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

by Logan Scisco

Jim Ross narrates
a video package that profiles the Legion of Doom, who have vowed to defeat the
Godwinns for the tag team titles tonight or retire
.
Vince McMahon,
Ross, and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are in Topeka,
Kansas
.
McMahon interviews
the Hart Foundation.  Before WWF Champion
Bret Hart can start speaking, the Kliq interrupts and Michaels has his antics
with the Canadian flag replayed from last week’s show, along with his loss to
Triple H.  Bret calls Michaels and Triple
H “degenerates” as they continue to run down the Hart Foundation and Michaels
runs with it and says that his crew is “D-Generation X” and they are around to
break rules.  After DX finishes their promo, the Nation of Domination comes out, thereby depriving
Bret of a rebuttal, and this leads into our first match.

Opening Non-Title
Contest:  Owen Hart (Intercontinental
Champion w/The Hart Foundation) wrestles Kama Mustafa (w/The Nation of
Domination) to a no contest at 4:46:
Before the bell, D-Generation X comes out and Michaels
and Triple H take on commentating duties, where they run down Bret Hart’s
charisma.  Lawler tries to kiss up to DX,
but they just tell him to shut up and give his headset to Rick Rude.  Owen and Kama have a decent match in the
ring, but the outside shenanigans eat up camera time and Michaels eventually
provokes a battle between the Hart Foundation and the Nation, as DX looks
on.  Rating:  *½
The Legion of Doom
discuss the impact of Paul Ellering on their careers
.
WWF Tag Team
Champions The Godwinns and Uncle Cletus say that they are willing to face the
Legion of Doom tonight because they want to get them out of the WWF.
Mini Tag
Match:  Max Mini & Nova beat Mosaic
& Tarantula when Max pins Mosaic with a rollup counter to a powerbomb at
2:23:
This is the same match as Badd Blood, just more
proficient as there are no blown spots and the crowd pops for the high
spots.  Nova takes a nasty spill to the
floor during a suicide dive where he lands head-first onto the arena
floor.  He likely ends up with a
concussion as he stumbles around aimlessly and the match ends soon after.
Footage of Flash
Funk beating Rockabilly on Shotgun Saturday Night when the Honky Tonk Man
accidentally tripped Rockabilly is shown. 
This brought the Road Dogg out, where he asked Rockabilly to join forces
with him and Rockabilly decked Honky with his guitar
.
We are supposed to
see Shawn Michaels-Flash Funk next, which sounds like a great match, but Kane
interrupts and destroys Funk.  Topeka
pops for Kane, which is likely the biggest reaction Glenn Jacobs had ever
received in his career up to this point. 
Paul Bearer says Kane will destroy everyone in his path until he gets to
face the Undertaker.  After
Kane leaves, Shawn Michaels comes out and covers Funk as Triple H counts the
pin, Chyna rings the bell, and Rick Rude announces him as the winner.  In retrospect, DX really lost something when
Rude left since he gave them an air of authority.
The Legion of Doom
speak about how much they appreciate their fans
.
The Truth
Commission, with the Jackal, who has replaced the Commandant, say that the
Disciples of Apocalypse’s joyride in the WWF is coming to an end.
Skull &
8-Ball (w/Crush & Chainz) defeat Recon & Sniper (w/The Interrogator
& The Jackal) by disqualification when the Jackyl pulls down the top rope
at 3:45:
The feud between these two
teams is so exhilarating that McMahon and Lawler discuss the scandals of the
Clinton administration, much to the ire of Ross.  The match follows a good formula for Skull
and 8-Ball, since it allows the faster Truth Commission to control most of the
action and allow the DOA to hit a few high impact moves for pops.  After the match, the Interrogator snaps and
attacks the DOA, but the DOA eventually get away and the Truth Commission has
to restrain him.  The crowd was into the
DOA, so they had some investment in this angle, but McMahon and Lawler’s
bantering really killed the match.  Rating: 
Steve Austin comes out and McMahon says that if Austin signs his
medical waiver that he will be cleared to compete on November 9th at
the Survivor Series.  McMahon pulls out
his spectacles and authorizes Austin’s match with Owen Hart for the Survivor
Series and Austin signs the medical waiver to a huge pop.  Austin offers McMahon a handshake and then
pulls him close, where he tells him he could have given him a Stone Cold
Stunner.  Faarooq comes out and warns
Austin that he messed with the wrong man at Badd Blood, to which Austin
challenges the Nation to come after him. 
The Nation sends Rocky Maivia and Austin gives him a Stunner before
fleeing through the crowd.  Watching
segments like this really make you miss this era.
The Legion of Doom comment on what it was like to wrestle at Wembley
Stadium at SummerSlam ’92
.
The Legion of Doom talk about the origins of their characters.
The Legion of Doom say that tonight they are going to see if they have
what it takes to be the WWF tag team champions in the modern age and they don’t
want to be washed up like Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage.  A much more subdued LOD promo and a good one
at that.
Light Heavyweight Exhibition: 
“Too Sexy” Brian Christopher beats Tajiri with a rollup by using the
tights at 5:26:
I will never understand why the
WWF waited so long to hold a tournament to crown a light heavyweight
champion.  Since July they have had tons
of these “exhibition” bouts, although Taka Michinoku is the closest to a #1 seed at this point for a tournament since he has only been beaten by the Great Sasuke.  Christopher’s offense is fine, but Tajiri’s
is better.  However, Tajiri is not
Lawler’s kid, nor is he a product of a WWF developmental territory, so despite
outwrestling Christopher he loses the match. 
At least Tajiri kicks Christopher in the face and over the top rope at
the end.  Rating: 
**½
Jim Cornette gives his opinion on Phil Mushnick, who wants professional
wrestling abolished in the United States and hates the steroid use in the
industry.  Cornette also reads some
derogatory things that Mushnick has said about wrestling fans.  Cornette takes issue with Mushnick’s recent
criticisms of the wrestling industry in light of Brian Pillman’s death.  This is a good rant by Cornette, but
hindsight shows that Mushnick’s criticisms were right (and continue to be)
about the deaths of too many young wrestlers because of drug and steroid abuse
.
Goldust
(w/Marlena) defeats Savio Vega (w/Los Boricuas) after hitting him with
Marlena’s purse at 4:16:
Goldust and Marlena are finally reunited, but it is
somewhat awkward in light of Pillman’s death and the sudden end of that
angle.  The Boricuas get caught tripping
Goldust when he runs the ropes and are tossed from ringside.  Considering the awful matches these two have
been putting on lately, this one is surprisingly entertaining.  Marlena tosses her cigar into the ring to
distract the referee and that allows Goldust to use a foreign object and
win.  Rating:  **
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear Jim Ross’s rant against WCW
.
Triple H is
supposed to wrestle the Patriot, but as the Patriot comes out, Rick Rude tosses
coffee in his face and beats on him with his briefcase.  Commissioner Slaughter comes out and tells
Triple H that he will wrestle a volunteer. 
This volunteer is Ahmed Johnson, but he’s attacked by the Nation of
Domination, who were seemingly sent to attack Ahmed by Rude.  As the Nation beats up Ahmed and does a
number on his hand, DX eats popcorn by the entrance.  Eventually, the Legion of Doom and Ken
Shamrock come out to break it up.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  The Legion of Doom
defeat The Godwinns (Champions w/Uncle Cletus) when Hawk pins Phineas with a
flying clothesline to win the titles at 8:44 shown:
In case you didn’t read the recaps of early in the show,
if the Legion of Doom lose this match then they are leaving the company.  Considering the tendencies of these teams, it
would have made much more sense to make this a no disqualification match, but
they didn’t do so and it’s the same plodding battle these teams have had for
the last couple of months.  A false tag
spot sees the Godwinns whip Animal into the ring steps and seemingly put him
out of commission as WWF officials come to take him to the locker room.  Henry gives Earl Hebner a Slop Drop and
Animal suddenly runs back into the fray. 
Cletus accidentally blasts Henry with a horse shoe and Phineas gets
surprised with a flying clothesline when he tries to piledrive Animal and the
Legion of Doom win the titles to a massive pop. 
The whole story they tried to tell here was way too rushed, but at least
this finish sent the fans home happy.  Rating: 
*
After the match,
the Godwinns destroy Uncle Cletus and bust his nose up really good.  I guess Tony Anthony’s contract wasn’t
renewed.
The Final Report Card:  With more build, the Legion of Doom title win
might have meant more.  Instead, it came
off as very predictable booking.  Still,
it was good to see them with the belts since they were the most over team in
the division at the time.  Bret Hart came
off as a chump on this show based on the opening segment, but that was the idea
since he only had a few more weeks left in the company.  This show was completely carried by
D-Generation X’s antics, as they did a great job in the opening segment, had a
nice comic bit when Kane destroyed Flash Funk, and were booked as geniuses prior
to the main event.  If you were a mark
and this show didn’t make you hate DX, I’m not sure what else would have done
it.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.3 (vs. 3.8 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – July 28, 1997

by Logan Scisco
Jim Ross discusses
the Hart Foundation’s triumph in last week’s flag match
and how Shawn Michaels will be the guest
referee at SummerSlam.
Vince McMahon,
Jerry “the King” Lawler, and Jim Ross are in the booth and they are broadcasting
from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The Hart
Foundation, accompanied by a personal security force, are interviewed by Jim
Ross.  Ross tells Bret Hart that he won’t
be disciplined for his attack on Vince McMahon last week, although a new
commissioner to be appointed by WWF President Gorilla Monsoon might reassess
that punishment after SummerSlam.  Bret
says when he said he would never wrestle on American soil if he failed to win
the WWF title was a figure of speech, but the powers that be are trying to
screw him by taking it literally.  Bret
doesn’t have much faith in Shawn Michaels calling the match fairly, by saying
that if Michaels screws him he’ll be out of a title and Michaels “can sit at
home for ten years and find his smile.” 
This is a great promo, capped by Bret’s famous comment about how
Pittsburgh is where the U.S. would plug an enema.  Before leaving, Bret challenges the Patriot
to a match tonight.

Fans give their
opinion on who they think will win the WWF championship match at SummerSlam.  All of the fans, including an old guy in a
mask, all say that the Undertaker will win and send Bret Hart back to
Canada.  I miss segments like this, but
they also make me embarrassed to be a fan sometimes
.
Opening
Contest:  The Legion of Doom defeat Savio
Vega & Miguel by disqualification when Los Boricuas interfere at 2:59:
At first glance you may not think much of this match, but
it’s a very serviceable match that allows Miguel to showcase some of his
flexibility in the ring.  The LOD appear
to have the contest won by setting Miguel up for a Doomsday Device, but Los
Boricuas attack Animal to draw the disqualification.  The Godwinns join in on the beating by giving
Hawk a Slop Drop on the floor.  The
Godwinns slop Hawk for good measure to raise the tension for their match at
SummerSlam.
McMahon lets us
know that Raw is moving one hour later to 8:57
.
A video package
chronicles the Hunter Hearst Helmsley-Mankind feud.  After showing it, McMahon interviews Helmsley
and Chyna and Helmsley says that Chyna just interferes in matches when he has
them already decided.  Helmsley tells
Vader that it’s not Vader time, it’s Jenny Craig time.  It’s a lame line, but Helmsley delivered it
in a way that make it seem fine.
Chyna teases a
confrontation with Vader when Vader comes out to wrestle Helmsley in the next
match, but as she faces the entrance, Mankind, dressed as a camera man, attacks
Helmsley.  Chyna finally comes to her
man’s aid, but Mankind eventually fights her off and he and Helmsley brawl
through the crowd like Canadian Stampede. 
It’s easy to point to the DX program as the time that Helmsley shed the
“blue blood” gimmick, but it was this feud that really put him on the map.
The Commandant
says that we are about to have the privilege of watching the South African
Truth Commission.  He says that the truth
will hurt.
IBF Heavyweight
Champion Michael Moorer is recognized in front of the crowd.
A vignette for
Brakus is aired
.
The Truth
Commission (w/The Commandant) defeat “The Real Double J” Jesse James, Bob
“Spark Plugg” Holly & Flash Funk when The Interrogator (Kurrgan) pins Holly
after a sidewalk slam at 3:21:
The first hole in the gimmick appears when the Truth
Commission can’t march well on command and they end up with massive gaps on the
way to the ring.  WWF President Gorilla
Monsoon stops by the announce table and says that he’s appointing a WWF
commissioner next week on Raw because things are getting out of hand.  It’s really amazing that of the three jobbers
offered as a sacrifice to the Truth Commission here that Flash Funk was the one
that never really caught on during the Attitude Era.
McMahon calls a
kid named Ryan, who gets to come to SummerSlam as a WWF guest and gets a chance
to win one million dollars.  A funny
moment happens when Ryan asks McMahon how many guests he can bring and McMahon
says “how about just one.”  Lawler
quickly jumps on that and calls McMahon a cheap skate.
A video package
hypes the Patriot as a main event talent.
Owen Hart and
Mankind’s match on Shotgun Saturday Night is the Stridex Triple Action segment
.
McMahon asks the
Patriot if he accepts Bret Hart’s challenge and the Patriot says he will gladly
accept
.
Faarooq (w/The
Nation of Domination) wrestles Crush (w/The Disciplines of Apocalypse) to a
double disqualification when the Nation and the DOA start brawling at 3:13:
Ahmed Johnson makes his return in this match by
accompanying Faarooq to the ring with other Nation of Domination members.  This one isn’t pretty, but they work in a few
good spots like Faarooq yelling at the crowd while he is on top of Crush and
Crush rising up and giving him an electric chair.  However, Kama Mustafa trips Crush when he
runs the ropes and that’s a pretext for both gangs to start fighting and that
draws a double disqualification.  Rating: 
*
In the midst of
the brawl, Crush is tossed out of the ring and Los Boricuas, who are booked to
face DOA at SummerSlam, come out and give Crush an assisted powerbomb on the
entrance ramp
.
More fans offer
their main event predictions for SummerSlam. 
A few women think Bret can win, which makes you wonder based on Bret’s
book…
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  The Godwinns defeat
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin & Dude Love (Champions) by count out at 4:35:
The Godwinns earned this title match by winning a triple
threat match against the Headbangers and the New Blackjacks on last week’s
show.  Owen Hart and the British Bulldog
sit near the announce table to watch the match and provide some commentary.  The fact that Owen is on commentary already
adds * to the match.  The crowd is
nuclear for Austin, starting a big chant for him prior to his entrance, and
going nuts when he cleans house with the Godwinns.  During the match, the Bulldog challenges Ken
Shamrock to an arm wrestling match.  This
is the one time in wrestling I would welcome someone declining a
challenge.  Dude ends up in peril for
less than a minute and then tags Austin, who hits Phineas with a Stunner but is
knocked out of the ring by Henry.  Owen
blindsides Austin with the Intercontinental title and that causes him to get
counted out.  Owen’s justification is
priceless when asked why he did that by Ross: 
“Austin was trying to steal my belt!” 
This really could’ve been something very good if it was given more time
and it was the best match that the Godwinns have had in a long, long time.  Rating:  **
After the match,
all hell breaks loose as Austin goes after Owen and the Legion of Doom come out
and end up brawling with Owen and the Bulldog when they try to tussle with the
Godwinns.  Owen and the Bulldog run away
as Austin warns Owen that he will destroy him at SummerSlam
.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your 18 month WWF calendar for $12 (plus $3 shipping & handling)!
Devon Storm beats
Ace Darling with a rollup in 44 seconds:
This was a quasi-dream match for me at the time since I
had followed the indy scene with the help of the Apter mags and saw these guys
written about all the time.  This is a
light heavyweight exhibition and it doesn’t last long as Storm rolls through a
hurricanrana counter of his powerbomb. 
Some dream match.
The announcers
call a fan as Sunny shows off the one million dollars.  The first fan dialed had an invalid phone
number.
Arm Wrestling
Match:  Ken Shamrock defeats The British
Bulldog by disqualification:
Surprisingly, there is very little stalling in the set up
for this arm wrestling match, which makes it arguably the best arm wrestling
match in the history of the WWF.  The
Bulldog has the upper hand early, but when Shamrock starts a comeback the
Bulldog headbutts him, smashes him in the face with a chair, and then dumps a
can of dog food all over him, which is rather disgusting.
Goldust
(w/Marlena) defeats Rockabilly (w/The Honky Tonk Man) by disqualification when
Brian Pillman interferes at 1:14:
Goldust brings a mannequin in a dress to the ring with
him in order to show off the dress that Brian Pillman is going to be forced to
wear after he loses at SummerSlam.  After
getting tossed out of the ring, Rockabilly makes the mistake of slapping
Michael Moorer, who is heckling him, and he gets rocked with a right hand that
knocks him out cold.  When Goldust
watches this, Brian Pillman comes out and attacks him from behind.  Marlena eventually comes to her man’s aid by
locking in a sleeper before WWF officials intervene.  There wasn’t a lot of wrestling here, but
those two segments back-to-back were very entertaining.
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to find out who the top five candidates are for the WWF
commissioner position!
A video package
hypes the Undertaker-Bret Hart championship match at SummerSlam.  They combine footage of past encounters
between the Undertaker and Bret, including their showdown at the 1990 Survivor
Series, which is where the Undertaker character debuted.
McMahon interviews
Shawn Michaels, who says that he’s not the most popular man in the WWF and that
he wants to do color commentary for the main event between Bret Hart and the
Patriot.  Bret is shown throwing chairs
and kicking boxes backstage.
More Pittsburgh
fans give their opinions about SummerSlam and Bret Hart.  One guy has the line of the night:  “Everyone knows that the Salvation Army could
kick Canada’s ass.”  Statement of the
night for humor, not factual basis as people forget that Canada had one of the
world’s strongest navies at the time of the Second World War
.
Bret gets on the
house mic and does his Iron Sheik interpretation by having the Canadian
national anthem played.  Shawn Michaels
mocks the anthem while it is played.
-The Patriot comes
out to what most fans now know as Kurt Angle’s WWF theme and he has the Star
Spangled Banner played.  Before the
anthem finishes, Bret jumps the Patriot to get a HUGE heel reaction and it
keeps playing as he does a beat down in the ring.  This kicks off our main event.
The Patriot pins Bret
“the Hitman” Hart with a school boy at 6:38 shown:
The Patriot had quite a unique run in the WWF, as he got
a huge push when he came in and he was gone by the Royal Rumble after suffering
a debilitating bicep injury brought on by steroid use.  The national anthem bit was good, but I like
to think that they should have saved that for pay-per-view because it told such
a great story.  When Bret dominates most
of the match, the announcers play it off like the Patriot isn’t used to someone
on Bret Hart’s level, which isn’t really the best way to sell a guy that you
are going to give a WWF title shot to in a month.  The referee gets bumped when Bret escapes a
full nelson and that means the referee is not in a position to count a fall
when Bret delivers a piledriver.  When
the referee is ready to count after a headbutt to the abdomen, Shawn Michaels
runs in and breaks it up.  Bret turns to
yell at Michaels, but the Patriot rolls him up and scores the upset.  This is where Earl Hebner’s slow count spot was
unwarranted and it made Bret, the “Excellence of Execution” look ridiculous
because he couldn’t find a way in six seconds to escape a school boy when he
incurred very little damage in the bout. 
At the time, this is where it started to hit me that Bret’s “aura” was
starting to come apart in the WWF as he jobbed to a guy that he NEVER would
have lost to in his previous runs at the top. 
Rating:  *¾
The Final Report Card:  Many of the matches were abbreviated, but the
angles did a great job hyping the major matches at SummerSlam.  It also provided lots of water cooler
material for the next day since you could talk about Michael Moorer knock out
Rockabilly, the Patriot’s upset victory, and how much Austin was going to
destroy Owen Hart at SummerSlam.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.9 (vs. 3.4 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

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

by Logan Scisco
Footage of Mankind
throwing a fireball into the Undertaker’s eyes last week is shown
.
Vince McMahon, Jim
Ross, and The Honky Tonk Man are in the booth and they are live from Muncie,
Indiana
.
Owen Hart and the
British Bulldog come out for the opening match and Owen tells the crowd that
Bret brought love to the Hart family. 
Owen says Shawn Michaels better not say anything bad about Bret or they
will lay waste to him tonight.

Opening Non-Title
Contest:  Owen Hart & The British
Bulldog (WWF Tag Team Champions) defeat The Godwinns (w/Rebecca Jones) when
Owen pins Henry after an elbow drop to the back of the head at 7:07 shown:
If you wonder who Rebecca Jones is, she’s the guest
manager for the Godwinns in this match. 
Henry Godwinn’s hillbilly gimmick had a surprisingly long shelf life,
surviving the gimmick holocaust of 1995-1996. 
Owen and the Bulldog get the opening match for the third straight week
and they get a good fight from the Godwinns, who appear more motivated than usual
tonight.  The Godwinns win the four way
brawl near the end of the match and Henry gives the Bulldog a Slop Drop, but
Owen breaks up the cover behind the referee’s back and the tag team champions
get some momentum heading into In Your House in two weeks.  Rating:  **¼
As Owen and the
Bulldog head towards the back, the Legion of Doom appear behind them.  The champions back away, but the Godwinns
come up behind them.  The Godwinns try to
throw slop on the champions, but the champions duck and the slop goes all over
the Legion of Doom, who predictably take offense and brawl with the Godwinns as
Owen and the Bulldog laugh at the top of the stage.
Owen and the
Bulldog tell McMahon that they are civilized, unlike the Legion of Doom, and
they will annihilate them at In Your House. 
They get the WWF production crew to show the slop miscommunication twice
to showcase their wit.  Steve Austin
wants to give the champions a piece of his mind, but WWF officials get him to
back off
.
“Stone Cold”
Steve Austin pins Billy Gunn (w/The Honky Tonk Man) after a Stone Cold Stunner
at 6:09:
Austin comes out to a big pop, his first big face
reaction on Raw, while Billy comes out with the Honky Tonk Man, who has
seemingly picked him as his new protégé. 
Austin completely dominates Billy in this encounter, beating him from
pillar to post, using a low blow, and then flipping him off, as well as the
referee, in the middle of the beat down. 
In fact, Billy doesn’t get in a single major offensive move.  That’s exactly how this should’ve been
booked, as Billy was nowhere near Austin’s level and his cowboy gimmick wasn’t
setting the world on fire.
After the match,
the Honky Tonk Man tells Billy that there’s no shame in losing to Steve Austin
and he offers his services, but Billy gives him a right hand and walks out.
Dok Hendrix hypes
the Undertaker door banners, which you can get for $29.95 (plus shipping &
handling)!
The Commandant,
the leader of the Truth Commission, makes his debut and he hypes the next Raw,
which will be from South Africa.  He
gives a long, dry fascist tirade and says that the Truth Commission will teach
Americans the true meaning of democracy. 
The Truth Commission wasn’t a terrible idea, but their entire thunder
was taken away by the Hart Foundation already doing an anti-American gimmick.
Bret Hart gives a
taped promo from South Africa where he says that he can think clearly and
American wrestling fans can’t handle the truth and that’s why they don’t like
him anymore.  Bret is shown carrying the
South African flag into the ring at a South Africa house show to reinforce the
fact that he’s pro-international wrestling fans and anti-American.
McMahon interviews
Shawn Michaels, who isn’t selling the knee injury he received a couple of weeks
ago.  Michaels says Bret Hart has always
been a bad guy because he drags his family out on television so he can make a
buck.  Michaels says that he supported
Bret when he was champion in 1992, but Bret threw a fit when he was asked to
return the favor and went home, hoping that the WWF would fall flat on its
face.  Michaels goes off on Bret trying
to jump ship to WCW and being a mark for himself.  After finishing his interview, Michaels
starts doing a striptease and Owen and the British Bulldog come out to put a
stop to it.  Michaels grabs a chair and
that’s enough to keep the tag team champions at bay after WWF officials pour
out of the back.  This was an
entertaining shoot promo for the older fans and it did a great job selling the
animosity between Shawn and Bret.  The
only problem is that these long interview segments came off too well, so
that’s why we get the twenty minute promo at the beginning of Raw each week.
The Headbangers
defeat Freddie Joe Floyd & Barry Horowitz when Thrasher pins Floyd after a
powerbomb-flying leg drop combination at 4:27:
Since most of the roster is halfway around the world, the
WWF had to take Floyd and Horowitz out of mothballs for this match.  The Headbangers methodically destroy their
opponents and that’s all that can be said about this one.
No Holds Barred
Exhibition:  Ken Shamrock defeats Vernon
White by tap out from mounted punches at 2:00:
In case anyone wonders if the WWE should ever try an MMA
contest, they actually did so in 1997. 
In fact, in this exhibition McMahon plugs a UFC pay-per-view, something
you would definitely not see happen today. 
This is clearly worked, but White does land a stiff kick and Shamrock
busts White open from his mounted punches to put him away.
Ross interviews
Shamrock, who says the exhibition got a little out of hand.  Vader and Paul Bearer interrupt the
interview, but WWF officials get between both competitors before anything
breaks out
.
Vader (w/Paul
Bearer) pins Ken Stiletto with a powerbomb at 2:11:
This is supposed to serve as a “counter exhibition” to
rival what Shamrock did earlier since the WWF was beginning the build for a
Shamrock-Vader no holds barred match for May’s In Your House.  Vader toys with Stiletto, giving him a
release German suplex and two Vader Bombs, before going back to his traditional
roots and finishing him with a powerbomb. 
I hope that Stiletto made over the jobber maximum for taking this
beating.
WWF President
Gorilla Monsoon says that Sid is not at the arena to face Mankind, so Steve
Austin is the only comparable competition left on the card.  Austin comes out and correctly points out
that he’s already fought his match tonight and he has no interest in fighting
another.  However, Austin says he will
accept if Monsoon will give him Sid’s match with Bret Hart at the next In Your
House and Monsoon relents.  That was a
nice twist in the booking that they had to make on the fly
.
Ross interviews
Mankind, who goes into quasi-shoot mode and says that he’s had his flesh burned
and his wife inquire about it.  He
ridicules wrestling for making him work 300 days a year so he can’t protect his
three year old daughter back home and he says that In Your House will not be
for the faint of heart.  The lights begin
to flicker in the arena and the Undertaker does a voice over pledging to get
his revenge.
“Stone Cold”
Steve Austin defeats Mankind by disqualification when Vader interferes at 10:33
shown:
These two pick up where they left off from their tough
man contest the previous year by brawling around ringside for much of the
match.  It’s really hard to get into this
one, as the crowd is tired from all of the promo and angle segments and there
is very little flow from one spot to the next. 
I think a lot of this is due to the fact that they are doing this match
on the fly because of Sid’s no show. 
Owen Hart and the British Bulldog, who have been carrying this entire
show, come out of the crowd, but the Legion of Doom come out of the back to
prevent them from interfering.  With
those odds checked, Vader makes a run-in when Austin is pounding away on
Mankind in the corner, but heel miscommunication results and Vader and Mankind
brawl for a while before making up at the behest of Paul Bearer.  I give Austin and Mankind credit for trying,
but they just couldn’t make this one work. 
Rating:  **
The Final Report Card:  Some readers might find it odd that the WWF
had so much of its talent in South Africa at the time of this show, but in 1997
the international gates were still doing well and were significantly helping
the company’s bottom line.  Sid no
showing the event really hurt from a booking standpoint because there was no
one around to take his place. 
Thankfully, Austin was there as the main draw of the show and he was
able to do double duty.  The WWF did what
they could with this show based on the limited talent available, but it didn’t
make for great television and the terrible rating for this show bears that out.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.2 (vs. 3.7 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – January 27, 1997

by Logan Scisco

A video package
recaps the wild events on last week’s show, where Bret Hart, Steve Austin,
Vader, and the Undertaker got into a massive brawl.
Vince McMahon and
Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are still in Beaumont, Texas
.
Footage of Savio
Vega turning on Ahmed Johnson in a tag team match at Madison Square Garden is
shown
.
Footage of Sid
whacking Crush with a chair on Shotgun Saturday Night is shown.

Opening
Contest:  Crush (w/the Nation of
Domination) pins Ahmed Johnson with a heart punch at 5:40 shown:
If there was one superstar that was hurt by a lack of
squash matches in the company at this time it was Ahmed, who was put into feuds
with guys that could not carry him to good matches.  This match is no exception, as they try to
work in some power moves, but can’t seem to cooperate and have a hard time
lifting each other.  Faarooq runs out
when the referee’s back is turned and attacks Ahmed, enabling Crush to score
the victory, which marks just the second time that Ahmed has been pinned on WWF
television.  Crush’s victory also sent a
subtle signal that Ahmed wasn’t on the same level of the card as he was in
1996.  Rating:  ¼*
McMahon interviews
WWF Champion Shawn Michaels, who says that he’s ready to face Sid at Thursday
Raw Thursday.  That’s a strange name for
the show, but they must really have wanted people to remember that it was going
to be on Thursday.  Michaels says that
he’ll be bad because that’s what he’s going to have to do to keep the title in
the midst of all of the chaos happening lately. 
McMahon brings out Bret Hart, who says that he wants Michaels to retain
the title against Sid because he wants to beat Michaels to regain the title.  The cycle of interview time continues as the
Undertaker is brought out and the dead man says that the WWF title belongs to
him and he’s been screwed more than Bret Hart. 
Austin comes out, with Jim Ross in tow because he fears an ambush, and
appears to be the voice of reason by saying that everyone whining about how
they’ve been screwed is wearing on him. 
Poor Vader just stands by the entrance and only gets to jaw with Austin
as he heads to the locker room
.
The Western Union
rewind is Faarooq’s attack on Ahmed Johnson tonight
.
Ahmed Johnson is
shown breaking down a door backstage to try to find the Nation of
Domination.  Lawler rightly points out
that Ahmed is an idiot because he’d just be walking into an ambush if he were
to find the Nation.
The British
Bulldog (w/Owen Hart & Clarence Mason) defeats Doug Furnas (w/Philip LaFon)
by sitting down on a sunset flip attempt at 7:14 shown:
Furnas gets the jobber entrance, but the Bulldog has
better theme music anyway.  McMahon
announces that Furnas and LaFon will get a tag team title shot at In Your
House, but it would be nice if would clarify why they are getting the title
shot since they did lose their non-title contest last week.  The cutting of the match does very little for
Furnas, as the Bulldog’s offense is showcased and he doesn’t get in very many
moves.  The Bulldog appears to have the
match lost when a miscommunication spot sees him blasted with Owen’s Slammy,
but he quickly recovers and wins.  After
the match, the Bulldog and Owen tease a breakup, but uneasily resolve their
dispute.  I don’t get the booking for
this match, as it would not have hurt the Bulldog to do the job after Owen’s
interference and it would’ve given some credibility to Furnas and LaFon, which
they needed after last week’s loss.  Rating: 
More footage of
Savio Vega’s heel turn in Madison Square Garden is shown.  Savio Vega’s interview with Todd Pettengill
on Shotgun Saturday Night, where he brushed off his heel turn, and his
subsequent joining of the Nation of Domination on that show is played for us.
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to find out what Sid’s secret weapon is going to be to win the
WWF title back at Thursday Raw Thursday
.
Clips of the WWF’s
press conference, where they announced the signing of Tiger Ali Singh are shown.  Talk about a prospect that didn’t pan out.
The Godwinns (w/Hillbilly
Jim) defeat Vader & Mankind (w/Paul Bearer) via count out at 7:11 shown:
The story of this match is that it’s Vader and Mankind’s
debut and they don’t communicate well. 
This leads to some fun spots, like Vader tagging Mankind stiffly on the
shoulder and encouraging him to beat down Phineas in the proper fashion.  As a sign of good booking, the Godwinns are
not made to look like jobbers in this contest and manage to get some sustained
offense against Vader and Mankind and they eventually win on a fluke when a
miscommunication spot sees Mankind take Vader out with a chair and smile as he
walks to the locker room.  This would
appear to be leading us toward a Mankind-Vader feud and a potential face turn
for Mankind, but neither of those things happened in the immediate aftermath of
this match.  The full version of this
match might’ve garnered a better rating, but the cutting of the match hurt its
momentum.  Rating: *½
Ahmed eventually
finds some of the Nation and he tosses a member of PG-13 in the trunk of a
white car, which starts to speed away. 
The other member of PG-13 is hanging out of the driver’s side door as
the car speeds off
.
The Final Report Card:  There’s a lot of curious booking on this show
as the wrestlers that you think would go over do not.  I know that during this time frame Foley
pitched the idea of doing a feud with Vader, which McMahon refused to do
because they had already done it in WCW, but the main event finish would imply
that the company at least gave some thought to going in that direction.  Although this show didn’t capitalize on the
momentum of the previous week, I did like that they kept the Godwinns
strong.  There’s no point in making your
entire tag division look weak for makeshift teams that you may or may not keep
together for the long term.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.2 (vs. 3.6 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Neutral

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – December 16, 1996

by Logan Scisco

-Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and
Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from parts unknown.
-Bret Hart comes down to the ring
angry, so Ross interviews him.  Bret says
that the WWF has changed during his absence and that there are no more
rules.  He complains that Shawn Michaels
violated his pledge not to interfere in his title match at In Your House and
says that since there are no rules anymore he will do whatever it takes to get
to the top.  He also announces his entry
into the Royal Rumble and says that he’s going to do guest commentary just like
Shawn Michaels did last night for the next match.

-Opening Contest:  Stone Cold” Steve Austin defeats Vader (w/Jim
Cornette) by disqualification when Bret Hart interferes at 4:30 shown:
This
match was supposed to happen a month ago, but Vader’s injury at the hands of
Yokozuna sidelined him for a few days and he missed a whole month of Raw
tapings.  Talk about having your momentum
halted.  The crowd gets worked in to a frenzy,
as both guys beat the hell out of each other inside of the ring and out into
the crowd.  Austin avoids a Vader Bomb
with a low blow, but Bret gets involved shortly thereafter, locks in a
Sharpshooter, and creates the disqualification. 
It’s too bad Vader was on his way out in 1998, because he could’ve been
some great corporate muscle for Vince to use against Austin.  Predictably, Vader gets angry at Bret and
brawls with him as WWF officials come out to separate them.  This was an entertaining opener, but it was
cut way too short.  Rating:  **½
-Ahmed Johnson’s appearance at In
Your House last night, where he called out Faarooq and told him and the Nation
of Domination that they are going down is shown.
The Fake Razor Ramon & The Fake Diesel
defeat The Godwinns when Diesel pins Phineas with a Jackknife at 6:26:
Hillbilly
Jim isn’t with the Godwinns, but I don’t think the fans care.  In a nice opening spot, Phineas catches the
toothpick Ramon tosses at him, puts it in his mouth, spits it in the air, and
then throws it back at Ramon.  The match
is pretty decent and it follows the usual formula you would expect, with the
Godwinns dominating Razor and Henry becoming the whipping boy of the
heels.  They have a hot finish, where
Henry gives Ramon a Slop Drop, but the referee forces him out and Diesel uses
the opportunity to hit a Jackknife and the heels get the win.  Everytime I see Glen Jacobs give someone a
Jackknife I just pray the guy taking the move doesn’t get killed.  Rating:  **
-WWF Champion Sid is in the
locker room and he says that he doesn’t think anyone can beat him.  He says that he thrives on adversity and he
says that it will be sweet to beat Shawn Michaels in his hometown at the Royal
Rumble.  He warns Jose Lothario not to
show up.
-Shawn Michaels says that fans in
Texas don’t like what Sid did to Jose Lothario at the Survivor Series and that
he’s going to win his title back at the Royal Rumble.  He says that Bret Hart can whine all he
wants, but it won’t do him any good.
Doug Furnas & Philip LaFon defeat TL
Hopper & Dr. X after LaFon pins Hopper after a cobra clutch suplex at 3:16
shown:
Dr. X
is a masked jobber, who Ross says is a newcomer to the WWF, but I don’t think
he has much of a future.  This match is
joined in progress and it allows Furnas and LaFon to showcase their power/submission
style.  I’m surprised they had Hopper and
not X take the pin, since the fans at least knew who Hopper was, but let’s face
it, a jobber is a jobber is a jobber.  Rating: 
*
-Jerry Lawler faces Sable in the
Karate Fighters Holiday Tournament championship match.  Hunter Hearst-Helmsley is with Lawler and
Marc Mero is with Sable.  Helmsley gives
Lawler some tips on using his Karate Fighter, which is pretty funny, and Lawler
takes shots at Sable’s gender.  In the
ensuing match, Sable wins.  Lawler
demands a rematch and when Mero gets in his face, Helmsley attacks him from
behind.  Mero receives a heel beat down
until Goldust, of all wrestlers, makes the save.  As Mero chases Helmsley through the crowd,
Lawler says that Goldust shouldn’t be mad that Helmsley made a pass at Marlena
because he’s gay.  Goldust refutes that
and nails Lawler with a right hand and turns face.  Well there goes Goldust’s character in one
fell swoop.  By the way, is this what
happens when you play Karate Fighters with your friends?  A fight breaks out, you get beaten down, and
a freaky guy saves you from injury?
Billy Gunn and Bart Gunn wrestle to a no
contest at 3:40 shown:
Well
it’s finally time for the Smoking Gunns to explode.  They should’ve just had a blow off where they
gave both guys pistols and filmed a duel segment on a Western movie set.  It would’ve fit their gimmick and only left
one cowboy in the WWF.  One of the worst
blowoff matches of all time follows and is brought to an end when Bart hot
shots Billy and Billy feigns paralysis as his wife rushes the ring and yells at
Bart.  This was a ridiculous attempt by
the booking staff to get ratings.  It
didn’t work.  Grade:  DUD
-Tune in next week to see Bret
Hart face the Fake Razor Ramon!  Also,
Hunter Hearst-Helmsley defends the Intercontinental title against Marc Mero and
he can lose the title by count out or disqualification.
The
Final Report Card:  Billy’s neck injury
was a work and he vanished from WWF TV for a few months after this match.  The first half of the show was really
exciting, with the Austin-Vader match and subsequent Bret beat down serving as a
breath of fresh air.  However, the second
half of the show was the complete opposite. 
The Karate Fighters segment was fine, but the Smoking Gunns blow off
needed to be a lot more and the worked injury angle came off as a bad imitation
of the Shawn Michaels-Owen Hart concussion angle that was done a year prior to
this.
Monday
Night War Rating:  N/A (vs. 3.2 for
Nitro)
Show
Evaluation:  Thumbs Down