The SmarK Rant for WWF Monday Night RAW – 08.11.97
OK, I was promised a better episode this week by the blog. They better deliver!
LIVE from Biloxi, MS, drawing a sellout 6814.
Your hosts are Vince McMahon, Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler
Shawn Michaels is here to start and he’s getting cheered, so he immediately heels on the fans and complains about getting shit for his refereeing job at Summerslam. Then he complains about Vince failing to call him at home to tell him about his match with Mankind tonight. The fans starts on him with “Shawn is gay” so he shoots the crowd down with “Why don’t you ask your mama how gay Shawn Michaels is?” Then he does some questionable math, noting that Bret beat Undertaker and Shawn beat Bret, so therefore by the transitive property of wrestling, Shawn beats Undertaker.
This brings out Sgt. Slaughter and Shawn immediately goofs on him and no-sells everything he says, trying to crack him up and failing. He also introduces a running gag where he recoils from the spit flying from Sarge’s lips. So then Shawn goes into a paranoid rant about how his life is in danger from everyone out to get him, so he’s got himself an insurance policy. OOOOOOOOOH, this show! Shawn as the arrogant douchebag heel was so incredible that Bret Hart never stood a chance.
Meanwhile, Hawk beats off in the back. You know, whipping some drums with a belt to hype the whipping match that’s next.
Country Whipping Match: Hawk v. Henry Godwinn
So both guys have belts and the winner is the first to chase their opponent to the floor. Hawk immediately attacks and whips Henry a bunch, then clotheslines him with it. More whipping, but PIG trips him up and Henry takes over. Owen and Bulldog suddenly join us on commentary, and they announce a four-way match for the tag titles at Ground Zero, with Harts v. Godwinns v. LOD v. Austin/Dude. That of course didn’t end up happening. More whipping in the ring as Owen and Bulldog have a goofy half-hearted argument about who gets to beat the Patriot tonight. Hawk comes back with a flying clothesline, but PIG runs in for the double-team, and then Animal chases them out with the slop bucket and that apparently means Hawk wins at 3:48. I love how it’s the FIRST MATCH with that stipulation and they already have to book a screwjob to get out of it. Really, really bad. ½*
Meanwhile, Slaughter delivers another dress to Brian PIllman.
Tony Williams v. Scott Putski
Tony Williams was a Memphis guy who originally teamed with Brian Christopher as the New Kids when they were babyfaces early on. Putski gets some hiptosses on Williams and follows with a sloppy german suplex out of the corner and backbreaker for two. But never mind this match, Goldust is on commentary and he’s got a camera in Pillman’s locker room, which gives us some incredibly dated movie references, like Air Force One and Conspiracy Theory! With regards to the camera footage, clearly Goldust’s a bigger monster than Shawn Stasiak! Anyway, Williams gets a legsweep on Putski for two while Pillman struggles to get into the dress. HILARITY. Putski with a powerbomb for two and the Polish Hammer finishes at 3:33. * Apparently Putski will meet Brian Christopher at the PPV, so that’s something to look forward to.
Flash Funk v. Brian Pillman
Pillman stomps Flash down while we get plugs for Hardcore Heaven 97 on PPV, and chokes away on the ropes. Funk comes back with a flying kick and goes up with a crossbody for two. Funk with the Magee-like moonsault and Pillman gets the knees up to block, but now Goldust interrupts and Pillman stands there forever while they show the dressing room footage on the Titantron. And of course Funk cradles for the pin at 3:14. Showing that footage in the previous match completely killed whatever kernel of a gag there was. The sad end of Pillman continues before our eyes. *
Meanwhile, at Summerslam, Owen suffered a career-threatening neck injury, so let’s watch it a bunch of times.
Dude Love is here for an interview with Vince, and he thinks Austin will be ready for the PPV. Mick was just all over the place here, doing something out of the 70s like a bad Austin Idol or Superstar Graham impression. Thankfully Shawn Michaels interrupts on the Titantron and makes fun of him (“You’re not me…and in fact you’re not even YOU!”), reminding us again that his insurance policy will be here tonight. Dude finishes with more lame 60s catchphrases and dances with his groupies to end the first hour. Damn, Mick was swinging WAY above his batting average with Collette. Regardless, I’m really glad they killed off the Dude character in this form right away because it’s just dying.
Meanwhile, Patriot wins a battle royal on Shotgun as they try really hard to get him over as a title contender. And still fail. But they tried.
The Patriot & Ken Shamrock v. Owen Hart & The British Bulldog
Patriot should at least be over here because he speaks fluent southern hick. Shamrock works an armbar on Owen to start and takes him down into a cradle for two. Over to Patriot and gets a hiptoss on Bulldog while Lawler scores off the Mississippi crowd with oldies but goodies like “I’m surprised there’s so many signs in the crowd because I didn’t think any of the fans could write!”. Lawler insulting redneck fans is never not hilarious. Bret Hart comes out to watch as we take a break, and JR accuses him of being a “Jim Jones like” character. The Harts are his ACTUAL FAMILY! For you younger readers, substitute Edgar Evernever for Jim Jones. Although WWE is the only show that can make Riverdale look well written. Anyway, Shamrock plays face in peril for a bit and there’s not a lot going on, but Patriot gets the hot tag and powerslams Bulldog for two. Patriot Missile gets two. Bulldog and Patriot clothesline each other while Slaughter messes with Bret Hart, and Owen puts a chair in the ring, which will surely not backfire on him. Bulldog goes for the chair first, but Patriot drops him on it with Uncle Slam and gets the pin at 11:04. You can’t say they weren’t trying with the Patriot. **1/4
HOTLINE NEWZ! Call and hear the real story on why Ahmed was expelled from the Nation (Spoiler: They were short on babyfaces and decided it was a mistake to turn him) and the REAL FUTURE of Steve Austin (Spoiler: He did OK for himself).
Meanwhile, in Canada, Bret Hart returns home with the title, which gives us a cameo from Jason Sensation at the Toronto airport. Bret is going to carry the title with honor for all his fans in Canada, where nothing bad could ever happen to him.
Meanwhile, Shawn chats with his insurance policy, who sure looks familiar…
Meanwhile, the Patriot does another “USA is OK” promo, at which point Bret suddenly attacks from behind and lays him out. OK, I chuckled at that one.
Faarooq v. Chainz
Slugfest to start and Chainz gets a big boot, but puts his head down and gets walloped. Faarooq pounds away but Chainz gets a small package for two. Faarooq does his “Jump on the back with his crotch” spot until Chainz blocks it with his knees and makes the comeback. Another big boot and the ref is bumped. This brings out Rocky Maivia from the crowd to revive the crowd, and he turns on Chainz with the ROCK BOTTOM to give Faarooq the pin at 3:04. ½* And with that, he replaces Ahmed in the Nation. There was literally no one in the world who would have thought this would go where it ended up. He was dead and buried as a future prospect and then suddenly returned after taking some acting classes and became the biggest star in the history of wrestling. Even by the end of the year, Rock’s turnaround was stunning and proves once again that wrestling is the snake that consumes its own tail, creating new stars from castoffs and failed projects. Dave, like everyone else, completely undersold in the turn in the Observer, noting basically “Oh, Rocky turned heel because he’s also black, lol” and that was that.
Patriot is back with more words for Bret Hart, and Bret answers for a brawl. “This is not a match, it’s a man on man challenge!” clarifies JR. The Hart Foundation all comes out for the beatdown and buries him under the Canadian flag. This got over pretty huge.
BRAKUS is still totally on his way, guys!
Shawn Michaels v. Mankind
Mankind brings a trash can with him and Shawn immediately dumps it on his head and boots it, but Mick escapes and comes back with the claw while wearing a garbage bag on his head. They fight on the floor while the announcers continue to plug the Hardcore Heaven show, and Mankind stunguns Shawn on the railing. He charges and Shawn backdrops him onto the announce table and then follows with an insane elbow off the apron, nearly breaking his hip on the monitors in the process. The irony is glaring here, as they talk about the “hardcore” action coming up on the ECW show while these two have a hardcore brawl that’s a billion times better than anything on that shitshow of a PPV. Back in, Shawn drops a flying elbow and JR makes sure to bury Randy Savage, but Mankind gets another claw and they head to the floor again. Shawn runs his head into the post multiple times to break the claw and then backdrop suplexes him onto the table, and HHH joins us as we take a break. STORY TIME! We know who the bodyguard ended up being, but originally Shawn was told he was getting a bodyguard and threw a huge tantrum, crying and whining because he only wanted hetero lifemate Hunter Hearst Helmsley in that role if anyone was going to get it. So they came up with another compromise instead. Back with Shawn getting a sleeper, but Mick runs him into the turnbuckles to break, so Shawn gets a flying forearm for two. They slug it out in the corner and Shawn wins that one, then does a Nash choke to really be cheeky. Mick takes him down and pounds away on the mat, morphing into Cactus Jack a bit with the running knee and bang bang action. And then RAVISHING RICK RUDE comes out to act as insurance policy as my friends and I were going nuts watching at the time, and Mankind gets a DDT for two. Hunter trips him up and Chyna takes the ref, allowing Rude to SMASH a chair into his face, and the superkick finishes at 11:40. What an AWESOME main event. ****1/4 That knee injury is still really bothering Shawn, apparently. But then the celebration is cut short by Undertaker’s music and he comes out, but then Paul Bearer interrupts that interruption and promises Kane is coming soon.
Well that was quite the finish.
Much better show this week, as promised. That felt like more of a post-PPV show, with crazy turns and a big main event.