97 RAW Review: February 3rd

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Royal Rumble RAW is this week however we only got clips as pay-per-view would not allow an airing of the Rumble on the USA Network. With two hours to fill we have what appears to be house show footage from the SkyDome in my hometown Toronto.

We have “Stone Cold” Steve Austin versus Vader in this one. Prior to the match Bret Hart attacks Austin but Vader attacks Hart and gets rid of him. This one ends in DQ as Austin hits the stunner on the referee.

Savio Vega defeats Flash Funk next. Savio is officially a part of the Nation of Domination and they interfere on his behalf leading to his win.

Sycho Sid comes out for an interview with Jim Ross ringside and says that the WWE Championship is creating monsters as all will do whatever it takes to capture that title.

Owen Hart and the British Bulldog are backstage and McMahon tries to question the elimination of the Bulldog by Owen. Owen shuts it down and they go into their match versus Phil LaFon and Doug Furnas. This one ends with Owen Hart being counted out as he feigns a knee injury. Bulldog seems upset that they lost this way. Owen begins to make his way backstage while trying to portray he has a knee injury.

Ahmed Johnson is backstage talking about the Nation of Domination. As he’s questioned he begins threatening everyone. Ahmed wants to go after the Nation but his partner for tonight, the Undertaker, tells him to wait. I’d like to take this time to say Ahmed Johnson on the mic is atrocious and I think his inability to convey his character is what held him back from ascending to the main event despite the WWE being high on him at this time.

Crush defeats Goldust next in a boring match. I am sick of Crush matches and find him to be one of the worst pro wrestlers. The Nation interferes and it leads to his victory. At the end of this match we see a Blackjacks promo stating they’ll ride again.

Next up we have a Shawn Michaels interview with Vince McMahon. As Michaels makes his way ringside, Jim Ross notes that HBK isn’t in his mid 40s, bald and making promises he can’t keep in reference to Hogan in WCW. Ross notes that HBK promises to defend the title at Thursday RAW Thursday where we’ll see that card is subject to change. McMahon notes that they are among a partisan crowd in Hitman country. Michaels says that pursuit of the title is bringing out the worst in superstars including himself. We see Bret watching the SkyDome big screen from backstage. Michaels notes that Muhammad Ali wasn’t liked by everyone when he was champion. McMahon notes Hart’s comments from the past and Michaels responds and Bret makes his way to the ring. Bret calls Shawn a degenerate and they exchange words until Austin comes out and attacks Hart. As they brawl outside the ring, Sid makes his way to the ring as RAW goes to commercial. Returning from commercial, Sid and Austin are gone. Bret steps on the championship that is on the mat and picks it up. Referees attempt to have him return it and he drops it back to the mat as Michaels has to pick it up. A lot of tension between Michaels and Hart could be felt in this exchange.

We see highlights of Tiger Ali Singh signing his contract in the ring in front of his hometown.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley versus Marc Mero is next for the Intercontinental Championship. McMahon who returned to commentary continues to remind the TV audience that they won’t bait and switch and deliver on what they say, again in reference I assume, to WCW programming. Dull match, with Hunter nailing Mero with a foreign object for the win.

Main event is Undertaker and Ahmed Johnson versus Faarooq and Mankind. I am officially done with the Johnson vs NOD feud. They’ve toned down the controversial promos and the matches are just abysmal. Vader makes his way ringside and accidentally nails Mankind with a chair to the head after the Undertaker ducks. Vader tries to nail Undertaker with a chair but it has no effect. Undertaker clears Vader from the ring and hits a tombstone on the chair and pins Mankind for the 1-2-3! RAW ends and Thursday RAW Thursday is heavily hyped to close the show.

A very boring RAW despite constantly being referred to as Royal Rumble RAW. The only thing of note was the confrontation of Hart and Michaels but they’d go on to have even more heated in-ring segments in the year.

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