’97 RAW is WAR Review: March 17

IMG_0384The go-home edition of RAW is WAR as we head into Wrestlemania. All the key feuds were highlighted in this one and the ending to this show was magnificent.

Legion of Doom def. Savio Vega & Crush by DQ
Standard brawlers match here and the Nation is disqualified as Faarooq comes in and nails Animal with a nightstick. Ahmed Johnson makes the save and the ring clears. LOD hits a Doomsday Device on a Nation member (D’Lo Brown) turning him inside out as described by commentary. The Chicago Street Fight between these six is this Sunday!

The commentators discuss tonight’s main event. They state that there is controversy surrounding this match as it may no longer be for the WWE Championship. There are rumours of Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin being on RAW. I’m unsure why they don’t expect Austin on RAW which he later responds to.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley def. Flash Funk
Good TV match here between both men. Chyna proved that her presence will be an asset to Hunter moving forward. King notes that Hunter used to bring “arm candy” and finally he has  a woman who is of use. Chyna gets on the ring apron which distracts Funk and when he turns around Hunter hits the Pedigree for the win. Going into Sunday, we see that having Chyna in your corner versus Marlena will be the difference maker for both men in the match. No Goldust on this show.

Highlights are shown of the Governor of New Jersey signing a bill to have the WWF return to the state.

Mascarita Sagrada Jr. & Mini Goldust def. Mini Vader & Mini Mankind
Not much to say here. All men are entertaining in the ring and it was cool to see Mascarita Sagrada, a superstar you can see on Lucha Underground which is now on Netlfix!

Gorilla Monsoon arrives to the arena and says he has had a busy day. He states that the Steel Cage match will remain for the WWE Championship as he understands how Bret has been at a disadvantage as of late. He acknowledges that the timing of such a match just days before Wrestlemania “stinks” and that Undertaker fans have made it known to him how unhappy they are. It’s funny that such a segment of fan unhappiness could be featured 20 years prior to Twitter and Facebook.

Next is an in-ring interview segment with Kevin Kelly interviewing Bret Hart. Bret talks about his match tonight and that he won the Royal Rumble and the Final Four. Bret also talks about his match this Sunday at Wrestlemania and that he will go in and leave a 5x Champion. Bret was great here speaking with great passion and confidence.

The Sultan wins a squash match next. The Sultan character seems out of place in the WWE as you can see a transition to more realistic characters and less cartoon characters from the early 90s. Sultan gets in the face of Rocky Maivia, who was on commentary. Rocky remains very vanilla and Tony Atlas comes out to calm him down as we go to commercial.

Shawn Michaels comes out next to a great reception. Vince McMahon, happy to see him is interviewing him in the ring. Michaels notes he found his smile back in San Antonio and says he’ll be bringing it with him from now on. Michaels talks about his knee and his recovery thus far. He notes finally he’ll be at the commentary table this Sunday during the Main Event.

British Bulldog def. Vader by DQ
Bulldog and Vader brawl for a bit until Mankind and Owen get involved. Bulldog is named the winner and no disunity is teased between Owen and Davey Boy but JR asks if they’ll get along this Sunday in their Tag title match.

Billy Gunn wins a squash match. Ken Shamrock was on commentary and Billy Gunn taunts him throughout and after the match. Billy calls Ken in the ring and Ken ends up applying an armbar and an ankle lock on Billy as Billy then makes his way to the back. Steve Austin comes on the titantron and says he isn’t impressed with what he just saw from Ken Shamrock. McMahon asks Austin why he is here at RAW. Austin says he is the King of the Ring and that it’s his job to be on RAW. A great response to a stupid question.

WWE Championship Steel Cage Match
Sycho Sid (c) def. Bret Hart
Both men attempt early escapes and Sid uses the cage to his advantage as he slams Bret into the steel bars of the cage. Sid attempts to make his way out the steel cage door and Steve Austin comes down to ringside and shuts the door and blocks exit. Sid next attempts to climb out the cage and Austin climbs the cage and attacks Sid and prevents him from escaping. Bret climbs up and both Bret and Austin double team Sid. Undertaker makes his way ringside and climbs the steel cage and joins the fray as he begins to beat down on Bret Hart and Stone Cold. Undertaker prevents Bret from escaping and Undertaker and Austin begin to brawl on the floor. Austin hits Undertaker with a steel chair. As Sid is climbing over the top of the cage, Bret walks towards the door. Undertaker slams the door into Bret Hart knocking him out. Sid escapes and retains and the main event remains Sid versus Undertaker for the WWE Championship.

Post match, Bret is in the ring and McMahon comes in and asks Bret about his frustration. Bret shoves McMahon to the mat and uses a lot of profanity to express his feelings. He says frustration isn’t the word for it as he continues to be screwed and everyone turns a blind eye. It was astonishing to see uncensored profanity on RAW given the family friendly nature of the WWE prior and presently in 2017. Austin comes on the titantron and calls Bret a loser after Bret was unable to capitalize even with Austin’s assistance. Sid comes back out and then the Undertaker comes out. Bret and Undertaker brawl and Austin comes out and he double teams Bret with Undertaker. Undertaker changes his focus and begins to brawl with Sid. Two sets of brawls happen simultaneously to conclude RAW as Shawn Michaels comes out. Shawn watches both brawls and picks up a steel chair but never gets involved and isn’t acknowledged by any of the men brawling. Shawn’s presence really wasn’t necessary as RAW ends.

Overall I thought this was a strong go-home edition of RAW with a strong main event ending. All the other feuds were set up well but the main event and co-main event were heavily pushed and there was a lot of intensity going into Wrestlemania with Bret and Austin doing some incredible mic work making it feel like the true main event.

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