Skip to main content

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw - January 6, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Last week a plurality of readers wanted to move onto 1997, so that's where we are headed.  According to Jim Cornette, 1997 is the year that laid the foundation for the late 1990s boom period, which allowed the WWF to regain its place as the top wrestling promotion in North America.  Some of the Nielsen ratings for these Raw's are not great, but the storylines improve throughout the year and as Cornette attests, created a new product that revolutionized the business.  So, let's start reviewing the 1997 season of Monday Night Raw.

-Vince McMahon and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are taped from Albany, New York.

-Opening Toughman Contest:  Mankind pins Owen Hart (w/Clarence Mason) with a stump piledriver at 7:02 shown:

Owen is subbing for the British Bulldog in this contest and he and Mankind have an interesting battle between Owen’s Slammy and Mankind’s chair.  Just so you know, the Slammy wins.  It’s hard to tell who’s side the crowd is on, since they hate both guys.  Owen takes a brutal shot to the head with a cooler near the end of the match and a blind charge allows Mankind to hit a piledriver for the finish.  These two had some nice chemistry and the transitions between technical wrestling and brawling were very smooth.  Rating:  **½

-Jose Lothario and Shawn Michaels are backstage and Lothario says that Michaels is going to win the WWF title back at the Royal Rumble.  Jose’s son Pete reiterates that and Michaels says that he’ll be doing guest commentary for the Bret Hart-Vader main event tonight.

-Footage of Ahmed Johnson’s altercation with the Nation of Domination on Shotgun Saturday Night is shown.

-The Honky Tonk Man joins McMahon and Lawler for commentary.  Honky is in the midst of scouting talent for someone that he can manage.

-Doug Furnas & Philip LaFon defeated The Fake Razor Ramon & The Fake Diesel when Furnas pins Ramon after a modified Doomsday Device at 9:02 shown:

With the tag team division in flux, this sort of functions like a number one contenders match for Owen and the Bulldog’s belts.  The Fake Diesel is clearly the star of the Fakes, as he brings some much needed energy to the contest after the Fake Razor puts the crowd to sleep with armbars.  Unfortunately, the crowd isn’t into Furnas and LaFon at all here and they have very little sympathy for them when the Fakes do their beat down.  This was one of those matches that you watch that you want to see end, but it just kept going and going.  Rating:  **

-Hunter Hearst Helmsley throwing Goldust into Marlena on last week’s show is shown.  Marlena flashing the Sultan on Shotgun Saturday Night is also shown.

-Bret Hart tells the announce crew that if Shawn Michaels wants to interfere tonight he can go right ahead because he’ll be ready for it.  He also says he’s ready for Vader and then gets angry when Sid’s music starts during his interview time.

-Jim Ross interviews WWF Champion Sid, who says that he was born the man and he’ll overcome the odds and defeat Shawn Michaels at the Royal Rumble.  Shawn Michaels comes out to do color commentary and starts dancing and stripping on the announce table.  This leads to some unintentional hilarity as Sid starts smiling at his dance and nodding his head.  I think you can find a .gif of this sequence on the Internet.

-Call 1-900-737-4WWF to find if Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin could co-exist as tag team partners.

-Dok Hendrix hypes the next Madison Square Garden card, where Sid will defend the WWF title against the Undertaker, Shawn Michaels will face Mankind, Goldust collides with Steve Austin, Bret Hart squares off with Vader, and Ahmed Johnson and Savio Vega challenge Faarooq and Crush.

-Ahmed Johnson giving the Pearl River Plunge to a member of the Nation of Domination on a car on Shotgun Saturday Night is the Starburst Fruit Twists Rewind segment.

-Vader pins Bret “the Hitman” Hart with a Vader Bomb at 8:03 shown:

Jim Cornette is not at Vader’s side, nor will he be from this point forward, because the Undertaker Tombstoned him on WWF Superstars.  I’m really surprised that they would waste this pay-per-view caliber match on free TV, but that shows you what kind of booking funk Vader has been in since SummerSlam.  We get a very physical match in the early going, with Bret using the stairs, but Vader using his girth in flying at Bret to generate an advantage.  Bret is able to block a Vader Bomb and take control, but when the action spills to the floor, Sid comes and grabs a camera man.  Steve Austin comes out and gives Bret a Stunner, which the camera fails to catch, and Vader uses that interference to pick up his biggest victory in a while.  The victory gives Vader some needed momentum heading into the Royal Rumble and also continues the Bret-Austin feud.  This match was also a little refreshing because Bret tended to win big matches like this on Raw.  This match could’ve been better, but they did what they could with their limited TV time  Rating:  **½

-The camera backstage shows Sid beating up Pete Lothario and powerbombing him on a table before Michaels can get backstage.

The Final Report Card:  The first Raw of 1997 had some good wrestling and showed that 1997 was going to have more “attitude” than 1996.  The feuds that the WWF was building had multiple dimensions and the tangled web that encompassed Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Sid, and Steve Austin would help carry the company to an entertaining year.  This show is an easy thumbs up because of the good work during the main event and the opener.

Monday Night War Rating:  2.1 (vs. 3.0 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up


  1. 1997 is my favorite year for wrestling TV.  Everything mattered and it was really exciting.  The clips from Shotgun show why that show was awesome and I wish I had it in my area before it just became a C show.  One thing I found really funny was:

    -Call 1-900-737-4WWF to find if Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin could co-exist as tag team partners.

    So if you called in and wasted your money did you just get a recording of somebody saying very slowly Nnnnnnnnnnnnnoooooooooooooooooo?

  2. 1997 just always puts a smile on my face. So much historical significance, and so much to like. The only thing that was really out-right bad was the Gang Wars, but even that kinda had a purpose in the storylines. I would take Gang Wars over poor comedy segments and guest hosts any day of the week.


Post a Comment