The SmarK Rant for WWF Monday Night RAW – 09.15.97
OK, now we’ve caught up to Nitro again.
Last week: Steve Austin stuns the shit out of Sgt. Slaughter and then lets us know that maybe Vince McMahon is next? They wouldn’t do THAT, would they?
Taped from Muncie, IN on 9/9, drawing “about 5000” according to the Observer.
Your hosts are Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler
HOUR #1! The hour that really killed the Undertaker’s parents!
Intercontinental title tournament, round one: Ken Shamrock v. Faarooq
Faarooq attacks to start and that goes badly for him as Shamrock pounds him with knees and then kicks the leg out. Faarooq thumbs him in the eye, however, and goes up with a double axehandle, but Shamrock catches him with a belly to belly for two. Finally Faarooq reverses a leapfrog into a spinebuster and Ken rolls out of the ring with INTERNAL BLEEDING. As always, you don’t have to ask Ken twice to bite down on a condom full of fake blood. He just loved that spot for whatever reason. Faarooq pounds away on him, but Shamrock suddenly hits a suplex out of nowhere for the pin at 2:45 to advance. And then Faarooq and the Nation do the beatdown afterwards in the name of good sportsmanship, but the LOD make the save. So this sets up Nation v. LOD & Shamrock at Badd Blood. Or as it would be called if Shamrock was in the main event, Mouth Blood. Not much to this one but it was stiff and hard hitting. **1/4
El Pantera v. TAKA Michinoku
Pantera takes Taka to the floor with a headscissors and follows with a handspring into a tope, but Taka comes back with a dropkick and puts Pantera on the floor with a leg lariat. Taka follows with his giant bodypress to the floor. Back in, Pantera gets a backbreaker and does a handstand on the corner into a headscissors, and then puts Taka on the floor and follows with a crazy tope suicida around the post. Back in, Taka goes up and Pantera brings him down with a handstand into a rana off the top and then hits a quebrada for two. Pantera with a rana into a rollup for two, and La Majastral gets two. Taka comes back with a tornado DDT for two and goes up with a missile dropkick, and that sets up the Michinoku Driver to finish at 3:55. GOD-DAMN! This was a million miles an hour with all highspots. If they had done this crazy shit every week then the division would have gotten over. ***1/2
Meanwhile, the Truth Commission (with original manager The Commandant) are ready to teach the LOD about war tonight. Commandant’s accent moves between what sounds like bad South African to something vaguely Middle Eastern.
Recon & Sniper v. The Legion of Doom
Sniper beats on Hawk to start and then runs away, but Hawk catches him with a neckbreaker and it’s over to Animal. Recon (Bull Buchanan) comes in and slugs away on the ropes and The Interrogator (Kurrgan) pulls Animal out of the ring and sends him into the stairs. Back in, Recon hits a legdrop with 8 inches of space showing and that gets two. Animal gets a clothesline out of the corner and makes the hot tag to Hawk as JR notes that the heels are “allegedly from South Africa”. Allegedly? Does he doubt their passports? Doomsday Device on Recon, but Kurrgan runs in for the lame DQ at 3:50. Shamrock makes the save before the heels can beat anyone down, but Kurrgan no-sells everything and then the Nation runs in to help. Now THAT’S racial harmony! South African white supremacists teaming up with a militant black gang in the name of beating up Ken Shamrock! And they say wrestling has no redeeming moral qualities. ½*
El Torito & Piratita Morgan v. Max Mini & Mr. Lucky
Sunny does the ring introductions for the match and she sounds DRUUUUUUUUUUUUUUNK as fuck. No idea why that might be. Torito puts Max on the floor with a shoulderblock and Lucky switches in for him and gets a headscissors and rana on Morgan. Max Mini flips around the ring to evade El Torito and puts him on the floor with a flying armdrag, then follows with a quebrada. Back in the ring, Lucky rolls up Piratita for two, but Max comes back in and gets beat up by the heels for a bit. Max takes a pretty sick bump off the post and hits the floor, and the heels work Lucky over while Max slaps hands with the fans in the front row. Max comes back in the ring and gets an armdrag on Torito, but the heels cut him off and put him on the floor again. Lucky holds off both heels with tilt a whirl armdrags and Max comes in with a flying headscissors off the top rope, but Torito cuts off his comeback with a big boot. Lucky puts Morgan on the floor and follows with a quebrada to the floor, and Max finishes Torito with a diving headbutt at 6:49. This started really hot and fun, but then went on way too long and died off quickly. Seemed like they ran out of stuff to do and had to keep stretching out the match. **1/2
Intercontinental title tournament, round one: Dude Love v. Brian Pillman
Question: Why is Dude Love from Truth or Consequences? Shouldn’t he be from New York like Mick Foley? So Pillman brings out Marlena with him, and she’s acting like she’s miserable while dressed vaguely goth with a nose ring. And yet she’s looking about 100 times classier and more demure than she became known for just a year later. Foley works a headlock to start because I guess the Dude is Mick’s scientific wrestling persona. Marlena tries to escape her captivity, but Pillman brings her back to ringside and Dude misses a charge and hits the floor. Pillman runs him into the stairs and works him over in the ring, then takes him down for a chinlock. Dude fights out of that and Pillman puts him down with a knee, but Dude slugs back as he’s BUILDING MOMENTUM. Swinging neckbreaker and he loads up Sweet Shin Music, but Goldust runs in for the DQ and attacks Pillman at 4:46, thus sending Pillman to the next round. Pillman wasn’t able to do anything here, as his career is sadly and rapidly winding down for good. ½*
Hour #2! The hour that gave Steve Austin a second opinion on his neck and let him return to work early!
Steve Austin joins us to kick off the WarZone, with Jerry Lawler conducting the interview because Vince McMahon is “on assignment”. Vince was legit not there and that actually factors into something else that happens later on, which we’ll get into. So Lawler cackles with glee at how Austin gave stunners to Jim Ross and Sgt. Slaughter. Austin basically apologizes in a very Austin way to JR and tells him that if he sits there and doesn’t get in his way again, he won’t get stunned again. But someone who WILL get stunnered is Owen Hart, along with the rest of the Hart Foundation if need be. So Bret and family interrupt, and Bret notes that up in Canada we have a name for people like Austin: HOSERS. I’m surprised they didn’t bleep salty language like that. “I’ve been waiting a long time to say that one,” he notes. So they bring out a lawyer and serve Austin with a restraining order, and Jerry thinks that this is some bullcrap, but he hangs too close over Austin’s shoulder and Steve hits him with STUNNER OUTTA NOWHERE and Lawler takes a fantastic bump off it with the crown flying off him. And then Austin just completely brushes it off and leaves him laying there dead. Awesome.
Jim Cornette joins us on commentary to replace Lawler and JR suggests that he interview Austin next week. And we cut to the back as Lawler gets loaded on a back board with a neck brace. Man, they so underused Lawler during this time.
The Patriot v. Owen Hart
Owen works the arm to start as JR talks about how this show is “the purest form of freedom of expression”, which is hilarious given that they were confiscating signs like crazy at this point, and it’s a taped show where they re-edit the crowd noise to get the reactions they want! Owen beats on Patriot in the corner, but he comes back with a hiptoss and slugs Owen down before doing to his own armbar. Owen reverses to his own and goes up with a missile dropkick, but Steve Austin comes out to the ramp with some cops in pursuit as we take a break. Man, the cops on wrestling shows work more efficiently at enforcing restraining orders than any of the ones I’ve ever been served with! Er, I mean, that my friend who you don’t know has been served with. Back with Owen getting the leg lariat for two, but Patriot gets a crossbody for two. They do an awkward sequence where Patriot makes the comeback and they lose the thread, and JR is very excited about big gamecocks rising up. Patriot goes up with the Patriot Missile for two. Owen begs off and Patriot slugs away in the corner, but Owen takes him down with an atomic drop, at which point Austin comes in and tears up the restraining order, and Patriot gets a banana peel rollup for the pin at 10:51. It was looking like a good match before the break and then kind of fell apart. Still decently average overall. **1/2
Shawn Michaels joins us for an interview with JR, and this is where Vince’s absence ties in again. Let’s go TO THE OBSERVER!
“Probably the biggest news of the past week revolved around Shawn Michaels’ behavior at the Raw taping on 9/9 in Muncie, IN. Neither Vince McMahon nor Undertaker were at the taping, and Michaels did an interview where he came out in tight biker shorts with a sock or socks stuffed in his crotch for whatever reason and proceeded to make some very lewd gyrations like acting as if he was humping Jim Ross, swearing during his interview and called out Undertaker who was on a tape on the video wall. Everything was able to be edited off the show, and if you didn’t know about the incident, you wouldn’t even know the interview was heavily edited. Since Undertaker wasn’t there, but since he was on a tape on the wall people thought he was, when Michaels kept insulting him, calling him a big chickenshit, and begging him to come out and call him more names when he didn’t come out, it made Undertaker look bad in the city, not to mention it being totally unprofessional. Whether Michaels was doing it in another attempt to get fired so he could go to WCW or he had other ideas up his sleeve, it’s definitely brought a lot more negativity toward him in a lot of circles.”
So yeah, even in edited form, Shawn sounds pilled up out of his mind, and those shorts leave NOTHING to the imagination. So in this heavily edited form, Undertaker does his promo on the screen and Shawn wraps it up quickly. I’d be interested to see the full version sometime because I had no idea at the time that Shawn was doing all of that stuff.
WWF tag team titles: The Headbangers v. Bret Hart & British Bulldog
Thrasher works an armbar on the Bulldog to start and then Mosh takes Bret down with some armdrags, but Bulldog turns the tide with a spinebuster on Mosh for two. Delayed suplex and Bret comes in and puts the boots to him in the corner, then follows with a pair of elbows. We take a break and return with Mosh trying a sunset flip on Bulldog, but that gets foiled and Bret comes back in and continues beating on Mosh. Bret goes up and misses an elbow and Thrasher gets a lukewarm tag as the Bangers run kind of wild, but Bret and Mosh collide and Bulldog hits Mosh with the powerslam for the pin and the titles at 12:00! But then Earl Hebner decides after the fact that it was the illegal man and reverses the decision for the shitty finish. Hebner just screwed Bret Hart, probably the worst of any time in 1997, I’m sure. Bret throws a tantrum and tears up the US flag, which brings Patriot and Vader in for the save and they brawl to end the show. Man, I don’t know what happened with this match, but I’m gonna chalk it up to “The Headbangers are shitty” and leave it at that. *1/2
Next week! It’s ONE NIGHT ONLY in England, and then RAW returns to MADISON SQUARE GARDEN and the business changes forever. And that’s not even empty hype, next week is legit one of the most significant and important wrestling shows in history.
This was also a mostly entertaining show up until the bafflingly awkward main event. This is the good shit, PAL.