What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – December 29, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Footage of the
angle surrounding last week’s show concerning the European title is shown
.
Jim Ross, Michael
Cole, and Kevin Kelly are in the booth and they are live from the Nassau
Coliseum in New York for the last RAW of 1997.
Goldust comes out
dressed as a New Year’s baby and declares that he will enter the Royal
Rumble.  I should note that Cole is
establishing a bad operating procedure of constantly talking over a wrestler’s
promo, afraid of having any silence on the air. 
Goldust is supposed to wrestle Steve Austin, who comes out and has a
Porta John lowered, which he has to tug into the ring from the top of the
arena.  The Porta John, which Cole
initially calls an “outhouse” has “Crapper 3:16” written on the outside of it.  Goldust tries to sneak up on Austin behind
it, but Austin slams the door in his face, tosses him inside, and when
Goldust comes out he eats a Stone Cold Stunner. 
Austin then tosses Goldust back in and turns it over, before ending his
promo on top it.  A wild, creative, and
very entertaining segment and Austin had the crowd eating out his hand the
entire time.

Owen Hart’s sneak
attack on Triple H on last week’s show is the 1-800-COLLECT Rewind segment.
Opening Long
Island Street Fight:  The Disciples of
Apocalypse beat Savio Vega, Miguel Perez & Jesus (w/Jose) when Chainz pins
Jose after heel miscommunication at 3:17:
I wish that this feud would just end.  It has no direction and no one cares about
the Boricuas.  Ross subtly buries Crush
by saying that after his altercation with Kane he did not want to be in the WWF
anymore.  The match gets off to a hot
shot, with chairs being used, but it quickly cools into a battle royal-type
brawl.  Jose isn’t supposed to be in the
match, but gets involved anyway and in a piece of WCWesque booking, Chainz pins
him when Savio accidentally blasts him with a spin kick.  Rating:  *
The WWF has shown
these ads for a couple of weeks, but I want to say that their “Attitude Era”
ads where the Undertaker, Steve Austin, the Rock, Ken Shamrock, etc. listed
their accomplishments and injuries and put down anyone who criticizes wrestling
for being fake are well done.
European Champion
Triple H and Chyna are in the ring after the commercial break and Triple H is
on crutches and in a knee brace, which he says is because he dislocated his
knee cap last night, and he says he won’t be able to defend his title against Owen Hart
tonight.  Triple H says that Shawn
Michaels isn’t here because he has a 102 degree fever and the lights go out and
a casket is wheeled to the ring by druids, but Michaels pops out of the casket,
which has DX graffiti.  Kelly is
outraged, saying Michaels “desecrated the spirit of the casket.”  What? 
DX puts over Chyna’s breasts for a few minutes and Michaels pledges that
1998 will be the year of DX. 
Commissioner Slaughter comes out and says that Triple H is medically
unfit to compete, so he books Michaels in a WWF title match against Owen.
Ken Shamrock
defeats Kama Mustafa (w/Faarooq & D-Lo Brown) via submission to the
anklelock at 3:36:
The storyline for Shamrock heading into the Royal Rumble
is that he’s going to slowly go through the Nation in preparation for facing
the Rock for the Intercontinental title.  Kama gets in a few token moves and Shamrock
exchanges strikes with him before taking him down and making him tap.  Rating:  *
After the match, the
Rock comes out and says that fans have asked him his opinion on the elderly and
Social Security, but he doesn’t care as long as makes money.  That’s a funny gimmick as last week we said
fans asked his opinion on world peace. 
The Rock calls off the Nation from beating up Shamrock and says next
week Shamrock will face Faarooq.  Faarooq
isn’t happy about that.  The Rock is
carrying the feud on the mic and doing a fantastic job.  The Rock-Shamrock feud as a whole is very
underrated and a largely forgotten part of 1998, but the Rock’s work in that
feud is what set him on the path to main event status.
The announce team
hypes the house show circuit.  Why can’t
WWE bother to do this today?
Dok Hendrix hypes
the next Madison Square Garden show.  The
matches that are in this show were chronicled in last week’s review
.
Vince McMahon is
shown sitting in an empty arena before tonight’s show and thanks the fans for
watching and he promises that 1998 will be the most action packed and enjoyable
year in WWF history.  Can’t say he was
wrong about that.  I sort of miss these
fan appreciation segments with Vince because he comes off very sincere, but in
the back of his mind he had to know things would have to get better in 1998
because he and Linda lost $5 million or so of their own money on the company in
1997 and couldn’t give Christmas bonuses, which they felt ashamed of, according
to a Kevin Kelly shoot interview.
Jerry “the King”
Lawler & “Too Sexy” Brian Christopher beats Taka Michinoku & George
“the Animal” Steele by disqualification when Steele uses a foreign object at
2:39:
Before the match, Lawler says that Brian Christopher is
Jim Ross’s son, which is so ridiculous I’m surprised Ross didn’t corpse on live
television.  Steele was Michinoku’s
mystery partner for this match and since they are in a mainstay WWF territory,
he gets a bigger pop than Steve Austin when he comes out and eats a few
turnbuckles.  This is a fun match, as
Lawler and Steele both use foreign objects and Lawler teases doing a moonsault,
which if he did it might have made this a **** match.  Unfortunately, there isn’t much action because
Steele gets tired of seeing Lawler do his phantom foreign object trick and gets
caught using a real one.
In the second
hour, Ross and Lawler take over commentary duties
.
Cactus Jack beats
“The Road Dogg” Jesse James (w/Billy Gunn) by disqualification when Gunn
interferes at 2:10:
The Outlaws go for the cheap heat by wearing New York
Rangers jerseys.  Before the match, Dude
Love morphs into Mankind on the Titantron, who really should be in the hospital
after getting locked in a freezer last week. 
Mankind morphs into Cactus Jack and that’s who is coming for the Outlaws
in this match with a barbed wire baseball bat as the crowd goes wild and chants
“ECW.”  Cactus takes a nasty chair shot
from James, but quickly rallies to hit a double-arm DDT, prompting the
interference.  Lawler is apoplectic about
that because all of the weapons used didn’t bring about a disqualification,
which is a justified view.
After the match,
Cactus fights the Outlaws by the entrance and out of a crate, which has been
sitting there all night, comes Chainsaw Charlie, which was so stupid it
cannot be put into words.  If Terry Funk
popped out of the box or, as Lawler mentioned, Leatherface, this would’ve been
much better.  The smart fans in the
audience quickly realize it’s Funk and start chanting “Terry.” As it is,
Charlie runs off the Outlaws with his crazy chainsaw antics.
Call
1-900-RUMBLE-98 to register yourself in the Steve Austin pickup truck
contest!  It’ll cost you $1.99 or you can
send a postcard to Devon, Pennsylvania.
Kelly interviews
Sable, who will be in the next RAW magazine and she says she wants to give fans
a preview of what’s in the magazine, but before she can unveil a swimsuit, Marc
Mero comes out and sets up a chair saying that he wants to see the show.  When Kelly tells Mero to calm down, Mero
calls him a third string announcer and gives him a low blow.  Tom Brandi runs out when Mero berates Sable,
but eats a TKO on the chair.  Mero then
chokes Brandi with parts of Sable’s RAW magazine.  It’s unfortunate that Mero’s ring work was
awful at this point because he was tearing it up with this character and it was
the most entertaining he had been in years.
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear about the British Bulldog’s future, or lack thereof.
The Headbangers,
the Disciples of Apocalypse, Flash Funk, and Scott Taylor come to the ring and
call out Kane to get revenge.  However,
shortly after Kane comes down, the Undertaker makes an appearance and helps
Kane clear the ring.  The Undertaker then
leaves, which causes him to be booed, but it’s an excellent piece of
storytelling.
Hendrix hypes the
Madison Square Garden show again
.
Cole interviews
WWF Tag Team Champions The New Age Outlaws, who say that they aren’t concerned
about facing the Legion of Doom at the Royal Rumble because Chainsaw Charlie is
trying to kill them.  The interview ends
with Charlie cutting through a locker room door and the Outlaws flee.
Jim Cornette
comments on the state of wrestling in 1997 and says it is awful, indicting all
of the major companies, including the WWF. 
He doesn’t care for DX, Sable, and the New World Order.  He complains about a lack of wrestling,
living in Connecticut, and the Internet. 
Cornette says he might bring some tradition back to the WWF, thereby
laying the groundwork for bringing in his NWA faction.  A good rant, but Cornette’s view of
traditional wrestling wasn’t going to fly in 1998.
Steve Austin
giving a Stone Cold Stunner to Santa Claus is the Sony Playstation Slam of the
Week.
Sunny comes down
with her photo spread in RAW magazine and gives it to a young fan.  I’m sure his mother really loved that.
Ross announces
that the WWF has begun negotiations with Mike Tyson to participate at
WrestleMania XIV.  The crowd boos that
and Lawler mentions how Vince McMahon talking to Mike Tyson
threatens global security.
A video package
chronicles Owen Hart’s return to the WWF.
WWF Championship
Match:  Owen Hart beats “The Heartbreak
Kid” Shawn Michaels (Champion w/Chyna) by disqualification when Triple H breaks
a crutch over Owen’s head at 7:47 shown:
Interestingly, Earl Hebner is the referee for this match
and Michaels humorously mocks a fan telling Owen to look behind him to avoid a
flying axe handle.  Owen dominates the
early going until Chyna trips him.  Owen
sells a sleeper spot really well, panicking when it gets put on and trying to
punch his way towards the ropes.  Owen
runs through his usual spots for near-falls and the crowd becomes unglued when
he catches Shawn with an enziguri and applies the Sharpshooter.  However, Triple H, who came down to the
ringside a few minutes into the match interferes and Michaels keeps the title.  Looking back, Owen should’ve gotten the title
here for two weeks and then dropped it back to Michaels before the Royal
Rumble.  It would’ve given them two weeks
to hype a rematch and would have allowed them to give Owen a trial run as
champion.  The crowds were really into
his “lone Hart” act upon his return, but when he was shuffled back down to the
midcard that aura disappeared.  Rating: 
***¾
After the match,
Triple H whacks Owen with his other crutch, thereby transitioning his match
with Michaels into a feud between them.
The Final Report Card:  This was a fantastic episode of RAW.  It would’ve been better for Shawn
Michaels-Owen Hart to headline a pay-per-view, but for political reasons this
was the best that we were going to get.  The
crowd was hot for everything on this show and the show also set up a lot of
great storylines for 1998.  Austin is
heading into the Royal Rumble as a wrecking machine, D-Generation X is angering
everyone in the company and stirring the pot, the Undertaker continues to
refuse to face Kane, who in turn is destroying the roster, Cactus Jack is
waging war against the New Age Outlaws, and the Rock is slowly becoming one of
the most entertaining heels in the company. 
Coupled with the talents of Owen Hart, Taka Michinoku, Terry Funk, Ken
Shamrock and others it is not surprising that the company soon overtook WCW,
whose main event scene was growing stagnant. 
This show also gave lots of hope to loyal WWF fans because the 3.6
rating was the highest ever for a RAW episode that went head-to-head with Nitro
up to this point and it was a significant improvement over the 2.1 rating that
the company drew for the first RAW of 1997.
With 1997 now out of the way, what would you
like to see reviewed next on the blog? 
Other writers seem to have WCW covered, but I have a large collection of
old footage that I taped, so I have 1993-1999 RAW’s, old Saturday Night’s Main
Events, the old Coliseum Video “Best Of’s”, Action Zone seasons, 1991-1992 Prime Time Wrestling, Superstars
1994-1997, 1995-1997 USWA, and 1997-1998 Shotgun Saturday Night.  Just post below and
whatever seems to get the most votes we will move forward with.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.6 (vs. 4.6 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – December 8, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Pictures of last
night’s Intercontinental championship match between Steve Austin and the Rock
at D-Generation X are shown.
Jim Ross, Michael
Cole, and Kevin Kelly are in the booth and they are live from Portland,
Maine.  This is Cole’s first stint in the
RAW commentary booth and he takes the lead and does 97% of the commentary for
the first ten minutes of the show.  Looks
like it’s going to be a long night.
Vince McMahon
comes out, shakes a few fans hands, and proceeds to continue the slow burn of
the Austin-McMahon feud by criticizing Austin’s attacks on WWF officials and
driving his truck to the ring at D-Generation X last night.  McMahon explains that the Rock should have
won by disqualification last night, but a second referee counted the fall
before that result could happen so McMahon orders a rematch
tonight.  Austin comes out and McMahon
warns him that there will be consequences if he does not defend the title.  Austin is unfazed and warns McMahon that he’ll
whip his ass if those consequences are levied.

In the
championship match of the Karate Fighters Holiday Tournament, Sunny beats Jerry
Lawler by disqualification when Lawler uses gum and a female action figure and then bribes the referee to win.  You really
cannot make this stuff up.
The announce team
recaps last night’s tag team championship match between Jesse James & Billy
Gunn and the Legion of Doom
.
Opening
Contest:  The Legion of Doom wrestle The
Godwinns (w/Jesse James & Billy Gunn) to a no contest at 2:28:
This works a good pace for the first two minutes, with
the Legion of Doom dominating the action until Animal is knocked out the ring
and tossed into the steps.  Suddenly
the lights go out and Kane’s music hits and he destroys Hawk.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your copy of WWF the Music: 
Volume 2.  It will cost you $20
for CD and $15 for the tape (plus $4 shipping & handling)!
WWF Tag Team
Champions Jesse James and Billy Gunn sing goodbye to the Legion of Doom and
James challenges any WWF superstar to a singles match with Gunn.  Dude Love answers the challenge.
Dude Love defeats
“Bad Ass” Billy Gunn (w/Jesse James) with a double-arm DDT at 3:37:
Standard singles match between these two and the only
thing to say is that Gunn works in a nice legsweep counter to Sweet Shin
Music.  After the bell, James comes into
the ring and blasts Love with a chair and Gunn hits a flying leg drop as the
tag team title belts are laid across Love’s face.  Rating:  **
The Rock cuts a
promo with the Nation of Domination and debuts his trademark sunglasses, which
goes a long way towards enhancing his look. 
He says he’s going to become the people’s champion again tonight.
The announce team
recaps the light heavyweight championship match last night between Taka Michinoku
and Brian Christopher.  Cole calls
Christopher’s finisher “The Tennessee Leg Jam.” 
Ugh.
Brian Christopher
claims that Michinoku stole his title in a promo cut after their match last
night at D-Generation X
.
Jim Cornette hosts
an interview between Michinoku and El Unico (Brian Christopher in a mask),
which gets hijacked by Jerry Lawler giving a xenophobic rant.  Christopher unmasks and a two-on-one beat
down results, where Michinoku takes three piledrivers, thereby rendering him
critically dead inside of the Memphis city limits.
A video package
highlights how D-Generation X systematically destroyed the Hart Foundation.i
Flash Funk beats Kurrgan (w/The Jackal) via
reverse decision at 2:27:
The Truth Commission has been written off and Jackal
explains that it’s because that was just a corporate ploy to hold Kurrgan down
and now he will do Jackal’s bidding to take over the WWF.  Kurrgan is never knocked off of his feet in
this squash and he wins with the Paralyzer (clawhold).  However, he refuses to release the hold and
the decision is reversed.  Sniper and
Recon come out to get Kurrgan off of Funk, but it doesn’t work and Kurrgan only
releases the hold when Jackal slaps him and laughs.  After this Kurrgan would keep squashing lower
talents, but never amounted to anything in singles competition.
The announce crew
recaps the D-Generation X WWF title match between Shawn Michaels and Ken
Shamrock and Owen Hart’s interference
.
Cole’s interview
with an outraged Ken Shamrock last night after D-Generation X is shown.  Shamrock says he’ll win the Royal Rumble and
get a new crack at Shawn Michaels if that’s what it takes.
-Since we are in
hour two, Ross and Lawler are in the booth.
D-Generation X
comes out and gloats about last night’s pay-per-view.  Michaels says he tried to flush the turd that
was the Hart Foundation, but one little nugget stays around, which is Owen
Hart.  Michaels says that DX is going to
play strip poker until Owen shows up. 
The Headbangers come out and complain that they cannot wrestle because of
these shenanagins.  They overturn the
card table, which leads to a beatdown and D-Generation X does the Pitbulls Superbomb spot
through a table on Thrasher.  As Michaels
relaxes, Owen comes out of the crowd and does a hit and run attack.
Jeff Jarrett
defeats Vader by count out in ten seconds:
Before the match gets started, Goldust and Luna Vachon
come out and Goldust flashes Vader. 
Vader is incensed and chases Goldust to the locker room to give Jarrett
his second straight cheap win.
Call 1-900-737-4WWF
to hear why a former WWF title holder’s career is in jeopardy of being over.
The announcers
recap the Toughman contest between Marc Mero and Butterbean
.
Cole’s interview
with Butterbean after D-Generation X is shown. 
Butterbean swears revenge.  This
never amounted to anything unless you want to somehow link Butterbean’s anger at Mero to what he did to Bart Gunn at WrestleMania XV
.
Salvatore Sincere
beats Marc Mero (w/Sable) by count out in ten seconds:
Mero tells the crowd that he feels insulted that he has
to wrestle a jobber tonight and he brings out Sable, who is wearing an Idaho
potato sack.  However, instead of
disrobing Mero she takes off her sack to reveal a very revealing bikini.  Mero quickly covers Sable up and takes her
backstage and Sincere takes the count out, but actually leaves the ring before
the referee finishes it.  He’s the winner
anyway.
Call
1-900-RUMBLE-98 to register yourself in the Steve Austin pickup truck
contest!  It’ll cost you $1.99 or you can
send a postcard to WWF headquarters.
The next match is
the scheduled main event between Intercontinental Champion Steve Austin and The
Rock, but Austin comes out and refuses to wrestle.  Austin dares McMahon to fire him and the Rock
has a funny bit by saying “Vince, the Rock thinks you should fire him!”  As a result, McMahon declares the Rock as
the new champion by forfeit.  Austin
does not mind because he says he really wants the WWF title and he shakes the
Rock’s hand and gives him a Stunner. 
Austin takes the belt with him and says he has some major non-wrestling
plans for it next week.  When Vince
leaves the ring, Austin runs the ropes and McMahon goes flying to the arena
floor and starts cursing on air.  The
booking called for Austin to job here, but Austin refused because he felt it
would hurt his character so this is the result of that.  This was a nice segment
because even though Austin refused to wrestle it acknowledged that Austin
needed to go onto better things and it started the Austin-McMahon angle.
The Final Report Card:  I feel bad for anyone that bought a ticket to
this RAW and hope that there was a good selection of dark matches because there
was not a lot of wrestling to be seen. 
There was only one match on the show that went over three minutes,
although the show did start or continue a variety of angles for the Royal
Rumble.  My copy misses a DOA-Los
Boricuas match, but I remember that being really bad.  Austin’s stuff was great, as usual, but the
show got really boring really fast without another competitive match to break
up the promo work.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.0 (vs. 4.3 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down