Well, the Braves have ticked me off over the last two days, so I have decided to let out some frustration by watching some pro wrestling. In this case, it is the June 30, 1997 episode of Monday Night Raw, which features Jim Neidhart in the main event, so it's got to be a great episode. Let's get ready to rumble, shall we?
A video detailing the relationship between Paul Bearer and the Undertaker plays to begin the show. Paul Bearer has promised to reveal a deep dark secret that will destroy the Undertaker. I guess that didn't work, since the Undertaker is still around today. The intro plays, and tonight's announcers are Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and Jerry Lawler. "The World's Most Dangerous Man" Ken Shamrock comes out to face off against Hunter Hearst Helmsley, who comes out to Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy'. I still think that was his best theme song. A video plays of Chyna proclaiming herself the World's Most Dangerous Woman, and the match starts. Shamrock frustrates Helmsley with a pair of arm drags and a arm lock. Triple-H gets the advantage with an eye gouge, and goes to stomping Shamrock in the corner until the ref has enough and pulls him out by his hair. So Triple-H changes tactics, using a running knee lift and a knee drop to get a two count. Both men are back up, and Helmsley is able to catch a running Shamrock and throw him to the outside of the ring. Triple-H distracts the ref, allowing Chyna to whip Shamrock hard into the steps. Back in, it looks as if Helmsley is about to put Shamrock away, but here comes Mankind, who distracts Helmsley. This proves to be unfortunate for Triple-H, as Shamrock uses a belly-to-belly suplex to pin Triple-H. Helmsley leaves yelling at a Mankind as Jim Ross promotes their match at the next pay-per-view six days from this episode. Match was decent enough, but too short. I'll give it a 1.9 out of 5.
A video package of Ahmed Johnson plays, as Ahmed had recently joined the Nation of Domination and turned on the Undertaker. Last week, while Ahmed tried to explain why he joined the NOD, the Disciples of Apocalypse debuted and got into a big brouhaha with the NOD, and Ahmed walked too fast and tore his knee up, costing the big Johnson his title shot at the Undertaker. Ahmed promises revenge against the DOA and the Undertaker, and says some other stuff I couldn't really understand.
Up next is Michael Cole, who apparently is cool these days since he's a heel, interviewing the Legion of Doom about their upcoming tag match with Faroouq and D'Lo Brown of the NOD. Hawk promises to turn the Nation into small animal excrement. That's nice. The match is next, but before that Sunny shows a casket full of money that the WWF is giving away. Yes, I said casket full of money. The two teams come out in a semifinal match of a tournament to determine the number one contenders to the tag titles, and the Legion takes control of Faroouq early. A tag out to D'Lo doesn't do much good, as Hawk suplexes Brown down to the mat. D'Lo gets the advantage after catching a ducking Hawk with a boot to the face, and takes control for a minute or so with stomps and punches. Hawk is able to catch D'Lo with a swinging neckbreaker, and tags out to Animal. The Godwins come out and watch from the stage as Hawk and Faroouq brawl on the outside. Doomsday Device on D'Lo, and man that move is dangerous, as Henry Godwin could attest to. Speaking of which, apparently Mr. Godwin is upset about having his neck broken a few months before due to the Device, so he clobbers Hawk in the back of the head with his trusty slopbucket while the ref isn't looking. Faroouq gets the pin after the interference, and the L.O.D. chases after the Godwins. Match wasn't really bad, it was just boring. I'll give it a 1.5 out of 5.
The Nation, however, is not done, as they call Vince McMahon up and blast his decision to give Vader the title shot that Ahmed Johnson originally had instead of one of them. Yeah, like people would pay to see the Undertaker vs. Kama or D'Lo. Savio Vega has had enough of Faroouq's talking, and the recently displaced Nation member informs Faroouq that he was not fired, but rather he quit. Well, whatever gets you through the night. Faroouq challenges Savio to bring it, and Savio does, along with a few of his friends. This moment marks the birth of the greatest stable in wrestling history, Los Boriquas. They brawl with the Nation some, and here comes the Disciples of Apocalypse, to a rather large pop, I must say. Everybody brawls with each other until security breaks it up and we go to commercial.
Michael Cole interviews Savio and his friends, and Savio declares his group Los Boriquas before everyone starts yelling at the mic for whatever reason. Up next is a match between Scott Putski and Brian Christopher. Putski looks jacked to the gills during this period. Putski takes control early on with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex and a sidewalk slam. Christopher gets the advantage back with the Skull Crushing Finale. He follows that up with a dropkick from the second rope and a nice northern lights release suplex. Christopher tries to hurracanrana Putski, but gets powerbombed for his efforts. Putski follows that up with a series a clotheslines and a big splash from the top rope. Christopher's father Jerry Lawler gets on the apron. Christopher charges at Putski, but instead Putski ducks and knocks his father off the apron. Putski scoops up Christopher, but is tripped by Lawler and lands on his head as Christopher rolls him up for the three count. Afterwards, father and son beat down on Putski, as Jerry tells Scott to inform his father, the legendary Ivan Putski, that the only thing good to come out of Poland was an empty boat. Well then. Match was fast paced with a lot of moves in a short time, but nothing was really linked together. Still, not too bad. I'll give it a 2.5 out of 5.
The Undertaker is in the back, and he asks for the fans to let him tell his side of the story after Paul Bearer reveals his dark secret. A video montage of the Great Sasuke is shown, promoting his debut at Canadian Stampede. Brain Pillman is out, and a video is shown of his comments prior to his match with Mankind, where he promises to show Marv Albert and Mike Tyson something about biting another human by taking a chunk out of Mankind's good ear. Mankind comes out bearing a gift and wearing a sign that says "Pick Me, Steve", as he really wants to be Austin's tag team partner. Mankind presents the gift to Jim Ross, which is a plaster hand shaped like Mankind's, mandible claw in all. Pillman is not amused, as he takes the hand and beats Mankind with it before throwing it back to Ross, and the match is on. Pillman gets control early, but Mankind gains control with brawling tactics, and then delivers a running knee to a downed Pillman in the corner. The two continue fighting as Triple-H and Chyna show up on the stage. The match goes to the outside, and Pillman uses the referee trying to hold back Mankind as an opportunity to bash Mankind with the ring bell behind the ref's back. Pillman then uses a pencil to stab Mankind with a couple of times before the ref takes it away. Mankind eventually gets the advantage and sets Pillman up against the stairs, but Pillman moves, and Mankind goes knees first into the metal steps. Back in, Pillman fulfills his pre-match promise to bite Mankind's good ear. But Mankind comes back, and eventually drags Pillman over to the ring post, where he slams his bad ankle against the medal post, then crotches Pillman for good measure. The mandible claw is put on Pillman, but here comes Triple-H to break it up while Chyna distracts the ref. That gets a mandible claw for Helmsley on the outside, until Pillman breaks it up by beating Mankind with one of his boots. Pillman tries to hold Mankind up for a chairshot, but Helmsley misses and Pillman takes the chair instead. Mankind goes after Triple-H, but gets counted out as Pillman is able to beat the ref's count, giving Pillman the victory. Interesting match, I'd give it a 2.65 out of 5.
Paul Bearer is in the back, as he promises to deliver the secret that will mark the beginning of the end for the Undertaker. Out comes Mr. Bearer, and before he reaches the ring, a female fan comes out and easily takes down the big man before security drags her away. That was weird. Bearer talks for a while, but the gist of the secret is this, Bearer was working at a funeral home owned by the Undertaker's family, and the Undertaker burned that funeral home down, killing his parents and his brother. Of course, if Bearer did know this, than why was he the Undertaker's manager for six years prior to this? This mystery will keep me up for days. Back from commercial, Vader congratulates Bearer for making his announcement, and Sable and Marc Mero show off the cash casket.
Next is the second semifinal of the tag tournament, as the Headbangers take on Owen Hart and Davey Boy Smith. The Headbangers start with the advantage after a Mosh dropkick and a double pancake on Owen. Thrasher comes in, so does Davey Boy. Thrasher seems to be in control until Owen comes in after a blind tag and lands a spinning heel kick on Thrasher. That gets two. From there, Owen and Davey Boy are in control, as they show off moves such as Davey Boy's stall suplex, a double back elbow, and others, getting a number of two counts in the process. Meanwhile, Bret Hart is on the phone from Calgary, promoting his team's upcoming 10 man tag match at Canadian Stampede. Owen goes for a suplex, but Thrasher counters with a small package, and nearly gets the pin. This does give Thrasher an opening to get the HOT TAG to Mosh, who comes in with body slams, clotheslines, and dropkicks for everybody. Owen's in trouble, as the Headbangers set him up for the stage dive, but Davey Boy crotches Mosh, and Owen is able to roll up Thrasher to get the victory. Match could have used five more minutes to really get going. I'll give it a 1.8 out of 5. Afterwards, Jim Cornette returns, and he's brought a new tag team in. That team turns out to be the Headhunters, who at first brawl with both teams before Davey and Owen just leave. The Headbangers seemed to be in control at first, but a Cornette distraction allows the Headhunters to gain the advantage, and they finish up the brawl with one delivering a diving headbutt that just barely connects, while the other does a pretty nifty moonsault from the top rope.
Time to go back to the Undertaker's locker room, where he offers a rebuttal to Paul Bearer's secret. Taker admits that a fire at the funeral home killed his family, but it was not he, but rather his brother Kane that set the fire inadvertently when he combined matches with embalming fluid. The Undertaker was out doing chores during the day, and once he returned, the funeral home was burned down to the ground. Undertaker also claims that Paul Bearer made the Undertaker look at the charred remains of his family, which is probably not the best thing for a grieving child. Undertaker concludes by saying that he will draw strength from the dead to strike Paul Bearer down. In the hands of most other wrestlers, this would just be ridiculous, but the Undertaker is convincing enough in this speech to make the angle work.
Rockabilly is led out to the ring by the Honky Tonk Man for his match against Vader, who is led to the ring by Paul Bearer. Of all the gimmicks in Billy Gunn's career, Rockabilly just might be the worst. Rockabilly decides not to waste time, so he slams his guitar into Vader's back. That didn't work, as Vader barely flinched and proceeds to pepper Rockabilly with lefts and rights. The Undertaker comes out and beats on Vader while Paul Bearer screams "murderer" at the top of his lungs. That enrages the murderous Undertaker, so he grabs Bearer by the collar and paintbrushes him, demanding to tell the fans the truth. Instead, Bearer reveals another secret, that Taker's brother Kane is alive. Now, 13 years later, and Taker and his 'brother' Kane are still feuding. Anyway, Vader attacks the Undertaker from behind, and then he and Bearer run to the back, with Taker chasing close behind. This wasn't really a match, which is all right since Rockabilly v. Vader isn't that appealing a match anyway.
It's main event time on Raw, as Jim Neidhart is waiting in the ring. Out comes Steve Austin to a DOA-like pop. Neidhart jumps Austin early on, but Austin is able to counter with punches and clotheslines before slamming the Anvil down for a two count. Anvil comes back with a pair of big shoulderblocks, but Austin is Irish Whipped into the ropes, which allows him to Thesz Press the Anvil. Austin tries for a sharpshooter, that doesn't work, so Austin instead sinks in the abdominal stretch. To the outside, and Austin slams Neidhart down on the entrance ramp before the show cuts to commercial.
Back from commercial, and Bret Hart has flown in from Calgary to Des Moines, Iowa in 30 minutes to attack Ken Shamrock in the back. Meanwhile, during the break, Neidhart took control of the match after whipping Austin into the ring steps, and continues to control the action with a series of rest holds and brawling tactics. Austin is able to counter a Neidhart sleeper with a jawbreaker, which gets a two count. However, Neidhart uses his gut to stop Austin's charge and lock in a front face lock. Anvil slams Austin down, but misses a second rope dive. Austin takes control with punches and stomps, before Bret Hart comes out. The Hart Foundation double team Austin and drag him to the post, where Hart locks Austin in his patented ring post figure four, which I'm surprised somebody hasn't lifted the move for their own repertoire. Mankind comes out to rescue Austin, but the rest of the Hart Foundation attack Mankind as the show concludes. Match was rather boring and Neidhart was gassed early on. I'll give it a 1.3 out of 5.
Overall, the show wasn't too bad nor all that great. There were a couple of decent matches, and the Paul Bearer-Undertaker angles were compelling at the very least. Plus, the show marked the debut of the Los Boriquas and the first mention of Kane, so it's quite a historic show. Overall, I'd give the show a 5.35 out of 10. Thanks for reading, and if you have any thoughts about this show or the wrestlers involved, or have an idea for a future review, than feel free to share those either by leaving a comment on the blog or by sending me an e-mail at KtheC2001@gmail.com.