The SmarK 24/7 Rant for Monday Night RAW – November 24 1997
– Live from Tarheelia (or Fayetteville, NC, depending if you’re JR or not)
– Your hosts are JR, Jim Cornette and then Jerry Lawler later.
– Handsome Harvey (replacing the departed Ravishing Rick) acts as the new mouthpiece for D-X, who proceed to get rid of him after making their entrance (with a cutesy comment from them about how it wasn’t hard to replace Rude’s job, a nod to the internet freaking out about Rude’s jump). So Shawn moves on to Survivor Series, taking full responsibility for what happened and pointing out that Bret is still under contract until November 30. And they’ve been in contact without knowledge of the WWF, fans, internet or “underground dirt sheet writers”, and tonight they’ll have a confrontation LIVE, later.
WWF World tag team titles: The Legion of Doom v. Road Dogg & Billy Gunn
I do believe this is the debut of “Oh you didn’t knowâ€¦” and the music, although I didnâ€™t watch last week’s show so I could be wrong. The LOD toss Billy into the ring to start and Animal backdrops him. Over to Hawk and he pounds away, then hits a neckbreaker on Jammes. Dogg bails and gets clotheslined by Animal on the way out, and he walks into a big boot from Hawk on the way in. Cornette does some mind-blowing commentary for 1997, listing the tag title reigns of the LOD with dates and promotions. Midnight Express? Who’s that? Hawk gets the corner clothesline on Jammes, but misses a blind charge and rams into the post. That allows Billy to get some cheapshots on the floor, and we take a break with Hawk in peril. Back with Gunn engaging in a double clothesline with Hawk to put both guys down, and the LOD have a false tag. That allows Dogg to hit Hawk with the tag belt for two. JR actually said “belt” there and probably got yelled at for it. Gunn misses a top rope legdrop and it’s hot tag to Animal, who powerslams Road Dogg. Shoulderblock misses and wipes out the ref, as the LOD tee off on Gunn and try the Doomsday Device, but Dogg hits Animal with a chair and Gunn rolls him up to win the titles at 6:27. The new champs immediately make a run for the dressing room and leave with the belts in a Dodge Intrepid. Is that supposed to be a joke about Shawn making a run for it after Montreal or something? I don’t think anyone expected this to launch the Outlaws into the stratosphere like it did, although this was definitely a case where putting the tag belts on someone turned them into stars later. I’d actually compare them to Miz & Morrison today, although Miz & Morrison aren’t fucking terrible in the ring so it’s not a perfect analogy. *1/2
– And now, the Artist Formerly Known as Goldust gets wheeled out by his nurse, claiming to be an invalid. Just tremendous obnoxious heel stuff from Dustin here, as he wasn’t playing the “cool heel” that everyone else was, but rather the awful jerk you had to boo. Vader comes out to get retribution, but the nurse unmasks as Luna Vachon and they beat the hell out of Vader.
– Steve Austin has ATTITUDE. But not WWF Attitude, because then they’d get sued.
– Building up to a match that no one in their right mind wanted to see, we get a video package about Sgt. Slaughter (ironic now considering his recent firing), who comes out cut a promo about their upcoming horrible, horrible match at the horrible, horrible D-Generation X PPV. Slaughter’s promo is laughably over-the-top (“Have you ever killed a man with your bare hands?” What the FUCK, dude? Are you supposed to be Jack Bauer’s grandfather or something?) and the blowoff match wasn’t much better.
Brian Christopher v. Flash Flanagan
This is a first round match in the light heavyweight tournament. Flash was a guy that they were really high on, but just never got a shot outside of OVW. Flash attacks with a dive to start, but goes after Jerry Lawler on the apron and gets powerbombed to the floor by Christopher. The camera totally misses that bump. Lawler and son toss him around on the floor, and back in Christopher gets a missile dropkick to the back of the head. Rocker Dropper after some Memphis stalling, and the Stroke follows. Inverted DDT sets up the Tennessee Jam to finish at 3:30. Total squash for Christopher. *
– Speaking of shitty moments, D-X joins us to pay off the Bret Hart appearance they’ve been promising all show. And in true Vince Russo fashionâ€¦it’s a midget. They beat him up as we get this joke hammered into our heads with a sledgehammer (he’s got “WCW” on his ass in case we missed how hilarious it was). And then it gets worse, as Jim Neidhart comes out to defend Bret’s honor, and D-X offers him a spot in their group. More inside stuff as Anvil says Bulldog is having minor knee surgery and Shawn says “I know all about fake knee surgery”. Anyone who couldn’t see the swerve coming down main street later tonight has no business watching wrestling.
Ken Shamrock v. Savio Vega
Savio attacks to start, but Shamrock takes him down for an anklelock, which makes Savio quickly head to the ropes and out of the ring. Back in, Shamrock with a low kick and a kneelift, but he walks into a spinkick in the corner. Shamrock with a crucifix for two, but Vega clotheslines him down again. Savio tosses him and Miguel Perez of the Boriquas heads out for some cheapshots, and Savio hits the chinlock. He works on the arm and gets another spinkick for two, but uses the ropes and gets caught. I should note that Perez is wearing a FUBU jacket. Is that allowed? Shamrock comes back with a rana and belly to belly into the anklelock to finish at 5:14. The Shamrock push continues. *1/2
The Rock (no longer Rocky Maivia) brings out the Nation and the (stolen) I-C title belt. The Titantron starts flashing “Rocky Sucks” as the mic cuts out randomly and the lights go up and down. Uh oh, seems like someone’s in the truck. Austin appears on the screen and informs us that when the beeper goes “316”, then your ass is his. Beeper? What’s a beeper? How quaint. And then in one of the all-time great early Rock moments, he checks his beeper, gives a bug-eyed reaction shot, and then turns around to see Austin behind him with a chair. This feud was MONEY from jump street.
– More wrestlers have ATTITUDE.
Jeff Jarrett v. Crush
Ah yes, the debut of AZTEC WARRIOR Jeff Jarrett, but Jeff cuts a promo from the dressing room, complaining that his contract stipulates stuff that’s not being delivered, so he’s not wrestling tonight. Well shucks. Gotta love the casual bait-and-switch here as they advertised his debut all night and then didn’t deliver. Crush “wins” by forfeit, but then loses the war when Kane comes out and destroys him. Enjoy WCW, Brian! Brisco and Patterson try to come out and save, but they get chokeslammed as well.
Shawn Michaels v. Vader
New D-X “member” Jim Neidhart joins the circus at ringside as we prepare to shovel one more bit of dirt on Bret’s WWF career. Vader overpowers Shawn after a break and gets a press slam, then sits on him to block a sunset flip. Big splash gets two. Shawn dodges a corner splash, but Vader clotheslines him anyway and then tosses him for the beatdown from Neidhart and HHH. Back in, HHH throws hot coffee at Vader and Shawn superkicks him for the pin at 2:39. And then of course D-X turns on Neidhart and buries him like no one has been buried before. Why Anvil would be stupid or desperate enough to go along with this is beyond me.
I dunno, man, all the stuff that seemed so cool and edgy to me 12 years ago just seems mean-spirited now. The midget was a pretty low-class move as it is and you could already see the Russo influence, as guys like the LOD and Vader were steadily de-pushed and made to look bad in favor of the younger and hipper crew who hadn’t proven themselves yet. Sometimes that approach worked like with the Rock and Austin and eventually the Outlaws but lots of times it just made the WWF look disrespectful. Like, did anyone think Jim Neidhart was in need of humbling? It was definitely a different time. The writing was also on the wall for the in-ring aspect, as match times become miniscule and the focus shifts to the angles and promos, with Crash TV on the verge of taking over.
Not my favorite show, but it wasn’t boring, I’ll give it that.
Tags: 24/7, D-Generation X, Raw, shawn michaels, SmarK Rants, Vince Russo, WWE