Retro Ratings: RAW is WAR (November 10, 1997) - Bow to the Masters

RAW 233

NOVEMBER 10, 1997

Darius Lockhart Recalls Gabe Sapolsky Saying He 'Didn't Get It,' Wanting Ownership For Black Talent

Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Synopsis: "Following a controversial Survivor Series, DX now has the WWE Championship. The Rock issues a challenge to Stone Cold Steve Austin."

Shawn Michaels Promo

  • Degeneration-X's entrance music and video plays for the first time ever on Raw. Rick Rude comes out alone to introduce the new WWF Champion. I didn't know that he was the first person to officially come to the ring with that theme. There's some fun trivia for you!
  • Per Jim Ross; “From what we can ascertain, Bret Hart has left the WWF. More on that in this broadcast.
  • Shawn thought about being politically correct, but since somebody else drew first blood he is going to “unload on everybody.
  • Shawn brags about beating Bret in his home country, and in his own finishing maneuver. He also says that "if you thought DX was hell to deal with before, you ain’t seen nothing yet."
  • I ran his ass down south with the rest of those dinosaurs, and Hitman, the gentlemen down there who aren't dinosaurs are my friends, and they’re gonna beat the hell out of you one day whether you like it or not.
  • Michaels says that he is a fighting champion. "I would never say I quit, or beat up a 52 year old man."
  • Ken Shamrock interrupts. Michaels gives him the microphone and challenges him to try and put a couple words together. “We call that a sentence.” Sadly, he struggled.
  • Shamrock tells Rick Rude that he is a backstabbing punk who can’t stand in front of people because “he’s an old man.” Listening to Shamrock talk is genuinely hilarious. It’s stream of consciousness type stuff. There is no flow or rhythm.
  • Quote of the night, courtesy The World's Most Dangerous Man: “Shawn Michaels, with that little beautiful hair of yours and that sexy chest ... I’m about to punch a hole right through it!” I laughed so hard I had to pause the show.
  • Sgt. Slobber..err..Slaughter comes to ring and makes a match between Triple H and Shamrock for the main event. DX is banned from ringside.
  • I was hoping for more Survivor Series fallout, but I understand taking some time to come up with the best possible plan of action. This was a major turning point in the creative direction of the WWF. I'm hoping we hear from Vince next week.

Singles Match

Ahmed Johnson defeated Marc Mero (with Sable) via Disqualification

3/10

  • The match starts at a snails pace. Ahmed delivers a hip toss and two clotheslines. Mero rolls out of the ring to regroup.
  • The referee admonishes Mero for a closed fist punch. Jim Ross says it’s illegal but I’ve yet to see anyone punished for it.
  • Johnson gets sent off the ropes and rebounds with a bicycle kick. He let out a high pitched scream when he jumped that legitimately startled me.
  • Ahmed sets up for the Pearl River Plunge but Mero punches him "straight in the penis!" The referee is actually in position and calls for the bell.
  • Mero attacks Johnson after the match but can't hold Ahmed on his shoulders for TKO. He’s upset and storms off.
  • I'm not sure what the end game is for Mero. He's on TV every week but it's clear they don't have any grand designs for him. Hopefully he splits from Sable soon because I don't need to see him in anymore five minute matches that end with a low-blow.

Light Heavyweight Tournament Match

Taka Michinoku defeated Devon Storm

4/10

  • Sunny is the guest ring announcer. She's getting louder reactions than any of the light heavyweight matches. I'm not sure if she's helping or hurting the tournament.
  • Brian Christopher joins commentary. It's fairly obvious that he and Taka are going to meet in the finals.
  • Taka's hairdo takes frosted tips to a whole new level.
  • Michinoku hits a stunning asai moonsault to the outside.
  • Storm is supposed to catch Michinoku on another dive to the outside, but can't hold on. He tries twice more to lift Taka onto his shoulders before finally connecting on a body slam. This was very sloppy.
  • Storm runs along the apron and hits an awkward looking splash. It's as if he wanted to do something else but changed his mind at the last second.
  • Taka gets tied up in the ropes. Luckily for him, Storm throws some of the worst kicks I've ever seen.
  • Superplex by Taka. He then tries for a wheel kick but comes up way short and hits Storm in the calf.
  • Brian Christopher tries to distract Taka but gets booted off of the apron. Storm rakes the eyes but is promptly slapped and pinned after a Michinoku Driver.
  • Michinoku isn't done, however, as he takes out Too Sexy with a cross body. They exchange a few punches before Christopher runs away.
  • This is just one of those matches that you have to get through.

Jim Ross Interviews Goldust - In-Ring

  • You can hear the contempt in J.R.’s voice when he says Goldust’s name.
  • Goldust is wearing giant pearl earrings. J.R. says “that’s quite the outfit you’re wearing, you must be very proud.” I love how much he hates Goldust right now. Every dig he takes makes me chuckle.
  • Goldust says that he's found someone who lets him express himself. Painting yourself in gold every week isn't enough?
  • Vader comes to the ring and says that nobody walks out on him. Asks why Goldust did what he did at Survivor Series.
  • Goldust says his hand was broken and did not have clearance to compete. Vader calls b.s. and puts him on blast, saying that he's a liar and told him that he was ready to fight.
  • Vader demands, “Tell me what I want to hear. We’re gonna settle this right now, one way or another”. Goldust says nothing and gets power bombed by Vader.
  • Aside from the WWF Championship picture, this is the most interesting program on Raw. Goldust is incredibly unlikeable at the moment and who better to beat him up than Vader.

Michael Cole is in the locker room and reports that Blackjack Windham has been attacked. Bradshaw is fuming, and you can hear him mutter something about “two jackasses”. This feels like the work of Road Dog and Badd Ass Billy Gunn.

Tag Team Match

The Truth Commission (Recon and Sniper) versus The Headbangers

5/10

  • The Disciples of Apocalypse come out with The Headbangers.
  • The Jackal joins commentary. Don Callis is always entertaining in this capacity.
  • Cornette accuses Jackal of preying on people and their insecurities in the same way as Charles Manson. Jackal says he is just trying to help guide people through the savage garden that is our sick society.
  • Both teams trade offensive chances, but neither dominates for too long. The moves are all basic. Mosh’s clothesline to Recon is the most impactful of them all.
  • Thrasher powerbombs Mosh onto Sniper for the win. The Interrogator jumps in the ring and sidewalk slams Thrasher. D.O.A. enter the fray and bedlam ensues.
  • This was a fairly straightforward, unoffensive TV match. The Interrogator snarling and being held back while walking up the ramp is what made it interesting to me. He did more to sell me on this feud with the camera locked on his face for ten seconds than anything during the previous three episodes.

WAR ZONE

Stone Cold Steve Austin Promo

  • Austin says that he sat on his couch drinking beer for three months and was still able to walk back in and take his title.
  • The Nation of Domination's music hits. Rocky Maivia comes out with a mic and tells the fans to shut up.
  • Rocky wants the Intercontinental Championship. He tells Austin that his bottom line will read “has been, compliments of The Rock.
  • Austin challenges Rock to do two things; 1) Get a decent haircut. 2) “Since you’re a piece of crap I challenge you to flush yourself down the toilet.” 
  • "You don’t suck because these people say you suck, you suck because Stone Cold said so, and that's the bottom line!" Rock's face was priceless. His eyes almost popped out of his head.
  • This will be a great feud. The promo work will be top-notch. I'll be actively looking forward to their segments together every week.

Jerry Lawler replaces Jim Cornette on commentary during the War Zone.

In-Ring Segment

  • Los Boricuas are shown in the ring. Jim Ross is interviewing Steve Blackman at the booth.
  • Blackman feels he helped Team USA, but is still not familiar with the rules.
  • The Boricuas get involved and tell Blackman to do this somewhere else. A fight breaks out and even though he is outnumbered, he uses his MMA background to clear the ring.
  • Blackman's kicks and punches look good, but fans of this era seem to prefer more demonstrative looking maneuvers. The crowd is dead silent.
  • The show cuts backstage while the men are still fighting in the ring.

Bunkhouse Brawl

Road Dog and Billy Gunn defeated Blackjack Bradshaw

5.5/10

  • Bradshaw walks to ring with a purpose and throws powder in the eyes of Badd Ass Billy Gunn. This was the start of a quick, but thorough beat down.
  • Gunn was hit in the head twice with a garbage bin, ate a boot to the face, was thrown into the steel steps and clotheslined to the outside.
  • Road Dog took a slew of head shots. The instruments used by Blackjack Bradshaw include a garbage can lid, steel chair and wooden timekeepers table.
  • While on the top rope, Billy Gunn fights back and delivers a swinging DDT to Bradshaw. He lands face first on a chair. Billy and Road Dog both pile on for the pin and win.
  • This match reminded me of Home Alone 2. You have the bad guys, who realistically shouldn't be standing, and the protagonist who gets dazed after a falling on their head once. The only difference is that in this scenario Bradshaw didn't have the pigeon lady (Windham) by his side to save the day.

Jeff Jarrett Interview

  • Jarrett thinks the WWF is getting him at a bargain. He feels this is obvious given his twelve years of experience, the fact that he's only 30, has no skeletons in his closet and has never taken steroids.
  • Jim Ross asks him how he matches up against Bret Hart. I couldn't believe they didn't edit this out.
  • In a game of word association he says of Eric Bischoff, “right place, right time. right wallet.
  • Double J wonders why Shawn Michaels is frustrated with his life.
  • These interview segments aren't the most interesting thing on Raw, but are necessary to reintroduce a new version of Jeff Jarrett to the audience. 

Butterbean Interview

  • Michael Cole is interviewing Butterbean in the front row. He is wearing a hideously perfect 90's sweatshirt.
  • Marc Mero interrupts and says "if you wanna interview a real boxer, talk to me." 
  • Mero randomly goes off on Butterbean, telling him to never talk to, look at, or touch Sable. He is becoming more and more insufferable with each passing week.
  • He tells Butterbean that he can knock him out in four rounds or less.
  • Things get embarrassing when Mero starts riffing. He calls himself Superman, tells everyone to keep their eyes off Sable, and demands Butterbean look him in the eyes, even though he already is. Jim Ross rightly questions whether or not Mero is hallucinating.
  • Butterbean is a high talker. Not a loud talker, a high talker.

Singles Match

Undertaker defeated Kama Mustafa

N/A

  • Jim Ross says that not since Andre the Giant has a superstar walked the Earth with as much presence and force as the Undertaker. That's incredibly high praise.
  • Taker's entrance only took one minute! It was refreshing to not watch him take ten minutes to get down the ramp.
  • I can't score this match. It didn't last nearly long enough.
  • Undertaker drops Kama with a choke slam, but the lights turn off before he can go for the pin. Kane and Paul Bearer come out.
  • Paul Bearer says that it would be easy for Kane to come down there and send Undertaker to his eternal damnation. Why doesn't he? Why is he hell bent on having a sanctioned wrestling match?
  • Taker tells Paul to shut up before he comes and rips out his throat. Insert Road House quote(s).
  • Undertaker refuses to fight his brother. Bearer says that all the souls they destroy will be his fault, and that he will suffer for them in the fires of hell.
  • I'm not loving this angle. We keep hearing the exact same thing from both sides every week. Maybe I'll feel differently once we see some story progression.

Main Event - Singles Match

Triple H versus Ken Shamrock

5.75/10

  • Rick Rude comes out and does his usual shtick. Even J.R. wants him to get some new material.
  • Shamrock is aggressive early with 3 knees to the solar plexus.
  • Triple H tries to leave but Shamrock tracks him down.
  • "We want Bret" chants break out. Jerry Lawler says that the Hitman is going to make three million dollars per year in WCW.
  • Rick Rude comes to the ring. Slaughter ignores his own rule and allows him to stay.
  • Inverted atomic drop and a knee to the face by Triple H gets a two count.
  • Rude jumps onto the apron but Slaughter pulls him down.
  • After jamming his thumb in Shamrock's eye, HHH decks the referee with a right hand.
  • Chyna comes to the ring but Slaughter is able to hold her back. Shamrock applies the ankle lock and gets Triple H to tap. Unfortunately for him, for the third straight week, the referee doesn't see it.
  • Michaels comes and grabs Rude's briefcase and hits Shamrock in the back of head. Slaughter looks angry and overwhelmed.
  • Triple H goes for the pin and it looks like Shamrock kicks out but the show goes off the air before we see how the match ends. I hated not being able to see the ending.

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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