Previously on the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War: The shit finally hit the fan.
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. This is the leave-home show for Survivor Series ’97.
And now, the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War for November 10, 1997.
Best, Then Worst: The Very First Thing WWF Does After The Montreal Screwjob Is Give D-X Their Entrance Theme
I think anyone looking for an honest recap of how the major players of the Montreal Screwjob acted and reacted should look at the Raw immediately following Survivor Series ’97, which is dedicated to making sure we knew D-Generation X listened to no one and was better than everyone, and is built around Shawn Michaels at the absolute HEIGHT of his political power and arrogance. It’s like somebody put the worst WCW version of Kevin Nash into AJ Styles’ body. I’m not saying the guy never felt bad about his role in things, but there’s visibly a gap between the event and those feelings.
Raw opens with the debut of the D-Generation X theme by Chris Warren and the DX Band, or as you know if it you ever tried to download it from Napster, “DX THEME BY RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE.” It’s kinda fun to go back to the one time in WWE history when that music started and absolutely zero people reacted. They actually do it twice, too, with Rick Rude getting the full intro, then coming to the ring and intro’ing Shawn and Hunter, who get a shortened version. So really, nobody on either show really knows what to do yet, so it feels like everybody’s winging it until public opinion settles. Both sides are afraid to make the next real move.
Note: Vince McMahon does not appear on this episode.
Ken Shamrock interrupts them to become Shawn’s first championship challenger and cuts maybe the worst promo of the year. Shawn is condescendingly like, “I am going to give you the microphone, try to string some words together to form what we call sentences,” and then dude takes the mic and absolutely cannot. In fact, the only thing he can do to get a reaction from the crowd is to question Chyna’s sex, so he keeps going back to it. Plus, D-X no-sells everything anyway, so the promo’s basically:
Shamrock: Shawn, I’m gonna punch you!
Shawn: [makes a face]
Shamrock: Triple H I’m gonna punch YOU!
HHH: [makes a face]
Shamrock: ARE YOU A MAN OR A WOMAN OR WHATEVER YOU ARE
Shamrock: anyway back to what I was saying about Hunter-
Shamrock: back to what I was saying about Shawn?
Shamrock: Rick Rude?
Shamrock: CHYNA I DON’T KNOW IF YOU’VE GOT A PENIS OR A VAGINA
Crowd: YEAH GET HER
My favorite part is when he runs out of material and tries to tell her to “get in the kitchen,” but he forgets half the words so it comes out as, and I swear I’m not paraphrasing this as a joke, “AND GO HAVE A SEAT WHERE YOU BELONG, SURE AS HELL AIN’T NO KITCHEN OR, NO WOMAN OR MAN OR WHATEVER THE HELL YOU ARE!” To his credit, Triple H’s retroactively babyface response to Shamrock is to do some crotch chops on Chyna and give him the most legitimate middle finger I’ve ever seen on WWE TV.
This, of course, brings out “Sgt. Slobber” (™ Shawn Michaels) to make Triple H vs. Ken Shamrock for the main event. If you’ve watched a single television main event on either popular prime-time wrestling show in 1997, you know the ending: Shamrock has the match won, but D-X runs in to cause a disqualification and beat him down. This is to set up the main event of In Your House: D-Generation X — Shamrock vs. Shawn for the WWF Championship — which ends [drum-roll please] with D-X running in to cause a disqualification and beating Shamrock down. Derp. The post-match for that ends up being even worse, but we’ll get there.
Worst: Speaking Of ‘Even Worse,’ Here’s Ahmed Johnson Trying To Take A TKO
This is easily one of the worst wrestled and most botch-filled Raws I think I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if they were stressed out about what happened at Survivor Series or worried they were gonna lose their jobs and go out of business or what, but everyone who isn’t Austin, Rock or D-X is out here spectacularly shitting the bed.
The worst feud of the night goes to Marc Mero, who uses his “real boxer” persona to (1) lose to Ahmed Johnson via nut-shot disqualification and (2) start a fight with THIS man:
Somewhere in the back, Bart Gunn just felt a cold chill run down his spine, but he doesn’t know why. And then his head started wobbling back and forth.
No, this isn’t Michael Chiklis in a Cosby sweater, it’s super heavyweight hobo fights legend Butterbean. The Bean parlayed a career in murdering random losers in toughman competitions into a successful career as a boxer — he’s the IBA World Super Heavyweight Champion here with a 30-1 record — a respectable career in MMA, and a less all of that career as a kickboxer. He was also the boss at the end of WWF’s Brawl For All, which ends up being maybe the funniest moment in WWE history.
Mero decides to start a fight with him for no reason because he’s a “real boxer” and Butterbean isn’t, despite one of them being a current boxing champion and the other being a former boxer barely passing as a professional wrestler. When that argument doesn’t hold up, Mero starts accusing Butterbean of “looking at Sable,” and threatens him if he ever looks at her again. Butterbean’s response is WONDERFULLY confused, as it should be, and made even better by the fact that his voice is basically Mickey Mouse. He’s here trying to watch Raw and have a good time and, “SOME IDIOT COMES OUT N’HOLLERS!” Michael Cole is nervously like, “I don’t THINK you were looking at Sable,” and Butterbean says, “SHE’S ATTRACTIVE LADY WHO WOULDN’T? Y’KNOW I BEEN MARRIED BUT Y’KNOW NOT LIKE I’M WANTIN’ TO GO OUT WITH’R OR NOTHIN’ NO!”
The payoff would come at In Your House in a match so bad it makes Roddy Piper vs. Mr. T at WrestleMania 2 look like Show vs. Mayweather at WrestleMania 24. Why do we keep asking boxers to wrestle, and for wrestlers to get their asses kicked by them in wrestling matches?
Anyway, the best part of the segment is the guy who didn’t know what to write on his sign for Raw, so he just drew Archie Andrews.
Best: ♫ Here They Come To Save The Day ♫
Their best work is yet to come, but the saving grace of this Raw (and arguably the only thing worth watching on the entire episode) is the first real confrontation between Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. These guys are about to launch into an Intercontinental Championship program that makes them both look like huge, charismatic, next-level stars. Austin was already there, of course, but Rocky stepped right up next to him. And man, can you imagine how hard this company would’ve tanked if they’d done that to Bret Hart and sent him skipping off to Nitro without these two guys waiting in the wings to pick up the slack? It was like a hard refresh that cleared up all the company’s memory.
We’ll get into it more over the next … several years of shows, but the key to any good Rock/Austin interaction is Austin doing something barely threatening, like 0.1 on the crazy Steve Austin scale, and The Rock selling it like he just found out he’s a ghost that’s been dead the whole time. Like, look at the guy’s face when Austin tells him he sucks:
That’s the “doing a full backwards roll and popping up so your legs get caught on the top rope” Stunner sell of facial expressions. I’m so excited to watch these shows again and praise these guys, because we desperately need somebody on the Internet to say that The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin were good.
The Everything Else On This Episode Is Terrible Lightning Round
I don’t want to deprive you of comedic material or whatever, but this is seriously a “rebuilding” episode while they tried to figure out what to do with the remaining, confused-ass Hart Foundation members and a black-eyed Vince McMahon, so I’m gonna touch on all the other stuff that happened, keeping in mind that literally none of it mattered.
Let’s jump right in to The Artist About To Be Known As The Artist Formerly Known As Goldust, who broke up with his wife on Raw last week and decided to deal with his divorce by [checks notes] this says “wearing blackface,” is that right? That’s … oh. In a weird turn of events, they decide the first real introduction to this character should be Vader showing up, getting mad at him for bailing on his Survivor Series team and powerbombing him while Goldie makes a bunch of nervous excuses.
None of the Artist stuff that happens is really “good,” but Dustin’s got an unwavering commitment to making the entire pro wrestling world as sexually uncomfortable as possible, so if blackface cross-dressing with the world’s most Freudian cigar in his mouth makes you feel uncomfortable, strap the hell in.
Here is a rare screenshot of Bradshaw being MAD about someone getting assaulted in the bathroom.
It turns out the Road Dogg and Bill “Ass” Gunn Esquire were responsible for it, setting up a handicap hardcore match for later in the show. Much like the Goldust/Vader segment, the booking is INSANE here, with Bradshaw single-handedly destroying both dudes by himself until Billy’s able to hit one (1) offensive move and pin him. They even have to double-pin him to keep him down, because if there’s one guy you think of when you say “overpowered character on a 1997 Raw,” it’s Blackjack Bradshaw.
Steve Blackman vs. Los Boricuas is one of those chicken-or-the-egg WWE booking scenarios where the fight only happens because Master Hand put them in place and made them fight. Los Boricuas are supposed to have a match to highlight their newest member, Ali G, but as they’re standing in the ring, the announce team decides to interview Steve Blackman at ringside?
Blackman gives an interview about how he’s “not familiar with the rules of WWF” but believes he “acquitted himself” last night at Survivor Series. The Boricuas are rightfully like, “hey, maybe do your interview some other time,” and a fight breaks out. Blackman manages to fight them off 1-on-3, and whoever was supposed to wrestle the Boricuas just stays in the back.
Let’s say it was Sexton Hardcastle and “The Canadian Rage” Christian Cage.
In this week’s Everybody Fights, The Headbangers vs. The Truth Commission gets loosey goosey and turns into a free-for-all pitting the Bangers against the full Truth Commission against the full Disciples of Apocalypse against trainers, EMTS, referees down. I guess everyone’s still buzzing after the previous night’s show, which you’ll recall was operated under GANG RULZ.
Statistical note: The Guinness Book of World Records lists this tag team match as the most boring four minutes in television history.
Remember that thing I wrote about how everyone on the show is a little off, and nobody can seem to do a wrestling move without messing it up? Even Taka Michinoku can’t seem to put it together, seen here hitting a big top rope spinning heel kick to Devon Storm’s feet.
This is a round one match in the Light Heavyweight Championship tournament, which already has Scott Taylor slotted in where Jerry Lynn was announced last week. Taka managed to survive a Brian Christopher run-in to win the match and advance, and I continue to wonder why they didn’t just do Taka vs. Christopher for the belt instead of having them spend a month beating up dudes who aren’t actually in the WWF.
Finally This Week, A Declaration
Kane accidentally turns face by saving us from an Undertaker vs. Kama Mustafa match — Undertaker loves fighting that dude — and we get our first real Kane and Undertaker interaction. Kane wants a match, but Taker won’t give it to him, because he is “flesh and blood, my flesh and blood.”
Looking back, I love that the first match in the feud happened because (spoiler alert) Kane set fire to their parents’ graves, dug up their dead bodies and CHOKESLAMMED THE UNDERTAKER INTO THEIR BONES. I feel like Kane could’ve just like, attacked Undertaker from behind a couple of times and accomplished the same thing. I miss the ’90s WWF that felt like funeral desecration was the only way to build serious feuds. I wish they did that now. I want Baron Corbin to show up on Smackdown like, “hey Dolph Ziggler, you took my United States Championship, but I MURDERED YOUR SISTER AND HERE’S HER CORPSE.” Just out of nowhere.
Mr. McMahon is born, the Rock and Sock connect, and Commissioner Slaughter gets TP’d. Most of these things are important!
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