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What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw - February 19, 1997

by Logan Scisco

-Jim Ross and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Nashville, Tennessee.  Ross informs us that the Undertaker has been penciled in to face the WWF champion at WrestleMania XIII.  That’s a good booking decision since the Undertaker was the runner-up in the Final Four match and he was the crowd favorite.

-WWF Champion Bret Hart and Sid come out for their championship match to start the show, but Steve Austin runs out and goes after Bret.  When WWF officials separate them, Sid starts going after Austin and Austin gives him a chop block before leaving.  Bret wants to start the match, but WWF officials get Sid to leave the ring.  A good opening segment, albeit disjointed since no one had any clue what was happening after Austin was escorted to the back.

-Shawn Michaels' “Lost Smile” speech is shown.

-Ross and Lawler narrate pictures from last night’s Final Four match.

-Kevin Kelly interviews Sid, who says that he would still compete against Bret Hart with a broken leg.  Kelly tells us that Sid will face Bret later in the evening.

-Call 1-900-737-SLAM to vote for the New Sensation of the Squared Circle for this year’s Slammy Awards.  Your nominees are Steve Austin, “Wildman” Marc Mero, Flash Funk, Mankind, and Rocky Maivia.  That’s a pretty loaded ballot, since three of those guys were the backbone of the company for the rest of the 1990s.

-Opening Contest:  “Wildman” Marc Mero (w/Sable) defeats Savio Vega (w/the Nation of Domination) by disqualification when the Nation interfere at 4:16 shown:

You may not expect the Nation to be over in the South, but quite a few fans mimic the Nation’s salute.  Sable’s push as an aggressive valet continues in this one, as she  weakly kicks JC Ice on the floor, but to Ice’s credit he sells it like a million bucks.  As the match proceeds to go nowhere, Sable is surrounded by the Nation, so she goes into the ring and the Nation follows, leading the referee to call for the bell.  However, Ahmed Johnson shows up with a 2x4 in some weird orange clothing that looks like it came from a Nailz yard sale and makes the save.  This match was just filler for the Nation-Ahmed angle so it could reach its next phase.  Rating:  *

-Ross and Lawler interview WWF Champion Bret Hart, who says that he can’t worry about Austin interjecting himself into his business and isn’t worried about possibly facing the Undertaker at WrestleMania XIII.

-Intercontinental Championship Match:  “The Rock” Rocky Maivia (Intercontinental Champion) pins Leif Cassidy with a shoulderbreaker at 9:31:

Sunny comes out before the match and briefly flirts with Maivia before taking her position as our guest timekeeper.  Hunter Hearst Helmsley cuts a promo during a slow period in the match, where Maivia has an armbar applied, and says that Maivia is a lucky punk and his feud with Goldust isn’t over.  With the crowd dead, they try to pull some shortcuts, with Maivia scoring some random near-falls, but it doesn’t work.  Maivia eventually pulls off a comeback after Cassidy spends a while working the arm and secures the second defense of his Intercontinental title.  Quite the boring match, even if it was technically sound.  Rating:  *½

-In a somewhat famous segment, Lawler reaches into the crowd near the announce table and grabs an “ECW Rules” sign and proceeds to run down the promotion.  Lawler challenges ECW to come on RAW next week when the WWF is in the Manhattan Center.  He can’t help to put himself over, though, by saying that a sign that had his name on it was confiscated on WCW Monday Nitro.

-“The Real Double J” Jesse James’ appearance on Real Country Tonight, where he sang “With My Baby Tonight” appearance on Real Country Tonight is shown.

-Ross and Lawler narrate pictures from the Maivia-Helmsley Intercontinental title match from In Your House.

-Kelly interviews Goldust and Marlena and Goldust says he is not going to let Hunter Hearst Helmsley near Marlena.  Marlena says Goldust is all man and he’s a better man than Helmsley.  This brings Helmsley out and he Pedigrees Goldust.  Marlena slaps Helmsley, but the mystery woman who attacked Marlena last night at In Your House (Chyna) bearhugs Marlena from behind and shakes her like a rag doll.  The interview was very sub-par, but this did a good job advancing the heel side of what turned out to be a very one sided feud.

-The Headbangers defeat The Hardy Boys at 3:58 when Thrasher pinned Jeff after a powerbomb-flying leg drop combination at 3:58:

The Hardy Boys are clearly on some type of muscle building substance because they are no longer the flyweights that they were in 1995.  Faarooq challenges Ahmed to a Chicago street fight at WrestleMania in the split screen, which makes Ross happy.  The Headbangers are reckless with the bodies of their young opponents, with Mosh slamming Matt too close to the ropes and barely getting him up for a suplex-flying body press combination.  A basic tag squash, but it’s more notable today for who lost than who won.

-Dok Hendrix hypes the next Madison Square Garden show on March 16th.  The card sees the Undertaker face Vader in a casket match, Bret Hart square off with Steve Austin in a no disqualification match, and Shawn Michaels face Sid in a steel cage match.  Well, I guess that’s why they say “card subject to change” because Michaels won’t be making that steel cage match.

-They try to do the WWF championship match again, but Steve Austin attacks Bret in the back and Sid soon runs backstage to beat up Austin.  WWF officials and Vince McMahon, who Sid nearly clocks in the scuffle, separate all parties.

-Kelly interviews WWF President Gorilla Monsoon, who takes a tacit shot against WCW by saying that the WWF isn’t like other companies and delivers on its promises and that Bret Hart and Sid will face each other for the WWF championship tonight.

-Owen Hart (w/Clarence Mason) defeats Flash Funk (w/the Funkettes) with a spinning heel kick at 8:31 shown:

I’m surprised that the WWE hasn’t considered signing Funk and bringing him in as a tag team partner for Brodus Clay.  In a nice touch that demonstrates his selfishness, Owen brings both of the tag team title belts to the ring with him.  Paul Heyman calls into the show and promises to show up with ECW at the Manhattan Center and gets into a verbal spat with Lawler over his company.  Mason distracts Owen from putting on a Sharpshooter and Owen is not happy, thereby sowing the seeds of Mason’s dismissal as the manager of the tag team champions.  Mason is sent to the locker room and the British Bulldog takes his place.  Steve Austin appears in the split screen and rants about how he’s being held back and he’s mad so that’s why he’s beating everyone up in sight.  If you can stay focused on the match and not the interruptions, you are treated to a good match where Funk busts out his high impact offense, but Owen keeps kicking out and the Bulldog clocks Funk in the back of the head with a Slammy when he runs the ropes and holds down Funk’s foot for the ending pin.  Rating:  ***

-Hunter Hearst Helmsley tells Ross that he doesn’t know who the woman is that keeps attacking Marlena and he doesn’t care.

-Bart Gunn defeats Hunter Hearst Helmsley by count out at 4:10:

The Honky Tonk Man is doing guest commentary as he continues to scout talent for his pet project.  A whole bunch of nothing is what we get out of this, as Bart works the arm for a couple of minutes before Goldust runs in and chases Helmsley into the crowd.  Rating:  DUD

-Hendrix hypes the Madison Square Garden show some more.

-Dr. James Andrews says that Shawn Michaels is not going to have surgery on his knee, but will rehabilitate it at his home in San Antonio and will be able to return to the ring.

-WWF Championship Match:  Sid pins Bret “the Hitman” Hart with a powerbomb to win the title at 11:17 shown:

Sid doesn’t bother selling the leg that Austin chop blocked at the beginning of the show and Bret doesn’t attack it in the first couple of minutes, which is a big plot hole that’s hard to overlook in this one.  Bret plays the Cena role here, with women and children rooting for him and the men in the audience, who are more vocal, rooting for Sid.  It’s always uncomfortable to watch Sid’s legs get worked over in a match since his accident in WCW.  I get the feeling that they are going to break like twigs at any moment when Bret starts stretching them.  Speaking of that WCW incident, Sid goes to the second rope in this match and nearly falls off, showing that he’s not that comfortable jumping off the buckles to begin with.  The ring post figure-four spot makes its debut in this match, but I always felt that move was counterproductive since the guy applying it runs the risk of banging their head on the floor (which Bret did at Starrcade 1999 and got a second concussion in his match with Goldberg) and you can’t get a legal submission from it.  Sid actually tries a sunset flip in this match, but Bret rolls through and applies a Sharpshooter.  However, before Sid can submit, Steve Austin takes a chair and smashes it over Bret’s head and Sid seizes the advantage and shocks the world by winning his second WWF championship.  The crowd is pretty ecstatic, though, because they didn’t anticipate seeing a title change.  The match built a good pace after the commercial break and the crowd really got into it, but Sid’s refusal to sell a lot of the leg damage hurts it significantly.  Rating:  ***

-After the match, the Undertaker comes to the ring and we have a WrestleMania stare down to play us out.

The Final Report Card:  The Harts had the good matches on this show, which is not surprising, but what is surprising is the sudden title change.  Bret’s loss of the title was the first time since Yokozuna losing the title that this had happened in less than twenty-four hours.  In fact, this was the first WWF title change in the history of Monday Night Raw.  The title match provides us with our road to WrestleMania, whereby Sid faces the Undertaker in a main event no one is thrilled about for the WWF title and Bret Hart is pegged by proxy to face Steve Austin, who he’ll seek out to get revenge for his latest title defeat.  I’ll give this show a thumbs up because of the good Funk-Owen match, the title match, and the fact that there were some significant storylines that developed on this show, notably the ECW crossover angle, which we will touch on next week in more detail.

Show Rating:  2.1 (vs. 2.9 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up


  1. Christopher HirschJuly 3, 2012 at 1:20 PM

    Another show I remember quite well.

    I loved the figure four on the post spot and marked out like crazy when Bret first pulled it out. Felt it was very clever.

  2. The ringpost figure four was like pro wrestling in a nutshell. A move that, if you looked closely and thought about it, didn't do any damage, but if you went by your emotions (and the recipient sold it big time), it looked and seemed absolutely devastating. And the person giving the hold (has anyone done it since Bret?) had to trust his opponent to pull on his foot so he didn't bang his head too hard on the floor. Appearance and trust, the cornerstones of pro wrestling.

    And personally, I loved the move. I just let my emotions take over.

  3. I wish I'd started watching wrestling a year earlier so I would've seen these 1997 Raws. 2000's PPVs are pretty impossible to touch but from a creative standpoint, everything I've ever seen/read about 1997 looks like the best year they ever had creatively.

  4. I always thought it'd be pretty cool if someone used it to win a falls-count-anywhere match.

  5. Pretty much. It wasn't merely the creativity/quality of the shows, which was pretty darn good, but also how it felt like you were witnessing/catching a sea change in style and approach, nearly every week. The most exciting time to be a fan, for me personally.

  6. I watched all the Raws and PPV's in 1997, and they are good and it's cool to see the vast amounts of changes, but top to bottom I think 2000 is better than 1997. They had a better midcard, the main events were awesome, crowd heat was off the charts, we got more great TV matches. 

    But yeah, the Austin/Hart/Hart Foundation and Shawn/Bret and Taker/Shawn feuds were all awesome and delivered some great moments and matches.

  7. If I recall correctly at Breaking Point 2009 in the Submissions Count Anywhere match, Cody Rhodes put Shawn Michaels in the ring post figure four and Ted also had him in the Million Dollar Dream, and that got the win. So it has happened.

  8. I'm watching the Austin DVD right now and they're getting to 1997, another thing that was great about that time is all the performers look like they're having so much FUN out there. I just don't get that from today's talent, they just look like they're showing up for work.


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