The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW–05.19.97
By Scott Keith on 24th July 2018
The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 05.19.97
Doing the 98 RAWs made me realize that I kind of dropped the 97 shows when it was getting really good, so let’s jump back to May of 97 and all the crazy stuff therein. It’s immediately a different world, with Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels running the show, only to be completely gone a year later.
When we last left off with these because people were like “Ugh, enough 1997 nostalgia already!”… http://blogofdoom.com/index.php/2017/11/08/the-smark-rant-for-wwf-monday-night-raw-05-12-97/
First up, we see the aftermath of Shawn superkicking Bret out of the wheelchair, which wasn’t aired due to them going over the time limit, as Hart Foundation tries to throw Shawn off the stage, only to have Austin make the save.
Live from Mobile, AL, which drew an all-time record 6200 people.
Your hosts are JR & King, with Vince coming in at the start of the second hour.
Steve Austin joins us for an interview to start, and he doesn’t care about Shawn Michaels and only helped him last week because he wanted a clear shot at the Hart Foundation and they had their backs turned. So this brings out Shawn and his “Dirk Diggler in the last act of the movie” attire and he brags about how he’s been falling off ladders since before Austin got here, so he would have been fine on his own. They get into an “Oh yeah? YEAH!” yelling match before it turns into a shoving match and a brawl. The Harts appear to mock them for “not getting their crap together” and challenge them to a tag title match next week, but neither one wants to be each other’s partner. Thus beginning the grand tradition of Wacky Tag Team Partners Who Hate Each Other. And then they argue about THAT and get into another brawl before the Usual Gang of Idiots manages to pull them apart.
King of Ring qualifier: Crush v. Hunter Hearst Helmsley
Vader was legit beat up by Ken Shamrock’s kicks at the PPV the week before, so Hunter gets another chance in the tournament after losing to Ahmed last week. Man, if we can’t maintain the sanctity of pro wrestling tournaments, how can we depend on anything? The cover here is that the referee erred in his instructions last week and failed to inform HHH that DQs counted as an elimination. Well, that’s certainly more thought than Russo put into any of his other stupid plots. Hunter attacks Crush in the corner to start and gets a neckbreaker, but walks into a tilt a whirl slam. JR references the San Antonio Spurs winning the first pick in the draft lottery and I was hoping it was someone famous so I would know who the hell he was talking about and make a joke about it, but no. I’m sure everyone in the comments will now be like “LOL Tim Duncan is super famous and they won a bunch of titles with him, dumb Canadian!” but I pretty much know LeBron James and Shaq and that’s about it. Crush gets a press slam into a gutbuster for two and everyone gets involved, but Savio kicks Crush by mistake and Hunter gets the pin at 3:54. Yeah. *
Owen Hart v. Bob “Spark Plug” Holly
Jerry Lawler interviews some “real Alabama natives” backstage, which is about what you’d expect. Also kind of funny considering the audience that Lawler pandered to for the better part of 30 years. Although Jerry joking that Bob got kicked out of the racing circuit because he kept stopping for directions is a pretty funny line. Bob runs wild on behalf of Alabama to start, but Owen gets a spinkick to take over. I like that the Harts always watch from the entrance rather than hanging around at ringside, because they trust their team to get shit done without needing help. And if help is needed, so be it. Owen goes up with a middle rope elbow for two and hits the chinlock, and then cuts off a comeback by tossing Bob over the top. Bob comes back in with a sunset flip for two, but Owen tries the Sharpshooter, allowing Bob to cradle for the pin at 3:41. Yes, someone actually WON IN THEIR HOMETOWN. And just as I’m about to accuse Bob of pulling the hair and holding the tights, Jerry Lawler does the same thing. GET OUT OF MY HEAD! Match was OK. **
Meanwhile, Jim Cornette brings Sunny some contracts to sign, but she SWERVES him with a Super Soaker. Apparently wetter is better. Make your own jokes here. There’s a lot of directions you can go with it.
Meanwhile, Shawn has found his partner for next week: Ken Shamrock. Well, that’s settled then.
Mick Foley: The Interview. Part 2. Jim Ross continues to sit down with Mankind, who always chose to be the Indians as a kid when playing Cowboys and Indians, because they were the underdogs. He was a frequent player of the game of “Kill the guy with the ball”, or whatever it’s called.
Right, that’s it. Anyway, it made him realize that a career where he could bleed for a living would be exactly what he was looking for. And then he backdropped his brother into the bedroom wall and broke his nose, which resulted in his mom putting the kibosh on the wrestling dreams. He relates a story about eating a worm that was thrown at him by other kids, which turned into “Mick Foley eats worms every day”, and do you think girls wanted to kiss him after that? HE’S A GOOD KISSER! Well, he did pretty good with Collette, so that worked out for him at least. Next week: Dude Love and Cactus Jack!
Leif Cassidy v. Scott Taylor
Lawler rants about how he introduced Rob Van Dam last week, but “Paul Heyman” would rather have him working at bingo hall in front of 300 people, and so he won’t be back this week. Mind-blowing stuff for 1997. This is being packaged as Scott’s WWF debut, which is ridiculous because he had been an enhancement guy on all the TV shows for years. Leif hits him with a dive on the way into the ring, but Taylor comes back in with a crossbody for two and hits a half-assed leg lariat and a short dropkick for two. He goes up, but Cassidy whiplashes him out of the corner and follows with a facebuster, only to have Taylor reverse another suplex into a cradle for the pin at 2:48. OK, we’ve had our quota of flash pins for the week. Leif freaks out after the loss, further setting up his repackage as himself over in ECW. *1/2
Meanwhile, Steve Austin tries to ask Sable to be his partner, but she’s conveniently half-naked and tells him to get lost. “Jesus Christ, I heard you, you don’t have to get so hot about it!” I feel like Steve isn’t putting the same thought into this process that Shawn did.
Let’s take another look at the angle from last week’s show again! Literally the whole thing.
One thing I really appreciate about the 98 shows is that they’ve eliminated the artificial split between “hour 1” and “hour 2” and made it a lot more free-flowing. Stopping to do the intro and pyro again really becomes a drag after a while.
The Hart Foundation joins us en masse to finally reveal what the big surprise from last time is. Maybe it’s a new member! I’ve heard Yokozuna is a strong possibility. Anyway, Bret protests that his own right to free speech was stopped by Shawn Michaels last week, which is typical of the lying rednecks like the ones here in Mobile. He doesn’t care who Shawn or Austin pick as their partner next week, because Shawn’s days are numbered anyway. Well, in a sense he was right. To the big surprise: He’s coming back at the King of the Ring! Thanks to all the concern and love he’s been getting from the REST of the world. So it’s gonna be him and Shawn at KOTR, and if he can’t win in less than 10:00, he’ll never wrestle in the US again. So Shawn appears on the screen sounding like he’s in no condition to perform, demanding that all the Hart Foundation guys be handcuffed to the ringposts during the match. And Bret can’t go over 10:00 in any situation, even though he’s had a lot of “Sunny days” lately. So there you go, that’s where that one came from. Shawn got a bunch of heat for appearing here all pilled up and making the Sunny comment because they were specifically instructed to stop making those insider remarks, but he certainly got the last laugh. But the best is yet to come with this particular soap opera! Anyway, the stips announced just reek of Jim Cornette, but of course there was still another real life twist in the story that was somehow still straight out of pro wrestling.
Goldust v. Rockabilly Gunn
So they bring out 3-year old Dakota here trying to get Goldust over as a babyface after the interview segments failed and she’s all cute and stuff. JR: “Just like her grandfather, hogging the microphone.” This didn’t work particularly well, either. Speaking of failed gimmicks, who would have thought that Rockabilly would be a featured player less than a year later? Montreal really was the closest thing we’ll ever get in real life to Reverse Flash going back in time to change the past and Barry Allen waking up one morning a year later to find Rocky Maivia as the hottest star in the company and Hunter Hearst Helmsley as the cool babyface and Roadie & Rockabilly as the tag team champions and Bret and Shawn gone and Vince McMahon the top heel and yada yada. You’d legit be like “What the FUCK?” Anyway, Goldust slugs away in the corner to start and works the arm, but Rockabilly suddenly catches him with the fameasser for two. Apparently not a finisher yet. Gunn chokes away on the ropes and goes up, but lands on the foot and Goldust makes the comeback. Goldust pulls the Flip Flop and Fly out of the attic, which he had resisted for years, and hits the bulldog for two. Gunn gets wrapped up in the ropes, but Honky runs in and Goldust hits him with the guitar for the DQ at 4:12. This was basically Goldust being Dustin Rhodes in an effort to get over as a babyface, and it somewhat worked for a bit, but ultimately failed. *1/2
Meanwhile, Ahmed Johnson talks about Faarooq playing the “race card” last week. Unlike Faarooq, he’s not a racist, but he’ll still be the first black WWF champion.
Meanwhile, Steve Austin continues his quest for a partner, which leads him to Harvey Wippleman. Brooklyn Brawler campaigns for the job instead, so Austin kicks his ass and demands Harvey take the job because then he can just stand on the apron and let Austin do it alone.
Meanwhile, we get a replay of the Super Soaker bit with Sunny for some reason.
Rocky Maivia v. Faarooq
Apparently we’re running long tonight and will be robbed of the advertised Godwinns match. Well that’s a shame. These days it would just mean a 25 minute overrun. Rock resists Faarooq’s attempts to woo him and attacks, hitting a clothesline out of the corner and a powerslam for two. Faarooq takes him down with a jawbreaker, but Rock hits a crossbody for two and follows with the Rock Bottom for two. Hurricane DDT and goes up to finish, but Faarooq crotches him and finishes with the Dominator at 2:45. That Rock kid got a lot of offense, although he was still all flailing limbs at this point. But you could see something. The Nation goes for the beatdown, but Faarooq calls them off. Boy did THAT one ever come back to bite him in the ass!
Meanwhile, the Harts give Bob Holly the beats in the dressing room in retaliation for the upset win earlier.
Undertaker joins us for the main event interview, and unlike Faarooq, he won’t play the race card. He’s neither white nor black, but rather the “reaper of wayward souls.” Um, I’m pretty sure he’s been firmly established as white in the years since then. But if he wants to put “Reaper of Wayward Souls” on his census form, more power to him. Vince asks him about the Big Secret, but Taker declares it’s not the time. However, Paul Bearer pops up on the screen and promises again to reveal the secret if Undertaker doesn’t bring him back as manager. So NEXT WEEK, if Taker doesn’t capitulate, the secret is revealed. They actually had a hell of a payoff for it, you gotta admit.
Jim Neidhart v. Steve Austin
There’s literally four minutes left in the show so this is gonna be swift. Neidhart tries to attack and gets beaten down for his troubles, but then Austin heads over to the announce table and attacks Brian Pillman. Neidhart uses that moment to jump Austin, and it’s a DQ at 1:55. So the Harts all come in for the beatdown, but Shawn Michaels returns from whatever drug-induced utopia he’d spent the last hour in and makes the save with a chair, nearly falling off the ropes in the process. So JR announces that Gorilla Monsoon has ruled Shawn and Steve must team up next week, and the Bickersons argue the point and brawl as the show ends.
Dave’s take on the show’s changing format at the time: “Raw has turned into a total copy of Nitro with all the in-feuding and 4:00 or less matches, same open with the same-style pyro and even adding the new announcer at the beginning of the second hour.” He doesn’t even know the HALF of it.
Next week: The one I’ve been waiting for!