The SmarK Rant for WWF Monday Night RAW – 10.13.97
Technically I already did this episode as a part of WWE 24/7, but it’s been a long time and some pretty notable stuff happens.
TONIGHT: The Legion of Doom have vowed to win the tag team titles from the pig farmers or RETIRE! Too bad it couldn’t have been both.
Taped from Topeka KS on 10.07.97, drawing 4199.
Your hosts are Vince McMahon, Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler
The Hart Foundation joins us to start, and Vince McMahon notes that Bret can’t be happy lately, what with Shawn’s antics and the impending Survivor Series match. But Shawn Michaels and his crew quickly interrupt on the Titantron, making fun of him for being old and “jerking the curtain” on Shawn’s shows. Hunter notes that he’s younger, better and bigger than Bret in every way (“Good god man you can put an eye out with that thing!” notes Shawn) and they show off footage of HHH beating Bret via countout in last week’s borefest. Bret again calls them “degenerates” and tells them to come down, but Shawn will beat up whatever family members are needed, and Hunter already beat up Bret and doesn’t need to do it any more. So Shawn and Hunter agree that they’re D-GENERATION X. We’ll see if that goes anywhere.
Owen Hart v. Kama Mustafa
So after we take a break and get ready for the match, this new D-Generation X group comes out to watch, allowing Kama to beat Owen down and choke him out in the corner. Shawn and HHH steal the headsets and hijack the commentary while Kama drops an elbow for two. Owen comes back with a missile dropkick while D-X buries Bret on commentary, calling him “the Droopy Dog of the WWF”. Owen comes back with the Owenzuigiri while Shawn eats bananas at ringside in something that I’m sure was some bizarre inside baseball rib. Lawler plays along with their heel antics, but Shawn tells him to shut up because he used to work for Lawler, but now he’s the one calling the shots. Meanwhile Kama holds a long chinlock, while Hunter makes fun of THAT, and then Bret and Anvil get into a brawl with the Nation at ringside for no particular reason while Shawn and Hunter mug for the camera and make wacky faces. And the match is some kind of no-contest at 4:44. The match was awful, the angle was dumb, the crowd was dead, and D-X were trying WAY too hard to be witty and didn’t really have any good lines on commentary. Meanwhile the Hart Foundation were just spiraling downwards into irrelevance after being the hottest act in the company three months earlier. DUD
Meanwhile, the LOD talk about their relationship with Paul Ellering.
Tarantula & Mosaic v. Max Mini & Nova
The rudos double-team Nova (“Nova obviously in the blue there” notes Vince, as though, yes, it’s obvious that anyone named “Nova” would be clad in a blue bodysuit, of course!) but Max comes in and takes Mosaic down with a flying headscissors. Nova takes both heels down with his own headscissors and chases them to the floor, and Max Mini follows with a dive, and so does Nova, who SPIKES his own head into the ramp in a terrifying spot, pulling a Cody. Back in the ring, Max finishes Mosaic with a sunset flip so they can immediately go home at 2:50. This minis thing is never gonna happen for them.
Meanwhile, George and Adam are doing a contest where the winner gets to go to dinner with a WWF superstar. So they go with Sunny to a chicken dinner, and (hold on, I need to properly prepare you for the hilarity here) Sunny is dishing them up various cuts of chicken, and asks them if they want a WING, or a THIGH, or a NECK, or (are you ready for the punchline?) if they want…well, I forgot where it was going. Damn Vince Russo shows wearing away my short term memory. But you can bet it was a hilarious punchline!
Meanwhile, on Shotgun Saturday Night, Rockabilly Gunn breaks up with Honky Tonk Man, as Jesse Jammes returns as The Road Dogg and talks Billy into forming a team with him. We’ll see if that goes anywhere long term, I guess, but I don’t like the chances of Rockabilly and Jeff Jarrett’s roadie succeeding as a top act.
Flash Funk v. Shawn Michaels
Match never happens as Flash makes his entrance and then THAT’S GOTTA BE KANE interrupts through HELLFIRE AND BRIMSTONE, hits Funk with a tombstone to kill him dead, blows off some pyro and leaves again after Paul Bearer cuts a promo. The red light gimmick was stupid but you can’t argue with the results here.
And then Shawn Michaels comes out and pins the corpse of Flash Funk while Hunter counts the fall and they celebrate like it’s Wrestlemania. That was pretty funny. They follow this bait-and-switch up with an advertised match between Patriot and HHH for later in the show, and SPOILER, that one doesn’t happen either.
Meanwhile, the LOD put over the WWF fans as the best. Hard hitting stuff.
Skull & 8-Ball v. Sniper & Recon
I forget if this is his debut, but Jackal is suddenly managing the Truth Commission while Vince and Lawler resurrect the lamest of all taped show gimmicks, WHAT’S IN THE NEWS THIS WEEK? Oh man, no one talking about current events could be on a taped show! Apparently there’s a match going on as well if you give a shit. I don’t. Neither do the announcers, who ignore the match for the first 2:30 for their comedy routine about Bill Clinton potentially fucking Janet Reno and then Lawler goes on a bit about mixing up Bob Denver and John Denver which is pretty tasteless. And then Jackal pulls down the top rope and his team gets DQ’d after a mere 3:45 of eyeball-searing torture. Were they SERIOUSLY not understanding why Nitro was curb stomping them in the ratings every damn week? Just awful. DUD
Steve Austin joins Vince to sign his agreement to hold the WWF harmless if he gets injured, and in exchange he gets a title shot against Owen Hart at Survivor Series. And he’s only got one piece of business left to transact, at which point Vince does his patented “gulp” in terror, but Austin was just messing with him, and just wants a damn handshake. But then the Nation comes out and Faarooq is talking trash, but Austin blows him off because he can’t understand him. Hopefully the Nation has a better trash-talker in their ranks. So Rocky charges the ring, and in a historic first, takes a stunner from Austin, who leaves via the crowd. Wonder if we’ll see Rocky v. Austin down the road at some point?
Meanwhile, the LOD reminisces about Wembley Stadium. Well Animal does, Hawk probably didn’t even remember being in England.
And now a word from LAZER TAG.
Meanwhile, the LOD discuss the origins of their names: They came up with it themselves and it just worked out. Cool story, bro.
Meanwhile, the LOD do a promo from backstage, and Animal fires a SHOT ACROSS THE BOW, calling out over-the-hill hasbeens like HULK HOGAN AND RANDY SAVAGE who are unable to cut it any longer. I mean, I don’t wanna turn this into a defense of Hulk Hogan, but motherfucker, he was two months away from drawing the biggest gate and buyrate in the history of the fucking company so maybe everyone involved on this side of things would have been better off shutting the fuck up and picking better targets, no? Like talk about the over the hill pot calling the kettle washed up. Obviously we know whose mouth those words were really coming from, so I don’t blame them, but COME ON.
Brian Christopher v. Tajiri
This Tajiri kid flies up with a missile dropkick and overhead suplex for two, but Christopher puts him down with a clothesline and follows with a bulldog for two. Tajiri gets a sunset flip and rolls him around the ring in a cool spot, then hits the handspring elbow off the ropes and beats on him with kicks as Lawler notes that “Brian thinks that judo is what they make bagels out of”. Tajiri gets a pair of jawbreakers and then levels him with a high kick as Vince references the Inoki v. Ali match from 20 years earlier. “How much money did you lose on that one?” quips JR, which then prompts Vince to bitch about Hogan screwing him out of money on No Holds Barred after it lost a bunch of money and Hogan promised to pay him back for the losses. “I’m still waiting for that check” notes Vince later in the show. Geez someone is salty this week. So, I’m curious, because when we were going through Observers from that time and following along, it was clear that the movie actually made a decent profit when all was said and done. So is this a case of Vince trying to control the narrative and retroactively burying his own project out of spite for Hogan, which is where everyone then got the idea that the movie was a huge bomb? Tajiri gets a standing moonsault for two and rolls him up for two, but Christopher reverses for the pin at 5:25 while holding the tights. This was pretty good for a random RAW light heavyweight match, although Christopher is shoehorned into the wrong division just because he’s a smaller guy. ***
Jim Cornette joins us for another bitch session, this time directed at Phil Mushnick, who apparently wants to destroy the wrestling world and doesn’t want fans to enjoy any wrestling whatsoever. Then in a scathing bit of irony, he accuses Mushnick of deliberately lying about the results of the steroid trials and treating Vince as though he was found guilty when in fact he was found totally innocent. NOT SO FAST, Jim. Let’s be clear here, Vince was not found “innocent”, he was found not guilty of the specific charges being brought against him by the government. If you’re gonna play those kinds of semantics, let’s be truthful at least. Vince was clearly guilty of being involved in distributing steroids and was implicated in the Zahorian case as well, and it was proven that a bunch of guys in the WWF were on steroids and using them actively at the time as well, but the key is that they had to find him guilty of a SPECIFIC instance of doing it and have proof of it, which they couldn’t do because the government apparently had lawyers more incompetent than the ones currently on Trump’s payroll, and they had about as much evidence. Anyway, Cornette goes off on Mushnick’s vendetta against wrestling fans, which is somehow violating their constitutional rights and freedom of speech or some shit, because (GET THIS), Phil apparently thinks that wrestling fans are a bunch of disenfranchised losers who bombard him with obscenity-laced tirades when they write back to him. WELL STOP THE FUCKING PRESSES, this is shocking and wholly new information! We certainly know that Twitter wasn’t around in 1997, but let me tell ya, Mushnick was proven to be 1000000000000% absolutely right on that one. You know what else Mushnick was proven to be absolutely correct about? The fact that over the next decade, dozens of wrestlers from every company would drop dead at a young age because of all the drug use that Vince spent years denying was a thing that existed. Look at this very show! Hawk, Animal, Bulldog, Neidhart, Brian Christopher, Owen Hart, Crush, Rick Rude and Chyna all dead today, and we’re not even halfway through the second hour. Cornette’s really pissed off about Mushnick using Brian Pillman’s death as an exploitive grab for attention (POT KETTLE BLACK!) and reads a quote from Phil about how “If Major League Baseball stars were dropping dead on a regular basis, this would be page one stuff” and maybe mainstream media needs to pay closer attention to wrestling as a result. And he’s not wrong! At all! Guess what, in a decade after this rant by Cornette, those particular chickens would come home to roost, and spoiler, it sure didn’t go well for anyone. Also, Brian Pillman might have technically died of a heart attack, but it’s not like the massive amounts of drugs and alcohol weren’t likely involved in getting him there, and you can bet that Vince sure didn’t want anyone sniffing around any further than he wanted them to. Anyway this was carny-level sleaze to the core, which we have since come to know and expect from Cornette on a regular basis.
And here I thought this would be a nice breezy rant on a Saturday night and now I’m 2100 words into it and going off on Jim Cornette and Vince McMahon and dead wrestlers. THANKS A LOT.
Savio Vega v. Goldust
Thankfully everyone here is still alive, because if Cornette did his hypocritical rant and then we followed it up with, like, Crush v. British Bulldog, they might have broken me. In fact, 23 years later, both guys here are still going and in Goldust’s case, looking as good as ever, so good for them! Speaking of which, Vince continues his bitching about Hogan and makes fun of him wearing a hairpiece in his movies, really going for the hard-hitting journalism, and this is where he tells the story about Hogan promising to pay him back for the losses after No Holds Barred. Man could Vince be any more petty? Never mind, we all know the answer to that. Goldust controls to start, but gets distracted by Los Boriquas and Savio superkicks him, which results in the Boriquas getting tossed by the referee. Savio goes to put the Latin moves on Marlena, prompting Goldust to attack, and Savio suckers him in for an attack out there as a result. Back in, Goldust comes back with the Curtain Call, but Savio flips out of it and hits him with a spinkick for two, using the ropes. Goldust rolls him up for two, but Savio gets the leg lariat in the corner. Marlena throws her cigar into the ring to distract the ref, and Goldust uses her purse to knock Savio out for the pin at 4:20. Cute finish, but the second honeymoon for Goldust and Marlena was not gonna last for long. **1/2
Meanwhile, apparently Eric Bischoff went on an INTERNET TIRADE this past week, and JR has all the details on the Hotline! I love how they’re taking all these childish cheapshots at Nitro while desperately copying everything they can get away with, including WCW’s own sleazeball hotline plugs. And then just wait until years later when they start making documentaries about themselves and turning around the narrative so that the other guys were the ones doing it and not them.
Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. The Patriot
Another one that doesn’t happen, as Rick Rude throws HOT COFFEE in Patriot’s face and chases him back to the dressing room, leaving us with no match. So Sarge comes out and declares that Hunter will wrestle tonight, while the announcers completely bury Slaughter and make him sound like a doofus. So Sarge brings out Ahmed Johnson as the mystery opponent while Shawn and Hunter completely goof on the whole thing and treat it like a joke, at which point the Nation jumps Ahmed and destroy him 4-on-1 while Shawn and Hunter are too cool for everyone and make faces at the top of the ramp. I know I’m coming off like Jim Cornette with this stuff, but I really hate how D-X were just making everything a complete joke and no-selling all the supposedly serious angles around them. It’s OK in small doses but there’s a time and place and they’re just ALL OVER these shows and killing off everything they touch.
WWF tag team titles: The Godwinns v. The Legion of Doom
So if the LOD lose, they have to retire. I’m sure everyone believes that. The LOD double-teams Henry and works the arm, and Animal powerslams PIG for two. PIG beats on Hawk in the corner and we take a break. Back with Hawk getting beat up on the floor and the announcers are barely able to bother talking about the match and talk about the other stuff on the show instead. They hype the show in Oklahoma the next week and can’t even pretend that LOD won’t be there. Animal gets run into the stairs while the ref is distracted and the Godwinns continue working on Hawk, while refs attend to the injured Animal. The Godwinns double-team Hawk some more and the ref threatens them with a DQ, so Henry gives him a slop drop, which is somehow not a DQ. “I don’t think the ref saw it!” notes JR. The ref didn’t notice himself getting attacked? I mean, I know refs are blind, but that’s a bit ridiculous. So Animal sees the injustice being perpetrated and runs down to the ring, stealing Uncle Cletus’s horseshoe after an accidental shot to Henry by Cletus, and allowing Hawk to hit a flying clothesline on Phineas while a second referee counts the pin to make the LOD the tag champions for the last time in their careers. ½* And then the Godwinns turn on their Uncle and destroy him, sending him back to Bitters Arkansas, never to return.
Well shit, I sure did hate this show more than I expected and we ended up with a LOT to unpack.