The SmarK Rant for WWF Monday Night RAW–07.21.97

The SmarK Rant for WWF Monday Night RAW – 07.21.97

OK, back to these again because I was pretty over this period of time, but Nitro is SO FRIGGIN’ LONG now that I’d rather bounce back to RAW and catch up again for a bit.

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Live from Halifax, Nova Scotia, drawing 8544 and the new record for biggest RAW gate. Seriously, why did they never go back there again? It was one of the hottest crowds in the history of the show!

Your hosts are Vince McMahon, Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler

Vader v. Ken Shamrock

Yes, it’s the rematch from their brutally stiff match at In Your House, leading up to a match at Summerslam where Shamrock is trying to make British Bulldog eat dog food. Probably could have just offered Davey a quarter ounce of crack and gotten some weird sex stuff in exchange in addition to the dog food. Vader slugs away off the lockup, but Shamrock rolls for the anklelock right away and Vader picks him up and CLOBBERS him with a clothesline to take over. Vader goes to work on the leg and follows with a splash for two, allowing Uncle Paul to add a shot with his shoe. To the floor, where Shamrock meets the stairs, and back in for more shots from Vader. Shamrock escapes a powerbomb and comes back with a belly to belly, then takes him down with a kneebar, but Paul interferes to break the hold. Vader takes advantage and goes up with the middle rope splash, which gets two. Back up for the Vaderbomb, but Shamrock gets the knees up and makes the comeback. He tries a rana and Vader dumps him to the floor in a dangerous spot, allowing Bulldog to come out and powerslam Shamrock on the ramp to a big pop, and the Man They Call Vader wins with The Finish They Call Count-out at 7:00. Weirdly sloppy and stiff fight here, but not bad. **1/2

Meanwhile, the East Coast fans give their thoughts on the main event tonight, dere, bae!

Meanwhile, fucking Bracchus, man.

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The Hart Foundation joins us, and last week Bret Hart had a nightmare that he was in San Antonio, where people spit on you. Hey, did you ever notice that the United States is shaped like a giant toilet bowl, because Americans are all full of crap? Sick burn there, Bret. Bret doesn’t want to wait for Summerslam, he wants Undertaker TONIGHT. And Bulldog wants Shamrock TONIGHT. And Owen wants that pervert Austin, who wants to kiss Owen’s butt, TONIGHT. But if Austin wants, he can suck Owen’s toes. Um. OK. Well, disregard my earlier comment about Bulldog being the one open to the weird sex stuff earlier. So Austin comes out and he’s the first one to accept the flag match challenge tonight.

Last week, in San Antonio, Los Boriquas messed with the beautiful Titan Cycles of DOA, triggering a brawl. They were supposed to do something on this show, but travel costs to Halifax were so expensive that they basically just said both teams were suspended for a week and used guys on this show who were already on the road in Canada that week. Which explains the following match…

Bryan Walsh v. Brian Christopher

Walsh is “originally from Canada but now residing in Pawtucket, RI”. And you know he was originally from Canada because he’s got a couple of little Canadian flags. The crowd rightly boos that sad attempt at pandering to them. A quick check of his career basically reveals that he’s full of crap. BOO TO YOU, FAKE CANADIAN. Christopher gets an abdominal stretch and his usual heel nonsense, but Walsh comes back with an elbowdrop for two, but Christopher bulldogs him. Walsh blocks a second attempt and slugs away in the corner. Lawler: “He hits like a sissy, so he probably is from Canada.” Christopher cuts him off and gets an inverted DDT out of the corner, and finishes with the Tennessee Jam at 3:50. I can’t imagine why this light heavyweight division didn’t take off. *

Meanwhile, the Commandant is bringing the Truth Commission NEXT WEEK. It’s like a non-stop parade of great ideas tonight.

Meanwhile, Vince narrates a video recap of Dude Love’s creation, with howlers like “Cactus Jack had a modicum of success but at the cost of disfigurement…” so I guess the narrative is that Dude Love was a giant success and not a jokey footnote in Mick’s career. I mean, hey, it’s been a week already, why not do a history package where you bury his previous career while trying to make money off it later?

The Godwinns v. The New Blackjacks v. The Headbangers

The pre-match promos are something to behold, especially the Blackjacks doing “Aw shucks” good ol’ boy accents and the Headbangers being excited because they got a whole 38 minutes of sleep last night. The Blackjacks work Mosh over as they’re still working out the triple threat tag rules, in this case having three people in the ring at once instead of two. So we get a horribly sloppy car wreck of a match that manages to kill one of the hottest crowds in RAW history and I’m not even gonna bother with it. PIG hits Windham with the bucket and Henry gets the pin at 5:24 and this can FUCK RIGHT OFF. -** Like seriously, it was like six drunk guys stumbling around the ring and pretended to wrestle for five minutes. So next week it’s Austin & Dude v. Godwinns for the titles.

Meanwhile, on the WWF Hotline, Jim Ross asks HAS SID WRESTLED HIS LAST MATCH? Spoiler: No. But it was something of a discussion at the time due to his car accident.

Shawn Michaels joins us and man does this crowd not like him. I can’t imagine why. So Shawn just leans into it and goes total heel on the country, sticking Canadian flags down his pants while the crowd calls him a “faggot”. Apparently he’s a cigarette? Come on, Halifax, be cool. So Shawn announces that he’s the second guy in the flag match, drawing heel heat that Baron Corbin could only dream of while he’s bussing tables. Which is funny, because I don’t recall him actually being in the match. And also, he got down on his knees (*glances to crowd knowingly, wink wink*) and begged to be the special referee at Summerslam for the title match. Geez, hopefully Bret won’t gets screwed by a referee in a title match. Anyway, Shawn sounded pilled up out of his mind here, with his voice shot like he was coming off a 2 night bender, as he got increasingly frustrated with the crowd shouting him down during the promo and kept losing his train of thought. But he can still draw heat so it was fine.

Meanwhile, we get the last clue for the “million dollar giveaway” deal for Summerslam, and apparently you need to mail in your answer by July 28. That’s a pretty tight deadline for the post office. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that this contest wasn’t on the up-and-up.

The Patriot v. Hunter Hearst Helmsley

The Patriot brings the US flag with him, so Hunter is immediately the babyface. Hunter attacks in the corner to start, but runs into a boot and Patriot makes a comeback. How tone deaf were they to throw Wilkes out there to die like this? Patriot with a powerslam for two and then the Harts come out as Bret yells at Vince about Shawn getting the ref gig. Hope this doesn’t affect their relationship negatively. Bret knocks the headset off Vince’s toupee and draws massive babyface heat for it, then goes in for a hockey fight while the Harts try to pull him off and the crowd loses their mind. Patriot goes to save and the Harts jump him, and JR yells at the timekeeper to “ring the bell, ring the damn bell!” Oh my. No decision announced but holy shit what an angle this was. WRESTLING WITH FORE-SHADOWS. The crowd boos the hell out of Vince for this. How could lovable announcer Vince McMahon ever be a heel?

Back from the break, and JR is completely out of sorts while Vince seethes silently, and they throw to Paul Bearer. Something something pieces of a statue blah blah bullshit whatever.

Faarooq v. Goldust

Dave relates a rib going around the locker room at this point in the Observer, as guys would bend over and ask Simmons to kick them in the kidneys so they can gain 30 pounds of muscle like Ahmed Johnson did. Anyway, Vince finally recovers from his ordeal and tries to clear things up, but gets called away to the back during the match while these two guys have a fucking awful match as a backdrop to the angle. Seriously, no one was going to follow that Bret / Vince fight. Goldust comes back with a bulldog, but Kama pulls him out of the ring and beats the shit out of him for an extended amount of time while Marlena stands on the apron and takes the ref forever. Faarooq hits the Dominator, but the ref finally calls for the DQ at 3:24 after letting Goldust take a beating for like 2:00 of the match. DUD

Meanwhile, Shawn Michaels has suffered (another) crippling knee injury at the hands of Bret off-screen, and yells at Vince about it. OK, so this was an inside joke about the Bret-Shawn fight in Hartford, where that same thing happened to Bret, complete with knee injury and temper tantrum on Vince. In this case, Shawn wanted more time off, so they wrote him out again for a while. This shit was crazier than anything Vince Russo could ever dream up.

Flag match: Bret Hart, Owen Hart & British Bulldog v. Steve Austin, Dude Love & Undertaker

This was a real bad position to put the Dude in, because he had just turned babyface and wasn’t getting cheered here. Anyway, Shawn Michaels is replaced by Undertaker here after Shawn literally guaranteed the crowd that we’d see Bret v. Shawn tonight in his rambling interview earlier. Team America clears the ring and we take a break and return with Undertaker now in the match and Dude climbing for the flag. Owen cuts him off, but Undertaker comes in and takes over on Owen with a chokeslam as the heel-face reactions are all messed up and everyone’s having trouble figuring out how to work it. So Owen is kind of face-in-peril, I guess, as Austin gets a suplex and clothesline out of the corner while JR & King freak out about the show running out of time. So I guess they’re going to run over the allotted time, like some kind of “over-run”. But don’t worry, La Femme Nikita fans, the show is still coming up next! Did that show have fans, or just people who fell asleep watching RAW and couldn’t change the channel? Owen slips away from Dude and sprints for the Canadian flag, but Dude pulls him down, so Owen counters a neckbreaker into a DDT. Dude with a bodyscissors and Owen gets triple-teamed in the America corner as we take another break. Back with Dude holding a sleeper on Owen, who’s been in there for like 10 minutes straight now, but he escapes with a suplex and hits a leg lariat. Austin ducks the Owenzuigiri and tries a Sharpshooter, but Owen dives and makes the tag to Bret as the crowd EXPLODES. Bret immediately takes Austin down and goes for the ringpost figure-four, but Dude saves and Undertaker gets a tag that he plays like a babyface comeback. Did no one smarten him up before this match? Bret and Taker slug it out and collide for the double down, but Taker sits up first and goes for the flag. Owen cuts him off and Brian Pillman pops out from under the ring to run interference, allowing Bret to grab the Canadian flag for the win at 18:33. Match was all over the place with screwed up dynamics thanks to Undertaker not really being hip to the room, but the heat was off the charts and everyone still remembers it today. ***1/4

So yeah, an incredibly memorable episode with yet another bit of “evidence” for those who want to put their money on the “Montreal was an elaborate work” crazy train. Unfortunately Summerslam couldn’t possibly live up to the insanity behind the scenes, and it didn’t. But we’ll get there again soon.