’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.

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Backlash 2017 Predictions

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I figured this match was coming to the Backlash pre-show but I hope it isn’t the regular spot for Tye Dillinger going forward on all the Smackdown PPVs. It’s also good to see Aiden English finally, as he says, having the spotlight on him. He’s lost two matches already to Dillinger so he could finally get a win here but in Chicago I think the power of the 10 chants will lead to a Tye win. Maybe he’ll look to go 10-0 against English and before the tenth victory is where English gets his heat back.
WINNER: TYE DILLINGER

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I’m a big fan of Luke Harper and think he is the most underutilized and underrated guy on the roster. I am also a fan a crazy gimmicks and I was entranced watching Erick Rowan on Talking Smack as he created such an uncomfortable and awkward atmosphere. I may be in the minority but I dig the Crazy Sheepherder gimmick and so this match has my attention. Hopefully Harper gets the win here and has momentum going into Money in the Bank.
WINNER: LUKE HARPER

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This is a great matchup of the underdog versus the big brawler and in a classic wrestling town like Chicago I think it will be a fun match. I, like many, see Corbin being the future Money in the Bank winner so a victory here may be great for momentum. That being said, Sami Zayn has been losing a lot as of late and I think he needs the victory more before he is perceived as a “job guy”. I don’t want a fluke win but I guess to keep Corbin strong they’ll have to creatively set a up a shock win.
WINNER: SAMI ZAYN

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I am delighted to see that Naomi continues her reign as champion and is doing a great job at it. I find the name “Welcoming Committee” to be a great wrestling faction name. It is almost too obvious Charlotte doesn’t care about the result of this match and has her eyes on the championship so look for that riff to lead to victory for Natalya, Tamina and Carmella (who may just end up pinning the champ a third time!)
WINNERS: THE WELCOMING COMMITEE

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It’s great to see Fandango and Tyler Breeze getting a shot at the titles here and getting some character development on television. I was really entertained by these two after watching their performances in the Southpaw Regional Wrestling skits. I think they really showed that are exemplary sports entertainers which will get you far in the WWE. Unfortunately, they come up against tough competition in the Usos. These guys are the best tag team on Smackdown (as evidenced by their present championship reign) and I don’t know who will dethrone them.
WINNERS: THE USOS

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This should be a great match with all the right ingredients. Two of the best overall performers and a Chicago crowd in the Allstate Arena. The atmosphere should be electric and these two should undoubtedly have a classic. Look for the Face of America to hold onto his championship and ruin a potential classic by either getting himself disqualified or counted out.
WINNER: AJ STYLES by COUNTOUT

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I’m enjoying the early portrayal of Shinsuke Nakamura on the main roster. Every time he has made his way ringside he has felt like a mega superstar. His limited appearances and his debut match on PPV is similar billing to that of Brock Lesnar or the Undertaker; an absolute attraction. His debut main roster match couldn’t happen in a better place than Chicago who will be thunderous upon hearing his entrance music. He’s also in the ring with a great opponent in Ziggler. This could close the show so look for a classic main event!
WINNER: SHINSUKE NAKAMURA

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Jinder Mahal will be competing at Backlash for the WWE Championship and wrestling fans have had varying opinions on the matter. How Chicago reacts to this match has my anticipation as much as the outcome. They have my interest in this match because I do feel there is a chance of Jinder winning the title. I am learning more and more about the global reach the WWE has and India is one of their largest markets so perhaps it’s time they one of their own as the World Wrestling Entertainment Champion!
WINNER: JINDER MAHAL

 

’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

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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.

’97 RAW is WAR Review: April 28

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RAW starts with a recap of what happened last week and all the attacks. It was notable that the times of the recapped events were in the corner. I’m not sure if this was done to tell wrestling fans when to flip over to WWE programming.

Brian Pillman makes his way out to begin RAW. Pillman says many may think he is crazy but Pillman says he is religious. Pillman asks the crowd to pray with him and they boo this. Pillman begins to “pray” for Bret Hart and all those who cheered the attack on him. He continues and “prays” for those who cheer Austin and to see his annihilation and destruction. Pillman continues his blasphemous conduct and calls Bret Hart the saviour.

Steve Austin interrupts and tells Pillman to pray he doesn’t come down there and beat his a** and that Bret won’t save him. Pillman tells Austin his belief of an eye for an eye and to turn the other cheek and he positions his rear end to the titantron. Austin makes his way to the ring but Owen and Bulldog follow immediately behind him and he retreats through the crowd to avoid a 3-on-1 attack. Pillman invites Bulldog and Owen to join him in prayer and they do so. Meanwhile, we see Austin backstage as he finds an axe handle as an equalizer and returns ringside to clear the ring of the three.

Flash Funk def. Rockabilly
Returning from commercial break we see Brian Pillman backstage “praying” for Bret. Rockabilly nails Funk with the guitar following his loss.

Bret Hart comes out in his wheelchair for a promo. He thanks Pillman for the prayers but says he knows nothing will change and that he remains a hero everywhere but America. He says the American people make him sick and they are Austin’s people.

LOD def. Furnas & LaFon
Furnas and LaFon have an insert promo before the match and talk about how the fans don’t support them otherwise they’d be winning matches. They say they are wrestlers and the LOD are just painted up and they don’t understand the fan’s lack of support. They were the most charismatic I’ve seen them and entertaining. Similar to current day Neville, who was a great wrestler but only showed personality when he turned on the crowd because of their lack of support; this slowly becoming one of my favourite wrestling gimmicks. We hear well wishes for Henry O. Godwinn who was injured by the LOD. After the match, LaFon says it was basically 2-on-1 and Furnas says he had to do the referee’s job as it concerned the legal man; logical points coming across as totally whiny, love it!

Ahmed Johnson is backstage and apologizes for how brutally assaulted the Sultan. He suddenly explodes in rage and says he doesn’t know what people expect when it’s 3-on-1. Johnson yells it’s a gang fight and throws stuff and says I’m a gang member which is the most eloquent way I’ve heard someone declare they are a gangster which sounds far more intimidating.

Intercontinental Championship
Owen Hart def. Rocky Maivia (c)
Owen dedicates this championship match to his brother Bret. Surprisingly, Owen didn’t cheat to steal the championship but gets a roll up for the victory. He adds more gold to the Hart Foundation and Bulldog’s celebration of jumping and running in a circle is must see.

Austin is seen rolling around in a wheelchair of his own as we go to commercial. Back from break, Austin makes his way ringside. He has the wheelchair folded up under his arm and a kendo stick in hand. Austin sets up the wheelchair and sits in it. He challenges Bret to a wheelchair match, which could possibly be better than whatever a House of Horrors match is (this Sunday on Payback on the WWE Network). Austin also talks about his championship match and complains about the Harts and Pillman. Bret on titantron says Austin will leave in the same ambulance which Hart arrived in at the arena.

There is a video package of Ken Shamrock up next with his WWE highlights that we’ve seen before. There is also a clip of Shamrock in an empty arena and he appears, disappears and reappears in the ring. Strange.

Vader def. Jesse James
Squash match really as Vader wins with a Vaderbomb. Jim Ross interviews him after the match. JR asks if Vader has any remorse, is ashamed and if he overreacted to a dumb question. Vader said he doesn’t apologize for anything and asks JR if he should finish what he started back in Kuwait. Vader tosses JR’s hat and removes his glasses but Shamrock makes the save quickly and hits a belly to belly suplex and Vader leaves the ring.

Goldust def. Hunter Hearst Helmsley by Countout
Marlena throws powder in the eyes of Chyna. Hunter goes to check on her and she mistakenly thinks it’s Goldust as she begins to choke him out and slam him which leads to Hunter being counted out.

Undertaker promo over the titantron. He says that no man deserves to be burned but that Paul Bearer played with fire. Undertaker says Austin being distracted may lead to him needing more than just a wheelchair.

The Undertaker def. the British Bulldog by DQ
Pillman is seen praying for the Bulldog prior to his match. Bulldog says he’ll become the WWE Champion for Bret despite this being a non-title match. Whether it’s intentional or not the Bulldog appears to have great comedic timing. Owen interferes leading to the disqualification. Stone Cold comes down for the save and he and Undertaker send Owen and Bulldog into the crowd. Austin grabs the WWE championship and tosses it to the Undertaker. Undertaker stares him down and Austin hits the Undertaker with a stunner. Austin stands over the Undertaker and gives him the middle finger but Undertaker sits up and chokeslams Steve. Austin rolls out the ring and looks up the ramp and sees Bret all alone. Bret stands up using his crutch as Austin tosses away his wheelchair. Just as it looked as though Austin would beat down a one-legged Bret Hart out comes a returning Jim “the Anvil” Neidhart who assaults Austin from behind. Bret then swings his crutch and sends Austin flying off the edge of the ramp. Referees and medical staff check on Austin and he is placed on a stretcher. Brian Pillman is seen smiling maniacally to end RAW.

The Hart Foundation are a great heel faction here and it’s incredible that they have majority of the gold. I think this is great as it will make any babyface stronger as they dethrone these despised anti-Americans. Some filler on this RAW but segments with Austin and the Hart Foundation are must see!