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
.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your copy of Cause Stone Cold Said So for $19.99 (plus $6
shipping & handling)!
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