Welcome everyone to Monday Night Raw! We’re coming to you tonight live from the Manhattan Center in New York City! Vince is ecstatic to back in the building where it all started back on January 11, 1993. Jerry Lawler is with him to remind us that he called out ECW last week and apparently they’ve accepted his challenge and are here in the building, but who cares about that when we’ve got hillbillies taking on cowboys!
Match 1: The Godwinns vs. The New Blackjacks
The repacked Bradshaw and Windham apparently debuted this past weekend on Shotgun Saturday Night, as The New Blackjacks. The Godwinns apparently did a run-in which I guess is why this match is happening.
They start things off with a donnybrook. Henry slams Windham who is then bumped into the corner by Phineas. Bradshaw tries and fails to overpower Phineas so he just fucks him up with punches. An elbowdrop misses and Henry gets in control after a double-team elbow that earns him a two count.
The Godwinns continue to run roughshod on the Blackjacks until Windham gets a cheaphot and drags Henry out of the ring to beat on him while Bradshaw gets a two count back in the ring.
Windham hits a back suplex and we cut to Ken Shamrock, Ultimate Fighting Champion, out in the audience. Lawler claims that he and Shamrock are BFFs. Bradshaw pounds away on a hillbilly with forearms in the corner, but ends up running into a boot.
Both teams make tags, and Phineas uses his HOT TAG to slap the sleeper hold on Windham. Bradshaw then hits a proto-Clothesline from Hell to break the hold and Phineas gets pinned. He manages to get his foot on the bottom rope, but the ref doesn’t give a fuck and counts the pin anyway.
Another referee hits the ring to plead the Godwinns’ case for them, but the original ref isn’t having any of it. So Henry Godwinn dumps a bucket of slop over the ref’s head on the outside. The ref then proceeds to slip and fall a half dozen times while Lawler declares that the Godwinns will obviously be suspended.
Winners: The New Blackjacks
It’s 1997 and Vince is still running matches between hillbillies and cowboys. The nWo is in full effect in WCW and this is the kind of garbage he was booking? I mean it might be different if the guys in the ring were good, but this is 1997 Barry Windham, not 1987 Barry Windham and the other three are all mediocre at best. Lots of slow, mediocre brawling in this one. [⅓*]
Meanwhile With Sugar Ray Leonard…
There’s a Vince McMahon read ad for a boxing match between Sugar Ray Leonard and Hector “Macho” Camacho for some reason. I have no idea why. Those two will fight this weekend or something.
ECW! ECW! ECW!
The ring clears and suddenly The Eliminators hop the guardrail and hit the ring. They take out some random joker with Total Elimination and Paul Heyman shows up and screams about ECW and tells Lawler that his challenge has been accepted. Lawler looks like a deer in headlights and Vince eloquently sums the entire scenario up by declaring, “the King’s answer has been challenged!”
Match 2: Little Guido vs. Big Stevie Cool (w/ Da Blue Guy, Hollywood Nova, & 7-11)
Heyman joins the announce booth after the ring crew guy got Totally Eliminated. The bWo make their way out and Vince has no idea what the fuck is going on. 7-11 is noted pedophile, Rob Feinstein, in what I think is his only WWE appearance.
The match gets underway and Stevie hits a blockbuster slam on Guido and follows up with a sideslam. It quickly becomes obvious that the commentary is more important than what’s happening in the ring when Lawler declares the bWo a ripoff.
Without missing a beat, Heyman asks him, “Who are they ripping off?” Lawler and Vince are completely speechless. Fortunately, ECW Champion, Raven, shows up to break up the tension. He distracts Stevie which allows Guido to get a rollup. Stevie goes out to the floor and Raven looms over him looking like a badass until Guido rolls him back into the ring.
We get an inset promo from Goldust who says that ECW is just a B-movie and he’s the real star. There are some technical difficulties and Goldust gets cut off. Lawler opines that there are also technical difficulties in the ring.
Guido hits a corner powerbomb that’s good for two and Heyman says that he doesn’t care if Goldust is heterosexual, homosexual, or bi, if Marlena came along with the package, he’d take him out.
We get Goldust back on the line to talk briefly about Marlena’s upcoming arm wrestling match and his own match with Savio Vega later tonight. He says a whole lot of nothing while a wrestling match happens in the ring with Guido getting Richards in a chinlock and earning a near fall off a bulldog.
Richards hits a Fameasser and a powerbomb and then warms up the band for his Stevie Kick as Vince plugs La Femme Nikita. Richards hits the Stevie Kick and Heyman goes apeshit. Lawler is less impressed. “Big deal,” he says, “I’ve only seen Shawn Michaels do that to like a thousand people.”
Heyman agrees that while that might be true, there is one crucial difference, that being, “Big Stevie Cool has never lost his smile.” OH FUCK!
Stevie covers and picks up the win and Vince declares that the bWo should not be confused with the New World Order clothing line. I wonder if he spent the entire match trying to come up with a response to Heyman asking who the bWo was ripping off and “New World Order clothing line,” was the best he could come up with.
Winner: Stevie Richards
It was honestly kind of hard to follow this match. Between the random mid-match inset promo from Goldust, Lawler and Heyman arguing with one another, and Vince hyping USA Network originals, it was hard to pay attention to what was happening in the ring. The match itself was a fine enough TV match but it was short and not particularly memorable. [*⅓]
Match 3: Sunny vs. Marlena
In order to make an already insane show just a bit weirder, here comes The Honky Tonk Man! He’s going to officiate the upcoming ARM WRESTLING battle between Sunny and Marlena. The fans are none too pleased by the presence of the Honky Tonk Man and someone bellows, “YOU SUCK!” at the former Intercontinental Champ.
Sunny comes out first in a bathrobe. She gets on the mic and tells the “fat, ugly fans,” in attendance that she’s going to show them what a real woman looks like and then removes her robe to reveal a pair of hot-pants and a bra. The audience approves.
Marlena shows up and Sunny is like, “I know you’re still injured after being attacked by that big, beastly woman, so I’ll be more than happy to let you walk and take a forfeit win.” We see footage of the aforementioned attack from last week. The big, beastly woman is none other than Chyna in her WWF debut.
Marlena refuses to forfeit so the match gets underway. Sunny refuses to get in arm wrestling position and instead wastes a bunch of time posing and warming up. When she’s finally ready, Marlena does the same thing once and Honky immediately threatens to DQ her if she pulls that shit again.
They finally lock up and begin to arm wrestle. The fans in attendance give zero fucks and it sounds like they are chanting, “Honky’s got a boner!” but I’m not certain.
Sunny and Marlena go back an forth, but Marlena eventually gets the advantage. She’s about to win when Sunny pulls a handful of Memphis dust from somewhere and throws it in Marlena’s face and then knocks the arm wrestling table over for no reason.
Someone in the crowd is furious about this and screams, “YOU FUCKING BITCH!” several times. Savio Vega shows up and menaces Marlena, but Goldust runs in for the save. He does some shit to Vega and then slams his face into the arm-wrestling table and we go to commercials. TAPE MACHINES ARE ROLLING!
An arm wrestling match during a wrestling show that ended in a DQ victory and the table getting flipped over. It was every arm wrestling contest during a professional wrestling event ever. [NR]
Match 4: Savio Vega (w/ The Nation of Domination & Sunny) vs. Goldust
Apparently Savio Vega and Goldust became an official match during the commercial break as we’re joined already in progress with Savio choking Goldust on the mat. He then hits a side slam that gets him a two count.
The ECW fans are none to pleased with the match transpiring before them and take this opportunity to chant a bunch of random shit. They chant “Candido” at Sunny for awhile since she’s apparently in Savio Vega’s corner for this match.
Savio continues to choke Goldust as Miguel Perez joins Vince and Lawler on commentary. Business is about to pick up! Perez mumbles some stuff about how disgusted he is with his countryman, Savio Vega, over his disrespectful behavior.
Vince asks what the word on the street of Puerto Rico City is regarding Savio Vega. Perez says that Vega is shameful and “no longer Puerto Rico.” It is not particularly good. Vince has Perez say some words to his Spanish speaking fans. He does. I don’t speak Spanish so I have no idea what he’s saying.
Savio dumps Goldust outside where Crush attacks him. The referee somehow misses this. Savio rolls Goldust back in and the pair get into a slugfest. Savio hits an ax kick and then it’s time for some more choking. Vega decides to mix it up and applies a nervehold but Goldust escapes and hits a bodypress for two.
Goldust walks into a mule kick that gets Savio Vega a two count. Savio works Goldust over in the corner, but Goldust hits a DDT that downs both me. Savio recovers first but misses a splash.
Goldust hits a low blow to turn the tide and we get a shot of Sunny bouncing her tits on the ring apron, because that is far more interesting than anything happening in the ring. Goldust hits some clotheslines and some mounted punches in the corner and then goes up top, but Savio crotches him and goes for the superplex.
Goldust fights him off and send him to the mat. He jump off but Vega gets his foot up. Goldust avoids the boot to the face and proceeds to stomp on Savio. Goldust gets nailed and sent out to the floor where he just blasts Crush and then heads back into the ring.
Savio completely misses with a leg lariat so Goldust kind of half sells in and collapses in a heap. He gets back up and rakes Savio’s eyes and then goes after a Nation of Domination member in a suit and bowtie. HO SHIT! It’s D’Lo Brown!
Crush hits the ring and lays out Goldust, drawing the DQ. He and Savio Vega beat on Goldust which causes Miguel Perez to hit the ring. He literally gets chucked back out before doing anything, but he’s not about to let this travesty of justice continue so he heads up top and hits a missile drop kick and then clears the ring with Goldust.
This was so long. It was probably like 8 or 9 minutes in real time but it felt like 8 or 9 hours. Nothing happened and then Crush random got the match thrown out when his teammate wasn’t even in trouble. Awful. [-*½]
Meanwhile In Germany…
Raw will be coming to us from Berlin next week where we’ll have the finals for the tournament to determine the first WWF European Champion. Vince puts this event over by saying, “Germany hasn’t seen an event this big since they tore down the wall.” Wow, just wow.
Meanwhile In 1993…
We get footage of Jerry Lawler interviewing Tiny Tim and mocking him from back in 1993. I have no idea why they are showing this. It is not particularly good, or even tangentially related to anything else happening on this. I thought, maybe he’d died or something and Vince decided this was better footage of Tiny Tim than him giving Uncle Elmer a ukulele on that episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event, but no, Tiny Tim had died months before this episode aired.
Meanwhile in the Audience…
Lawler goes to interview the Ultimate Fighting Champion, Ken Shamrock, who’s in attendance tonight. Lawler wants Shamrock to tell everyone how he learned all his submission holds from Lawler and how they were best friends.
Shamrock is like, “I don’t even know you,” so Lawler goes on some more about how they were best friends and Shamrock calls him a liar. I have no idea why this was something they put on TV.
Here Come The Slammys…
The Slammys are coming sooon. Call a 1-900 number to vote for your favorite finishing move! Shawn Michaels’ Sweet Chin Music, Marc Mero’s Wild Thing, Sycho Sid’s Powerbomb, Stone Cold’s Stunner, and Bret Hart’s Sharpshooter are all nominated. Kids, get your parents’ permission before calling!
Match 5: Mikey Whipwreck vs. Taz (w/ Bill Alfonso & Team Taz)
Heyman talks about how bad Raw would be if ECW hadn’t been there to bail them out and then once again does the ring intros for the next match. He informs us that Taz will be main eventing Barely Legal against Sabu on April 13. Lawler asks McMahon if he’s embarrassed by this ECW nonsense, but Vince says it was Lawler who invited them there in the first place.
In the ring Taz takes down Whipwreck a couple times and hits a Northern Lights suples for two. Taz goes for a Tiger suplex but Whipwreck gets a sunset flip that’s good for two. Taz decides he’s fucked around long enough and lays waste to Whipwreck while Lawler and Heyman bicker on commentary about being short.
Farooq cuts an inset promo on the Undertaker while the match is going on. I can’t remember what he even said.
Sabu shows up and proceeds to jump off the giant R from the RAW set up by the entrance and take out Team Taz who had conveniently left the ringside area to go stand by the big R for this particular spot. Actually maybe jump is a strong word. He kind of falls off it since it’s flimsy as fuck.
Sabu goes for the ring, but Taz finishes off Whipwreck with a Tazplex into a Tazmission. Vince puts over Taz’s big win over “Mickey Whipwreck,” and Paul tells him he needs “to watch the tapes the Bruce Prichard leaves on (his) desk.” Vince no sells it and says something about how there’s a huge surprise coming up next.
A pretty basic squash match. Taz looks tough going into the PPV. Sabu looks like a wild maniac going into the PPV. Mikey Whipwreck got his one hope spot so his gimmick of loser who somehow picks up big wins isn’t really ruined. Lawler and Heyman bickerin kind of ruined it for me though since they were super annoying. [*]
Match 6: The Headbangers vs. The Legion of Doom
“OH WHADDA RUSH!!!!” The surprise is the return of the Legion of Doom, and New York goes absolutely apeshit as Hawk and Animal head out.
Mosh does his stupid dance, but Animal just beats the fuck out of him. The crowd starts to chant, “Nitro sucks!” which prompts Vince McMahon to declare that they’d never censor fans here in the WWF and encourages fans to say what they like and bring whatever signs they want to the arenas.
Animal powerbombs the fuck out of Mosh, causing his head to slam into the mat. Thrasher comes in for the save, allowing Mosh to continue to get the shit beat out of him. Hawk drops him with a dropkick that’s good for two and then gets him in a rear naked choke. He then decides he’s had enough of this submission hold bullshit and goes back to random power moves, laying out Mosh with a vertical suplex.
The Legion of Doom beat on Mosh in the corner, but he fights back and Hawk sells for about a second, giving Mosh enough time to tag Thrasher in. Animal chokes him out in the corner and Hawk goes for a charge, but misses and eats the ringpost and falls out to the floor. The Headbangers look to capitalize as we go to commercial. TAPE MACHINES ARE ROLLING!
We come back from break to see Thrasher get two on Hawk. During the break the Headbangers apparently remained in control. The Headbangers attempt to do a double-team clothesline on Hawk but Hawk runs through it and then comes back and clotheslines both Headbangers.
Hawk makes the HOT TAG to Animal who comes in a wrecks Mosh’s shit with a powerslam. Everyone heads out to the floor to brawl. They brawl and brawl and brawl some more. Hawk seems to realize that they’ve been brawling too long and rolls back into the ring, but the ref calls for the bell. It’s a double count out.
Back in the ring the Legion of Doom get Mosh up and ruin his shit with the Doomsday Device and proceed to celebrate as though they just won.
Winners: Double Count Out
What a stupid ending. The Road Warriors still wrecked the Headbangers shit after the match and made them look foolish. Why not just have that be the end to the match? Part of me wonders if they weren’t actually supposed to get counted out but someone just fucked up. Either way, the ending was lame and after popping huge for the Road Warriors’ return the crowd stopped caring about them by the end of the match. [*]
“Tell Me a Lie”
Vince talks about how there’s been an outpouring of support for Shawn Michaels as he undergoes therapy. I assumed it was for his lost smile, but I think Vince says it’s for his knee, though he also talks about Marc Mero being messed up so maybe it’s Mero who needs knee therapy.
Anyway they show the “Tell Me a Lie” video about how great Shawn Michaels is and how much he was loved by women and children.
Match 7: D-Von Dudley (w/ Sign Guy Dudley) vs. Tommy Dreamer (w/ Beulah McGillicutty)
Lawler continues to shit all over everything related to ECW. He tells Heyman that he should kiss his feet for giving ECW more exposure in this one night than they’ve had in their entire run. Heyman thanks Vince for giving ECW this opportunity and sounds genuine.
In the ring Dreamer and D-Von lock up. Tommy blocks a hiptoss and hits D-Von with a bulldog and then tosses him out to the floor. Dreamer grabs some weapons from fans at ringside, including a cane that he slams across D-Von’s back.
“That’s some wrestling for you!” says Lawler dismissively. Vince deadpans that he hopes things don’t get out of hand. Heyman, however, would welcome such a turn of events. Chaos reigns and Dreamer sets up the ring steps on the apron and then proceeds to dropkick them into D-Von’s face.
Sign Guy Dudley hands D-Von a chair and D-Von wails Dreamer with it and then hits a sideslam on top of it. He hits a legdrop on the chair, but again at this point the commentary becomes more important that the stuff happening in the ring.
Lawler goes off on Heyman talking about how he’s been wrestling for 20 years and was never ashamed of it. The mayor of Memphis apparently offered to tag with him, but now because of this ECW bullshit he doesn’t want to be associated with it.
Heyman fires back. “YOU’LL NEVER NE ASSOCIATED WITH THIS!” Awesome.
D-Von misses a flying headbutt and Dreamer nails him with a piledriver. Sign Guy gets involved with Beulah at ringside, distracting everyone as Lawler continues to rant. This is apparently the perfect time for a inset promo from Undertaker.
Taker talks some shit about his WrestleMania match with Sid while Lawler and Heyman fume at one another on commentary, and Beulah hits D-Von with a low blow. Dreamer hits D-Von with a spike piledriver and then lays him out with a DDT to pick up the win. Bubba Ray Dudley hits the ring to help D-Von and together they nail a beautiful 3-D.
Sandman comes out and heads down to the ring before he’s even finished his beer. He gets up on the apron and then proceeds to get his ass beaten by the Dudleys because apparently the ring apron during a run-in to make the save is a great time to stop and finish a beer. Eventually though Sandman unloads on the Dudleys with chairshots to their heads and he and Dreamer stand tall.
Over at the announce booth, Lawler is fed up with Heyman and tells him to fuck off. Heyman starts to walk off only to turn back and attempt to fight Lawler. The entire ECW crew shows up to defend Paul Heyman as Lawler stands on the announce table taking swings at anyone who gets near him. It’s pretty great.
Winner: Tommy Dreamer
This was a pretty good little ECW style match and really the only one that gave people a taste of what the E in ECW stood for. Again I give credit to Paul Heyman for saving the one match that was mostly brawling and weapons until the last ECW match on this card. If he’d had ever match be brawling and weapons shots I don’t think it would have been as effective.
Lawler as a defender of scientific wrestling is also kind of hilarious since ECW was basically Memphis wrestling plus 90s alternative culture. Hell, his Tupelo Concession Stand brawl basically gave birth to “hardcore” wrestling. [**]
Meanwhile at the Announce Table…
Order has been restored when we return from the break. Lawler says that nothing that transpired was his fault and if ECW shows its face again he was going to shove his fist down Heyman’s throat.
Highlights for Children!
We get a recap of what was going on with the WWF World Heavyweight Championship since Shawn Michaels lost his smile and forfeited the belt. Bret Hart had one the title at the Final Four In Your House only to lose it to Sid the next night on Raw due to interference from Austin. Undertaker somehow becomes the #1 contender leading to WrestleMania XIII with Taker vs. Sycho Sid for the Championship and Austin vs. Hart in a submission match. One of them is widely regarded as one of the finest matches in WWE history, the other one is one of the matches no one talks about when looking back fondly on Taker’s WrestleMania streak.
Meanwhile In The Audience…
Take 2 in interviewing Shamrock, this time with Todd Pettingill doing the honors. Ken’s there with his wife and his father. They all talk about how great the in-ring action has been. I’m curious what the fuck they’ve been watching, because it certainly wasn’t the same show I was watching.
Todd asks Shamrock about his predictions for the upcoming WrestleMania matches. Shamrock thinks Taker will beat Sid since Taker’s got better balance, but he can’t pick a winner in the Austin vs. Hart match. Hart’s the better technician, but Austin will never quit, so he doesn’t know.
Pettingill does a quick audience poll. The crowd is 8000% behind Austin and the only reaction Hart’s name gets is a chorus of boos. The segment is cut short by The Nation of Domination theme song.
Match 8: Farooq (w/ PG-13, Crush, D’Lo Brown, Savio Vega & A Guy In a Suit) vs. The Undertaker
PG-13 are rapping as Farooq makes his way out. This is a pretty solid entrance. Farooq stops over by Ken Shamrock and tells the sound guy to cut the music. He then gets on the mic and cuts a promo on him inviting Shamrock to get in the ring and show everyone what he’s got.
Shamrock says that if Vince McMahon would sign something and Farooq would agree to a one on one fight he’d do it, but he’s not going to face Farooq’s goon squad. I’m pretty sure Gorilla Monsoon is still the kayfabe president of the WWF at this point, so good job there Ken Shamrock.
Perhaps because of this, Vince interrupts the verbal sparring between Ken Shamrock and Farooq to tell us that there’s an all new episode of La Femme Nikita coming up next.
Undertaker then makes his entrance. It takes a fortnight for him to get to the ring. Farooq is outside of the ring consulting with his associates. The bell finally rings, but Farooq is still outside. The Undertaker comes out after him and proceeds to chase him around the ring.
Taker fucks up D’Lo, who’s still just a nameless guy with a bowtie at this point, and then heads back into the ring. Farooq is waiting for him and hits him a few times before Taker hits a flying clothesline and then goes Old School. He follows with an elbow and Farooq foes out to the floor.
Farooq takes a minute to regroup, but back in the ring he promptly walks into a Big Boot that gets Taker a near fall. Taker follows up with a short clothesline and then goes for an elbow but misses and Farooq covers him for two. He then dump Taker on the outside allowing D’Lo a chance to get revenge. D’Lo stomps on Taker and we go to commercials. TAPE MACHINES ARE ROLLING!
We come back and Farooq is working on Taker’s knee, clipping him twice and scoring a near fall. We see that during the break the Nation manhandled Taker on the outside during a split screen replay.
Taker makes a comeback and hits a decent looking Fameasser that gets him another two count but he then misses with a legdrop further injuring his knee. The fans chant, “You still suck,” at Farooq as he wraps Taker’s injured knee around the post.
Farooq goes for a charge, but Taker avoids it and gets a rollup for two. Farooq then takes Taker on a trip to Chinlock City. The Undertaker battles back but Farooq puts a stop to it with a powerslam that’s good for two. He goes up but Taker hits a powerslam of his own.
One of the PG-13 guys gets up on the apron so Taker just punches him in the mouth, but D’Lo pulls the ropes down a moment later causing Taker to fall out of the ring. Farooq follows after him and gets the steps to attempt to do something but Taker just waits and then kicks them into Farooq’s face. It looks lame after the stuff Dreamer and D-Von did in the match immediately before this one.
Back in the ring, Farooq nails Taker with a spike piledriver, but Taker does his no sell sit up thing. Savio Vega and Crush randomly show up at attack Taker to draw a DQ. The other Nation guys hit the ring which brings in the Legion of Doom to help Taker clean house in the ring as the show ends.
Winner: The Undertaker
Another fuck finish after a slow, plodding match. The actual wrestling was okay I guess, but kind of dull compared to the stuff the ECW guys were doing, and I really don’t understand what they were going for with the ending. Taker looks like a chump, the Nation of Domination does shitty interfering so they lose their matches. Everyone looks like shit. [*½]
I think Paul Heyman summed it up best in this very episode when he declared that Raw would have sucked without ECW. Of the four WWF matches contested on this episode, not a single one ended with a clean finish. We had a foot on a rope, a double count out and a pair of Nation of Domination DQs, and it wasn’t even as if the in ring action prior to the fuck finishes were that good. Yes, the fact that all the main event and upper mid-card guys were in Europe except for the Undertaker, so this was never going to be a great episode, but they seemingly went out of their way to fuck everything up.
Why would you not put the Legion of Doom over in their return match? They killed the Headbangers anyway. Why not give the Blackjacks a clean win if you want them to win? Why not have the promos in between matches instead of during matches so people watching could pay attention to what was happening?
The ECW stuff was miles better and Paul Heyman was really smart about what he elected to show, keeping the Taipei Deathmatches (“I’m saving it for Pay Per View,” he would tell Lawler when asked where are the tables and the people setting themselves on fire) and stuff off the show and focusing on the most WWF friendly wrestlers ECW had. Of all the ECW wrestlers/talent who appeared on this episode I think only Rob Feinstein and John Kronus never ended up back in WWE.
Heyman seemed to realize that this was a huge opportunity for him and for ECW and really made the most of it. Beyond hyping their upcoming PPV he present a wrestling product that was in stark contrast to the lumbering mediocrity that was the order of the day in WWF at the time.
It is amazing that Vince McMahon willingly allowed this to happen, but I suppose that desperate times call for desperate measures. With the Monday Night Wars in full effect and his roster spread thin by the European tour, Vince McMahon was willing to throw the dice and give a “rival” company television time on his show in an effort to beat WCW. It didn’t but it wasn’t long until Vince and Company stopped looking at cowboys and hillbillies and started looking toward ECW for the overall direction of their company.