The SmarK 24/7 Rant for Monday Night RAW – December 15 1997
– Taped from Durham, New Hampshire.
– HOUR #1!
– Your hosts are Jim Ross, Kevin Kelly and Michael Cole.
Undertaker kicks things off with a special interview with Cole. So Undertaker is #1 contender, just like that, and he’s wrestling Shawn at the Royal Rumble in a casket match. He notes that last time it took 10 guys to shove him into a casket (thanks for reminding us of that atrocity) and there’s only two guys in D-X, so odds aren’t on their side. However, Kane heads out and Paul Bearer once again plays the dead parents card (geez, what a dick), leading Kane to bitchslap his brother. Undertaker still won’t fight him, however, and walks away.
Jerry Lawler v. Taka Michinoku
Taka grabs a headlock and Lawler tosses him off in response. JR actually plugs a UFC PPV (Ultimate Japan), which is something that would never happen in a million years now. Lawler does some more Memphis stalling and Taka sends him to the floor with a series of kicks, then follows with a springboard plancha. Back in, Jerry throws his own dropkick (his first of the 90s, notes JR), but Taka gets his own and it’s a dropkick stalemate. Taka dropkicks him into the corner, but misses a moonsault and Lawler takes over with a suplex and chinlock. He tosses Taka and gets the piledriver back in the ring, but the fistdrop misses and the Michinoku Driver finishes at 5:40, although Brian Christopher runs in for the DQ before the pin. This was kind of needlessly long, which is something you don’t often hear about Russo shows. *1/2
The Rock and the Nation head out, and Rock is so clearly the star of the show now that it’s not even funny. He declares himself the People’s Champion, totally ignoring Faarooq and his demands for attention. He ORDERS Steve Austin to come out and give him the belt back, so Austin joins us for some trash talk (Rock’s silent comebacks are a great character touch) and Rock gives him one hour to return the belt. Or else.
Road Dogg v. Dude Love
First use of “Oh you didn’t know?” although it’s Billy Gunn who says it. They slug it out in the corner and Dude wins that one, then takes Dogg down with a headlock. And then Jim Ross dubs them the New Age Outlaws, and there you go. Pretty funny bit with Billy on commentary, as Dogg calls him over and Billy, very polite, goes “Oh, I believe he wants me for something, excuse me for a moment” before beating up Dude on the floor. Back in, Dogg with the Worm splash for two and a dropkick into the corner. Dogg shucks and jives, but runs into the Mandible Claw and they head to the floor as a result. Dude goes a little crazy and starts to turn into Mankind, as they head back in the ring for the running knee in the corner. Dude sets up Sweet Shin Music and finishes at 4:33. ** The battle continues up the ramp, as the Outlaws pound away and try to toss him off the stage, but Dude fights them off. Finally they toss a referee at him, and that’s enough to send him flying through a table below. The Outlaws go check on him, make sure he’s OK, and then beat him up again.
Mark Henry v. The Brooklyn Brawler
This is apparently Mark’s RAW debut. He’s still a babyface rookie at this point, which is weird. Henry tosses Brawler around and gets a backbreaker out of the corner, then throws knees into the back. Elbow and bearhug finish at 1:49.
– HOUR #2!
– Hosted by Jim Ross & Jim Cornette
Vince McMahon, who is all about the fan safety, calls out Owen Hart for “endangering” fans by crawling over them on the way to the ring. So Owen heads out via the crowd and notes that his family did what they had to do, so he’ll do what he has to do: Stay here and kick Shawn’s ass. He doesn’t care about some “stupid piece of leather with tin on it”, this is PERSONAL. Apparently Shawn and Bret care more about the stupid piece of leather with tin on it. Vince brings out the cops to escort Owen out so no one gets endangered. God forbid. Unfortunately, all the character rehabilitation for Owen went completely to waste because the point was always to feed him to HHH. What I don’t get is why they didn’t put the Euro title on him right away, which would have given him his revenge on Shawn and then set up the title feud against HHH.
The Sultan v. Tom Brandi
Really? How long did Solofa Fatu last in this stupid gimmick? Brandi gets some token jobber offense, but puts his head down and gets piledriven for two. Brandi slugs back, but runs into a knee that gets two. Sultan with a lazy superkick for two. Brandi comes back with a neckbreaker and goes after Iron Sheik, which leads to Sultan hitting his manager by mistake and Brandi getting the fluke rollup for the pin at 3:45. Marc Mero beats the shit out of Brandi afterwards just so we know that Brandi really is a jobber. This has gotta be it for the Sultan, right? He’s not quite fat enough for Rikishi yet, but I recall him being fairly small at the start of that gimmick. 1/4*
The Rock returns with the ultimatum for Austin, but Steve’s off at a bridge somewhere in the state. He chucks Rock’s pager and I-C title into the river, which you’d think would have been a good point to introduce the new design. Stealing his pager (and Rock’s shocked reaction) is such a great touch.
– And then we watch the entire segment again after the commercial.
And now more weirdness, as Vince McMahon formally introduces the Attitude era, talking about how they take influences from all sorts of entertainment forms, because wrestling fans are tired of having their intelligence insulted!
Excuse me for a secondâ€¦
OK, I’m good now.
Steve Blackman v. Jose
Hey, a Boriqua AND Steve Blackman, it’s like ratings gold in a bottle. Blackman gets a backdrop and half-crab, but Jose makes the ropes. Blackman with a bicycle kick and german suplex to finish at 1:34. 1/2*
– Meanwhile, D-X decides who gets to deal with Owen Hart the same way they make all their major decisions: Rock paper scissors. HHH wins and thus gets the honors.
Shawn Michaels & HHH v. The Legion of Doom
Shawn starts with Animal and gets overpowered, then gets pinballed in the corner before tagging out to HHH. D-X does some quick double-teaming on Animal, but Shawn hot dogs and gets clotheslined by Hawk outside. Shawn tries to crawl away, but HHH talks him into returning. Shawn is going way over the top and acting like a complete clown here. So it’s over to HHH and he gets headlocked by Hawk, but Shawn gets the cheapshot and HHH USES THE KNEE to take over. D-X double-teams in the corner and Shawn is being a ridiculous ham, obviously not giving a shit here. We take a break and return with Shawn holding a facelock on Hawk, but he powers out of it. Hot tag Animal, but the Outlaws head out and chloroform Hawk for the DQ at 7:37, and the beatdown is on. D-X gets rid of Animal and Billy shaves Hawk’s Mohawk off. And Animal goes through a table. You’d think this would lead to the Outlaws joining D-X, but it took another four months for that to happen.
This is such a weirdly entertaining show now because I don’t find myself actively enjoying a lot of it outside of Rock/Austin and D-X, and yet it just FLIES by. Some real good stuff here, though, and more to come during the build to Wrestlemania.