Friday, March 6, 2015

WWF Shotgun Saturday Night: February 1, 1997

Last week on wrestling’s biggest trainwreck…

Cultstatus: It's a shame we never got a proper Foley/Bret feud. No two guys had better psychology.

That would have been absolutely beautiful. While an unmotivated Bret is amongst some of the worst TV imaginable, he was a huge Mick Foley supporter and I have very little doubt a full-fledged blood feud would have generated some incredible stuff. Heading into the fall of 1997, Dude Love trying to capture his childhood dream of winning the WWF title against a guy he (kayfabe) idolized in the mid-80’s versus a grouchy old anti-American gets my blood tingling. But, French Canadian cities ruin everything.

TODD PETTENGILL can’t believe we’re back at the Mirage, home of the first laughably bad edition of Shotgun Saturday Night! Walking around the streets of New York is PAUL BEARER with the urn. His beloved Mankind has been missing for 2 hours. A smart phone could have solved so many problems in the 90’s. MANKIND emerges from a dark alley and nearly gets run over by a car. VADER angrily grills him about his whereabouts, which is when Mick confesses that last week’s grinding, dancing, and sex has created a new Man(Kind), and the club is his calling. His sick, half-crazed grin just seals this segment, Mankind is the boss.


A grunting VINCE MCMAHON and SUNNY welcome us to the club. They quickly run down the card, but I’m not one to spoil these things! This show looks like it was filmed in the dark ages, with half the crowd smoking indoors and nobody giving it a second thought.

VADER (with Paul Bearer) vs. AHMED JOHNSON

MANKIND beats Vader into the building, and starts crawling around the stripper stage before spotting Sunny at the announce table. She beats it out of there faster than Usain Bolt, so Mick takes over commentary. He admits the headset feels comfortable against his missing ear. Vince invites him to stay, and Mankind is happy to oblige, rocking back and forth in the guest chair while Sunny holds her nose to cover up the vile smell. Vince cheers on Ahmed’s decision to carry a 2x4 as “the great equalizer”, but Mankind calls him a coward. “We are NOT the Nation of Domination, and might I mention Uncle Paul is a man of peace! So I say for Ahmed Johnson to carry that weapon in here should be an automatic disqualification, and a disgrace to people like me!” Why wasn’t this guy put on commentary, he’s awesome. I’ll need to get in Vince’s ear and make it happen. Vader shows off his enormous arms and pounds Ahmed in the corner, and Mankind declares Johnson on “queer street”. “HIT HIM FOR ME BIG MAN!” Ahmed no sells a number of clotheslines, and begs Vader to hit him again. Vader obliges, and Johnson hits the mat faster than Gabby Jay. Still, he gets up with some rage in his eyes, and he clobbers Vader in the corner. Vince tries to set Sunny and Mankind up together, and Sunny nearly vomits before Mick lays the smack down: “Don’t flatter yourself hunny, I have eyes for that girl who had eyes for me last week!” Vader is kicked to the floor, so Mankind hits the ring to “keep the peace” as we take a break.

On return, Mankind has returned to the booth after apparently having taken a bit of a beating from Ahmed. He’s livid, because even though Ahmed has a pea-sized brain, he figures it should have been clear he wasn’t looking for a fight considering he’s wearing his Sunday Best (consisting of a ratty old jean-winter jacket, green pants he likely found in a dumpster, and a cheetah print tank top underneath a black t-shirt – with the mask, of course). In fact, he’s feeling so good he probably won’t even change his clothes tomorrow either. I don’t even care about the match, I just want to listen to Mankind give us his views on every single hot button topic in the WWF. Vader goes to finish with the Vaderbomb, but Johnson stops that with a punt to the goods. Ahmed goes for the Pearl River Plunge, so Mankind rushes in with a chair for the DQ at 6:05. Both guys tease heel miscommunication, but they pull up short each time. Regardless, Ahmed steals the chair and smacks both guys. Mankind, pride hurt, crawls back to the announce table to put the headphones back on because the soft earpieces are a newfound comfort that he has no interest in giving up. *

Elsewhere in the club, THE HEADBANGERS are pouring hot wax on themselves for self-entertainment.

THE BRITISH BULLDOG vs. MANKIND (with Paul Bearer)

Mankind refuses to leave the commentary booth, reminding Vince he’s only here for a good time. He tells Vince to call in anyone else, figuring Aldo Montoya would probably kill for a little TV time. Vince tells him to get his ass in the ring, but he won’t – he needs to take his mind to a dark place to inflict violence and he isn’t interested in hurting Davey today. Bulldog runs over and rips Mankind’s clothes off, but Mick won’t fight back. They head into the ring, and Bulldog works him over with more attention to detail than an Asian masseuse. He kicks Mankind out of the ring and poses … completely missing that Mankind is crawling right back to the commentary booth. “I JUST WANT TO TALK!!!!” Davey kicks him in the face, so Mankind finally has enough and starts hitting some throat thrusts. Back in, Mankind works to put Davey to sleep, and you have to assume he’s just trying to get rid of him quickly so he can go back to party. Bulldog backdrops Mankind over the top, and he lands leg first on the stage in a particularly awkward looking position. He angrily grabs some TV cables and chokes Bulldog down while Bearer wails.

TODD PETTENGILL heads into the crowd to talk to SAVIO VEGA, but he’s ordered to get the hell out of his face NOW. Back to action!

Mick drops a leg as VADER starts lumbering down to ringside. A backdrop gets 2. Vince: “ANOTHER COOKOUT! Wait, kickout. COOKOUT LATER!” That seems as fine a time as any for a commercial break.

We come back just in time to see Mankind take a sick backdrop on the hard floor. It’s amazing he didn’t retire with ridiculous amounts of kidney damage. They head back in and Bulldog goes to finish, but Mankind trips him up and sends him outside. Vader gives Bulldog a couple of snake eyes shots across the guardrail, and he’s rolled back in for the easy Mankind win at 6:42. Vader and Mankind pummel Bulldog for awhile until AHMED JOHNSON saves with his 2x4. The heels scatter, and Johnson sweats like a waterfall.

TODD PETTENGILL wants to talk to Paul Bearer about what happened, but while he squeaks and carries on about his Mankind and Vader, Bulldog has apparently taken exception to Ahmed’s presence. Ahmed picks up half his broken 2x4, and Bulldog snatches the other, but neither guy has the stones to take the first shot.

Sunny’s night fails to improve, because while HENRY GODWINN checks out the dancers, PHINEAS GODWINN takes over commentary.

SAVIO VEGA vs. JESSE JAMES

Savio rambles about his loyalty to Da Nashon Awf Domeenashon until Double J hits the ring. Of course, he stinks, and Savio’s trying to tear his face off within seconds. Savio somehow botches a snapmare, but James sells it anyway and finds himself locked in an armbar. Savio goes for a ton of consecutive pinfalls, but it’s no more successful the 4th time than the 1st. A dangerous looking stuff piledriver connects; and it’s amazing this thing didn’t cause more broken necks than … well, we’ll save that for later in the year. A rear chinlock chews up more time off the clock, while Phineas starts talking about Sunny’s slopping. She bats her eyes at Phineas and tells him “we don’t want to talk about that, do we?”, and he turns beet red, changing the subject immediately. James escapes with a jawbreaker, but Savio claws the eyes and sits on James’ head while screaming at Phineas about the power of the Nation. Phineas: “Is he speakin’ English?” Savio misses a blind charge, and James nails a clothesline. Shake, rattle, and roll, strut, and backdrop. The pumphandle slam is blocked, and Savio nails the spinning heel kick for the pin at 8:36. If you love 8 minutes of Absolutely Nothing, you’d dig this. For the rest of you, it should come as no surprise to learn these guys *SUCK*. -***

Just off the dance floor, MOSH throws up on THRASHER, and they eat it off each other. For fuck sakes …

THE HEADBANGERS vs. THE GODWINNS

The Godwinns wait until the dancers stop moving before making their way to the ring. This was actually the first match they held on the first show, and it came in at a whopping -**, so we’ll see if these teams can improve upon that tonight. Phineas bites Mosh, and I’m getting a sinking feeling. Henry comes in and hits a backdrop, and for some reason Mosh sells his eyes. A hiptoss is enough for Mosh, and Thrasher reluctantly makes the tag. Still, he manages to gain control on Phineas, and a double team clothesline has Mosh dancing around as we head to commercial.

Back from a quick break, Mosh flies off the top with an elbow for 2. Thrasher goes low, but Henry saves the day. Phineas gets wheelbarrowed across the top rope, and Mosh hits a leapfrog … buttsplash I guess? He rolls to the corner to get the hot tag to Henry (to absolutely ZERO reaction), and he takes Thrasher to the floor where he’s slammed in front of the drunken clubbers. A double countout is called at 5:07, and it’s JUST in time because we need to get this show off the air NOW! DUD

This was a tale of two shows. The first half was Mankind’s finest “hour”, putting on what was easily amongst my favorite work of his that I’ve seen. The match was nothing special, but he knows *exactly* who Mankind is and how he wants to play him, never once breaking his twisted character. This was an early template to the Vince/Mankind love-affair we’d seen in about 18 months.

However, the roster is lacking some serious depth, and beyond a handful of prime-cut players, it’s just the dregs. Jesse James is barely someone you can call a professional at this point (blood be damned), the tag-team division is a disaster beyond maybe two teams (neither of whom were here tonight), and the entire Nation of Domination really needs to go the hell away because the whole group is just death to entertainment.


With the exception of Rocky Maivia; it’s clear who the big breakout players are going to be, because they stand head and shoulders above everyone else and it’s not even close. Mankind is God! The rest are peasants, and they need to begone.

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