The SmarK Rant for WWF Monday Night RAW – 11.03.97
Why settle for AEW’s second-rate 1997 chaos when we can go back to the real thing again? It’s the GO-HOME SHOW TO SURVIVOR SERIES. Bret and Shawn are probably texting each other right now snickering at the low-grade chaos currently being circulated.
Live from Hershey, PA
Your hosts are Jim Ross & Jim Cornette
Steve Austin joins Vince McMahon in the ring to start, which is something we’ll see many more times over the years. So this Sunday, Austin faces Owen Hart for the Intercontinental title. Apparently if you drop Steve Austin on his head and paralyze him, you get your ass kicked. Fair enough. Vince notes that Austin has “ticked off” the Hart Foundation, the Nation, AND Ahmed Johnson. So we watch footage from last week where Austin stuns Ahmed Johnson, and hilariously Austin goes “WHAM!” like he’s Champ Kind on every replay of him hitting it, which BY THE WAY, is where KICK WHAM STUNNER comes from as far as I remember. So Austin notes that he’ll never be friends with Ahmed, but it’s nothing personal and Ahmed just was in the wrong place at the wrong time. So out comes Ahmed and the FANNY PACK IS LOADED so you know he means business. But where’s the Zubaz? How else will people in the airports know he’s a wrestler? Vince directs all the referees and assorted stooges to watch Austin while Ahmed does his promo, and I’m pretty sure I can make out something about “crossing my end zone” and kicking Austin’s ass. Ahmed wants a match TONIGHT IN THIS VERY RING and Austin is fine with that, so they shall engage in fisticuffs later on in this program. Huzzah!
Later tonight: Goldust rapes his wife of her dignity and destroys their marriage! Plus lightheavyweight tournament action. So stay tuned!
Lightheavyweight championship tournament round one: Super Loco v. Aguila
Super Loco is Super Crazy early in his career, and Aguila is the guy who eventually became first Papi Chulo and then Essa Rios. Loco quickly takes him to the floor and misses a dive, and Aguila follows with a tope con hilo while Brian Christopher joins us on commentary and does some obnoxious shrieking. Back in the ring, Loco hits him with a springboard leg lariat and crotches him on the top rope, but he misses another leg lariat and then just hits a clothesline instead. That looked sloppy as fuck. Loco with a Romero special and he rolls Aguila around the ring and then dumps him to the floor. Loco follows with his own tope con hilo as calling this match must be KILLING Cornette. SO MANY FLIPS. Back in the ring, Aguila hits a missile dropkick and puts Loco on the floor again, and then follows with an Orihara moonsault. Back in, Loco goes up, but Aguila takes him off with an armdrag and follows with a twisting splash to finish at 5:20 and advance. Holy crap, you can’t say they weren’t trying to get themselves over here. This was nuts for a random 1997 RAW show. ***3/4
Meanwhile, JR sits down with Goldust and Marlena in their home, and things are sure looking bright for the happy Runnels family! Marlena just thinks it’s terrific to be home and laughing watching movies as a family, because family is just the best. Also their kid is in preschool and that’s just great too, because everything is great and family is super important and wonderful to them and can never be bad again. And then Dustin suddenly declares that everything coming out of Terri’s mouth makes him SICK and the whole interview is SICKENING to him and he actually hates his family and hates his wife because she won’t let him be who he really is. No more living for his dad! No more living for his wife! Also he was out getting some action while she was whoring it up with Brian Pillman last month and now he’s found a new soulmate who understands him and lets him express his true desires. So this of course led to the most Vince Russo payoff possible soon afterwards, and also their marriage was falling apart for real as well, with Dustin actually accusing her of cheating on him in real life as well.
Speaking of relationships falling apart, we take a look at the lengthy rivalry between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart, leading up to Survivor Series. Bret’s line at the Slammys about Shawn “getting beat up by the 9 cheerleaders in Syracuse being a walk in the park” compared to Wrestlemania is pretty funny. Seeing this all summed up with a slick video package narrated by Michael Cole when all hell was breaking loose on the news in Canada is…something. Because let me tell ya, Bret’s imminent departure was getting mainstream TV coverage on the news and TSN, even if they were playing coy about it on this show. JR notes slyly that “this match will never happen again” and of course he was correct.
Ahmed Johnson joins us and he’s OFF THE FORMAT SHEET and the announcers are all upset about it. But then Kane answers instead of Steve Austin and that goes badly for Ahmed, as Kane chokeslams him and then sets off the pyro and gives him a tombstone as well, at which Mankind hits the ring with a turnbuckle bolt that you can’t see because THE RING IS FUCKING RED AND YOU CAN’T SEE ANYTHING. We return from the break and they have to show the bent piece of bolt under the normal light so you can actually see what it was.
Steve Austin joins us and now he doesn’t have a match! WHAT ABOUT THE FORMAT SHEET? WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE FORMAT SHEET? Anyway, Austin thinks Ahmed got off lucky because he would have opened a can of whoop ass and served it on a spoon. But since that won’t happen now, he just wants anyone sent out. So finally the Nation answer, and if you’ll recall earlier, Vince noted that Austin had “ticked them off”, so they’re plenty mad. But before we can have any kind of match, Austin hits Kama Mustafa with a stunner and the Legion of Doom brawl with the rest of the Nation. Also the crowd doesn’t seem to care for this Rocky fella.
For those keeping track, we’ve had a grand total of (checks notes)…one match for the entire first hour, which ran five minutes while everyone went to the merch stand.
Your hosts for this hour are Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, and for the last time, Vince McMahon.
Shawn Michaels and his D-Generation X buddies join us for more talking to kick off the second hour. What a treat! Do we even have any matches scheduled for this show? Poor Michael Cole tries to ask questions and Hunter cuts him off and then does the gag where he shoves him over while Chyna kneels behind him. What a dick. Speaking of dicks, Shawn riffs on Hollywood Hogan and Hunter points out that Shawn’s nowhere near as old as Hogan. Which of course got much sadder 25 years later when they were doing a geriatric reunion match for the Saudi princes’ money. So Shawn promises that he’s going to come out naked next week after he wins the WWF title, and then he’ll apparently show off his genitals to Ken Shamrock, already moving past Bret Hart before we even get to the PPV. This brings out Commissioner Slaughter, while DX puts on face shields to save them from the spit. But Slaughter forces them to face Shamrock tonight instead of next week.
Savio Vega v. Marc Mero
Yes, we’ve finally made it to another match after an HOUR since the first one. Mero did a deal where he pulled Sable out of the dressing room before she get her catsuit buttoned, beginning the angle that turned her into a giant star. Mero slugs away on Savio to start and dodges a rana attempt, but Savio beats on him with some chops and follows with a leg lariat in the corner. But then Mero goes low and finishes with the TKO at 2:30. Nothing to this one. ½*
Dog Collar match: Vader v. British Bulldog
Jim Ross is DISGUSTED that Doug Furnas would betray Oklahoma and join Team Canada for Survivor Series. Vader beats on Bulldog in the corner, but Davey clotheslines him to the floor and hangs him by the chain while Team Canada beats on Vader out there. So Bulldog touches three turnbuckles while Michael Cole does an interview with Furnas and Lafon at ringside, questioning why they joined Team Canada. Lafon: “Because I’m Canadian, you idiot!” Also Furnas is ashamed of his country and no longer wants to be American. Man, you picked the worst possible time to hitch your wagon to the Hart Foundation, pal. Meanwhile, Vader touches all four turnbuckles and wins at 3:33. OK then. DUD And then the Team Canada bullies all attack, which results in the epic debut of STEVE BLACKMAN as he beats on the heels and makes the save for Vader. Blackman was of course a crazy story, as he had been a top prospect in Stampede years earlier and was doing tryouts in 89 on the verge of a job, but he went on a foreign tour and contracted malaria, which left him bed-ridden for years and unable to wrestle. And then he finally got his big break years past his prime, but certainly made the most of it.
Road Dogg Jesse Jammes & Bad Ass Billy Gunn v. Los Boricuas
These guys need a catchy tag team name and maybe a catchphrase to go along with it. RSPW was suggesting Dog-Ass at the time, but it never caught on. BREAKING NEWS: The Legion of Doom have been asked to leave the arena. Shawn was probably worried that they’d steal all his drugs. The heels double-team Jesus and Dogg does a worm before covering for two. As if anyone could get over doing the worm in a wrestling match. BREAKING NEWS: Jeff Jarrett’s scheduled interview with JR has been bumped from the show due to time constraints. Vince quips that if they owned their own Network, they could make their shows as long as they wanted without worrying about time constraints. Oh great, we’d probably get 7 hour Wrestlemanias then. Like anyone would watch that. Billy works on Jesus with more boring stuff, but Jose gets a “hot” tag to Jose and runs wild while the crowd dozes. Billy gets dumped and they double-team Dogg, but the ref escorts Jesus out and Billy hits Jose off with the top and puts Dogg on top for the pin at 5:25. Horrible. DUD
Ken Shamrock v. Shawn Michaels
Shamrock attacks and presses Shawn onto his friends outside, and then rams them together and flings Shawn back into the ring before going to work in the corner. Shawn gives him the old Jesse Ventura special and slugs away, but Shamrock gets the fisherman’s suplex for two. Shawn offers a handshake and Shawn calls for a CLOTHESLINE as they fight to the floor again. Listening to these two with headphones is hilarious. Talk about exposing the business. We take a break and return with Hunter beating on Shamrock outside. Back in the ring, Ken gets a bodypress for two, but Shawn takes him down for a chinlock, and Ken reverses to a cradle for two. Shawn with a dropkick for two, but he misses a blind charge and Shamrock makes the comeback. He tries a rana and Shawn blocks it with a powerbomb for ONE TWO HE GOT HIM NO HE DIDN’T. I guess that was the last time we’ll hear that one! Shawn tries the superkick, but Shamrock catches the leg and reverses to the anklelock, at which point DX all runs in and beats him down for the DQ at 10:00. Kind of hilarious that Rome was burning at this point and Shawn is just out there having his usual match without a care in the world. ***
You will note of course that conspicuous by his absence was Bret Hart, who was busy with other stuff at that point, and thus last week was actually his final appearance on RAW for a great many years. As for this show, it’s amazing that they could take the most chaotic period in the history of the company and produce a dogshit boring episode like this one, leading up to arguably the most historic and business-changing PPV of all time.
So yeah, we’ll take another look at Survivor Series 97 next and then continue on from there.