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What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw - March 17, 1997

by Logan Scisco

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

-The Undertaker’s plancha on Vader on last week’s Raw is the Playstation Slam of the Week.

-Opening Contest:  The Legion of Doom defeat Crush & Savio Vega (w/the Nation of Domination) by disqualification at 6:47 shown when Faarooq interferes:

The small stipulation for this contest is that Ahmed Johnson and Faarooq are barred from ringside.  However, when you are talking about the Nation of Domination, that just subtracts one of five guys they usually bring to the ring with them.  This starts as a wild brawl, but then becomes a no-selling contest between both teams.  For example, there’s no excuse for Savio standing up after being given a piledriver by Hawk.  Faarooq attacks Ahmed with a night stick as he watches the match in the back and that enables him to make the run-in before Vega eats a Doomsday Device.  Ahmed eventually runs out and makes the save and JC Ice eats a Pearl River Plunge and D-Lo Brown takes the Doomsday Device like a champ.  The crowd was hot for the interference at the end, but this was quite sloppy in the middle.  Rating:  *½

-Call 1-900-737-SLAM to vote for the Larry Flynt Freedom of Speech Award.  The nominees are Jerry Lawler, Paul Heyman, Steve Austin, Howard Stern, and Faarooq.  By the way, your vote will cost you 99 cents.

-The announce team says that WWF President Gorilla Monsoon is flying to the arena to clear up some controversy over whether tonight’s steel cage match between WWF Champion Sid and Bret Hart is for the WWF title or not.  Another rumor floating around is that Shawn Michaels is planning to show up.

-Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) defeats Flash Funk (w/the Funkettes) with the Pedigree at 5:46:

The entrances for these two take nearly four minutes and Funk’s theme is not catchy enough to sustain my interest for such a long dance to the ring.  Funk dominates a lot of the action, which is pretty surprising considering his position on the card, and he’s in position to win after a flying leg drop, but Chyna pulls him out of the ring to break a cover.  Chyna then prevents Funk from going back to the top to finish off Helmsley and Helmsley takes advantage of the distraction to pick up the win.  This was a nice TV match that protected everyone involved heading into WrestleMania.  Rating:  **¼

-Shawn Michaels is shown arriving at the arena.

-Footage is shown of New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman lifting a tax to allow the WWF to compete in the state.  This is when the WWF admitted that what it was doing was just “sports entertainment” and was not real.

-Mascarita Sagrada, Jr. & Mini Goldust defeat Mini Vader & Mini Mankind when Sagrada pins Mankind with a victory roll at 2:55:

Mascarita Sagrada Jr. was the dominant figure of the short-lived WWF minis division in 1997, winning nearly all of his televised matches.  Sagrada gets most of the shine in this one and it’s so short that it is a fun waste of time.  In a fun spot after the match, Sagrada and Vader run up the ramp and Sagrada gives Vader a flying body press on the concrete floor.

-WWF President Gorilla Monsoon says that tonight’s steel cage match will be for the WWF title.  Monsoon and Vince then argue over whether now is the right time to give Bret Hart a crack at the title, since WrestleMania is this weekend.

-Kevin Kelly interviews Bret Hart, who says that he won the Royal Rumble, the Final Four match, and is a four-time WWF champion so he deserves a title match tonight. Bret unveils one of my favorite lines from this period when he says that the new motto of the WWF is “you scratch my back and I put a knife in yours.”  Some boos can be heard in the audience, thereby foreshadowing Bret's heel turn.

-Call 815-737-1156 to get your customized WrestleMania 13 hockey jersey or denim jacket!  They can be yours for prices between $89.99-$139.99!

-The Sultan (w/the Iron Sheik & Bob Backlund) beats Mike Bell via submission to the camel clutch in 57 seconds:

Rocky Maivia is on commentary for this match, but since he hasn’t developed the Rock persona it’s nothing to write home about.  The Sultan throws in a splash off the top rope to set up the camel clutch and then argues with Maivia at ringside.  Maivia wants to get into a fight, but Tony Atlas shows up and holds him back.

-McMahon interviews Shawn Michaels, who jokes about his “Lost Smile” speech and says that he found his smile in San Antonio.  He thanks the fans for his support and says that he’s going to see Dr. James Andrews about his knee next week.  Shawn tells Vince he’s upset at not getting invited to WrestleMania, so he’s inviting himself to be the guest commentator for the WWF title match.  This promo just took too long for what it was going to accomplish and it’s the perfect example of material that would give you the perfect excuse to flip over to TNT to see what was happening on Nitro.

-The British Bulldog (w/Owen Hart) defeats Vader (w/Paul Bearer & Mankind) by disqualification when Mankind interferes at 5:52 shown:

This is the easiest match to book for tonight’s show, since it provides a quasi-preview of the tag team championship match at WrestleMania.  The Bulldog manages to get Vader up in the vertical suplex for several seconds, which is an awesome feat, but Vader dominates much of the televised action.  Vader is a master of putting himself in position to be slammed by a leaner opponent and it makes the Bulldog look like a million bucks.  The Bulldog even has Vader positioned for a running powerslam, but Mankind interferes to break it up and a four way brawl ensues, with the champions standing tall.  An entertaining power match for the time they were given.  Rating:  **¼

-Call 1-900-737-SLAM to vote for the Best Bow Tie category for the Slammy’s.  The nominees are Mr. Bob Backlund, Pee Wee Herman, Clarence Mason, Louis Farrahkhan, and Yokozuna.  What is with all the crazy nominees?  Did they actually think more people would watch if they threw a few random names into the candidate pool?

-Billy Gunn beats Aaron Ferguson by submission to an armbar at 1:59:

Ken Shamrock shows up to do guest commentary, surely to scout Billy for their future encounter at the 1999 Royal Rumble.  This is a slow squash that is a relic of another era and you might find the choice of finish puzzling, but Billy uses it to taunt Shamrock after the match.  Shamrock gets into the ring and quickly puts Billy in an armbar and Billy taps out.  Billy says Shamrock can’t do it twice, so Shamrock puts him in an ankle lock and Billy taps again.  This is likely the first time that the “tap out” was introduced to a pro wresting audience, even though it wasn’t an official match.

-McMahon interviews Austin, who says that he wasn’t impressed by Shamrock because he was taking advantage of a “weakened” Billy Gunn.  Austin runs down Shamrock some more and then says that he’s in the arena tonight to help Bret win the title so he can win it at WrestleMania.  There’s some nice continuity here, as Austin says he won the Royal Rumble, so he should be in the main event of WrestleMania in the first place.

-WWF Champion Sid says Steve Austin better stay out of his business and he’s going to powerbomb Bret Hart through the floor.

-Steel Cage Match for the WWF Championship:  Sid (Champion) defeats Bret “the Hitman” Hart by escaping the cage at 7:57 shown:

This is one of the most entertaining matches of this era for a couple of reasons.  First, this match is being held the week of WrestleMania, so the card could easily change to make Bret-Austin the WWF title match and the main event and the Undertaker-Sid match a special attraction.  And second, because of the possibility of the card changing, the Undertaker and Austin have an incentive to help their WrestleMania opponent win.  Austin makes his presence felt early, when he prematurely closes the cage door when Sid is trying to crawl out.  Sid hits a powerbomb, but when he tries to climb out, Austin intercepts him at the top of the cage and we get an interesting double team whereby Bret and Austin pound on Sid.  The Undertaker then runs out and attacks Austin to stop the attack and tosses Bret over the top of the cage when he’s trying to climb out.  Shortly thereafter, Sid goes to climb out after taking a superplex, but Bret also gets out and goes for the door.  However, the Undertaker slams the door in his face and Sid is able to successfully make it to the floor to retain the title.  This is a difficult match the rate, since there wasn’t much between Sid and Bret, but the interference and subsequent brawling was very entertaining, so I’ll just say it’s above average and move on.  Rating:  **½

-Following a commercial break, McMahon goes to interview Bret, who pushes him down and proceeds to go on a cursing tirade.  Ross apologizes profusely and I’m sure the USA Network executives were spilling coffee all over themselves trying to call the censor and wake them up.  Austin pops up on the video screen and calls Bret a loser.  Bret tells Austin to come and fight him, but Sid walks out instead, followed by the Undertaker.  When Bret sees the Undertaker, he executes a suicide dive and Austin then arrives and brawls with him, as the Undertaker gets into the ring and fights Sid.  WWF officials try to separate the combatants and when Bret slugs Pat Patterson, Vince unleashes a venomous tirade against him.  After everyone is exhausted, Shawn Michaels walks out, but he doesn’t get involved in any of the action.

The Final Report Card:  Now THIS is what you call a go home show for the biggest pay-per-view of the year.  The undercard was fine, albeit forgettable, but the main event and its aftermath really made an impression.  It was almost too successful, though, because USA was not very happy with Bret’s cursing tirade near the end of the show.  Where the show was not a success was in the ratings, as Nitro creamed RAW, showing that it was going to be a long battle for the WWF to reclaim the number one spot.  Nonetheless, the show did a good job setting up Bret’s heel turn and is a great show to look back on since we know where the Bret-McMahon issue was leading to.

Monday Night War Rating:  2.4 (vs. 3.7 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up


  1. I've always felt that the WWF fucked up with Flash Funk. Had they just called him 2 Cold Scorpio and let him do his thing he probably would have gotten over and been a good IC champ or contender. But the stupid gimmick just made him look like a joke. Was there a copyright issue with the name, or just Vince's usual "we can't let guys get over based on things they did in other promotions" bullshit?

  2. Christopher HirschJuly 31, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    Did Bret go into business for himself with the cursing, or did Vince approve it beforehand?

    It always annoyed me how Bret would hate on the change of direction, when he was as guilty of being edgy as anyone.

  3. Brilliant show, the intensity of everyone involved is palpable and off the charts.  Bret didn't even have to curse (it was a nice added touch) but everything was sold perfectly from Vince, JR, and the King subtly insinuating that Bret was a whiner in the weeks prior to this, to all the wrestlers interacting with each other.  Can't say enough positive things about this.

  4. Logan, we talked about it during last week's entry...

    To me, this is one of the greatest promos of all time. It embodies everything that is good AND bad about expressing yourself as a wronged person.

    CM Punk, take note, brother. You don't wanna end up in Bret's shoes.

  5. The admittance of wrestling being "sports entertainment", ie. fake, was done in 1989, during another tax fight with the state of New Jersey. Was pretty big news at the time. In 1997, it was simply a case of having a new governor and celebrating the long-standing tax being removed.

    And IMO, Bret's tirade was the true start of the Attitude era. It's one thing when an edgy, rebellious character like Steve Austin cusses on TV. But when a more conservative, traditionalist character like Bret Hart starts doing such things, you know something fundamental has changed.

  6. I think we got another memorable Sid quote after the main event. Bret told Sid that he knew Bret was better than him and Sid responded with "I don't know shit".

  7. The main event was one of those perfectly over-booked messes that Vince and Co. could do once every few years but WCW could never really get right no matter how many times they tried. I think they perfected it at that second Dude Love/Austin match 14 or so months after this.

    Bret's best promo ever leading into The Greatest Match Ever during the best year ever...what's not to love? 

  8. I had this one on tape for years, because I just happened to decide to watch Nitro that week & record Raw for later viewing, and thus managed to get the full unedited Bret Hart tirade ("Frustrated ain't the goddamn word for it! This is BULLSHIT!" And when Bret was telling Sid "You know damn well I beat you!" Sid, being Sid, says straight into the camera "I don't know shit, little man!" Shoot comments that aren't supposed to be shoot comments, etc.) Also the midget match was SHOCKINGLY good. Best midget match in history, IMO. 

  9. Bret didn't hate the direction of the Attitude Era, he hated the sophomoric stuff that Shawn was doing with DX. 

  10. Seriously, I love Scorpio in the ring, but man that Flash Funk character was a death sentence. The outfit was terrible, the entrance music was terrible and was pretty much a giant sign to the fans to go to the bathroom.

  11.  Agreed on your last point... I was watching this at home (I lived an hour away from Syracuse at the time and was pissed that I didn't know about the show) and when that stuff happened after the main event, it definitely got my attention to the point where it was like, "what am I watching?"  I know that WrestleMania did pretty poorly on PPV, but if it wasn't for this show it likely would've done much worse because I don't remember having plans to order Mania that year until I saw this episode of Raw.

  12.  It had to be planned... I can't imagine Bret would do something like that on the fly, especially with Vince right there.  I'm sure he was told to let it fly and they would deal with the repercussions.

  13. I think Jim Cornette says in his 1997 timeline shoot that they told Bret to go out there and rant and hold nothing back.

  14.  They don't advertise in Syracuse for shit, even today, for some reason. They were just there recently and none of the wrestling fans I know even knew about it, yet we all knew months ahead of time when CHIKARA was coming. Cuse must just not be a big enough market for them.

  15. I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate the 1997 Slammy Award Winner for "Best Bow Tie"...


  16. All you guys hating on Flash Funk need to wait til Logan gets to May/June. I remember him having a pretty kickass match with RVD on one random episode of Raw.

  17. CHIKARA!?

    The "promotion" with ants dragons and magic spells?!

    Im cool.

  18. Fuck this show.

  19. Seriously, i like the ants.
    im cool with the "why so serious?" approach, but some of the stuff is just TOO MUCH.
    THIS IS CHIKARA for those who dont know.

  20. Syracuse is a traditional market for WWE. CHIKARA needs to overpromote so they can draw their 110 nerds.

  21. Bret was told that his rant wouldn't be on live TV.

  22. He was '2 Cold Scorpio' in the JOB squad. The Funk thing was crap and to think they brought it back for Clay and its still crap. His 'Hall of Pain' gimmick was great on Henry but they should have done it for him since Henry is ready to retire.

    Still bummed we didn't get Henry vs Face Danielson @ Mania. Would have been a lot better than that squash match they had.

  23. They've left poor Syracuse behind in recent years.  I think the last Raw taping there was two days after WM 14 when Austin came out in the suit (at least that's the last one I went to there... I haven't lived in the area for 10 years but I still keep up on when they tour around there and the TV tapings are always Buffalo, Rochester or Albany). 

    I'm surprised nothing else came out of the Carrier Dome house show they did a few years ago... seems like a perfect place to do a Raw or a lesser PPV. 

    I know pretty much for a fact that WWF wanted to do WM 2000 there but Syracuse University's chancellor wouldn't let them run the Dome at the time because it was too vulgar and raunchy of a product... but seems like it's too small of a town to carry a Mania now that there's so much more to it with Axxess, HOF, indy shows and legends reunions/conventions that have cropped up in recent years.


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