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