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Princess Rant on the Infamous Halifax Raw of 1997

Scott's not going to review the box set so...why the hell not?


From Halifax, Nova Scotia on July 21, 1997

Hosted by Vince, JR and The King

JR does the intro spotlighting how Bret Hart can be so hated in one country and loved in another. The soundbites from Canadians are awesome, especially the guy with about three teeth wearing something that looks like Carolina Panthers gear. Hart’s sound bites on Canada talking about taking care of their people and a land not riddled with racial prejudice makes it seem like quite the utopia. Husband and I spent part of our 10-year anniversary in Canada so I’m down with the Great White North...although I've heard Canadians hate that term. Geez.

The classic 1997 RAW Intro. We got Hart, HBK, Ahmed, Sid and Austin as the primary figures. And lots of pyro. Can’t forget the pyro. And I sort of miss Vince saying “IT’S MONDAY NIGHT RAAAAAAAAW!” We’ve got a triple threat tag match, HBK and the big six-man flag match which was currently just an open challenge from Bret, Bulldog and Owen to whomever. No opening promo so let’s get to the matches!

Vader (w/Paul Bearer) vs. Ken Shamrock

Shamrock actually gets a huge pop, the first and last time he would be cheered in Canada. This is a rematch from IYH: Cold Day in Hell. Shamrock goes for the takedown but Vader backs off in the corner. Shamrock with some leg strikes but doing no damage as Vader stalls. Crowd is just going apeshit for no reason in particular. We finally get a collar and elbow tie-up and Vader with a thumb to the eye but his hip toss is reversed to a take down. However, Vader up first and clubs Shamrock before dropping him with a clothesline. Vader with a elbow to the mid section and a second one. Vader hits the big splash and gets a two count. The referee admonishes Vader for something so Bearer can rough up Shamrock with his shoe. Vader then throws Shamrock to the floor and sends him into the stairs. Back in the ring and Vader continues clubbing as the crowd starts to get behind him? Powerbomb is countered and Shamrock rallies with a belly to belly suplex and a single leg lock. Bearer interferes again and this time Shamrock clocks him. Back in the ring Vader drops an elbow and slams him. Vader goes to the second rope and hits the splash but barely gets two. Shamrock mistimed his kick out there and made the move look weak. Vader bomb attempt hits knees and Shamrock kicks the shit out of Vader in the corner. Shamrock goes for a frankensteiner but Vader dumps him over the top. Vader gets admonished by the ref some more and the Bulldog comes out and powerslams Shamrock on the steel ramp. Oh yeah they are fighting at Summerslam. Anyway Shamrock gets counted out.

(Vader def. Shamrock, countout, **, match had some potential if not for the stalling and a few issues. Not sure why they felt like they needed to keep Vader strong as he was pretty much wallowing in the mud by this point. Shamrock still hasn’t been pinned.)

More Canadians profess their love for Bret Hart. They really went to great efforts to find the goofiest looking jokers possible too.

Brakus is coming. That one didn’t work out.

Vince is in the ring to interview The Hart Foundation. Crowd goes absolutely RABID. The pop is pretty awesome and the Halifax arena is small and intimate enough to really bring it out on television. Hart mostly panders to the crowd and makes fun of Texas, which that state certainly deserves. The weird thing about this whole angle is I never really understood how much Canadians hate the United States of America. I know this is just a “work” and all but…fuck that this is REAL heat as far as this crowd is concerned. Good stuff from Bret and Owen but Bulldog’s promo fell flat. They call out their respect opponents for Summerslam – Undertaker, Austin and Shamrock. Owen suggests that Austin can suck his toes and that queues up Austin to interrupt. He says he’ll shove all their toes up their asses and agrees to take part in “the stupid little flag match.”

Let’s go back to last week when Los Boricuas “accidentally” messed up one of the motorcycles from the DOA. And they fought. Shitty brawl too. Really this whole gang wars thing sucked without any blood or workrate...preferably blood.

Bryan Walsh vs. Brian Christopher

Walsh claims he’s Canada originally and now resides in Rhode Island, like there’s a difference. He has two little cute Canadian flags and of course the crowd isn’t feeling him. He looks like Paul Orndorff without any of the muscle tone or a good tan…hell maybe he is Canadian. Shockingly Christopher doesn’t get blown up walking to the ring. He beats up Walsh and defaces his little flags for the cheap heat. Walsh rallies with a monkey flip and a second one. Christopher fucks up and simple transitional move but his the stroke and a pretty nice release german suplex. Rollover suplex gets a two count, he misses a fist drop and Walsh gets a body slam and an elbow drop. Christopher back with a bulldog as JR chides Lawler for being Christopher’s dad. Second bulldog attempt is unsuccessful as Walsh gives Christopher the 10 punch and a drop kick. Christopher reverses a high cross body into a slam and gives Walsh and inverted bulldog and a top rope leg drop for the pin.

(Christopher def. Walsh, pinfall, **, much better than I expected)

The Truth Commission from South Africa is coming…actually I think they already came or were coming next week. Wow only 10 years after Colonel DeBeers completely dragged every bit of heat out of the evil South African character. Not much came of them outside of Kurrigan although I thought Recon and The Sniper were an ok tag team.

Sable flaunts her stuff as Marc Mero stands there pissed. Ahhh “Marvelous” Marc Mero had so much potential once he got it going.

They do a little video package on Mick Foley, as he had recently showed the Dude Love character. Of course this was all set up by a tremendous set of interviews between Foley and JR to get him over. It worked. Of course I don’t think they have tried it much since. What made this whole thing work was how much they acknowledged Foley’s past. They even show “Jack Foley” getting his ass kicked by the British Bulldogs. I remember Dynamite Kid being especially dickish to him in that match. The Austin-Foley interaction actually set up their great program roughly a year later. I admit I fell hook, line and sinker for the whole story and when Dude Love came to help Austin win the tag titles I legitimately felt happy for Mick Foley the person and the fact that he was finally getting this acceptance that he yearned for…like any of that shit was real…and naturally those were the emotional strings they were looking to tug. Of course I doubt they thought Foley would later become a multi-millionaire best-selling author but that’s what happens when the right guy gets the right vehicle.

Austin begrudging shows respect for Foley but he hates him and hates the idea of having a tag team partner because…well because he says so.

Can we get a match? No, just more stuff from last week? Okay, the Godwinns attacked the Legion of Doom. And now the LOD drops a promo. And even though they were pretty much booked to look like a bunch of pussies at this point, Hawk still cuts a cool promo.

And now we have a match.

The Godwinns vs. The New Blackjacks vs. The Headbangers
The winner of this match faces the Tag Team Champions, Austin & Dude Love, next week. The rules are just odd. Three men in the ring at once and you can only tag your partner. Windham, PIG and Mosh start things off and it’s a bunch of guys clotheslining each other.  No real flow to this one. HOG hits a nice flapjack on Thrasher for two and then Hog and Bradshaw knock each other out with clotheslines. Putting all three guys in the ring at once is one of those ideas that probably sounded good in theory, but it’s impossible to follow and the crowd is completely disinterested. Ross says there’s never a dull moment in these types of matches but I vehemently disagree. The Godwinns win, not sure how, really don’t care.

(Godwinns def. Headbangers & Blackjacks, DUD, I’d give it negative stars if I paid attention.)

Time for the War Zone…which has the exact same intro as RAW, they couldn’t have switched things up a little? Yay, more pyro, can never have enough pyro!

JR welcomes Shawn Michaels to the ring and he’s completely in heel mode. It’s actually refreshing to see too as he knew they were going to hate him and he completely goes over the top, even working in a couple of quick crotch chops as we hadn’t officially gotten to that point yet. He does a back flip off the top rope to fuck with those people that bitched about his knee injury. Seriously the jeers are completely drowning out the announcers. HBK quickly mocks the fans and mentions something about the US freeing Canadian ferries and says they will free the heterosexuals too. He proceeds to make Canada his bitch and just trolls the fuck out of the crowd. Oooo…a “faggot” chant; how American of you Canadians…and HBK retorts “if I didn’t know any better I’d think you were talking about me.” He throws his hat in the ring for tonight’s stupid little flag match. But that’s not his only announcement as he says he’ll be the special guest referee at Summerslam. Which match? Well of course Shawn Michaels only works one match…the Main Event. The stipulation is either he calls the match fair or he can’t wrestle in the U.S. which means he “will have to wrestle in front of you guys for the rest of his life.” And declares “if you can’t trust Shawn Michaels, who can you trust.” This was absolutely a road test for his DX persona and it was awesome.

More Canadians cracking at Americans, one of them looks like Kip Dynamite. I know this had to be some sort of an inside joke.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) vs. The Patriot

The Patriot is greeted exactly how you would expect…but much worse…shockingly no one throws a beer on him. If they had I might have declared this the greatest crowd ever. Wilkes says something about supporting your country and patriotism is never bad thing but pick better role models than Bret Hart. Personally Owen was my role model of the group so I’m good. HHH jumps him to start and the crowd explodes with cheers. Patriot no sells some of HHH’s offense and hits him with a couple of shoulders. Powerslam from the Patriot gets two as The Hart Foundation saunters to the broadcast table. Patriot with a suplex but now the camera is completely on Bret bitching at Vince about something. Owen tries to hold Hart back and it looks like he’s successful but Hart returns and slaps McMahon’s headset off. Crowd is about to riot. McMahon shouts back at Hart as the Foundation tries to hold him back. Hart comes back again and he and McMahon have a PULL APART BRAWL! Holy shit. McMahon actually gets the better of it as he pulls Hart’s shirt over him in a nod to hockey-style fights...that will soon be outlawed in hockey. Crowd is the red zone right now, like they are rushing the railings and completely stretching the lengths of whatever security is there. Patriot comes to break things up and the Harts jump him as several referees and officials come out to break up the melee. This was incredible stuff as it felt like two guys having a legitimate fight. First of all McMahon had never gotten physically involved up to this point despite six months of Hart and Austin and HBK and everyone bitching at him. So finally he was brought over the line. Also we’re now really acknowledging the fact that he’s the guy calling the shots in this company. Of course we already knew that but it hadn’t completely been spelled out on WWF programming before. The whole thing had me in SHOCK when I saw it live.

(Patriot vs. HHH is a no contest due to unforseen brawl between company owner and talent, match looked to be able *1/2 and the brawl was a solid ****1/2, needed blood and a connecting punch.)

After the break Paul Bearer takes about Kane being alive…yeah whatever…talk about a segment that could have easily been scrapped because no one was thinking about it at that exact minute. Anyway he reveals his proof that Kane was alive.

Farooq vs. Goldust

Shockingly Goldust gets a huge face pop despite being part of the opposition in the 10-man tag a month ago. Goldust jumps Farooq to start as the announcers talk about what just went down and King chides McMahon for his decision making. McMahon says “oh no” and leaves the broadcast table. Farooq hits Goldust with a clothesline from the second rope as McMahon takes the walk of shame past a booing crowd. Ross says that there has been an altercation with Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels in the back and Michaels has been injured. Meanwhile in the ring Goldust hits Farooq with a bulldog. Kama the Godfather pulls Goldust outside and beats the hell out of him while Marlena inadvertently distracts the referee. Back in the ring Farooq hits a dominator but the referee claims he saw interference he didn’t see and disqualifies Farooq.

(Goldust def. Farooq, disqualification, DUD, this match was background noise and nothing more.)

Back in Shawn Michaels’ dressing room he’s clearly “injured” and cursing out McMahon and the stooges as the crowd approves of what apparently just went down.

Stupid little Flag Match: Bret Hart, British Bulldog & Owen Hart vs. Steve Austin and  ???

Before the match Hart wants to hear ‘O’Canada’ which I must admit is quite the jam up national anthem if there ever was one. Austin comes out by himself but is quickly joined by Dude Love. They decide to go at this two on three and the Harts quickly take control of the brawl to start the match. Owen dumps Love and Bret hits Austin with an inverted atomic drop and a clothesline that sends him to the floor. Owen hits an enziguri on Love and tries to climb but Austin dumps him to the floor. JR sends it to a break and as he does the bell tolls. Uh oh.

We’re back and the Undertaker has joined forces with Austin and Love. Bulldog and Owen work over Love but Owen sets too early and gets kicked. Love sends Owen into the turnbuckle and makes the lukewarm tag to the Undertaker. He cleans house and puts a double armed chokeslam on Owen. Now the more traditional one-armed chokeslam gets a cover but this is a flag match. Tag to Austin and he pounds on Owen and drops him with a clothesline. Suplex from Austin, snapmare and the FU elbow drop. Austin with a chinlock and he heels it up by putting his feet on the ropes. Ross says USA Network will stay with the match until we get a winner. Owen fights out of the rest hold but runs into a kitchen sink knee. Tag to Love and he drops Owen on his head but Owen reverses a neckbreaker into a DDT. Austin comes in to stop Owen’s momentum and Love slaps on a body scissors…hey why not? Owen fights out of it but Love goes to the eyes. Tag to Austin and he sets Owen on the top rope, going for a superplex and but Owen dumps him off the ropes. Austin tags Undertaker as we take another break.

We’re back and Love has a sleeper on Owen but he counters with a suplex and misses an elbow drop. Love misses a clothesline and Owen hits a leg lariat. Still the heels keep Owen from the tag, Owen misses an enziguri and Austin goes for the sharpshooter. Owen kicks out of him and gets the hot tag to Bret. He goes for the ringpost figure four but Love hits him with a clothesline. Austin tags Undertaker and gives Bulldog a chokeslam and goes for the tombstone but Bret breaks it up. A slugfest ensues and they fall victim to a double clothesline but the Undertaker sits up and begins the climb. Owen stops him there’s a race to make the climb as Brian Pillman comes from out of nowhere and impedes the Undertaker allowing Bret to grab the flag and celebrate with his countrymen.

(Hart Foundation def. Austin, Love & Undertaker, capture the flag, ***1/4, decent match, ridiculous heat.)

The Bottom Line: A pretty incredible RAW on several fronts. The wasn't much actual wrestling to speak of but you saw the first glimpse of the new Shawn Michaels persona and the beginning stages of the Mr. McMahon character.  The crowd was absolutely molten and the main event was solid work. Definitely worth tracking down on YouTube (pretty much every 1997 RAW is on there) and watching.


  1. One thing that I miss about wrestling from this era were the smaller arenas, like one here.

    The WWE only runs places like Verizon Center and the newer arenas for shows. It feels very anti-septic because it takes a LOT to get the heat across to viewers at home.

    No doubt, the heat was incredible in 1997. But with the smaller venues, it seems to take over your television screen. And it gave the WWF that edgy feel since WCW was so hot at the time, they mostly ran the United Center's of the world starting in 97 and lost the edge they had in 96.

    HBK in proto-DX mode in the summer of 1997 was pretty awesome.

  2. I sort of remember watching this as it aired; fun show. I was always in the minority when it came to Hart vs Austin; I sided with Hart and never cared for Austin as a character.

  3. Stranger in the AlpsOctober 3, 2013 at 10:34 AM

    I was at that show, being from the east coast. 5 hour drive to get there. No matter how crazy it came off on TV, being their live totally melted my face. Ironically enough, I would move to the state that Bret derided, Texas. Obviously, Bret was not my role model. The Patriot would be proud.

  4. I dont remember Brakus at ALL. I agree, Mero was fucking fantastic as the jealous boyfriend. He played the insecure dick so well. One of my favorite characters of all ttie.

  5. For the record, the Halifax Metro Centre is a medium-sized arena, holding just over 10,000 people, which was a typical size for a 1997 Raw (perhaps even slightly larger). That being said, it does have an intimate feel for its size, especially when they curtain off the north end, as they did for the big staging here.
    Between this show, the Canadian Stampede in Calgary a couple of weeks earlier, and the Edmonton Raw as well, it was quite the month for Canadian wrestling crowds.

  6. Well in both cases they make a little more sense. Ric Flair is from Minneapolis but from about the mid-80s he just billed himself as being from Charlotte because that's where he lived.

    They referred to Benoit as the Canadian Crippler on more than one occasion so it wasn't like they were trying to hide his Canadian upbringing.

  7. Hart mostly panders to the crowd
    and makes fun of Texas, which that state certainly deserves.

    Fuck you.

  8. I was at this show (floor seats, 13 rows back from ringside). Pop for the Harts was insane and Shawn was booed out of the building. Bret left through the crowd after the main event and it took him a good 15-20 minutes to get to the back -- the entire arena descended on him. Good times!

  9. Its too bad WWF got such lousy ratings in 1997, because their programming kicked ass. All the feuds felt real that year, probably because many were. I remember watching thinking hart was gonna murder HBK any day. 1997 was an awesome time to be a wrestling fan.

  10. Scream09_HartKillerOctober 3, 2013 at 7:13 PM

    I was at this Raw! I was 14, my Dad took me and a couple of my friends on a road trip to Raw, it was our first live televised event.

    We arrived hours early, before the doors opened, when they were filming those "why do you support Bret" fan interviews. My friend and I were picked to do one but wouldn't do it because they asked us to take off our Austin 3:16 shirts. We waited weeks for that shirt and I was on Team Austin/Michaels.

    My friend lost his voice screaming "faggot" at Shawn during his entire interview. Even before Montreal Shawn wasn't very popular in Canada.

  11. Aren't you the pro-Benoit guy? Not helping your state's case.

    Also you came out swinging, but doesn't seem like you kept it clean. Princess will be unhappy

  12. Shawn makes being a heel look too easy. Dude just knew how to push buttons.

  13. Vince was on "Off the Record" and he actually answered why Jericho and Benoit were not announced as being from Canada. He just said it was a heel/face thing, nothing more than that. And yeah, it's still stupid.

  14. I miss real.announcers. Jim Ross is missed.

  15. Brackus trained with the harts, suffered the dungeon and then got beat up in ECW. Miz played house on real world and road rules. Never insult brackus again lol. :). God I hate mike mizanin

  16. I enjoy his matches, that doesn't make it any less of a tragedy. Pretending the guy never existed ain't going to bring anyone back, so fuck it.

    Don't give a shit.

  17. My brother was 12 years old at the time and he said he was still firmly on Bret's side at this point and hated Austin. By 1998, however, Austin became one of his favorites.

  18. Don't forget Bret getting so pissed off over them restarting the Ironman match at WreslteMania 12. They even had him cursing out the cameraman in his locker room.

  19. Really? Really? Really?

    I want to kill myself for even typing that.

  20. well actually ratings in 1997 were pretty similar to what they're doing now.

  21. Cool - except the product in 1997 kicks the shit out of the product that is today's.

  22. He didn't get "beat up" in the Brawl for All. He got his ass kicked.

  23. great Raw during the attude era the crowd was red hot i agree with Bret Hart even though WCW was beating them in the ratings by 1997 the USA Canda storyline was just great heat and matchs stil cant belive WCW beat raw in the ratings in 1997 with a show like this

  24. i always though cause of competion with WCW made the ratings higher than today since most people my age watchj UFC now also too bad i was only 4 when this happend i started watching Wrestling in 1998 1999 at 5 or 6 and latter in 2006 and 2007 atude Era all the way also the rise of UFC is kind of like the monday night wars with the attude era but i caught this epsode on the 15 anvrisery Raw DVD that i have flag match was epic also this is back when more teens and adults watched wrestling rather than socer moms and little kids

  25. since you where at that Raw there was a guy in the Aduince who had a Alexander Keiths Beer banner and wearing a shrit with the Keiths logo on it did u see him in the crowd and is Keiths mostly the Beer of choice in Nova Scotia i know it was made there thanks

  26. Keith's is made in Nova Scotia and is popular, yes. As far as the guy in the crowd with the logo and shirt goes, I don't remember seeing him there, but this show was 17 years ago. I was behind the announcer position and there were signs EVERYWHERE, so that blocked out large sections of the audience.

  27. I was there In Halifax Nova Scotia Canada four rows back of the Titantron.The crowd was loud! the pyrotechnics where hot.and loud. it was a pro Canadian atmosphere flags The theme of raw for weeks was USA vs Canada angle. The Hart foundation was cheered loud with cheers and a few air horns .The Metro Centre Erupted in US sucks chants.sorry my american friends this was in 1997. lol! Sorry. During the Hart Foundation interview. Bret Hart, called The United States one big giant toilet bowl. Shawn Micheals got booed called a faggot! He came to say he was a special guest ref. at Summerslam in Bret Hart's WWE Championship match with the Undertaker. Bret come out with Owen & the Bulldog went after Vince Mcmahon yelling and slaps vince's headset off. the 2 got into it. after commercial break the fans booed loudly when Mcmahon he was putting his headset on TV.The show was one the best Monday Night Raw's of 1997..


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