Previously on the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War: We discussed Badd Blood, the pay-per-view featuring the first Hell in a Cell match, the debut of Kane, and (before the show) the real-life death of Brian Pillman.
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. We’re on the same week again, finally!
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 almost to Survivor Series ’97, where … something happens.
And now, the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War for October 13, 1997.
Best: What A Bunch Of DEGENERATES!
That’s a “Best” for everyone except Bret Hart, who in retrospect really should’ve seen the writing on the wall.
This week’s episode begins with Bret and the Hart Foundation (minus the British Bulldog, who’s celebrating a birthday and an anniversary) cutting a promo in the ring. I mean, it’s supposed to be Bret cutting a promo, but before he can speak we get the legendary intrusion from Shawn Michaels and Triple H that gives D-Generation X its name. If you’ve never seen it, here you go:
Bret’s only contribution to the promo is to say, “you two degenerates” to cue Michaels naming the group. Bret doesn’t even get a rebuttal other than challenging a guy who beat him last week to a fight seconds after watching the guy beat him last week on the TitanTron, as before he can say anything afterward, the Nation of Domination interrupts him. Bret’s getting his leg kicked out of his leg at every turn and doesn’t seem to notice. I uh, hope that doesn’t end badly for him.
You can always tell when WWE’s come up with a new branding they want to get over, because they CANNOT STOP SAYING IT. At least 10 times in this episode, someone will see Michaels or Helmsley doing something, anything, and be like, “look at these degenerates … or D-Generation X as they call themselves!”
Both Michaels and Helmsley get plenty to do in the episode, as they manage to cause but avoid multiple team brawls and individually win matches by forfeit because their opponent got beaten up. The first and best of these is Shawn Michaels vs. Flash Funk, which probably would’ve ruled, but ends before it starts with Funk getting funked up by Kane. In a moment of weirdly adorable heeling, Michaels shows up to steal the pin anyway, with H as the referee (checking the shoulder too many times), Rude as the ring announcer and Chyna as the timekeeper.
Look at those degenerates! Or D-Generation X, as they call themselves!
Later in the episode, Triple H is supposed to face The Patriot. Gotta say, it’s more jarring than usual to hear Kurt Angle’s music playing for The Patriot when he’s about to face Triple H. That match doesn’t happen, however, because the halliburton turns, and “R.R.” Rude (which they call him for some reason) shows up with hot coffee and a violent briefcase.
Please enjoy this GIF that illustrates how Starbucks affects our national economy:
Great job, America.
This leads to … well, this is as good a place as any to talk about-
During the open, Michaels and Helmsley stick around at the announce table to do commentary for Owen Hart vs. Kama Mustafa. If you remember those bits with D-X eating bananas (because they remind you of penises!), this is where that starts. The match, of course, ends with Michaels crotch-chopping at everyone until they start fighting each other, and — get this — Bret Hart gets humiliated and beaten up by four guys while Shawn Michaels lies on the ground laughing at him.
Later, after the Patriot gets defeated by the Hot Coffee Mod, Sgt. Slaughter shows up and is upset that neither member of D-X has had to compete. He lectures them on respect for … several minutes, until announcing Triple H’s replacement opponent: Ahmed Johnson.
As you know if you’ve been reading these columns, there’s a running joke based on actual life about how every time Johnson’s about to get a push, he does something stupid and injures himself or gets attacked and disappears. You won’t be disappointed to find out that before Ahmed can EVEN GET INTO THE RING as H’s replacement opponent, the Nation of Domination attacks him. D-Generation X goes up to the stage and eats popcorn while they watch the Nation re-injure Ahmed’s hand.
If that’s not everybody fights enough, the Legion of Doom and Ken Shamrock show up to fight off the Nation. Nothing happens to D-Generation X, because Bret Hart (and Ahmed Johnson, I guess) are the only people spending the next month getting screwed. Next week, D-X gets their first ridiculously extended entrance speech. In Canada. AW, HERE IT GOES.
The other, historically non-essential Everybody Fights is between the Truth Commission and the Disciples of Apocalypse, who I guess are killing each other trying to be the “racist white team” in the World Wrestling Federation gang warz. Who will win, biker justice or apartheid? Stay tuned!
This is also the Raw debut of the new leader of the Truth Commission, The Jackal, an actual pro wrestling commentator and announcer replacing the Dario Cueto-ish “actor portraying a wrestling character” The Commandant. You may know him best as Don Callis, current New Japan Pro Wrestling World English color commentator, or as “Cyrus the Virus” from ECW. He’s a downgrade from the Commandant as a themed wrestling character, but a huge, huge improvement in regard to “actually doing things on a wrestling show.”
Worst: Creative Admits They’re Lazy And Have No Idea What To Do With These Minis
First and most notably, the “Freddie Blassie tries to kill Sable in laser tag” commercial epic ends this week with Sable officially “foiling” Blassie and revealing the point of her mission: saving an extremely off-brand Mascarita Sagrada. The mini (via subtitles) says the script writers couldn’t come up with a funny ending, so they cut his role short. GET IT. DO YOU GET THE JOKE.
If it helps at all, the script writers couldn’t come up with a funny anything else, either. Also, holy shit, there were SCRIPT WRITERS for these commercials?
In actual wrestling news, Nova and Max Mini take on Tarantula and Mosaic in a mini division tag team match highlighted by Nova going headfirst into the metal stage on a dive and nearly killing himself. Imagine a very small, colorful version of the Undertaker’s WrestleMania 25 dive.
Max Mini wins with a roll-up and Nova turns out to be fine, which is good news. If they replaced Brian Pillman’s match with a minis tag because he died, what would they replace a minis tag with if one of them died? The Headbangers playing with action figures?
Speaking Of Brian Pillman’s Death … (Oh No)
This week’s Jim Cornette “shoot” is on Phil Mushnick, a writer for the New York Post and TV Guide who hates wrestling and wants to get it canceled. The rub here is that Mushnick used the death of Brian Pillman as a reason to bring up the early deaths of so many wrestlers, which is opportunistic and callous but also absolutely a thing.
And while yeah, Mushnick is still at it to this day and probably the worst paid writer with the worst set of opinions and perspectives in the entire world, it’s pretty hard to get mad at the dude for being opportunistic about Pillman’s death when the Raw before this one featured an extreme close-up of the man’s widow crying while Vince McMahon asked her felt about him being dead. Just saying.
In other Pillman-related news, Goldust and Marlena are back together, and during his entrance for a match against Savio Vega the announce team goes from “Goldust and Marlena were supposed to renew their vows last week but didn’t out of respect to Brian Pillman’s family” to “Hulk Hogan’s got a new movie coming out and he’s a stupid bald lair” in the same breath.
The Hogan stuff is in response to Eric Bischoff opening Nitro trying to get fans to sneak Assault on Devil’s Island promotional posters into Raw, so they joke about Goldust being a “movie buff” and wondering if he’s seen No Holds Barred. McMahon laughs about how Hogan promised to pay back his salary if the movie was a failure, but he guesses the “check is still in the mail.” That quickly goes into a wanking-motion conversation about the wig he wears in the new movie, which is admittedly completely hilarious.
Worst: The Light Heavyweight Division Isn’t Getting Any Better
So the original idea behind the relaunched light heavyweight division was to bring in Michinoku Pro guys like Great Sasuke and Taka Michinoku to give the division a fast-paced, distinct feel from WCW’s lucha libre-heavy cruiserweight division. When Great Sasuke didn’t work out and got fired, the new idea became bringing in guys like Brian Christopher and Scott Putski to do punch-and-kick stuff indistinguishable from the rest of the show, except that nobody would like or enjoy it.
That didn’t work either, so now they’re doing a weird mash-up where Yoshihiro Tajiri is trying to do moonsaults and kicks and Brian Christopher’s doing bad dropkicks and pinning him with a handful of tights. They’ve sincerely never, ever known why people might want to see smaller wrestlers, or what they might like to see them do.
Worst: Oh No, Can The Legion Of Doom Save Their Careers?
Let’s take this from the top.
Stone Cold Steve Austin and Dude Love were the Tag Team Champions. Owen Hart injured Austin at SummerSlam. Austin and Dude were supposed to compete in a fatal four-way at Ground Zero, but Austin’s injury proved too severe and he had to forfeit the tag titles. The WWF held a tournament to crown new champs, which was won by the British Bulldog and Owen Hart. In that tournament, Owen and the Bulldog beat the Headbangers. With Austin and Dude out of the fatal four-way, the Headbangers randomly took their place and won the Tag Team Championship by pinning Owen Hart, with Austin’s help. The Headbangers lost every match after that, culminating in them losing the Tag Team Championship to the Godwinns at Badd Blood. The next night on Raw, the Headbangers beat the Godwinns in a non-title match for some reason.
This week, the Godwinns are supposed to defend those titles against their rivals, the Legion of Doom. Before the show even starts, a video package announces that the Legion of Doom have promised to retire from pro wrestling completely if they don’t win the tag titles tonight. That’s followed by nearly two hours of retrospective vignettes exploring the history of the team. They could not have possibly telegraphed this harder.
The Legion of Doom wins, of course, in a match that is completely terrible, of course, and become the new Tag Team Champions. The Godwinns manage to be a worse team than the Headbangers by losing their only non-title match AND their only title defense as champions for an 8 day reign. To make things even worse, the match ends because Uncle Cletus accidentally hits Henry with a horseshoe, so the post-match is Henry and Phineas beating the shit out of their own uncle and WWF writing him off the show. Good times!
Best: Two Important Bits Of History
While this isn’t the best episode, there are actually two important bits of history that happen in addition to D-Generation X getting their name. I figured I’d end the column with those, for a little positivity.
The first happens at the end of the Stone Cold Steve Austin segment. Once again, Vince McMahon has promised Stone Cold Steve Austin he can wrestle at Survivor Series as long as he signs a hold harmless agreement taking full responsibility for his health and safety and waiving his right to hold the WWF or anyone in it accountable if he gets paralyzed. Austin is obviously like, YES WHATEVER HERE.
Faarooq and the Nation of Domination interrupt, still upset about Austin braining Faarooq and costing him the Intercontinental Championship at Badd Blood. Austin challenges anyone from the group to come to the ring and try to kick his ass, and guess which member accepts?
Yep, The Rock hits the ring and takes the first of many, man Stone Cold Stunners in his career. Austin escapes through the crowd, and Rocky lies there like, “that was cool, but next time I’m gonna see if I can backflip into the ropes.”
The other important event actually happened on Shotgun Saturday Night, which is still a show, and is shown in recap form on Raw. “The Real Double J” Jesse Jammes returns with a new name — the “Road Dogg” — and gets in Rockabilly’s face about how his career is failing with the Honky Tonk Man. He suggests they should be a team. Honky tries to attack him with a guitar, but SWERVE, Rockabilly steals the guitar and bashes HONKY. Billy and the Road Dogg high five, and what probably played as the least important moment of the week when it originally aired ends up being one of the pivotal moments of the era: the birth of the New Age Outlaws.
On next week’s show, Road Dogg and Rockabilly — once again Billy Gunn, and advertised for the first time as a “bad ass” — get their first match together as a team. Also, their first entrance, and their first suggestion for what you should do and who you should call if you didn’t know. Welcome to the new age.