by Logan Scisco
-Footage of the angle surrounding last week’s show concerning the European title is shown.
-Jim Ross, Michael Cole, and Kevin Kelly are in the booth and they are live from the Nassau Coliseum in New York for the last RAW of 1997.
-Goldust comes out dressed as a New Year’s baby and declares that he will enter the Royal Rumble. I should note that Cole is establishing a bad operating procedure of constantly talking over a wrestler’s promo, afraid of having any silence on the air. Goldust is supposed to wrestle Steve Austin, who comes out and has a Porta John lowered, which he has to tug into the ring from the top of the arena. The Porta John, which Cole initially calls an “outhouse” has “Crapper 3:16” written on the outside of it. Goldust tries to sneak up on Austin behind it, but Austin slams the door in his face, tosses him inside, and when Goldust comes out he eats a Stone Cold Stunner. Austin then tosses Goldust back in and turns it over, before ending his promo on top it. A wild, creative, and very entertaining segment and Austin had the crowd eating out his hand the entire time.
-Owen Hart’s sneak attack on Triple H on last week’s show is the 1-800-COLLECT Rewind segment.
-Opening Long Island Street Fight: The Disciples of Apocalypse beat Savio Vega, Miguel Perez & Jesus (w/Jose) when Chainz pins Jose after heel miscommunication at 3:17:
I wish that this feud would just end. It has no direction and no one cares about the Boricuas. Ross subtly buries Crush by saying that after his altercation with Kane he did not want to be in the WWF anymore. The match gets off to a hot shot, with chairs being used, but it quickly cools into a battle royal-type brawl. Jose isn’t supposed to be in the match, but gets involved anyway and in a piece of WCWesque booking, Chainz pins him when Savio accidentally blasts him with a spin kick. Rating: *
-The WWF has shown these ads for a couple of weeks, but I want to say that their “Attitude Era” ads where the Undertaker, Steve Austin, the Rock, Ken Shamrock, etc. listed their accomplishments and injuries and put down anyone who criticizes wrestling for being fake are well done.
-European Champion Triple H and Chyna are in the ring after the commercial break and Triple H is on crutches and in a knee brace, which he says is because he dislocated his knee cap last night, and he says he won’t be able to defend his title against Owen Hart tonight. Triple H says that Shawn Michaels isn’t here because he has a 102 degree fever and the lights go out and a casket is wheeled to the ring by druids, but Michaels pops out of the casket, which has DX graffiti. Kelly is outraged, saying Michaels “desecrated the spirit of the casket.” What? DX puts over Chyna’s breasts for a few minutes and Michaels pledges that 1998 will be the year of DX. Commissioner Slaughter comes out and says that Triple H is medically unfit to compete, so he books Michaels in a WWF title match against Owen.
-Ken Shamrock defeats Kama Mustafa (w/Faarooq & D-Lo Brown) via submission to the anklelock at 3:36:
The storyline for Shamrock heading into the Royal Rumble is that he’s going to slowly go through the Nation in preparation for facing the Rock for the Intercontinental title. Kama gets in a few token moves and Shamrock exchanges strikes with him before taking him down and making him tap. Rating: *
-After the match, the Rock comes out and says that fans have asked him his opinion on the elderly and Social Security, but he doesn’t care as long as makes money. That’s a funny gimmick as last week we said fans asked his opinion on world peace. The Rock calls off the Nation from beating up Shamrock and says next week Shamrock will face Faarooq. Faarooq isn’t happy about that. The Rock is carrying the feud on the mic and doing a fantastic job. The Rock-Shamrock feud as a whole is very underrated and a largely forgotten part of 1998, but the Rock’s work in that feud is what set him on the path to main event status.
-The announce team hypes the house show circuit. Why can’t WWE bother to do this today?
-Dok Hendrix hypes the next Madison Square Garden show. The matches that are in this show were chronicled in last week’s review.
-Vince McMahon is shown sitting in an empty arena before tonight’s show and thanks the fans for watching and he promises that 1998 will be the most action packed and enjoyable year in WWF history. Can’t say he was wrong about that. I sort of miss these fan appreciation segments with Vince because he comes off very sincere, but in the back of his mind he had to know things would have to get better in 1998 because he and Linda lost $5 million or so of their own money on the company in 1997 and couldn’t give Christmas bonuses, which they felt ashamed of, according to a Kevin Kelly shoot interview.
-Jerry “the King” Lawler & “Too Sexy” Brian Christopher beats Taka Michinoku & George “the Animal” Steele by disqualification when Steele uses a foreign object at 2:39:
Before the match, Lawler says that Brian Christopher is Jim Ross’s son, which is so ridiculous I’m surprised Ross didn’t corpse on live television. Steele was Michinoku’s mystery partner for this match and since they are in a mainstay WWF territory, he gets a bigger pop than Steve Austin when he comes out and eats a few turnbuckles. This is a fun match, as Lawler and Steele both use foreign objects and Lawler teases doing a moonsault, which if he did it might have made this a **** match. Unfortunately, there isn’t much action because Steele gets tired of seeing Lawler do his phantom foreign object trick and gets caught using a real one.
-In the second hour, Ross and Lawler take over commentary duties.
-Cactus Jack beats “The Road Dogg” Jesse James (w/Billy Gunn) by disqualification when Gunn interferes at 2:10:
The Outlaws go for the cheap heat by wearing New York Rangers jerseys. Before the match, Dude Love morphs into Mankind on the Titantron, who really should be in the hospital after getting locked in a freezer last week. Mankind morphs into Cactus Jack and that’s who is coming for the Outlaws in this match with a barbed wire baseball bat as the crowd goes wild and chants “ECW.” Cactus takes a nasty chair shot from James, but quickly rallies to hit a double-arm DDT, prompting the interference. Lawler is apoplectic about that because all of the weapons used didn’t bring about a disqualification, which is a justified view.
-After the match, Cactus fights the Outlaws by the entrance and out of a crate, which has been sitting there all night, comes Chainsaw Charlie, which was so stupid it cannot be put into words. If Terry Funk popped out of the box or, as Lawler mentioned, Leatherface, this would’ve been much better. The smart fans in the audience quickly realize it’s Funk and start chanting “Terry.” As it is, Charlie runs off the Outlaws with his crazy chainsaw antics.
-Call 1-900-RUMBLE-98 to register yourself in the Steve Austin pickup truck contest! It’ll cost you $1.99 or you can send a postcard to Devon, Pennsylvania.
-Kelly interviews Sable, who will be in the next RAW magazine and she says she wants to give fans a preview of what’s in the magazine, but before she can unveil a swimsuit, Marc Mero comes out and sets up a chair saying that he wants to see the show. When Kelly tells Mero to calm down, Mero calls him a third string announcer and gives him a low blow. Tom Brandi runs out when Mero berates Sable, but eats a TKO on the chair. Mero then chokes Brandi with parts of Sable’s RAW magazine. It’s unfortunate that Mero’s ring work was awful at this point because he was tearing it up with this character and it was the most entertaining he had been in years.
-Call 1-900-737-4WWF to hear about the British Bulldog’s future, or lack thereof.
-The Headbangers, the Disciples of Apocalypse, Flash Funk, and Scott Taylor come to the ring and call out Kane to get revenge. However, shortly after Kane comes down, the Undertaker makes an appearance and helps Kane clear the ring. The Undertaker then leaves, which causes him to be booed, but it’s an excellent piece of storytelling.
-Hendrix hypes the Madison Square Garden show again.
-Cole interviews WWF Tag Team Champions The New Age Outlaws, who say that they aren’t concerned about facing the Legion of Doom at the Royal Rumble because Chainsaw Charlie is trying to kill them. The interview ends with Charlie cutting through a locker room door and the Outlaws flee.
-Jim Cornette comments on the state of wrestling in 1997 and says it is awful, indicting all of the major companies, including the WWF. He doesn’t care for DX, Sable, and the New World Order. He complains about a lack of wrestling, living in Connecticut, and the Internet. Cornette says he might bring some tradition back to the WWF, thereby laying the groundwork for bringing in his NWA faction. A good rant, but Cornette’s view of traditional wrestling wasn’t going to fly in 1998.
-Steve Austin giving a Stone Cold Stunner to Santa Claus is the Sony Playstation Slam of the Week.
-Sunny comes down with her photo spread in RAW magazine and gives it to a young fan. I’m sure his mother really loved that.
-Ross announces that the WWF has begun negotiations with Mike Tyson to participate at WrestleMania XIV. The crowd boos that and Lawler mentions how Vince McMahon talking to Mike Tyson threatens global security.
-A video package chronicles Owen Hart’s return to the WWF.
-WWF Championship Match: Owen Hart beats “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels (Champion w/Chyna) by disqualification when Triple H breaks a crutch over Owen’s head at 7:47 shown:
Interestingly, Earl Hebner is the referee for this match and Michaels humorously mocks a fan telling Owen to look behind him to avoid a flying axe handle. Owen dominates the early going until Chyna trips him. Owen sells a sleeper spot really well, panicking when it gets put on and trying to punch his way towards the ropes. Owen runs through his usual spots for near-falls and the crowd becomes unglued when he catches Shawn with an enziguri and applies the Sharpshooter. However, Triple H, who came down to the ringside a few minutes into the match interferes and Michaels keeps the title. Looking back, Owen should’ve gotten the title here for two weeks and then dropped it back to Michaels before the Royal Rumble. It would’ve given them two weeks to hype a rematch and would have allowed them to give Owen a trial run as champion. The crowds were really into his “lone Hart” act upon his return, but when he was shuffled back down to the midcard that aura disappeared. Rating: ***¾
-After the match, Triple H whacks Owen with his other crutch, thereby transitioning his match with Michaels into a feud between them.
The Final Report Card: This was a fantastic episode of RAW. It would’ve been better for Shawn Michaels-Owen Hart to headline a pay-per-view, but for political reasons this was the best that we were going to get. The crowd was hot for everything on this show and the show also set up a lot of great storylines for 1998. Austin is heading into the Royal Rumble as a wrecking machine, D-Generation X is angering everyone in the company and stirring the pot, the Undertaker continues to refuse to face Kane, who in turn is destroying the roster, Cactus Jack is waging war against the New Age Outlaws, and the Rock is slowly becoming one of the most entertaining heels in the company. Coupled with the talents of Owen Hart, Taka Michinoku, Terry Funk, Ken Shamrock and others it is not surprising that the company soon overtook WCW, whose main event scene was growing stagnant. This show also gave lots of hope to loyal WWF fans because the 3.6 rating was the highest ever for a RAW episode that went head-to-head with Nitro up to this point and it was a significant improvement over the 2.1 rating that the company drew for the first RAW of 1997.
With 1997 now out of the way, what would you like to see reviewed next on the blog? Other writers seem to have WCW covered, but I have a large collection of old footage that I taped, so I have 1993-1999 RAW’s, old Saturday Night’s Main Events, the old Coliseum Video “Best Of’s”, Action Zone seasons, 1991-1992 Prime Time Wrestling, Superstars 1994-1997, 1995-1997 USWA, and 1997-1998 Shotgun Saturday Night. Just post below and whatever seems to get the most votes we will move forward with.
Monday Night War Rating: 3.6 (vs. 4.6 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation: Thumbs Up