The SmarK Rant for WWF Monday Night RAW – 06.02.97
Live from Huntington, WV, drawing a sellout 4945.
Your hosts are Vince McMahon and Jim Ross
So last week on RAW, Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels won the tag team titles, which was a last minute decision in the midst of the Shawn v. Bret drama happening behind the scenes. The LOD had been promised the titles at King of the Ring, but clearly that’s not happening now.
Undertaker joins us to start, and apparently the situation with Paul Bearer is very simple, and yet very complicated. Kind of the Facebook status from hell. Speaking of which, Undertaker is currently living in hell because “people from his past” are in danger of being hurt. That’s…got nothing to do with how the storyline paid off. Anyway, Undertaker will make sure that Paul burns in hell when his life comes to an end, because he’ll make a deal with the devil himself. So I’m assuming that means Undertaker’s contract with Vince was coming due for renewal? So Paul comes out and wants no more sassback from Undertaker, because he’ll be the ruler of the world. And THAT brings out Sid, who is finally invoking his rematch from Wrestlemania TONIGHT. Well that’s certainly random.
Meanwhile, Ahmed Johnson is very angry about something. Who knows with him?
Faarooq v. Ahmed Johnson
Faarooq attacks to start and Ahmed clobbers him out of the corner and whips him like the proverbial government mule with his own belt. Faarooq misses a blind charge and Ahmed puts him down with a bicycle kick, but Faarooq goes to the kidneys and pounds him down to take over. Ahmed comes back with a spinebuster as the Nation heads down to the ring and Savio trips him up, but Undertaker heads down to save and everyone brawls in the name of racial harmony or discord or whatever they were trying to say and it’s a DONNYBROOK that ends with Faarooq somehow pinning Ahmed at 3:00. And with Undertaker’s help having backfired, Ahmed gets in his face, and that goes badly for him as he eats a chokeslam. A very bland match, but Faarooq had to go over to set up the title match on Sunday. *
The Hart Foundation joins us next, and Bret Hart is back on crutches again because in real life the rehab wasn’t going as well as expected. Speaking of not going as expected, here’s a quick excerpt from the Observer that week:
“Austin was told by one doctor this week that his injury could be the beginning of a serious neck problem and the doctor suggested he retire. He’s going for a second opinion.”
So Austin was going into the Owen Hart match at Summerslam with a neck that was already on the verge of falling apart. Anyway, Shawn and Steve join us via the Titantron, blaming each other for injuring Bret Hart’s knee and thus cancelling the Shawn v. Bret main event at King of the Ring. So Austin tells him to put up or shut up, and Shawn storms off from his half of the satellite link and heads into Austin’s dressing room for some face-to-face yelling. The Harts find the whole thing hilarious and Pillman offers to give up his spot to Shawn Michaels so that the Bickersons can work out their problems at the PPV. So just like that, the entire PPV card gets rearranged days before the show.
Intercontinental title: Owen Hart v. Bob Holly
OK, so the non-title win by Holly two weeks ago leads to something after all! Good on them. Holly quickly gets a rana and slugs away, and a bodypress gets two. Owen catches him with a belly to belly, however, and follows with a leg lariat for two. Holly fights back with a faceplant and the dropkick for two, as JR declares that he’s “building momentum”. So they’ve been saying that for TWENTY YEARS now. Backslide gets two. Another rana is blocked by Owen and reversed into the Sharpshooter to finish at 3:20. As far as three minute TV matches go, it was good. **1/2
Meanwhile, Shawn Michaels is totally up to accept Steve Austin’s challenge for King of the Ring, and Brian Pillman can have whatever’s left the next night on RAW.
Sunny’s Super Soaker series part four: All her previous victims trap her in a hall and conspire to squirt their loads all over her, but instead she squirts all over them.
Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Goldust
Goldust attacks and slugs away in the corner to start. Winner of this one is apparently getting a title shot at British Bulldog’s prestigious European title next week. They brawl outside and Goldust sends Hunter into the post, and back in with a clothesline for two. As usual, Goldust gets a good pop for the entrance and then the crowd completely dies. Hunter USES THE KNEE to come back and chokes him out in the corner. Chyna goes for the interference, but it backfires and Goldust rolls him up for the pin at 3:53. Obviously HHH could afford to do a job here given where things were going for him.
Meanwhile, on the Superstar line, a WWF superstar nearly had his career ended this week! I’m assuming JR is referring to the doctor who told Austin to retire just because he had the neck of an 80 year old man.
Meanwhile, the LOD is prepared to take Shawn up on his offer and kick his teeth down Austin’s throat. Ha! That’s some pretty clever call-back there.
WWF tag team titles: Shawn Michaels & Steve Austin v. The Legion of Doom
Conventional wisdom would say that LOD gets the titles here, especially given hindsight and how badly everything was about to fall apart. Hawk quickly gets a press slam on Shawn and goes up with a flying splash that misses by a mile. Shawn is unable to fight off both LOD and it’s BONZO GONZO already and the champs get tossed as Shawn sells like he’s got spring-loaded boots. The Hart Foundation comes down to watch and we take a break. Back with Steve Austin getting double-teamed by the LOD, and Animal gets a shoulderblock for two. Austin goes low on Animal to turn the tide, and then Hawk comes in and the champs work together long enough to double-team him behind the ref’s back as well. Mutual hatred is a powerful tool. Austin goes up with an elbow for two and Shawn comes in and drops a knee, as amazingly two of the greatest tag wrestlers of their era mesh perfectly well together. Who would have thunk it? LOD gets a false tag behind the ref’s back, which allows Austin to nail Hawk with a tag title for two. Austin goes up and gets caught coming down, and the Harts head down for the confrontation while Animal gets the hot tag and Shawn goes FLYING over the top rope. So Austin goes out to get him back on track, and they brawl and get counted out at 10:03. In the Observer, Dave notes that you probably shouldn’t count on Shawn and Steve as long-term champions because LOD were literally promised the tag titles when they signed. Real good match before the shit finish. ***
Meanwhile, we delve deeper into the life of Mankind, as Cactus Jack travels to Japan and discovers barbed wire and thumbtacks and beds of nails, complete with photos from IWA and even some footage from ECW. He shows off his roadmap of scars and tells a story about getting bumped up to First Class on a flight, only to have the woman seated next to him request a move back to Coach to get away from him. Next week: The final chapter.
So the IWA photos were apparently supposed to be part of a deal for Atsushi Onita to get an exploding ring match into the US, at the MSG RAW in September no less, but it never worked out.
King of the Ring quarterfinals: Mankind v. Savio Vega
And in fact the interview segments worked perfectly and Mick gets a babyface reaction coming out. Savio attacks him on the floor to start and immediately hits an impressive bodypress from the top rope to the floor. Back in, Savio hits a high kick and chokes him out, then hits the leg lariat in the corner. Mankind comes back with a backdrop suplex out of the corner and puts him on the floor with a Cactus Clothesline, but Jerry Lawler yells at him one time too many and gets slapped around. Back in, Crush tries to interfere, but hits Savio with the heart punch by mistake and Mankind gets the pin at 3:10. So this leads to Crush and Savio getting into a brawl, but Faarooq wants nothing to do with these chuckleheads and lets them work it out themselves. Savio worked hard but there was nothing to this one. *1/2
Undertaker v. Sid
This is clarified as being non-title before the match. According to the Observer, Sid returned from his “back injury” and was told he was doing a job for Undertaker in his first match (sorry, spoiler), and he refused. So Vince threatened him with surcease of employment, and wouldn’t you know this is the last time Sid appeared on RAW for, what, 20 years? Granted he got into a pretty horrific car accident shortly after this, but it’s not like anyone was knocking down his door once he was recovered, either. JR is making softball cracks before the entrances are even done, so obviously no one was buying Sid’s injury claims at this point. We take a break and return joined in progress with Sid pounding away on the ropes. He gets the chokeslam for two, but Taker fires back in the corner and then Sid chokes him out some more. That gets two. Sid goes to the laziest chinlock humanly possible, but Taker fights back with the flying clothesline and tombstone out of nowhere at 4:40. This SUUUUUUUUUCKED. -** The Nation, now back on the same page again, rushes in for the beatdown, but Sid assists in making the save before Faarooq joins in for a lengthy whipping with the belt to end the show on a down note.
This was a pretty dull show that didn’t make me want to watch King of the Ring at all.
But of course, AFTER that show, things get really interesting…