Here we are in 2017 and I can’t believe that the year 1997 was 20 years ago. I was a 9 year at the time and have fond memories of the WWF at this time as it transitioned from the golden era of the early 90s to the tremendous Attitude Era. I thought it would be fun to go back and watch RAWs and PPVs and relive this time frame that I still can’t believe was two decades ago!
As RAW begins we learn that the main event will be Vader vs. Bret Hart. Bret was beginning to show hints of a new attitude and was no longer the white meat babyface he was during the early 90s. Vader was a monster and was in and out of the main event scene throughout the previous year.
Next are highlights of Shotgun Saturday night. Shotgun was billed as an edgier show that would come on late at from nightclubs. We see Ahmed Johnson battling the Nation of Domination (NOD) and Marlena flashing the Sultan.
The opening match is between Owen Hart and Mankind. Both men were heels at the time but this was a fun opening match with Mankind hitting the piledriver for the win.
As we know, once the new year is upon us, the WWE builds towards it first PPV event of the year: the Royal Rumble. Shawn Michaels, Jose Lothario and his son Pete are backstage as Michaels hypes his championship match at the Rumble in the Alamodome in his hometown; the same venue that this year’s Rumble will emanate from.
Additional highlights from Shotgun of the Sisters of Love (soon to be Headbangers) versus the Godwinns. There is a great visual of Ahmed Johnson hitting a member of NOD with the Pearl River Plunge on top of a vehicle.
Next up, we see Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon squaring off against Fake Razor Ramon and Fake Diesel. This was a nothing match with weak personalities involved. Furnas and LaFon were great in-ring and remind me of DIY but Gargano/Ciampa certainly have loads more charisma. Fake Razor and Diesel were doomed to fail from their debut and so their appearances lacked any interest from fans. Also of note, the Honky Tonk Man was on commentary telling McMahon he was scouting the talent on the roster.
In 1997, Goldust and Triple H were involved in a great Intercontinental Championship feud. Two strong in-ring workers that were re-invented once they left WCW that strengthened the depth of the WWF roster at the time. We saw highlights of Hunter interfering in Goldust’s match setting up a tag match, Goldust & Marc Mero vs. Jerry Lawler and HHH.
There is a series of promos that come up next with Bret Hart backstage noting that its convenient that Shawn will be on commentary during his match in the main event. Sid proceeds to come out for an interview with Jim Ross. Sid builds up his match in standard Sid form with changes in volume but noting of substance. Next is Michaels coming out to confront Sid but Sid heads backstage. Michaels also shares there is no love lost between him and Bret. It was great to see that at the main event level we had guys in several feuds. Sid and Shawn, Shawn and Bret, Btet and Austin. Actually now that I look at it it looks similar to Owens, Jericho, Rollins and Reigns but the animosity certainly felt more heated in 1997.
Next up was the main event. There is a highlight of the Undertaker tombstoning Vader’s manager Jim Cornette as Vader and Undertaker were involved in a feud at the time. Stone Cold is also seen backstage watching the main event. Later Austin comes ringside and hits Bret with a stunner. Vader hits the Vaderbomb for the win.
Finally, Sid returns to the aisle and grabs a camera man and brings him backstage. We see Sid powerbombing Pete, Jose Lothario’s son and Michaels sprints backstage to attend to Pete as RAW goes off the air.
Overall, I thought this was an average RAW. Mankind and Owen surprisingly had a great in-ring match as I felt this RAW was more personality driven than relying on in-ring abilities. This RAW was easy to get through as it just under an hour. Finally as mentioned it was great to see various feuds from the immediate like Shawn and Sid to long term feuds like the build to Shawn and Bret. Austin was gaining steam as well and was being pushed at the perfect pace! They advertised a few matches for the next RAW but I was more excited for upcoming Royal Rumble after viewing this RAW.