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What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw - June 2, 1997

by Logan Scisco

-McMahon recaps last week’s tag team championship main event and the events that unfolded after the match.  McMahon also recaps the Undertaker’s interaction with Paul Bearer at the end of last week’s show.

-Vince McMahon and Jim Ross are in the booth and they are broadcasting from Huntington, West Virginia.  This is the go home show for the King of the Ring pay-per-view.

-The Undertaker comes out and says that while it would’ve been great to break Paul Bearer’s neck last week, it wouldn’t have helped him out of his present circumstances.  The Undertaker talks about how he knows he won’t go to hell after he’s dead because he’s living it now, thereby destroying the last vestige of the original Undertaker gimmick.  The Undertaker says that he’s having to take on Bearer as his manager, but hopes he burns in hell for all time.  This is such a great spin on the manager-wrestler relationship, with a wrestler being forced to take on a manager that he absolutely loathes.  Predictably, Bearer comes out and he’s not happy and he reprimands the Undertaker for cutting a promo without his approval.  Bearer talks about how he and the Undertaker are going to rule the world, which brings out Sid, who is making his return from a back injury.  Sid calls Bearer a “fat man” to a massive pop, showing that Sid can get a pop for the stupidest phrases, and he puts over the Undertaker’s title reign.  However, Sid says he can’t respect the Undertaker after he took back Bearer and he demands a rematch for his WWF title for tonight and promises to powerbomb the Undertaker to hell.  The Undertaker accepts without hesitation.  Just when you think that’s over with, the Nation of Domination comes out and Faarooq says that a black man is going to rule the WWF by next week’s show.  He also says that the Undertaker is a weak man for giving into Bearer.  A crazy, yet effective opening segment that showed some psychological vulnerability of the Undertaker for the first time in his career.

-Ahmed Johnson says that Faarooq may have plans to be the first WWF champion but that isn’t going to happen because he’s going to take him out tonight.

-A video package hypes the opening bout between Faarooq and Ahmed Johnson.

-Opening Contest:  Faarooq (w/The Nation of Domination) defeats Ahmed Johnson after Ahmed is thrown into the ring steps on the floor at 3:07:

This is yet another battle in the continual struggle between Ahmed and Faarooq.  Ahmed showcases a nice array of power moves, but the Nation of Domination intervenes to turn the tide.  The Undertaker comes out to lend Ahmed a hand, but the fighting on the floor sees the Undertaker inadvertently whip Faarooq into Ahmed, who then collides with the ring steps and the astute Faarooq rolls Ahmed into the ring to get a cheap win on his way to the King of the Ring main event this Sunday.  There just wasn’t a lot here.  Rating:  *

-After the match, Ahmed gets into the Undertaker’s face and gets a chokeslam for his efforts.

-Steve Austin’s attack on Bret Hart at the end of last week’s show is played.

-Call 815-734-1161 to get your King of the Ring inflatable chair for $59.99 (plus $11 shipping & handling)!  I had the worst of luck as a kid with inflatable things, as they usually got a hole within the first week and then you had to try to duct tape them back together after refilling them with a vacuum cleaner.

-McMahon interviews the Hart Foundation.  Bret is back on crutches after Steve Austin’s attack at the end of last week’s show and McMahon brings WWF Tag Team Champions Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin onto the Titantron.  Bret says he won’t face Michaels at the King of the Ring because of his renewed injury.  Michaels isn’t happy that Austin ruined his match with Bret at the King of the Ring, but Austin says he doesn’t care because he tried to take Bret out for good.  Michaels and Austin continue to jaw and Michaels heads towards Austin’s locker room and they argue about who needs who the most.  The Hart Foundation confers in the ring after seeing these events and Brian Pillman proposes that Michaels take his place at King of the Ring against Austin and Austin says that’s fine and he’ll face Pillman on the RAW after King of the Ring.

-Footage of Bob Holly upsetting Owen Hart in a non-title match on RAW two weeks ago is shown.

-Intercontinental Championship Match:  Owen Hart (Champion w/The Hart Foundation) defeats Bob “Spark Plugg” Holly via submission with the Sharpshooter at 3:16:

If they wanted to make Holly a credible threat was it really a wise move to job him to a debuting D-Lo Brown on last week’s show?  At least we have an Intercontinental title match with some backstory.  This is Holly’s first crack at the Intercontinental title since 1995, when he faced Jeff Jarrett in an entertaining series of matches on the Action Zone and actually held the belt for a few minutes before then-WWF President Jack Tunney vacated his victory.  This is a technically proficient match, but they have to rush things since we are now in the Russo era and most matches can’t go over four minutes.  Owen counters a Holly hurricanrana attempt with a powerbomb, which is the same mistake Holly made on last week’s show, and quickly finishes Holly off to retain the title.  Rating:  **

-Shawn Michaels says that he will take on the challenge of facing Steve Austin at the King of the Ring.

-A video recaps the second part of Mankind’s interview with Jim Ross last week.

-The Headbangers, the Honky Tonk Man, and Jim Cornette try to set a Super Soaker ambush for Sunny, but she gets them with a three way shot from her Super Soaker.  Sunny’s lack of acting skills are really exposed in these commercials.

-Footage of Chyna attacking Hunter Hearst Helmsley after she was blinded by powder from Marlena the last time Helmsley faced Goldust on RAW is shown.

-#1 Contenders Match for the European Championship:  Goldust (w/Marlena) defeats Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) with a schoolboy after heel miscommunication at 3:49:

Goldust facepaint makes him appear like the second coming of The Stalker.  The winner here gets a shot at the European title next week on RAW.  Ross tries to sell this as an equal feud, but Helmsley has won most of the television encounters.  Goldust and Helmsley exchange some basic moves until Chyna grabs Goldust on the apron.  Marlena then goes after Chyna and Helmsley accidentally gives Chyna a high knee, which knocks her off the apron, and that enables Goldust to score the upset.  McMahon acts like Goldust has accomplished some kind of career goal by getting to face the British Bulldog for the European title next week, but it’s hard to buy since Goldust hasn’t come out and said that he wants to win the European championship.  Helmsley doing the job may not make sense because of his place in the King of the Ring tournament, but it showcases some vulnerability and might make fans think he and Chyna would have a blowup that would cost him his semi-final match with Ahmed at the pay-per-view.  Rating:  *

-Call 1-900-737-4WWF to find out about a photo shoot some WWF superstars did recently.

-Shawn Michaels hurricanrana on the British Bulldog is the Sega Slam of the Week.

-The Legion of Doom cut a brief promo and Hawk promises that they are going to send Shawn Michaels teeth down Austin’s throat.

-WWF Tag Team Championship Match:  The Legion of Doom defeat “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels & “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (Champions) by count out at 6:58 shown:

I wonder if one of the reasons for the Michaels-Austin pairing was allowing McMahon to compare the crowd reactions of Michaels and Austin since they made separate entrances.  Michaels bumping is a tad overdone in the early stages of this one as he is clotheslined out of the ring, leaps into the guardrail, and then flops like a fish until he ends up on top of Austin.  The crowd is pretty divided between both teams, but it seems like the LOD has a few more supporters in the arena as several “LOD” chants break out during the match.  Michaels and Austin heel it up by nailing Hawk with a tag title belt behind the referee’s back, but it fails to get a three count.  The Hart Foundation wander down to ringside and Michaels confronts them (after flying out of the ring after taking a right hand) and Austin does not appreciate that.  The tag champions end up brawling on the floor and that gives the LOD a victory without the belts to irritate the crowd.  This was a good carry job by Michaels and Austin since the LOD added very little to the match’s value.  Rating:  **¾

-We are shown the third part of Mankind’s interview with Jim Ross.  Mankind discusses the Cactus Jack character and competing in death matches in Japan.

-King of the Ring First Round Match:  Mankind defeats Savio Vega (w/The Nation of Domination) after heel miscommunication at 3:02:

Jerry Lawler joins the commentary team because he faces the winner in the semi-finals.  For the first time in his WWF career Mankind elicits some cheers from the crowd during his entrance and thereby begins the process of a face turn.  McMahon reveals that Mankind is confused why Paul Bearer doesn’t want to manage him anymore.  Savio really steps up his game for this match and hits an awesome looking flying body press onto Mankind on the floor.  Lawler goes on a hilarious rant on commentary about the size of Mankind’s house and links it to Mankind jumping off the roof of his house as a kid.  Mankind traps Savio in the Mandible Claw, but when Crush tries to give Mankind a heart punch to break the hold, Mankind moves and Crush nails Savio in the head and that advances Mankind in the tournament.  That’s the third screwy finish tonight for those keeping score at home.  Rating:  *¼

-After the match, Savio and Crush brawl in the ring and Faarooq, instead of trying to play peacemaker, walks off.

-McMahon and Ross run through the King of the Ring card for this Sunday.

-Sable comes out to model the inflatable King of the Ring chair.  Seeing Sable try to act seductive around an INFLATABLE CHAIR is hilariously bad.  Ross lets us know that the chair can seat “a wide body.”

-The Undertaker chokeslamming Ahmed Johnson earlier in the show is the Super Soaker Rewind segment.

-Non-Title Match:  The Undertaker (WWF Champion w/Paul Bearer) defeats Sid with a Tombstone at 4:47 shown:

Sid made it seem in his opening promo that this was for the title, but Howard Finkel announces it as non-title, so I guess he was wrong.  This is as slow as their WrestleMania match, as these two guys just don’t have good chemistry with each other, but at least they aren’t being given twenty minutes tonight.  The Undertaker hits a flying clothesline out of nowhere and gets the victory with the Tombstone before he’s quickly beaten down by the Nation.  Sid tries to help out, but he’s overwhelmed as well.  I found little redeeming value in this and it made Sid look quite weak (not that the WWF was banking on his value anymore).  Rating:  DUD

-Tune in next week to see Steve Austin square off with Brian Pillman!

The Final Report Card:  This RAW card was absolutely stacked, as we got another battle between Faarooq and Ahmed, a quasi-dream match for the tag team titles, and a WrestleMania rematch between Sid and the Undertaker.  Despite that, though, this show still didn’t defeat Nitro.  The show went downhill after the tag team title match, which started the second hour, but I’m still going to award it a thumbs up because the storytelling in hour one was nicely done.

Monday Night War Rating:  3.3 (vs. 2.5 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up


  1. This Undertaker is my favorite version of the Undertaker. I really hated what he became when he came back in 2004. He didn't talk, didn't sell, and every feud involving him was completely boring and required his opponent to carry the feud verbally.

  2. There was always a rumor that Sid "had a potty accident" in either this match, or the one at Wrestlemania. Taker may have been joking about Sid using the bathroom in the ring during these matches, though.

    Everybody at the time was talking about Ahmed turning heel, and you knew they were setting up for this and the gang wars. If Ahmed hadn't gotten injured, maybe they would have put the belt on him. It was sad because I had wanted Taker to hold the belt again, because he hadn't held it since 1991 - and when he did hold it in 1997 - it just fell flat. The Mankind match might be great in hindsight, but they had done so many matches by 1997 - I was sick of it. the Taker vs. Austin match was four months before I liked Austin, and was boring. Then Taker takes on Ron Simmons, five years after Simmons in a Main Event meant anything. The Vader match at Stampede was good, but I always hated Vader being booked as such a monster in WCW and he was basically doing job duty in the WWF from day one. So by the time Taker faced Bret at SummerSlam, you kind of knew Bret was getting the belt back.

  3. With all the talk of Undertaker being a great politician behind the scenes, he really shot himself in the foot by being champion in 1997 because the guy was basically on the backburner while the whole Austin/Hart Foundation feud was the *real* main event angle that people tuned in to see. Kinda like how John Cena hogs the limelight away today from CM Punk despite not being chanpion.

  4. Except no one but kids really want to see John Cena's angles.

  5. I doubt even kids want to see the one he's involved in right now.

  6. I know Mick was considered a veteran, and earned a chance in the WWF, but those sit-down interview videos are what made him a commodity in the company. When he snaps during the last one and yells "Why didn't you hire me when I was good, Vince?" I was ready to cheer any incarnation, when as just the guy battling Undertaker, I didn't see him having a long run in the company.

  7. Love these reviews, btw. Looking forward to the next few months which may have been one of my favorite times as a wrestling fan.

  8. Yeah, no one really cared about the Undertaker's title run (including me) at the time. However, the stuff with Paul Bearer was a great angle and did a nice job being the "B" angle on the show.

  9. Someday maybe Vince will wake up and we'll have a angle with Cena in the ring and "Real American" plays and Hogan destroys hims, leg drops him and pins him in 38 seconds and then Hogan poses and retires John Cena. YES!

  10. Yeah, they really are mesmerizing. Great stuff.


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