What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – August 17, 1998

by Logan Scisco

Steve Austin unsuccessful in getting into Vince McMahon’s office in the locker
room area.
Jim Ross and Jerry
“The King” Lawler are doing commentary and they are taped from Des Moines,
Iowa.

A hearse backs up
into the arena to the “Highway to Hell” song, but Steve Austin comes out the
driver’s side door, pulls out a casket, and then opens the casket to grab a
beer.  Austin walks to the ring and calls
Vince McMahon out.  After some delay,
McMahon arrives with his stooges.  Austin
pledges to beat the Undertaker in the ring tonight and stuff him in the hearse
he brought to the arena.  He warns
McMahon to get out of his way because otherwise, he is going to end up in the
hearse himself.  A simple segment that
gave some motivation for Austin’s actions later in the show.  1 for
1
Get a big poster
of Triple H when you buy Stridex pads!
Opening Triple
Threat Contest:  Dan Severn defeats Ken
Shamrock and Owen Hart when he makes Shamrock submit to a dragon sleeper at 4:43:
This was the first time that Shamrock and Severn opposed
each other in a WWF ring, but they do not mix it up, as Severn just watches
Shamrock fight Owen during the match. 
After three and a half minutes, Severn finally gets involved by breaking
up a Shamrock pin attempt and then putting him in a dragon sleeper to break up
the ankle lock.  It’s about time someone
used that strategy in a triple threat match. 
Rating:  **½ (2 for 2)
After
the bell, Severn refuses to release the hold until Steve Blackman comes out and
Severn proceeds to put Blackman in a dragon sleeper.  As Severn leaves the ring, he gives Owen a
high five, thereby turning heel.  When
Shamrock comes to, he gets in Commissioner Slaughter’s face about what just
took place.
Brawl for All Semi-Finals:  Bart Gunn defeats The Godfather (w/Hos) via
knockout at 20 seconds of the third round:
“Bill Clinton” calls into the show and makes some Monica
Lewinsky jokes.  The Godfather refuses to
let Bart Gunn choose the ho option since Bart attacked him on last week’s
show.  The Godfather lands a few hard
jabs, but Bart lands some hard shots at the end of the second round and
proceeds to knock him out with a right hand in the third.  Bart gloats to Ross about his victory after
the bout.  3 for 3
Ken Shamrock and
Steve Blackman are shown tossing things around the locker room as they search
for Owen Hart and Dan Severn.
Michael Cole says
that Owen Hart’s special trainer for the Lion’s Den match at SummerSlam will be
Dan Severn.
Gangrel beats
“Too Sexy” Brian Christopher (w/Scott Taylor) with an Implant DDT at 1:03:
This was Gangrel’s RAW debut.  It’s a shame that the character never went
anywhere because it had one of the best entrances in wrestling history.  Edge takes an interest in Gangrel’s entrance,
raising his sunglasses to get a better view from the crowd.  Gangrel makes short work of Christopher in
what is a somewhat sloppy squash.
Ken Shamrock tells
Cole that he is going to break every bone in Owen Hart’s body at
SummerSlam.  Cole runs away as Shamrock
and Steve Blackman continue to break things. 
Blackman breaks things in the most unemotional way possible, which
cracks me up.
D-Generation X and
the Nation of Domination, who are scheduled to face off in a street fight later
tonight, are shown brawling backstage as WWF officials desperately try to break
things up.
The Disciples of
Apocalypse (w/Paul Ellering) beat Scorpio & Faarooq when Skull pins Scorpio
with a small package after an illegal switch at 4:31:
“President Clinton” calls back in and gloats about the
state of the economy.  Scorpio and
Faarooq were undefeated up to this point, but the greatness that is DOA must be
continued at all costs and they lose here. 
In fairness, the loss happens in cheap fashion, as the DX-Nation brawl descends
on the ringside area and distracts the referee, who misses Scorpio pinning
8-Ball after a 450.  Scorpio made this
match better than one might expect, but the wrong team went over.  Rating:  **¼ (3 for 4)
Call 815-734-1161
to get your Steve Austin Bad to the Bone t-shirt for $25 (plus $6 shipping
& handling)!
Street
Fight:  The Nation of Domination wrestle
D-Generation X to a no contest at 6:24:
For this match, the combatants are allowed to bring
whatever weapons they like to the ring, but no one is ingenious enough to
bring the kitchen sink.  This is actually
four-on-three, since the Godfather getting knocked out earlier in the show
precluded him from participating. 
There’s tons of head trauma in this from the weapons shots, and it is
somewhat unsettling to hear Jim Ross casually remark on the possibility of
concussions.  Near the end of the bout,
Jeff Jarrett and Southern Justice attack X-Pac and Jarrett cuts off some of
X-Pac’s hair.  Jarrett and Southern
Justice allow the Nation to isolate Triple H, who beat him down with a ladder,
thereby planting the seeds for the type of match that will take place between
the Rock and Triple H at SummerSlam.  In
a puzzling development, the Nation choose to just walk out after this beatdown
instead of pinning Triple H, so that gives us a no contest.  Then again, the carnage lets us know who the
real winners were.  This was a fun brawl
that advanced two storylines for SummerSlam 
Rating:  *** (4 for 5)
Tiger Ali Singh
gives $500 to a fan for licking between his servant Babu’s toes.  You see, Babu has been working out all day
and is nasty.  The less said about this
segment the better.  4 for 6
Sable interfering
in the Luna Vachon-Jacqueline match on last week’s show is the Stridex Triple
Action segment.
Arm Wrestling
Match:  Sable beats Jacqueline by
disqualification:
This stemmed from a challenge that Jacqueline issued on
Sunday Night Heat.  There are few gimmick
matches in wrestling that I hate more than arm wrestling contests.  This is no exception as Jacqueline pulls her
hand away when Sable is going to win and turns the table over on her.  Jacqueline then breaks the bikini contest
trophy over Sable’s back before the Oddities make the save.  So, we’ve had disqualifications in a bikini
contest AND an arm wrestling match between these two!  4 for
7
Cole interviews
Val Venis, who is facing Kaientai in a gauntlet match tonight.  Venis says he is conditioned to “run all
night long.”
Darren Drozdov
shows us his tattoos on the latest installment of “Droz’s World.”  I’m not sure what the purpose of these
segments happens to be since they aren’t giving Droz a sustained push at the
moment.
Brawl for All
Semi-Finals:  Bradshaw defeats Darren
Drozdov via decision:
Droz’s “tale of the tape” emphasizes his ability to puke
on command.  I wonder if that would be
against the rules of the Brawl for All. 
This is a good slugfest and Bradshaw blocks several of Droz’s takedown
attempts.  Bradshaw lands more punches
and advances to the finals next week against Bart Gunn.  5 for
8
The announcers
tell us that Al Snow is back in the WWF. 
No reason is given as to why that King of the Ring stipulation was not
upheld, but there you have it.  Al Snow
talks with Head at a bar and mocks how he is returning to the WWF to be part of
the “JOB Squad.”
Dustin Runnels
reminds us that our bodies are a temple.
Sable comes out
and demands Jacqueline to come out and fight. 
Jacqueline and Marc Mero appear on the Titantron and Jacqueline responds
by challenging Sable to a mixed tag match at SummerSlam.  Before Sable can issue a response, the
Oddities burst into Mero and Jacqueline’s locker room and attack them.  Won’t heels ever learn that allowing your
opponent to choose a mystery partner never turns out well?
Cole reminds us of
Steve Austin’s promise earlier in the show.
Gauntlet
Match:  Kaientai (w/Yamaguchi-San) beats
Val Venis when Taka Michinoku pins Venis after a Michinoku Driver at 7:55:
Order of
Elimination:  Venis pins Men’s Teioh with
a fisherman’s suplex at 1:12; Venis pins Funaki with a powerslam at 1:26; Venis
pins Dick Togo with the Money Shot at 4:20
The stipulation for this match is that if Venis wins that
he gets five minutes with Yamaguchi-San. 
“President Clinton” calls in for the last time to make more jokes about
Ms. Lewinsky.  This has some good work
rate, especially the Togo and Michinoku portions, but the crowd does not care
because they have been conditioned to see Kaientai as a joke.  Venis runs through three of Kaintenai’s
members, but Michinoku beats him clean.  Rating: 
*** (6 for 9)
-After the bout,
Kaientai pound away on Venis and then Mrs. Yamaguchi-San comes out to slap
him.  However, Venis grabs a squirt gun
shaped like a penis and squirts it all over his adversaries, causing them to flee.  I could have done without all of that.
The Undertaker and
Steve Austin come out for their confrontation, but when the Undertaker throws
his hair back we find out that it is actually Kane.  Kane and Austin brawl back to the hearse,
where Austin tosses Kane into the back. 
However, when Austin goes to drive away, he cannot get in and the
Undertaker is shown in the driver’s seat. 
The Undertaker drives away as “Highway to Hell” is played over the
loudspeakers.  This was a great ending
for the show and I always mark out a little when I see that the Undertaker is
in the front seat.  7 for 10
The Final Report Card:  The rating of the show seemed to be hurt by
the lack of Austin segments, but I was okay with not having the main event
angle dominate the show.  We have had our
fair share of the Undertaker, Kane, Mankind, and Austin in recent months so it
was good to get a break from all of it. 
Despite the rating, this show had two good
Brawl for All matches and gave the audience an entertaining street fight and
gauntlet match.  You cannot ask for much
more than that during this era.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.2 (vs. 4.9 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – May 11, 1998

by Logan Scisco

A video package
recaps Mick Foley becoming the number one contender to the WWF championship
last week.
Jim Ross and
Michael Cole are doing commentary and they are live from Baltimore, Maryland
.

Vince McMahon
walks out and announces that WWF Champion Steve Austin will be in tag team
action tonight.  Dude Love comes out
wearing a suit and glasses, carrying a copy of the Wall Street Journal, and
rocking a suit.  Love cuts a funny promo
about his identity, nearly causing McMahon to corpse, and hugs McMahon.  McMahon proceeds to announce that at Over the
Edge, Gerald Brisco will be the guest timekeeper and Pat Patterson will be the
guest ring announcer for the WWF title match. 
The guest referee does not show, so McMahon goes to the back and then
soon re-emerges in a referee shirt.  Fun
segment to kick off tonight’s show.  1 for 1
Sable is shown
arriving at the arena and she blows off Kevin Kelly.
Footage is shown
of D-Generation X reprising their “invasion” by going to WCW headquarters in
Atlanta, Georgia.  Security doesn’t quite
know what to make of them.
Al Snow is shown
arriving backstage with Head.  He is
carrying tickets and Kevin Kelly informs him that he is not entering the
appropriate part of the arena.  Snow
berates Head for not directing them to the right arena entrance.
-Opening
Contest:  Vader beats Barry Windham
(w/Jim Cornette & The New Midnight Express) with a Vader Bomb at 2:07:
And here I thought the Undertaker’s squash of Windham
sent him away for good.  Vader wrestles
this match in a t-shirt and is not moving very well, but he still manages to
shrug off some of Windham’s strikes and NWA interference to win anyway.  After the match, Vader takes out the New
Midnight Express.  This keeps Vader
strong for a mask vs. mask match with Kane at Over the Edge.
Steve Austin’s
appearance on premiere of MTV’s Celebrity Deathmatch is shown.  That show is how I knew wrestling was
starting to become mainstream again.
Austin’s Stone
Cold Stunner on Pat Patterson on last week’s show is the Gastrol GTX Slam of
the Week.
Austin is shown arriving
in a vehicle backstage.  Kelly informs
him about the roles of Brisco, Patterson, and McMahon in the title match at
Over the Edge and how he has been booked in a tag match tonight.  Austin is not happy and goes looking for
McMahon.
Skull (w/8-Ball)
beats Hawk (w/Animal & Sunny) with a small package after an illegal switch
at 2:30:
Considering the participants, this isn’t bad as both men
do some power moves and brawling until Hawk flying out of the ring on a
shoulder thrust in the corner allows 8-Ball to switch places with Skull and
chalk the win.
A video package
recaps DX’s altercation with law enforcement at CNN headquarters.  They appear to be quite popular with the
average person there.
A brief Edge
vignette where it is announced that he’s the person of our dreams is shown
.
Bradshaw and Taka
Michinoku are shown smoking cigars earlier in the day and Bradshaw gives
Michinoku a driving lesson.  When they
return to the arena they are attacked by Kaientai.
Faarooq (w/Steve
Blackman) beats “Double J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) via disqualification
when the Nation of Domination interferes at 1:52:
Faarooq finally has some unique entrance music, but it just
sounds like generic hip hop.  Blackman
beats up Jarrett several times when he ends up outside of the ring and when
Faarooq gets ready to finish Jarrett with a Dominator, the Nation
interferes.  In the ensuing brawl, the
Nation beats down Faarooq while Jarrett destroys Blackman with nunchucks.  You can’t say they aren’t trying with this
Jarrett-Blackman feud and considering Blackman’s lack of mic skills, this is
about as good as we were going to get.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your Steve Austin “You Wanna Raise Hell?” t-shirt for $25 (plus $6
shipping & handling)!
WWF Champion Steve
Austin comes out and demands McMahon come out to tell him what is going on with
his booking tonight.  McMahon appears on
the Titantron with Patterson and Brisco and they refuse to give him any
information.  Just a generic segment to
continue the storytelling for tonight.  1 for 2
A spliced together
compilation of Val Venis’s vignettes are shown.
Jerry “the King”
Lawler comes out to do commentary for hour two.
The next scheduled
segment is the Marc Mero-Sable bout (or “public confrontation” if you prefer).  Sable gets on the mic and tells Mero that she
didn’t think it would come to this and Mero responds by picking her up for a
TKO and then setting her down.  Mero
demands an apology for Sable trying to ruin his career, but Sable responds by
giving him a low blow and a Sable bomb. 
Jim Cornette’s 1997 Timeline shoot ranted about this segment and Steve
Austin scrapped a planned program with Mero over it because he did not want to
take offense from a guy who was just beaten by a woman.  That aside, this got a huge reaction from the
crowd and was entertaining.  2 for 3
The Undertaker
comes out after Lawler based on Lawler’s interaction with Paul Bearer on last
week’s show.  The lights go out before
the Undertaker can Tombstone Lawler and Kane and Bearer walk out.  Bearer promises that next week he will prove
that he is Kane’s father.  After Kane and
Bearer go back to the locker room, the Undertaker Tombstones Lawler.  This shows why the Attitude Era was great
because the Undertaker going after Lawler immediately after the Sable-Mero
segment happened out of nowhere.  3 for 4
Al Snow comes out
of the crowd with Head to do commentary duties with Jim Ross.  Security, directed by Pat Patterson, removes
Snow, who demands to see McMahon.
DX delivers a “parting
shot” to CNN headquarters by blowing it up (computer generated of course) with
an artillery gun.  Live in the arena, DX
comes out and X-Pac tells Eric Bischoff to suck it.  DX runs through their usual promo spots
before Owen Hart appears and announces that “Enough is enough and it’s time for
a change.”  Owen brings the Nation of Domination
with him to fight DX.
Chyna’s
participation in last week’s eight person tag match is the 1-800-COLLECT Rewind
segment.
Jim Cornette
replaces Lawler to do commentary for the rest of the show.
­-Non-Title
Match:  Triple H (European Champion
w/D-Generation X) wrestles Owen Hart (w/The Nation of Domination) to a
no-contest at 7:07 shown:
Owen’s alliance with the Nation makes sense in storyline
terms because he needed a crew to back him up against DX and their constant interference
in his matches.  Owen, Kama Mustafa, and
D-Lo Brown of the Nation are booked to face DX in a six man tag match for Over
the Edge as well.  Chyna’s crotching of
Owen on the top rope nearly sparks a brawl between the two factions and
Commissioner Slaughter allegedly puts an end to the bout.  Hey Slaughter, why didn’t you just send
everyone to back BEFORE the match like you usually do?  This is one of the reasons that running
authority figure stories like this never work out from a logic perspective.  I thought they might give Owen a cheap win
here since he has a new factional alignment, but it was not to be.  The match showed that the crowd was digging
the early stages of the DX-Nation feud, though. 
Rating:  **½ (4 for 5)
Dustin Runnels
comes out with his Goldust attire and tosses it into a barrel by the
entrance.  He proceeds to set it on fire
and then cuts a promo where he says that McMahon took his dignity away with the
Goldust character.  McMahon was everyone’s
favorite whipping boy at this time.  A
storyboard for him would have tons of lines all over the place.  Runnels says that the Goldust character is
dead.  This had a lot of shock value at
the time, but since the Goldust character was eventually reprised (like Jeff
Jarrett ripping his country gimmick and going back to it) it didn’t matter in
the long run.  4 for 6
Handicap
Match:  Kaientai (w/Yamaguchi-San) beats Terry
Funk & 2 Cold Scorpio via disqualification when Taka Michinoku &
Bradshaw interfere at 3:09:
I know it’s Terry Funk and all, but does it make a lot of
sense to have him wrestle a week after he was “destroyed” by Mick Foley?  This is Kaientai’s in-ring RAW debut.  The height difference between Kaientai and
their opponents always caused me to think that they didn’t have much of a
chance at winning their matches.  The
referee doesn’t care that Kaientai never tag and all stay in the ring at the
same time and eventually Michinoku and Bradshaw run out to drive Kaientai
off.  This is the first loss for Funk and
Scorpio.  The match was not a
conventional tag match and the flow of it was messy.  Rating:  * (4 for 7)
McMahon is shown
talking with Austin’s mystery tag team partner in the locker room, but we
cannot see who it is.
Al Snow tries to
re-enter the arena, but security refuses him entry.
“Stone Cold”
Steve Austin & Vince McMahon (w/Gerald Brisco & Pat Patterson) wrestle The
Rock & D-Lo Brown (w/The Nation of Domination) to a no contest when McMahon
attacks Austin at 8:28:
McMahon names himself as Austin’s mystery partner making
this a de facto handicap match.  Austin
decides to wrestle it like No Mercy on the N64 by hitting anything that moves,
including Brisco and Patterson.  Instead
of giving a hot tag to McMahon after avoiding a Lo Down, Austin gives McMahon
the bird.  Austin gives Brown a Stunner,
but the Rock breaks that up and McMahon clotheslines Austin.  Brisco and Patterson join in the beat down to
end this match, which did a great job sustaining heat.  **½ (5
for 7)
After the bell,
Austin beats back McMahon and the stooges only to have Dude Love run in and
tackle him.  However, Dustin Runnels and
D-Generation X run into the ring to brawl with Love and the Nation and the
crowd’s loud reaction to all of this plays us out.
The Final Report Card:  RAW continues its streak of having lots of
wild and unpredictable action as Austin gets held from some unlikely sources to
beat back Dude Love and the Nation of Domination at the end of the show and the
Undertaker destroyed Jerry Lawler.  D-Generation
X’s “invasion” of WCW headquarters was pretty funny, although it was nowhere
near their “invasion” of the WCW card in Norfolk, Virginia prior to this
show.  The deck has been stacked against
Austin for Over the Edge and the rest of that card is starting to come together
with Vader being booked against Kane, DX fighting the Nation, and the Rock
defending the Intercontinental title against Faarooq.  Excellent storytelling this week in all of
the big angles and the crowd’s reactions throughout the show are a testament to
that.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.3 (vs.4.3 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – October 20, 1997

by Logan Scisco
Vince McMahon, Jim
Ross, and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
.

Opening
Contest:  Rocky Maivia & Kama Mustafa
(w/Faarooq & D-Lo Brown) defeat Ahmed Johnson & Ken Shamrock (w/The
Legion of Doom) when Maivia pins Shamrock after Faarooq hits Shamrock with Rick
Rude’s briefcase at 6:44:
As the match gets underway, D-Generation X comes out to
sit by the entrance and they showcase signs that read “Spank Me Vince,” “Who
Booked this Crap?,” and “I’d Rather be in Chyna.”  One of them is the non-politically correct
“Uncle Tom 3:16”, which I’m surprised they didn’t catch a great deal of heat
for.  The crowd is hot for this and
Maivia and Shamrock have a good exchange in a small preview of what is to come
in their 1998 feud.  Faarooq spends much
of the match talking with Rick Rude and Kama forgets to nail Shamrock when he
runs the ropes to trigger the initial finishing sequence and all of this
results in a small upset for the Nation. 
Rating:  *¾
After the match, Ahmed goes after the Nation
and gets beaten down and the Legion of Doom just casually walk to aid him
before they are intercepted by WWF officials. Then out of nowhere the Godwinns
jump onto the entrance ramp and attack the LOD with garbage cans.
McMahon says that
tonight a former WCW champion will be with us tonight
.
Michael Cole is in
the locker room and shows us the Nation of Domination’s locker room, which has
been painted with anti-black graffiti.  A
Canadian flag is left behind, along with a “Canada rules,” which is meant to
implicate the Hart Foundation.  THIS did
get the company in hot water with civil rights groups if I remember correctly.
The Nation come
out and get in McMahon’s face about the graffiti in their locker room and
allege that he is a racist and is running a racist company.  Faarooq gives his pro-black message and
demands that WWF Champion Bret Hart come and face him immediately, despite
their match being booked for later in the evening.
Non-Title Match:  Bret “the Hitman” Hart (WWF Champion w/The
Hart Foundation) pins Faarooq (w/The Nation of Domination) after Steve Austin
gives Faarooq a Stone Cold Stunner at 5:12 shown:
D-Generation X quickly makes their presence felt and
Shawn Michaels accuses him of being a racist on commentary.  Bret goes after Michaels, but he is
restrained by the Nation and that leads to a brawl between the Nation and the
Hart Foundation at ringside.  Bret works
the leg, but when he goes for the ring post figure-four the Nation attacks
him.  In the midst of the chaos, Steve
Austin comes into the ring and attacks Faarooq to a nuclear crowd reaction and
that enables Bret to pick up a cheap win. 
The match was butchered by the commercial and extra curriculars and
Austin’s interference adds an extra ½ to it. 
Rating:  *½
The 1997 edition
of the Milton Bradley Karate Fighters Holiday Tournament is previewed by Kevin
Kelly and Grandmaster Robbie.  Next week
will be the first match of the tournament between Jerry Lawler and Brian Christopher.
Jeff Jarrett comes
out, thereby making his return to the company, and says that since we refused
to resign with WCW, Eric Bischoff tried to bury him.  He says that WCW put a lid on his potential
and he criticizes being placed with “an ex-football player’s ex-wife that
defines dumb blonde.”  He runs down his
old WWF country music gimmick and McMahon’s handling of his career.  He then runs down Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels,
and Steve Austin.  This “shoot” promo
might mean more if Jarrett was as valuable to the wrestling business as he
thinks he is.  None of this would amount
to much since Jarrett would soon go back to his old country music gimmick and
would be partnered with Debra when she came to the WWF.  In fact, it actually hurt Jarrett in 1999 since
Austin refused to work a main event program with him because Jarrett called the
3:16 part of Austin’s gimmick “blasphemous.” 
Austin rightly worried that Jarrett’s comments could have led to a
Christian boycott of the WWF and derailed his push.
Marc Mero
(w/Sable) defeats “Too Sexy” Brian Christopher with a TKO at 4:11:
This match begins the “Mero is jealous of Sable”
storyline, as Lawler puts a Steve Austin hat on Sable during the match and when
Mero sees it he takes it off of her face and throws it into the crowd.  Aside from that, this match is okay but no
one cares about it.  Mero uses a low blow
to set up the TKO, thereby showing that he is moving away from his babyface
roots.  Rating:  *½
The announcers
hype the house show circuit
.
A video package
hypes the title for title match between Shawn Michaels and Owen Hart.  It recounts the enziguri incident with Shawn
Michaels and the SummerSlam piledriver on Steve Austin.
Title for
Title:  “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn
Michaels (European Champion) wrestles Owen Hart (Intercontinental Champion) to
a disqualification at 6:20 shown:
Owen challenges Michaels to leave his crew backstage and
Michaels agrees.  Michaels gives Owen a
piledriver on the arena floor, which would have meant Owen’s career was over in
Memphis, but he rallies with his belly-to-belly suplex.  I hate when big moves like that are done on
the arena floor since by wrestling standards moves on the arena floor are ten
times as devastating as those done in the ring. 
This is an interesting match from a crowd reaction perspective because
they don’t necessarily care for Michaels, but they don’t like Owen either.  Owen counters Sweet Chin Music with the
enziguri, but Steve Austin comes out from the crowd.  The referee makes the mistake of getting in
his way and eats a Stunner and Michaels KO’s Owen with the Sweet Chin Music,
which leads to Bret running out to tear apart Michaels and this is thrown
out.  Owen-Michaels is always a great
match, but they just didn’t have the time to take this to another level.  Rating:  **½
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear another one of Jim Cornette’s rants!
The Undertaker in
a pre-taped segment says that he has carried the grief of his family for a long
time and argues that Paul Bearer has poisoned Kane’s mind.  He promises to never fight Kane.
The next match is
scheduled to be the British Bulldog against Dude Love, but Kane interrupts
after Love’s entrance.  Love clotheslines
Kane over the top rope and hits him with a chair, but Kane barely sells it and
chokeslams Love twice on the entrance ramp. 
This lays the foundation for a Kane-Foley match at Survivor Series.
“The Road Dogg”
Jesse James & “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn defeat The Headbangers when James pins
Thrasher after Gunn hits Thrasher with a boom box at 4:05:
Road Dogg cuts a promo to introduce himself and “Bad Ass”
Billy Gunn.  Gunn’s attire is something
like Taka Michinoku would wear, but it at least gets him away from the cowboy
gimmick he has been sporting in some fashion since 1993.  If you are looking for some trademark New Age
Outlaws spots you aren’t going to get them in this match since this is one of
the formative outings of the team and they are still working out the
gimmick.  The Headbangers look to have
the match in hand, but Gunn smashes Thrasher over the head with a boom box that
explodes on impact, thereby putting some of those Paul E. Dangerously cell
phone shots to shame, and the soon to be named Outlaws pick up a win over
former tag team champions.  A really
boring match until the finish and you would think from the ring work that the
Outlaws weren’t going anywhere, but James’ mic work put the team on the
map.  Rating:  *
Marc Mero giving
the TKO to a jobber on Shotgun Saturday Night is the Lazer Tag Slam of the
Week.
Bret Hart’s
appearance on Mad TV is shown
.
Sunny comes out to
be the guest ring announcer for the next match
.
Footage of Taka
Michinoku signing a long-term contract with the WWF is shown.  Could they do anything more to telegraph the
fact that this guy was going to be the light heavyweight champion?
Light Heavyweight
Exhibition:  Taka Michinoku beats Tajiri
with a Michinoku Driver at 2:52:
Tajiri gets the jobber entrance.  Ross finally gives us a date for the
beginning of the light heavyweight championship tournament, which will kick off
on the November 3rd edition of Monday Night Raw.  Tajiri folds Michinoku up like an accordion
on a sit out powerbomb and the two proceed to put most of the light heavyweight
matches done so far to shame.  They work
a fast match, which has the predictable finish, but the WWF just didn’t know
what they had with Tajiri at this stage of his career.
Jim Cornette reads
some fan comments about his rant against Phil Mushnick last week.  He urges fans to make their voice heard and
McMahon tells fans to write to TV Guide and voice their displeasure with Phil
Mushnick
.
Footage of the
Godwinns losing the tag team championships to the Legion of Doom last week is
shown, along with their beating of Uncle Cletus.
The Godwinns are
scheduled to face the Disciples of Apocalypse, but the DOA do a four-on-two
attack on the Godwinns before the Truth Commission comes to the Godwinns aid to
continue their feud.
Mankind cuts a
promo from the arena boiler room, where he says that he is the master of mayhem
and if the Undertaker will not fight against his own brother then he will.
Tune in next week
to see Bret Hart defend the WWF title against Ken Shamrock!  See, they didn’t have to do Montreal unless
they really wanted to.
The Final Report Card:  This episode was a version of crash TV as
tons of different angles fly at the audience from all kinds of different
directions, but it made for a quick and enjoyable show.  The matches were brief and not very exciting
outside of the light heavyweight exhibition and Shawn-Owen, but everyone has
something to do and that keeps you invested in the non-main event matches.
Monday Night Raw Rating:  2.9 (vs. 4.6 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – June 16, 1997

by Logan Scisco
Vince McMahon and
Jim Ross are manning the announce table and they are from Lake Placid, New
York.  McMahon says that there was a
fight between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels before last week’s RAW and that both
men were injured.  Bret will be back in a
few days, while Shawn will be back in 4-6 weeks.  Since Michaels is out there will be a tag
team tournament and the winners will get to face Steve Austin and a partner of his choice for the tag
team titles
.
McMahon
reluctantly interviews Steve Austin, who isn’t happy to hear about the tag team
tournament.  Austin says he doesn’t need
a partner and Mankind appears on the Titantron and says that he feels that they
have a bond.  Austin says he doesn’t need
a freak walking around him and they proceed to make fun of Shawn Michaels
routine.  McMahon’s facial expressions
during this routine are priceless. McMahon says that Austin will face Brian
Pillman tonight with members of the Hart Foundation handcuffed around ringside.  Ken Shamrock comes down to confront Austin
about getting Stunned on last week’s show and Shamrock challenges him to a
match tonight.  Austin says that’s fine
after he gets done with Pillman
.

Call 815-734-1161
to get your copy of Cause Stone Cold Said So for $19.99 (plus $6
shipping & handling)!
Brian Pillman
tells McMahon that it’s a conspiracy that the Hart Foundation is handcuffed
around ringside for his match with Steve Austin tonight.
The New Blackjacks
say that the tag team tournament is their opportunity for tag team glory.
The British
Bulldog & Owen Hart say that they are going to get their belts back from
Steve Austin after they win the tag team tournament.
Opening Tag Team
Tournament Contest:  The British Bulldog
& Owen Hart defeat The New Blackjacks when the Bulldog pins Bradshaw after
an Owen spinning heel kick at 3:50:
This is an interesting concept for a tournament since
Austin still has an opportunity to keep the titles by facing the winning team
in the finals.  I’m surprised that the
Headbangers were getting a push during this time but not the New Blackjacks
since they looked much more imposing and credible.  The crowd is dead for this, since the New
Blackjacks have very little following and the American fans hate the Bulldog
and Owen.  However, both teams put in a
decent effort and Owen and the Bulldog advance when the referee has his back
turned to get Barry Windham out of the ring shortly after all hell broke loose.
Rating: 
**
Jim Ross recaps
the dissolution of the first version of the Nation of Domination on last week’s
show
.
McMahon interviews
WWF Champion The Undertaker and Paul Bearer and Bearer hijacks the interview
and says that the Undertaker will do what he says as long as he has a secret
over his head.
McMahon interviews
Ken Shamrock, who tells Austin that it’s time to knuckle up
.
Hunter Hearst
Helmsley (w/Chyna) pins Phineas Godwinn with a Pedigree at 3:33:
What an odd match. 
Ross announces that Helmsley will face Mankind at the Canadian Stampede
pay-per-view.  Prior to the match Chyna
manhandles a ring attendant for no apparent reason.  Chyna interferes, as can be expected, and the
crowd is into that more than the match, working up a “Chyna” chant.  Phineas, who had a way with women as we saw
in the Bodydonnas feud in 1996, abandons a Slop Drop to kiss Chyna on the
apron, but that ends up costing him the match. 
After the match, Henry Godwinn comes down to the ring and yells at
Phineas for not being aggressive enough. 
Henry blames McMahon for Phineas’ loss. 
Was the booking crutch of this time that everyone had a beef with the
boss?  A decent match that went the
appropriate length.  Rating:  **
Headbanger Mosh’s
flying clothesline on Rob Van Dam on Shotgun Saturday Night is the Sega Saturn
Slam of the Week
.
Faarooq tells
McMahon that there will be two new members of the Nation of Domination and that
they are going to appear tonight. 
Faarooq promises that they will be bigger, better, and blacker
.
Sunny comes down
to be the guest ring announcer for the next match because the WWF has no idea
what to do with her.  Paul Heyman is
going to be on guest commentary.
Interpromotional
Match (USWA vs. ECW):  Chris Candido
defeats “Too Sexy” Brian Christopher by disqualification at 2:40:
USWA and ECW were engaged in a small feud at this time,
so this is that feud being played out on national television.  USWA was also in its death throes at this
point.  This is Candido’s first RAW match
since the summer of 1996.  Since we are
in the Northeast, Candido is the de facto face and Christopher plays the
heel.  In fact, Candido gets more of a
reaction in this one match than he did in his entire career as Skip in the
WWF.  Ross works up Heyman on commentary
into a rant about how Christopher is Lawler’s son.  This leads to Lawler running down and
breaking up a super hurricanrana attempt and he and Rob Van Dam beat up Candido
until Tommy Dreamer runs out and makes the save.
Ahmed Johnson cuts
a pretaped promo and he says that he will do things the easy way in tonight’s
match and work with the Undertaker.
-Dok Hendrix hypes
the Nassau Coliseum house show which features the Undertaker facing Steve
Austin for the WWF title, the British Bulldog defend the European title against
Sid, the Legion of Doom face the Godwinns, Hunter Hearst Helmsley faces
Mankind, and the New Nation of Domination faces the Hart Foundation in a six
man tag team match.
Footage of a house
show at the Skydome in Toronto is shown where the Hart Foundation was greeted
with cheers.
Jim Neidhart says
that he is going to show Goldust that crime does pay
.
Goldust
(w/Marlena) defeats Jim “the Anvil” Neidhart with an uppercut at 3:44:
Goldust has drawn some really bad opponents lately that
do nothing to cover for his weaknesses in the ring.  The British Bulldog comes out halfway through
the match and he confronts Marlena, who slapped him on last week’s show.  Goldust comes to his manager’s aid, but gets
double teamed.  However, Neidhart can’t
even win after THAT to show how low he is on the WWF totem pole despite being
part of its top stable.  Rating: 
¼*
Steve Austin tells
the audience that he has Brian Pillman right where he wants him and he promises
to “rock” Ken Shamrock’s world.
“Stone Cold”
Steve Austin beats “The Loose Cannon” Brian Pillman by disqualification when
the Hart Foundation interferes at 8:20:
Per the stipulation for this match, each of the members
of the Hart Foundation are handcuffed to the ring posts.  Owen really gets into the handcuff
stipulation, as he spends parts of the match complaining about it and then
getting on the apron and trying to leverage the handcuff off his wrist.  Austin takes advantage of the stipulation by
beating up each defenseless member of the Hart Foundation around ringside.  Pillman’s nose gets busted open during the
match, but it is apparent from this match that Pillman can’t go anymore as he
resorts to chokes and other stalling techniques.  When the referee gets in Austin’s face about
his beating of Pillman, Austin gives him a Stunner.  Owen picks the pocket of the downed referee
and unlocks himself and other members of the Hart Foundation and that produces
a beat down that ends the match. 
Disappointing is probably the best word to describe this encounter.  Rating:  *
After the bell,
Ken Shamrock, Goldust, and Mankind run off the Hart Foundation.  When the dust settles, Austin and Shamrock
are left in the ring and Shamrock thwarts Austin’s attempt at a sneak attack by
giving him a belly-to-belly suplex. 
Austin doesn’t like that and he and Shamrock brawl until the Legion of
Doom separate them.  Goldust gets on the
house mic and tells Austin that the Hart Foundation wants him to fight
everyone.  Goldust suggests that Austin
team with he, the Legion of Doom, and Shamrock to face the Hart Foundation at
Calgary Stampede and Austin agrees, albeit reluctantly
.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your copy of Cause Stone Cold Said So for $19.99 (plus $6
shipping & handling)!  What?  They aren’t going to have Sable dance
seductively around a video tape?
Steve Austin’s
Stone Cold Stunner to the referee of his match with Brian Pillman is the Super
Soaker Rewind segment
.
McMahon interviews
the Hart Foundation and Pillman gives a nice promo that says the ten man tag at
Canadian Stampede has been signed in blood
.
Sable comes out to
be the guest ring announcer for our next match
.
Tommy Rogers
defeats Bobby Fulton with the Tomikaze at 2:47:
This is a battle between the old Fantastics and they were
recruited by Jim Cornette who was trying to get some veterans some work in the
WWF when the company was putting a light heavyweight division together.  This match allows Ross to go back to his
glory days in the NWA and he gives us some excellent background on both
participants, making them both seem very distinguished in the eyes of the
viewing audience.  Some idiots in the
crowd chant “boring”, but there isn’t anything wrong with this and the finish
gets some “ooh’s” from the crowd.
After the match,
Marc Mero comes out and doesn’t appear happy that Sable is in the ring and
waving at fans.
The Headbangers
say that they would love to win the WWF Tag Team titles.
Tag Team
Tournament Match:  The Headbangers defeat
Jerry “the King” Lawler & Rob Van Dam when Thrasher superplexes Mosh onto
Lawler at 3:59:
They haven’t yet released a bracket for this tournament,
but I would assume that the winner of this match will face Owen and the
Bulldog.  Van Dam acquits himself well in
the match, jumping about 15 feet in the air for the yet to be named ***** Frog
Splash.  Lawler appears to have the match
won after giving Thrasher a piledriver, but the Sandman comes in
behind the referee’s back and gives him a low blow with his Singapore cane and
the Headbangers advance.  If Van Dam
wrestled this as a handicap match it would’ve been better.  Rating:  *½
The Sandman and
Tommy Dreamer want to go after Van Dam after the match, but they are held back
by WWF officials and Paul Heyman
.
Ahmed Johnson and
the Undertaker and Paul Bearer are in the back and Ahmed tells McMahon that
they are ready.  Bearer tries to tell
Ahmed to listen to him, but Ahmed tells him to shut up.  Bearer is really great in this role.
Footage of recent
interactions between the Undertaker and Ahmed Johnson is shown
.
Faarooq &
Kama Mustafa defeat The Undertaker & Ahmed Johnson (w/Paul Bearer) when
Kama pins the Undertaker after a lifting side slam at 3:46:
Prior to the match, Faarooq welcomes out the new member
of the Nation of Domination, who is Kama Mustafa.  He looks like a generic jobber from the
1980s, though, without the “Supreme Fighting Machine” attire that he wore in
1995/1996.  The Undertaker wrestles the
whole match and if you don’t know what that means after a few years of watching
wrestling then you must not be very observant. 
As the match slowly goes on, McMahon and Ross throw out some names for
the other member of the Nation like the Junkyard Dog, Abdullah the Butcher
(?!?!), Butch Reed, and Mr. Hughes. 
Ahmed beats up Bearer, which costs his team the match and the crowd is
shocked that the Undertaker was pinned cleanly. 
Rating:  *
After the match, Ahmed
helps the Undertaker to his feet only to give him a Pearl River Plunge and he
joins the Nation of Domination.
The Final Report Card:  Ahmed joining the Nation was a great
storyline development, but it would be short-lived since he was injured shortly
after this.  Oh what might have
been.  The rest of the show advanced the
proper storylines, but it never seemed to click as far as the matches were
concerned.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.4 (vs. 3.3 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Neutral

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: In Your House: Cold Day in Hell

by Logan Scisco
Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Richmond, Virginia
.

Free for
All:  Rockabilly (w/The Honky Tonk Man)
defeats “The Real Double J” Jesse James with a DDT at 3:10:
Talk about the very definition of a lower midcard
match.  This is the continuation of the
Rockabilly-Jesse James feud, which is a feud that seems very out of place by
1997 standards.  I caught the clipped
version of this match on YouTube and its very tolerable because it eliminates
some of Rockabilly’s slow offense.  The
DDT Rockabilly delivers at the end of the match is vicious.  This was a simple squash for Rockabilly, but
it’s not like he was going anywhere with this 1980s-style gimmick.  However, I have to ask again:  If they were going to push Rockabilly why did
they job him out in his first match a month ago?  Rating:  ½*
The Hart
Foundation tells Jim Ross that they have procured front row tickets for
tonight’s event and they bought them from scalpers outside of the building.
Now onto the
pay-per-view…
Opening
Contest:  Hunter Hearst Helmsley
(w/Chyna) pins Flash Funk with a Pedigree at 10:02:
The Funkettes had been axed because of budget cuts, but
the storyline explanation was that they were afraid of Chyna and decided not to
show up.  Interestingly enough,
Helmsley’s Titantron still shows the lady friends he was bringing to the ring
in 1996.  Helmsley’s small feud with Mankind
began the previous night on Shotgun Saturday Night, when Chyna gave Mankind a
low blow to help Helmsley get out of the Mandible Claw.  Predictably, Chyna interferes several times
to put Helmsley in control of the match. 
Helmsley does a better job mixing up his offense, but the crowd is still
bored until Funk starts flying around on his comeback.  Funk goes for the Funky Flash Splash, but
Helmsley crotches him and delivers a brutal super side suplex to set up a clean
victory.  After the match, Chyna crotches
Funk on the top rope.  A good opener, but
Funk looked much more impressive than Helmsley. 
That’s not who got the push, though. 
Rating:  **
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear from the winners and losers of tonight’s matches.  It’ll cost you $1.49 a minute!
Ross interviews
Ken Shamrock on the Titantron and Shamrock says that although he was attacked
by Vader and Mankind on the Free for All, he isn’t going to be shaken.
-Todd Pettengill
interviews Rocky Maivia, who admits that success may have come too soon but
says that he has learned a lot.  Maivia
says that tonight’s match is about his determination and not his destiny.  You can sense more attitude in these promos
from Maivia, which is foreshadowing the Rock character.
Mankind defeats
“The Rock” Rocky Maivia with the Mandible Claw at 8:47:
This was supposed to be Sid-Mankind, but like the last
pay-per-view Sid was not available, so Maivia was plugged into this spot to
give us a battle of the future Rock N’ Sock Connection.  Mankind was on the verge of a face turn
through the shoot interview segments with Jim Ross that were aired on RAW,
while Maivia was quickly plummeting down the card after a disastrous run as
Intercontinental champion.  There’s
another small story behind this match and that is that Mankind eliminated
Maivia from the Royal Rumble in January, so Maivia is trying to get a small
measure of revenge here.  The crowd boos
Maivia each time he is on offense, but they do pop for him giving Mankind a
Rock Bottom on the entrance ramp.  Both
guys are really trying to raise the status of this match to more than a run of
the mill midcard match, but the crowd is having nothing to do with it.  Maivia hits his finishing flying body press,
but Mankind has a great counter by applying the Mandible Claw and gets the
victory.  Foley wrote in his book that
after this match he told some guys in the back that the WWF should cut Maivia
loose because he just “didn’t have it”, but I think that isn’t justified if you
watch this match.  You can see glimpses
of a future star in Maivia, but he was in desperate need of a repackaging.  Rating:  **½
Buy your Austin
3:16 t-shirt by calling 815-734-1161 and then paying $20 (plus shipping &
handling)!
Crush losing the
gauntlet match to Ahmed Johnson on Raw is shown
.
Pettengill
interviews Ahmed, who says that he is used to overcoming the odds.
Gauntlet
Match:  The Nation of Domination defeats
Ahmed Johnson when Faarooq pins Ahmed after a Dominator at 15:45:
The stipulation here is that if Ahmed wins the Nation of
Domination will be forced to disband.  At
the time, this seemed to be the final blowoff for the never ending Ahmed-Nation
feud.  Prior to the bell, WWF President
Gorilla Monsoon throws the Nation of Domination out of ringside and says that
only one wrestler will be allowed in the ring at a time.  This shows Clarence Mason’s legal ability has
really been in decline since 1995 because the old Mason would’ve outmaneuvered
Monsoon and forced Ahmed to defeat ten members of the Nation as they surrounded
the ring with billy clubs.  Ahmed and
Crush run through a DUDesque encounter that last five minutes, with Ahmed
countering the heart punch with a spinning heel kick and pinning him.  Savio gives it a go and the crowd grows
restless about the lack of action ten minutes into the contest.  Savio lasts seven minutes in a match that
wouldn’t crack ½* and when it appears that he’s going to lose, he grabs a chair
and wears Ahmed out with it to set up Faarooq’s entry into the match.  Faarooq shows that his separated shoulder
injury was a rouse, but Ahmed catches him with a Pearl River Plunge, of which
Faarooq inexplicably kicks out, drawing the biggest heel reaction of the night
thus far.  Faarooq quickly recovers and
finishes an exhausted Ahmed shortly thereafter to keep the Nation of Domination
intact.  This told a good story during
its last three minutes, with Savio weakening Ahmed and Ahmed  being too exhausted to secure a victory, but
it took forever to get there and it made this match a great cure for
insomnia.  Rating:  ½*
A recap is
provided for the issue between Ken Shamrock and Vader
.
Pettengill
interviews Vader, who says that his attack on Shamrock earlier in the evening
was a way to play with his mind
.
No Holds Barred
Match:  Ken Shamrock defeats Vader by
submission with an anklelock at 13:23:
The only way to win this match was by knockout or
submission and this was an excellent way to debut Shamrock, since it provided a
transition from his UFC background to the squared circle of the WWF.  Vader was also an ideal opponent, since he
was seen as the toughest guy on the roster. 
Shamrock doesn’t have his awesome theme music yet and it’s more
befitting a late 1980s jobber than the World’s Most Dangerous Man.  Vader always loved stiff matches and he gets
all he can handle from Shamrock, who goes Antonio Inoki on Vader’s legs.  Vader counters that with Memphis, as he
continually rolls out of the ring to avoid Shamrock’s offense.  Although this is a work, it is a smooth one
and they do a good job mixing in brawling and MMA-style offense with
professional wrestling moves.  During the
last couple of minutes, Shamrock just absolutely mauls Vader, which is
something that professional wrestling fans had never seen before and when Vader
tries to pose over Shamrock after knocking him down, Shamrock surprises him
with a takedown and finishes with the anklelock, which legitimately messes up
Vader’s ankle and puts him on the shelf for a couple of weeks.  This wasn’t your conventional wrestling
match, but it was a breath of fresh air when compared to other things
on the card.  Rating:  ***
Pettengill
interviews Steve Austin, who says that after he defeats the Undertaker he’s
going to go after the Hart Foundation, who will be at ringside for the WWF
title match
.
Pettengill
narrates some highlights of Steve Austin’s interactions with the Undertaker the
last couple of weeks
.
WWF Championship
Match:  The Undertaker (Champion) pins
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin with a Tombstone at 20:09:
Oddly enough, this is the only title match on the entire
card.  WWF history is a funny thing
because a year after this pay-per-view it would be the Undertaker coming to
Austin’s aid in an attempt to help him keep the WWF title.  The Hart Foundation comes out and takes their
positions in the front row and Austin has a hard time keeping his concentration
on the Undertaker.  Austin wears down the
Undertaker’s legs and the Undertaker responds in kind.  The problem with this is that neither guy
really sells the leg damage long enough and it renders a good sixty percent of
the match meaningless.  Even Ross is
forced to drop his euphemisms for a boring match.  Austin and Hebner have a fun sequence where
Austin flips off Hebner behind his back and Hebner reciprocates when the
Undertaker tosses Austin across the ring. 
Austin hits a Stunner after a hot shot, but Brian Pillman hops the
guardrail and rings the bell prematurely and this changes the momentum of the
match to allow the Undertaker to reverse an Austin Tombstone attempt into his
own version and retain the belt.  A lackluster
main event that does few favors for the Undertaker, as he receives a mixed reaction
when he’s announced as the winner and he eats a Stone Cold Stunner at the end
of the broadcast.  Rating:  *½
After the match,
the Hart Foundation jumps the guardrail and attacks the Undertaker, but they
leave Bret alone and Austin goes into the crowd, dumps Bret out of the
wheelchair, and clears the ring with one of the Hart Foundation’s crutches.
The Final Report Card:  The Shamrock-Vader encounter was the most
interesting part of the pay-per-view and it delivered, but the rest of the show
lacked the same “big match” feel.  Even
the WWF title match played sideshow to what the Hart Foundation was doing at
ringside and it hurt some of the quality of the main event.  Overall, I’m giving this a thumbs down
because although Vader-Shamrock was good, the first two matches weren’t all
that important and the gauntlet match and WWF title match didn’t live up to the
hype.
Attendance: 
9,381
Buyrate: 
0.57
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down