The SmarK Rant for WWF Monday Night RAW – 06.09.97
Last night was King of the Ring! It sucked!
If you’d like to catch up on what Bret and Shawn were up to at the show and before this one, here’s my special Observer recap:
Live from Hartford, CT.
Your hosts are Vince McMahon and Jim Ross.
The Legion of Doom & Ahmed Johnson v. Faarooq, Crush & Savio Vega
I keep forgetting that this was the original version of the Nation at this point. However, that’s soon to change, as Savio and Crush are showing unhappiness. Hawk starts with Savio and they go to a stalemate and slug it out ont he floor, but the LOD starts on the arm in their corner. Over to Crush, who quickly gets overpowered by Animal and sent to the floor. Hawk adds a clothesline, and Crush tags out to Faarooq in annoyance. And naturally Ahmed comes in and they slug it out, which leads to Ahmed hitting the scissor kick. Animal comes in with a powerslam for two and Ahmed adds the spinebuster while the other Nation members avoid a tag. Animal with the clothesline and they keep dragging Faarooq back to their corner. LOD gets rid of the other Nationers and the faces triple-team Faarooq with corner clotheslines, which sets up the Pearl River Plunge to kill him dead at 5:30. I’m guessing that’s pretty much gonna do it for Nation 1.0. ** Faarooq gets helped back by the still unnamed D-Lo Brown, which I believe gave him his place in the new Nation.
And now, the 1997 King of the Ring, HHH, long before the days when you could blame him for putting himself over. And the Russoisms begin, as he’s SHOOTING on mild-mannered interviewer Vince McMahon for costing him the King of the Ring title in 1996 because of “politics”. He notes that the ring is now his house and we all laughed, but here we are years later with no end in sight. Mankind pops up on the screen and he wants a rematch. Chyna tells him to come down and kiss her ass, and Mick has a classic line with “It’s your lucky day, because I’m a good kisser!” Hunter quickly beats him down with the crown and leaves. Pretty weak, but it kicked off a feud that would introduce Cactus Jack into the WWF, so that’s something.
European title: The British Bulldog v. Goldust
Bulldog grabs a headlock to start and powers Goldust down, but he responds with a hiptoss and that sets off a shoving match. Bulldog clobbers him down, but Goldust gets a lariat. Bulldog with a delayed suplex, but Goldust whips him into the corner and slugs him down, which leads to the surreal first mention by Vince of Dusty Rhodes being his dad. Bulldog goes for the powerslam, but Goldust falls on top for the pin at 3:21, which the ref quickly waves off because Bulldog’s foot was on the ropes. As Gorilla has said many times, that’s why it’s such a dangerous move to do that instead of kicking out. We take a break and return with Goldust slugging Bulldog down, but missing an elbow. Bulldog hits the chinlock and does some showboating, then it’s back to the chinlock. They slug it out and fight to the double countout on the floor at 7:30. Super-lame. Bulldog is a BAD PERSON and goes after Marlena, so Ken Shamrock comes out and makes the save with a takedown to kick off an insta-feud. Really dull match. *
Back in the ring, Faarooq has had ENOUGH and fires Savio and Crush, along with Clarence Mason and all his faceless lackies, leaving D-Lo Brown as the last man standing in the Nation.
Tommy Dreamer and Paul E. Dangerously wander down to ringside to join us for the next match as the surreal nature of this new era continues.
Doug Furnas & Phil LaFon v. The Headbangers
Furnas & LaFon quickly double-team Thrasher and drop him on the top rope, then work him over in the corner. Furnas adds a dropkick for two. Powerslam gets two. Rana gets two. Things break loose in Tulsa and LaFon accidentally splashes his partner, giving Thrasher the pin at 3:38. Yup. 1/2*
And with that, it’s time for the WarZone…
We start with Steve Austin doing an in-ring interview with Vince to hype his match with Brian Pillman tonight. First, let us take you back to the King of the Ring, as Austin delivers the SWIRLIE OF DOOM to Pillman in a great bit between two best friends obviously having a blast. Vince relays Bret’s challenge for Canadian Stampede, and Austin is the first person to accept on behalf of America. He doesn’t even need another four partners, he’ll take on the Hart Foundation alone. Plus beat up Stu and Helen as well. Well, I don’t doubt his claims of beating up Helen, but I think Stu would still take him at that point.
Kind of a funny bit as Vince and JR read positive reviews of King of the Ring from AOL users with names like “ILoveHB”.
Rob Van Dam v. Flash Funk
Weird, weird, weird. They do a flippy sequence to start and Funk dropkicks him to the floor and follows with a pescado, but Rob guillotines him on the apron. He follows with a somersault plancha that misses by a mile, and back in with a standing moonsault for two. Flash comes back with a leg lariat and a corner splash, into a uranage and moonsault for two. Rob spinkicks him into a moonsault for two. He blocks a rana with a powerbomb for two, but Funk gets the enzuigiri. Blind charge misses and Rob powerslams him and follows with the split-legged moonsault for the pin at 4:24. Super-fast pace for the time. **1/2 The match was actually a political nightmare as Vince wanted Funk to go over and Rob threatened to walk, and I believe this was the last appearance of “Mr. Monday Night” on Monday night until the Invasion angle of 2001. Anyway, a big brawl with RVD & Jerry Lawler against Tommy Dreamer and Paul E is triggered, which would lead to an ECW PPV blowoff that was pretty darn good.
Sid v. Owen Hart
Sid’s back after walking out on the promotion earlier in the year, and thankfully it was a very short stay this time. Owen attacks to start, but Sid clotheslines him to the floor and goes after Jim Neidhart. Owen uses that distraction to take Sid down and post him, and Neidhart adds some punishment to the leg while Ken Shamrock protests all the foul play on commentary. Owen works on the leg while we get a view of the best Sid sign ever at ringside: “Rock, Squeegee, Scissors”. It was like the Wild West back in 1997 for smart-ass fans. Owen goes up with a missile dropkick that puts Sid on the floor, and Anvil adds a clothesline on the railing. But Shamrock has seen ENOUGH, and heads over to suplex Anvil and thus even up the odds. Apparently two wrongs DO make a right. Owen goes for the leg lariat, but Sid chokeslams him to finish at 4:11. Yeah, back into “retirement” with you, Sid. *1/2
Sable models the new RAW t-shirt, back when people gave a damn about her.
And now, another big thing, as Jim Ross finishes his 4-part interview with Mankind, which introduces the world to Dude Love and Cactus Jack in WWF canon and begins the long slow process of making Mick Foley into a star.
Rockabilly Gunn v. Bart Gunn
Billy attacks to start, but Bart clotheslines him out and they brawl on the floor. Back in, Billy gets a clothesline for two. Bart comes back, but walks into the proto-Fameasser, which at that point is only the setup for the Shake Rattle N Roll to finish at 2:52. Billy declares “I can’t help it, I’m just that good!” You keep telling yourself that, buddy. DUD
Steve Austin v. Brian Pillman
The Hart Foundation attacks Austin before the match, so it’s the old bait and switch…
Brian Pillman v. Mankind
Mankind slugs Pillman out to the floor, but Pillman suplexes him on the ramp to take over. Back in, they fight on the mat and Pillman throws chops while JR says the words “Hollywood Blonds”. This was weird and wild shit for the time, folks. Pillman headbutts him down as this is just a trainwreck of epic proportions. Mankind comes back with an atomic drop and the Mandible Claw, but it’s the old Hart run-in at 5:00 for the DQ. Steve Austin returns to deliver some stunners and we’re out.
These were strange days, my friends. Strange days indeed.