BEST OF RAW 1997 RANT
OK, let me begin by saying that 1997 was my favourite year from the WWF, ever. It was the year of Bret Hart's heel turn and the Hart Foundation. The year of Undertaker's title run and the subsequent arrival of Kane. The year Shawn Michaels 'lost his smile' and formed Degeneration X. The year Stone Cold finally broke out as a star, and also broke his neck. The year of Rocky Miavia: Blue Chipper. And the year of the Gang Wars......OK, 97 had some crap, but it was outweighed by the good. Anyway, I had been a major WWF fan since 1990, but had faded out between 1995 and 96, when the WWF sucked. By 1997, wrestling was all but gone from my mind. Until my dad switched the TV on in January 97, and I saw WCW Nitro......and Scott Hall. I couldn't believe this. Razor Ramon......on WCW? So I decided to watch 'Shotgun' to see which other WWF stars had now gone. I watched it the next day and was treated to Stone Cold Steve Austin, Owen Hart, Sid, Shawn Michaels, the fake Razor Ramon, Marc Mero, and an interview with the man I despised, Bret Hart. The show hyped the 1997 Royal Rumble in a big way. I decided to watch the rumble, and found myself enthralled again. I loved it when my favourite wrestler, the Undertaker, kicked ass in the rumble, and I loved to see Austin screw Bret out of the match, although I was gutted that Undertaker didn't win. Now, I started watching Live Wire, the show that recapped RAW, on and off, the build up to IYH: Final Four is a big memory, and the build-up to WM13. I missed Final Four, but watched WM, and was pleased to see Taker win the title, and Austin walk out moral victor against Bret. But something needed to happen, something big, for me to become fully addicted to wrestling again. And on the LiveWire after WM, that thing happened. Bret Hart, my most hated wrestler, the fans hero in the white hat, was being booed and slagging off America. I couldn't believe it. But I liked it, and when Bret reformed the Hart Foundation with Owen and Bulldog, my two favourites behind the Taker, I had a new hero, and my addiction to wrestling had begun again. From IYH Revenge Of The Taker, to Canadian Stampede, I loved it all.
Fast forward to 1999, July to be exact. I was pissed off with the WWF's booking at the time, and, newly blessed with the internet, was near enough turned fully from the 'mark' into the 'internet fan'. I was on holiday, and when I visited a second-hand shop, it was full of old wrestling videos. They were mainly from the 80's but I spotted 3 tapes that I liked the look of. They were the 'Best Of RAW' series, vols 4, 6, and 7. When I bought and watched them, I was amazed to see that I actually REMEMBERED most of the stuff happening. So here they are, my 'Best Of RAW' rants, a bit of nostalgia, and before I begin if anyone in the UK has a copy of the Best of RAW vols 5, 8 and 9 to sell, mail me.
BTW, I use the '1 for 1' style of grading here.
BEST OF RAW, Volume 4, January-February 1997
We start off with the ending of the Royal Rumble 1997, where AUSTIN screwed BRET HART, UNDERTAKER and VADER out of the win. DOK HENDRIX (today: MICHAEL HAYES) sends us to RAW, where we see a pissed off Bret Hart in the ring. He claims that he was "screwed by SHAWN MICHAELS, SID, Stone Cold and VINCE McMAHON". What a fucking whiner. Now I remember why I liked him that much. Anyway, he asks where his title shot is, and comes to the conclusion that he's not going to get it, so he quits and storms off through the crowd. We cut back to Hendrix, then to Austin, standing in the ring. He finds out that GORILLA MONSOON, the 'president' at the time, has made the Final Four match between Austin, Bret, Taker and Vader to decide #1 contender to the title, held by Shawn Michaels at the time. Austin claims that the match can't happen because Bret has quit, and calls Monsoon a jackass. He goes to leave the ring, but Bret is back, and he gets in the ring, and says that he accepts the match, but "We don't have to wait till February, lets do this right now!" Austin charges back and begins brawling with Bret in the aisle. Awesome brawl here, like something straight out of Wrestlemania 13. JR is screaming for someone to split it up because Austin is meant to be fighting the Undertaker. Eventually the gang of idiots spilt them up, and the bell tolls signifying the arrival of the Taker. He gets a huge pop, and walks down the aisle, and.........BRAWLS WITH BRET! Eventually the match starts as Bret is removed.
STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN vs UNDERTAKER
Taker's ribs are bandaged from his match against Vader the night before. He sells this injury quite well. Good match from these two, with much better wrestling than their recent encounters. Watching this justifies the flak that Taker gets now, cos he was like, good at this point. Lawler even leaves his spot at the announcers table to scream at Austin to "Go for the ribs!". Too funny. VADER runs in and attacks Taker for the dq, and eats a chokeslam for his troubles. BRET runs down and kicks off on Austin as the FINAL FOUR EXPLODE~! This brawl goes on for about 5 minutes.
1 for 1.
We go back to Dok who rants for a while then to the Skydome edition of RAW, where
VADER vs STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
awaits us. The announcers label this a 'toughman' match, but it seems like a normal match. For a fat guy, Vader sure could wrestle, as again this is a great match. Austin had a great run in 97, then deteriorated after his injury and only came good again in late 2000. Anyway, the match rages on until for no reason, Austin stuns the ref, causing the dq. Don't know why he did this, as he was on top of the match anyway.
2 for 2.
UNDERTAKER/AHMED JOHNSON vs MANKIND/FAAROOQ
Faarooq has the whole Nation with him, v1.0. This is no holds barred, and it's pretty brutal by the standards of the time. Taker looks great here BTW. He kicks Mick's ass all over the place. Foley is so into the 'deranged' Mankind character it's amazing. He has Paul Bearer with him. We see Johnson go medieval with a plank of wood on Faarooq in the aisle, while Vader runs in to attack Taker. Taker no sells a chairshot and boots Vader to the outside, then proceeds to scoop Mankind up WITH ONE ARM and tombstone him for the win. My God, injuries sure have taken their toll on Mr Callaway, hey..
3 for 3
Dok introduces us to 'Thursday RAW Thursday', a special edition of RAW, and the first match we are shown is
ROCKY MAIVIA vs HUNTER HEARST HELMSLEY
for the Intercontinental title. HHH has no heat, and no Chyna. Rocky is as green as fuck, so I'm not expecting much. This is a long match, and granted, in places it is boring, but other than a few restholds it's OK. I think guys like Keith were a bit hard on HHH back then, as he shows a bit of promise here, and doesn't really use the knee too much. He dominates the match, but takes too much time with a Pedigree attempt and gets small packaged for the win, and a big pop for Rocky. This wouldn't last long.......anyway, not really good, but not awful either. The Rocky experiment would last another 2 MONTHS before Vince realised people actually hated the guy and buried him. He returned as The Rock in the Nation, and it's history from there.
3.5 for 4
OK, now get ready to puke. we are taken to the ring where VINCE McMAHON announces that WWF CHAMPION SHAWN MICHAELS has an announcement to make. It must be important, cos WWF president GORILLA MONSOON is out there as well. Shawn comes out to a great reaction, and proceeds to announce that he has "Lost his smile" and is therefore giving up the title and leaving for a while to find his smile. He actually begins to cry, and on the way out, limps, signifying a knee injury. What a great actor. Ha Ha. The real reason behind this was that he didn't want to job to Bret Hart at WM13. You can tell it's all bullshit by the look on Vince's face, he knows he's done the wrong thing. I think at the time, Vince should have fired Shawn for this conduct, but then again, with hindsight and all, remember the 'What If Bret Wasn't Screwed' article.......
We now go to the next match, which is
PSYCHO SID vs STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
and it's not much of a match, as BRET HART runs in and brawls with both men, causing the no-contest.
3.5 for 5.
BRET HART vs VADER
AUSTIN is watching from the crowd, this is the final match that these guys will have before the Final Four match. Before they can begin, UNDERTAKER comes out and threatens both men, saying that he will win the Final Four match. Damn good match between these two, why the fuck was Vader fired? He tries a MOONSAULT (!) but misses and Bret gets the pin and a big pop.
4.5 for 6
Dok explains that the Final Four match was for the vacant WWF Title, and that Bret won. He goes on to say that Bret was forced to defend against Sid the next night on RAW, but before it could happen Austin attacked Sid. Then, before they were going to begin again, he attacked Bret. Eventually the match happens,
BRET HART vs SID (WWF Title)
Not bad for Sid, but then again Bret was THE MAN at this point, and seemingly couldn't have a bad match. It goes on for a while, until Bret locks in the Sharpshooter. Before Sid can tap however, AUSTIN comes out and clocks Bret with a chair, and Sid hits the Powerbomb for the win and his second WWF Title.
5.5 for 7.
Dok gets us ready for the T&A part of the video, as we get
SUNNY vs MARLENA
In an arm-wrestling contest. HONKY TONK MAN is the ref, and this edition of RAW seems to be coming from a building that ECW use a lot in New York, the small one with the balconies and the chandeliers. (Actually, it was the Manhattan Center. - CRZ) Sunny comes out in a robe, then removes it to reveal a (relatively) skimpy outfit for the time. The King goes crazy over this, but it's very tame compared to now. She is VERY HOT though. Marlena comes out, and Terri looks much better now, opposite to Sunny. Eventually, after much fucking about by Sunny, the match begins, and as Marlena looks to win, Sunny throws powder in her eyes. Point given for the shots of Sunny's ass.
6.5 for 8.
LEGION OF DOOM vs HEADBANGERS
The LOD, making their return here, are over massive, and why they don't squash the 'Bangers here is beyond me. Instead, we get a formulaic tag match, which is OK, but it ends in a double count-out! WTF? Why protect the Headbangers? They were only JTTS at this point anyway! (No, they weren't. - CRZ) LOD get their revenge by hitting the Devastation Device on a banger at the end.
7 for 9.
And now, the final match, but not the final part of the tape, as we get a nasty surprise after this...........
UNDERTAKER vs FAAROOQ
Pretty good brawl here, but not much wrestling going on. Taker hits the usual stuff, but in come the Nation for the DQ. LOD hit the ring to clean house and send the crowd into a frenzy.
8 for 10.
Now, that 'nasty surprise' is a sickening tribute video to Shawn Michaels, set to some soppy music. WTF! WTF! Bret should have been allowed to kick this guy's ass!
Top notch video here, with good matches all over. However, the use of guys like Austin and Taker 3 or 4 times shows how shallow the WWF roster was at this point.
Best Of RAW Volume 6, May-June 1997
MICHAEL COLE appears, looking like a total faggot, promising us 2 hours of action. We begin with STONE COLD and SHAWN MICHAELS giving us a showdown interview with JR to show that they don't care about each other, but they both HATE the Hart Foundation. Both men rip off each other's catchphrases and then brawl. The refs split them up.
Next we see another showdown, but this time between SHAWN MICHAELS and BRET, who is in a wheelchair. Bret runs down HBK, accuses him of faking injuries, and calls his title reign a reign of decadence. Is this a shoot? Bret even says that HBK didn't have the guts to face him at WM13, and also says that Shawn is jealous of his big pay cheque. This HAS to be a shoot, you can SEE the hate in Bret's eyes. Bret stands up and tells HBK that he doesn't have the guts to hit him. So Shawn simply kicks him in the chin, and knocks him over his wheelchair. Out come THE HART FOUNDATION but they can't catch Shawn. Eventually they get him, but as BULLDOG is about to throw HBK off the stage, out comes STONE COLD with a crutch to make the save. ABSOLUTELY AWESOME.
From the same RAW we now get
JIM NEIDHART vs STONE COLD
and as they brawl to begin, BRIAN PILLMAN joins the announcers. Austin controls the match with his usual, as the announcers ask Pillman about his match with Austin at KOTR. It never happened. Austin comes out of the ring and attacks Pillman, but Anvil saves. Pillman hits Austin with a crutch, drawing the DQ. OWEN and BULLDOG run in to attack, but in comes SHAWN MICHAELS to make the save. It's now announced that next week there will be a tag match for the titles between Owen/Bulldog and Austin/HBK. Austin and HBK brawl again.
0 for 1, the match sucked.
LEGION OF DOOM vs JIM NEIDHART & THE LOOSE CANNON BRIAN PILLMAN
Pillman and Hawk kick off, and LOD clean house. Pillman jaws off at the crowd. OWEN, BRET, and BULLDOG watch from the ramp as Anvil gets tagged in. Animal dominates as the crowd pop like mad for the LOD. Pillman uses the classic heel tactic of begging off at one point. God I miss him. LOD try the Devastation Device on Pillman, but income Owen and Bulldog for the dq. AUSTIN and HBK run in for the save, but HBK hits Austin by mistake, and they brawl AGAIN. LOD split it up to a monster 'LOD' chant.
1 for 2.
SHAWN MICHAELS & STONE COLD vs OWEN HART & BRITISH BULLDOG (Tag Titles)
This is a very famous match, and made it into Scott Keith's 'best of the 90's' list. HBK and Owen do a great wrestling sequence, and then HBK and Bulldog do some great wrestling as well. HBK rakes the eyes to a massive pop and then hits a frankensteiner. This is HBK's return match, BTW. Michaels and Austin do some great teamwork, as Austin dominates Bulldog. HBK and Austin work on Bulldog's arm. THIS MATCH ROCKS! Owen hits Austin and then destroys him on the outside. We clip the match as Austin and Owen go, and Vince helpfully tells us "Austin, in the black tights" NO SHIT SHERLOCK! Thank god he doesn't announce any more.... in comes HBK for the hot tag, and he destroys Bulldog, but Bulldog crotches him and he drops to the outside, where Owen works on the lower back. Bulldog and Owen dominate as Michaels begins to tire. The crowd are rabid as HBK hits a sunset flip which would have won the match, but Owen distracts the ref. This match is SO reminiscent of the Benoit/Jericho vs Austin/HHH match from earlier this year. Michaels makes the hot tag, as Austin cleans house. All four men are in now, but as the ref concentrates on Owen, HBK hits the Superkick on Bulldog and Austin gets the pin! New champions! At least ****3/4! The rest of the HART FOUNDATION run in and attack HBK, but Austin spots BRET on the ramp on crutches, and he runs up and attacks the already injured knee. The Harts make the save, as HBK is out cold in the ring.
2 for 3.
AHMED JOHNSON vs FAAROOQ
Ahmed uses some power moves and whips Faarooq with a belt. We get some brawling, dominated by Ahmed. Faarooq comes back, but the massively over Ahmed uses some more power moves to take control. However, Faarooq takes over with shots to the kidneys. Faarooq has issues with Undertaker at this point, and they are set to meet for the WWF title at KOTR. As THE NATION interfere, out runs WWF CHAMPION THE UNDERTAKER to brawl with them. Ahmed and Taker take control, but Taker throws Faarooq into Ahmed, causing him to hit his head. Faarooq rolls Ahmed back in and pins him. Taker is trapped between Faarooq and the Nation, and as they close in he destroys them. Faarooq bails, but Ahmed pushes Taker, only to receive a chokeslam.
2 for 4.
SHAWN MICHAELS & STONE COLD vs LEGION OF DOOM (Tag Titles)
Not a bad little tag match, with the champs playing the heels. Austin and HBK dominate Hawk until the hot tag to Animal. However, the champs brawl with one another, causing a count-out.
3 for 5.
UNDERTAKER vs SID
Rematch from their WM13 anti-classic, as the announcers talk about PAUL BEARER'S 'secret', which of course turned out to be Kane. Sid dominates with some good power moves, and this match is not as bad as you would expect. Taker comes back with the Tombstone to win the match. THE NATION run in and attack the Undertaker, and Sid attempts the save. It doesn't work though, and both Sid and Taker get beaten down. FAAROOQ whips the Taker as the announcers wonder whether Faarooq will be the first black WWF champion. I don't think so. The Nation give the salute to monster heel heat. Were all the crowds super hot in 1997 or something?
4 for 6.
BRITISH BULLDOG vs GOLDUST (European Title)
This is clipped, as we are told that Goldust won the match earlier, but the decision was reversed. Bulldog controls, as we see MARLENA (TERRI) smoking a cigar. She's hotter now, BTW. Bulldog takes Goldust apart on the outside, then threatens to hit Marlena with a chair, but in runs a massively over KEN SHAMROCK for the save, and Bulldog bails.
5 for 7.
SID vs OWEN HART
Owen plays the underdog, but also the heel, as he uses Sid's jacket to choke the big man. KEN SHAMROCK is on commentary as he claims that all matches should be fair and one-on-one. He seems like a bit of a mark. Vince talks about 'unprofessional conduct' between BRET and HBK. Is this their infamous locker room brawl. JIM NEIDHART interferes as Shamrock bitches. Owen works on the leg and threatens to "break his knee off!". Sid actually doesn't do a bad job of selling. Owen is the Intercontinental champion BTW. Sid fights back, but Owen takes control when Sid misses an avalanche. Anvil attacks Sid, as Shamrock has seen enough, and he runs over and suplexes Anvil to a massive pop! Sid choke Owen for the pin, then shakes hands with Shamrock.
6 for 8.
MANKIND vs BRIAN PILLMAN
Apparently this was Austin's match, but after he was attacked by the Harts he can't make it. The two men brawl as Vince tells us that BRET and HBK have been thrown out of the building. This MUST be the brawl that he is talking about. Pillman controls with some garbagy brawling on the outside. Mankind comes back with headbutts, but he misses a stinger splash and Pillman pulls out Mick's hair(!). Pillman chops as the crowd 'whooo!'s. Mankind comes back with a double arm DDT and then puts on the mandible claw.. HART FOUNDATION run in for the DQ, but an injured STONE COLD and then KEN SHAMROCK run in for the save. For some unknown reason Austin stuns Shamrock. Mad. Match sucked though.
6 for 9.
STONE COLD vs BRIAN PILLMAN
OWEN, BULLDOG and ANVIL are handcuffed to the ringposts. Austin destroys Pillman and then attacks each Hart. The match is clipped as we see Pillman dominating, even though his nose is broken. Austin hits a low blow, and takes control with elbows, as Vince plugs Austin's video, which shows the gun incident when Austin broke into Pillman's house. Pillman comes back, and we HIT THE CHINLOCK, and then the sleeper, which is reversed into the stunner. Austin at this point is the only man who has stepped up to the Hart's challenge for Canadian Stampede, and he needs 4 partners. Austin stomps a mudhole in Pillman, then stuns the ref. Pillman hits a low blow, then uses brass knuckles to knock Austin down. Another ref runs in, but Austin kicks out. Owen however pickpockets the stunned referee, unlocks himself, Anvil and Bulldog and we have a 4 on 1 attack. In runs MANKIND, GOLDUST and KEN SHAMROCK to clean house. Shamrock and Austin begin to brawl, and Shamrock hits a belly to belly. In run the LEGION OF DOOM to spilt them up, and then Goldust gets a mic as we cut off. I remember this match however, and I can tell you that Goldust actually got the team (Himself, Austin, Shamrock and LOD) together for Canadian Stampede here.
7 for 10.
FAAROOQ & ????? vs UNDERTAKER & AHMED JOHNSON
Faarooq has fired CRUSH and SAVIO VEGA, and now is recruiting for the Nation his partner is revealed as the newest Nation member, KAMA MUSTAFA (GODFATHER). Kama attacks Taker to begin, and SHOCK! HORROR! Taker SELLS for Kama! Taker comes back with a massive clothesline and a bodyslam. Faarooq gets a cheap shot in, allowing Kama to dominate again. Faarooq destroys Taker, who comes back with a RUNNING FAME-ASSER! It doesn't last long though, as Kama comes back. We clip the match as Taker hits a chokeslam, but Kama makes the save. The announcers wonder who the other new Nation member will be. Could it be BUTCH REED, ABDULLAH THE BUTCHER, MR HUGHES or JUNKYARD DOGG. Ahmed is distracted by PAUL BEARER on the outside, and Taker can't tag, allowing Kama to pin(!). Good god, selling AND jobbing! Ahmed runs the Nation off, and then hits a Tiger Driver on Taker, revealing himself to be the Nation member! The crowd boo like mad as Ahmed salutes with his new team mates.
8 for 11.
MANKIND vs BRITISH BULLDOG
Foley dedicates the match to STONE COLD. Foley wants Austin to pick him as his partner to replace HBK. Mankind controls as we hear Austin on the phone talking to the announcers about his injuries and Mankind. Austin says that he would rather defend the titles on his own, but he salutes Mankind for wearing an Austin shirt. Bulldog takes control on the outside, and reverses the claw with a low blow. He cracks Foley with a chair, drawing the dq. He hits him with a chair 4 times, eventually knocking Foley out. Foley gets up though, and sinks the claw in! Bulldog bails.
9 for 12.
OWEN HART vs HHH vs GOLDUST (Triple Threat, Intercontinental title)
PAT PATTERSON is the guest referee, and it is your typical triple threat match. Not bad though, mostly down to Owen, who has BRIAN PILLMAN at ringside. HHH has CHYNA before the surgery. WHO LET THE DOG OUT? HHH goes for the pedigree, but Owen kicks him, and then Goldust hits a reverse DDT into a slam for the pin and the title. BUT WAIT! Pillman tells Patterson that Owen's foot was on the rope, but Patterson doesn't care. In comes GORILLA MONSOON to restart the match. Match goes on for another few minutes before Owen gets the pin on HHH.
10 for 13.
UNDERTAKER & VADER vs D'LO BROWN & FAAROOQ
The announcers explain that AHMED JOHNSON was injured earlier, in a brawl with DOA, who wander down to ringside and brawl with the Nation. We clip the match as we see that Vader is dominating. Vader has Paul Bearer in his corner BTW, and Taker has to put up with it so that Paul Bearer will not reveal the 'secret'. Taker loses his temper, nails his own partner and the Nation get the win. Vader attacks, and gets a tombstone. I think this was the catalyst for Bearer to reveal the truth about KANE.
10 for 14.
HHH vs KEN SHAMROCK
Triple controls with his usual knee related offence, and then CHYNA interferes and throws Shamrock into the steps. Out wanders MANKIND, who had issues with HHH, allowing Shamrock to hit a belly to belly for the pin.
11 for 15.
LEGION OF DOOM vs FAAROOQ and D'LO BROWN
THE GODWINNS, who had issues with LOD, watch from the ramp. LOD control over D'Lo in the early going. LOD hit the devastation device on D'Lo, but the Godwinns run in, hit Hawk with a slop bucket, and that allows Faarooq to get the pin. LOD chase the Godwinns. Not bad at all.
12 for 16.
JIM NEIDHART vs STONE COLD
The announcers tell us that BRET lied, he said he was at home, but he is here. Anvil dominates, as we reveal that this is the final RAW before the Canadian Stampede PPV. Bret returned from injury recently, just in time for the PPV. Neidhart uses RESTHOLDS galore, but as Austin comes back Bret runs in and absolutely destroys Austin, with the FIGURE FOUR ROUND THE RINGPOST! YEH! MANKIND runs in and puts the claw on Bret, as the rest of the Harts run in to help. Point given for the Figure Four!
13 for 17.
And that's it. Awesome. I'd recommend it to witness the hottest feud ever, Austin VS Bret. And Keith was right. The Austin/HBK vs Bulldog/Owen match IS a classic.
Best Of RAW Volume 7, July-August 1997
The tape kicks off with a tag match that pits
SCOTT & IVAN PUTSKI vs JERRY LAWLER & BRIAN CHRISTOPHER
This was from when Lawler was denying being the father of the future 'Grandmaster Sexay'. BTW, none of these men are with the WWF now. Good little tag match, showing the proper way to blow off a feud, with the faces going over cleanly. Ivan hits the Polish Hammer on Lawler for the pin. Scott Putski would have been a major, major star now with the right push, as he had good workrate, was relatively big, and was over. However, he ripped his knee up in a match later in 1997 and ended his career. What a waste.
1 for 1.
VADER vs KEN SHAMROCK
Rematch for May's 'Cold Day In Hell', which near enough turned into a shootfight, with Shamrock breaking Vader's nose and nearly his ankle. Shamrock is well over here as a heel, cos it's in Canada. Why he wasn't pushed to the main events in 1998 to face Austin I don't know. He has issues with the BRITISH BULLDOG, going into Summerslam. Pretty good match here, ends when Shamrock is thrown out of the ring by Vader, and then caught and powerslammed on the ramp by the Bulldog. Vader pins him for the win and a big pop.
2 for 2.
FLAG MATCH: DUDE LOVE, STEVE AUSTIN & ? vs OWEN HART, BRET HART & BRITISH BULLDOG
This is in Canada shortly before Summerslam. The idea of the match is to retrieve your country's flag. Austin gets booed like hell, and Owen plays Ricky Morton to kick this off. The mystery partner is revealed to be WWF CHAMPION THE UNDERTAKER, and again he shows why people say he is deteriorated and all that now, with some great offence including a BaldoBomb on Owen! This match is pretty long, and is mostly dominated by the Americans on Owen. How good a worker was Owen? We all miss you Owen. Eventually, after an Enziguiri on Austin, Bret is tagged in to a monster pop, and he kicks off on the man who he is set to face for the World Title at Summerslam, The Undertaker. Both men go for their respective flags, but Taker is distracted by BRIAN PILLMAN who has been hiding under the ring, and Bret grabs the good old maple leaf for the win and the huge pop.
3 for 3.
BRET HART vs THE PATRIOT
SHAWN MICHAELS is on commentary here, as he is going to be the guest referee for the Summerslam match between Bret and the Taker. Bret plays the Canadian national anthem before the match. Patriot gets Kurt Angle's theme music, and a good pop. He plays the American anthem, but is attacked by Bret before it can finish. Another example of Bret carrying someone to a good match here, as this is damn good indeed. Bret dominates, and it is quite obvious that Patriot is not quite up to Bret's standard. HBK distracts Bret and Patriot rolls him up for the win (!!) This is how to ELEVATE someone guys, as Patriot was now considered nearly 'on Bret's level' and ready for a shot at Bret at Ground Zero. Taker also put guys over cleanly back then, what was so different then that made egos non-existent, apart from HBK. Good match anyway, as the announcers speculate that this may be Bret's last RAW match, cos if he loses to Taker at Summerslam he is GONE......
4 for 4.
But of course he defeated Taker for the title at SS, setting up the Patriot-Hart showdown for September's Ground Zero. Ah, the days when the PPV main events were set up a week after the last PPV...........
Patriot rants on Bret and Ground Zero before
PATRIOT vs SULTAN
Sultan is Rikishi BTW, and yes, he sucked even back then. Total Patriot squash, as he hits a Test-style Full Nelson slam for the win. BRET comes down for a showdown, but decides better of it and turns around, and Patriot attacks him from behind! This guy was meant to be the face?! Bret was dead right about the lack of morals in the USA!
4 for 5.
OWEN HART vs DUDE LOVE
BRET is on commentary here, and this is the day after Summerslam, where Owen broke Austin's neck. Dude was Austin's tag partner and also 1/2 of the tag champions here. Good technical match here, shows how damn good Owen was and how good Mick could be. Dude is way over as a face here, and Owen as a heel. Bret interferes but STONE COLD heads out and causes a fuss at ringside, before clocking Owen with a slammy award to allow his partner to get the win. Dude dances with some women to celebrate.
5 for 6.
BRIAN PILLMAN vs FLASH FUNK
And Pillman's in a dress, as he lost to Goldust at Summerslam, and now has to get a win on RAW to lose the dress. Last week on RAW he lost to Bob Holly (!coughjobbercough!) when Goldust interfered. Now he has to take on another JTTS in Funk. Poor match dominated by Pillman, injuries sure took their toll on this guy, as most of his offence is punching and kicking. GOLDUST and MARLENA (TERRI) come out and distract Pillman with footage of his changing into his dress, and Funk rolls him up for the pin. Pillman is pissed, he has to wear a dress for another week now.
5 for 7.
OWEN HART & BRITISH BULLDOG vs PATRIOT & ?
Bulldog and Owen are the best tag team in the WWF EVER, period, and Patriot can go, so as long as the mystery partner isn't Henry Godwinn or Haku this should be good. Thankfully, the partner is KEN SHAMROCK and the match IS good, again showing how good all 4 men were at the time. Bulldog brings in a chair, but is distracted by the sight of BRET being removed from ringside by COMMISSIONER SLAUGHTER and this allows Patriot to hit the Full Nelson slam on Owen on the chair for the pin. Patriot was being pushed HARD, as a believable opponent for Bret at this point.
6 for 8.
SHAWN MICHAELS vs MANKIND
In a rerun of one of the greatest matches of all time, the title match at Mind Games '96. This is not quite as crazy, but has it's great moments as HBK suplexes Mankind onto the announce table and so forth. HBK has 'enlisted in an insurance policy' here, and it turns out to be TRIPLE H, CHYNA and the returning RICK RUDE (RIP) and the match ends with a Rude chairshot setting up Sweet Chin Music. The crowd is mixed, as Foley is over as a face, but HBK is not quite a heel, and the crowd aren't sure what to think about his alliance with Helmsley. UNDERTAKER comes out at the end for a potential showdown with HBK, but PAUL BEARER appears on the Titantron and issues a warning to Taker about the debut of KANE, which would happen at Badd Blood.
7 for 9.
JESSE JAMMES vs BRIAN PILLMAN
Oh, this should be good, NOT. Pillman is still in his dress. Jammes would go on to become the ROAD DRUGG, and like Rikishi, he does suck at this point. Bad, bad match dominated by Pillman, who looks to be going for the win, until GOLDUST runs in and hits Jammes, causing Pillman to be dq'd. This means another week of wearing a dress for our Brian.
7 for 10.
Pillman has a mic, and he challenges Goldust to a match at Ground Zero, where if Goldust wins Pillman is gone from the WWF, but if Pillman wins, he gets MARLENA. Goldust turns him down, but the Pillman says, in a classic moment, and I quote "even if you get rid of me, there will always be a part of me with you, cos you know Dakota, your little daughter, SHE'S MINE! SHE'S MY LOVE CHILD! IT WAS GOOD!" Goldust snaps, rightfully so, and chases Pillman, until Marlena accepts the match. I believe this was setting up Marlena joining Pillman at Badd Blood in October, but this was cut short by Pillman's tragic death.
8 for 10 for the mic work!
TRIPLE H & SHAWN MICHAELS vs UNDERTAKER & MANKIND
This is to showcase Helmsley's new 'Triple H, degenerate dick joke guy' persona, and also to set up HBK vs Taker at Ground Zero. Pretty good match here, with Foley playing Morton until he gets the tag. Taker destroys both men, until he is clocked with a chair in the head. He sits up and runs the future DX off though, to a massive pop.
9 for 11.
Again a good showing by the WWF here, as this tape has classic moments from the USA vs Canada feud, and also some hilarity with the antics of Pillman.
It's pretty simple really. 1997 was one of the greatest years in the WWF's history. Angles such as the USA vs Canada, DX, Kane, and the Nation all played a part in re-building the WWF, so that it could reclaim it's rightful place as the #1 company from WCW. The kind of great matches that happened in 1997 were much better than anything up till Royal Rumble 2000. The standard of matches now, from my point of view, is finally nearly as good as 1997. Now all we need is BRET and we're getting somewhere.........
Superstar Scott Newman
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