Retro Ratings: RAW is WAR (November 24, 1997) - Is It Live or Is It Memorex?

RAW 235

NOVEMBER 24, 1997

Bobby Lashley Makes History, Reaches Milestones With WWE Title Victory

Location: Fayetteville, NC

Synopsis: Degeneration-X makes a special offer to Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart. The Rock is driven stone cold crazy. Plus, Kane, Goldust, and many more!

Opening Segment

  • “Handsome Harvey” kicks off Raw. He is dressed exactly like Rick Rude.
  • Jim Ross and James E. Cornette make a series of jokes about Rude shrinking. My favorite of which was “He looks like he went to give blood and forgot to say when.
  • Harvey berates the crowd and introduces Degeneration-X.
  • There are three or four signs in the front row that are blocking the hard-cam and it's super annoying. Why won't you switch angles?!
  • Shawn Michaels shoves Harvey to the ground and takes a shot at Rude by saying “Lord knows that was a tough spot to fill.” It never ceases to amaze me how petty the WWE can be.
  • Much to the surprise of the audience, Michaels claims that he has made contact with Bret Hart. He brags about having done it without Vince McMahon, the internet, or "those underground dirt sheet writers" finding out.
  • A face-to-face showdown between the two adversaries is promised for later in the evening. You just know that this is going to be one of those lame comedy segments.
  • If I'm watching this live in 1997 there's no way I'm changing the channel. It's a great hook, and they smartly mentioned Bret's contract status to make it seem more believable.

WWF Tag Team Championship Match

Road Dog and Billy Gunn defeated Legion of Doom (c)

6/10

  • Road Dog and Billy Gunn use their "Oh, You Didn't Know" entrance for the first time.
  • L.O.D. sprint up the ramp to attack their opponents. Road Dog is thrown into the ring steps.
  • Animal gets great elevation on a back body drop to Billy Gunn.
  • The crowd is going crazy for this match. The L.O.D. chants are thunderous!
  • Jim Cornette is doing a great job of putting over the champs, mentioning their longevity and accomplishments.
  • Hawk miscalculates and goes shoulder first into the corner post. He and Animal had been dominating up until this point.
  • A tired Hawk is finally able to tag in his partner, but Road Dog distracts the referee before he can see it happen. It's underhanded, but it's a smart strategy.
  • Animal is continuing to argue about the tag, but he winds up doing more harm than good. 
  • Road Dog smashes Hawk in the face with one of the championship belts. Billy pins but Hawk kicks out at two! I thought it was over.
  • Animal finally gets into the match after Billy misses on a leg drop, and is on fire. Beautiful powerslam to Road Dog. He sends Billy off the ropes but inadvertently clobbers the referee with a shoulder tackle.
  • L.O.D. set up for their finisher but Road Dog hits Animal in the back with a chair.
  • Hawk chases after Road Dog and doesn't see Billy pinning Animal. A different referee slides into the ring and we have NEW WWF Tag Team Champions. 
  • I thoroughly enjoyed this match. L.O.D. looked dominant and will undoubtedly get their rematch (In Your House: Degeneration-X is stacked), while Road Dog and Gunn continue to win, by hook or by crook.
  • The new champs take their titles and LITERALLY run out of the building and peel away in their car. I love that the camera followed them! They almost hit a limousine, which “is believed to be holding Bret The Hitman Hart." It'd be nice to see more interconnectedness on todays Raw's.
  • L.O.D. are shown beating up the event staff and WWF officials during the break.

Goldust Interview

  • A "nurse" in full operating room garb brings Goldust out in a wheelchair.
  • Goldust tells Michael Cole that he is an invalid. "It spread from my arm and now I’m a paraplegic.
  • Goldust cannot keep his story straight. He later claims to actually be a quadriplegic.
  • It's dumb, but I laughed when he asked for Michael Cole's help to cross his legs.
  • Vader comes out and threatens to make Goldust a permanent part of the chair if he doesn't get up.
  • Vader punches Goldust, but the nurse sprays alcohol in Vader's eyes. As Goldust attacks, the nurse removes her mask and it's revealed to be Luna.
  • "Good Lord, the bitch is back! And he left his wife and family for that? You gotta be kidding me!" - Jim Ross

Commissioner Slaughter Interview

  • A recap of last weeks confrontation between Slaughter and Triple H is shown.
  • There are some production snafus as both "Flanagan" and "Sgt. Slaughter" nameplates appear on the screen.
  • Slaughter says that Triple H crossed the line when he mentioned his family. At In Your House he wont be facing the Commissioner, but the Sergeant.
  • A very 1980’s promo follows which hypes the return of The Cobra Clutch.
  • Michael Cole gasps and says “THE COBRA CLUTCH???” My God that was embarrassing.
  • Slaughter says that they’ll be having a Boot Camp Match, and that Hunter should ask any of the Armed Forces or the Iron Sheik what it is because “It ain't pretty, maggot.” 
  • The Commissioner ends by asking a series of ridiculous questions that include: “Have you ever been pinned down during an ambush on Christmas Eve?” and “Have you ever felt the cold steel of a bayonet in your guts?” Slaughter is promising to murder Triple H. I honestly don't know what to expect.

 

Light Heavyweight Tournament Quarterfinals

Brian Christopher (with Jerry "The King" Lawler) defeated Flanagan

4.5/10

  • Production misses a summersault dive to the outside by Flanagan because they were showing the tournament bracket.
  • Flanagan is working fast and is not giving Christopher a chance to get set.
  • Lawler grabs Flanagan’s foot and holds him up on the apron. Christopher sees this and does a sunset flip power bomb to the outside. That was a nasty!
  • Christopher regains control with a Full Nelson Front Face Trip.
  • A reverse DDT and leg drop from top rope wins the match for Too Sexy.
  • It was quick, but this was the best match of the tournament so far. That's not necessarily a compliment.
  • Brian Christopher will face his future tag team partner Scott Taylor in the semi finals.

WAR ZONE

Degeneration-X Segment

  • After teasing his presence all night, Shawn calls out Bret Hart. Unsurprisingly, in typical WWE fashion, a little person in a Bret mask appears from behind the curtain.
  • Triple H makes a bunch of short jokes. Shawn is rolling on the floor laughing.
  • They reenact the Survivor Series main event with Shawn applying the Sharpshooter. These types of segments never got anyone over in my mind. It's change the channel type stuff.
  • DX slaps a WCW sticker on "Bret’s" butt and kick him out of the ring.
  • Jim Neidhart emerges. Shawn invites him to the ring, but before Anvil can move he is presented with the opportunity to join DX. The catch, however, is that he only has until the end of the show to make a decision.
  • Absolutely amazing mic work by Shawn. He made a damn compelling case. I highly recommend watching this exchange.
  • This provided another compelling hook for the final hour of the show. Anvil turning would be monumental.

Singles Match

Ken Shamrock defeated Savio Vega via Submission

5/10

  • Savio attacks Shamrock before he can even take off his robe. Shamrock's been on a roll as of late so I can't blame him for trying to gain an advantage.
  • Great sense of urgency by Shamrock, trying hard to end it fast with the ankle lock. Savio just barely keeps slipping away.
  • Crucifix pin by Shamrock gets two.
  • J.R. tells the story of how Ken was adopted and used to lived in cars. Admittedly, I didn't know any of that. Read up on Shamrock because his backstory is fascinating.
  • Savio’s kicks to the back look awful. He puts Shamrock in a rear chinlock. Are we to believe Shamrock couldn't get out of this in mere seconds?
  • A second rest hold by Vega this late into the show is not ideal.
  • Savio eats knee's on a splash. Powerslam by Shamrock gets a two count.
  • Hurricanrana, belly-to-belly, and finally the ankle lock ends the match. Shamrock's push continues. I never cared for him much as a kid, but I'm looking forward to seeing him and Shawn square off again.

Nation of Domination Promo

  • Austin is seen pulling up to the building in a decked out 3:16 truck.
  • The Rock is wearing an all denim outfit with a fanny pack. I don't know if I'll ever have that much confidence.
  • I die laughing every time I hear The Rock say "shut up." His delivery is astounding.
  • Michael Cole is sent away. Rock says that the last thing he needs is some Jabroni asking him questions when he has all the answers.
  • "Rocky Sucks" is flashing repeatedly on the TitanTron. The lights are turning on and off. Rock sends the entire Nation backstage to “fix that incompetence.
  • Austin is shown in the production truck. He tells Rock that "When you're at the airport and your beeper goes off and you see 3:16, know that your ass belongs to Stone Cold!"
  • "With me learning all this technology you gotta ask, is it live or is it Memorex?" Amazing line from Austin. It primes the crowd to go crazy when he shows up in the ring.
  • The Rock looks down at his beeper, you see his eyes bulge, and then when he turns around Austin is there!
  • The Nation come back to help, but Austin grabs a chair and holds them back. Stone Cold tells Rock to take the belt and enjoy his Thanksgiving. In the meantime, however, he offers a bird of his own to enjoy.
  • The crowd is going wild!

 

Singles Match

Crush defeated Jeff Jarrett via Forfeit

N/A

  • Jim Ross says that as part of Double J's contract we will follow him from his locker room to the ring.
  • Jarrett is not ready to go. He claims that Vince McMahon did not meet his contract demands of a plush locker room, catered meal, and Evian water.
  • Jarrett refuses to fight a grease-monkey. He forfeits the match as a result.
  • The lights go out and Kane hits the ring.
  • I ask again, why does everybody insist on remaining in the ring and fighting? Crush is destroyed immediately.
  • Gerald Brisco accidentally bumps into Kane and is choke-slammed.

Singles Match

Shawn Michaels defeated Vader

6.5/10

  • Anvil is backstage and looks torn over what to do.
  • Vader’s left eye is completely covered with bandages. I commend him for wrestling with only one eye.
  • Shawn comes out and surprises everybody by introducing Jim Neidhart as the newest member of DX. I have to admit that he looked pretty good next to them.
  • Michaels tries to clothesline Vader, but he doesn't budge. Instead, on his final attempt, Shawn crashes to the mat after crashing into Vader's body.
  • Gorilla Press Slam by Vader.
  • Michaels tries for a sunset flip pin, but Vader counters and sits down on Shawn's chest.
  • Bad camera work as you can hear and see Shawn call for a splash.
  • Vader gets low bridged by Anvil. He and Triple H beat up on Vader while Shawn distracts the referee.
  • Vader gets back in the ring and doesn't miss a beat, continuing to dominate the WWF Champion.
  • Vader Bomb is foiled by an Anvil distraction. Triple H throws hot coffee in Vader's good eye.
  • Sweet Chin Music to the front and back of Vader's head wins it for The Heartbreak Kid.
  • Neidhart raises DX's hands. You can see Chyna over his shoulder. Triple H looks back and gives her the cue to low blow The Anvil. (Video included above)
  • This makes Jim look like a real putz. He disrespects his family by aligning with his brother-in-law's arch-nemesis, gets turned on and beat up minutes after joining DX, and leaves the venue with nobody in his corner. I'm sure Owen and Davey will forgive him when they return, but this is not a good look.
  • Shawn seems unhinged. He is screaming into the microphone as the show goes off the air.

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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