The SmarK Rant for WWF Monday Night RAW – 09.22.97
Live from MADISON SQUARE GARDEN. JR narrates a cool history of the company’s big matches and moments in the arena to start the show.
Your hosts are Vince McMahon, Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler
And now, the business changes forever. Not to oversell it or anything.
Intercontinental title tournament, round one: Rocky Maivia v. Ahmed Johnson
So Faarooq has advanced to the next round despite losing clean to Ken Shamrock last week, because Ken sustained yet another vague “internal injury” and he’s out of the tournament. The actual reason was scheduling weirdness with Shamrock, since he wasn’t available for the Albany taping the next night where he would have had to lose. The crowd is just violently anti-Rocky, although in this case it’s the right kind of heat now. Ahmed attacks and clotheslines Rock over the top to start, then pounds him down in the corner, but misses a blind charge. Rocky gets the floatover DDT for two and chokes him down, while Captain Lou takes notes at ringside in an angle that went nowhere. Rock tosses Ahmed out of the ring, and Ahmed somehow manages to hit his hand on the announce table on the way down and injures himself AGAIN, bleeding all over from the hand. How do you even do that? YOU’RE THE ONE TAKING THE BUMP! Back in, Rocky pounds away on him, but Ahmed catches him with a spinebuster and both guys are down. Ahmed comes back with the Pearl River Plunge out of nowhere to finish at 5:00, however. Yeah, this sucked. ½* Ahmed was supposed to beat Faarooq and go to the finals against Owen, but that went down the drain thanks to the hand injury. Lawler jokes that Albano should make a note that Ahmed is “easily injured”. I love shoot comments that aren’t supposed to be shoot comments.
Steve Austin shows up in the stands and promises that someone is getting their ass whipped tonight, while fans absolutely mob him.
Meanwhile, in EVIL DR. MADMAN’S LAZER TAG BATTLE ZONE, Sable has a Lazer Tag showdown with the Fink. I love the fact that he’s not just Dr. Madman, but they have to further clarify that he’s EVIL Dr. Madman, just in case we might get him confused with Neutral Good Dr. Madman or something.
Meanwhile, at One Night Only, Shawn wins the European title from British Bulldog and then pretty much throws it in a bag for the next three months and forgets about it.
The Undertaker is here, and Vince announces that the winner of the Hell in a Cell match gets a shot at the WWF title at Survivor Series. Vince promises that no one gets in via the top and there’s no one hiding under the ring, so no one gets in or out, guaranteed. Which is hilarious because they immediately had both guys leave the cage in the FIRST MATCH and did a run-in finish. Still awesome, though. Anyway, Undertaker will enjoy watching Shawn’s rotting corpse burn in eternal damnation. Well, joke’s on him these days, then. So Shawn interrupts and he’s bitching about the WWF giving him the shaft because he’s already won all the titles and doesn’t need to earn another title shot. And unless you’re a “real hot mama”, he doesn’t lay down for anyone.
The Legion of Doom v. Faarooq & Kama Mustafa
Sunny is guest ring announcer for some reason, mostly to keep her on screen without doing anything, I guess. Kama beats on Animal to start, but gets powerslammed, so it’s over to Faarooq. He goes up with a shoulderblock on Hawk, but Hawk of course no-sells it and drops a fist for two. The Nation double-teams Hawk for a bit, but he doesn’t sell any of it and hits Faarooq with a neckbreaker for two and then Animal just comes in. They set up the Doomsday Device and D-Lo runs in for the DQ at 2:32 and the Nation beats them down until Ahmed tries to save, but gets beaten down as well. He probably injures himself again in the process. Horrible match. DUD
Intercontinental title tournament, round two: Owen Hart v. Brian Pillman
Pillman has his arm in a sling, and he claims that while he was acrobatically doing Marlena in the bathroom, he slipped and broke his arm, and thus he must forfeit the match to Owen. Commissioner Slaughter demands to see X-Rays and a doctor’s report, and demands that the match go on as scheduled. What is he, DOCTOR Slaughter now? The man has a broken arm! He already explained that he broke it while having hot sex with Goldust’s wife! So they do a lockup to start and both guys give an exaggerated clean break at the same time and then Pillman takes him down with a snapmare for two, with both guys working at quarter-speed. So we take a break, with Vince pretty sure nothing is going to happen during the commercial anyway, and return as they’ve turned on each other thanks to Marlena causing trouble between them. I guess Pillman didn’t sex her up good enough the night before. Women, amirite? So they slug it out in the ring and collide on a crossbody, at which point Goldust runs in and attacks Owen for the DQ, thus sending him to the finals. This has been seriously one of the worst tournaments ever. DUD Owen does his overblown victory speech, and then Steve Austin comes out and attacks him.
Vince McMahon leaves the announce position and calls off the cops before they can arrest Austin, and he just wants to know what’s the matter with Austin? Sure, he’s upset about having to give up both his titles, but that’s no reason to break the law! Vince explains once again that the doctors have told Austin he’ll end up paralyzed if he competes, and the WWF fans don’t want him to end up in a wheelchair. So Austin just needs to get a hold of himself because people care about him in the WWF! Steve just has to work within the system! Austin agrees that he’ll work within the system, but also, Vince can kiss his ass, and then for the first time ever, it’s KICK WHAM STUNNER for Vince McMahon and the cops haul him off in cuffs while the crowd goes insane. And that is the start of the biggest drawing feud in wrestling history, and the beginning of the change from Vince the Announcer to Mr. Mahon the Owner. If only Vince didn’t suck at taking the stunner. He does get bonus points for twitching in pain while selling it, though.
Back from the break, and JR and Lawler are pretty sure that Vince is gonna fire Austin now.
Falls Count Anywhere: Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Dude Love
Oh yeah, and there’s THIS, too. So in another historic first, Dude Love appears on the Titantron before the match, and explains that this kind of match isn’t really his bag, baby. So Dude brings out Mankind in some split-screen trickery (“You really are eye candy for the chicks, Dude!”) but Mankind also isn’t the right man for the match, and so we get the WWF debut of CACTUS JACK.
Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Cactus Jack
Oddly enough, this would not be the last time that Hunter would run into Jack in MSG. So Jack immediately brings a garbage can and attacks Hunter, which draws ECW chants from the fans, and Jack gets a neckbreaker on the floor for two. Back in the ring, Jack beats on him and takes him to the floor again with a Cactus clothesline, but Chyna clotheslines Jack into the front row. So they head to the back and Hunter slams him on the floor for two, but Jack sprays him with a fire extinguisher and runs him into the railing at ringside, taking the whole thing out. Back in, Jack whips Hunter into the corner and he goes flying to the floor again, but Jack drops an elbow off the middle rope and lands on the garbage can. We take a break and return with Hunter beating on him with a chair, but Cactus goes low and gets a sunset flip off the apron for two. Hunter charges and gets backdropped on the ramp, but Chyna distracts Jack with a chair and allows Hunter to run Jack into the stairs, which takes out Chyna at the same time. They fight up the ramp and Hunter gets a back suplex for two and follows with a garbage can to the head for two. They head to the back again and Hunter finds a table, but he tries a Pedigree and Jack goes low to block and then finishes with a piledriver through the table at 12:13. This was a mind-blowing brawl at the time, and still a great match now, and a precursor to all the Hardcore title stuff that followed. ****1/2
Shawn Michaels joins us and does all the stuff that was edited off last week’s show, where he calls out Undertaker and promises to slap him around, because Undertaker is actually here this week. So we take a break and return with Shawn refuting his gayness by telling fans to “ask their mama” how gay he is. So Undertaker finally does come out, but Shawn and HHH and Rude jump him and beat him down while idiot fans try to jump the railing and security holds them back. Man, they should come up with some kind of a name for that heel group soon.
Bret Hart v. Goldust
Goldust has a weird half-painted face thing going on here, which I guess is foreshadowing his impending heel turn. He gets a clothesline for two, but Bret beats on him in the corner and goes to work on the knee. This sets up the ringpost figure-four. Referee: “YOU NEED TO LET IT GO!” Bret: “WHY?” Hebner’s got nothing for that one. Shawn joins us as we take a break. Back with Bret still working the knee while Shawn siphons all the heat from the match, drawing a very rude chant from the fans, who think he’s either a cigarette or a bundle of twigs of some sort. Goldust reverses a suplex to come back, but Bret keeps working that knee until Goldust shoves him over the top to escape. Back in, Goldust makes the comeback with a bulldog for two, but Bret takes him down with the Sharpshooter out of nowhere for the submission at 12:40. Well that was abrupt. Match was decent. **1/4 Shawn and Hunter immediately run in for the beatdown, with the Hart Foundation (including Jim Neidhart!) making the save, but then Undertaker just comes in and throws everyone out and chokeslams both Shawn and Bret to end the show.
Well, between the start of Austin v. McMahon and the debut of Cactus Jack, this was pretty clearly an all-timer.