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WWF Monday Night RAW - January 20, 1997
by Scrooge McSuck
- Presented LIVE from Beaumont, TX, with Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and Jerry "The King" Lawler at ringside to call the action, unless otherwise noted. We're 24 hours removed from the Royal Rumble, where Shawn Michaels regained the WWF Championship from Sycho Sid and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin stole the Royal Rumble Match, taking advantage of easily distracted referees to re-enter the match following elimination to clear the ring and claim victory.
- Bret Hart storms out, and you know he means business because he doesn't even have entrance music blaring. He targets his frustrations at Vince at ringside. He says Vince promised he would get an opportunity to fight for the WWF Championship and he had to deal with the nonsense of Shawn Michaels at ringside and says it's not a coincidence he got involved in his business. Then he jumps the hurdle of the 30-Man Royal Rumble and won the match and wants to know where is his opportunity? "I've been screwed by Shawn Michaels "The Boy Toy", I've been screwed by "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, I've been screwed by the World Wrestling Federation, and I've been screwed by you (Vince)." He doesn't like to make idle threats, and since it doesn't look like he's getting his shot, he quits. Vince tries to get him to listen to reason, but Bret departs through the crowd. Steve Austin comes out and the microphone doesn't work. Great time for technical difficulties. He says the only thing Bret's done since he came back is cry. "When the going gets tough, the Hart's get going back home." He says the only man Bret can beat is that wrinkled old man in his basement. He's supposed to fight Sycho Sid, but Gorilla Monsoon says Sid is at home with a concussion. Austin says he's also got a yellow stripe running down the middle of his back. As far as Monsoon goes, he's got a big bunch of bananas and will tell him where to stick each one. Vince McMahon leaves ringside, leaving commentary duties to Ross and Lawler.
Non-Title Match: The British Bulldog & Owen Hart (w/ Clarence Mason) vs. Doug Furnas & Phil LaFon:
What does it say for LaFon and Furnas that they weren't used at the Royal Rumble? Owen and Bulldog continue to tease a split, with Owen accidentally (wink wink) tossing the Bulldog from the Rumble. Owen and LaFon start. Lockup and LaFon with an arm drag. Owen flips through a wrist-lock and yanks the hair, but LaFon nips up and takes him over with a fireman's carry. Whip to the ropes and LaFon with a shoulder tackle. Owen catches him off the ropes with a drop toe hold but LaFon quickly counters a headlock and ties Owen up for a near-fall. LaFon with a standing heel kick and Furnas in with a running shoulder tackle. Whip to the ropes and Furnas with a dropkick for two. Overhead belly-to-belly suplex for two. Whip is reversed and Owen with a spinning heel kick. Bulldog tags in and gets caught with a hurricanrana for two. LaFon tags back in and gets caught in the corner of the Champions. Jim Ross lets us know Undertaker was fined his entire Rumble purse for assaulting a referee. LaFon regains control, taking Bulldog off his feet and working the leg. Furnas in but he's caught by surprise with a missile dropkick from Owen for a near-fall. We come back from commercial with Bulldog and Owen hitting a double clothesline. Furnas blocks the Sharpshooter, but Owen cuts him off from getting to his corner. Whip and Furnas hits a double clothesline of his own, but he's still unable to make the tag. Crisscross and Furnas with a cross body press for two. Owen feeds the boot and hits the enzuigiri for two. Bulldog with the delayed vertical suplex for two. Furnas fights out of a chin-lock but gets caught with a belly-to-belly suplex. Owen goes high risk, missing a flying headbutt. LaFon FINALLY gets the hot tag, hitting the Bulldog with a clothesline and nailing Owen with a spinning heel kick. Snap suplex on the Bulldog, followed by a running senton for two. Northern Lights Suplex for two. Whip and LaFon counters a hip toss with a DDT but Owen saves. Furnas plows over Owen with a shoulder tackle, sending him to the floor. He uses the positioning to trip up LaFon and smack him with the Slammy. Bulldog with the running powerslam for three at 10:19 (shown). Damn, this was PPV quality stuff. ***1/2
- Highlights of Shawn Michaels' entrance from the Royal Rumble. ORDER THE REPLAY!
Bart Gunn vs. Faarooq (w/ The Nation of Domination):
Full entourage for Faarooq tonight (Mason, PG-13, Crush, D'Lo, and about 5 other unnamed members). I'm assuming that'll be the norm going forward. Bart is still sporting his Smoking Gunns gear, having not learned by the ghosts of the past like Tito Santana that the team is dead, time to get new gear. Faarooq grabs a side headlock as Jim Ross buries WCW for making fans watch "Robin Hood" to see glimpses of a match between Hollywood Hogan and the Giant. Gunn takes control, working the arm with a wrist-lock. We come back from commercial with Faarooq laying Bart out with a clothesline. Whip to the ropes and Faarooq with a sloppy looking spine-buster for two. It looked like Bart was jumping into it with a spin rather than the simple up-down. PG-13 get some shots in while Faarooq distracts referee Mike Chioda. Faarooq with a chin-lock, using the ropes for leverage, of course. Whip and Bart counters a back body-drop with a soft boot to the chest. The comeback is short-lived, as he misses an elbow drop and gets caught in another chin-lock. Faarooq makes a rare trip to the top rope and misses a diving whatever-the-hell he was going for. Bart with left hands and a pair of clotheslines. Whip to the corner and Bart with a bulldog for two, with JC Ice getting Faarooq's foot on the ropes for the save. Gunn goes after PG-13, but that allows Faarooq to attack from behind. Crush feeds him into the ring and Faarooq easily finishes with the Dominator at 5:18 (shown). Perfectly fine action to put over the numbers game that the Nation possesses. **
- Vince McMahon finally returns to ringside, accompanied by WWF President Gorilla Monsoon. Monsoon hopes Bret is somewhere where he can hear his invitation. There's nothing he can do about Austin being the winner last night, as the referee's decision is final, so the record books will state that. HOWEVER, that tainted victory doesn't entitle him to a shot at the WWF Title at WrestleMania. He's put together a 4-Man Elimination, No Disqualification Match where the winner will unquestionably face the WWF Champion at WrestleMania 13. Those 4 men will be The Undertaker, Vader, Bret Hart (if he's willing to accept), and Steve Austin, citing Taker, Vader, and Bret were eliminated unfairly. Steve Austin doesn't seem pleased by the announcement and makes his way to the ring. You can't have a Four-Way when one man walked out. He asks if they have the instant replay rule in the WWF. Monsoon calls himself a Gorilla but he's going to hee-haw his way out like a Jackass. He promises when he's done, he'll toss Monsoon's carcass over the top rope. Suddenly, Bret Hart returns through the crowd and snatches a microphone to accept the offer, but we don't need to wait until February, he wants to do it right now, and we've got a fist fight in the aisle between the two.
The Undertaker vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin:
How fair is it Austin has to compete after going through that fight with Hart? This was advertised last week as the Rumble Winner vs. the Loser of the WWF Title Match, but they're claiming Sid has a concussion, but should be good to go Wednesday. That's a heck of a concussion protocol. Now Bret and Taker trade blows in the aisle! Austin attacks Taker from behind, but Taker is quick to fight him back and sends him face-first into the steps. They finally get in the ring, with Austin unloading with stomps. Whip and Taker counters a back body-drop. He wraps up the arm and hits the rope-walk clothesline. Whip to the ropes and Austin surprises Taker with a swinging neck breaker. He interrupts the sit-up with boots to the face. Lawler cheerleads, yelling at Austin to target the injured ribs. Taker teases a comeback but meets a boot in the corner. Austin with a double axe-handle from the middle rope for two. Taker fights out of a chin-lock and hits Austin low in clear view of referee Earl Hebner. Austin comes right back with the Stone Cold Stunner, but he can't make a timely cover. Meanwhile, a bunch of geeks are keeping Bret Hart and Vader from fighting backstage. We come back from commercial with Austin dropping an elbow across the chest for two. Austin makes a rare trip to the top rope and gets straddled across the turnbuckle for his effort. Taker climbs up but Austin is able to fight off the super-plex and drops another elbow for two. Crisscross and Taker with the diving lariat. Suddenly, Vader rushes to the ring for the Disqualification at 7:19 (shown). Taker hits him with a Chokeslam, and here's Bret for our obligatory four-man brawl to build heat for their match at the upcoming PPV. I think this is the third time Austin and Taker have wrestled on Raw, and all three times have ended in a bullsh*t finish. Good match that would've been better with a decisive winner. **3/4
Final Thoughts: This was a roller coaster of an episode, opening with the hot promo from Bret Hart, the announcement of the Final Four Elimination Match for the upcoming Pay-Per-View, and all four men engaging in a brawl at the end of the show. Throw in an outstanding TV bout between Owen/Bulldog and Furnas/LaFon and an entertaining Main Event that would've been rated higher with an actual finish, and you have an easy 45-minutes to digest.
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