’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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’97 Shotgun Saturday Night Review: May 24

 

Brian Pillman wins a squash match
Jim Ross and Jim Cornette are on commentary on this edition of Shotgun Saturday Night as Pillman is in action. Ross notes this is Pillman’s debut match in the WWE since his injury last year.

There is a recap of Bret Hart and his challenge to Shawn Michaels from RAW. The “sunny” days comment is omitted. They officially announce Shawn vs. Bret, Austin vs. Pillman and the LOD vs. Owen and Bulldog for the tag titles.

The Godwinns def. Furnas and LaFon
Furnas and LaFon are introduced as the most exciting tag team. Henry is serious the entire match as this is his return match from a neck injury he suffered a few weeks back. Ross notes Henry O has lost his smile and Cornette says there’s been a lot of that going around.

Ahmed Johnson def. D’Lo Brown
NOD attack Johnson after the match and Rocky Maivia makes the save.

Recap of Undertaker addressing Faarooq and Paul Bearer from RAW. We also get a recap of the Austin and Michaels segment that started RAW, the partners they sought out respectively and the final segment of RAW where it was announced that Austin and Michaels would be partners and the brawl to end RAW.

We get a LOD interview with JR where they say they’ll challenge the tag team champions whomever they may be.

The New Blackjacks and Jesse James won their respective squash matches to close the show. 

 

’97 RAW is WAR Review: May 19

We get a recap of last week’s RAW with the kick that didn’t make air. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin kicks off RAW with a great ovation upon his entrance music playing. Austin clarifies his actions from last week and says he doesn’t care about Shawn Michaels but that he saw an opportunity to a take a cheap shot on the turned backs of the Hart Foundation. Shawn Michaels makes his way ringside and tells Austin they’re even now and that the only common bond is their hatred for the Hart Foundation. Michaels mimicks Austin and calls him son and tells him he’s fallen from ladders, steel cages and so he’d have been fine without Austin’s help. Austin tells Michaels he never said he wasn’t tough but he’ll still kick Michaels’ teeth down his throat. Michaels replies and says if he thinks he can kick him than Michaels will stun him and this leads to the two brawling. Owen and Bulldog mock Austin and HBK over the titantron noting they can’t get along. Owen issues a challenge for the World Tag Team Championships to them and both men say they’ll find partners before brawling once again. At this point, Austin feels on par with the other main event guys like Bret, Michaels and WWE Champion the Undertaker.

King of the Ring Quarterfinal Match
Hunter Hearst Helmsley def. Crush
Vader was originally scheduled to face Crush in this first round King of the Ring match. Vader is deemed unable to compete due to a broken nose. Gerald Brisco clarifies why Helmsley is a replacement. He notes that the referee told Helmsley that you only advance via pinfall or submission and to avoid legal action Hunter has been given Vader’s spot. I’m unsure if this was always the plan going forward with Hunter in the tournament. At the end of the match both Vega and Chyna get on the ring apron. The referee admonishes Chyna and behind his back Vega looks to nail Hunter with a kick but hits Crush instead. Helmsley picks up the victory and after the match Crush and Savio begin to shove one another until Faarooq breaks them up.

Bob Holly def. Owen Hart
IMG_0815We are in Bob Holly’s hometown of Mobile, Alabama. Prior to the match we see local fans giving their support of Bob. Lawler says he has footage with some real Alabamians. King makes fun of both and says the one man is an orthodontist’s dream. He asks how many cars they have out front their house and if the gentleman and his wife got divorced would they still be brother and sister? Ross calls Lawler hideous for such conduct. Holly gets the surprise rollup pin. It may be funny only to me as we hear Holly’s happy theme music playing as we see an irate Owen losing it.

There is a Sunny super soaker ad with Sunny soaking Cornette. Michaels is backstage and looks to have chosen Shamrock as his partner.

Next we have a Mankind interview with Jim Ross similar to that of the Goldust one from previous weeks. Mick Foley does a masterful job of telling his story all the while leading to how he came to be Mankind; a tortured soul. Mankind says there are many reasons to hate him but he doesn’t want people to hate him for untruths or rumours. He talks about his childhood and playing cowboys and Indians. He says he was always the Indians (forgive this dated terminology) because they were the underdogs and he stood up for what he believed him and if that makes him a bad guy then you’ve got him dead to rights. He talks about the attention he got when he was spotted in a bloodied shirt. He said the attention he got led him to think what he could do for a living where he could replicate this experience. When he knew wrestling was the answer he and his brother would wrestle and he once broke his brother’s bone. He said, “Mom said no more wrestling but she never said no more dreaming.” Lastly, he discusses humiliation he faced when a group of kids threw worms at him and he ate them as his form of retribution and these kids changed the narrative; something that continues in the life of Mankind. There is more to come in the following weeks, but again Mick Foley indeed did a masterful job of using real life experiences to paint the history of the fictional Mankind.

Scott Taylor def. Leif Cassidy
The future Scotty 2 Hotty beats the future Al Snow in a mediocre match. We also learn from the King that Paul Heyman has threatened legal action to RVD from RAW.

We get the same recap we got at the beginning of RAW and Vince joins the commentary team for the second hour. Bret (no longer in a wheelchair) and the Hart Foundation come out to kick off the “War Zone”. Bret tells the crowd to shut up and says Shawn Michaels wouldn’t allow him his right to freedom of speech last week. Crowd chants USA! Bret notes Michaels proved he is no better than Austin by beating up a man in a wheelchair and says, “I guess that’s what makes him an American hero.” Bret says his fans around the world and even the scum Americans want to know his surprise. Bret says that Michaels may be returning at the King of the Ring but a real hero coming back from a real knee injury will also return at the King of the Ring and that’s him! Bret challenges Shawn to a match with the following stipulation; if Bret cannot beat Shawn in 10 minutes than Bret will never wrestling in the USAIMG_0810 again. Shawn comes on the titantron and says Bret took his freedom of speech so far that they went off the air listening to him babble. Shawn notes that at Wrestlemania last year, Bret couldn’t beat Shawn in 60 minutes so what makes him think he can beat Shawn in 10? Shawn answers his apparent rhetorical question by saying it’s because Bret has the Hart Foundation but Shawn wants them there during this match with each member handcuffed to a ring post so that it can be 1-on-1. Shawn says Bret couldn’t go 10 minutes in any situation and adds even though Bret has had some “sunny” days he still can’t get the job done. Bret didn’t address this comment but does accept the challenge.

Rockabilly def. Goldust by DQ
Goldust introduces his wife and daughter and they make their way to the ring. Marlena tries to get their daughter, Dakota, to say her name but Dakota takes the mic right her mom. JR notes she is just like her grandpa. Goldust says they are his pride and joy as the crowd cheers. Lawler says the stork that brought that child was charged with carrying dope; a heel line that you couldn’t use today for heat. Goldust is disqualified for nailing Honky Tonk Man with his guitar.

Ahmed Johnson is backstage and Vince McMahon and asks about Faarooq’s comments of last week? Ahmed says Faarooq told the truth and asks when was the last time a black man challenged for the WWE title? McMahon says there have been black challengers but they’ve never won. Ahmed sarcastically says “I wonder why.” but adds he isn’t a racist or ignorant like Faarooq and that he’ll be the first black champion.

Backstage we see Austin recruiting Harvey Whippleman as his partner. Brooklyn Brawler volunteers but Austin beats him up. Commentators announce that due to time constraints the Godwinns match will be on Shotgun Saturday Night.

Faarooq def. Rocky Maivia
JC Ice and Wolfie D are now apparently out of the NOD as they are’t accompanying Faarooq to the ring. Faarooq asks Maivia to raise his arm in unity with the NOD but Maivia rejects the offer. Post match, the NOD look to attack Maivia but Faarooq calls them off.

Hart Foundation is seen backstage beating down Bob Holly.

Undertaker is out next for an in-ring interview with McMahon. McMahon asks about Faarooq and Paul Bearer’s comments. Undertaker says he’d like to talk about Faarooq. Undertaker says Faarooq played the race card and that he isn’t the white saviour. Undertaker clarifies that isn’t white, he isn’t black but that he is the reaper of souls. Undertaker says that when Faarooq isn’t champion after the King of the Ring it won’t be because he’s black but because he couldn’t get the job done. McMahon asks about Bearer but Undertaker says it isn’t the time. Paul Bearer comes on the titantron yelling “OH YES IT IS!” and tells the Undertaker to listen. Paul Bearer says fire has opened up some old wounds (remember this line). Undertaker says he need more time so Bearer says he’ll give him seven sunsets to return and be subservient to him.

“Stone Cold” Steve Austin def. Jim “the Anvil” Neidhart by DQ
Pillman nails Austin with a crutch and the Hart Foundation attack Austin until HBK makes the save nailing each member with a chair. JR gets in the ring and says Monsoon has ordered that Austin and Shawn team up next week to challenge Owen and the Bulldog for the Tag titles. Shawn and Austin exchange words and brawl to end RAW.

I thought another strong edition of RAW and it go me excited to watch the upcoming tag team match. My opinion on the Shawn/Bret dynamic is still that Shawn is taking shots at Bret Hart the person whereas Bret takes shots at Shawn the character. Admittedly so, Shawn has said there really wasn’t a difference between the two at this time. You can get hints of Shawn’s insecurities with how he interacts with different superstars. His mimickry of Austin seemed out of place but I’d venture a guess he knew Austin was on the rise and would soon surpass him as the number one guy. Also, Ahmed Johnson addressing Faarooq’s comments was of interest to me. Ahmed could not dispute the comments because they were true. Race is an interesting thing not only in wrestling but all cinematic entertainment. We are taught hate the evil foreigners (of all races) and adore the American hero; often a white hero. Once a black hero joins the fray he is may be positioned as secondary or fills a stereotypical role despite fighting the same worthwhile cause. I don’t mean to go into a sociological debate but I don’t blame the powers that be in not crowning a black man as their leading WWE champion because they seek to respond to desires of their audience who themselves are only responding to lessons taught to them of old.

’97 RAW is WAR Review: May 12

We see a few highlights from last night’s pay-per-view and the Hart Foundation makes their way out. Bret says he surrounds himself with the best the WWE has to offer and that he’d take these men into the mouth of hell to fight the devil. He adds, he’d trust these men to breathe for him and to pump his blood with their hearts and names each member of the Hart Foundation. Bret says the fans have painted him as a bad guy but he isn’t a bad guy and that the fans are the bad guys. He sarcastically calls Steve Austin a “hero” and that as a true American hero he picked on a guy in a wheelchair. Bret calls Austin a loser and says he couldn’t even win the WWE championship one time. Bret says he has a surprise but heads backstage instead of revealing it.

King of the Ring Quarter-Final Matchup
Ahmed Johnson def. Hunter Hearst Helmsley by DQ
The King of the Ring Tournament kicks off in this one. Unfortunately for Hunter, Chyna nails Ahmed with a steel chair leading to him being disqualified. Chyna tries to apply a sleeper on Ahmed as he was beating down Helmsley.

Up next we have an “Stone Cold” in-ring interview with Vince McMahon. McMahon tells Austin it was a hell of a match last night. Austin says he doesn’t need McMahon to kiss up to him cause he’ll knock his head off his neck. Crowd cheers this. Austin admits defeat but says sooner or later he’ll be champion and if he says it than it’ll happen. Crowd cheers. Austin has Bret’s crutch and tells Bret to come out and get it. No Bret. Austin calls Bret a piece of trash. Austin calls the Hart Foundation a snake and that Bret is the head. He explains to McMahon how to kill a snake and that you cut off the head but he’ll have some fun instead and start with the snake’s a**. Crowd cheers (notice a theme?). He says the snake’s a** is Brian Pillman. Austin talks about crippling Pillman before and that he carried him in his back pocket in the bush leagues (WCW) and that Pillman’s a** belongs to him and that’s the bottom line because Stone Cold said so! (Do I need to add the crowd continues to cheer?)

Scott Putski def. Leif Cassidy
image_6483441 (3)We have highlights of Ivan Putski prior to his son’s debut. Ross praises the abilities of Leif Cassidy. JR also notes that he’d like to see more of the light heavyweights; guys who are 215-220 (Maybe 205 Live needs to up it’s weight limit). Putski wins this one but is clearly still very green. Cassidy attacks Putski post match but Putski clears Cassidy from the ring. Cassidy gets in the face of the commentators and says he’s won displaying hints of the future Al Snow character.

LOD def. JC Ice & Wolfie D (NOD)
The Nation aggressively sends these two to the ring with Hawk and Animal awaiting. They destroy these two within minutes hitting two Doomsday Devices. The second one on Wolfie D sends him flipping right onto the body of his lifeless partner as the Legion of Doom wins this one.

image_6483441 (2)Mankind is out next. He talks about the wall (not great balls) of fire he used to set the Undertaker on fire and talks about the Undertaker not taking revenge on him but on an innocent man in Paul Bearer. Mankind says Bearer is here tonight and Mankind brings him out with his entire face and head bandaged up. Bearer tells the Undertaker he has one more chance to return back to him or he will reveal a secret about the Undertaker.

image_6483441 (1)Faarooq is out next for an in-ring interview segment with Vince McMahon. McMahon asks how it feels to be the #1 Contender to the WWE Championship. Faarooq says it feels great, that McMahon’s seen plenty of number one contenders before and brings up beating Ahmed Johnson last night. Faarooq says “Let me ask you a long awaited question. When was the last time the WWE had a black man wear that belt? Can you answer me that?”. McMahon says “Never.” Faarooq goes on to say that the WWE has had “token blacks” as champion like Ahmed Johnson as Intercontinental champion or Bobo Brazil as US Champion for short periods of time. Faarooq says these people don’t feel a black man i is worthy of being champion of the WWE but that they do feel a black man is worthy of washing their car, washing their clothes or raising their kids. He continues and says no longer are they (African Americans) marching or calling radio stations but taking things into their own hands. Faarooq says they (the fans) understand when he swings fists and kick feet. McMahon interjects and says this has nothing to do with being black and what’s the matter with him? Faarooq says their white saviour, the Undertaker, will be a dead man. McMahon asks “Don’t you feel your comments are racist?” Faarooq says he isn’t a role model but that he’s sure there’s a black kid somewhere who feels the anger he does. He says no longer are “we” passive and gonna take things into his own hands and that’s by any means necessary. Absolutely incredible to see such a promo on WWE programming. Race and wrestling is always a topic of discussion but I do believe that it represents a microcosm of the issues American culture faces at large.

Undertaker def. Savio Vega by DQ
This non-title match ends with the NOD attacking the Undertaker before he can defeat Vega. Faarooq proceeds to whip the Undertaker. Faarooq grabs the title and holds it up and then tosses it at the Undertaker who remains laid out.

Rob Van Dam def. Jeff Hardy
Yes you read that correctly in this recap of RAW in 1997. The King enters the ring and talks about his previous comments about ECW. RVD adds his own disparaging remarks about ECW. King titles RVD as Mr. Monday Night. Mid match, RVD dives out the ring and nails Hardy and gets his feet caught on the barricade and lands brutally on his head. RVD hits a Frog Splash and then a Split Legged Moonsault for the win. This was not a showcase for Brother Nero but his return 20 years later he’s still a top guy!

The second part of the Dustin Runnels interview is up next. King says he saw him crying in this part and asks if he is a sissy and that he thought this interview was to prove he wasn’t a sissy. JR responds saying he’s a real man. This language is incredibly dated in 2017 with it’s categorization of hetero- and homosexual men. This interview was kind of repetitive of what was shared in the previous interview. He says he wants to give his best for the fans and be a family a man and be there for his daughter contrary to his childhood experiences. He talks about his love for his father and how hard it was to become a wrestler and that he is now Goldust and hopes his dad is proud of him.

Undertaker addresses Paul Bearer’s comments from earlier in the night. He says there are things that occurred in the dark side that are better off never seen in the light of day. Undertaker addresses Faarooq next and says he has never won matches with his physical conditioning but his mental state of mind. He says he must unleash a demon to do battle with a Nation of Destruction and that they’ll rest in peace. Sounds like Undertaker needs a 15 year old Finn Balor to defeat the NOD.

Four Corners Elimination Tag Team Match
Owen Hart & British Bulldog def. Furnas & LaFon, the New Blackjacks and the Headbangers
My favourite tag team TV match is back; the RAW bowl. Furnas and LaFon are eliminated first by the New Blackjacks. New Blackjacks are eliminated next, during the commercial break, as LaFon holds down Bradshaw’s foot without the referee seeing. King brings up Frank Gifford, husband of Kathie Lee. He notes Gifford has been seeing a flight attendant on the side. Lawler then asks JR “Ross isn’t your wife a flight attendant?” JR says what an asinine thing to say and King laughs. Although it was a silly, sophomoric comment for heat, it was nice to hear a Jan Ross reference. My thoughts and prayer continue to go out to JR. This match ends with Bulldog hitting a powerslam on Thrasher for the win despite neither man being the legal man.

Final segment is Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels for an in-ring confrontation. Bret sends the Hart Foundation to the back. Bret tells Michaels “There was a time when I just couldn’t stand you, but now when I look at you I realize that I hate your guts. And the reason I hate your guts, the biggest reason…” Bret doesn’t finish his point here as Michaels removes his suit jacket. Bret says that symbolizes Michaels as he’s hot, then he’s cold. Bret says Michael’s dancing, arrogance and cockiness is representative of America. Bret goes on a few more tangents saying Shawn never faced him at the past Wrestlemania, he responds to accusations about his pay and his family’s inclusion in the program. Bret brings up Shawn’s piercings, tattoos and his posing in magazines. Throughout this time, Shawn has yet to say anything. Bret says Michaels has to deal with whether he is as good as Bret and Shawn smirks as the crowd makes chants. Hart turns to the crowd and says “You people know he isn’t as good as me.” Ross notes RAW is going off the air. On the WWE Network we see the off camera footage with Bret finally telling Michaels he’d like to do something but he doesn’t have the insides to. image_6483441Shawn responds with a superkick to a standing Bret. The Hart Foundation comes down and tries to beat down Shawn. An Austin chants erupts as Bulldog proceeds to press slam Shawn off the stage area. Austin comes out for the save. The Hart Foundation check on Bret in the ring as Austin makes his way back up the ramp and this bonus footage concludes.

This edition of RAW was probably the most capitivating RAW of 1997 to date. I thought you saw a lot depth to a lot of characters from the continued rise of Steve Austin, to Faarooq and his conquest to overcome barriers of oppression. The use of a sitdown interview to learn more about the man Goldust is a great tool and we even saw Leif Cassidy and RVD be given some depth. The feud between the Undertaker and Paul Bearer has also been given a new element as the secret will let us in to the seldom explored background of the Undertaker. Lastly, the personal issue between Michaels and Bret intensifies. We know that Shawn’s kick didn’t make TV and its notable that behind the scenes this led to this feud going from the script to real life. I absolutely loved this RAW and it feels that as the weeks go on the the brutality intensifies, the characters are getting stronger and the program is becoming must see!

 

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’97 IYH: A Cold Day in Hell Review: May 11

IMG_0782

I thought this was a pretty standard WWE pay-per-view with average to good matches. It is incredible to go back and see a card that included: Triple H, Mick Foley, the Rock, the Undertaker and Steve Austin all competing on it.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley def. Flash Funk
A little assistance from Chyna in this one as the addition of Chyna continues to help Hunter ascend, much like how Maryse has helped the Miz in 2017.

Mankind def. Rocky Maivia
This match was originally supposed to be Mankind versus Sycho Sid but the Rock became the replacement. Of course these two would go on to have an incredible feud later in 1999 but it was cool to see this match in their early careers. Maivia cuts a promo prior to the match saying perhaps it was too much too soon for him in his young career but it isn’t about his destiny but his determination; a generic promo proving that Maivia needed more attitude. Ross notes that in the RAW Magazine they bring up that Mankind is in fact a loving father and JR says “A father of what?” CC: Noelle Foley. Maivia hits a rock bottom (still not called that) on Mankind on the steel ramp. At the match’s conclusion, Maivia attempts a cross body but Mankind manages to sink in the Mandible Claw as they both hit the mat and Maivia passes out as Mankind picks up the victory.

Gauntlet Match
Nation of Domination def. Ahmed Johnson
JC Ice and Wolfie D rap noticeably off key during the NOD’s entrance. Ahmed has a good line prior to the match saying the issue is between him and Faarooq but he brought the other two to the dance so let them dance. Ahmed starts off first for Crush so I certainly tuned out. He defeats him. Next is Savio Vega. Vega is being dominated (forgive the pun) so he intelligently uses a steel chair to soften up Johnson for the final man as Vega is disqualified. Faarooq who had a fake arm injury takes advantage and surprisingly (albeit logically) capitalizes and defeats Johnson as the NOD remain intact and Johnson doesn’t overcome the odds.

Ken Shamrock def. Vader by submission
I was interested to see these two go at it. The template for how to do MMA vs. WWE Superstar would come 16 years later as Brock Lesnar squared off against John Cena in 2013. The ropes hurt this match as they had to break the holds every time one man would be pushed against the ropes which happened often in this one. Eventually it just became a wrestling match. I believe Shamrock broke the nose of Vader in this one prior to applying the Ankle Lock for the win.

WWE Championship
The Undertaker def. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
The Hart Foundation have finally arrived and now taken their seats in the front row. The first opportunity Austin has he exits the ring and drags Owen over the barricade and nails him. Undertaker comes for Austin and sends him shoulder first into the steel steps. Undertaker sends Owen back over the barricade with a shot of his own and punches the Bulldog for good measure. King notes “They are attacking our fans!”. The match picks up in the final sequences. Pillman hops the barricade and makes his way to the time keeper’s area. He rings the bell prematurely as Austin had just covered the Undertaker after a Stunner. Referee Earl Hebner admonishes Pillman as he stopped the count at 2. Austin reverses a tombstone attempt by the Undertaker but the Undertaker then reverses and drops Austin right on his head. This wouldn’t be the last time Austin is dropped on his head but this is equally as gruesome to see. Undertaker picks up the victory here but the Hart Foundation immediately rush the ring and attack him. Austin sees Bret alone and tips him over in his wheelchair. Austin and Undertaker clear the ring of the Hart Foundation and Undertaker chokeslams Owen. Austin then stuns the Undertaker and stares down the Hart Foundation. Undertaker eventually gets up and makes his way to the back as the show ends.

’97 RAW is WAR Review: May 5

We have a recap of last week’s RAW with organ music playing over all the segments where Brian Pillman was praying.

The Hart Foundation kicks off RAW. Bret talks about his disdain for the American fans and thanks all his fans worldwide for their support. Bret continues to get great heat from the American fans really making him the most despised on the roster. Bret thanks every member of the Hart Foundation for what they did the previous week (Owen winning the IC title and Neidhart save). Bret says he knows the American fans hate him and he says he hates them too. Bret notes that Austin will not be here tonight which elicits Austin chants. Bret says the fans are jealous because the Hart Foundation has all the gold; tag team gold, Intercontinental gold, European gold, gold in the Anvil’s teeth. He says even Pillman is the expert on the golden rule. Pillman says “Do unto others and enjoy it.” and laughs. Bret ends and says they got rid of Austin and onto Michaels. Great opening segment and Bret’s confidence on the mic is an all time high.

Rockabilly def. Ahmed Johnson by DQ
Rockabilly looked to nail Johnson with a guitar when the referee is distracted by the Honky Tonk Man. The ref turns around and Johnson takes the guitar from Rockabilly and blasts him in the head.

Hart Foundation are searching for Shawn Michaels. There is another Ken Shamrock video package looking at Shamrock’s personal life and mixed martial arts background. Shamrock has a son named Ryan, presumably named after his aunt.

Vader def. Goldust
Shamrock is on commentary during this one. I forgot just how big Goldust was as he was eye to eye with Vader. Vader exits the ring and confronts Shamrock at the commentary table. Vader nails a Vaderbomb for the win. Vader invites Shamrock in the ring and spits at Shamrock. Shamrock rushes the ring and takes down Vader. Mankind comes into attack Shamrock but Goldust evens things out and fends off Mankind.

We now have the sitdown interview with Dustin Runnels and Jim Ross with Marlena (Terri). They talk about Dustin being the son of Dusty Rhodes. Dustin notes he was always in his father’s shadow and it was always about his dad and he was Dusty’s son with no real identity of his own. They discuss the controversy of Goldust and that created even more disrespect. They talk about homophobia and bring up a time when Razor Ramon refused to work with him. He says he now has a identity as Dustin and when he puts on that suit he is Goldust. They talk about whether he has Dusty’s respect and Dustin says they haven’t talked in two and a half years. Dustin says he hopes his dad is proud and loves him but he is taking care of his family. Terri is supportive of Dustin throughout the sitdown interview. They say part 2 is next week. I thought a great interview to get over an upper mid card wrestler and that this could work for a lot of guys today in 2017!

The Hart Foundation are outside a men’s washroom but it isn’t Michaels who comes out but the Hart Foundation beat down the guy anyways.

Crush loses a Gauntlet Match
Crush is scheduled to square off against three jobbers in a Gauntlet match. McMahon notes that Johnson won’t be competing in this style of match on Sunday (it ended up being a Gauntlet match). Crush disposes of the first two but the third man comes in a hoodie and pantyhose over his face. The individual hits the Pearl River Plunge for the win and this ended up being Ahmed Johnson who looked as ridiculous as you could imagine.

The Hart Foundation are out in the parking lot looking for Shawn Michaels. Michaels makes his way ringside for an interview which makes the Hart Foundation look completely stupid. We see a clip of Austin nailing HBK which I think was off air. Michaels says everyone is saying they don’t need the fans so Michaels says he’ll start sucking up. McMahon says the search is on by the Hart Foundation. McMahon asks Michaels when he’ll wrestle again? Michaels announces it will be at the King of the Ring PPV next month. Michaels says he stands up for the American public against Bret and that he’ll go through the whole Hart Foundation and tear Hart to pieces. Bret gets on the titantron and says he should have finished the job he started when he had the figure four leglock around the ring post. Michaels takes his shirt off and Bret asks if that for the guys or girls? Bret tells Shawn his knee seems fine and if he’ll accept a challenge to fight the Anvil. Owen, Bulldog and Anvil come down and beat down Shawn but the LOD come to make the save.

Furnas & LaFon def. the LOD
We see a clip of Michaels being held back backstage against the Hart Foundation. During this match Owen and Bulldog return ringside. Animal confronts Bulldog on the ramp. Owen, who came through the crowd, grabs Hawk and pulls him on the top rope behind the referee’s back. Furnas pins Hawk for the three count.

Shawn Michaels is backstage fighting Brian Pillman and Jim Neidhart backstage. Steve Austin arrives at the arena and helps Michaels fend off these two as they take off.

Undertaker comes out for his go-home promo before his title defense this Sunday. Undertaker says someone has stolen his belt but that doesn’t make him champion. He says it will be a cold day in hell (name of the ppv) if Austin thinks he winning the title. It would be interesting what Undertaker would say if this match was to take place at WWE Great Balls of Fire although that may fit last months 1997 PPV.

Sunny comes out next to model an Austin 3:16 shirt.

Steve Austin def. the British Bulldog
After the match we see Owen with the absconded WWE Championship beating down Austin. LOD comes out to make the save. Furnas and LaFon come down to help the Hart Foundation although you LaFon brawling with Owen for some reason. Michaels makes his way ringside. Lights go out and we hear a gong. When the lights are back, the Undertaker is in the middle of the ring. Everyone clears but Austin and Undertaker. Austin picks up the championship  and Undertaker grabs it from him. Officials are out to separate the two as Undertaker knocks them away and he and Austin brawl to end RAW.

This Cinco de Mayo 1997 RAW edition was alright. I don’t think anything got me anymore excited for In Your House. I think the lack of Austin was noticeable but segments with the Hart Foundation were great. I am looking forward to seeing an upcoming King of the Ring Tournament. Also, this was a fun RAW to go back and watch and compare some events taking place in the WWE presently.

 

 

 

’97 Shotgun Saturday Night Review: May 3

Brian Pillman and Jim Ross on commentary in this one. JR tells Pillman he should be ashamed of his mockery of religious values.

Owen Hart & British Bulldog def. The New Blackjacks by DQ
This ends in chaos and I think this was announced as a Tag title match so it makes the New Blackjacks look foolish for getting themselves disqualified. Rule of thumb moving forward, anything titled the “new” version is deemed to fail.

A Dustin Runnels interview on RAW is promoted saying Goldust will come out of the closet but not the closet you think.

Shawn Michaels comes out for an interview with Kevin Kelly. Michaels notes that in the RAW magazine, Vic Venom otherwise known as Vince Russo, wrote that Shawn almost had a nervous breakdown when he announced his knee injury. Shawn dismisses this and goes over to the fans and receives a good pop. Michaels say he knows it isn’t cool to be “chummy” (his words not mine) with the fans but he dictates what’s cool. Michaels continues to make references to backstage on-goings which are a bit out of place with what we see on TV.

We see the same disappearing/reappearing Ken Shamrock video package we saw on RAW.

Vader wins a squash match

Ahmed Johson wins a squash match
Johnson says prior to the match he didn’t take his Prozac.

Recap of the final segment of RAW with the Anvil returning and Austin falling off the stage.

Crush & Savio Vega win a squash match
Pillman on commentary says Ahmed fell for the trap laid by Faarooq. Pillman adds the trap probably had fried chicken and collard green. JR apologizes for this comment. Pillman asks if they’ll lose their sponsor K-Mart or KKK Mart. JR tells him to stop. As Faarooq whips one of the jobbers, Pillman comments “we may see a lynching”. Jim says that isn’t clever. I understand the Loose Canon gimmick but most of these comments didn’t hype the feud between Faarooq and Ahmed, two African-American superstars. They sounded a bit forced and controversial for the sake of controversy.

The closing segment is Under the Covers with Sunny. It is basically Sunny giving some insider info that you’d get from the dirt sheets but I guess titling the segment Dirty Sheets would be in poor taste. Sunny updates on Henry Godwinn and says Phineas may be looking for another hillbilly partner. She says Furnas and LaFon are frustrated because they are a team based on technical skill and not flash but the fans don’t support them like they do other teams. Sunny says she may be what they need and that she is a barricuda and that she bites. Pillman notes she also swallows. She finishes by talking about the gold in Hart Foundation and that most think Bret will be the one who goes for the WWE Championship but she says one who is animal enough for her may be going after it to, in reference to the Bulldog.

Overall, the only thing of note was Pillman on commentary and his lewd and offensive comments that didn’t add much to any stories. It’s too bad Pillman doesn’t have a definitive feud at the moment so that a babyface could physically address his comments.