’s in position to win after a flying leg drop, but Chyna pulls him out of the
ring to break a cover.  Chyna then
prevents Funk from going back to the top to finish off Helmsley and Helmsley takes
advantage of the distraction to pick up the win.  This was a nice TV match that protected
everyone involved heading into WrestleMania. 
Rating:  **¼
Shawn Michaels is
shown arriving at the arena
.
Footage is shown
of New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman lifting a tax to allow the WWF to
compete in the state.  This is when the
WWF admitted that what it was doing was just “sports entertainment” and was not
real.
Mascarita
Sagrada, Jr. & Mini Goldust defeat Mini Vader & Mini Mankind when
Sagrada pins Mankind with a victory roll at 2:55:
Mascarita Sagrada Jr. was the dominant figure of the
short-lived WWF minis division in 1997, winning nearly all of his televised
matches.  Sagrada gets most of the shine
in this one and it’s so short that it is a fun waste of time.  In a fun spot after the match, Sagrada and
Vader run up the ramp and Sagrada gives Vader a flying body press on the
concrete floor.
WWF President
Gorilla Monsoon says that tonight’s steel cage match will be for the WWF
title.  Monsoon and Vince then argue over
whether now is the right time to give Bret Hart a crack at the title, since
WrestleMania is this weekend
.
Kevin Kelly
interviews Bret Hart, who says that he won the Royal Rumble, the Final Four
match, and is a four-time WWF champion so he deserves a title match tonight. Bret
unveils one of my favorite lines from this period when he says that the new
motto of the WWF is “you scratch my back and I put a knife in yours.”  Some boos can be heard in the audience,
thereby foreshadowing Bret’s heel turn.
Call 815-737-1156 to
get your customized WrestleMania 13 hockey jersey or denim jacket!  They can be yours for prices between
$89.99-$139.99!
The Sultan (w/the
Iron Sheik & Bob Backlund) beats Mike Bell via submission to the camel
clutch in 57 seconds:
Rocky Maivia is on commentary for this match, but since
he hasn’t developed the Rock persona it’s nothing to write home about.  The Sultan throws in a splash off the top
rope to set up the camel clutch and then argues with Maivia at ringside.  Maivia wants to get into a fight, but Tony
Atlas shows up and holds him back.
McMahon interviews
Shawn Michaels, who jokes about his “Lost Smile” speech and says that he found
his smile in San Antonio.  He thanks the
fans for his support and says that he’s going to see Dr. James Andrews about
his knee next week.  Shawn tells Vince
he’s upset at not getting invited to WrestleMania, so he’s inviting himself to
be the guest commentator for the WWF title match.  This promo just took too long for what it was
going to accomplish and it’s the perfect example of material that would give
you the perfect excuse to flip over to TNT to see what was happening on Nitro.
The British
Bulldog (w/Owen Hart) defeats Vader (w/Paul Bearer & Mankind) by
disqualification when Mankind interferes at 5:52 shown:
This is the easiest match to book for tonight’s show,
since it provides a quasi-preview of the tag team championship match at
WrestleMania.  The Bulldog manages to get
Vader up in the vertical suplex for several seconds, which is an awesome feat,
but Vader dominates much of the televised action.  Vader is a master of putting himself in
position to be slammed by a leaner opponent and it makes the Bulldog look like
a million bucks.  The Bulldog even has
Vader positioned for a running powerslam, but Mankind interferes to break it up
and a four way brawl ensues, with the champions standing tall.  An entertaining power match for the time they
were given.  Rating:  **¼
Call
1-900-737-SLAM to vote for the Best Bow Tie category for the Slammy’s.  The nominees are Mr. Bob Backlund, Pee Wee
Herman, Clarence Mason, Louis Farrahkhan, and Yokozuna.  What is with all the crazy nominees?  Did they actually think more people would
watch if they threw a few random names into the candidate pool?
Billy Gunn beats
Aaron Ferguson by submission to an armbar at 1:59:
Ken Shamrock shows up to do guest commentary, surely to
scout Billy for their future encounter at the 1999 Royal Rumble.  This is a slow squash that is a relic of
another era and you might find the choice of finish puzzling, but Billy uses it
to taunt Shamrock after the match. 
Shamrock gets into the ring and quickly puts Billy in an armbar and
Billy taps out.  Billy says Shamrock can’t
do it twice, so Shamrock puts him in an ankle lock and Billy taps again.  This is likely the first time that the “tap
out” was introduced to a pro wresting audience, even though it wasn’t an
official match.
McMahon interviews
Austin, who says that he wasn’t impressed by Shamrock because he was taking
advantage of a “weakened” Billy Gunn. 
Austin runs down Shamrock some more and then says that he’s in the arena
tonight to help Bret win the title so he can win it at WrestleMania.  There’s some nice continuity here, as Austin
says he won the Royal Rumble, so he should be in the main event of WrestleMania
in the first place
.
WWF Champion Sid
says Steve Austin better stay out of his business and he’s going to powerbomb
Bret Hart through the floor.
Steel Cage Match
for the WWF Championship:  Sid (Champion)
defeats Bret “the Hitman” Hart by escaping the cage at 7:57 shown:
This is one of the most entertaining matches of this era
for a couple of reasons.  First, this
match is being held the week of WrestleMania, so the card could easily change
to make Bret-Austin the WWF title match and the main event and the
Undertaker-Sid match a special attraction. 
And second, because of the possibility of the card changing, the
Undertaker and Austin have an incentive to help their WrestleMania opponent win.  Austin makes his presence felt early, when he
prematurely closes the cage door when Sid is trying to crawl out.  Sid hits a powerbomb, but when he tries to
climb out, Austin intercepts him at the top of the cage and we get an
interesting double team whereby Bret and Austin pound on Sid.  The Undertaker then runs out and attacks
Austin to stop the attack and tosses Bret over the top of the cage when he’s
trying to climb out.  Shortly thereafter,
Sid goes to climb out after taking a superplex, but Bret also gets out and goes
for the door.  However, the Undertaker
slams the door in his face and Sid is able to successfully make it to the floor
to retain the title.  This is a difficult
match the rate, since there wasn’t much between Sid and Bret, but the interference
and subsequent brawling was very entertaining, so I’ll just say it’s above
average and move on.  Rating: 
**½
Following a
commercial break, McMahon goes to interview Bret, who pushes him down and
proceeds to go on a cursing tirade.  Ross
apologizes profusely and I’m sure the USA Network executives were spilling
coffee all over themselves trying to call the censor and wake them up.  Austin pops up on the video screen and calls
Bret a loser.  Bret tells Austin to come
and fight him, but Sid walks out instead, followed by the Undertaker.  When Bret sees the Undertaker, he executes a
suicide dive and Austin then arrives and brawls with him, as the Undertaker
gets into the ring and fights Sid.  WWF
officials try to separate the combatants and when Bret slugs Pat Patterson,
Vince unleashes a venomous tirade against him. 
After everyone is exhausted, Shawn Michaels walks out, but he doesn’t
get involved in any of the action.
The Final Report Card:  Now THIS
is what you call a go home show for the biggest pay-per-view of the year.  The undercard was fine, albeit forgettable,
but the main event and its aftermath really made an impression.  It was almost too successful, though, because
USA was not very happy with Bret’s cursing tirade near the end of the show.  Where the show was not a success was in the
ratings, as Nitro creamed RAW, showing that it was going to be a long battle
for the WWF to reclaim the number one spot. 
Nonetheless, the show did a good job setting up Bret’s heel turn and is
a great show to look back on since we know where the Bret-McMahon issue was
leading to.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.4
(vs. 3.7 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

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

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

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

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – March 3, 1997

A nice video
package starts the show, where Vince McMahon discusses the Berlin Wall and ties
it to tonight’s showdown between Owen Hart and the British Bulldog, which will
decide who the first WWF European champion will be.
McMahon and Jim
Ross are in the booth and they are taped from Berlin, Germany.

Opening
Contest:  Hunter Hearst Helmsley defeats
Bret “the Hitman” Hart by disqualification at 8:39 shown:
Bret is really over in Germany, as evidenced by the
Canadian flags in the audience and several kids that are dressed in his ring
attire.  One of them gets
Bret’s shades to fully outfit their costume. 
Helmsley dominates most of the televised action, until Bret makes a
comeback with his five moves of doom. 
Helmsley eventually gets tied up in the corner and Bret lays into him
and then shoves the referee out of the way when he tries to break it up and
gets disqualified.  After the bell, the
mysterious muscular woman (Chyna) gets in the ring and stares down Bret before
leaving with Helmsley.  This may have
been a lot of fun live, but it was disjointed with the cutting for
television.  Rating:  **½
McMahon and Ross
hype tonight’s Owen-Bulldog match with Royal Rumble footage, where Owen
eliminated the Bulldog “by accident.”
-The Undertaker’s
match with Faarooq is the Full Metal: 
The Album Slam of the Week.  They
must have really been starved for a highlight.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  “The Rock” Rocky
Maivia (Champion) defeats Vader (w/Paul Bearer) by disqualification at 7:13
shown:
Vader had defeated Maivia in the first round of the
European title tournament and thus earned a match for the Intercontinental
title here.  Now see, you can set up
matches without the help of random authority figures.  They work a fast pace, with Vader using his
weight to bully the young Maivia and toss him around at will.  We get another unclean finish for the
evening, as Mankind comes out and nails Maivia with the urn for no reason on
the floor in plain view of the referee and gets Vader disqualified.  After the bell, Vader destroys Maivia, which
doesn’t really do anything for the champion’s credibility.  No wonder the American crowd was starting to
turn their backs on Maivia as champion by this point.  Still, this was a pretty good match that was
a Cliff Notes version of the matches that Vader used to have with Sting in
WCW.  Rating:  **¾
-We get a recap of
the ECW invasion of RAW last week. 
What’s interesting about the recap is the weird censoring, with the
Sandman’s drinking of a beer being blurred out. 
Even when he spits the beer it is censored!  Good thing that the WWF took care of this
issue within the next calendar year

Jerry Lawler also calls in and
runs down ECW.
-Tune in next week
to see the debut of RAW is War!
The Sultan beats
Flash Funk via submission with the Camel Clutch at 4:04 shown:
Neither man has his usual entourage and we join this in
progress.  Most of the focus is pulled
away from the match when Paul Heyman calls in and says that he’s tired of
Lawler’s constant challenges and if Lawler continues, ECW just might have to
show up next week.  Funk knocks himself
silly on a moonsault and gets pancaked, which leads to his demise.  They wouldn’t quite give up on the Sultan
character, despite it generating zero reaction from crowds everywhere.  Rating:  *½
Austin’s last
visit to WWF headquarters in October 1996, when he had to be escorted from the
building by police is shown
.
WWF Champion Sid
says that he’ll survive Mankind’s challenge to his title tonight
.
More emphasis is
placed on tonight’s main event, as the announcers discuss tensions between Owen
and the Bulldog that arose from the last In Your House.
Ahmed Johnson says
that he’ll accept Faarooq’s challenge for a Chicago street fight at WrestleMania,
but he won’t accept it alone.
-The Legion of
Doom’s return to the WWF last week on Raw and their interview on Shotgun
Saturday Night where they talk about life on the streets of Chicago is shown.
-Vince recaps the
whole show thus far to kill time, which is a bad thing to have to do in the
Monday Night Wars.
WWF Championship
Match:  Sid (Champion) defeats Mankind
(w/Paul Bearer) at 10:16 with a powerbomb:
Instead of hyping Mankind’s brutality, the commentary
team thinks it’s cooler that he knows German for a promo.  Steve Austin cuts a great promo during this
match, complaining that to get to WWF Studios today he had to sit in seat 36C
on an airplane near the restroom and had to eat a stale sandwich in a brown bag
for lunch and it made him ill, which is no way that a star like himself should
be treated.  Mankind takes lots of crazy
pumps in this one for Sid, by having his unprotected head rammed into the ring
post and then getting side suplexed on the floor.  Sid powers out of the Mandible Claw, thereby
destroying the theory that it has a paralytic effect on its victim, and a
miscommunication spot between Mankind and Bearer enables Sid to turn the tide
and successfully defend his title.  Sid
was made to look super human in this match to build him for WrestleMania and it
shows how far Mankind has fallen since SummerSlam that he now comes off like a
midcarder.  Rating:  **
The announcers
talk more about the Owen-Bulldog match
.
McMahon interviews
Steve Austin, who is at the WWF’s studio in Connecticut.  Austin says he doesn’t make excuses when he’s
injured or sick and that he won’t quit in the submission match he’ll have with
Bret Hart at WrestleMania.
-Chyna’s stare down
with Bret Hart is the Karate Fighters Rewind segment
.
European
Championship Finals:  The British Bulldog
pins Owen Hart after reversing a Victory roll to win the title at 16:44 shown:
To get to this point, the Bulldog defeated Mankind and
Vader and Owen defeated Flash Funk and Bret Hart.  Speaking of which, Owen has a really good
record against Bret in international tournaments, as he beat him in the Kuwaiti
Cup Tournament the previous year.  In any
compilation of great Raw matches, this should always be on the list, as both
men counter each other’s major moves because they know them so well.  Owen has a really unique counter for the
Bulldog’s powerslam, by hanging onto the ropes and then using his momentum as
he releases the ropes to fall on top of the Bulldog for a near-fall.  After a series of dramatic near-falls, Owen
applies the Sharpshooter, but it isn’t enough, as the Bulldog reaches the
ropes.  The Bulldog hits his running
powerslam and while it doesn’t finish Owen, it weakens him enough to where Owen
can’t kick out of a reversed victory roll. 
After the match, both men shake hands, but Owen teases attacking the
Bulldog from behind to keep the tension between them in the audience’s
mind.  This was an entertaining technical
contest between two of the more proficient wrestlers in the company at the time
and they were given enough time to showcase what they could do in
primetime.  I went less than four stars
on it, though, because the finishing sequence was a little awkward and the
drama of the match was somewhat subdued by the fact that the Bulldog had not
completed his planned face turn yet.  Rating: 
***¾
The Final Report Card:  The wrestling was a lot better this week, but
the fact that this show was taped and Nitro was live resulted in a disaster in
the ratings.  This show generated the
worst Raw rating of all time and prompted a reshuffling of the creative team
that gave Vince Russo more power and reduced the influence of more
“traditional” bookers like Jim Cornette. 
With that shift completed and RAW is War set to kick off the next week,
the foundation was laid for the shift into the Attitude Era.  I was one of the 1.9 that watched this show
when it originally aired and I enjoyed it then and still do so today, as the
Owen-Bulldog match still stands up and Vader-Maivia is a hidden gem.
Monday Night War Rating: 1.9 (vs. 3.4 for
Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – February 19, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Nashville,
Tennessee.  Ross informs us that the
Undertaker has been penciled in to face the WWF champion at WrestleMania XIII.  That’s a good booking decision since the Undertaker was
the runner-up in the Final Four match and he was the crowd favorite.
-WWF Champion Bret
Hart and Sid come out for their championship match to start the show, but Steve
Austin runs out and goes after Bret. 
When WWF officials separate them, Sid starts going after Austin and
Austin gives him a chop block before leaving. 
Bret wants to start the match, but WWF officials get Sid to leave the
ring.  A good opening segment, albeit
disjointed since no one had any clue what was happening after Austin was
escorted to the back.

-Shawn Michaels’ “Lost Smile” speech is shown.
-Ross and Lawler
narrate pictures from last night’s Final Four match.
-Kevin Kelly
interviews Sid, who says that he would still compete against Bret Hart with a
broken leg.  Kelly tells us that Sid will
face Bret later in the evening
.
Call
1-900-737-SLAM to vote for the New Sensation of the Squared Circle for this
year’s Slammy Awards.  Your nominees are
Steve Austin, “Wildman” Marc Mero, Flash Funk, Mankind, and Rocky Maivia.  That’s a pretty loaded ballot, since three of
those guys were the backbone of the company for the rest of the 1990s.
Opening
Contest:  “Wildman” Marc Mero (w/Sable)
defeats Savio Vega (w/the Nation of Domination) by disqualification when the
Nation interfere at 4:16 shown:
You may not expect the Nation to be over in the South,
but quite a few fans mimic the Nation’s salute.  Sable’s push as an aggressive
valet continues in this one, as she 
weakly kicks JC Ice on the floor, but to Ice’s credit he sells it like a
million bucks.  As the match proceeds to
go nowhere, Sable is surrounded by the Nation, so she goes into the ring and
the Nation follows, leading the referee to call for the bell.  However, Ahmed Johnson shows up with a 2×4 in
some weird orange clothing that looks like it came from a Nailz yard sale and
makes the save.  This match was just
filler for the Nation-Ahmed angle so it could reach its next phase.  Rating:  *
Ross and Lawler
interview WWF Champion Bret Hart, who says that he can’t worry about Austin
interjecting himself into his business and isn’t worried about possibly facing
the Undertaker at WrestleMania XIII
.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  “The Rock” Rocky
Maivia (Intercontinental Champion) pins Leif Cassidy with a shoulderbreaker at
9:31:
Sunny comes out before the match and briefly flirts with
Maivia before taking her position as our guest timekeeper.  Hunter Hearst Helmsley cuts a promo during a
slow period in the match, where Maivia has an armbar applied, and says that
Maivia is a lucky punk and his feud with Goldust isn’t over.  With the crowd dead, they try to pull some
shortcuts, with Maivia scoring some random near-falls, but it doesn’t work.  Maivia eventually pulls off a comeback after
Cassidy spends a while working the arm and secures the second defense of his
Intercontinental title.  Quite the boring
match, even if it was technically sound. 
Rating:  *½
In a somewhat
famous segment, Lawler reaches into the crowd near the announce table and grabs
an “ECW Rules” sign and proceeds to run down the promotion.  Lawler challenges ECW to come on RAW next
week when the WWF is in the Manhattan Center. 
He can’t help to put himself over, though, by saying that a sign that
had his name on it was confiscated on WCW Monday Nitro
.
“The Real Double
J” Jesse James’ appearance on Real Country Tonight, where he sang “With My Baby
Tonight” appearance on Real Country Tonight is shown.
Ross and Lawler
narrate pictures from the Maivia-Helmsley Intercontinental title match from In
Your House
.
Kelly interviews
Goldust and Marlena and Goldust says he is not going to let Hunter Hearst
Helmsley near Marlena.  Marlena says
Goldust is all man and he’s a better man than Helmsley.  This brings Helmsley out and he Pedigrees
Goldust.  Marlena slaps Helmsley, but the
mystery woman who attacked Marlena last night at In Your House (Chyna) bearhugs
Marlena from behind and shakes her like a rag doll.  The interview was very sub-par, but this did
a good job advancing the heel side of what turned out to be a very one sided
feud
.
The Headbangers
defeat The Hardy Boys at 3:58 when Thrasher pinned Jeff after a
powerbomb-flying leg drop combination at 3:58:
The Hardy Boys are clearly on some type of muscle building
substance because they are no longer the flyweights that they were in
1995.  Faarooq challenges Ahmed to a
Chicago street fight at WrestleMania in the split screen, which makes Ross
happy.  The Headbangers are reckless with
the bodies of their young opponents, with Mosh slamming Matt too close to the
ropes and barely getting him up for a suplex-flying body press
combination.  A basic tag squash, but
it’s more notable today for who lost than who won.
Dok Hendrix hypes
the next Madison Square Garden show on March 16th.  The card sees the Undertaker face Vader in a
casket match, Bret Hart square off with Steve Austin in a no disqualification
match, and Shawn Michaels face Sid in a steel cage match.  Well, I guess that’s why they say “card
subject to change” because Michaels won’t be making that steel cage match
.
They try to do the
WWF championship match again, but Steve Austin attacks Bret in the back and Sid
soon runs backstage to beat up Austin. 
WWF officials and Vince McMahon, who Sid nearly clocks in the scuffle,
separate all parties.
Kelly interviews
WWF President Gorilla Monsoon, who takes a tacit shot against WCW by saying
that the WWF isn’t like other companies and delivers on its promises and that
Bret Hart and Sid will face each other for the WWF championship tonight.
Owen Hart
(w/Clarence Mason) defeats Flash Funk (w/the Funkettes) with a spinning heel
kick at 8:31 shown:

I’m surprised that the WWE hasn’t considered signing Funk and bringing him in
as a tag team partner for Brodus Clay. 
In a nice touch that demonstrates his selfishness, Owen brings both of
the tag team title belts to the ring with him. 
Paul Heyman calls into the show and promises to show up with ECW at the
Manhattan Center and gets into a verbal spat with Lawler over his company.  Mason distracts Owen from putting on a
Sharpshooter and Owen is not happy, thereby sowing the seeds of Mason’s
dismissal as the manager of the tag team champions.  Mason is sent to the
locker room and the British Bulldog takes his place. 
Steve Austin appears in the split screen and rants about how he’s being
held back and he’s mad so that’s why he’s beating everyone up in sight.  If you can stay focused on the match and not
the interruptions, you are treated to a good match where Funk busts out his
high impact offense, but Owen keeps kicking out and the Bulldog clocks
Funk in the back of the head with a Slammy when he runs the ropes and holds
down Funk’s foot for the ending pin.  Rating: 
***
Hunter Hearst
Helmsley tells Ross that he doesn’t know who the woman is that keeps attacking
Marlena and he doesn’t care
.
Bart Gunn defeats
Hunter Hearst Helmsley by count out at 4:10:
The Honky Tonk Man is doing guest commentary as he
continues to scout talent for his pet project. 
A whole bunch of nothing is what we get out of this, as Bart works the
arm for a couple of minutes before Goldust runs in and chases Helmsley into the
crowd.  Rating:  DUD
Hendrix hypes the
Madison Square Garden show some more
.
Dr. James Andrews
says that Shawn Michaels is not going to have surgery on his knee, but will
rehabilitate it at his home in San Antonio and will be able to return to the
ring
.
WWF Championship
Match:  Sid pins Bret “the Hitman” Hart with
a powerbomb to win the title at 11:17 shown:
Sid doesn’t bother selling the leg that Austin chop
blocked at the beginning of the show and Bret doesn’t attack it in the first
couple of minutes, which is a big plot hole that’s hard to overlook in this
one.  Bret plays the Cena role here, with
women and children rooting for him and the men in the audience, who are more
vocal, rooting for Sid.  It’s always
uncomfortable to watch Sid’s legs get worked over in a match since his accident
in WCW.  I get the feeling that they are
going to break like twigs at any moment when Bret starts stretching them.  Speaking of that WCW incident, Sid goes to
the second rope in this match and nearly falls off, showing that he’s not that
comfortable jumping off the buckles to begin with.  The ring post figure-four spot makes its
debut in this match, but I always felt that move was counterproductive since
the guy applying it runs the risk of banging their head on the floor (which
Bret did at Starrcade 1999 and got a second concussion in his match with
Goldberg) and you can’t get a legal submission from it.  Sid actually tries a sunset flip in this
match, but Bret rolls through and applies a Sharpshooter.  However, before Sid can submit, Steve Austin
takes a chair and smashes it over Bret’s head and Sid seizes the advantage and
shocks the world by winning his second WWF championship.  The crowd is pretty ecstatic, though, because
they didn’t anticipate seeing a title change. 
The match built a good pace after the commercial break and the crowd
really got into it, but Sid’s refusal to sell a lot of the leg damage hurts it
significantly.  Rating:  ***
After the match,
the Undertaker comes to the ring and we have a WrestleMania stare down to play
us out.
The Final Report Card:  The Harts had the good matches on this show,
which is not surprising, but what is surprising is the sudden title
change.  Bret’s loss of the title was the
first time since Yokozuna losing the title that this had happened in less than
twenty-four hours.  In fact, this was the
first WWF title change in the history of Monday Night Raw.  The title match provides us with our road to
WrestleMania, whereby Sid faces the Undertaker in a main event no one is
thrilled about for the WWF title and Bret Hart is pegged by proxy to face Steve
Austin, who he’ll seek out to get revenge for his latest title defeat.  I’ll give this show a thumbs up because
of the good Funk-Owen match, the title match, and the fact that there were some
significant storylines that developed on this show, notably the ECW crossover
angle, which we will touch on next week in more detail.
Show Rating: 
2.1 (vs. 2.9 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up