The Best And Worst Of WWF Raw Is War 12/1/97: Sable Genius

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Previously on the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War: D-Generation X overcompensated for the bad press they’ve gotten for the Montreal Screwjob by (1) having Harvey Wippleman join the group, only to turn on him, (2) having Jim Neidhart join the group, only to turn on him, and (3) bringing out a little person dressed like Bret Hart so they can turn on him.

If you haven’t seen this episode, you can watch it on WWE Network here. Check out all the episodes you may have missed at the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War and Best and Worst of WWF Monday Night Raw tag pages. Follow along with the competition here.

Hey, you! If you want us to keep doing retro reports, share them around! And be sure to drop down into our comments section to let us know what you thought of these shows. We’re on the road to In Your House: D-Generation X, which is similar to 2017’s year’s In Your House: Titus Worldwide.

And now, the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War for December 1, 1997.

Worst: D-X Is Nothing Like The nWo, It’s Completely Different

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This is the episode after last week’s first-live-show-after-Survivor-Series effort, so all the same reactionary, “shut up, we didn’t do anything wrong” Montreal Screwjob stuff is going strong. Most notably we get “exclusive footage” from Survivor Series that has “never been seen” on television that asks us to “make the call” on what happened, and it’s like … is “the call” the problem? Are we checking to see if Bret Hart’s knee was down before the ball crossed the goal line, or are we looking for evidence of a lengthy political con-job? Can we see that from the exclusive angle?

As for D-X themselves, they go Full New World Order this week. Like, aside from the Too Sweet and sharing a couple of members I don’t consider the nWo and D-X to be the same thing — much like how despite how they look, Goldberg was never a “ripoff” of Stone Cold Steve Austin — but this week they still don’t totally know what to do, so they

  • beat up a member of the Hart Foundation who can’t do anything back, and
  • do hilarious skits about how injured they are

If you haven’t been following along with Nitro — what’s wrong with you — Kevin Nash has been pretending to be injured so he can skip matches with The Giant and dress up like Sting to ruin battle royals and weekly main events. This week on Raw, Shawn Michaels shows up in a wheelchair and explains that he’s been going through intense leg training to build up his pain tolerance in preparation for Ken Shamrock. To illustrate, he has Triple H put him in an ankle lock. GOOFS ENSUE.

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Jim Neidhart looked to “get revenge” against Triple H in the main event and gets it, if by “revenge” you mean “hit with a chair and pinned in like two and a half minutes,” or, “gets beaten up and spray-painted.” Yes, D-Generation X is spray-painting people now.

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The point of the main (which ends with Anvil getting fooled again, assaulted, Pedigreed onto a chair and spray-painted) is that Ken Shamrock and Sgt. Slaughter run out at the end to give D-X “comeuppance” for running wild the past two weeks, as this is the go-home show for In Your House: D-Generation X. That’d probably work a lot better if (1) Shamrock, the WWF Championship challenger, had gotten any time on the episode before his first and only main-event title shot, (2) Slaughter wasn’t a 50-year old NPC, or (3) the pay-per-view we’re “going home” to wasn’t called “D-GENERATION X.”

I think the weirdest part of the entire ordeal is that Jim Ross is suddenly insisting that Jim Neidhart’s nickname backstage is “the white rhino.” Throughout the match he’s like, “AW NOW THE RHINO STARTING TO FIGHT BACK, LOOK AT THE RHINO NOW, OH HERE COMES THE WHITE RHINO.” First of all, nobody has ever called Jim Neidhart “the white rhino.” Second of all, hey JR, you sure you didn’t just overhear someone talking about doing coke WITH Jim Neidhart?

Worst: Speaking Of Cocaine, Somebody Thought THIS Was A Good Idea

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From last week’s report:

If you’ve spent the past year reading our vintage Best and Worst columns, what’s the worst 1997 WCW vs. 1997 WWF match you could imagine? Or that you could imagine ME imagining, I guess? If your answer was, “Jeff Jarrett vs. Crush,” first you’re heartless for thinking that into existence, but second YOU’RE CORRECT.

This week’s show: hold my beer

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The match doesn’t happen for two reasons:

1. Jeff Jarrett still believes the World Wrestling Federation isn’t properly promoting him and making him a star, so just like last week, he refuses to wrestle. Either that, or he realizes that new gear makes him look like the Family Dollar-ass version of AKI Man. In response, Sgt. Slaughter appears and announces that Jarrett will go one on one wit da Undertaker at In Your House.

2. You know that running joke we have about how every time Ahmed Johnson’s about to get pushed, he hurts himself? Well, as he’s walking to the ring, the announce team sends it to PHOTOS OF A FLIPPED AUTOMOBILE, because Ahmed was apparently flipped his rental car and almost died on the way to the arena. AHMED. I know your body is George Foreman Grill run-off spread over a bunch of water balloons and covered in knee pads, but be careful!

Best/Worst: The Tournament To Get To The Obvious Taka Vs. Brian Christopher Match We Could’ve Just Done Continues

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This week’s show opener (and the best part of the entire episode) is Light Heavyweight Championship tournament action between Mr. Aguila and Taka Michinoku, who Jim Ross correctly identifies as “Michinoku” like, 70% of the time. He can’t let go of “Michinogo.” It’s fun and dangerous for the four minutes they get, although the actual highlight is probably special guest ring announcer Sunny wearing so much body glitter she looks like she’s in prison in KoalaWalla Land.

Also scheduled to happen this week is the pre-team explosion of Too Cool, Brian Christopher vs. Scott Taylor. It never happens, as Kane shows up and throws Scotty at the ground. Christopher is given the win even though he never came to the ring and the match never started. +1 for hitting “simulate” on this so we can just get to the finals that were set in stone three weeks before the tournament started.

Worst: Everybody Fights!

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Lots of every fights this week. We actually start the show with a New Age Outlaws promo about how they sent the Legion of Doom’s shoulderpads to the Smithsonian, prompting the L.O.D. to show up and promise they’ll be on the Outlaws “like ugly on an ape.” The only other human I’ve ever heard say “like ugly on an ape” is George W. Bush that time people thought he was being racist.

The Outlaws defend their newly won championship against the Headbangers, because the Headbangers have infinity title shots apparently and can cash them in whether they’ve been winning a lot lately or not. That match is quickly ruined by the inevitable Legion of Doom run-in, however, and turns into everybody fighting everybody. The L.O.D. wants the Outlaws, the Headbangers are mad that they lost their title shot, and the Outlaws sprint out into the parking lot to drive away.

Don’t worry, fans: the Legion of Doom gets their rematch at In Your House, and there’s only a 99% chance that ALSO ends in disqualification when somebody runs in. [checks notes] With a 1% margin for error.

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Also, as you were probably expecting, the GANG WARZ match ends in a no contest when everybody fights. I swear, if you were a member of the Disciples of Apocalypse, Los Boricuas or the Truth Commission, your 1997 win/loss record was 0-0. I’d be shocked if 8-Ball could eat a full potato chip at catering without Jesus running up and knocking it out of his hand.

The match is supposed to be an elimination match pitting D’Lo Brown against Chainz, Miguel Perez and Recon. Apologies if you fainted seeing that much star power in one place. Crush isn’t with the company anymore — if you’re keeping track they lost Crush, Rick Rude and like half of Barry Windham to the screwjob, but nobody actually related to Bret — so the only idea they’ve got left is, “everybody get in the ring and start punching.” Like, what was the end game for Gang Warz? Was one of the weirdly racially segregated pro wrestling street gangs supposed to prove the superiority of their race? Hell, the story’s already got two different flavors of prejudiced white dudes.

The Karate Fighters Tournament Is Woke

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Just wanted to pause for a moment and share this screenshot from the 1997 Karate Fighters holiday tournament, in which Jerry Lawler and ‘El Matador’ Tito Santana compare each other to fast food chains before playing toys. Lawler wins, because he is the best at toys.

Best: Goldust Makes My Parents Very Embarrassed

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I write a lot about growing up in southern Virginia and going to NWA and WCW shows as a kid. While I went to a WWF house show sometime in the early ’90s (that was terrible, and like 75% of the announced roster didn’t show up), this week’s Raw from Roanoke was my first live, televised WWF show. I remember exactly two things about it: Stone Cold Steve Austin driving a truck into the arena near me — more on that in a second — and Goldust formally debuting the “Artist Formerly Known As Goldust” character and making us all very uncomfortable. My parents especially.

I think the most offensive thing my parents had ever seen at a wrestling show was that bit where the heel valet gets on the apron to complain, so the babyface kisses her to make her do a disgust-fall. That or like, too many headlocks. People who grew up on Don Kernodle vs. George South were not prepared for Dustin Rhodes to show up in a ball gag, fanny pack-ish thong and metal boobs to lie around rubbing his asshole while Luna Vachon cuts a promo and controls him via chain leash. This version of Goldie is legitimately horrifying, and I’m actually really disappointed that the world isn’t in the right place to look back on the Artist Formerly Known As Goldust and heap a shit-ton of praise on him for going full fucking tilt. And for causing so many uncomfortable conversations on the rides home from wrestling shows.

Best: Broken Mero

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Also evolving from creep to cartoonish super villain this week is Marvelous Marc Mero. Over the past several months, Mero’s been getting madder and madder at how much people enjoy looking at his hot wife. Instead of, I don’t know, asking her to not be on the show anymore at any point between Tuesday morning and the follow Monday afternoon, Mero brings Sable to the ring in Butterbean punch mitts, punches them off her hands and then gets mad at her about it.

It’s horrible, really, but it’s also getting him MASSIVE heat. He goes from passive-aggressive husband who we’re assuming blamed a horse for his wife’s black eye to screaming in her face about how she’s worthless and trying to steal all his fame. If nothing else, it makes you want to see Butterbean fat-whack him into a coma at In Your House. Probably the best mic performance of Marc Mero’s life.

Best: Stone Cold’s Going To Beat The Rock From One End Of The Toyotathon To The Other

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This week’s biggest moment has to be the first instance of Stone Cold Steve Austin driving a vehicle into a WWE arena. As mentioned, I was at this show, and my original seats are somewhere behind Austin in the bowl. I’d snuck down to the floor sometime before The Rock’s match with Vader, because I’ve always been a Vader homer, so in this shot I’m like, crammed somewhere behind that first visible row of fans in shadow.

Austin uses the TRUCKSTRACTION to try to cost Rock the match, but The Rock also has three guys brandishing leather belts with him at all times, so distractions are happening already. Plus, Vince Russo’s creative power is growing stronger every week, so we’ve also got the Artist Formerly Known As Goldust doing a run-in to attack Vader. So that’s … three run-ins in this one match, I guess? Three unrelated run-ins. Rock wins by count-out and Austin doesn’t really do anything, but the image of him standing on a truck in the middle of a wrestling crowd made Vince McMahon’s pupils turn into big green dollar signs.

Next Week

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It’s time for In Your House: D-Generation X, a pay-per-view where … lots of stuff happens, we swear! Plus, the followup Raw featuring Stone Cold Steve Austin meeting the “Mr. McMahon” character for the first time, The Rock becomes “the people’s champion,” and Salvator Sincere gets EXPOSED.

Okay, they can’t all be good.

(Check out our must-listen McMahonsplaining podcast with WWE superstar Big Show. Subscribe on iTunes or Google.)