The SmarK Rant for WWF Monday Night RAW–07.14.97

The SmarK Rant for WWF Monday Night RAW – 07.14.97

And now, the other half of the Monday Night Wars this week!

Last week: Bret Hart and the Hart Foundation ruled in Calgary and Alberta, but this week we’re back in AMERICA, where it’s your god-given right to carry guns and shoot each other!

Live from San Antonio, TX, drawing a sellout of 7700 and the largest ever gate for a RAW taping to that point.

Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jim Ross

The Hart Foundation joins us to start, and someone’s sign alleges that “Bret Hart humps cows”. Well, you know what they say about Texas and the only two things you find there. Bret declares that Alberta is once again rat-free (TRUE STORY! Alberta and Saskatchewan are one of the largest vermin-free land areas in the world, with a near total lack of rats and cockroaches) but Texas is full of them. Furthermore, if he fails to win the WWF title from Undertaker at the Summerslam, he’ll never wrestle in the US again, because Canadians always keep their promises. Well, aside from our politicians, who are typically lying shitbags. Next up, Owen tells Austin to get his Blistex ready (complete with visual aid) because Steve’s gonna kiss his ass when he loses. Next up, British Bulldog promises to eat a can of dog food if he loses the European title to Ken Shamrock, and that’s gotta be a Jim Cornette stipulation. Meanwhile, Brian Pillman will wear a dress if he loses to Goldust. And Jim Neidhart will shave off his beard if any of the Harts lose. Wait, what happened to that one? Bret sums it up: Canadians are tougher, the women look better, and the beer tastes better. I mean, not to doubt Bret, but has anyone been watching Elite on Netflix? I’ve gotta vote for Spain having the hottest women at the moment. Like, holy cow.

So then Steve Austin comes out to glare at the Harts, and he brings quite the crew with him, including Ken Shamrock, the debuting Patriot, and the returning Sid. Vince speculates that one of them will be his partner tonight when he defends the tag titles against Owen & Bulldog. But no, SWERVE. I believe this was the final appearance of Sid on RAW until many years later when he returned for the thing with Heath Slater.

Meanwhile, the Headbangers are on a golf course, which has something to do with a contest that I don’t care about. And then we get a minute of black screen and silence in a weird glitch or something. I thought the feed had frozen up like it does, but nope.

Scott & Ivan Putski v. Jerry Lawler & Brian Christopher

Putski is definitely much less ripped than he was in the 70s and 80s, but he can still sing. The Lawlers attack him and lay him out, but Scott saves and slams Jerry and Brian and hits them both with dropkicks. Lawler trips him up to cut off this thrilling rally, and the Lawlers double-team him on the floor. Back in, Christopher gets a facejam and the heels do some more double-teaming to set up Lawler’s piledriver for two. Brian wants the victory, however, so he goes up, but misses the Tennessee Jam and Scott makes his own comeback. Christopher superkicks his own father and it’s hot tag Ivan, who slugs Lawler and finishes with the Polish Hammer at 4:50. This was fine for what it was, but did not get Scott Putski over at all in the long run. **

Meanwhile, Mankind is hiding out in the bowels of the building and not saying much.

Meanwhile, Paul Bearer is still accusing Undertaker of all kinds of bullshit, and reminds us that KANE IS ALIVE and next week he’ll prove it.

Taka Michinoku v. Yoshihiro Tajiri

They’ve got Tajiri’s name backwards for some reason, although I can certainly sympathize. So at this point, Vince had decided to cut ties with Great Sasuki and try to sign Taka instead, although it hadn’t happened quite yet. They trade armdrags to start and Tajiri does the IRON BRIDGE before Taka dropkicks him to the floor and follows with his signature dive to the floor. Back in, Tajiri hits him with a high kick out of the corner and follows with a sitout powerbomb into a rolling cradle for two. Taka bails to escape and Tajiri hits him with a quebrada and then dropkicks him on the way back into the ring. Tajiri batters him with kicks and they trade forearm shots, but Tajiri hits him with more kicks that are, how should I describe them…like some kind of buzzsaw, maybe? German suplex gets two, but Taka hits him with a missile dropkick from behind and finishes with the Michinoku Driver at 4:04 for his first win after two jobs to Sasuke. This Tajiri guy…they should sign him! Well, maybe in 4 or 5 years. Nowhere near the level of the stuff on Nitro at the time, but it blew away most technical matches on RAW. ***1/4

Meanwhile, Los Boriquas arrive in their low-rider, because Vince Russo.

Los Boricuas v. The Headbangers

It’s Jose and Miguel tonight and they double-team Mosh with some dull stuff, but Mosh gets a sunset flip on Miguel for two. Mosh takes him into the turnbuckle with a headscissors and makes the hot (?) tag to Thrasher and everyone slugs it out in the corners and it’s sloppy as fuck. Thrasher tries a powerbomb on Miguel, but he reverses into a rollup for the pin at 4:30 to a dead silent crowd. And so begins months of the fucking Boricuas never getting over and seemingly winning EVERY match. The DOA comes out for the brawl and they were over, but then lost every match and soon weren’t over. DUD

Meanwhile, The Patriot is here to defend the US against the forces that are trying to destroy it and/or talk bad about it.

Shawn Michaels is here and bouncing around like a guy who never had a career-threatening knee injury. Anyway, he’s asking, no, DEMANDING, that Vince include him in Summerslam!

Hour #2 kicks off with Savio Vega running down to the ring to grab a cameraman because something horrible has happened backstage. As it turns out, it’s a SHOCKING attack on the beautiful custom Titan Bikes driven by the DOA, which triggers another brawl between these teams that no one cares about. DOA continues getting over and then gets beaten down again.

Ken Shamrock v. Jim Neidhart

Sadly, there is no dog food or goatee shaving on the line here. Shamrock, wearing a rare all-black outfit, controls on the mat with an armbar, but Neidhart hits him with a forearm and chokes away on the ropes before going to a chinlock. The crowd chants USA. Neidhart’s from Nevada, you morons! Shamrock fights out and Neidhart goes right back to it, but Ken snaps off a rana and then gets a choke sleeper out of nowhere to finish at 4:36. Neidhart was so clearly done as a passable worker by this point, sadly. DUD

Meanwhile, Mankind lets us know that Austin and indeed Mankind himself will never be the same again after this week.

The New Blackjacks v. The Legion of Doom

Sadly, before this classic can proceed, the Godwinns attack the LOD and lay them out on the ramp.

Flash Funk v. Vader

Vader slugs away in the corner and follows with a corner splash, then wallops Funk with the body shots, but Flash fights back with a dropkick that puts Vader on the floor, and he follows with a tope con hilo. He sends Vader into the stairs, but back in, Vader hits him with the short clothesline and follows with a splash for two as JR accidentally calls him “2 Cold Scorpio” before correcting himself. Funk comes back with a leg lariat and goes up with a moonsault for two, but Vader clobbers him again and finishes with a powerbomb with some STANK on it at 4:10. And then he adds the pump splash afterwards for good measure. This was supposed to lead to a Vader v. Sid match at Summerslam, but that of course never happened. Pretty awesome little TV match. Further to our discussion on the blog yesterday, I’d also add Scorpio to the list of guys who had tons of talent but just never got over for whatever reason. ***1/4

Meanwhile, Steve Austin reiterates that he doesn’t give a crap who his partner is tonight, and he’ll do it himself if need be.

WWF World tag team titles: Steve Austin & ????? v. Owen Hart & British Bulldog

Austin doesn’t even wait for a partner and attacks Owen on his own, stomping a mudhole in the corner and following with a suplex, but Owen hits him with a leg lariat to stop that. Austin ducks the enzuigiri and slugs him down, but Bulldog comes in from behind for the double-team and the rightful champions take over. Bulldog slugs away in the corner, but Austin hits him with a lariat out of the corner and slugs back on him. Bulldog tosses him for some abuse from Owen on the floor, and Austin eats the stairs as we cut to the back where a mysterious pair of boots begin walking to the ring. We take a break and return with Owen hitting a belly to belly on Austin before Steve hits them both with a clothesline, only for Owen to clip him from behind. Bulldog goes to work on the knee, but Owen comes in and Austin fights back on him before missing a blind charge. Owen gets a neckbreaker for two. Owen goes up and Austin slugs him on the way down and makes his own comeback in the corner, then backdrops both Harts to the floor…and we get the historic debut of DUDE LOVE, the Hippest Cat in the Land. Austin doesn’t even know what to do with this wacky twist in the story, and then decides to tag the Dude in anyway. Dude gets the running knee in the corner, but Bulldog pounds on him and tries the powerslam, at which point Dude counters with the mandible claw. Owen breaks it up with a missile dropkick, but it’s KICK WHAM STUNNER on Bulldog behind the ref’s back and Dude pins him at 9:48 to win the tag team titles. Austin actually gives him the belt and offers a handshake while Dude dances with his groupies, and we’re out. Sadly, the neck injury derailed the entire storyline before it could go anywhere, but you can’t say Mick didn’t get some mileage out of the character himself. ***

Tough call this week, but you have to go with the feel-good finish of RAW for the win, plus it had consistently better wrestling this week.

Next week: RAW comes to Halifax for another memorable Canadian show!