The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 06.23.97
Live from Detroit, MI
Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jim Ross
Nation 2.0 joins us to start, including new full-time member D-Lo Brown and that turncoat Ahmed Johnson. Vince asks him why he turned, and Ahmed accuses the fans of not backing him due to his blackness. Farrakhan is the way to go, not King! Also, he’s gonna kill Undertaker. Well that’s a bit uncomfortable. Faarooq describes the new Nation as “Malcolm X and Martin Luther King coming together.” Wait, I thought Ahmed was Farrakhan? I’m very confused here. And then the entire “Vince tensely trying to deal with angry black men” thing is immediately undercut by the goofy sight of Crush and his new gang debuting, riding out on motorcycles and then brawling with the Nation. This is really a case where they needed to introduce the Nation first and then let it rest for a week before rushing out Crush’s group of geeks. DOA immediately got over as babyfaces here because they had a cool look, but they lost all their matches and were truly DOA by the summer.
Oh, speaking of DOA, Ahmed Johnson blew out his knee during this brawl and that was immediately the end of his new heel push. So there you go, Ahmed Johnson managed to suffer a serious injury during a PROMO SEGMENT.
Meanwhile, the LOD is fond of all the chaos tonight.
Rockabilly v. Ken Shamrock
Dan Severn debuts on commentary here, and immediately gets a bad headset. Shamrock takes Gunn down with a heel hook attempt while Vince McMahon of all people rallies for UFC and plays up how no one has ever been seriously hurt in the sport. Gunn makes a brief comeback, but Shamrock suplexes him into the anklelock for the tapout at 2:40. *
Meanwhile, in the WWF Magazine, editor Vince Russo looks at the relationship between Marc Mero and Sable. Oh great, he’s already getting his own name on TV.
Tag team title tournament: The Godwinns v. Legion of Doom
The Godwinns are now bitter and evil, which was one of their worst repackagings. The Godwinns try to slop the LOD and that just makes them mad, and Henry piledrives Hawk and that of course goes nowhere for him. Over to Phineas, who tosses Animal and he’s face in peril. Hot tag Hawk and the Godwinns break up the Doomsday Device on Henry, but Hawk hits an incredibly sloppy flying clothesline on Henry to finish anyway at 3:46, as the teams literally trip over each other on the finish. Pretty bad. DUD The Hart Foundation storms in and attacks the LOD afterwards.
Meanwhile, Paul Bearer talks over Undertaker’s promo and reminds him of THE FIRE to calm him down.
Meanwhile, Owen Hart is DISGUSTED at having to defend his title in a triple threat match tonight, especially against two Americans. But he’s got a surprise.
Steve Austin introduces his VHS tape and warns us that it’s rated TV-M for violence. It should have been rated TV-M for “Money” because it made a SHITLOAD of it.
Flash Funk v. Sabu
Paul Heyman joins us on commentary and brings footage of Sabu being all crazy with him. Sabu gets a springboard kick and puts Funk on the floor, then follows with a somersault dive, nearly missing. Heyman goes on a rant about how he discovered the Public Enemy and now Bischoff is taking credit for them on WCW TV while Vince just kind of lets him go. Back in, Funk hits a twisting splash for two, but goes up again and gets caught by Sabu with a rana from the top for two. Springboard kick gets two while Heyman notes that ECW adopted Fonzie from the Betty Ford Clinic. Flash hits Sabu with a clothesline off the top rope and then puts him on the floor with a handspring into a kick, and follows with a dive. He goes after Fonzie, and that allows Sabu to clip him on the way in. Funk gets a corner splash, however, and follows with a moonsault for two. Sabu dumps him and follows with a rana from the ring to the floor, then puts him on a table and moonsaults for the double countout at 4:26. The table doesn’t break, so Heyman goes “See, that’s not a pre-cut table like on the other show! He’s gonna break that table if it kills him!” So then he does another pair of splashes, landing on Funk’s face with a legdrop to finally put the table down. “I think it killed him,” quips Vince. This was pretty incredible for 1997 WWF TV and really seemed to energize Scorpio. ***1/2 However, Sabu and RVD flipped out backstage about a million stupid things, and nearly sunk the entire ECW deal before Heyman saved it with his usual negotiation skills and bullshitting.
Mankind v. British Bulldog
Vince makes a big deal about how the European title was the first new one introduced since 1979. And now we have dozens of new ones introduced every year, it feels like. Mankind is wearing an Austin 3:16 shirt and a “Pick me, Steve” sign around his neck, hoping to get the call. Mankind attacks and drops a leg on Bulldog, who comes back and pounds on Mankind in the corner. Meanwhile, Steve Austin joins us via phone, recovering from injuries, and bitches at Vince for calling him collect. Ha! Steve is impressed by Mankind’s dedication to the world’s greatest wrestler (himself) but he’s a freak. Mankind gets a DDT on Bulldog and slugs away in the corner, then takes him to the floor with a Cactus clothesline, but Bulldog hits him with a clothesline out there and runs him into the stairs. Bulldog suplexes him onto the ramp. Back in, Mankind catches him with the claw, but Bulldog goes low to break. He grabs a chair and beats on Mick for the DQ at 4:10, and just gives him a SICK unprotected shot to the head with it that’s terrifying to watch now. However, Bulldog stops to pose and Mankind puts him out with the Mandible Claw to get his revenge. Fun match all around, but HOLY SHIT that chairshot was terrifying. ***
Meanwhile, Owen campaigns to Gorilla Monsoon and gets Brian Pillman as a cornerman. Man, it’s been a while since Gorilla was around as the figurehead.
Man, they’re way late on the changeover. It would have been about 1:15 into the live show at this point.
Intercontinental title: Owen Hart v. Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Goldust
Pat Patterson is the guest ref here, coming off a video before the match where Vince recapped the history of the title. Dave bitches endlessly about the triple threat rules in the Observer here, complaining that it’s super-lame that the match just ends when one person wins, ala WCW. Hunter attacks both guys in the corner and hits Owen with a high knee for two, but Goldust saves. Owen with a suplex on Goldust for two, but Hunter saves. The announcers go on and on about triple threat rules because I guess this was the first time and they wanted to make sure everyone understood. Owen and Hunter trade near-falls while poor Pat has to keep dropping to his knees repeatedly for three men. Cough. Goldust hits Owen with the Final Curtain and pins him at 3:10, but Pillman runs in and claims that Owen’s foot was on the ropes, which Patterson ignores. And then Gorilla comes out and we take a break, and return with a replay that clearly shows Owen’s foot was indeed on the ropes. So the match starts again and the heels double-team Goldust in the corner, but he comes back with the Dusty stuff and gets two on Hunter. Owen with a gutwrench on Goldust into the Sharpshooter, but Hunter saves with a clothesline and drops a knee on Owen for two. Hunter pulls Owen into the post from the floor and now Goldust and Hunter double-team him for a bit and toss him. Back in, Owen hits Goldust with a leg lariat for two and brawls outside with Hunter, which gives Chyna the chance to sneak into the ring and hit Goldust with a rana. Never seen her do that before! Back in, Owenzuigiri on Hunter gets two, but Goldust breaks it up with an elbow that lands on Hunter by mistake, and Owen pins Hunter to retain at 3:44. Man, this was ALL action. ***
Bret Hart joins us and he thinks that himself and Neidhart are the greatest tag team of all time, not the LOD. Also, Ken Shamrock should go back to the “Ultimate Fairy Championships”, and then he bitches about Thomas Hearns stealing the Hitman name from him and goes after him at ringside, calling him THE CHICKEN MAN. OH SNAP! He’s insinuating that famous boxer Thomas Hearns is a coward! Hearns charges into the ring and punches Anvil out, but the officials separate them while JR pretty much begs for coverage on ESPN. I don’t think it worked.
Meanwhile, the Nation is cutting another promo, but this time Savio Vega interrupts and gets whupped.
Brian Christopher v. Scott Taylor
Oh man, Too Cool EXPLODES! Brian gets a german suplex while Jerry Lawler joins us on commentary and complains about Paul Heyman. Taylor gets a somersault kick on Christopher for two, but Christopher comes back with a rocker dropper and goes up with a missile dropkick for two. Taylor gets a springboard clothesline, but misses a blind charge and Christopher gets an inverted DDT out of the corner and finishes with the Alabama Jam at 2:51. Energetic but no one cared about either guy at this point. **1/4
Tag title tournament: Undertaker & Vader v. Faarooq & D-Lo Brown
Apparently Kama made such a great first impression last week that he immediately got bounced and replaced with D-Lo when a spot opened up due to Ahmed’s injury earlier in the night. D-Lo goes right after Undertaker to start and gets his ass kicked as a result. Taker works a wristlock as Vince wonders whether Ahmed’s knee injury is a ruse. Well, changing the semi-main of the next PPV hardly feels like a ruse. DOA heads down for a brawl with the Nation and Undertaker as we take a break. Back with Vader working on D-Lo with a slam in the corner and a pump splash for two. Over to Faarooq and Vader runs over him, but goes up and gets caught with a powerslam. But then D-Lo comes in and Vader works him over again as this match is a complete mess. Who would have thought that REMOVING Ahmed would make a match so much worse? Vader gets in Undertaker’s face for some reason, and Taker pie-faces him and Vader gets pinned by Faarooq at 5:00 in a super-lame finish. This was really bad. -* Vader decides to confront Taker, and gets tombstoned as a result, so Paul Bearer has had ENOUGH and promises to reveal the SECRET next week!
Kind of a flat finish to an otherwise really entertaining show.