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What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw - March 10, 1997

by Logan Scisco

-We get a new television intro and theme song for Raw, as this is the debut of Raw is War.  We also see the debut of a new entrance set, with the Titantron and entrance ramp.

-Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Worcester, Massachusetts.

-Ross interviews WWF Champion Sid, who says that he’s very skeptical of teaming with the Undertaker to face Vader and Mankind tonight and says that he thinks the Undertaker will reunite with Paul Bearer.  The Undertaker comes out and says there is no hidden agenda because if Sid was injured he couldn’t face him for the title at WrestleMania and in a twist, the Undertaker says he doesn’t want Sid as his partner because if he got injured in the tag match then Sid would remain WWF champion.  Paul Bearer, Vader, and Mankind then appear and Bearer calls Sid and the Undertaker cowards.  A brawl breaks out between the two sides and although the faces stand tall, the Undertaker takes a shot in the back from Vader that he attributes to Sid and they stare each other down as we head to a commercial break.

-Opening Non-Title Contest:  “The Rock” Rocky Maivia (Intercontinental Champion) pins Tony Rua with a flying body press at 1:36:

Before the match, the Iron Sheik and Bob Backlund tell Maivia that the Sultan will beat him for his title at WrestleMania and Backlund continues to rant as the Rock makes short work of Rua.  After the match, the Sultan runs in, but Maivia dispatches of him and backs away, as Tony Atlas appears in the crowd and then hugs Maivia before they head to the back.  It would seem that the booking would be better to call for the Sultan to beat down Maivia here, but it’s not like he had a chance of winning the title at WrestleMania anyway.

-Ahmed Johnson’s destruction of Leif Cassidy on Shotgun Saturday Night is the Playstation Slam of the Week.

-Heavy Mental, Pentagon & Pierroth defeat The Latin Lover, Octagon & Hector Garza when Metal pins the Latin Lover with a La Magistral cradle after the Lover misses a frog splash at 7:39 shown:

The WWF’s working relationship with AAA continues with this match, but the crowd doesn’t really know what to make of this since the Mexican wrestlers were never given proper billing by the WWF on television.  Security tries to deal with Chyna in the crowd, who McMahon calls “the bionic woman.”  Brian Pillman also does a split screen promo about how he’s going to return on Shotgun Saturday Night.  If you saw the AAA six man at the Royal Rumble, this is basically the same affair, with the action going nowhere and generating no reaction until the participants take turns diving onto each other on the floor.  The finish is quite awkward, as the Lover tries a frog splash when Metal is already in a standing position, and Vince had to be shaking his head and thinking that he got the wrong group of Mexican superstars to work for him.  Rating:  ½*

-Ahmed Johnson beats Roy Raymond with a Pearl River Plunge at 2:01:

Ahmed doesn’t sell Raymond’s early offense and the Nation of Domination appear and do their rap as action unfolds in the ring.  This show thus far is like an ADD person’s worst nightmare.  Ahmed vanquishes Raymond in short fashion and Faarooq calls Ahmed an Uncle Tom and says he doesn’t know the streets.  Ahmed says that he found some backup for WrestleMania and says that he’s going to bring the city of Chicago with him, which translates into the Legion of Doom, who make their way through the crowd.  The LOD cut some PG-era promos, with Hawk saying that the faces will turn the Nation into some dirty sweat socks, but the point is still conveyed.

-Ross interviews Owen and the British Bulldog on their way to the ring and Owen tries to downplay that he lost the European championship finals to the Bulldog last week.

-Non-Title Match:  The New Blackjacks defeat Owen Hart & The British Bulldog (WWF Tag Team Champions) by disqualification at 7:21 shown:

The Blackjacks run down Owen on the mic before the match and when Bradshaw tells Owen he has pretty lips that starts a four way brawl.  Bradshaw saying that based on his locker room exploits does makes you chuckle.  Based on their size, you would think that the Blackjacks would be employing lots of stiff offense and power moves, but they don’t and it makes their offense bland.  The finish comes when Owen has Bradshaw trapped in a Sharpshooter and the Bulldog tries to cut Barry Windham off, but the referee gets in his way.  The Bulldog tosses the referee aside and gets his team disqualified as a result.  Owen and the Bulldog made this match tolerable, but it wasn’t a good sign for the Blackjacks because if you couldn’t have a good match with Owen and the Bulldog then who could you have a good match with on the tag roster at the time?  Rating:  **

-Call 1-900-737-SLAM to vote for the 1997 Slammy Awards and the category of Loose Screw.  Nominees are Sid, Mankind, Steve Austin, Seinfeld’s Kramer (!?!), and Bob Backlund.

-Taz and Bill Alfonso come out and jaw with Lawler and Sabu tries to take advantage of the situation to attack Taz, but Taz sidesteps his dive and Sabu goes through a table as various ECW stars pull Taz away.

-Miguel Perez pins Leif Cassidy with a Victory Roll at 4:12:

Perez was being brought in as a Latin counterweight to Savio Vega, but the WWF must not have seen a lot of dollar signs in that feud so those plans were abandoned.  This is a decent back and forth encounter, with some solid technical wrestling, but Perez really needed to be memorable here and he wasn’t.  Rating:  **

-WWF Champion Sid says he has to worry about the tag match he has tonight and can’t worry too much about defending the WWF title against Bret Hart in a steel stage.

-Ross interviews Ken Shamrock, who will be the guest referee of the Bret Hart-Steve Austin submission match.  Shamrock says he’ll show no fear at WrestleMania and he’s interrupted by Austin on the Titantron, who says he hopes Bret wins the title next week so their match at WrestleMania will be for the title.  Shamrock says he isn’t afraid of Austin and Bret comes down to the ring.  Bret says he’ll win his WWF title back next week against Sid and goes on a long list of people who have screwed him since he’s returned to the company.  Bret says he trusts Shamrock, but if he tries to screw him at WrestleMania it’ll be a big mistake.  The thought of Shamrock prematurely calling for the bell at WrestleMania is what kept running through my mind with that closing line.

-Billy Gunn defeats “The Portuguese Man O’ War” Aldo Montoya with a flying leg drop at 2:51:

The Honky Tonk Man comes out to do commentary to continue to scout talent.  Despite being gone for several months, Billy hasn’t received much of a repackaging, as he still has the Smoking Gunns theme music and is wearing his jeans and cowboy boots as a ring attire.  Gunn makes short work of Montoya and looks impressive doing it.

-Mankind, with Paul Bearer, says that he and Vader are a team, but his promo gets cut off by going to commercial break.

-Goldust (w/Marlena) defeats Tim McNeany with a Curtain Call at 1:37:

Hunter Hearst Helmsley appears near the ramp with Chyna and they watch as Goldust quickly runs through his offense and squashes McNeany.  After the match, Chyna moves toward the ring and as Goldust is distracted, Helmsley attacks him from behind.  Chyna and Helmsley double team Goldust until Marlena jumps on Chyna’s back and applies a rear naked choke, which generates a MASSIVE pop from the crowd.  WWF officials pour into the ring to break it up, but one of them (Harvey Wippleman) gets gorilla pressed by Chyna and tossed onto some of his colleagues.  Regardless of how you feel about you Chyna today, you must admit that the WWF did a great job with her debut.

-Ross hosts a “great debate” between Lawler and Paul Heyman, who has the Eliminators come as backup.  They debate whether ECW should exist.  The debate quickly devolves into a shooting contest, with Lawler saying Heyman lives in his parent’s basement and Heyman asking Lawler how the seesaws look in Louisville.  When the Dudleys, the Sandman, Tommy Dreamer, and Beulah McGillicutty show up, Lawler asks for his backup to arrive, but no one comes to his aid.  Some people might’ve enjoyed this at the time, but it just came off as a desperate attempt for attention by the ECW crew and the segment itself was a mess.

-Marlena’s attack on Chyna is the Karate Fighters Rewind segment for this week.

-Vader & Mankind (w/Paul Bearer) defeat Sid & The Undertaker when Vader pins the Undertaker after a Sid powerbomb at 7:34 shown:

All semblance of tag team decorum is lost in this one, as Vader and Mankind attack Sid when he makes his entrance and the Undertaker is tardy and cleans house.  The Undertaker and Sid eventually start fighting each other, with the Undertaker standing tall by chokeslamming Sid and then going a plancha onto Vader and Mankind.  Sid returns the favor by powerbombing the Undertaker, but he saves the Undertaker from a Vader Bomb to continue their feud.  I give the creative team points for trying to make this feud intriguing, but there just isn’t a lot of backstory here for a WrestleMania main event.  The match was fine for a TV main event, since it advanced the necessary angle and did a good job working the crowd into a frenzy.  Rating:  **

-Bret Hart says next week he’ll show that he’s the king of the WWF.

The Final Report Card:  This show had a lot of hit and miss content.  The main event was serviceable and the Chyna-Marlena interaction was fun, but nothing else really stood out.  The debate segment bombed, although I can see why some on the Internet may have enjoyed it at the time, and the AAA six man was terrible.  Overall, a middle of the road show that advanced some storylines for WrestleMania but wasn’t compelling for the entire two hours.  At several points I wish I could’ve switched to Nitro.

Monday Night War Rating:  2.3 (vs. 3.5 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Neutral


  1. Christopher HirschJuly 24, 2012 at 12:11 PM

    Really surprised to see how many jobber matches they had when debuting the new look

  2. I still don't think that the AAA guys were ever supposed to get over. It think the idea was to get people that didn't watch Nitro to think "I don't see why all my friends see what's so great about the cruiserweights, this Mexican shit sucks!", and they wouldn't bother turning on Nitro. Why they just didn't get some MPro guys from Japan instead is beyond me. Oh, wait, they did that a few months later...

  3. At the time I really enjoyed the show as it was a precursor to the Russo stuff later on. Sure there weren't any good matches, but storylines were advanced in every segment and made jobber matches seem somewhat important because of it as they tried to add intrigue to the pissbreak matches.

  4. Yeah, the debate left me wondering why anyone would possibly root for Paul Heyman, as he was such an unlikable douchebag even back then.

  5. That's an interesting theory and it does make a lot of sense.

  6. Yeah, Vince McMahon did lose out on hiring Mexican talent.  Pretty much all the guys that were brought in sucked.  Except for Hector Garza. He was the only one with some real potential that I remember Jim Ross was sayings things like Garza being a crown jewel for the WWE. 

    Hector Garze would leave and go to WCW.

    So much for that.

  7. Miguel Perez was memorable.  He wrestled with a sweater on.  Oh, that was not his sweater, it was his really heavy, thick back hair.  That man needed a gillette.

  8. I doubt they thought it through to that level of detail.  They were getting their brains beaten in by WCW, and I think they were just throwing stuff at the wall to see what stuck. 

  9. I can understand why. They were still transitioning to having big name guys fight each other every week.

  10. Christopher HirschJuly 24, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    I mean it ultimately ended up not mattering, but if a new set was to indicate the show was going in a new direction, I would think you start with the new direction right away with top flight matches. Watching this I would have thought they just put window dressing on a pile of dogshit.

  11. I was happy as all hell when they changed the format. They were still tweaking many of the details, but if I recall correctly, the next show is "The Hitman Pipebomb" episode.

    People may not recognize it, but to me, THAT promo started the "Attitude Era".

    Bret may have hated seeing all of the Rated-R antics around the end of 1997, but he has to remember that he started it with a Rated-R promo.

    Unedited, it reads like this:

    [after throwing Vince McMahon down]

    Frustrated isn't
    the goddamn word for it! This is BULLSHIT! You screwed me, everybody
    screwed me and nobody does a goddamn thing about it! Nobody in the
    building cares, nobody in the dressing room cares, so much goddamn
    injustice around here, I've had it up to here! Everybody knows it! I
    know it! EVERYBODY knows it, I should be the World Wrestling Federation
    Champion! Everybody just keeps turning a blind eye, you keep turning a
    blind eye to it, I've got that Gorilla Monsoon, he turns a blind eye to
    it, everybody in that goddamn dressing room knows that I'm the best
    there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be!

    And if you don't like it, tough SHIT!



  12. Christopher HirschJuly 24, 2012 at 3:30 PM

    My jaw dropped as a 14 year old kid watching that.

  13. Chyna + Marlena = MONEY

    Fucking loved that feud and Marlena knew how to sell Chyna perfectly, that girl could rag-doll sell like no one else ever has or will. 

  14. Nitro looked like ass on March 10, 1997. Wow.

  15. My jaw dropped as an 18 year old watching that!  You never expected cursing on live tv, I was expecting them to cut away way sooner than they did.  Don't forget about the chaotic brawl between Bret, Sid, Austin, and Taker after that with HBK coming in at the end threatening to get involved.  It was just so chaotic, can't wait for next week's show lol.

  16. But it was SPRING BREAKOUT

  17.  Miguel was a great worker, it just sucked that he lacked any kind of marketable look.

  18. Patrick BrandmeyerJuly 24, 2012 at 7:06 PM

    That was the first time Taker ever did that plancha...amazing stuff at the time.

  19. Didn't Kevin Nash cut a similar promo on Nitro right around the same time, only his had really no context behind it, and was just done simply for the sake of swearing on TV?

  20. I know one thing, the Mexican guys were definitely dogging it. I don't know if they were told to, or if they were thrown off by not working in front of their usual crowd. But I've seen AAA from around this time, including stuff with the guys that were in WWE, and it was way better than this crap.

  21. That is indeed next week's show.  The best part of that rant is that it wasn't censored at all.  USA Network wasn't very happy about that.

  22. Another thing is that WWE always did a great job of introducing new characters back then. WWE fans were conditioned to knowing who somebody was by the time they had their first match. Even the lowest guys like Rad Radford or TL Hopper, you knew who they were and if they were a face or heel.

    With the AAA guys, they were all just kind of thrown out there with no rhyme or reason. You weren't given a reason to care or make an opinion about any of them since they were so interchangable. It also didn't help that they were often thrown out in six man tags. The way they were introduced was so unlike WWE so the fans just kind of sat  there.

  23. Very true, especially the part about telling you if a guy was face or a heel. Why would you care about what team won or lost? Even if they were trying to get it over the plan had 2 fatal flaws; namely the fact that Mexican lucha fans want to see real lucha libre, not Americanized lucha libre, so they hated it. American wrestling fans wanted to see American wrestling, not a bunch of Mexicans with no backstory or heat doing boring sloppy shit, so they hated it too. Just bad all around.

  24. Another thing too is that in the Mexican style, you need to be very selfish. It's not the same as in the states where for the most part two guys work together to have a great match. In Mexico it's all about showing off your own stuff and to hell with the other guy, you need to get all your shit in the match. If some of the AAA guys were under the impression  that this cross promotional deal with WWE could lead to something else, I could see them not gelling well.

    I've also seen some lucha from this era. I remember Cibernetico was actually pretty good, so yeah, they didn't all suck.

  25. That almost makes sense- the AAA guys just put on SHIT matches around this time. Also, many of them were very old. Perro Aguayo had one of the worst matches I've ever seen with Konnan at that big AAA When Worlds Collide PPV (he just did flying gut stomps the whole time, then bled), and Fuerza Guerrera was Juvie's DAD. The others were just green.

    The whole Mexican thing really ended up making the WWF look bush-league to WCW at the time- it's like comparing the Lexus of Rey, Juvie, Ultimo, Dean & Eddie to the Pinto of Aguayo & Pierroth. Just totally different calibres of talent.

  26. Garza was a weird one, because both Jim Ross AND Mike Tenay would often give him verbal blowjobs as if he was some sort of amazing Future God of Wrestling. I mean, his Corkscrew Moonsault wasn't THAT impressive. It would be almost a decade later before TNA would use him, and he'd be a much older, slower worker with more charisma.

  27. The funny thing is the Boriquas all had reps for being good workers (save Savio), but they absolutely never showed it on WWF TV. All they did was punches and kicks, like a proto-Attitude Era but without the crowd brawling.


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