Friday, January 16, 2015

WWF RAW: January 6, 1997

1996 was a lot of fun ... for the folks at Turner. WCW was the hottest show on the planet, delivering the goods regularly. There were twists, good storyline progression, and a complete overhaul of the roster. The WWF was suffering, however, with a depleted roster, and near financial ruin. So how, from a quality standpoint, did the WWF turn RAW into the tightest, highest rated program in wrestling history?

Seems impossible. But it happened; and we’ll watch their progression as they combat the heat from WCW, and the edge of ECW, all year. No matter how many shots of Shawn Michaels’ bare ass we see along the way.


VADER promises the end of Bret Hart. They’ll face off in our main event.

We are TAPED from Albany, New York. A grunting VINCE MCMAHON and a squealing JERRY LAWLER are your hosts.

OWEN HART (with Clarence Mason and Slammy) vs. MANKIND (with Paul Bearer and Urn)

Mankind is still in full-fledged deranged freak mode here, dressed like a giant deuce, and rocking violently in the corner. Owen tries to lock on the Sharpshooter immediately, but Mankind dives into the ropes for safety. He hangs on, refusing to release until Owen backs off. And as soon as he does, Mankind knocks him into the corner and drives a knee into Owen’s face. All up in his grill, Mankind starts clawing at his face and squealing like a pig. Owen tries to fight off the Mandable Claw attempt by throwing elbows in Mankind’s face until he releases. He stomps on Mick’s hand to take away his ability to use the finisher, but Mankind fires back right away with a Cactus Clothesline. Mankind grabs a chair, but Owen kicks him in the ribs and hotshots Foley across the guardrail. Yowch! Back in, Owen works over Mankind’s midsection, before dropping him with a spinning heel kick. Sharpshooter is threatened, but it’s actually a stomp to the pooter. Owen applies an abdominal stretch; which seems counter-productive since I’m fairly sure Foley doesn’t have any abs. Mick escapes, and eats an enzuigiri of DEATH. Mankind hits the ground, and Owen’s all over him, but winds up getting whipped into the guardrail. Mick finds ... is that a kitty litter box? What the hell? He smacks Owen upside the head, and we take a break.

Back from the time out, and Mankind’s hitting a swinging neckbreaker. A second attempt is blocked with a DDT, and Owen heads up – diving right into the Mandable Claw. Owen hits a desperation enzuigiri, but can’t follow up, charging right into the ring post shoulderfirst, and succumbing to a spike piledriver at 7:11. **1/2

Backstage, SHAWN MICHAELS and JOSE LOTHARIO are here. Lothario suffered an attack from Sid Vicious a couple of weeks ago, positively heinous actions against a 70+ year old man, that promptly made him the biggest babyface in the company. Lothario promises he isn’t going anywhere, and has brought his son PETE LOTHARIO to watch his back. I was JUST thinking that there weren’t enough Lothario’s in the company. The clear company direction has to see Pete turn on his father and join Bret Hart at Wrestlemania 13, to defeat Shawn Michaels for the strap. Do NOT bet against this.

NOT DIESEL and NOT RAZOR RAMON vs. DOUG FURNAS and PHILLIP LAFON

HONKY TONK MAN joins the commentary team, continuing his search for a guitar playing, hip wiggling superstar he can mentor. Vince McMahon is the only one in the world who has no problem with this Diesel/Razor nonsense, chuckling away as “BIG DADDY COOL DIESEL” tosses Lafon around the ring. Razor hits a fallaway slam, but Lafon comes back with a number of chops. Snap suplex brings in Furnas, but Razor immediately works him over in the corner. “Bret the Hitman Hart facing off with the Man They Call OOOOH WHATTASHOT!” Tony Schiavone is forgiven for everything ever. Furnas throws Razor with an overhead belly to belly, but Razor blocks a follow up German. Diesel gets in a cheap shot from behind, and tags in. Furnas puts up a fight, but Not Kevin Nash is just far too slow and methodical for him. Razor hits a swanky pumphandle suplex, and that takes us to a commercial.

Poor Doug Furnas is on the receiving end of a sidewalk slam, and Diesel gets 2. McMahon is in awe of Razor and Diesel’s effectiveness as a tag-team. The NotSiders double team Furnas, and Diesel hits the leg straddle. A leg drop misses, and he’s in enough pain that Furnas gets in a dropkick and makes the tag to Lafon. The fans start booing the ever loving shit out of this. An enzuigiri takes down Diesel, and the spinning heel kick gets a near 2. Lafon hits a sunset flip, and Furnas pushes him over with the dropkick, but Diesel kicks out. Razor tags in to an overhead hammerlock suplex, and Furnas tags in. Razor goes for Razor’s Edge, but Lafon saves, and Furnas hits a Frankensteiner for 2. Diesel is dumped stop his slow interference, and the Can-Am finishes with a Hart Attack into a bridged pin for the win at 9:17. I love me some Furnas and Lafon, but there ain’t no one carrying McMahon’s brainfart to anything watchable. *

BRET HART chats with McMahon, and brings up the fact Shawn Michaels is going to be sitting ringside during his match. Vince says Shawn’s promised not to interfere, which Hart blows off since Shawn has no integrity. Hart would actually prefer he try and stick his nose in his match, so he can mop the floor with the Boy Toy. He has more to say, but is cut off by Sid’s entrance music, and storms off looking seriously pissed at the disrespect.

JIM ROSS plans himself in the ring to chat with WWF Champion SYCHO SID. Sid’s walking into “hostile territory” in San Antonio against Shawn Michaels at the Royal Rumble; but Sid isn’t intimidated by anyone or anything. Not man, not wolf, not squeegee. He vows to walk into and out of San Antonio The Man, due to his being the Master and Ruler of the World and all.

SHAWN MICHAELS and JOSE LOTHARIO skip down to ringside, and Shawn does a striptease on McMahon’s announce table, getting all sorts of unnatural noises emanating from Vince. Let us all be thankful he didn’t decide to floss his ass with a studded vest. Sid apologizes to Shawn ... for what he’s going to do to him later. Shawn responds by removing his pants and wiggling his hips. YOUR LEAD BABYFACE LADIES AND GERMS!

BRET HART vs. VADER

Cornette is nowhere to be seen, of course, having been stuffed into Undertaker’s body bag at the tail end of Superstars yesterday. I don’t know if it’s just because we’ve seen so many big fat guys since then, but Vader doesn’t seem as physically imposing today as he did 18 years ago. Vader tosses Bret to the floor, where he ... allows Bret to whip him into the stairs. That’s followed by a whip to the ringpost, and a whip to the guardrail. That didn’t exactly work out for Vader. Michaels lambasts Bret for claiming to be a man of integrity, while he’d happily whack you with a chair the second he was given an opportunity. Vince McMahon gives a hearty guffaw and tells Shawn he’s the most straight up superstar in WWF history. I’d suggest getting them a room, but it’s clear they’ve made this platform exactly that. Vader turns things around with a hard body-block, and start working over Bret with his giant hams in the corner. Vader comes off the top with a clothesline, as we catch a glimpse of STEVE AUSTIN watching in the backstage area, taking us to commercial.

Vader’s in full control when we get back, headed up to the second rope and delivering a pretty nasty looking splash – which Bret is lucky to kick out of at 2. Shawn continues to slag Bret in a fairly unnatural way for baby on baby action… and I love it. The complexity of their issues runs so deep that it trumps the way a babyface “should act”, and as a result they come across a little more human. Assuming, of course, regular humans gave lapdances to Vince McMahon while a middle aged fat guy in a jockstrap mask tries to kill a middle aged regular sized guy about 8 feet away. The Vaderbomb is blocked with the knees, but Vader sells it poorly, stopping the “bomb” about a foot from the connection point. Bret nails the Russian legsweep, while Shawn starts pointing out that Bret’s doing the exact same moveset he does every match. Axehandle sets up the backdrop suplex for a 2. A crossbody block takes both guys to the floor, and Bret throws a headbutt. SYCHO SID returns to ringside, and steals the cameraman for some reason. Vader ties up the referee in a heated discussion about high level chess, while STEVE AUSTIN runs down to give Bret the Stunner in the aisle. Hart’s sent back in, and this time the Vaderbomb hits for the win at 8:40. This was a disjointed mess, both guys are far better than this. *1/2

In the back, SYCHO SID has PETE LOTHARIO, and powerbombs him ON to a table in his locker room. No, not through it, that sucker had no give! Shawn dashes to the locker room, with Jose hobbling behind, but it’s too late. Michaels is an emotional disaster, screaming uncontrollably, while McMahon wishes us a good night!


This … was probably not the best RAW to start with. We have a long, long way to go.

79 comments:

  1. I hate to be that guy, but Owen wasn't the IC Champion at this time, he and Bulldog were tag champions though. I think Triple H was IC Champ.

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  2. Be that guy. It's what my comment was gonna be if you didn't say it first. The reviewer probably saw Owen carry down the tag belt and got confused. Honest mistake.

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  3. You're always welcome to be that guy, and you're absolutely right. And the worst part is, I KNEW this because I just bloody recapped Superstars where Hunter was carrying the belt. I'll issue a correction.

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  4. Yes, I know Rocky had the belt through Wrestlemania because he had that dull defence against the Sultan, but then Owen won it from him fairly soon after the Hart Foundation reunited.

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  5. Ah back in the day where I could recite every champion

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  6. And he won it absolutely clean. That shocked me back then.

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  7. Give that man a guitar and Shawn would have been Honky's man!

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  8. There's guys that can still draw heat in TNA?

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  9. Ask the iwc they hate BRYAN chasing the title. He needs to be super champion of the world defending with honor integrity and a tissue for their wrestling boners

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  10. Ah the era where Steve Austin viciously attacked Bret Hart at EVERY opportunity. Showing more legitimate looking hatred towards another wrestler than I've ever seen.

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  11. No kidding. Haven't we learned anything from the way Hulk Hogan nearly bankrupted WWF in the 1980's?

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  12. Yeah, the inclusion of Goldberg here just completely gives away the game. What do you do with Goldberg after December 1998? You match him up against Ric Flair, Bret Hart, Sting, and every other upper level guy the fans want to see get a shot at ending the streak you have, and you print gobs and gobs of money.

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  13. According to ewrestlingnews, the attendance was only 325 people for that show.

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  14. Not only does it look bad aesthetically, but if an assault or something takes place in the pitch black then TNA could be liable.

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  15. Except Hogan showed weakness, could cut promos to get people to the arena, and was so over ANYONE who attacked him became a top flight heel.

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  16. I'll give you Austin though. Rarely showed weakness, and it didn't matter.

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  17. Wouldn't you have to be high to watch this shit?

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  18. I bought a TNA DVD just for an Angle/Joe match eight years ago.

    I PAID MONEY. FOR SOMETHING FROM TNA. Just for an Angle/Joe match.

    So, yes, I do remember.

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  19. I think Austin showed "weakness" in the sense that he was feuding with the guy who owned the company and could, conceivably, do whatever he wanted. But yeah, Austin always came out the winner every week, humiliated McMahon in the process, and the crowd ate it up. Hogan was working in a different TV environment, but he was also bodyslamming huge guys, no selling finishers, and rarely was made vulnerable unless he was Pearl Harbored. The point is, strong bad guys on top might make for the best story-telling scenarios, but they don't make you money. Wrestling is ultimately a live action comic book, and people want to see the good guys come out on top.

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  20. Exactly, Hogan always drew money, but he drew the most money against Andre, a guy that was Hogan's equal. Same with Austin, he always drew money but he drew the most against The Rock and Undertaker, two guys that were positioned on the same level as him.

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  21. Which is why TNA needs to not have ONE STORY dominating everything about the company...so that you can build up multiple top level guys who operate in their own little worlds, so to speak...until it's time to match them up in the big money match. Like Austin-Rock at WM 15 and 17 or Hogan-Warrior at WM 6.

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  22. kbwrestlingreviewsJanuary 17, 2015 at 8:03 AM

    The fact that they can't draw 1100 (I believe that's a full house there) people in a city of eight million people (twenty million metro) which happens to be the smark wrestling capital of the world is really pitiful.

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  23. I don't post very often, but dude, you're a great contributor to this site. Way better than that fat girl who used to write about DDP yoga.

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  24. I know there were financial reasons, but running the same place 3 nights in a row when you can't sell out there *once* isn't a good idea. I don't think there's anything I'd go see three nights in a row, let alone TNA.

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  25. I didn't even think about what it's like to sit in such darkness, aye.

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  26. So what's the consensus - did Shawn ever grab Vince's brass rings while Vince yelled '1... 2... FAHGAEDADBOUT.'

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  27. What a manure!


    I'm referring to that joke..

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  28. Me thinks Shawn grabbed alot more than brass rings on his rise to top.

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  29. They should just give the fucking tickets away and make money from merch or concessions. I was interested in going, but I couldn't justify spending $40 for nosebleed seats to watch a bunch of guys I could care less about.


    They should have the front seats for pay and the rest of the house could be free of charge. Here in NYC, almost all TV shows are free to get in and a lot even pay audience members $50 and up to attend the show. Having free tickets would expose more people to the product and make it look more exciting for the TV audience. I guess they'd rather have empty seats though...

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  30. So... who is going to add "Fothergill" to the urban dictionary?


    where can i sign up to rewrite Keith's old material and pass it off as my own?

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  31. Well, they did have free entry in the Impact Zone, and crowd reactions got so bad by the end that they were just desperate to leave. Make a product people would want to pay to see and people should come. But as is abundantly clear already, this is just a badly produced version of the same show nobody wanted to pay to see last year, so there's no point. I'd abandon these recaps and focus on something with more of a future, like WCW 1996.

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  32. I remember this Raw having a drop during the show to something like a 1.7 during a segment.

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  33. Has Danimal posted his report somewhere or did he tap out?

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  34. If I was raped at a TNA show it would be the highlight if the night.

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  35. Man oh man, I hated Shawn back then

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  36. Oh good, more Eric Young.

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  37. Worst_in_the_WorldJanuary 17, 2015 at 9:06 AM

    Jesus Christ, cancel this fucking show already and let these guys find work as garbage men or whatever the fuck.

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  38. Nice review, but stick with it, buried in the crap is some good stuff. I love watching the 97-98 WWE comeback.

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  39. I didn't hold out MUCH hope for these TNA shows, but I'm surprised slightly by just how depressing they actually are.

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  40. "Yep Mode" Abeyance Brown ©January 17, 2015 at 9:19 AM

    He said he was going to watch the show at a later time, then review it. I'd say expect it sometime tonight or tomorrow.

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  41. "Yep Mode" Abeyance Brown ©January 17, 2015 at 9:22 AM

    I agree with the Bear Down Clan, but the Revolution actually fairs better as a stable name.

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  42. I hope Dixie and TNA carries on forever because I'll always need something to laugh at.

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  43. Honky Tonk Man's new protege was the single most disappointing angle to me in years. Don't ask me why i was actually excited about the prospect of a Disco Inferno WWF run but i was and i bought the rumours.


    Then Billy Gunn came out.


    Owen Hart vs Mankind and Bret Hart vs Vader sound like winners on paper at least. Trust me this show doesn't come close to matching the real sub-par Raws.

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  44. TNA loves their heel factions.

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  45. Good grief you're annoying. You should go one day without using the fictional IWC as your self-esteem boner.

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  46. Shawn wins the title at the Rumble then lays down for Bret after that right?

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  47. I really wish 1997 Raws were on the Network because I've never seen a minute of 1997 WWF and I don't like watching PPVs without context.

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  48. WHAT'S EARL "THE TRASH COMPACTOR" CROESE DOING IN THE IMPACT ZONE?

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  49. According to the same report, they sold out on the third night for the taping of Lockdown? But yeah...ROH always sells out in Manhattan at venues with more seats, but ROH also doesn't run three nights in a row. That would be losing money.

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  50. Hey, I missed out on AWA's dying days in the Big Pink Room, this is great.

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  51. I'm the WWF1987 of ROH and I wouldn't even see them three nights in a row.

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  52. I liked the show, but the heel faction thing is really getting redundant.

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  53. The Love-Matic Grampa!January 17, 2015 at 10:18 AM

    "The Family" is a much better name than "Beat Down Clan" and MVP kept referring to the former in his promo, which makes me think that was what he wanted to call the group that and got overruled.

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  54. Look at when Hogan came in. They did every single thing the naysayers were worried they would, brought in their cronies, hogged the spotlight, buried the wrestling, did Fuck all to promote them and left leaving them in financial shit. They literally have no clue about tv let alone wrestling.

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  55. Its just a bit generic.

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  56. Charismatic eNegro Jef VinsonJanuary 17, 2015 at 10:22 AM

    What was depressing about it?

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  57. Charismatic eNegro Jef VinsonJanuary 17, 2015 at 10:24 AM

    It was taped on a night that was brutally cold in NYC.

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  58. It was pretty cold here that night, but 325 is still low. That's DGUSA in January Brooklyn numbers (I'm reasonably certain that's what DGUSA drew in Brooklyn last January). The difference is DGUSA doesn't have a TV show.

    I have nothing for or against TNA, I just think running three nights in a row is a bad idea.

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  59. *looks around*

    Is this the thread I'm meant to take over with Rumble 08? Where are you Bayless?

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  60. Slammy was an underrated manager.

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  61. Very, very shortly after this it gets really good. The Network needs to hurry up.

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  62. I used to buy the X-Division DVDs back when TNA was on Fox Sports and I couldn't watch it.

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  63. Apparently so. Let's do this.

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  64. Cold enough that they could only get 300+ people? I don't buy that.

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  65. If you're going to bring up things TNA does that costs them money, we're going to be here for a long time.

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  66. Getting ready to start it right now, just finishing up breakfast. This whole waking up sober thing is crazy.

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  67. The best part of Shawn doing that strip tease on the table is Sid looking at him smiling like the world's biggest goof and nodding his head.

    Man, Sid was awesome in so many ways.

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  68. It's crazy, just completely crazy, that we're a year past launch now and the only Attitude stuff that's gone up really was that blowjob of a MNW series.

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  69. I was 16-17 years old during their feud, basically as smart as any teenager could be in that era, and STILL I was certain those two absolutely fucking hated each other, like more than Shawn/Bret that feud felt 100% real at all times.

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  70. Handles small corrections like a human being on top of being a damn good recapper? Dude you're well on your way to being Top 5 BoD writer of all time.

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  71. "Yep Mode" Abeyance Brown ©January 17, 2015 at 11:46 AM

    Would you prefer that they be called "The Storm Chasers"?

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  72. So, everyone here who complained incessantly about dbry fighting Orton and not winning the title Re fictional? Good to know champ! Sorry my comment left you upset enough to respond. Next time I see you I'll buy you a pizza.

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  73. It's the greatest year of wrestling television ever produced.

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  74. I vividly remember this episode because of the Sid powerbomb on the table. Awesome angle.

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  75. I liked Meekin, but agreed - never leave. Or at least tell us where you're going so we can follow you!

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  76. Not to mention that they could have built up Raven for a rematch with Goldberg instead of turning him into a Ferris Bueller parody. Raven could have argued that Goldberg had been ducking him ever since he beat Raven for the U.S. title because he knew that Raven would win the rematch and voila, there's another challenger that Goldberg could have drawn another PPV main event with.

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  77. After March 97

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