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What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw - May 26, 1997

by Logan Scisco

-Vince McMahon and Jim Ross are in the booth and they are live from Evansville, Indiana.

-Ross interviews Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels, who come out separately and to explosive reactions (although Austin’s is far bigger).  Ross obviously asks if they can co-exist and both men say yes because they don’t like the Hart Foundation.  The Legion of Doom, who are penciled into the first match on tonight’s show, come out to confront the challengers for the tag team champions and get a promise of a title match.

-Opening Contest:  The Legion of Doom defeat Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart & Brian Pillman (w/The Hart Foundation) by disqualification when Owen Hart & The British Bulldog interfere at 4:23:

Bret isn’t on crutches anymore and this is Pillman’s first match on RAW.  You can tell Pillman just isn’t the same on his reconstructed ankle, as his movements are not as fluid around the ring.  The match is rather messy, as Hawk nearly sends Pillman back to the hospital after a botched gorilla press slam and Animal and Pillman collide at a high speed when Pillman doesn’t go over the top rope on a clothesline.  The LOD are set to win by setting up Pillman for a Doomsday Device, but the tag team champions run in and cause a disqualification.  Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels show up to save the day, but when the Hart Foundation flees, Michaels inadvertently catches Austin with a baseball slide and they brawl as WWF officials try to break them up.  The crowd was hot for the LOD, but this match was terrible when you think of the experienced hands that were putting it together.  I would’ve fired all four men for another lousy effort like this, but the crowds loved seeing the LOD regardless of their faults.  Rating:  ½*

-Paul Bearer, who looks like a completely new man without the funeral parlor makeup, is shown looking at his watch backstage.  Bearer tells McMahon and Ross that he left his secret in a safe deposit box with an attorney and the attorney has the only key.  Bearer says he’s not the same man and he’ll reveal the Undertaker’s secret if he doesn’t return to him tonight.  I’d easily argue that this angle was Bearer’s best work in his WWF tenure.

-D-Lo Brown (w/The Nation of Domination) defeats Bob “Spark Plugg” Holly with a powerbomb counter of a hurricanrana at 3:09:

This is Brown’s in-ring debut and he brings the active competitors in the Nation of Domination to four.  Holly is coming off an upset victory over Owen Hart last week and it was actually a big deal to beat the champion in a non-title match back in 1997.  Faarooq does guest commentary for this match and he implies that McMahon is a racist.  This match is really a vehicle for Faarooq to rant about how this match is what viewers want to see since a black man is facing a white man.  D-Lo acquits himself well in this contest, which is a glorified squash.  Even if it lost momentum near the end, the crowd liked the finishing spot.  Rating:  *½

-The Undertaker says he has to make a decision tonight.

-Jerry Lawler cuts a very controversial promo, which you can find on YouTube today, where he says that Dusty Rhodes doesn’t like his son because Dustin married a “gold digger from Georgia”, dressed like a “fag”, and says that Dustin’s daughter should be married “Target” because everyone in Georgia “had a shot at it.”  You can tell by McMahon’s voice that he’s not very happy Lawler dropped so many controversial lines during the non-Warzone part of the show.

-Call 815-734-1161 to get your King of the Ring inflatable chair for $59.99 (plus $11 for shipping & handling)!  $60 for an inflatable chair?  Interestingly enough, it looks like Buh Buh Ray Dudley is involved in the commercial as an extra.

-King of the Ring First Round Match:  Jerry “the King” Lawler defeats Goldust (w/Marlena) with the Flair pin at 5:20:

Lawler gets a nice pop for his entrance because Evansville was a territory for the USWA.  He also gets some loud chants from the crowd, which is the first time that you have seen Lawler get that type of crowd support in his WWF tenure.  The fact that Lawler is in the tournament shows how weak this year’s field is.  In a nice piece of continuity, the announce team shows footage of Lawler confronting Goldust about his sexuality in December 1996 which began Goldust’s face turn.  Goldust no sells the piledriver, thereby offending all of the USWA fans in attendance, and he gives the move to Lawler to draw some boos.  The match is a poor brawl, but the crowd enhances it a lot by reacting big to everything Lawler does.  After the match, Goldust attacks Lawler and sends him down the ramp with a right hand.  Rating:  *½

-McMahon asks Austin what he thinks the chances are that he and Shawn Michaels win the tag team titles tonight, but before Austin can respond he’s attacked by Brian Pillman, Owen Hart, and the British Bulldog.

-When we return from commercial break, Austin goes to Shawn Michaels locker room and argues with him.  Supposedly Michaels was also attacked and he complains that Austin was not watching his back.

-“The Rock” Rocky Maivia defeats Flash Funk with a flying body press at 3:33:

This is a match where both guys desperately need a win because they are engaged in prolonged losing streaks.  During the match, the Headbangers come out of the crowd with some of the inflatable King of the Ring chairs and they sit in them and do guest commentary.  After Funk hits Maivia with a pescado, the Headbangers go over and attack them for some reason.  For another reason, the match is not thrown out by the referee and during the fighting, Mosh hits Funk over the head with a boom box and Maivia catches Funk with a flying body press for the victory.  After the match, Funk and Maivia shake hands and threaten revenge.  I don’t think a tag team between these two is the answer to Maivia’s problems.  Rating:  *

-A clip of the second part of Mankind’s interview with Jim Ross is shown and he talks about not wearing a protective cup and how he was harmed by it.

-Brian Pillman’s victory over a jobber with a neckbreaker on Shotgun Saturday Night is our Sega Saturn Slam of the Week.

-Bret Hart and the Hart Foundation hype the match Bret has with Shawn Michaels at the King of the Ring.  I’m interested to see what the booking of this match would have been like if it had gone according to plan.  Pillman says that he’s going to tear Austin apart at the King of the Ring and the British Bulldog and Owen Hart make it known that they are not losing the tag team titles tonight.

-Ken Shamrock comes out to do commentary for our next match.

-King of the Ring Replacement Match:  Ahmed Johnson defeats Vader with a spinebuster at 3:04:

This match would have been a pay-per-view main event caliber match a year earlier but the stock of both men has fallen significantly in 1997.  The interesting stipulation for this match is that Vader challenged Ahmed for his spot in the King of the Ring semi-finals since he was not cleared to compete last week.  Therefore, if Ahmed loses then Vader will face Hunter Hearst Helmsley in the King of the Ring semi-finals.  A match between these two was a King of the Ring first round match a year prior as well and Vader won that match with outside interference.  Predictably, this match is a brawl as both men deliver some haymakers to each other, but Vader is ill-advised to charge Ahmed in the center of the and ring and loses.  This was too abbreviated a match to really mean anything.  Rating:  *¼

-Are new members headed into the Nation of Domination?  Call 1-900-737-4WWF to find out!

-Paul Bearer says that the Undertaker is running out of days to keep his secret safe.

-Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) defeats Rockabilly (w/The Honky Tonk Man) with a Pedigree at 3:16:

Rockabilly enters this match with some momentum, as he’s scored a few victories the last couple of weeks against the “The Real Double J” Jesse James and Goldust.  The real star of this match is Chyna, as she pulls Rockabilly off of Helmsley after a Rocker dropper and bodyslams the Honky Tonk Man when he tries to hit Helmsley with a guitar.  Helmsley achieves a somewhat clean victory, but the only reason anyone was taking note of him at this stage of his career was because of the mystique Chyna created for him.  Rating:  *¾

-The Undertaker tells McMahon that life is about making decisions you don’t want to and the Undertaker tells Bearer to do what he has to do and that he will do what he has to do.

-Sable models the King of the Ring inflatable chair.

-Another part of the second portion of Mankind’s interview with Jim Ross is shown.  This interview sees Mankind discuss seeing Jimmy Snuka splash Don Muraco from the top of a cage in Madison Square Garden in 1983 and the Dude Love character.

-WWF Tag Team Championship Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve Austin & “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels defeat The British Bulldog & Owen Hart (Champions w/The Hart Foundation) when Austin pins the Bulldog after Michaels hits Sweet Chin Music at 10:24 shown:

McMahon tells us that Austin and Michaels will face the Legion of Doom in a title match next week if they capture the belts here.  It’s always entertaining to see Michaels, the Bulldog, and Owen bouncing all over the ring and that’s what happens in the opening moments of this match when the challengers take it to the champions.  The Bulldog crotches Michaels on the ropes to turn the tide, which draws a great reaction of despair from Austin, and Austin saves the match by breaking up pins from a Bulldog running powerslam and an Owen belly-to-belly suplex.  All of the tricks of a great tag match are employed here, which include the false tag or situations where the challengers have the champions pinned but the referee is not in position to make a count.  The pace of this match is also insane, as everyone is working 100 miles per hour to get everything in.  They do a creative end to the all hell breaks loose finish as Owen goes to his corner and Michaels feigns that he is going to, but blasts the Bulldog with Sweet Chin Music for good measure.  A great tag team match that was a nice way to end Owen and the Bulldog’s seven months of dominance in the tag team division.  I would have liked a few more false finishes, but everyone was firing on all cylinders in this one and the crowd with it from beginning to end.  Rating:  ****¼

-The new champions don’t get much time to celebrate as the rest of the Hart Foundation attacks them.  Bret stays on the ramp, but Austin goes after him and his surgically repaired knee as Michaels endures a four-on-one beating.  Eventually the Hart Foundation divots to save Bret and Austin gets away.

-Austin and the Bulldog argue in the locker room, with Austin insisting that he won the tag team titles by himself.

-Paul Bearer comes out to be interviewed by Vince McMahon.  Bearer says there were three graves in the cemetery when the Undertaker’s parents were buried and the Undertaker comes out before Bearer can talk anymore.  The Undertaker says that he hates Bearer and regrets what he must do to him tonight.  The Undertaker begins to choke Bearer out, but based on what Bearer is telling him he lets him go and seemingly bows down to him as the show plays out.

The Final Report Card:  The hot crowd in Evansville made this show come off very well and the tag team title match in the main event easily warrants a thumbs up rating.  The ending of the show with Bearer and the Undertaker was also well done and helps establish more momentum for that storyline in the weeks ahead.  This is definitely one of the best RAW episodes of 1997.

Monday Night War Rating:  2.7 (vs. 3.3 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up


  1. Oh wow, totally forgot that Vader got a second chance in the KOTR tourney and amazing to see him being pushed to a world title shot just a couple months later with all these jobs he did.

    And agreed that the Lawler/Goldust match was a lot of fun which was 99% due to the crowd and it's surprising WWF didn't trot Lawler out everytime they were in USWA territory as it made for fun tv..

  2. Vader can thank Ahmed Johnson and a tv host in Kuwait for giving him a few extra months of relevancy.

  3. Was this the same tag title match that was on the old Monday Night War DVD? I was eight or nine years old at the time, and I remember that match being one of the first really good ones I saw.

  4. Yes, that is the one.

  5. We're just a couple of weeks away from the Monday Night Raw I attended with some friends in Lake Placid, NY. I even made it on camera when we sneaked down to the front row during an Undertaker entrance.

  6. Michaels/Austin against Owen/Bulldog is one of the all-time great RAW matches.


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