’97 RAW is WAR Review: June 30

After being away on vacation, let’s resume our review of RAWs from 20 years ago. We are on the road to the Canadian Stampede and the teams are set as Austin will begrudgingly team with the LOD, Goldust and Ken Shamrock ! Triple H is the King of the Ring and has said that after being held down, he is taking his own career in his own hands. The Nation of Domination has disbanded and is now, as Faarooq puts it “Bigger, better and blacker!” and after months of feuding, Ahmed Johnson has joined this new Nation! This has also led to the formation of the Disciples of Apocalypse. Rocky Maivia is out with a knee injury. ECW has been getting some promotional life on WWE program. Mankind is looking to be a tag team partner of Austin. The Hart Foundation continue to look dominant and have temporarily rid the WWE of Shawn Michaels setting up a Tag Team Tournament for a team to challenge Austin and a partner of his choosing. The WWE Champion, the Undertaker appears to have finally severed ties with Paul Bearer who looks to reveal this burning secret.

RAW kicks off with a video package recapping the relationship between the Undertaker and Paul Bearer, ending with last week’s announcement by Bearer that he plans to reveal the secret TONIGHT!

Ken Shamrock def. Hunter Hearst Helmsley
Prior to the match, Chyna notes that Hunter will have “The World’s Most Dangerous Woman” in his corner for this match with Shamrock. Mankind makes his way ringside to confront his opponent on Sunday and as Hunter is distracted, he turns around into a belly-to-belly suplex and Shamrock picks up the victory.

We have a recap of Ahmed Johnson addressing why he joined the Nation of Domination stating that people did not back him up. This also featured the debut of the Disciples of Apocalypse (DOA). We learn also that Ahmed was injured and tore ligaments in his knee and will be out.

McMahon throws to their new broadcast partner, Michael Cole, backstage with the LOD. The LOD cut a promo on the NOD, but I was just looking at a young Michael Cole who has moved up the ranks in 20 years to be the lead voice on RAW and producing commentators for the future.

Sunny is backstage promoting a million dollar giveaway for Summerslam with money in a casket.

NOD (Faarooq & D’Lo Brown) def. LOD (Animal & Hawk)
The semi-finals of the tag team tournament continue as its LOD vs. NOD. Ross notes that Vader will square off against the Undertaker as a replacement for Ahmed and that the NOD is upset that no other member was chosen to replace him. The Godwinns get involve in this one behind a distracted referee’s back and nail Hawk with the slop bucket as Faarooq makes the cover. Side note, Hawk still tries to kick out after 3 and I hate that the weapon shot wasn’t just sold and that Hawk went into business for himself trying to still look strong in defeat. To make matters worse, the LOD just start to chase the Godwinns backstage, again no selling the bucket shot.

Post match, Faarooq asks McMahon why Vader was chosen instead of a member of the NOD. Faarooq says because Vader is white, which gets booed. McMahon asks Faarooq about the DOA. Faarooq says the Undertaker sent them because he didn’t want to fight Ahmed Johnson. Faarooq talks about beating up Savio Vega last week and Vega proceeds to come out. Vega says he’s coming for revenge and Faarooq tells him to get his “jalpeno picking a**” in the ring. Vega whistles and motions for some back up as Vega and three other men come in and brawl with the NOD. Officials try to separate these men and we hear motorcycles as the DOA make their way out. Now all three “gangs” begin to brawl with one another. Police enter the ring and attempt to separate the gangs.

Michael Cole is backstage and Savio Vega and his gang come yelling in his Spanish. Coles says “English please” Vega says they are Los Boricuas and they are gonna kick some a**.

A feature on Sunny and her photos in the upcoming RAW magazine.

Brian Christopher def. Scott Putski
Prior to their match we see highlights of Ivan Putski and Jerry Lawler as their sons compete, despite Lawler denying claims of being Brian Christopher’s father. Ross reminds that the Lightweight division is 215lbs or less so not only has the weight class name changed but 10lbs has been knocked off too. Lawler ends up looking to distract Putski but it’s reversed and Christopher nails Lawler. Lawler grabs the feet of Putski and Christopher rolls up Putski for the win. Another interference leading to victory.

Undertaker is backstage warning that Bearer will attempt to poison minds by revealing this secret. We also see a promo hyping a Lightweight match between the Great Sasuke and Taka Michonuku.

Brian Pillman def. Mankind by Countout
We learn Brian Pillman attacked a heckling fan on Shotgun Saturday night and has been fired from that show only. He offers an “apology” and says he won’t apologize for taking his incisors to the ear of Mankind and he’ll show Mike Tyson what it’s like to take a bite out of the human anatomy (historic reference). Mankind comes out with a “Pick Me Steve” sign around his neck and also offers JR a gift which is a mandible claw. Austin comments about Mankind wanting to be his partner. Now Helmsley and Chyna come out for perhaps another distraction finish. Pillman makes several attempts to bite at the remaining ear of Mankind. Hunter comes down but Mankind nails him. Pillman capitalizes and holds up Mankind on the outside but Hunter nails Pillman with a chair instead of Mankind. Mankind chases Hunter away with the chair and is counted out.

Paul Bearer comes out for the reveal of the secret. Bearer talks about the family of the Undertaker. He notes the Undertaker’s father was a mortician and there was also a mom, a red headed punk kid and another sweet brother named…Kane. Bearer notes he was an apprentice at this time and says the children would run around this funeral home. Bearer notes he saw these two kids smoking cigarettes which gets a reaction from the crowd. Bearer says one day he came back from school late at night and saw this funeral home in flames and that he saw the Undertaker in the bushes. Bearer accuses the Undertaker of burning down the funeral home and killing his parents.

We see Sable and Marc Mero again with the casket of money. We get a clue which is a key.

Owen Hart & British Bulldog def. The Headbangers
Tag Tournament semi-finals continues. Bret Hart is on the phone talking during this match and says he’s watching on TSN from Calgary. Bret hypes their 10-man tag match this Sunday in Calgary and praises Canadian fans. After their win, we hear Jim Cornette on the mic. Cornette says there is a team he has that didn’t debut in time for the tournament but Cornette blows a whistle and out comes the Headhunters or Squat Team Members #1 & #2 without the facepaint. They aren’t that impressive in this as they move rather clunky. When the Authors of Pain debuted in NXT, they reminded me of a more athletic and more imposing version of the Headhunters.

Undertaker is backstage and confirms what Paul Bearer said is in fact true. Undertaker notes he and Kane had been playing with matches and that after his chores he saw the funeral home in flames and inside were his family. Undertaker notes that he now draws power from the spirits of his family and that power will allow him to strike down Paul Bearer. It’s incredible to think that the Undertaker (and his brother later on) got this story over and made it a convincing one for a sympathetic babyface in the Undertaker.

Vader def. Rockabilly by DQ
Gunn nails Vader with a guitar in his back which Vader essentially no sells. Undertaker runs down for the apparent DQ. Bearer gets on the mic and yells “Murderer, murderer.” Undertaker goes outside the ring and slaps Bearer in the face, yelling “Tell them the truth!” Bearer mumbles “Kane told me” and then yells “KANE IS ALIVE! HE’S ALIVE!” Vader attacks Undertaker after the momentous announcement.

“Stone Cold” Steve Austin def. Jim “the Anvil” Neidhart by DQ
Another main event match between the two but it was about the aftermath after the match. Bret Hart (who isn’t in Calgary) interferes  and attacks Austin leading to the DQ. Hart applies the beautiful figure four leglock around the ringpost on Austin. Mankind attempts to make the save and applies the Mandible Claw on Bret which was a sight I don’t remember ever seeing in my WWE fandom between two of my favs. McMahon and the commentary team lose it and are yelling at all the action as RAW closes.

An incredibly eventful RAW to go into the Canadian Stampede. We had an attitude change of the Godwinns, the debut of Michael Cole, a third faction to join the race war fray against the NOD & DOA, the revelation of the Undertaker’s secret and that his brother Kane is alive. My personal highlight was seeing the Squat Team come out because of their unique stature and look but they were far from impressive. Lastly, we see Mankind continue to be an aid for Austin which begged the question why he wasn’t in the upcoming 10-man tag.







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