Written by: Matt Peddycord
WWF: Raw is War
September 22, 1997
New York City
Madison Square Garden
The current WWF champs were as follows:
World Champion: Bret Hart (8/3/1997)
Intercontinental Champion: Vacant (9/8/1997)
European Champion: Shawn Michaels (9/20/1997)
World Tag Team Champions: The Headbangers (9/7/1997)
It was either recap this or recap Battleground. Although I will recap that show too, this wasn’t really a very difficult choice to make.
Fancy video package highlighting the historical importance of Madison Square Garden to the WWF. It would have been amazing back in 1997 with no YouTube or WWE Network, but now it’s just another video.
TIME TO GET RAW! Your hosts are Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and Jerry Lawler.
WWF Intercontinental Title Tournament Quarterfinals: Ahmed Johnson vs. Rocky Maivia (w/the NOD)
MSG strongly feels that Rocky indeed sucks. Commissioner Slaughter follows the rest of the Nation of Domination and sends them to the back. Ross announces that even though Ken Shamrock defeated Faarooq, he’s out of the IC title tournament due to a punctured lung, meaning that now Faarooq advances in his place to face the winner of this match. This is ANOTHER return to TV for Ahmed. He seems to get worse with every injury. Randomly, Captain Lou Albano is shown walking around ringside taking notes. Is he looking for another tag team to manage to the WWF tag titles or just black out drunk and doesn’t know where he’s at? Ahmed cuts his hand during this match. Yes, ANOTHER injury. It could just be a cut, but with Ahmed it could be much worse. After a ride into the steps, Rocky tries La Magistral cradle until he realizes Ahmed has no flexibility in his arms and settles for an Oklahoma roll. PEARL RIVER PLUNGE is enough to pin Rocky. (4:57) So next week, we get Ahmed v. Faarooq in the semifinals. ¾*
Just like Randy Savage over on Nitro, Steve Austin barks at us from up in the mezzanine section to tell us that people are going to get their butts whooped.
Hey Floyd Patterson is here! He looks real excited to be on camera.
America finds out how Shawn Michaels became the new WWF European champion by defeating Davey Boy Smith over in England on the One Night Only PPV.
In this very ring, Vince McMahon meets with the Undertaker to hype Hell in a Cell. As if this match needed a twist, Vince announces that the winner of this match faces the WWF champion at Survivor Series. Taker decides judgment days for Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart are coming. Well, the new European champion Shawn Michaels interrupts. He reminds us of his plight as of the last six weeks having to deal with the Undertaker all the time. Shawn can’t believe he has to earn a WWF title shot. After all, he is the *only* wrestler in the WWF to ever hold every championship. He then reminds us that he doesn’t lay down for anybody. Unless you’re a hot mama, that is, which Taker ain’t. At Hell in a Cell, Shawn promises to continue being one step ahead of everybody. He will bring the pain and all Taker has to do is show up.
The Legion of Doom vs. Faarooq & Kama
Since Sunny has nothing better to do, she introduces this next match. LOD did the weather this morning for Fox News. There should be way more interactions between LOD and Steve Doocy. Clearly, the Legion of Doom are the favorites. Lots of clotheslines and powerslams from these four. In a different time period, this may have been a decent match. Faarooq nearly gets caught in the DOOMSDAY DEVICE when D’Lo Brown appears and saves his leader for the DQ. (2:32) The NOD do a number on LOD. Ahmed Johnson – bandaged hand and all – tries to make the save, but his efforts prove futile. *
Wow, already advertising the VHS tape for One Night Only. For $20 plus S&H, too bad you won’t see that Bret/Taker match.
Since we’re in MSG, they have to show us MSG moments from the past. The first one shown tonight is Jimmy Snuka flying off the top of the cage onto Don Muraco. So interesting how kids today would have no idea why that would have felt so cool to have seen. Thanks, Al Gore.
WWF Intercontinental Title Tournament Semifinals: Owen Hart vs. Brian Pillman (w/Marlena)
This week, Pillman brings out Marlena and she’s dressed like a straight-up whore. Her top leaves nothing to the imagination, she’s wearing a collar around her neck, and she may not be wearing any underwear. Plus, she’s got a BELLY RING. OMG. Pillman complains of falling out of the bathtub and breaking his arm to try and weasel out of wrestling Owen, but Commissioner Slaughter comes out. Since he hasn’t seen any medical evidence that proves Pillman is actually hurt, they will wrestle or they will both be banned from the WWF forever. Being a part of the Hart Foundation (is he still?), Slaughter just thinks he’s trying to let Owen advance to the finals without wrestling him. Slaughter plays a little trick on Pillman and tosses the mic at him. When Pillman catches the mic, Slaughter is convinced he’s faking. Anyways, they wrestle at half speed to make sure neither man gets hurt. Let’s take a commercial break. Apparently during the break, Owen got hit by Marlena’s purse, took it personally, and now things get serious. I mean, why wouldn’t Marlena try to get Pillman to lose? Vince informs us that the One Night Only was kept off US PPV thanks to the Hart Foundation. HA! Next thing we know, Goldust runs out and pops Owen in the back of the head to DQ Pillman. (4:22 shown) Once again, Pillman and Marlena escape from Goldust by the skin of their teeth. Refs and agents end up chasing Goldust as he’s chasing after Pillman and Marlena. This is the final Raw match I will be able to recap for Brian Pillman. *
Victorious and ready to go to the IC title tournament finals, Owen Hart thanks his brother Bret. Without him, he couldn’t have come this far. He also thanks his great fans all around NYC and especially in Canada. With his back turned, Steve Austin runs him down with a HARD shot. Austin puts the boots to him, but then the NYPD jumps on him. He shoves one cop back and threatens to do much worse. Austin is FIRED UP right now. It’s time for Vince McMahon to take some action. Vince asks the police to step aside and let him just talk to Austin. He tells Austin to get a hold of himself. He empathizes with Austin saying everybody understands Austin’s problems. You can’t compete in the WWF because of your neck. If Austin competes, he could end up paralyzed. Vince says the WWF won’t let him do that to himself. He will compete again, but in due time. Just work within the system, Steve. Austin grabs the mic and tells Vince he’s the best in the world. He doesn’t like to be told to work within the system because Vince isn’t the one sitting at the house doing nothing. If that’s what it takes though, Austin will work within your stupid little system (yes, a “Cool Hand Luke” reference). Austin says he appreciates the fact that the WWF cares about him, but then tells Vince to “kiss his ass” and gives him the STONE COLD STUNNER HEARD ‘ROUND THE WORLD. Lawler cries for Austin to be put in jail. Looks like that’s going to happen as the NYPD put the handcuffs on him. Before he’s escorted out, Austin flips him the double-bird. Pissed off and with his stooges all around him, McMahon kicks at Austin and misses. Austin makes sure to smile and says whatever he wants to the camera on his way out. Ross thinks Austin is fired, but I don’t think so! And just like that, the Mr. McMahon character is born. He’s shown empathy towards Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, and now Steve Austin. Look where it got him. 1997 is quite the subtle slow burn year, folks. As far as I’m concerned, the Montreal Screwjob was just the true coming out party for Mr. McMahon. Is he an evil man or a man driven to evil due to the disrespect and the embarrassment he has received from the monsters he no longer could control?
R.I.P. Bulldog Brower! Did anybody like you?
AND NOW WE ENTER THE WARZONE! Your hosts are Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and Jerry Lawler. Is Jim Ross really bragging about not leaving the commentary table when heels are around like the WCW guys would do when the nWo are nearby? We get multiple replays from different angles of the Stone Cold Stunner on McMahon. Hey look, it’s Rhonda Shear! She’s too old for you, Jerry.
Just one of the great segments ever on Raw back to back here. Dude Love doesn’t feel that Falls Count Anywhere is exactly his bag. Should he let Mankind take this match? As much as Mankind dreams of destroying Hunter Hearst Helmsley, he knows someone else who is willing to do even worse things than Mankind.
Dude Love – “Are you thinking what I think you’re thinking?”
Mankind – “I think I am thinking what you think I think you’re thinking.”
That’s right, ladies and gents. CACTUS JACK IS BACK. Well, back in wrestling, that is. This is his character debut for the WWF fans. Funny how Vince can get so many things right and so many things wrong. He thought people wouldn’t know who Cactus Jack was because he had never been in the WWF. And holy crap, the crowd loses their minds. Actually, so does Helmsley realizing he’s in for a REAL fight.
Falls Count Anywhere: Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) vs. Cactus Jack
Cactus Jack brings him with a trash can and whacks Hunter in the face as he meets him on the rampway. Giant “ECW” chants here. Cactus rips up the mats on the floor. Helmsley tries to get away, but Cactus brings him over to the concrete for a swinging neckbreaker for two. They go inside the ring just for the Cactus Clothesline. Hunter runs away as he’ll often do so that Chyna can surprise Cactus with a clothesline of her own. As if that’s not enough, Chyna then clotheslines Cactus over the railing towards the old MSG entryway. They would be brawling over the WWF title in this very spot at the 2000 Royal Rumble. Cactus comes out from backstage spraying Helmsley with a fire extinguisher. Back towards the guardrail, Hunter takes a bump that ultimately turns the guardrail over. More “ECW” chants. In the ring, Hunter takes the Harley Race bump out to the floor. Cactus tries the elbow drop off the apron onto HHH and a trashcan, but Helmsley moves and Cactus just falls onto the trashcan. As if that’s not enough to break a hip, Chyna picks up Cactus and heaves him into the steps. Commercials! When we come back, Helmsley is in control until Cactus low blows him off the apron. Flying sunset flip gets two. Chyna finds a chair and blasts Cactus in the face, which he NO-SELLS. He stops the second chair shot, but gets shoved from behind by Helmsley, who then causes Cactus to fall into Chyna as she hits the back of her head on the steps. They brawl on the ramp where Cactus takes a back suplex. Helmsley whacks Cactus with a Rubbermaid trashcan and then a snow shovel, but realizes he needs to up the ante. He pulls out a wooden table and goes to PEDIGREE Cactus on the table to put him away for good. Unfortunately for Helmsley, Cactus low blows him and puts Helmsley through the table with a PULL-UP PILEDRIVER. With an arm draped over Helmsley, Cactus is able to get the 1-2-3. (9:17 shown) Helmsley’s best match to date. A monumental match for the time as well since there had really never been anything like this ever on Raw. I think this match might hold up better today than it would have 5-10 years ago when we were all so desensitized to the violence from the Attitude Era. Of course, this FCA match lost its luster once they topped themselves in the same building a couple years later. ***¾
Karate Fighters presents the WWF Survivor Series Super Supper Sweepstakes. They are seriously doing another sweepstakes deal for one of the Big Five PPVs.
The next MSG moment comes from the first WrestleMania as Andre the Giant slams Big John Studd. They cut out as soon as Bobby Heenan grabs the money bag.
The WWF European Champion Shawn Michaels heads out to call out the Undertaker. He’s got a steel chair with him as well. It turns out to be a set-up as the rest of the yet unnamed D-Generation X (a bandaged HHH, Rick Rude, and Chyna) appears to put the boots to him. Once he gets up to his feet, they all get the heck out of Dodge.
Non-title match: WWF Champion Bret Hart vs. Goldust
Before the match, Bret gets on the mic to confront both of his possible Survivor Series challengers: Shawn Michaels or the Undertaker. Bret says he’s not afraid of the Undertaker and never has been. As for Shawn, his days are numbered after what he did to the British Bulldog at One Night Only. Bret finishes by saying he’s the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be…and NYC knows it. Awesome. It appears Goldust is taking out his frustrations on Bret here. Bret tries to slow this down and turn it into a wrestling match, which he will excel at. He works the knee like a boss. Bret even delivers the ringpost figure-four. Shawn Michaels steps out onto the ramp as we take a commercial break. Bret is still working the knee. Desperation comeback by Goldust. He hits the Running Bulldog on Bret, but only gets two. He runs into a boot in the corner and tries to block a flying Bret by bringing his own boot up, but Bret catches the foot and applies the SHARPSHOOTER for the win. (9:53 shown) Well, it reaffirmed Bret as the master technician, and possibly garnered some more sympathy for poor Goldust. **
Shawn attacks Bret after the bell, which turns into a DX-Hart Foundation battle. Jim Neidhart makes an unceremonious return and joins the fight. The Undertaker storms down to the ring and as everybody clears out except for Bret and Shawn, he goozles them both for a DOUBLE CHOKESLAM. Oh, but WE’RE OUTTA TIME!