February 1997 was a tumultuous time for the WWF. Shawn Michaels had lost his smile and vacated the WWF Title, while Bret Hart was in the midst of turning against the fans who he felt had turned on him. A young Rocky Miavia was struggling to gain fan support, while talk of an ECW 'invasion' were abound. Meanwhile, the WWF Title was awarded to Bret Hart after he won a fatal four-way match at the PPV Final Four. This episode of Monday Night Raw took place the day after Final Four took place, on February 17, 1997, and the announcers for this show are Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King" Lawler.
No time is being wasted on this episode, as 'Sycho' Sid is coming out to face the new WWF Champion, Bret Hart in a Title match. I must say that I love Sid's entrance, from his theme song to the giant "SID" sparking sign over the ring. Hart comes out to a great ovation from the fans, so I guess he's still a face at this moment. Staredown to start, but OH HERE GO HELL COME as Steve Austin enters the ring and attacks Bret Hart. The two trade blows, then Sid decides he wants some of Austin so he attacks. While security separates the two, Austin chop blocks Sid in the back of the knee, and the big man is hurt. After Austin is escorted from the ring area, Sid tries to walk off the injury (and drops an audible f-bomb in the process) and the match is delayed until the end of the show.
Clips are shown from Shawn Michaels vacated the WWF title on last week's Raw because he "lost his smile". Yes, that was the reason given. I don't remember Lou Thesz or Harley Race vacated world titles because of a 'lost smile', but this was the 'New Generation'. Then, still shots from last night's main event are shown. Vader took a nasty cut above his eye, while the Undertaker was so close to winning the title, but thanks to interference from Austin, Hart came away with the victory and the championship. But don't worry about 'Taker, because it was announced that he will face the winner of Bret vs. Sid for the WWF Championship at Wrestlemania. To the back, where Kevin Kelly is with Sid. Sid tells Kelly to shut up, then proclaims that it will take more than a knee injury to keep him from his destiny of becoming the WWF Champion. Also, he is the master and ruler of the world.
Wildman Marc Mero comes out with Sable to face off against the Nation of Domination's Savio Vega. Sable's apparently becoming more involved in matches, including smacking Leif Cassidy last night in his match against Marc Mero. Vega comes out with a cadre of Nation members, including PG-13, who are rapping over the NOD theme song. Meanwhile, Faarooq and Clarence Mason are in the crowd above the entranceway, and everybody gives the Nation salute before the match starts. Mero gives Vega a series of arm drags before Savio bails to the outside, but that doesn't go well as Mero catches buth Savio and Crush with a somersault plancha. Back in, Savio has the advantage for a while, but that changes and Mero backs Vega into the corner for a 10-punch. However, Savio drops Mero face first on the turnbuckle, then throws the Wildman to the outside so PG-13 can stomp away at him. Sable comes over, and knocks JC Ice down with a couple of kicks that don't exactly inspire visions of Kawada. Mero and Vega continue the fight, with Mero taking Vega down with a Samoan drop, but the rest of the NOD is pissed at Sable, so they chase her into the ring and cause the match to be thrown out. While Mero and Sable are cornered, Ahmed Johnson comes out with a 2 x 4, in a bright orange jumpsuit for some reason. Johnson chases off the Nation and good prevails. This match was just filler, and not very entertaining filler at that.
To the back, where Bret Hart is interviewed by J.R. and The King about his upcoming match with Sid. Hart predicts victory for himself tonight, to which Lawler takes slight offense to. Well, Bret says that he's looking out for number one because if you "don't look out for number one, you end up stepping on number two". Not quite as catchy a catchphrase as Austin 3:16. Lawler comments that Bret is probably thrilled about Stone Cold injuring Sid's leg, so Bret simply tells the King to shut up. Good one. Up next is a match between Leif Cassidy and the Intercontinental Champion, Rocky Maivia. Rocky comes out with a goofy smile on his face to a lukewarm reaction. Before the match starts, Sunny comes out to serve as the guest timekeeper. A flimsy excuse to bring her out, but I'm not complaining. Lockup to start, Leif and Rocky start trading blows with Rocky eventually getting the better of the exchange and clotheslining Leif over the top rope. Leif comes back in and the two start trading holds. While the two are wrestling, we get an interview with Hunter Hearst Helmsley in the back, who says a lot of words but the basic gist of the message is that he will defeat Rocky Maivia for his I/C Title and Goldust for getting involved in his match with Maivia last night. Back to action, and Leif starts to do a lot of holds on the left arm of Rocky. Rocky nearly gets the pinfall after a rollup, but a thumb to the eye turns the momentum back Leif's way. After some more work on the arm, Rocky recovers long enough to get a pair of two counts with various pinning holds. However, an armbar DDT from Cassidy gives the challenger the advantage. Cassidy goes to the top after a body slam, and hits a diving axe-handle on Rocky. That gets two. Cassidy decides that since it worked before, it will work again and climbs the top rope, but this time Rocky recovers and throws Cassidy off the top. Some fists follow from Rocky, then the champ hits a cross body block from the top rope, but doesn't go for the cover. Instead, Rocky decides to finish Cassidy off with a running shoulderbreaker, and that proves to be the winning move, as Rocky retains his title. Post-match, Sunny rings the bell, while Jerry Lawler goes on a rant about ECW thanks to some fan waving an "ECW Rules" sign in his face. For some reason, Lawler compares the wrestlers of ECW to the denizins of 'Escape from New York', referring to them as a bunch of misfits who couldn't make it in the WWF. Of course, about half the roster would sign WWF contracts at some point, but whatever. Lawler concludes his diatribe by challenging the ECW wrestlers to show up on next week's Raw. Anyway, the match was decent enough, even if the audience weren't too interested in either man and therefore, seemed bored by the match.
Hey, Jesse James was on TNN's Prime Time Country a few days prior, so good for him. Kevin Kelly is out in the ring and introduces Goldust and Marlena for an interview. Goldust is not too thrilled about Hunter Hearst Helmsley's obsession over Marlena, and promises to make Hunter pay for his indecent proposal. Goldust continues his point by stating that the only way Hunter will get to Marlena is over his dead body. Marlena gets the mic, and proclaims that despite all the weird actions and psycho head games, Goldust is all man and more of a man than HHH will ever be. Well then. That brings Helmsley out, and the two men jaw at each other for a while before Hunter grabs a drink and throws it in Goldust's eyes. Helmsley then pounds away on Goldust before laying him out with the Pedigree. Marlena is none too thrilled about this turn of events, so she slaps HHH. Helmsley looks back in anger, but WAITAMINUTE, a female 'fan' jumps over the guardrail and puts Marlena in a reverse bearhug, shaking Marlena like a ragdoll. That 'fan' would later be known as Chyna, but the announcers had no idea who she was at this point in time. Marlena has to be carried to the back by Goldust.
The Headbangers come out to the ring to face the Hardy Boys, who are not high enough on the card to even receive a proper entrance. The Headbangers waste no time by going right after the Hardys before the bell rings. Jeff gets a couple of moves in early, but after he tags in Matt the Headbangers take control of the match. During the middle of the match, we go to the back where Faarooq and the rest of the NOD are interviewed. Faarooq claims that Ahmed Johnson is not a man of the streets, but that Ahmed is lucky since "most people have to die to go to hell, but you're already in it". Faarooq also claims to be Ahmed's devil and the Nation are his demons. Faarooq finishes the interview by challenging Johnson to a 'Chicago Street Fight'. Back to the match, and the Headbangers are punishing match with moves such as a bodyslam into the ropes and a cross body block from the top. Thrasher misses an elbow drop, which gives Matt a chance to tag in Jeff. Jeff throws a couple of dropkicks at the Headbangers, but takes a big bump off a Mosh clothesline. Mosh sets Jeff up for a powerbomb, and Thrasher comes off the top with a legdrop for the Stage Dive, which gets the three count. Not a bad match, but nothing memorable.
Up next is the WWF Title match between Bret Hart and Sid. Sid seems to be walking without a limp, so his leg must be fine. The Hitman's music hits, but before he can get to the ring, Steve Austin attacks him in the hallway. Sid comes back there and security must separate the three men. Once again, the title match is delayed. Kevin Kelly is with WWF President Gorilla Monsoon, and despite the delays, Monsoon promises a WWF Title match tonight. EVERYBODY HERE COMES Flash Funk with the Funkettes. He's here to face Slammy Award winner Owen Hart. The two exchange armbars to start the match, then after some other holds, both men try a dropkick at the same time, then have a standoff. While Funk and Owen do a series of Monkey Flips out of a double-knuckle lock, ECW head Paul Heyman calls in the show and tells Jerry Lawler that he and the rest of the ECW athletes will be there on Raw next week. The two trade insults for a minute before Heyman hangs up. Owen knocks Funk down, then tries to go for a sharpshooter, but his manager Clarence Mason is on the apron for some reason. Owen is distracted by this, and Funk dropkicks Hart over the rope. While Owen argues with Mason, Funk dives off the top onto Owen. The British Bulldog comes out, and tells Mason to scram. Back in, Funk gets a two count after a backslide, then Owen gets a two count after a German suplex with a bridge. Stone Cold Steve Austin is interviewed next, and I'm really getting tired of every match being interrupted by an interview. Stone Cold feels he should be champion because he won the Royal Rumble and Shawn Michaels vacated the title, so in protest he will open up a keg of whoop-ass upon the WWF. Back to action, and Owen tries for a splash in the corner, but misses. Funk goes on the attack with a back drop, then gets a two count after a cross body block from the top rope. Funk slams Owen down a goes back to the top, where he connects with a moonsault. Somehow, Owen kicked out of that as well. Owen reverses a Funk Irish whip, and Bulldog hits Funk in the back with the Slammy Award, allowing Owen to hit a spinning heel kick and get the three count, with Bulldog holding Funk's legs down from the apron. Good match between two good wrestlers, even if the constant interruptions detracted slightly from the action.
Beehtoven's Ode to Joy plays through the loudspeaker as Hunter Hearst Helmsley comes out for his match. A video recap of Chyna's actions against Marlena plays before Bart Gunn is introduced as Helmsley's opponent. Meanwhile, the Honky Tonk Man is the guest commentator for this match for some reason. While Helmsley's standing in front of the announcer's table, J.R. takes this opportunity to ask about the mysterious woman attacking Marlena, and Triple-H denies any association with said woman. The match starts with some arm wringers by both men while HTM talks about his quest to find the next great superstar to mentor. Helmsley takes a dropkick to the mouth from Bart, who then follows up with an armbar while J.R. plugs the WWF Hotline. I really don't care much about this match, and neither do the announcers as they talk about everything but the match. Eventually, Goldust runs in and chases Helmsley through the stands, giving Bart Gunn a countout victory which was probably forgotten by the next show. This match was filler and the only purpose was to further the Goldust-Helmsley feud. That said, it was probably the worst match of the night.
A clip of Dr. James Andrews is shown in which he talks about Shawn Michaels's knee injury. Apparently, Michaels may or may not need surgery depending on how the knee responds to four to six weeks of rehab. It is finally time for the WWF Title match between the champion, Bret Hart, and Sycho Sid, provided that Steve Austin does not interfere again. The match starts with both men trading punches, Bret backs Sid in the corner, only for Sid to turn it around and fire away a few shots to the gut. For much of the first few minutes, the match is an exchange of punches and kicks, with a few moves mixed in. Bret uses the Russian leg sweep and the side backbreaker, while Sid employs a short arm clothesline and a backbreaker of his own to great effect. Sid's got Bret trapped in the corner and seems to have the advantage, but Bret remembers that the Sycho one has a bum knee, so he attacks it with kicks at first before going to work on it. Bret has Sid down and drags him to the post, where he first slams the knee against the steel before debuting the ringpost figure-four. I tried that once with a bedpost, but it didn't go too well. Anyway, back from break, and the Hitman still is attacking at Sid's knee. Just when Hart seems to have the advantage, Sid comes back and hits a big clothesline. He follows that up with a legdrop for a two count. Sid slams Bret hard down on the mat, then climbs to the second rope. This seems like a bad idea, but Sid, after nearly slipping, comes down with a leg drop that sort of connects and gets another two count. A chokeslam is attempted by Sid, but Hart gets out of that and backs Sid against the ropes. He charges for a cross body block, but Sid moves and Hart hits the ropes instead. Sid goes to attack, but Bret uses a back drop in desperation to dump Sid out of the ring. WAITAMINUTE! It's Austin again from the crowd, but Sid has none of that and punches Stone Cold in the face before getting back up on the apron. Sid tries a sunset flip, and remarkably, it's looks rather decent, but Hart rolls through and locks on the Sharpshooter. While the ref is checking on Sid, Austin gets on the apron and hits the Hitman with a chair behind the ref's back. One powerbomb later, and we have a new WWF Champion. Post-match, Sid celebrates, but is interrupted by the Undertaker, and the two big men have a staredown as the show closes. Good match, although it was slightly hurt by Sid forgetting to sell his injury. Still, the best match of the night.
Overall, this show was kind of a mixed bag. On one hand, the Hart-Sid storyline and match was compelling, and Owen and Flash Funk had a pretty decent match as well. On the other hand, a lot of the other matches were just pointless filler, and I was really getting annoyed by all the constant interviews interrupting the matches, especially when the subject had nothing to do with the match at all. I guess this was a decent show, so I'll give it a 5.5 out of 10. Well, thanks for reading. Remember, if you have any ideas for future posts at the Canon Review, than send them to me either by leaving a comment, by e-mail at KtheC2001@gmail.com, or by telling me if you happen to find yourself talking to me.
Owen Hart vs. Flash Funk - WWF Raw 2/17/97 by smarkschoice