WWF Raw – December 15th, 1997 – Whittemore Center, Durham, NH
Too much cubs, and not enough scouts! It’s time for WWF Raw, which for the first time uses the scratched-steel WWF logo in the corner of the screen. The Undertaker makes his first “live” appearance on WWF Raw since October, although this episode is taped. Michael Cole announces that Taker will face Shawn Michaels for the WWF title at Royal Rumble in a casket match; the Dead Man earned this shot by losing to Jeff Jarrett by DQ.
The Undertaker says his history with casket matches is legendary, having lost only once due to interference by ten men. There were also his two losses to Goldust last year at Beware of Dog 1 & 2. Undertaker tells Michaels that Shawn’s scrawny ___ belongs to him, but he’s too bashful to say “ass”.
The lights go down and Kane comes out. In the ring, Paul Bearer points out that Taker’s parents aren’t there because The Undertaker murdered them. Jeez, when’s he going to let Undertaker live that down? Kane slaps his brother as he did at Degeneration-X, then throws a big telegraphed right hand that Taker blocks. Still, the Phenom walks away.
The WWF Rewind, presented by 1-800-COLLECT, is last week’s father-son ambush of Taka Michinoku. Jerry Lawler comes to the crowded announce table to teach Jim Ross some Japanese; Hentai is not part of today’s lesson. King faces Taka, using his weight advantage until Michinoku hip-tosses him.
Speaking of Japan, Jim Ross plugs UFC’s PPV in Yokohama, which will feature Ken Shamrock’s brother Frank. Taka cuts the King down with kicks and a spaceman plancha. A replay provides what Kevin Kelly calls, “a bird’s eye view” of the move, provided that bird was on a cameraman’s shoulders at ringside.
Lawler throws what Jim Ross calls his first dropkick of the 90s. Taka responds in kind, then both men throw dropkicks at the same time. Taka “misses” a moonsault, in fact landing on Lawler’s back, when the King starts rolling out of the way.
Lawler wears down Michinoku with stomps and fist drops, then piledrives him before missing a flying fist drop. Taka hits the Michinoku Driver, which years later Lawler would swear he’d never even heard of, but Brian Christopher prevents the pinfall. A Lawler double-team backfires, and Michinoku escapes, winning by DQ.
On the WWF Superstar Line, Jim Ross has the scoop on how DX “almost started a near-riot”. I’m not sure how one “almost” starts a “near” riot, but apparently it involves refusing to wrestle the main event. The real riot happens tonight in Little Rock after DX does the same thing. DX won’t be able to wriggle out of their match with the Legion of Doom, who call the trio Michael Bolton, Fabio, and RuPaul. I assume Triple H is RuPaul, due to his fondness for blackface.
New Intercontinental champion The Rock walks to the ring with a fanny pack around his waist, Stone Cold having stolen the belt after forfeiting it. The rest of the Nation wears leather jackets and/or hats; Rocky should have at least put Pan-African colors on that fanny pack. Faarooq tries to comment, but Rocky cuts him off because “the champ is talking”. Faarooq just stares in disbelief at The Rock for the rest of the promo as the champion orders Austin to give back the belt.
Stone Cold says he forfeited the title last week because he was feeling merciful. After threatening to sew Rock’s lips shut, he promises to reveal the whereabouts of the belt later tonight. After Austin leaves, The Rock gives him 59 minutes and 30 seconds to return the belt.
The “Chick Magnet” Dude Love faces Road Dog. This time, Billy handles the introductions, calling himself “The Bad One, Billy Gunn”. “You better recognize”, he says, using D’Lo Brown’s future catchphrase, before joining the announce crew. Jim Ross tells Billy his team should be called the New Age Outlaws, and Gunn agrees. CM Dude handles Road Dog until Dog (who used the nickname “New Age Outlaw” in USWA) hits him with the kitchen sink. Gunn soon takes a break from commentary to stomp Dude on the outside. Dog performs the worm, but Dude Love somehow kicks out.
The Dude then does the mandible claw (shoving Dog through the ropes) and pulls his hair out, astonishing Michael Cole — he’s really Mankind in disguise! Road Dog’s opponent performs Sweet Shin music and hits the double-arm DDT for the victory, but he’s not fooling anyone.
After the match, “Dude Love” has to contend with both Outlaws, who suplex him on the ramp. The tag champs in matching Cartman shirts then ram Mike Chioda into Dude Love, sending him off the ramp and clipping a table. After feigning concern, the Outlaws put the boots to their opponent once more.
Mark Henry makes his WWF Raw debut a mere fifteen months after his first WWF match. Dressed in a black singlet and t-shirt, he enters to the same music as Butterbean (which was also Bam Bam Bigelow’s theme, minus the MIDI saxophone). Jim Ross explains that Henry broke his ankle in training, which is why he’s been gone for so long.
Henry defeats the Brookyln Brawler easily, capping off the squash with a bear hug. It’s a big step down for the Brawler, who one month ago challenged Shawn Michaels for the WWF title in Madison Square Garden.
The WarZone theme, “We’re All Together Now” plays, signaling the start of WWF Raw’s second hour. Tonight, Vince McMahon will speak with Owen Hart, who has attacked Shawn Michaels twice in the past eight days. Jim Ross worries this will be a “PJ Carlesimo” situation, referring to the choking of the NBA coach by Latrell Sprewell two weeks earlier.
In the front row, a woman holds a sign claiming to be “Vince’s #1 fan”; Jim Cornette suggests the woman is McMahon’s mother. Elsewhere in the arena, a row of fans claim that OWEN AND KICKE DX’ D 3: s AS 16 SES [sic].
Vince scolds Owen Hart for endangering fans with his guerrilla-style attacks on Shawn Michaels. After McMahon orders Hart to the ring, Owen walks through the crowd dressed in all black. Vince asks Hart, who has not shaved since Montreal, just who he thinks he is; Owen responds with a number of profanities. He will remain in the WWF, and no one can run him out of it.
Vince smugly claims that Owen is only here to win the WWF title, but Hart says he doesn’t care about “a piece of leather with tin on it”. Well if that’s the way he feels, he won’t mind being shuttled down the card next month to feud with Triple H.
Owen says he’s here to make Shawn Michaels’s life “a living hell”, which is also what Kane and Paul Bearer are trying to do to the Undertaker. Do I smell a tag team match? Speaking of smells, Owen reclaims the “nugget” name for himself. Vince then has security escort Owen out of the arena, for the safety of the fans.
After a lengthy staredown, Owen grabs Vince by the collar as the security guards do absolutely nothing. Jim Cornette says Owen has “some big nuggets”. So nuggets are testicles now?
A recap of last week’s Mero drama airs. For some reason The Sultan is on TV, accompanied by the Iron Sheik. He takes on the former Salvatore Sincere, Tom Brandi. The “big Italian” puts Sultan on the defensive, but Mr. Hershey’s Kiss soon gains the upper hand. To Cornette’s chagrin, Sultan repeatedly attempts lax covers on Brandi. “Look at that jabroni [unintelligible]” says Sheik to the crowd. Meanwhile, the announcers speculate about how Austin, who is reportedly on a bridge, will respond to the Rock’s ultimatum.
Brandi DDTs his opponent, but with his Samoan superpowers, the Sultan pops right back up. The announcers credit this resilience to his protective mask. After Brandi grabs the Iron Sheik on the apron, the Sultan accidentally bumps his manager to the floor, allowing Brandi to schoolboy Sultan for the victory. This is Brandi’s fourth televised victory in the WWF, and his first since September 1996. His victory celebration is interrupted by Marc Mero, who hits him in the groin and stomps him down to chants of “Sable”.
It’s ultimatum time, and Stone Cold is not in the arena. Instead, he’s on a bridge holding the Intercontinental title. Austin begins throwing scuba gear, as well as Rock’s cell phone and pager, into the river. Finally, he chucks the Intercontinental belt into the water.
Next week’s WWF Raw is a special Christmas edition. It’s special in that it is taped two weeks in advance.
Now it’s time for some “editorial comments” — not from Jim Cornette, but by WWF owner Vince McMahon. The speech is called “The Cure for the Common Show”, which is also the motto of USA Network’s Sunday Night Heat lineup. You know the speech. Highlights include the words, “passé”, “extemporaneous”, and “wacky”.
Los Boricuas rap their way to the ring as the announcers debate the meaning of “extemporaneous”. Steve Blackman, the fan who wrestled at Survivor Series last month, enters to Águila’s first theme to take on José Estrada. Blackman, whom Cornette dubs a “human lethal weapon”, quickly defeats Estrada with a bridging German suplex.
D-Generation X, which is now officially spelled that way, gloat over ridding the WWF of three Hart Foundation members. They then decide via rock-paper-scissors who will get to eliminate Owen Hart; Triple H wins with scissors. In passing, they reference their main event match with the Legion of Doom, which is next.
This week’s Lazer Tag Slam of the Week comes from Shotgun, where The Undertaker of all people wrestled The Sultan.
As DX enters for the main event, Jim Cornette obliquely references the previous night’s house show in Memphis, which ended early after DX, pelted by garbage, refused to wrestle in the main event. Little does Cornette know that a much bigger disturbance is happening in Little Rock as he speaks. Compounding DX’s refusal to compete was the fact that, instead of a WWF Raw taping, the Little Rock fans were presented with five short matches featuring lower-card talent. Sorry guys, but WWF Raw is for major cities like Durham, New Hampshire (1990 population: 11,818).
Shawn Michaels wins rock-paper-scissors, meaning he starts out the match against Road Warrior Hawk. Michaels, Ross notes, has held (and, as Ross doesn’t note, forfeited) more titles than any wrestler in WWF history. The Road Warriors bounce Shawn around the ring until he tags in Triple H. Michaels tags back in shortly after, then takes a powder, so to speak. Outside the ring, he runs into a Hawk clothesline. After a long delay in the action, Hunter tags back in, gaining the upper hand after Shawn sneaks in a kick to Hawk’s head on the apron.
DX isolates Hawk and takes advantage of the referee’s distraction to double-team the Road Warrior. Shawn then chides Animal for trying to enter without tagging. Hunter hits the phantom knee drop, which Hawk no doubt prefers to Billy Gunn’s very real knee drop at the last pay-per-view, which caused him to audibly curse.
When WWF Raw returns, Shawn has Hawk in a front face lock. At last, Hawk throws off Michaels. After accidentally knocking noggins with HBK, Hawk tags in Animal, who cleans house. The New Age Outlaws appear at ringside, where Road Dog chloroforms Hawk. With his partner out of commission, Animal should be easy pickings for DX, but Chyna low-blows him in full view of the ref just to make sure.
Despite the disqualification loss, the combined forces of DX and the New Age Outlaws (soon to be known as… DX) celebrate in the ring. Billy Gunn then shaves one side of Hawk’s reverse mohawk. Next, they powerbomb Animal through the announce table, then humiliate him by leaving his haircut intact. The Degenerate Outlaws take turns hitting aerial moves on Hawk until WWF Raw goes off the air.