Retro Ratings: RAW is WAR (October 27, 1997) - The Tension Mounts

RAW 231

OCTOBER 27, 1997

Synopsis: Shawn Michaels shows another side of himself. Stone Cold looks to protect his Survivor Series investment. Plus, Kane, Bret Hart, and more!

Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma

Impressions: I enjoyed this episode of Raw. The Bret Hart/Shawn Michaels feud has reached a fever pitch and I cannot wait to see these two square off at Survivor Series. Degeneration-X does a tremendous job of playing the annoying and smarmy heels.

I appreciate the emphasis placed on story and character, but if you're a fan of in-ring action this might not be the show for you. Nobody won their match clean and I can already feel myself getting tired of the schmoz finishes.

The pacing of the show could also use improvement. The first-hour flies by, which is great, but the final 29-minutes drag horribly thanks to three heatless matches. Some minor card shuffling would easily solve this problem and allow for the program to crescendo appropriately.

Opening Segment

Nation of Domination In-Ring Interview

  • Rocky Maivia comes out wearing what looks like and black and white Team Rocket shirt.
  • Vince McMahon offers his apologies for the deplorable acts of vandalism and racism that occurred last week on Raw.
  • Faarooq does not accept. He asks Vince; "do you think you can just apologize for over 400 years of antagonizing, slavery, washing your cars, taking care of your kids, building your houses, building this country?” It's only been two weeks, but nobody gives a better quote than Faarooq.
  • Vince desperately wants to change the subject and even says “let’s not drag this thing into the ground.” It's worth noting that the show is only five minutes old at this point. As far as I'm concerned, this matter is nowhere near the ground.
  • Rocky is given the microphone and the crowd immediately comes alive. His facial expressions, body language and the way he pauses, in an almost stunned manner when the crowd boo’s him, is tremendous. He is oozing charisma and already has the demeanor of a much bigger star.
  • He says that the Hart Foundation crossed a line and that “now it is a black and a white thing.
  • Faarooq claims that “it started with a boat ride and it’s going to end with a black fist right on the side of your white ass.
  • The Nation is challenging the Hart Foundation to a match next week. If I was as angry as them I’d want to fight right now. To each their own, I guess.
  • The Hart Foundation comes out and accepts the challenge.
  • Bret says that he comes from a country where there is no racial prejudice. He continues on to say that “we don’t hate black people, we don’t hate brown people, we don’t hate yellow people. In Canada, we love people for what they are inside and that’s the plain basic truth.” I was seven years old when Bret cut this promo and at the time I probably would've agreed with him. Looking back on it, not so much.
  • Bret tells Faarooq that somebody is messing with them and that it’s obvious “Shawn Michaels and his boy toy, Hunter Helmsley” are the cause of all the problems between the Nation and the Hart Foundation.
  • DX appear on the screen and refute everything just said. Shawn calls Bret the "Grand Wizard", while Hunter claims that Bret’s first choice for ring-attire was “white sheets and a white hood.” Michaels sends the Nation over-the-edge when he tells them that the Hart Foundation was using the N-word while vandalizing their locker room.
  • The Nation bolt out of the ring and attack the Hart Foundation atop the stage. The beat down, unfortunately, lasts for a measly 10-seconds before the Nation of Domination inexplicably disappear behind the curtains. This should have been a vicious all-out brawl, but by the time the cameraman got up the ramp, it was all but done.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/DX) defeated Goldust (w/Marlena)

5.25/10

  • Rick Rude is in the ring and berates the crowd before introducing HHH. I love him in this role almost as much as he hates ugly people.
  • Hunter desperately needs new entrance music and attire. It doesn't fit his character anymore. Crotch chopping after a curtsy looks bizarre.
  • Shawn joins commentary. This match is mediocre, but I do suggest watching it just to hear him ramble. He talks the entire way through and is amazingly grating and entertaining.
  • Shawn points out that Goldust is using a closed fist and that he should be disqualified. He does this anytime something illegal happens. It's a nice reminder that there are rules in professional wrestling.
  • Chyna attacks Goldust on the outside while HHH distracts the referee.
  • Shawn says “I’m digging myself hard right now, but then again, I dig myself soft too.
  • Shawn sleights Goldust by saying “he’s far too heavy to take lightly.” He continues on to say “Goldust showing us his uncanny wrestling ability tonight with about 300 punches and 6 clotheslines.
  • Goldust sends Triple H over-the-ropes and to the outside. Marlena slaps Triple H three times in front of the referee but is not disqualified. Chyna uses the distraction to her advantage and lays out Goldust with Marlena’s purse.
  • HHH hits the Pedigree for the win.

Jim Cornette: That's My Opinion

  • He starts off by talking about the word "icon" and how it is over-used in the wrestling business. I agree.
  • Jim then bashes the cage match between Hogan and Piper on WCW TV. This comes off as bitter and desperate. Honestly, this probably would have made me seek out the match to judge it for myself.
  • Cornette claims that The Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Ric Flair have never called themselves icons which makes them strong candidates to be just that.
  • He closes by comparing Hulk Hogan to literal garbage.

Pre-Recorded Segment Honoring Oklahoma Wrestling Legends

Intercontinental Championship Match

Ahmed Johnson defeated Owen Hart (c) via Disqualification

5.25/10

  • Commentary plugs the upcoming WWF Magazine feature on Ahmed Johnson by saying that “he probably knows more about gang and street life than anybody in the WWF."
  • Owen attacks quickly but Ahmed is unfazed by the punches. He delivers some strikes of his own and follows up with a back body drop.
  • Ahmed clotheslines Owen to the outside, but Owen goes over the top rope slower than I’ve ever seen anybody do before.
  • Johnson is not a good worker. He hits an ugly body slam on the outside. All of his moves are executed at a snail's pace and don't look as demonstrative as they should.
  • J.R. mentions that Owen needs to quicken the pace.
  • Ahmed rips the Canadian flag and throws it to the ground. Owen justly slaps him.
  • Owen makes Ahmed chase him around the ring. When they get back inside, Owen delivers an absolutely devastating low-blow kick from behind. The motion he made was that of an NFL punter.
  • Owen drives the steel steps onto the injured right hand of Ahmed. Owen furthers his reputation as the "real Hitman."
  • Ahmed hits a scissor kick to the back of Owen's head. Commentary rightfully points out that when the pace is slower Ahmed can use his power.
  • Austin emerges and Stunners Ahmed, helping Owen retain via DQ. He wants his match at Survivor Series to be for the title. I like the continuity and logic. Plus, Austin appearing always adds some energy and memorability to a match.

Mankind In-Ring Interview

  • Mankind says that Dude Love just wanted to have fun and make people smile.
  • He thought Paul Bearer and him had a truce. “You don’t bother me and I don’t bother you. Well, what you did to Dude love last week bothered me very much, and now I have no choice but to make your lives a living hell!
  • Mankind tells “Uncle Paul” to remember the boiler room brawls. He says that Kane has been living in a would-be grave for 20 years and now he has presented him with the opportunity to return.
  • Commissioner Slaughter comes to the ring and says that given Mankind current unstable mental condition and the fact that Kane is not a rational human being, he cannot and will not sanction the match. This decision makes no sense. If this is the case, why are they even allowed on Raw?
  • Mankind tells Slaughter that he had horrible things planned for Kane. He attacks Slaughter with the Mandible Claw and drives it down his gullet. Officials come and restore order while Mankind rocks in the corner and pulls his hair out.

War Zone

WWF Championship Match

Bret Hart (c) retains vs Ken Shamrock

5.5/10

  • There is a great pre-match vignette that got me fired up. Why is this not the main event?
  • Bret tells the referee to remind Shamrock about the closed fist punches. This was an effective way of getting in his head early on.
  • Shamrock gains control quickly with a headlock and then focuses on the ankle.
  • J.R. talks about how Shamrock can get caught up trying to apply a submission that he’ll forget he can win in other ways. They did a great job all night of explaining and exploring psychology.
  • The crowd is very quiet for a WWF Championship match.
  • Bret hits a chop block after the referee pulls Shamrock out of the corner. The Hitman quickly goes to work on the knee and applies a figure four leg lock using the ring post as leverage. Shamrock sells it great, screaming in pain at the top of his lungs.
  • Bret slows the pace and continues working the left knee methodically.
  • Shamrock fights back with a straight right hand, a hurricanrana and a belly-to-belly suplex. Shamrock is super slow to pin and J.R. tries to cover for him by saying that he "couldn't neutralize the leg because of fatigue." It was sloppiness, nothing more. Hart kicks out.
  • Shamrock reverses a Sharpshooter into an ankle lock, but Bret knocks over the referee. Hart quickly taps but the referee is out cold. Shamrock releases the hold, but Bret gets up and hits him with a chair and reapplies his finisher.
  • Shawn Michaels comes out and delivers Sweet Chin Music to an unsuspecting Hart. Shamrock sees Michaels and goes berserk, beating the hell out of Shawn. It takes a dozen officials, DX, and the entire Hart Foundation to stop him.
  • They don't announce an official decision. Based on the tap, I have to imagine that Shamrock is going to want a rematch as soon as possible.
  • Michaels and Hart proceed to have a pull-apart brawl. The funniest thing about this segment, however, was Chyna gently pushing Pat Patterson and him flying across the entire ring.
  • Bret cuts a brief promo backstage after the commercial break saying that he can't wait for his match at Survivor Series and that Shawn will be "excellently executed."

Road Dog and B.A. Billy Gunn defeated New Blackjacks

5/10

  • The crowd is remarkably quiet during this entire match.
  • Bradshaw throws a lot of punches. That's about it.
  • Road Dog is on the defensive from start to finish.
  • Billy Gunn sneaks to the outside and grabs a chair. He hits Bradshaw in the back while he's coming off the ropes.
  • Road Dog gets the pin for the win.
  • Bradshaw gets up very quickly, no selling the chair shot and beats up Gunn and Road Dog. I'm not sure why he didn't kick out if he was going to get up so fast.
  • The Godwinns come out and help beat up the New Blackjacks. They’re teaming with Road Dog and Billy Gunn at Survivor Series.
  • Billy Gunn punched a hole through the top of a cowboy hat which, when you see Road Dog struggle to rip one over the top of a ring post, is even more impressive.
  • The Headbangers come out and make the save.
  • This was a short, boring match that did nothing but give Vince a few minutes to bash Hulk Hogan while promoting an old Survivor Series that is on PPV. I don't know about you, but hearing about an old, hack movie star who is having "low-impact aerobic cage matches" in WCW doesn't make me want to spend my hard earned money.

Kane versus Mankind is announced for Survivor Series/Kane In-Ring Segment

  • Sgt. Slaughter makes the match after previously refusing to do so. This sets a bad precedent moving forward.
  • Paul Bearer says that Mankind is but a pebble on Kane's path to destruction and that he is going to make the Undertaker's life a living hell.
  • There is nothing here that we haven't heard before. I imagine the posturing will continue until the two eventually face-off.

Degeneration-X Backstage Announcement

  • Before the commercial, an announcement from Shawn Michaels is teased.
  • Vince tries to ask Shawn a question but Rick Rude tells him that "if Shawn wanted to speak to you, he would reach into his back pocket and squeeze the words out of your scrawny chest."
  • Shawn wants to address Bret Hart directly. He proceeded to pull down his pants and mooned the camera. I could have done without all of this. I prefer the anger and intensity we saw earlier. This was too childish, and because we don't see Bret's reaction (if he even has one) it feels inconsequential.

Marc Mero (w/Sable) defeated Flash Funk

4.75/10

  • Mero starts by hitting a shoulder tackle, very slowly.
  • J.R., who has been stellar on commentary all night, says that Mero has changed his style and approach because his old ways didn't get him to the pay window very often. This is a quick and easy way to add stakes to any match.
  • After the two men exchange moonsaults, Mero goes for the low blow, just like last week. This allows him to deliver the TKO for the win.
  • The match was quick, choppy, and not very entertaining. I'm not sure what the plan is for Mero, but nothing about him screams superstar, especially on this roster.

Jeff Jarrett Sit Down Interview with Jim Ross

Full Video Included Above

  • I found Jarrett much more tolerable this week.
  • His return feels a tad desperate. He talks about hating the Double J character but says "at least the WWF gave me a shot."
  • Jarrett says that wrestling is a young man's game and that it'll eventually catch up to WCW. A funny comment considering that the Undertaker and DX are still headlining shows in 2018.

Legion of Doom defeated Los Boricuas (Savio Vega and Miguel Perez)

4.5/10

  • The Tag Team title belts are gorgeous. They should have never changed the design.
  • Road Dog and Billy Gunn are sitting ringside, checking out their Survivor Series opponents.
  • This really shouldn't have been the main event. The crowd was totally uninterested.
  • Perez is astoundingly hairy.
  • Road Dog and Billy Gunn steal L.O.D.'s shoulder pads, but they don't seem to care.
  • There is not much action outside of a few clotheslines and a Hawk dropkick.
  • Road Dog accidentally trips Miguel, who lands face first. Hawk covers him for the win.
  • This is one of the weakest finishes I've ever seen. A simple fall shouldn't end a match. I understand unpredictability, but this made Miguel look like a complete plug. How can I ever take him seriously again?
  • L.O.D. and Los Boricuas chase Billy and Road Dog up the ramp, but we never see what happens. I hate how often that happens. I'll just go ahead and assume they got away.

Backstage Promo

  • The show ends with Ahmed Johnson backstage, sweating profusely despite the fact that his match ended nearly an hour ago.
  • He says that Austin "entered the zone" when he cost him the Intercontinental Championship earlier.
  • "My zone is like an end zone, and Austin, you scored on me. Next week, it's my turn to score on you. Watch out cause I’m coming to get you!"

Rating Guide:

10- Perfect, 9- MOTY Territory, 8- Excellent, 7- Great, 6- Good, 5- Average to above average, 4- Slightly below average, 3 or below: Poor

Each match starts at a 5 and slides up and down based on entertainment, execution, time, environment, reaction and stakes. The ratings are in no way an indication of a "star rating," which is a completely different system. A standard, non-offensive "TV match" lands at a 5. The gap between 5.75-6 is generally the largest, with anything reaching 6 being recommended viewing.

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