The SmarK Rant for WWF Monday Night RAW – 11.24.97
I hate this era of the show SO MUCH in retrospect, but I’m drawn to it, like a moth to the crappy flame.
Live from Fayetteville, NC, where apparently people have tar on their heels? Seems like they should see a podiatrist about that.
Your hosts are Jim Ross & Jim Cornette
Handsome Harvey joins us to start, using Rick Rude’s old music. Which is WEIRD because they scrubbed the old Rude “stripper” theme from every other show on the Network and replaced it with a god-awful generic version. Anyway, Harvey does the “fat, out of shape” routine and introduces D-Generation X, complete with their new music and entrance video. Man, say what you will, but that whole deal changed the business and it was like a whole new promotion post-Bret. So Shawn quips “Lord knows THAT was a tough spot to fill” and brushes off Harvey to close that loophole. So he talks about Survivor Series and how he takes full responsibility for what happened, and reveals that Bret Hart is still under contract to the WWF until November 30. And Shawn promises that he’s contacted Bret “without the knowledge of the internet or underground dirt sheet writers” and TONIGHT IN THIS VERY RING, they’ll settle things once and for all. Wow, that sounds big! Seems like it’ll be a tall order for them to make up, but hopefully they don’t come up short. The rating for that one should dwarf Nitro.
WWF tag team title: Legion of Doom v. Road Dogg & Billy Gunn
So all of a sudden, Dogg & Gunn have music and “Oh you didn’t know…?” The LOD attacks to start and hauls Billy into the ring for a backdrop, and Animal follows with a clothesline. Hawk comes in with a shoulderblock and then hits Dogg with a neckbreaker for good measure. So Dogg comes in and he gets destroyed as the legal man while Cornette suddenly recites the championship history of the Road Warriors, which blew our minds in 1997. Animal comes in with a dropkick and Hawk adds a corner clothesline while Cornette buries the upcoming November to Remember PPV, which did in fact turn out to be an all time stinker. Hawk finally misses a charge and hits the floor as we take a break, and return with Dog-Ass cutting off the tag and working Hawk over in their corner. Hot tag Animal, but the ref misses it and Road Dogg hits Hawk with a belt for two. That would be their future finisher! Gunn goes to the top and misses a splash, and it’s hot tag Animal for real. Powerslam for Dogg, but the ref is bumped and the LOD take turns hitting Billy with corner clotheslines. Doomsday Device, but Dogg hits Animal with a chair and Billy rolls him up for the pin and the titles at 9:35, kicking off one of the most unlikely tag team championship dynasties in history. And the new champs literally run away with the belts and jump into a car and drive away, which I’m sure was an inside baseball reference to Montreal. This match was totally fine, which was about the peak for the LOD at this point in their career. **1/2
Meanwhile, a giant limo pulls up, presumably containing Bret Hart.
Last week, Sgt. Slaughter gets beat up and humiliated by D-X, leading to him getting beat up and humiliated by D-X at the PPV. And we get a weird video package showing Slaughter in the 80s, doing squashes in the brightly lit Superstars era and then during the Iraq traitor era, which makes him look like an even bigger fossil than he already was. And then Slaughter comes out for an interview with Michael Cole, where he puts on his stupid hat and I guess we’re supposed to be reacting like Hunter did when Mankind turned into Cactus Jack in 2000 or something. Look, the guy had been a jobber since 1992. This would have been way more effective if he had been training a proxy like the Patriot. And then he goes into this ridiculous rant about taking a bayonet in his guts and killing people with his bare hands. Yeah, there’s pretty good evidence that Slaughter was never in the army in the first place, as it turns out. This was all time bad and sad at the same time, with Slaughter so obviously getting sent out there to die and be sacrificed to D-X. And the match was still two weeks away!
Light Heavyweight tournament first round: Brian Christopher v. Flash Flanagan
Flanagan hits Brian with a dive before the bell and dominates in the ring, but he misses another dive and Christopher hits him with a sunset flip off the apron and then tosses him around outside to take over. Back in the ring, Christopher does his Memphis heel act and puts him down with a fameasser while shrieking at the camera, but Flash comes back with a legsweep before walking into a Stroke from Christopher. Inverted DDT out of the corner follows and Christopher finishes with the Tennessee Jam at 3:35. Total style clash as Flanagan seemingly wanted to do a WCW cruiserweight match and Christopher just wanted to do his Memphis shtick, and he completely gobbled Flanagan up. *1/2
Obviously they cut a bunch of stuff out of this one because the first hour is only 33 minutes on the Network version.
Your hosts are Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler
D-Generation X joins us again and Hunter wants us to know that he’s going to beat Sgt. Slaughter and have sex with all the women using his enormous genitalia. And speaking enormous, Shawn introduces Bret Hart, and it’s…ha ha ha…I can’t even finish typing it because I’m laughing so hard….it’s….it’s….A MIDGET. With a BRET HART MASK! Oh my god the planning and execution that must have went into this! Whatever they were paying Vince Russo at the time, I hope they immediately quadrupled it. But then after they send “Bret” packing for WCW, Jim Neidhart interrupts the interview and threatens to “kick their butt”, but Shawn offers him a job instead as D-X’s enforcer because Bret is gone and Davey is off having knee surgery (“Yeah I know all about phony knee injuries” notes Shawn) and Owen is home distraught. So Neidhart takes this under advisement and leaves and he might as well have grown a dunce cap out of his head like in the old Bugs Bunny cartoons because I think we all knew immediately where this was going.
Still to come: Jeff Jarrett debuts!
Savio Vega v. Ken Shamrock
Savio attacks from behind and chokes him out with his jacket, but Shamrock rolls him into an ankle pick and Savio makes the ropes and runs away. Back in, Ken catches him with the heel kick and gets a crucifix for two. Savio tosses him and Miguel Perez runs out and gets some shots on Shamrock behind the ref’s back, which allows Savio to go to a chinlock. Wow really going for the kill there. Shamrock comes back with a crossbody for two, but Savio kicks him down again and goes back to the chinlock again. Spinkick gets two. JR meanwhile goes on this run about how Neidhart’s impending offer to join D-X is “sending shockwaves through the Hart family in Calgary”. Even the Harts didn’t care about Jim by this point. Shamrock comes back with a rana and belly to belly and finishes with the anklelock at 5:16. Who in their right mind would be buying this guy as a serious World title contender after that boring match? *1/2
The Nation of Domination joins us, as Rocky is still carrying the IC title around with him, claiming to be “The People’s Champion”. But then the mic starts cutting out and someone hijacks the Titantron for a “Rocky Sucks” chant. So Rock dispatches the Nation to go take care of the technical problems backstage, and we cut to the truck where Austin is playing with the technology. So Austin promises that when Rock is walking around the airport and his beeper goes off with the 316, your ass is in trouble. And then Austin asks if it’s live or Memorex in a dated reference, but back at the ring Rock checks his beeper and it’s the 316, at which point Austin appears from behind him and it turns out that he was pre-taping the segment in the truck all along. Rock’s facial expressions were amazing and this was far and away the best thing on the show, but I have one question: What the hell is a “beeper”?
Jeff Jarrett v. Crush
Yes, it’s the in ring debut of AZTEC WARRIOR Jeff Jarrett, but we cut to the dressing room, as Jeff complains about not having his contract demands met tonight, so he’s not wrestling. Well that’s a shame. To say the eventual “payoff” for this was a disappointment would be a gross understatement. There was the nugget of a clever idea with the contract stuff here, which eventually got recycled into the MVP character years later, but Jarrett wasn’t the guy to pull it off. So Crush wins by forfeit, but then Kane makes his weekly appearance and destroys him. I kind of wish it was Chainz instead of Crush because then there would be WAY more jokes to make about fake Undertakers.
Shawn Michaels v. Vader
And we finish with one of the most needlessly mean-spirited burials in wrestling history. Also Vader has an eyepatch here after getting attacked by Goldust and new manager Luna Vachon earlier in the show, which I guess was the thing cut out of the first hour. Was he wearing blackface at the time? I don’t even remember. Anyway, Neidhart joins the circus at ringside for D-X, and in retrospect Neidhart as the suit-wearing replacement for Rick Rude wouldn’t have been the worst idea in the world. We take a break and join things in progress with Vader hitting Shawn with a press slam and then blocking a sunset flip with a butt splash. Big splash gets two. Vader misses a blind charge and Anvil gets some abuse outside, but Vader makes a comeback in the ring, only for Hunter to throw HOT COFFEE in his face, and Shawn quickly finishes with the superkick at 2:40. Man what a difference a year makes compared to where Vader was in 1996. And then D-X celebrates with Neidhart before turning on him and delivering an epic beatdown that meant nothing and led to nothing. Like why do you need to humble JIM NEIDHART, the guy who was already so low on the pecking order that he played a masked guy named “Who” because he needed the money so badly? And then he got no revenge, getting squashed even HARDER by Hunter the next week to end his WWF career, and just crawled to WCW with his tail between his legs and never returned.
Like wow, they sure showed Bret who’s boss, huh?