WWF RAW – September 22nd, 1997 – Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Jim Ross narrates a montage of WWF footage at Madison Square Garden, including Hulk Hogan, Billy Graham, and Roddy Piper. According to Ross, Bruno Sammartino wrestled Gorilla Monsoon in 17 consecutive sellouts, even though the two only wrestled 12 matches together at MSG, including tags. Maybe he was counting every fall in their best-of-three falls matches.
Too much John, and not enough Studd! It’s time for Raw is War! Vince McMahon is back on commentary, and he promises that “tonight, you will be royally entertained”. Hey, I thought that was Gorilla’s line! Rocky Maivia arrives with the Nation for his first round IC tournament match. Sgt. Slaughter trails behind them and makes Faarooq, D’Lo, and Kama leave as the crowd chants, “Rocky sucks!” Due to Ken Shamrock’s Internal Injuries™, Faarooq has advanced to the second round despite losing last week. This means that he will face either his teammate Rocky or his enemy-turned-friend-turned-enemy Ahmed Johnson. The Man of a Thousand Kneepads returns to action for the first time since getting kicked out of the Nation.
Ahmed plows through Rocky until Maivia hits a floatover DDT, a Maneuver (#1) called, “Laying the Smack Down” in the WWF Attitude video game. Fans boo loudly. Captain Lou Albano walks around ringside taking notes; perhaps they were saying, “Louuuuu!” Rocky tosses Johnson over the top rope, somehow cutting Johnson’s hand on the ring apron, then whips Ahmed into the ring steps. Lawler says that Ahmed is injury-prone and ought to hang it up. Nonsense! Ahmed has at least four months left in the WWF. Johnson beats Rocky with the Pearl River Plunge from outta nowhere to advance and face Faarooq again.
Later tonight, the second round gets underway when Owen Hart wrestles ally Brian Pillman. Plus, Dude Love will face Hunter Hearst Helmsley in a Last Man Standing match, and Bret Hart will face Goldust. New European Champion Shawn Michaels, who beat the Bulldog in England in the feel-bad moment of the year on Saturday, will also appear. Steve Austin’s music plays, but he is nowhere to be seen. It takes the cameraman ages to locate him in the audience.
But first: Sable is on a mission. It involves Lazer Tag and a hologram of Freddie Blassie. She makes quick work of Howard Finkel.
The announcers tell us that Floyd Patterson is in the audience tonight before recapping this weekend’s One Night Only main event. “The British Bulldog was accompanied to ringside by his cancer-stricken sister, to whom he dedicated the match.” Naturally, he lost the match and the title to HBK, who won with the figure four. Don’t worry, Shawn has big plans for the title.
The Undertaker, who faces Michaels in Hell in a Cell, comes to the ring for an interview with Vince. Will the European title be on the line? No. Does Vince remember that the match is call Hell in a Cell and not Hell in the Cell? Also no. Whatever it’s called, the winner of the match in the “huge steel cage apparatus” “with a lid on it” will now face the WWF champion at Survivor Series. “At Hell in [a] Cell, there’s only way out,” says the Dead Man, “and that’s over my dead body.” I like those odds!
Shawn Michaels cuts a promo on a sober Undertaker and sober Vince McMahon, complaining that the WWF keeps throwing obstacles in his way dating back to Summerslam. But, Shawn says, he’s going to be one step ahead of everybody.
Sunny is out next as the special guest ring announcer. “She is hot,” says a sober Vince, “there is no doubt about it.” Lawler agrees before implying she and Prince Charles had a fling in England this weekend. That could be bad news for one fan holding a “Marry Me Sonny” sign, unless he means Sonny Rogers. The Legion of Doom, who recently presented the weather on Fox News with Steve Doocy, take on Faarooq & Kama. Of these four men, only Kama will never be managed by Sunny.
We see a replay of Faarooq’s “devastating” spinebuster, which injured Ken Shamrock. In fact, it’s one of the weakest ones Ron Simmons ever did. The action gets underway, and Vince says the four men are “letting the fur fly”. Thanks for the image, Vince. Faarooq telegraphs a back body drop, which Hawk counters with a Beautiful Maneuver (#2 – neckbreaker). Before the LOD can hit the Doomsday Device, D’Lo interferes to draw a disqualification. The whole Nation beats up the Road Warriors until Ahmed Johnson, his hand still heavily bandaged from his cut thirteen days before, rushes in. His rescue lasts about ten seconds until the Nation overpowers him, too. The real heroes, the referees and officials, make the save for the babyfaces.
Before the break, a commercial airs for One Night Only on video, where you can see the WWF Superstars “kick some bum in jolly old England”.
A replay airs of Jimmy Snuka’s Superfly splash from the top of the cage in 1983.
Owen Hart comes to the ring with his two Slammys, four rent-a-cops, and new entrance music. “This is a most unusual match-up”, says Vince, as Owen faces fellow Hart Foundation member Brian Pillman. The Loose Cannon, his arm in a sling, has Marlena dressed in leather and a dog collar, much to Jerry Lawler’s perverse delight. Vince and Jim Ross announce that Marlena and Goldust will renew their wedding vows on October 6th (coincidentally, a Monday night), after the 30 days are up. Actually, the 30 days won’t expire until the night of October the 7th, despite the announcers agreeing that today is “day 16” of Marlena’s servitude.
Brian Pillman gets on the mic and explains in rather graphic detail his alleged sexcapades with Marlena, which resulted in him breaking his arm. Commissioner Slaughter is highly skeptical, demanding to see a doctor’s note or X-ray (or at the very least, footage of the incident). He tosses the microphone at Pillman, who grabs it with the same hand as his broken arm. Well, that proves it’s not broken! Slaughter orders the match to go on and threatens either man with a lifetime ban from the WWF. I can think of a few reasons why he might want to ban Pillman, actually.
Owen, compassionate as he is, pleads with Slaughter not to make him wrestle a man with a broken arm. Pillman eventually drops the ruse (which rhymes with “goose” in McMahon’s pronunciation) and removes his sling. Owen and Brian gingerly grapple with excessive politeness as fans chant “Boring”.
The sham wrestling continues during the break until Marlena hits Owen with her purse, sparking dissension between the Hart Foundation members. After the break, they wrestle for real until Goldust, with the sleeves rolled up on his body suit, interferes. This time, he punches Owen first but fails to get a hold of Pillman. This means Owen wins by disqualification. “Come on, motherf***er!” screams Goldust as he is restrained by officials. As this Raw is live, this airs uncensored. Owen Hart celebrates his “hard-fought victory” on the microphone until Steve Austin attacks him from behind. Cops are on the scene immediately, but Vince McMahon begs them off.
“What’s the matter with you!?” yells McMahon. Vince tells Austin that his suspension is for his own good, so that he won’t end up paralyzed. The World Wrestling Federation cares, and Stone Cold has to work within the system. “You sit here and tell me to work within the system”, says Austin to McMahon, who is standing. Stone Cold appears to acquiesce to McMahon’s request before telling him to kiss and giving him the Stunner. Vince rolls over Austin and twitches on the canvas, which is a much better Stunner than the last one he’d ever take at WrestleMania 37. The cops cuff Austin, who flips off Vince behind his own back. Jim Ross, unaware of how the next five years of the WWF will be, is sure that Austin will be fired.
A ten-second tribute to Bulldog Brower airs before the second hour. Too much Boz, and not enough Scaggs! It’s time for War Zone! Vince McMahon is off commentary, meaning there will be no more Maneuvers tonight. Jim Ross is irate at Steve Austin for assaulting the owner of the company, and even Jerry Lawler takes exception to the Stunner on Vince. He’s so flustered, in fact, he doesn’t even notice the sexy lady standing behind him.
Triple H and Mick Foley renew their rivalry in a Falls Count Anywhere match next. Jim Ross condemns Hunter and Chyna’s actions against Davey Boy and Diana Smith last night, but Jerry is too busy chatting up the woman behind him. His first microphone doesn’t work, but on the second go ‘round, he introduces Rhonda Shear.
As Hunter’s “Ode to Joy” theme fades out, a guitar tune can be heard briefly before cutting off. It doesn’t sound like Dude Love’s music, though. The Dude appears on the Titantron rather than in the ring kicking heavy-duty booty. Dude Love invites Mankind to his Love Shack, but the Deranged One thinks there’s an even more suitable replacement for the Dude. “Oh no, are you thinkin’ what I think you’re thinkin’?” asks Dude Love. “I think I am thinking what you think I think you’re thinking,” says Mankind. Out comes Cactus Jack with a trash can, which he brings with him through the curtain. Jack smashes the can on Hunter’s head and dumps its contents on him. Backstage in gorilla position, Mankind and Dude Love must be having a good laugh.
Fans chant “E-C-Dub”, prompting Lawler to call this the second-blackest day in WWF history. Foley hits Triple H with a neckbreaker to the exposed concrete, but gets clotheslined by Chyna when he chases after Hunter. The fight goes backstage, where Halmsley bodyslams Cactus and gets a two-count. Helmsley strolls off, thinking he’s won. Later, Jack mises an elbow to the floor and lands on a trash can.
After the break, Hunter is hitting Jack with a mop, the first time Helmsley has ever handled one of those. He’s still a snob, isn’t he? He still wears riding gear, and JR still calls him a Connecticut Blue Blood. “Cactus Jack’s ribs have gotta be achin’ from the pounding he has been takin’”, rhymes Ross. Cactus causes Hunter some achin’ with a kick to the groin, followed by a sunset flip from the apron to the floor (with Foley absorbing 100% of the impact). Chyna smashes Cactus square in the head with a chair, which fails to fell Jack. In the ensuing struggle over the chair, Triple H knocks Cactus into Chyna, who collides with the steps.
Both men fight up the ramp, exchanging pinfalls. Hunter then goes behind the curtain as two fans chant, “Table! Table!” (or possibly, “Sable! Sable!”). Sure enough, Triple H gives them what they want (the table, that is). With both man standing on the table, Foley hits Helmsley in the groin. The table buckles and bends before Cactus Jack hits the piledriver. With one arm draped over his opponent, “Mr. Bang Bang” wins. Chyna, a few seconds too late, tries to break up the pin and ends up laying on top of Foley.
On the WWF Superstar Line, callers can find out what happened at Saturday’s UK pay-per-view for only $1.49 a minute.
Video tape airs of fans trying to say, “Survivor Series Super Supper Sweepstakes”. That’s the name of the contest where the winner gets to eat dinner (or supper) with their favorite WWF Superstar. Footage then airs of Andre the Giant vs. Big John Studd from WrestleMania 1, even though neither man will be available for the grand prize dinner.
Jerry Lawler has already changed his tune about Austin’s Stunner to Vince McMahon, looking on the bright side to suggest that they may not have to see McMahon or Austin again. The announcers then narrate more stills of the Michaels-Bulldog match, which generated tons of heat for a potential re-match. If you ask me, the families of people with terminal cancer need to learn patience.
Shawn Michaels comes to the ring with a mic, a chair, and his new trinket. HBK sits down to explain how he became the Grand Slam winner, but first, he calls out the Undertaker.
After the break, The Undertaker still hasn’t come out. Speaking of coming out, Shawn takes exception to a fan chanting “Shawn is gay”. “Why don’t you ask your mama if Shawn is gay?” he says. While I can’t vouch for that guy’s mom, I did watch Royal Rumble 2001 at the house of a guy whose mom Shawn hit on at the Baltimore Arena. The Undertaker’s big dong announces the arrival of the Phenom. A bandaged Triple H tries and fails to attack Taker from behind, but Michaels completes the ambush by hitting him with a chair so hard, it seems to disappear from my screenshot. Rick Rude and Chyna join in on the stomping until Taker gets up and brandishes a chair. The as-yet-unnamed D-Generation X retreats up the ramp.
Bret Hart, who earlier today was told he’d be released 19 years early from his WWF contract, arrives for the non-title main event. But first, he gets on the mic to declare that he doesn’t “give a crap” about who wins “in the steel cage”, and that he will beat either Shawn or Undertaker “in the Survivor Series”. “Sooner or later”, he says to Michaels, “our cross — our paths are gonna cross”. His opponent, if you’ll recall from the top of the show, is Goldust, who has painted only half of his face. The other half is painted black, with what appears to be a hammer and sickle; Jim Ross tells us it’s Brian Pillman’s symbol.
Comrade Goldust takes out his anger on Bret as the King speculates gleefully about what Pillman is doing to Marlena. Bret works over Goldust’s legs and flips off a fan (but not the same fan who said Shawn was gay, obviously). Lawler continues to disparage Marlena, saying she was twenty years old before she realized cars had a front seat. Considering Lawler’s girlfriends aren’t even allowed in the front seat, he probably shouldn’t go there. Bret continues to work the legs to set up the Sharpshooter, this time putting Goldust in a figure four on the ring post. He holds on right until the referee’s count of five (which is independent of the referee’s count of ten for being outside the ring). Shawn Michaels steps onto the stage just before commercial. Better stay tuned!
Shawn has stayed put throughout the break but breaks out into a jig after dodging a fan’s water bottle. Goldust fights through Bret’s offense to suplex him, resulting in a double-down spot; fans take advantage of the lull in the action to chant a slur at Michaels, which he conducts like an orchestra maestro. This may be the first Goldust match where the homophobia is directed at somebody else!
The fans are preoccupied with Michaels (who is on the Titantron) until Goldust makes his comeback, booting the Hitman over the ropes. Then it’s right back to booing Michaels. Bret knocks down Goldust, then comes off the top rope for a flying nothing. Goldust gets his foot up, but Bret Hart catches the boot (which Ross pronounces to rhyme with “foot”) and puts the Bizarre one in the Sharpshooter. Hart wins by submission but doesn’t break the hold until Michaels attacks him from behind. Helmsley and Chyna join in the brawl, followed by Owen Hart and (very slowly) the British Bulldog, who is selling his leg injury from Saturday. Rick Rude enters for HBK’s side, followed by a returning Jim Neidhart for Bret’s. Half of these people will be in WCW by year’s end. The Undertaker arrives, clears the ring, and chokeslams Bret and Shawn simultaneously. Will we see a Triple Threat title match at Survivor Series? No, but it would solve a lot of problems.
2 Maneuvers (Year total: 112)