The SmarK 24/7 Rant for the Monday Night Wars – March 24 1997
– WWF MONDAY NIGHT RAW!
– Live from Rockford, IL.
WWF World tag titles: The British Bulldog & Owen Hart v. The Headbangers. This is fulfilling the title shot won by the Headbangers at Wrestlemania 13 the night before. Owen trades wristlocks with Mosh to start and takes him down with an armdrag and a legdrag, but the Bangers sucker him with a high-low. The champs come back with a double-team on Thrasher and Bulldog presses Owen onto him for two. The Bangers get a quick cheapshot in their corner, but the champs come back with a double-team into a flying elbow from Owen. Headbangers come back with a double-clothesline on Owen, but Bulldog comes in with a delayed vertical suplex on Thrasher, but Thrasher comes back with a knee to the gut and hits the chinlock as this match rapidly goes nowhere. Bulldog fights out and collides with Owen, giving Thrasher a rollup for two. The champs stop to argue the point and Owen decides to walk out on the match, as we take a break. Back with Mosh choking Bulldog out as the Bangers take over. Luckily Owen had a change of heart and returned during the commercial. Bangers continue with the Broken Arrow and Thrasher gets two. Bulldog fights for a tag but Owen is too busy leading cheers and can’t make it. And the crowd chants for Bulldog, so at least his methods were effective. Another double-team gets two for Mosh. Bulldog comes back with a sunset flip for two, and then hits them with a double DDT to set up the hot tag to Owen. Leg lariats for both and a belly to belly gets two on Thrasher. He sends Bulldog back in to finish the job, so he obliges with a powerslam for two. Bulldog then sends Owen back in for a gut wrench that gets two. Owen goes up with a missile dropkick and the Sharpshooter, but Mosh breaks it up. Bulldog sneaks in with a powerslam while the ref deals with Mosh, but Owen doesn’t want that pin. They argue and the ref gets shoved for the cheap DQ at 9:41. Meandering start, but once the storyline started into the game of one-upmanship between Bulldog and Owen the match got much better. **1/2 Owen and Bulldog finally get into a brawl after the match and Owen challenges him to a rematch for the European title next week. Next week can’t get here soon enough, because that’s when one of the greatest storylines in WWF history begins, with a very unexpected payoff.
– Mankind, suddenly the #1 contender to the WWF title and missing Paul Bearer, gets all emo in the back room.
Bart Gunn v. HHH. Bret Hart appears on the Titantron before the match, complaining that he was promised interview time. Vince promises him that it’s coming. Bart overpowers Hunter to start and slugs away in the corner, and we get a Flair Flip from Hunter into a press slam by Gunn. Delayed vertical suplex and Bart goes up and misses a flying elbow by a mile. Hunter USES THE KNEE and gets a neckbreaker and a formal bow to take over. Hunter stomps away in the corner, into a suplex and a kneedrop for two. Another knee gets two. Hunter slugs away in the corner, but Bart comes back with an atomic drop to come back. Back elbow and powerslam follows, but Chyna pulls down the ropes to prevent a bulldog. She slams Bart on the floor for good measure, leaving Bart morally torn, so she tosses him into the post, too. Back in, KICK WHAM PEDIGREE finishes at 7:10. Dull stuff, but the replay is hilarious, as it catches Bart bumping out before Chyna actually has a chance to pull down the ropes. *1/2
El Mosco, Hysteria & Abismo Negro v. Venum, Super Nova & Discovery. Oh boy, another boring trios match to fill time. I know nor care about any of these guys, as this dumb phase was thankfully killed pretty quickly once they had actual WWF talent to fill the shows again. Bump bump highspot, crowd doesn’t care. Some really nice highspots though, and Super Nova pins Negro at 4:10 after a rana. Bret continues his bitching in a cutaway during the match, wanting time to tell his story.
Flash Funk v. The Brooklyn Brawler. Brawler attacks to start, but Funk takes him down with a rana and gets a corner clothesline. Pumphandle slam, but a standing moonsault hits knee. Brawler drops Funk on the top rope, but Flash comes back with a leg lariat and dumps Brawler, then follows with a pescado. Back in, he comes in with a high cross for two. Superkick and a backdrop suplex set up the 450 splash to finish at 3:06. Pretty standard squash for Funk. *1/2
– Ken Shamrock stumbles through an interview about Wrestlemania and why he stopped the match last night. He doesn’t really give any good answer on the subject.
– Bret Hart kicks off a historic turn, as he apologizes to his fans everywhere in the world except the USA. To them, he apologizes for NOTHING. Bret goes into the all-time angry rant, complaining about his treatment over the past year, trashes Shawn Michaels for appearing in a girlie magazine, and notes that American fans would rather cheer for “heroes” like Charles Manson and OJ Simpson, as they glorify criminals and don’t respect true heroes like Bret Hart. And the feeling is mutual. So American fans can kiss his ass. Lemme just say, we were watching this show and jumping on the couch cheering for Bret at that point. Shawn Michaels comes out to offer his opinion, noting that Bret didn’t need to say that he won’t surrender the title due to injury, because “god knows it takes a note from the lord almighty to get that belt off of you.” Oh, that one would certainly be proven true. Certainly Shawn complaining about someone not dropping a belt is the pot calling the kettle black. Shawn calls Bret “mark man” and accuses him of believing his own press and reminds him that fans have the right to cheer or boo whoever they want. COUGH COUGH! Sorry, had some hypocrisy in my throat there. Shawn gives Bret a quick rundown on the first amendment, giving us what I believe is the first and only use of “tough titties said the kitty” on a wrestling program, and finishes with the standard “Love it or leave it” cop out. He then wonders how Bret knew that he had posed in a “girlie magazine,” and that’s enough for Bret, who snaps and kicks Shawn, from behind, in the “injured” knee, then puts him in the ringpost figure-four to really give him something to lose his smile about. This brings Vince away from the announce table to personally pull Bret off, and Sid comes out to make the save and chase Bret off. They could have debuted Jesus Christ himself in the nWo over on Nitro and not even touched the awesomeness that was this interview segment. You could really tell that this was the point when the Bret-Shawn feud started getting nasty for real, and they let it all hang out. And this isn’t even the most inside or nasty that their verbal sparring matches would get!
Rocky Maivia v. Leif Cassidy. Oddly, the Rocky backlash hasn’t really started yet, although I remember it being pretty bad at this point. We take a break after the intros and join things in progress with Leif piledriving Rocky while Bret Hart continues monopolizing the show by doing color commentary. Cassidy goes up and misses a frog splash while Bret notes that he’s trying to be a good role model and no one asked Shawn to interrupt his interview. Good point. Meanwhile, the match no one cares about continues with Rocky coming back and finishes with a high cross at 2:06. And just to prove his point, Bret lays out Rocky and goes after HIS leg, too. Al Snow casually giving him the thumbs up is great. Some poor kid at ringside gets all up in Bret’s face, so Bret flips him off. Little punk, probably deserved it. Don’t fuck with Bret!
Ahmed Johnson v. Savio Vega. Ahmed attacks in the corner, but misses a blind charge and gets pounded by Vega in the corner. Savio chokes him out and punches and kicks and stuff. They head out and Savio lands on Ahmed’s leg on the way out, and we take a break. Back with Ahmed getting a delayed suplex and going up with a SOMERSAULT SENTON?!? An elbow misses, however. Savio hits the chinlock, but Ahmed comes back with Rock Bottom, into the spinebuster. Man, who knew the Rock stole his moveset from Ahmed? The Nation pulls Savio out for the DQ at 6:12 in the most telegraphed finish in well minutes, really. * Ahmed offers some kind of match where the Nation has to break up if they lose or something. It’s hard to tell with him and even the announcers are a little confused.
– And now another rather historic storyline kicks off, as Undertaker shows off his shiny new WWF title belt, but Paul Bearer interrupts, and we’re out of time. That one would take a while to get paid off, certainly, but it was a good payoff.
Another fabulous episode in a series of them.
Part Two – WCW MONDAY NITRO!
– Live from Duluth, MN
US title: Dean Malenko v. Konnan. Konnan takes him down with an armbar to start, but Dean goes for the ankle and Konnan flips him out of it. They do a tumbling sequence and Konnan gets a cheapshot to take over. Rolling clothesline and powerbomb get two while Syxx does a pop-in interview and sounds stoned while doing it. What a shock, I know. Dean comes back with a dropkick, but Konnan cradles for two. He goes up and misses a dropkick, and Dean hooks the Cloverleaf for the submission at 3:26. Just a match. **
– Post-match, Malenko talks about some guy he’s facing at Spring Stampede, and says his name several times. This would seem to be an impossibility because the guy he’s referring to doesn’t exist anymore and never wrestled on any shows currently owned by the WWE, so I can only conclude that this show takes place in some strange alternate universe.
– Let us take you back to Uncensored, as Wrath debuts and helps Mortis beat up on Glacier.
Mortis v. Jerry Flynn. This is Kanyon’s debut as Mortis on Nitro, although the gimmick actually debuted at Uncensored. WCW had a really ass-backwards way of promoting people, to say the least. They trade spinkicks and Flynn gets two off it, but Mortis mule-kicks him in the corner to take over. Mortis throws high kicks in the corner, but poses on the turnbuckles and faces the LIGHTNING FEET~! of Flynn as a result. A superkick puts Flynn down, however, and the second rope guillotine gets two. He stomps away as the match drags on, and an inverted piledriver gets two. Flynn comes back with a powerbomb, but Mortis goes low and superkicks him to set up a middle rope samoan drop to finish at 4:51. They dub that one that Flatliner, although eventually that name would go to a different move. Pretty dull stuff, not enough of a squash to really put Mortis over strong. And Kanyon always had a flair for visually impressive moves, but not for creating stuff that that made sense within the laws of wrestling, if that makes sense. *1/2
La Parka v. Juventud Guerrera. Juvy gets a spinning headscissors to start and goes up while Parka struts, but gets caught and slammed. Nice to see La Parka finally allowed to show personality. Parka bails and Juvy follows with a somersault senton, and back in with a springboard dropkick for two. Blind charge hits boot and La Parka clotheslines him out of the corner, and a springboard moonsault gets two. That looked bad but Tony covered on commentary pretty well. Nice leg lariat puts Juvy on the floor and Parka follows with a SWEET tope con hilo. Back in, they fight for a suplex on the apron and Juvy comes in with a springboard senton. They head up and Juvy tries the rana, but Parka blocks in a surprising twist and brings him down with a powerbomb, then finishes with a patented Tony Schiavone “spinning body attack” at 4:06. Too much obvious cooperation and blown spots, but I was digging it and so was the crowd. ***
– Let us take you back to Souled Out and recap the epic Steiners v. Outsiders feud and all the twists and turns therein. This is all well and good, but they didn’t actually deliver the advertised match for Spring Stampede.
High Voltage v. The Public Enemy. TPE attacks to start and backdrops Rage, then dumps Kaos. Rocco goes after Kaos, however, and Rage hits him from behind to take over. Kaos with a tilt-a-whirl slam for two. Rage slams him, but misses a standing moonsault and it’s hot tag Grunge. He flips Rock onto Kaos and then puts Rage on the table and Rock puts him through it. Jeff Jarrett runs in, hits Grunge with Debra’s briefcase, and puts Kaos on top for the pin at 3:43. Public Enemy trying to work a straight tag match is not a pretty sight. * Apparently this tainted pinfall is then reversed to a DQ, as if anyone cares one way or the other.
Psychosis v. Super Calo. Psy spinkicks Calo down , but gets taken down with an armdrag and bails. Calo blows a baseball slide in embarrassing fashion and they head back in, where Psy drops him on the top rope and hits him with a flying spinkick. Calo comes back with a crucifix for two and dropkicks Psy to the floor, then follows with a flying headscissors to the floor. He springboards out with a senton to the floor, but Psy catches him with a leg lariat on the way in. Psy goes up and the flying legdrop finishes at 3:35. Whereas I can forgive all the sloppiness in the previous lucha match because it was entertaining and told a good story, this was the opposite of that. Psychosis basically came back out of nowhere and finished with one move. *1/2
The Faces of Fear v. Harlem Heat. Barbarian and Meng quickly double-team Booker and dump him while the announcers try to suddenly explain and justify the redonkulous Harlem Heat v. Giant/Luger “main event” for Spring Stampede with the nebulous “shot at Hogan at some future point” stip. Stevie Ray comes in and slams Barbarian into a legdrop, while the fans cheer for gophers. Man, when rodents are getting better than you, you suck. Anyway time marches on and the Faces get a double flying headbutt on Booker, and Meng gets a backbreaker for two and reverses a slam attempt for two. Barbarian with a sideslam for two. Booker comes back and Stevie launches him onto Meng for two. Sidekick gets two. Meng comes back with a powerbomb for two, and it’s BONZO GONZO. Meng hits Booker with a corner clothesline, but Booker rolls him up for the pin at 8:31. This just kept going. *1/2
Madusa v. Malia Hosaka. Madusa gets into a shoving match and gets kicked down. Hosaka gets a Boston crab, and they do an awkward reversal sequence. Hosaka gets a hairtoss, but Madusa comes back with a german suplex into the bridge for the pin at 2:47. Whatever. *
The Renegade v. Hacksaw Duggan. Duggan offers a handshake and tosses his tape to the crowd. Ah, a scientific battle, I see. Duggan gives Renegade a clean break to start, so Renegade attacks from behind and stomps away. Wow, what a heel turn. Duggan no-sells his new, awesome heel offense and slugs away in the corner. Renegade takes him down with an EVIL headlock takedown, but only COMMIES use headlocks, and that gets Duggan all fired up. Renegade hits him with a handspring elbow, but luckily Duggan has another roll of tape and knocks out Renegade for the pin at 3:51. Boy, that sure gets that Renegade heel turn off to a rousing start. 1/2*
The Steiner Brothers v. The Amazing French Canadians. Scott attacks during the anthem singing and the Steiners dump them, but Scott gets whipped into the railing by Pierre. Back in the ring, the Canadians take over and Jacques slams Pierre onto Scott. The usual heel shenanigans in the corner lead to Pierre coming off the middle rope and missing, and it’s hot tag Rick. The announcers try to read into Rick’s performance and support his “ear injury,” which really sounds stupid because why would you try to sell your babyface as injured and lame and then book him to do a clean job in the blowoff match? Parker gets involved and Pierre cannonballs Rick, but there’s no ref. Rick comes back and Jacques hits Pierre by accident with a boot for the pin at 3:58. Total mess. 1/2*
World TV Title: Prince Iaukea v. Randy Savage. Kevin Nash gives a shoutout to Shawn Michaels on the way to the ring, because he’s so cool and inside. The entire nWo is at ringside for this, which should give away the finish before we even start. They trade shoulderblocks to start and Savage bails, and Iaukea gets a crossbody for two back in the ring. Slam gets two. He misses a high cross and Savage drops him on the top rope to take over. Flying elbow looks to finish, but he picks up the Prince at two. DDP runs in and attacks for the DQ at 3:19. They might as well have taken the TV title off Iaukea here, because he looked like a jobber anyway and then DDP and Savage would have had a title to fight over. 1/2*
Gah. The first hour was fun with a hot crowd, but that second hour was torture and they managed to kill that same crowd in short order. Definite win for RAW this week.
Tags: Raw, WCW, WWE