What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – July 14, 1997

by Logan Scisco


McMahon discusses
the contrast between last week’s Raw in Canada and how tonight Raw is in San
Antonio, Texas, which is in Steve Austin’s native state.
McMahon and Jim
Ross are in the booth and they are broadcasting from San Antonio, Texas.
McMahon interviews
the Hart Foundation, who are booed out of the building.  Bret says he looks forward to facing the
Undertaker for the WWF title at SummerSlam. 
Owen says he doesn’t mind defending the Intercontinental title against
Steve Austin at SummerSlam, but is more focused on winning the tag team titles
with the British Bulldog tonight.  The
British Bulldog says that if he loses the European title to Ken Shamrock at
SummerSlam that he will eat a can of dog food after the match.  Brian Pillman says if he loses to Goldust
that he will wear a dress and wrestle him the next night on Raw.  Jim Neidhart then says if any of the Harts
lose at SummerSlam that he will shave off his trademark goatee on Raw.  Steve Austin appears on the entrance ramp and
as he stares at the Hart Foundation with an American flag waving on the
Titantron, Ken Shamrock walks out in matching black trunks, the Patriot walks
out to make his debut, Sid appears in street clothes, and Shawn Michaels walks
out.  Any of these men might be Austin’s
tag team partner tonight.

Opening
Contest:  Ivan & Scott Putski defeat
Jerry “the King” Lawler & “Too Sexy” Brian Christopher when Ivan pins
Lawler after a Polish Hammer at 4:55:
Ivan doesn’t look bad here, although he is much less
ripped than he was in his prime.  After
putting Scott in peril, it appears like the heels have it won after Lawler
delivers a piledriver, but Lawler agrees to let Christopher try a Tennessee
Jam, but that misses.  The old Ivan then
cleans house and wins the battle for his team. 
A serviceable tag match that gave the heels their comeuppance and the
crowd loved seeing Ivan tear into Lawler. 
Rating:  **
Footage of Mankind
coming to Steve Austin’s aid, but then getting hit with a Stone Cold Stunner
last week is shown.
Mankind is shown
backstage and he refuses to talk about what happened to him last week.
-Action between
Flash Funk and Owen Hart on Shotgun Saturday Night is our Stridex Triple
Action  segment.
Paul Bearer tells
the Undertaker that his brother has lived in a personal hell for many years and
that Kane eagerly waits to confront the Undertaker.  Bearer promises to give the Undertaker proof
that Kane is alive on next week’s show
.
A small video
showcases Michinoku’s performances against the Great Sasuke and McMahon doesn’t
bother noting that Michinoku lost those matches because he’s fired the Great
Sasuke.
Taka Michinoku
beats Tajiri Yoshihiro with a Michinoku Driver at 4:08:
Yes, this is Tajiri before he became a crazy man in ECW
and the effectiveness of that gimmick would eventually lead him back to the
company when ECW folded.  They do a great
double KO sequence where they both slap each other silly and Tajiri utilizes
the kicks that would later make him famous. 
Michinoku survives a dragon suplex and a dropkick to the back of the
head and the Michinoku Driver finishes Tajiri off.  An entertaining contest that should have
landed Tajiri a permanent spot on the light heavyweight roster and it is very
obvious from these light heavyweight exhibitions that the Asian light
heavyweights are much more entertaining than their American counterparts.  Rating:  ***
Ken Shamrock says
that he’s not Steve Austin’s tag team partner and was merely out there in order
to show him support against the Hart Foundation.  He says he’s ready to knuckle up against Jim
Neidhart later tonight.
Los Boricuas are
shown riding into the arena with a couple of women.
Get the newest WWF
Magazine to find out more about the past, present, and future of Brian Pillman!
The Headbangers
say that they are going to put Los Boricuas up in smoke tonight.
Miguel & Jose
(w/Los Boricuas) defeat The Headbangers when Miguel pins Thrasher with a rollup
at 4:25
The gang wars concept was somewhat pathbreaking in the
fact that I cannot remember a time when the WWF had four stables (The Nation of
Domination, DOA, Los Boricuas, and The Hart Foundation) under one roof.  I often wonder what younger fans that see old
footage think of the Headbangers, since that is a gimmick that you have to have
lived during the 1990s to understand. 
Mosh has a cool move of sending Jose into the turnbuckles with a
hurricanrana, but that’s really the high spot of the match as the Headbangers
lose a close contest when Miguel escapes a Thrasher powerbomb.  Rating:  **
After the match,
Los Boricuas gang up on the Headbangers, but DOA show up and begin to brawl
with Los Boricuas, which changes the numbers equation.
The Patriot says
that he’d be honored to be by Steve Austin tonight, but he’s simply in the WWF
to defend the honor of America.
Steve Austin
encourages us to buy Cause Stone Cold Said So.  Call 815-734-1161 to buy your copy for $19.99
(plus $6 shipping & handling)!
Footage of Shawn
Michaels winning the WWF title at the Royal Rumble earlier in the year is shown
.
McMahon interviews
Shawn Michaels, who says that he will be Steve Austin’s tag team partner if
Austin wants him to be.  Michaels says
that he’s not currently scheduled to be at SummerSlam so he appeals to McMahon
to allow him to be a part of the show and that request is honored
.
Savio Vega grabs a
camera man and tells him to come and see something getting destroyed
backstage.  When the camera man gets
there, one member of Los Boricuas is destroying one of the DOA’s motorcycles
and that triggers a brawl between the two groups.
-Jerry Lawler comes
out to do commentary.
Ken Shamrock
beats Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart via submission to a rear naked choke at 4:40:
Neidhart continues to play his role as the whipping boy
of the Hart Foundation, as Shamrock forces him to submit to a standing rear
naked choke after four minutes of boring action where Neidhart uses a great
deal of chinlocks and right hands.  Rating: 
½*
-After the match,
the British Bulldog runs in and he and Neidhart briefly double team Shamrock
until the Patriot runs in and makes the save.
Call
1-900-747-4WWF to hear about Shawn Michaels future in the WWF and what some WWF
alumni feel about tonight’s SummerSlam Flashback show!
Mankind is still
sitting backstage and refuses to talk about what he might do later tonight
after he got rejected by Steve Austin last week.  The commentators then speculate about who
Austin might choose for his tag team partner tonight against Owen Hart and the
British Bulldog.
The Headbangers
are shown playing golf and they reveal the third clue for the SummerSlam One
Million Dollar Challenge and that is life.
-The next match is
scheduled to be The Legion of Doom against The New Blackjacks, but the Godwinns
attack the Legion of Doom on their way to the ring and Slop Drop Hawk on the
ramp, which busts the back of his head open. 
Hawk no sells it because he’s Hawk.
Shawn Michaels
begging Vince McMahon earlier in the show for a spot in SummerSlam is the
Discovery Zone Rewind segment.
Vader (w/Paul Bearer)
pins Flash Funk after a powerbomb at 4:10:
Funk was settling into a role of making other guys look
good and he’s at the top of the list of guys in the company that need a gimmick
change.  Would it really have hurt them
to make him 2 Cold Scorpio at this time and put him in the light heavyweight
division?  Funk gets in far more offense
than I anticipated by hitting a plancha and tossing Vader into the ring steps.  Funk even hits his moonsault, but he can’t
keep running into Vader, which is like running into a brick wall, and Vader
goes back to his WCW roots to finish him off. 
After the match, Vader hits a Vader Bomb to make a point to
someone.  A really fun abbreviated match.  Rating:  ***
McMahon asks Steve
Austin if he’s concerned about Mankind being in the arena, but Austin says he
doesn’t care at all.
-Get your copy of Cause
Stone Cold Said So
!
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve
Austin & His Mystery Partner defeat Owen Hart & The British Bulldog to
win the titles when His Mystery Partner pins Bulldog after Austin gives the
Bulldog a Stone Cold Stunner at 7:36 shown:
As you have read in the last several reviews, Owen and
the Bulldog earned this match for the vacant tag team titles by winning an
eight team tournament.  Austin charges
the ring and opts to fight the match alone, although his partner’s feet are
shown moving through the locker room backstage before the commercial
break.  Austin takes a beating, but
manages to toss Bulldog and Owen out of the ring and that is when Mick Foley
comes on the screen and says Austin may not want to team with Mankind, but he
said nothing about Dude Love and he comes out to one of the most catchy themes
in wrestling to be Austin’s partner. 
Austin’s facial expressions during this are awesome, as he doesn’t quite
know what to make of his new partner. 
Shortly after Dude’s arrival, Austin spots an opportunity when the
referee is preoccupied with Owen Hart and he manages to become a multi-time tag
team champion with a new partner.  The
match wasn’t much, but it was entertaining from a booking perspective.  Rating:  **¼
After the match,
Dude gives Austin a tag team belt and some groupies come into the ring to
celebrate with Dude and Austin decides to give him a tag team belt and shakes
his hand before leaving.  Dude dances
with the groupies as the show goes off the air.
The Final Report Card:  The debut of Dude Love is one of the biggest
“mark out” moments that I had as a fan growing up, so this show gets an easy
thumbs up from me.  Austin’s injury at
SummerSlam made his pairing with Foley short-lived, but it could have provided
some entertaining material as Austin slowly moved up the ladder to win the WWF
title at WrestleMania XIV.  The only
thing terrible about the show was Shamrock-Neidhart, but that was to be
expected.  I don’t think a singles match
Neidhart has been in since he returned has topped * yet.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.6 (vs. 3.5 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

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

by Logan Scisco

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

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

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

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

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

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – June 30, 1997

by Logan Scisco

-Jim Ross narrates a video
package about the Undertaker, who will have his secret revealed tonight by Paul
Bearer.
Vince McMahon,
Jerry “the King” Lawler, and Jim Ross are doing the announcing duties and they
are broadcasting from Des Moines, Iowa
.
Hunter Hearst
Helmsley and Chyna cut a pre-recorded promo, where Helmsley says he might be
facing the World’s Most Dangerous Man, but he is bringing the World’s Most
Dangerous Woman with him.

Opening
Contest:  Ken Shamrock defeats Hunter
Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) with a belly-to-belly suplex at 4:38:
Helmsley surprisingly gets in ninety percent of the
offense in this match, with much of it being fists, kicks, and chokes, and
Chyna continues her streak of making a mark by throwing Shamrock into the
steps.  However, Mankind wanders out and
that distracts Helmsley and enables Shamrock to pick up the victory.  A throwaway opener, but it sets up
Mankind-Helmsley for Canadian Stampede.  Rating: 
*
A video package
reviews the Ahmed Johnson heel turn and the emergence of the WWF gang
wars.  Ross says that Ahmed had to have
knee surgery this week and Ahmed says that when he comes back he’s going to go
right after the Undertaker.
Michael Cole makes
his Raw debut by interviewing the Legion of Doom in the locker room.  The LOD say that no one has come close to
beating them legally in their WWF tenure and they are ready for Faarooq and
D-Lo Brown tonight.
Sunny has money in
her cleavage to hype the One Million Dollar Challenge contest that is
affiliated with the SummerSlam pay-per-view.
Tag Team
Tournament Semi-Finals:  Faarooq &
D-Lo Brown (w/Kama Mustafa) defeat The Legion of Doom when Faarooq pins Hawk
after Henry Godwinn nails Hawk with a bucket:
The Godwinns appear near the entrance to watch the
contest and D-Lo faces less of a size disadvantage than he did in the Nation’s
first round match last week.  The match
proceeds along at a brisk pace and the LOD give D-Lo a Doomsday Device, but the
Godwinns interfere and the Nation scores a major upset to make the finals.  Rating:  ¼*
McMahon interviews
Faarooq and Faarooq demands to know why one of the members of the Nation did
not get Ahmed Johnson’s scheduled title match with the Undertaker at Canadian
Stampede.  When he is told that Vader is
getting the shot, Faarooq argues that Vader is getting the shot because he’s
white and that the DOA was sent to injure Ahmed by the Undertaker.  Well that would explain why the Undertaker
starting riding a bike in 2000.  Savio
Vega interrupts the promo and says that he is out for revenge and Savio’s gang,
the soon to be called Los Boricuas, interfere and fight the Nation.  When WWF officials get that settled, DOA
comes out to the biggest pop of all the groups and join the fight.
Cole tells us that
the Legion of Doom have left the building and he is interrupted by Los
Boricuas.  Savio introduces his gang and
says that they are in the WWF to kick ass.
Film of Sunny’s
photo shoot for Raw magazine is shown and this includes photos of a liaison
with Brian Pillman
.
Footage of Jerry
Lawler piledriving wrestlers is shown because he is Brian Christopher’s mentor.
“Too Sexy” Brian
Christopher beats Scott Putski with a rollup after Jerry Lawler interferes at
3:37:
This continues the series of light heavyweight matches
that have been on Raw for the last few weeks. 
It is somewhat surprising that Putski didn’t establish a more regular
role with the company at this time because he had a good look and was competent
in the ring.  The crowd really isn’t into
this, but the WWF was misguided in just throwing light heavyweights out there
and thinking the crowd would react.  The
crowds did that in WCW because the cruiserweights were flying through the air
and throwing out tons of insane spots. 
The WWF did not have those kinds of wrestlers, so they needed to give
these guys some mic time and semblance of storylines to make people care.  Putski appears to have the match won with a
splash off the top rope, but Lawler interferes and trips Putski when he tries a
running powerslam and his son wins.  This
was perfectly acceptable and had a good pace, but the screwjob finishes are
getting excessive this evening since this is our third in a row.  Rating:  **
After the match,
Lawler and Christopher give Putski a spike piledriver and cut a brief
promo.  Lawler throws some ethnic slurs
at Putski’s Polish heritage and Christopher stumbles through his part.  This appears to be setting up a future tag
team match between Lawler and Christopher and the Putskis.
Steve Austin’s
imitation of Hulk Hogan in ECW, which is on the video Cause Stone Cold Said
So
is played for the audience.
-The Undertaker is
in the locker room and he tells fans that they are going to hear a slanted
version of the worst night of his life and it’s a night that changed him
forever.  He tells fans not to let their
minds to be poisoned by Paul Bearer and to give him a chance to tell his side
of the story.
Ross narrates a
video hyping the appearance of the Great Sasuke at the Canadian Stampede.
Brian Pillman apologizes
attacking a fan on Shotgun Saturday Night, which got him banned from that
show.  He also apologizes for being the
voice of reason and being willing to tell it like it is.
“The Loose
Cannon” Brian Pillman defeats Mankind via count out at 6:01 shown:
Mankind is still wearing the “Pick Me Steve” sign,
although he’s not wearing an Austin 3:16 shirt. 
Mankind gives Ross a present at the announce table, which ends up being
a Mandible Claw hand.  Pillman just takes
it out of Ross’s hand and drives it into Mankind’s face and then proceeds to
tear up his sign.  Steve Austin appears
in the split screen and says that he doesn’t want to team with Mankind because
he sucks.  The storyline in this match is
that Pillman is losing his mind after getting fired from Shotgun Saturday Night
and he tries to stab Mankind with a pencil, which is interrupted by Earl
Hebner.  We get a fun brawl, but when
Mankind applies the Mandible Claw, Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Chyna interfere
and when Mankind chases after them he gets counted out.  That brings our screwjob streak to four.  Rating:  **
Paul Bearer says
that he looks forward to revealing the Undertaker’s secret tonight
.
McMahon interviews
Bearer, who is attacked by a fan on his way to the ring.  Since it only takes a camera man to take the
fan away, I would venture to say that it would have to be a plant.  Bearer says that he was an apprentice for the
Undertaker’s father at a funeral home for two years, but he noticed that the
Undertaker as a child had the look of the devil.  Despite this, the Undertaker’s younger
brother Kane followed his around everywhere and Bearer starts getting a little
ridiculous talking about them smoking cigarettes behind a barn.  He said when he came back from college
classes one night, the funeral home was burned down and he says the Undertaker
did it and killed his family.  The lights
flicker in the arena as we go to a commercial break.
Vader is shown
congratulating Bearer backstage on revealing the secret.
Sable models the
cash for the Million Dollar Challenge and Marc Mero is not happy about it.
Tag Team
Tournament Semi-Finals:  Owen Hart &
The British Bulldog defeat The Headbangers when Owen pins Mosh with a roll up
at 4:07:
With the Legion of Doom eliminated, the tag team
tournament has become a mere formality, as it is quite inconceivable that Owen
and the Bulldog would do the job here or in the finals.  Bret Hart calls into the show from Calgary
and he hypes the Canadian Stampede pay-per-view.  The phone interview takes all the attention
away from the match, in which both teams evenly trade offense, but the Bulldog
crotches Thrasher when the Headbangers try to do their flying leg
drop-powerbomb combination to Owen and Owen rolls up Mosh to advance his team.  Rating:  *½
After the match,
Jim Cornette congratulates his former team and tells them that he wants to
introduce his new team that never made it in time for the tournament and the
men he brings out are the Headhunters. 
Owen and the Bulldog quickly leave, though, so the Headhunters square
off with the Headbangers in an awkward exchange, which ends with the
Headhunters delivering a flying headbutt and moonsault to their new foes.  This never led to anything.
The Undertaker
addresses his fans from the locker room and says that the funeral home did burn
down.  He says Kane and he were playing
with matches and they were punished by his father, but he says that Kane
probably burned it down because he saw him with embalming liquids as he headed
off to do his chores.  He claims to have
returned from his chores to see that the funeral home had burned down.  He then says that the event put him on a path
of walking in darkness and absorbing the power of death.
Vader (w/Paul
Bearer) defeats Rockabilly (w/The Honky Tonk Man) by disqualification when the
Undertaker interferes at 24 seconds:
So we go from a great deal of discussion about death and
people burning alive to the Rockabilly theme. 
That’s quite a mood shift.  Vader
no sells a guitar shot to the back at the beginning of the contest, but before
Rockabilly can endure a major beating, the Undertaker runs out and then goes
after Bearer.  The Undertaker tells
Bearer to tell the world the truth and Bearer tells him that Kane is alive and
told him that the Undertaker burned down the funeral home.  After that revelation, Vader hits the
Undertaker from behind and runs away.  I’m sure the Internet liked Vader playing a cowardly heel in 1997.
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“Stone Cold”
Steve Austin beats Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart by disqualification when Bret Hart
interferes at 8:10 shown:
This is a small rematch from a few weeks back when these
two men faced each other and Austin won in less than two minutes because of a
disqualification.  Austin shows off his
anti-hero persona by grabbing the ropes on abdominal stretch.  During the commercial break, Bret Hart
attacks Ken Shamrock, the only member of Austin’s team at Canadian Stampede in
the building, backstage.  The match never
seems to click, with Neidhart using lots of rest holds, even though he does
take a bump on the entrance ramp for Austin. 
Unsurprisingly, Bret runs out and interferes and puts Austin in the ring
post figure-four until Mankind rushes out to break it up by putting Bret in a
Mandible Claw and that plays us out.  Rating: 
¾*
The Final Report Card:  This show had its moments, with the
revelation of the Undertaker’s secret, but the rest of it was a chore to sit
through.  The closing segment was fun,
but the Austin-Neidhart match was not and the tag team tournament matches were
rushed and did nothing for any of the participants.  The screwjob finishes also got tiresome by
the end of the evening.  The first thumbs
down effort for Raw in a while, but they have a good pay-per-view coming up
that we will discuss next week.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.5 (vs. 3.3 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

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

by Logan Scisco

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

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

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – June 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
.

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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: King of the Ring 1997

by Logan Scisco

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

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

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – June 2, 1997

by Logan Scisco

McMahon recaps
last week’s tag team championship main event and the events that unfolded after
the match.  McMahon also recaps the
Undertaker’s interaction with Paul Bearer at the end of last week’s show.
Vince McMahon and
Jim Ross are in the booth and they are broadcasting from Huntington, West
Virginia.  This is the go home show for
the King of the Ring pay-per-view
.

The Undertaker
comes out and says that while it would’ve been great to break Paul Bearer’s
neck last week, it wouldn’t have helped him out of his present
circumstances.  The Undertaker talks
about how he knows he won’t go to hell after he’s dead because he’s living it
now, thereby destroying the last vestige of the original Undertaker
gimmick.  The Undertaker says that he’s
having to take on Bearer as his manager, but hopes he burns in hell for all
time.  This is such a great spin on the
manager-wrestler relationship, with a wrestler being forced to take on a
manager that he absolutely loathes.  Predictably,
Bearer comes out and he’s not happy and he reprimands the Undertaker for
cutting a promo without his approval. 
Bearer talks about how he and the Undertaker are going to rule the
world, which brings out Sid, who is making his return from a back injury.  Sid calls Bearer a “fat man” to a massive pop,
showing that Sid can get a pop for the stupidest phrases, and he puts over the
Undertaker’s title reign.  However, Sid
says he can’t respect the Undertaker after he took back Bearer and he demands a
rematch for his WWF title for tonight and promises to powerbomb the Undertaker
to hell.  The Undertaker accepts without
hesitation.  Just when you think that’s
over with, the Nation of Domination comes out and Faarooq says that a black man
is going to rule the WWF by next week’s show. 
He also says that the Undertaker is a weak man for giving into Bearer.  A crazy, yet effective opening segment that
showed some psychological vulnerability of the Undertaker for the first time in
his career.
Ahmed Johnson says
that Faarooq may have plans to be the first WWF champion but that isn’t going
to happen because he’s going to take him out tonight
.
A video package
hypes the opening bout between Faarooq and Ahmed Johnson
.
Opening
Contest:  Faarooq (w/The Nation of
Domination) defeats Ahmed Johnson after Ahmed is thrown into the ring steps on
the floor at 3:07:
This is yet another battle in the continual struggle
between Ahmed and Faarooq.  Ahmed
showcases a nice array of power moves, but the Nation of Domination intervenes
to turn the tide.  The Undertaker comes
out to lend Ahmed a hand, but the fighting on the floor sees the Undertaker
inadvertently whip Faarooq into Ahmed, who then collides with the ring steps
and the astute Faarooq rolls Ahmed into the ring to get a cheap win on his way
to the King of the Ring main event this Sunday. 
There just wasn’t a lot here.  Rating: 
*
After the match,
Ahmed gets into the Undertaker’s face and gets a chokeslam for his efforts.
Steve Austin’s
attack on Bret Hart at the end of last week’s show is played
.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your King of the Ring inflatable chair for $59.99 (plus $11 shipping
& handling)!  I had the worst of luck
as a kid with inflatable things, as they usually got a hole within the first
week and then you had to try to duct tape them back together after refilling
them with a vacuum cleaner.
McMahon interviews
the Hart Foundation.  Bret is back on
crutches after Steve Austin’s attack at the end of last week’s show and McMahon
brings WWF Tag Team Champions Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin onto the
Titantron.  Bret says he won’t face
Michaels at the King of the Ring because of his renewed injury.  Michaels isn’t happy that Austin ruined his
match with Bret at the King of the Ring, but Austin says he doesn’t care
because he tried to take Bret out for good. 
Michaels and Austin continue to jaw and Michaels heads towards Austin’s
locker room and they argue about who needs who the most.  The Hart Foundation confers in the ring after
seeing these events and Brian Pillman proposes that Michaels take his place at
King of the Ring against Austin and Austin says that’s fine and he’ll face
Pillman on the RAW after King of the Ring.
Footage of Bob
Holly upsetting Owen Hart in a non-title match on RAW two weeks ago is shown
.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  Owen Hart (Champion
w/The Hart Foundation) defeats Bob “Spark Plugg” Holly via submission with the
Sharpshooter at 3:16:
If they wanted to make Holly a credible threat was it
really a wise move to job him to a debuting D-Lo Brown on last week’s
show?  At least we have an
Intercontinental title match with some backstory.  This is Holly’s first crack at the
Intercontinental title since 1995, when he faced Jeff Jarrett in an
entertaining series of matches on the Action Zone and actually held the belt
for a few minutes before then-WWF President Jack Tunney vacated his
victory.  This is a technically
proficient match, but they have to rush things since we are now in the Russo
era and most matches can’t go over four minutes.  Owen counters a Holly hurricanrana attempt
with a powerbomb, which is the same mistake Holly made on last week’s show, and
quickly finishes Holly off to retain the title. 
Rating:  **
Shawn Michaels
says that he will take on the challenge of facing Steve Austin at the King of
the Ring
.
A video recaps the
second part of Mankind’s interview with Jim Ross last week
.
The Headbangers,
the Honky Tonk Man, and Jim Cornette try to set a Super Soaker ambush for
Sunny, but she gets them with a three way shot from her Super Soaker.  Sunny’s lack of acting skills are really
exposed in these commercials
.
Footage of Chyna
attacking Hunter Hearst Helmsley after she was blinded by powder from Marlena
the last time Helmsley faced Goldust on RAW is shown
.
#1 Contenders
Match for the European Championship:  Goldust
(w/Marlena) defeats Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) with a schoolboy after
heel miscommunication at 3:49:
Goldust facepaint makes him appear like the second coming
of The Stalker.  The winner here gets a
shot at the European title next week on RAW. 
Ross tries to sell this as an equal feud, but Helmsley has won most of
the television encounters.  Goldust and
Helmsley exchange some basic moves until Chyna grabs Goldust on the apron.  Marlena then goes after Chyna and Helmsley
accidentally gives Chyna a high knee, which knocks her off the apron, and that
enables Goldust to score the upset. 
McMahon acts like Goldust has accomplished some kind of career goal by
getting to face the British Bulldog for the European title next week, but it’s
hard to buy since Goldust hasn’t come out and said that he wants to win the
European championship.  Helmsley doing
the job may not make sense because of his place in the King of the Ring
tournament, but it showcases some vulnerability and might make fans think he
and Chyna would have a blowup that would cost him his semi-final match with
Ahmed at the pay-per-view.  Rating: 
*
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to find out about a photo shoot some WWF superstars did recently
.
Shawn Michaels
hurricanrana on the British Bulldog is the Sega Slam of the Week
.
The Legion of Doom
cut a brief promo and Hawk promises that they are going to send Shawn Michaels
teeth down Austin’s throat
.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  The Legion of Doom
defeat “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels & “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
(Champions) by count out at 6:58 shown:
I wonder if one of the reasons for the Michaels-Austin
pairing was allowing McMahon to compare the crowd reactions of Michaels and
Austin since they made separate entrances. 
Michaels bumping is a tad overdone in the early stages of this one as he
is clotheslined out of the ring, leaps into the guardrail, and then flops like
a fish until he ends up on top of Austin. 
The crowd is pretty divided between both teams, but it seems like the
LOD has a few more supporters in the arena as several “LOD” chants break out
during the match.  Michaels and Austin heel
it up by nailing Hawk with a tag title belt behind the referee’s back, but it
fails to get a three count.  The Hart
Foundation wander down to ringside and Michaels confronts them (after flying
out of the ring after taking a right hand) and Austin does not appreciate
that.  The tag champions end up brawling
on the floor and that gives the LOD a victory without the belts to irritate the
crowd.  This was a good carry job by
Michaels and Austin since the LOD added very little to the match’s value.  Rating:  **¾
We are shown the
third part of Mankind’s interview with Jim Ross.  Mankind discusses the Cactus Jack character
and competing in death matches in Japan.
King of the Ring
First Round Match:  Mankind defeats Savio
Vega (w/The Nation of Domination) after heel miscommunication at 3:02:
Jerry Lawler joins the commentary team because he faces
the winner in the semi-finals.  For the
first time in his WWF career Mankind elicits some cheers from the crowd during
his entrance and thereby begins the process of a face turn.  McMahon reveals that Mankind is confused why
Paul Bearer doesn’t want to manage him anymore. 
Savio really steps up his game for this match and hits an awesome
looking flying body press onto Mankind on the floor.  Lawler goes on a hilarious rant on commentary
about the size of Mankind’s house and links it to Mankind jumping off the roof
of his house as a kid.  Mankind traps
Savio in the Mandible Claw, but when Crush tries to give Mankind a heart punch
to break the hold, Mankind moves and Crush nails Savio in the head and that
advances Mankind in the tournament.  That’s
the third screwy finish tonight for those keeping score at home.  Rating:  *¼
After the match,
Savio and Crush brawl in the ring and Faarooq, instead of trying to play
peacemaker, walks off
.
McMahon and Ross
run through the King of the Ring card for this Sunday
.
Sable comes out to
model the inflatable King of the Ring chair. 
Seeing Sable try to act seductive around an INFLATABLE CHAIR is
hilariously bad.  Ross lets us know that
the chair can seat “a wide body.”
-The Undertaker
chokeslamming Ahmed Johnson earlier in the show is the Super Soaker Rewind
segment
.
Non-Title
Match:  The Undertaker (WWF Champion
w/Paul Bearer) defeats Sid with a Tombstone at 4:47 shown:
Sid made it seem in his opening promo that this was for
the title, but Howard Finkel announces it as non-title, so I guess he was
wrong.  This is as slow as their
WrestleMania match, as these two guys just don’t have good chemistry with each
other, but at least they aren’t being given twenty minutes tonight.  The Undertaker hits a flying clothesline out
of nowhere and gets the victory with the Tombstone before he’s quickly beaten
down by the Nation.  Sid tries to help
out, but he’s overwhelmed as well.  I
found little redeeming value in this and it made Sid look quite weak
(not that the WWF was banking on his value anymore).  Rating:  DUD
Tune in next week
to see Steve Austin square off with Brian Pillman!
The Final Report Card:  This RAW card was absolutely stacked, as we
got another battle between Faarooq and Ahmed, a quasi-dream match for the tag
team titles, and a WrestleMania rematch between Sid and the Undertaker.  Despite that, though, this show still didn’t
defeat Nitro.  The show went downhill
after the tag team title match, which started the second hour, but I’m still
going to award it a thumbs up because the storytelling in hour one was nicely
done.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.3 (vs. 2.5 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – May 26, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Vince McMahon and
Jim Ross are in the booth and they are live from Evansville, Indiana
.
Ross interviews
Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels, who come out separately and to explosive
reactions (although Austin’s is far bigger). 
Ross obviously asks if they can co-exist and both men say yes because
they don’t like the Hart Foundation.  The
Legion of Doom, who are penciled into the first match on tonight’s show, come
out to confront the challengers for the tag team champions and get a promise of
a title match.

Opening
Contest:  The Legion of Doom defeat Jim “The
Anvil” Neidhart & Brian Pillman (w/The Hart Foundation) by disqualification
when Owen Hart & The British Bulldog interfere at 4:23:
Bret isn’t on crutches anymore and this is Pillman’s
first match on RAW.  You can tell Pillman
just isn’t the same on his reconstructed ankle, as his movements are not as
fluid around the ring.  The match is
rather messy, as Hawk nearly sends Pillman back to the hospital after a botched
gorilla press slam and Animal and Pillman collide at a high speed when Pillman
doesn’t go over the top rope on a clothesline. 
The LOD are set to win by setting up Pillman for a Doomsday Device, but
the tag team champions run in and cause a disqualification.  Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels show up to
save the day, but when the Hart Foundation flees, Michaels inadvertently
catches Austin with a baseball slide and they brawl as WWF officials try to
break them up.  The crowd was hot for the
LOD, but this match was terrible when you think of the experienced hands that
were putting it together.  I would’ve
fired all four men for another lousy effort like this, but the crowds loved
seeing the LOD regardless of their faults. 
Rating:  ½*
Paul Bearer, who
looks like a completely new man without the funeral parlor makeup, is shown
looking at his watch backstage.  Bearer
tells McMahon and Ross that he left his secret in a safe deposit box with an
attorney and the attorney has the only key. 
Bearer says he’s not the same man and he’ll reveal the Undertaker’s
secret if he doesn’t return to him tonight. 
I’d easily argue that this angle was Bearer’s best work in his WWF
tenure
.
D-Lo Brown (w/The
Nation of Domination) defeats Bob “Spark Plugg” Holly with a powerbomb counter
of a hurricanrana at 3:09:
This is Brown’s in-ring debut and he brings the active
competitors in the Nation of Domination to four.  Holly is coming off an upset victory over
Owen Hart last week and it was actually a big deal to beat the champion in a
non-title match back in 1997.  Faarooq
does guest commentary for this match and he implies that McMahon is a
racist.  This match is really a vehicle
for Faarooq to rant about how this match is what viewers want to see since a
black man is facing a white man.  D-Lo
acquits himself well in this contest, which is a glorified squash.  Even if it lost momentum near the end, the
crowd liked the finishing spot.  Rating: 
The Undertaker
says he has to make a decision tonight.
Jerry Lawler cuts
a very controversial promo, which you can find on YouTube today, where he says
that Dusty Rhodes doesn’t like his son because Dustin married a “gold digger
from Georgia”, dressed like a “fag”, and says that Dustin’s daughter should be
married “Target” because everyone in Georgia “had a shot at it.”  You can tell by McMahon’s voice that he’s not
very happy Lawler dropped so many controversial lines during the non-Warzone
part of the show.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your King of the Ring inflatable chair for $59.99 (plus $11 for shipping
& handling)!  $60 for an inflatable
chair?  Interestingly enough, it looks like
Buh Buh Ray Dudley is involved in the commercial as an extra.
King of the Ring
First Round Match:  Jerry “the King”
Lawler defeats Goldust (w/Marlena) with the Flair pin at 5:20:
Lawler gets a nice pop for his entrance because
Evansville was a territory for the USWA. 
He also gets some loud chants from the crowd, which is the first time
that you have seen Lawler get that type of crowd support in his WWF
tenure.  The fact that Lawler is in the
tournament shows how weak this year’s field is. 
In a nice piece of continuity, the announce team shows footage of Lawler
confronting Goldust about his sexuality in December 1996 which began Goldust’s
face turn.  Goldust no sells the
piledriver, thereby offending all of the USWA fans in attendance, and he gives
the move to Lawler to draw some boos. 
The match is a poor brawl, but the crowd enhances it a lot by reacting
big to everything Lawler does.  After the
match, Goldust attacks Lawler and sends him down the ramp with a right
hand.  Rating:  *½
McMahon asks
Austin what he thinks the chances are that he and Shawn Michaels win the tag
team titles tonight, but before Austin can respond he’s attacked by Brian
Pillman, Owen Hart, and the British Bulldog
.
When we return
from commercial break, Austin goes to Shawn Michaels locker room and argues
with him.  Supposedly Michaels was also
attacked and he complains that Austin was not watching his back
.
“The Rock” Rocky
Maivia defeats Flash Funk with a flying body press at 3:33:
This is a match where both guys desperately need a win
because they are engaged in prolonged losing streaks.  During the match, the Headbangers come out of
the crowd with some of the inflatable King of the Ring chairs and they sit in
them and do guest commentary.  After Funk
hits Maivia with a pescado, the Headbangers go over and attack them for some
reason.  For another reason, the match is
not thrown out by the referee and during the fighting, Mosh hits Funk over the
head with a boom box and Maivia catches Funk with a flying body press for the
victory.  After the match, Funk and
Maivia shake hands and threaten revenge. 
I don’t think a tag team between these two is the answer to Maivia’s
problems.  Rating:  *
A clip of the second
part of Mankind’s interview with Jim Ross is shown and he talks about not
wearing a protective cup and how he was harmed by it.
Brian Pillman’s
victory over a jobber with a neckbreaker on Shotgun Saturday Night is our Sega
Saturn Slam of the Week
.
Bret Hart and the
Hart Foundation hype the match Bret has with Shawn Michaels at the King of the
Ring.  I’m interested to see what the
booking of this match would have been like if it had gone according to plan.  Pillman says that he’s going to tear Austin
apart at the King of the Ring and the British Bulldog and Owen Hart make it
known that they are not losing the tag team titles tonight.
Ken Shamrock comes
out to do commentary for our next match
.
King of the Ring
Replacement Match:  Ahmed Johnson defeats
Vader with a spinebuster at 3:04:
This match would have been a pay-per-view main event
caliber match a year earlier but the stock of both men has fallen significantly
in 1997.  The interesting stipulation for
this match is that Vader challenged Ahmed for his spot in the King of the Ring
semi-finals since he was not cleared to compete last week.  Therefore, if Ahmed loses then Vader will
face Hunter Hearst Helmsley in the King of the Ring semi-finals.  A match between these two was a King of the
Ring first round match a year prior as well and Vader won that match with
outside interference.  Predictably, this
match is a brawl as both men deliver some haymakers to each other, but Vader is
ill-advised to charge Ahmed in the center of the and ring and loses.  This was too abbreviated a match to really
mean anything.  Rating:  *¼
Are new members
headed into the Nation of Domination? 
Call 1-900-737-4WWF to find out!
Paul Bearer says
that the Undertaker is running out of days to keep his secret safe.
Hunter Hearst
Helmsley (w/Chyna) defeats Rockabilly (w/The Honky Tonk Man) with a Pedigree at
3:16:
Rockabilly enters this match with some momentum, as he’s
scored a few victories the last couple of weeks against the “The Real Double J”
Jesse James and Goldust.  The real star
of this match is Chyna, as she pulls Rockabilly off of Helmsley after a Rocker
dropper and bodyslams the Honky Tonk Man when he tries to hit Helmsley with a
guitar.  Helmsley achieves a somewhat
clean victory, but the only reason anyone was taking note of him at this stage
of his career was because of the mystique Chyna created for him.  Rating:  *¾
The Undertaker
tells McMahon that life is about making decisions you don’t want to and the
Undertaker tells Bearer to do what he has to do and that he will do what he has
to do
.
Sable models the
King of the Ring inflatable chair
.
Another part of
the second portion of Mankind’s interview with Jim Ross is shown.  This interview sees Mankind discuss seeing
Jimmy Snuka splash Don Muraco from the top of a cage in Madison Square Garden
in 1983 and the Dude Love character
.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve
Austin & “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels defeat The British Bulldog
& Owen Hart (Champions w/The Hart Foundation) when Austin pins the Bulldog
after Michaels hits Sweet Chin Music at 10:24 shown:
McMahon tells us that Austin and Michaels will face the
Legion of Doom in a title match next week if they capture the belts here.  It’s always entertaining to see Michaels, the
Bulldog, and Owen bouncing all over the ring and that’s what happens in the
opening moments of this match when the challengers take it to the
champions.  The Bulldog crotches Michaels
on the ropes to turn the tide, which draws a great reaction of despair from
Austin, and Austin saves the match by breaking up pins from a Bulldog running
powerslam and an Owen belly-to-belly suplex. 
All of the tricks of a great tag match are employed here, which include
the false tag or situations where the challengers have the champions pinned but
the referee is not in position to make a count. 
The pace of this match is also insane, as everyone is working 100 miles per
hour to get everything in.  They do a
creative end to the all hell breaks loose finish as Owen goes to his corner and
Michaels feigns that he is going to, but blasts the Bulldog with Sweet Chin
Music for good measure.  A great tag team
match that was a nice way to end Owen and the Bulldog’s seven months of
dominance in the tag team division.  I
would have liked a few more false finishes, but everyone was firing on all
cylinders in this one and the crowd with it from beginning to end.  Rating:  ****¼
The new champions
don’t get much time to celebrate as the rest of the Hart Foundation attacks
them.  Bret stays on the ramp, but Austin
goes after him and his surgically repaired knee as Michaels endures a
four-on-one beating.  Eventually the Hart
Foundation divots to save Bret and Austin gets away.
Austin and the
Bulldog argue in the locker room, with Austin insisting that he won the tag
team titles by himself
.
Paul Bearer comes
out to be interviewed by Vince McMahon. 
Bearer says there were three graves in the cemetery when the Undertaker’s
parents were buried and the Undertaker comes out before Bearer can talk
anymore.  The Undertaker says that he
hates Bearer and regrets what he must do to him tonight.  The Undertaker begins to choke Bearer out,
but based on what Bearer is telling him he lets him go and seemingly bows down
to him as the show plays out
.
The Final Report Card:  The hot crowd in Evansville made this show
come off very well and the tag team title match in the main event easily
warrants a thumbs up rating.  The ending
of the show with Bearer and the Undertaker was also well done and helps
establish more momentum for that storyline in the weeks ahead.  This is definitely one of the best RAW
episodes of 1997
.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.7 (vs. 3.3 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

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

by Logan Scisco
We return to May
1997 after I missed posting a review because of a hectic work schedule.
Vince McMahon narrates
highlights of last week’s interaction between Bret Hart and Shawn
Michaels.  Off-air footage of Michaels giving
Bret Sweet Chin Music and Steve Austin rescuing him from a beat down by the
Hart Foundation is shown.
-Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are coming to us from Mobile,
Alabama.
Steve Austin comes
out to be interviewed by Jim Ross. 
Austin points out that he doesn’t care about Shawn Michaels, but came to
his aid because the Hart Foundation turned its back to him.  Shawn Michaels comes out, dressed like a member of the Village People, and Michaels says he doesn’t care about
Austin either.  Michaels runs down his
accomplishments, but Austin is unimpressed and they brawl until WWF officials
hit the ring and separate them.  The Hart
Foundation, minus Bret Hart, appears on the Titantron and Owen challenges
Austin and Michaels to a tag team title match against he and the Bulldog on next week’s show.  Michaels and Austin
have a fun fight over the microphone and argue over how they’ll face Owen and
the Bulldog with another partner, with Austin pulling out the best line in saying
that he’ll get “someone who’s 75 pounds or 75 years old,” and they brawl some
more.  Great mic work from both guys and
they did a great job selling the animosity between their characters
.
-Ross and Lawler
tell us that the King of the Ring tournament is going to continue tonight, but
Vader will not be facing Crush and there is a surprise for who takes his place
.

King of the Ring
First Round Match:  Hunter Hearst
Helmsley (w/Chyna) defeats Crush (w/The Nation of Domination) after Savio
accidentally crescent kicks Crush at 3:55:
Vader was taken out of this match because of injuries
suffered at the hands of Ken Shamrock in their match at In Your House.  As a result, Hunter Hearst Helmsley was
plugged in, which was hardly the surprise that viewers were looking forward to.  Gerald Brisco says that Helmsley is allowed
back into the tournament because he was informed last week that the only way to
advance in the tournament was by pinfall or submission.  This booking of the tournament always puzzled
me.  If Helmsley was always supposed to
win, why book him to lose in the first round and then put him back into the
tournament?  Despite this being the
Attitude Era, a heel-heel matchup like this was still unusual for the time and
the crowd doesn’t know what to make of it. 
Helmsley does a great job bumping for Crush and it easily makes for
Crush’s best match in awhile.  In a fun
finish, both guys call for help, but Nation miscommunication costs Crush the match.  Rating:  *¼
After the match,
Savio and Crush argue with each other and Faarooq has to run into the ring as a
mediator.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your Austin 3:16 shirt for $20 (plus shipping & handling)!
Non-Title
Match:  Bob “Spark Plugg” Holly defeats Owen
Hart (Intercontinental Champion w/The British Bulldog & Jim Neidhart) with
a small package at 3:33:
Fans, interviewed outside of the arena, wish the best to
Holly because he is fighting in his native Alabama.  Lawler makes sure to wreck that, though, by
interviewing two Alabamians who aren’t too bright.  Holly’s race car driver gimmick is really out
of place with the Attitude Era, as it is a relic from the WWF Dark Ages.  The crowd is hot for the match, since Holly
is the hometown guy, and this match reminds of you of the old NWA title matches
where the champion faced the hometown favorite. 
Owen and Holly run through some smooth sequences and Owen goes for the
Sharpshooter, but Holly surprises him with a small package and scores the
upset.  Holly brought this match up a
couple of years later on the “Raw is Owen” episode and mentioned how Owen
volunteered to do the job for him in his hometown.  Remember the days when the WWF made sure not
to job people out in their hometowns?  Rating: 
**¼
The Undertaker
says that it is time to address Paul Bearer and he tells him there are some
events that are better to have never seen the light of day
.
Sunny advertises
the newest Super Soaker by squirting Jim Cornette
.
Shawn Michaels
tells Jim Ross that he has found a partner to face Owen Hart and the British
Bulldog next week and that is Ken Shamrock
.
Part one of Jim
Ross’s “shoot” interview with Mankind is shown. 
These interviews really changed Mick Foley’s career in the WWF as he was
getting lost in the shuffle of the midcard at the time that these interviews
were done.  This interview plays Foley
jumping off of his house doing the Superfly Splash, which is credited with
sparking the backyard wrestling craze. 
Foley discusses how he was ostracized as a kid and ate strange things
.
Lawler tells
viewers that Rob Van Dam can’t come back on RAW because Paul Heyman enacted
legal proceedings after Van Dam appeared on last week’s show and squashed Jeff
Hardy
.
Scott Taylor
defeats Leif Cassidy with a small package at 2:40
This is Taylor’s “debut”, even though he had been a
jobber for the company for years prior to this. 
This can be aptly called a light heavyweight contest, as Cassidy pulls
out a suicide dive and Taylor pulls off a slingshot body press to the arena
floor.  Cassidy appears in control of another
match, but when he goes for a suplex-facebuster combination for the second
time, Taylor surprises him with a small package.  Cassidy continues his descent into madness
after the match.  This was good while it
lasted.
Austin
accidentally walks in on Sable, who is in the midst of changing.  Austin says he’s just looking for a tag team
partner.
Bret Hart arrives
at the arena, having recently upgraded to crutches, and he’s flanked by the
other members of the Hart Foundation
.
We get our first
taste of the WWF recapping events multiple times in the same show, as the
Bret-Shawn interaction from last week’s show is replayed
.
Vince McMahon arrives
in the announce booth to do commentary for hour two of the broadcast
.
The Hart
Foundation comes out and Bret Hart is here to announce his surprise.  Bret says that Shawn Michaels is going to
return to action at the King of the Ring and he says that since he’s going to
return at the King of the Ring they might as well have a match.  Bret challenges Michaels to a match, where if
he doesn’t beat Michaels in less than ten minutes that he will never wrestle in
the United States again.  Michaels
appears on the Titantron and says that Bret couldn’t beat him in an hour at
WrestleMania in 1996, so he’s insane to think he can beat him in ten.  Michaels proposes that the Hart Foundation be
present at ringside and each of them be handcuffed to a ring post to ensure
they don’t interfere.  Michaels busts out
his infamous “Sunny days” comment, which obviously peeves Owen and the Bulldog,
and Bret accepts the challenge
.
Rockabilly (w/The
Honky Tonk Man) defeats Goldust by disqualification after Goldust hits Honky
Tonk Man with a guitar at 4:00:
Before his match, Goldust has Marlena and his daughter
Dakota come to the ring, but Dakota doesn’t quite follow the routine on the
microphone she’s supposed to.  I guess
that’s to be expected since she’s two years old.  Goldust busts out some Dusty Rhodes
mannerisms and moves like the bionic elbow.  Goldust intercepts the Honky Tonk Man
when Honky tries to attack him with the guitar and he smashes it over Honky’s head.  Somehow,
this gets Goldust disqualified despite Honky not being an active participant in
the match.  This match was actually going
to somewhere before that stupid finish.  Rating: 
*
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to find out who has been romancing “Psycho” Sid!
McMahon interviews
Ahmed Johnson about what he thinks about Faarooq playing the race card.  Ahmed says he doesn’t appreciate the question
and he says that Faarooq is telling the truth when he says that a black man
hasn’t gotten a shot lately at the title. 
Ahmed promises to be the Hank Aaron of the WWF and be the first black
WWF champion
.
The Brooklyn
Brawler tells Steve Austin that he should pick him to be his partner.  Austin isn’t impressed, tosses the Brawler into
the Raw set, and tells him he’s a big loser. 
Austin chooses Harvey Wippleman as a partner instead, which is just
hilarious
.
Faarooq (w/The Nation of Domination)
defeats “The Rock” Rocky Maivia with a Dominator at 2:45:
It’s a battle between the current and soon to be leader
of the Nation of Domination and Maivia dominates much of the action.  Maivia hits a beautiful Rock Bottom on
Faarooq and its insane to think that someone had not made him change that to
his finisher yet.  Maivia goes for his
flying body press, but Faarooq crotches him and hits his only big move of the
match, his finisher, to win.  The Nation
comes into the ring to beat up Maivia after the match, but Faarooq calls off the
dogs to the surprise of everyone.  Maivia
looked really good here, arguably better than he had in a while and this match
made him look like a very credible challenger to the main event talent.
Backstage, the
Hart Foundation are shown attacking Bob Holly
.
McMahon interviews
WWF Champion The Undertaker who calls out Faarooq for playing the race
card.  There’s something about the
Undertaker character talking about race that is really awkward.  The Undertaker tells McMahon that it is not
the time to talk about Paul Bearer’s secret. 
A bandaged Paul Bearer appears on the Titantron and discusses being at
the Undertaker’s parents burial.  The
Undertaker is left speechless for the first time of his career as Bearer threatens
to expose his secret unless the Undertaker comes back to him.  The Undertaker says he needs more time, so
Bearer promises to give him seven days to consider his options.
-:”Stone Cold”
Steve Austin defeats Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart by disqualification when Brian
Pillman interferes at 1:44:
Brian Pillman comes out to do guest commentary and it
doesn’t take long for Austin to drag him over the announce table and dump him
onto the arena floor.  Pillman doesn’t
take kindly to that and he attacks Austin with a crutch and the Hart Foundation
pounds away on Austin until Shawn Michaels makes the save.  This makes some sense in storyline terms, but
the WWF really needs to watch out for these run-in finishes at the end of shows
because it is becoming very predictable.
Ross announces
that WWF President Gorilla Monsoon has ordered Austin and Michaels to team up
next week against the Hart Foundation for the tag team titles.  Neither Austin or Michaels are happy about it
and they end the show as they started it, by fighting each other as WWF
officials try to separate them.
The Final Report Card:  The backstage vignettes provided some
hilarity for the evening and the show does have some historical context because
of the “Sunny days” comment, which precipitated a real fight between Bret and
Shawn.  That fight cancelled their
planned King of the Ring contest, which had to anger the WWF brass since they
were likely banking on a big buyrate for the show.  The Undertaker-Bearer storyline remains well
done, but it is being overshadowed by the Bret-Austin-Michaels feud
.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.1 (vs. 3.6 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – May 12, 1997

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

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