’97 RAW is WAR Review: June 2

RAW starts off with a recap of the Tag Title win by Austin and HBK and also shows the Undertaker on bended knee as he reunites with Paul Bearer.

Undertaker makes his way ringside. Jim Ross on commentary compares the Undertaker to Andre the Giant and says Undertaker is not just a phenom, but THE Phenom. Paul Bearer also comes down ringside and tells the Undertaker he is his personal instrument of destruction. Bearer says with the Undertaker by his side he’ll be the ruler of the world. *Cue Sycho Sid’s music*. Sid comes out, returning to TV after a lengthy absence. Sid talks about their match and says he respected the Undertaker but now that the Undertaker is with Paul Bearer he can no longer put his rematch on hold. Undertaker and Sid go face to face and the match is on. Faarooq comes out and tells Sid and Undertaker that this time next week there will be black WWE Champion.

Faarooq def. Ahmed Johnson
We see highlights of the feud between Faarooq and Johnson. The Nation of Domination tries to interfere but the Undertaker makes the save and fights them off. Undertaker sends Faarooq into Ahmed and Ahmed ends up going head first into the steel steps on the outside of the ring. Faarooq tosses Johnson back in the ring and pins him for the win. Ahmed gets in the Undertaker’s face and they exchange words. Undertaker ends up choke slamming Ahmed.

We get a recap of Austin’s attack on Bret Hart’s knee followed by another ad for the the King of the Ring inflatable chairs. The Hart Foundation come out. Bret announces he will NOT be wrestling at the King of the Ring. Austin and Michaels (who are separate backstage) respond to Bret but end up arguing with one another via divided screen. Brian Pillman suggests that Austin square off against Michaels at the King of the Ring and then Pillman and Austin can fight the next night on RAW. Austin accepts and says he’ll kick Pillman’s little crippled, raspy, hoarse voice a**.

Intercontinental Championship
Owen Hart (c) def. Bob Holly
After getting the upset on Owen two weeks before, Holly earns a title shot. Owen retains with the Sharpshooter.

Michaels backstage and accepts the match with Austin. We also get a recap of Mankind’s sit down interview from last week. There is also another Sunny super soaker ad with Cornette, Honky Tonk Man and the Headbangers.

Goldust def. Hunter Hearst Helmsley
This was a #1 Contenders match for the European championship next week on RAW. Chyna looked to drape Goldust over the top rope but Marlena grabs the leg of Chyna. Hunter looks to hit the high knee on Goldust but he gets out of the way and Hunter ends up nailing Chyna sending her off the ring apron. Goldust rolls up Huner for the win.

World Tag Team Championship
Legion of Doom def. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin & Shawn Michaels (c) by Countout
This was a strange match as far as match psychology. Usually Hawk and Animal dominate their opponents but in this one they were up against two top stars. Hawk and Animal are weak as sympathetic babyfaces as Austin used heel tactics to his advantage and as much as they beat down Shawn, his come backs were great and fans were solidly behind him and Austin in this one.

Mankind’s sit down interview with Jim Ross continues as they look at his time as Cactus Jack and the death matches. Mankind says he was at home in these death matches. Mankind notes it was the first time he was respected and possibly even loved. Mankind says contrarily now in the WWE he is spat at and has forsaken his dignity. Mankind points to scars, his ear, and bruises from over the years and says it is a road map of all his previously destinations. Simple yet effective in adding layers to the depth of the Mankind character and perhaps creating acceptance of Mick Foley as a top performer.

Mankind def. Savio Vega
Mankind gets a positive reaction which is noted by commentary so we are amidst a babyface turn. Mankind attacks Lawler who was on commentary as Lawler would face the winner of the match in semi-finals of the King of the Ring. The referee restores order. As Mankind has the mandible claw applied on Savio, Crush looks to nail Mankind but hits Vega instead. Mankind picks up the win and Crush and Vega begin to fight. Faarooq makes his ways ringside but returns backstage rather than break up the fight.

The Undertaker def. Sycho Sid
I thought this was Sid’s championship rematch but it is announced as a non-title match. Sid gets a strong ovation upon his entrance. Undertaker hits the tombstone for the win. The Nation of Domination attacks Undertaker after the match. Sid looks to fight off Crush and Savio but Faarooq clips him at the knee taking him out. Faarooq begins to whip the Undertaker as the crowd chants LOD but LOD does not come out. Sid and the Undertaker are laid out and the Nation of Domination make their way backstage as RAW goes off the air.

I can’t say I enjoyed this go-home edition of RAW too much. The Mankind interviews continue to be a great hit but on this edition we lost all the major matches minus the title match for the pay-per-view. Bret and Shawn was called off due to Bret’s injury and Pillman and Austin was cancelled without cause simply to lead to Austin and Shawn without a proper build. Things backstage must have been in disarray because the WWE is usually pretty good at not changing plans last minute but overall not an exciting RAW compared to weeks past.


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