The SmarK Rant for WWF Monday Night RAW – 12.01.97
I was trying to get caught up with Nitro again before I went back to these, but I just can’t resist.
Last week: The tag title reign of Billy Gunn & Road Dogg begins!
Taped from Roanoke, VA on November 25, drawing 6542 for a sellout.
Your hosts are Jim Ross & Jim Cornette
Road Dogg & Billy Gunn join us to start, and they want to make the point that the Road Warriors are OLD. So old that the Smithsonian wants one of their shoulder pads. So the act is coming together, with the music and “Oh you didn’t know?” but still no name yet and fairly minimal crowd reaction to the shtick. But before they can face the Headbangers in a non-title match, the LOD hit the ring in street clothes and chase them off, building up to their terrible rematch at the terrible PPV.
I don’t know what’s up with the sound mixing on this episode but it’s all over the place, sounding like the announcers are in a tin can a lot of time.
Lightheavyweight tournament semi-final: Aguila v. TAKA Michinoku
Sunny just hanging around and randomly doing ring announcing is such a weird career path for her. Taka quickly takes him down and works the leg, but Aguila reverses him into a bow and arrow and immediately releases it. They trade legsweeps and Aguila misses a dive, but lands on his feet, and Taka follows with his own dive. That’s a KARATE FIGHTERS DOUBLE FEATURE for those keeping track. They fight in and out of the ring again and this time Aguila hits a corkscrew dive, and back in with a pair of elbows from Aguila. Taka slugs him down and goes up with a Sky Twister Press, but that misses and Aguila cradles for two. Taka powerbombs him for two and goes up again with a missile dropkick, and finishes with the Michinoku Driver at 4:21. Crowd didn’t care but it was a pretty fast paced match. **3/4. Even by 1997 standards it wasn’t anything mindblowing, though, as you could see state of the art lucha and technical wrestling on Nitro every week.
The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust joins Jerry Lawler for an interview, as Luna has him chained up with a ball gag in his mouth, and she does the promo instead. This was cringy and uncomfortable to watch.
KARATE FIGHTERS HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT!
This week, El Matador Tito Santana comes out of retirement to face Jerry Lawler, but as usual he does the job.
Speaking of coming out of retirement, the show is sponsored by Foot Action, so I guess Mel Phillips must be back in the company.
Chainz v. D-Lo Brown v. Miguel Perez v. Recon
Cornette notes that all the people at ringside are like mixing TNT and dynamite. I don’t think anyone would ever be dumb enough to put Dynamite on TNT! So this is a Four Corners match, so two people are in the ring and the other two are on the apron and have to tag in. D-Lo trades leapfrogs with Recon, who you may know better as the father of Briggs or Jensen or whichever one is his kid. Chainz quickly pins Recon with a death valley driver at 2:20 after nothing in particular, and then Miguel rolls up D-Lo and pins him at 3:24 after nothing in particular and then Chainz does nothing in particular and everyone runs in for the DQ at 3:40 and all four gangs do some brawling and then yell at each other. Quality Attitude Era television segment there. DUD
D-Generation X joins us, complete with their new music and entrance video, as HHH wheels Shawn out in a wheelchair and they make jokes about playing Anvil for a sucker while eating suckers. Shawn calls him “Tri” and JR is pretty disgusted by that attempt at a nickname. Yeah that one never happened for him. Anyway, Hunter is still completely unphased by Slaughter’s Boot Camp and makes a complete joke out of it as usual. I bet if Slaughter would have whipped out his Privates as backup, no one would be laughing. Sure, they might be grey and sagging by that point, but they can still go. Moving on, Shawn lets us know that he’s been training his ankle to prepare for Ken Shamrock, and HHH demonstrates by twisting Shawn’s boot in painful ways, doing a few full rotations before Shawn reaches his “pain threshold”. Gee and I wonder why that PPV did an all time low buyrate? Point of discussion: Bret Hart has talked about how the original idea for WM13 was a match where Bret would actually “break” Shawn’s ankle with a leglock to win the WWF title, using a gimmicked boot, so I’m wondering if this was another rib aimed at Bret?
Meanwhile at Survivor Series, we get footage of Shawn winning the WWF title from Bret, and the announcers claim that we can make our own judgement and thus the controversy will be settled. Yeah, it’s true, no one even talks about Montreal anymore.
The War Zone!
Your hosts are Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler
Rocky Maivia v. The Man They Call Vader
Steve Austin immediately drives a pickup truck into the building and Rock is all freaked out as I try to figure out what the generic rock music is replacing. Sounded like AC/DC of some kind? Vader slugs away on Rocky in the corner and hits him with a corner splash while Austin drinks beer and watches from the roof of the truck. Vader goes up for a bodypress and Rock catches him with a powerslam and follows with the hurricane DDT before tossing him out to the floor for some cheapshots from the Nation. Back in the ring, Rock slams him and goes low behind the ref’s back, but Vader fights back, only to miss a butt splash. Rocky clotheslines him to the floor, and TAFKA Goldust attacks out there. Rock suplexes Vader back in the ring and follows with the early People’s Elbow variation, as he doesn’t even know how to play to the hard camera with it yet, but Vader casually kicks out and chases Goldust away for the countout loss at 6:29. He kicked out of the move that pinned Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania! The nerve. You could feel the electricity leading up to the Rock-Austin match at the PPV, but the match was nearly unwatchable due to the music overdubbing throughout the entire thing. This Rocky kid was showing something here, though, and looked like a legit star. **
Meanwhile, we take a special look at Ken Shamrock in advance of his title match with Shawn Michaels coming up. He’s very dangerous, I hear.
Lightheavyweight tournament semi-final: Scott Taylor v. Brian Christopher
But first! Kane makes a cameo and destroys young Scott Taylor before laying him out with a tombstone. Paul Bearer promises that the beatings will continue until Undertaker accepts their challenge for a match. So Christopher advances to the tournament final by forfeit. Maybe if that doesn’t work out for him, he can, I dunno, team up with Taylor or something instead. See how that goes for him.
Ahmed Johnson v. Jeff Jarrett
Jarrett once again declares that his wrestling debut will NOT be tonight because the promotion for him has been lackluster again. Also none of his stipulations regarding dressing rooms were met. Also Jeff doesn’t think that Ahmed the “water retaining idiot” is on his level, so he’s leaving. But this brings out Sgt. Slaughter, who has finally found the perfect opponent for him: YOU’RE GONNA WRESTLE THE UNDERTAKER, PLAYA. Wait, wrong authority figure.
I mean, I can kind of see what they were going for with Jarrett and this dumb storyline, but it never paid off in any meaningful way and then somehow we ended up with him leading an NWA invasion.
And then we get a series of clips of Slaughter from 15 years previous showing him doing the cobra clutch to a bunch of guys. Although to be fair he was 49 at this point, which is barely even cracking the edge of Saudi Arabia Headliner age these days.
Road Dogg & Billy Gunn v. The Headbangers
I guess their first match wasn’t boring enough so they had to have a rematch. Mosh puts Dogg down with a clothesline and Thrasher comes in as JR reminds us that the Bangers were former tag team champions. I literally forget about that every time until someone reminds me and then I’m shocked about it all over again. Billy comes in with a neckbreaker on Thrasher, but Dogg goes up and misses a flying legdrop, allowing oh never mind here comes the LOD for the DQ at 2:50. And we follow the new champs out the back door again, as they continue the running gag of escaping every show by driving off in a waiting car. Again, I wonder if that’s an inside baseball reference to Shawn’s exit from Montreal. We should ask Taz, he’s all about explaining inside references on Dark.
Last week: Jim Neidhart stupidly “joins” D-X and they immediately turn on him and lay him out like a complete goof.
Marc Mero joins Jim Cornette for a promo to hype the “toughman fight” with Butterbean that you’ve probably forgotten was coming up on that PPV. Butterbean’s later WWF fight is of course much more famous. So Cornette buries Mero for not being over, and points out that Sable is a much bigger star than Marc is at this point. Obviously the goal was to get Sable over but man did poor Marc get driven hard and put away wet by the whole deal. So Marc makes Sable do some practice with him, using pads with Butterbean’s face on them as Marc “accidentally” hits them too hard and teases punching his wife. Sable was clearly trying to be Elizabeth here with her facials, going for the sympathy angle. Mero heaps on the verbal abuse, calling her useless and telling her to get lost in some really mean spirited stuff that they probably wouldn’t do today. In fact there’s probably a segment of the audience today that would side with Mero and cheer him.
Meanwhile in Montreal, another angle of Bret in the Sharpshooter. This was such a cheap ratings ploy on their part. They promised isolated angles of Bret and Vince and never even showed Vince. Well at least the whole thing is settled now and there won’t be any further controversy, unless they keep harping on it year after year for the next three decades, BUT HOW LIKELY IS THAT, LOL? Also watching Shawn act “distressed” after the match makes it hilariously obvious that he was in on it the whole time.
Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Jim Neidhart
Truly a main event worthy of Rampage. JR keeps calling Neidhart “the Rhino” in a lame rebranding attempt and they hammer it over and over. Anvil attacks in the corner and throws Hunter around with a hairtoss. NOT HIS BEAUTIFUL HAIR! Can you even imagine him….bald? Horrifying to even contemplate. Neidhart beats on him and JR is all “RHINO RHINO RHINO!” but Jim goes after Michaels and Hunter hits him with a chair and pins him at 2:28 to send him packing for Dubya See Dubya. A complete nothing of a match. DUD. Oh and Shawn spraypaints “WCW” on him just in case we didn’t fully contemplate the reference. And D-X does a beatdown of Jim Neidhart, and amazingly someone actually gives enough of a shit to make the save, in this case Slaughter and Shamrock, who brawl with them to end the show.
Holy crap are the shows between Montreal and Mike Tyson some hot garbage or what. AND YES OF COURSE I’M GOING TO REDO THE D-GENERATION X SHOW NEXT, you sadists.
Geez, it’s like you don’t even know me.