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WWF Thursday Raw Thursday - February 13, 1997
by Scrooge McSuck
- Presented live from the Memorial Auditorium in Lowell, MA, with Vince McMahon, Jerry "The King" Lawler and Jim Ross calling the action, unless otherwise noted. With Raw pre-empted by the usual programming in early February on the USA Network, this is a SPECIAL EDITION with a ridiculous name, and one that would gain a level of infamy for one of the most memorable moments of the early years of Monday Night Raw.
- BREAKING NEWS: The WWF Title will be DECLARED VACANT, and the winner of the Final Four Match will be the New WWF Champion. Well that's a hell of an intro to a show with the dumb "Thursday Raw Thursday" name.
WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
Hunter Hearst Helmsley (c) vs. Rocky Maivia:
Helmsley has become quite the work horse for the company lately. Maivia is undefeated as far as pin-fall and submission losses are concerned, though he did take a Count-Out loss against Savio Vega on an episode of Shotgun Saturday Night. Helmsley is scheduled to defend against Ahmed Johnson at In Your House, assuming he retains. Lockup and Maivia with a side headlock. Whip to the ropes and Helmsley with a hip toss. We get some chain wrestling as they jockey for control. "Rocky Sucks" chant as he grabs a head-scissors. Helmsley escapes and gives Rocky some paint-brush action before hiding in the ropes. J.R. calls Hunter the most CEREBRAL Intercontinental Champion since the Honkytonk Man. Crisscross and Maivia with a hip toss, followed by a dropkick that sends Hunter out of the ring. Back inside, Hunter goes to the eyes and unloads with right hands. IF YOU'RE JUST JOINING US, SHAWN MICHAELS WILL FORFEIT THE WWF TITLE TONIGHT. Maivia comes back with another dropkick, sending Hunter over the top rope. Rocky follows and meets the post missing a clothesline. Back inside, Hunter with a single-arm DDT, followed by a knee drop across the elbow. Rocky fights out of an arm bar but gets caught with another single-arm DDT (or arm bar takedown, you call it how you want). We come back from commercial with Hunter working Rocky over in the corner with right hands and boots. The Honkytonk Man wanders down to ringside to sit in on commentary. Helmsley with a delayed vertical suplex and knee drop. Whip and Hunter with the high knee for two. Maivia fights out of a sleeper and hooks his own, but Hunter quickly escapes sending Maivia into the turnbuckle. Maivia ducks a clothesline and throws a series of rights. Whip and a BAAACK body-drop. Helmsley rolls through a flying body press but it only gets a two-count. Whip is reversed and Hunter drives a knee into the jaw. He nails Maivia with a hangman's neck breaker for two. Piledriver for two. Super-Plex for two. ROCKY WON'T DIE. Maivia crumples to the canvas as Hunter sets up for the Pedigree. After some excessive showboating, Hunter tries for a suplex but Rocky surprises him with a small package for three and the IC Championship at 13:29 (shown). Dok gets a post-match interview that we can barely hear. Good match, though the Rocky push doesn't seem to be taking as well as the WWF is hoping. ***
Bob "Spark Plugg" Holly & Aldo Montoya vs. The Headbangers:
Sunny does the guest ring introductions because what the heck else did she have to do as an on-air personality at this point? In the constantly changing landscape of the company, Aldo and "Spark Plugg" Holly already feel dated as loser go-nowhere gimmicks that outlived their shelf life. After appearances on Superstars and Shotgun, this is the Raw debut of Mosh and Thrasher. Holly and Mosh start. Lockup to the corner and Mosh with a cheap shot over the shoulder of the referee. Whip to the ropes and Holly with a hurricanrana, followed by a clothesline. Whip and Holly connects with a dropkick. Montoya tags in, working the left arm. Montoya rips off Owen's enzuigiri and the crowd couldn't care less about anyone in this match. Making things worse is the commentary treating Michaels' forfeit of the WWF Title as if the man died or something. The Headbangers take control and nobody cares. Thrasher drops Holly across the top rope and the Bangers drop him with a double gourd buster. Mosh with a side slam for two. Thrasher misses a moonsault as Vince promotes some crappy USA Network programming. Montoya with the "hot" tag, running wild with right hands and chops. He climbs the ropes and hits a flying body press for two. J.R. compares Shawn to Bret Favre. Mosh and Thrasher come back and hit a combo powerbomb and leg drop on Montoya for three at 5:44. Sunny incorrectly identifies Thrasher as "Thrash" during the announcement. Dull match that was completely ignored on commentary. *
- Vince McMahon is standing by in the ring along with WWF President Gorilla Monsoon for the official forfeiting of the WWF Championship, as Shawn Michaels' doctors suggested reconstructive knee surgery that could potentially end his career. STOP LAUGHING RIGHT NOW. Michaels comes out minus the glitz and energy of his entrance, selling this as the end of his career... I SAID STOP IT. OK, the fake limp is kind of funny. He's doing his best to do the sad face he had at In Your House: Great White North (that would be the Syracuse a$$-whooping) but there's something less believable here. The crowd chants "We Want Sid", not wanting anything to do with this horse manure. Shawn soldiers on, playing 100% babyface and not combating the chants. It's all about the fans having a good time, and he wanted to be the one to provide that. He says if he cannot come back and perform at his highest level, he can't perform at all. He immediately follows that by half-heartedly handing the belt to Monsoon and says one of the things he's lost in the last few months is HIS SMILE. He's got to find his smile and he doesn't care if people want to make fun of him being an emotional guy. They try to find some sad fans, and there's a couple of them that are buying what he's selling, but the connection between Shawn and the fans took a major hit towards the end of 1996 and it seemed natural to turn him heel before this sudden crippling career-threatening injury.
The Undertaker vs. Savio Vega (w/ The Nation of Domination):
Can Savio PLEASE get new ring gear to go with his joining the Nation of Domination? The pre-match leather jacket isn't enough. The match is joined in progress, with Savio sending Taker to the corner. Taker catches him by the throat and unloads with a flurry of rights and lefts. Whip to the corner and Taker meets an elbow. Savio throws some right hands of his own and gnaws on Taker's forehead. Taker nails Savio coming off the ropes with a big boot and drops the leg for a two-count. He wraps up the arm and comes off the top with the rope-walk clothesline. Whip and Taker with a BAAAACK body-drop. Savio with a blatant low blow with the referee LOOKING RIGHT AT IT. That spot is quickly getting old, and we've got YEARS until they start to cool it off. Savio with a pair of standing heel kicks, followed by a spinning kick for a two-count. Savio drives a series of elbows across the throat and grabs a blatant choke. Taker's comeback is cut off, and it's a little hard to accept Taker selling so much for Savio in this situation. Whip to the corner and Taker meets another heel kick for a near-fall. Taker fights out of a nerve hold but gets caught with a swinging neck breaker. Whip and Taker counters a back body-drop with a leg drop to the back of the head. He comes off the ropes with a clothesline and plants Savio with a chokeslam for three at 8:49 (shown). Post-match, the Nation tries jumping Taker, and it's only when Faarooq and Crush run in where the numbers game means something. Ahmed Johnson comes out to make the save, tossing the geek squad like it's the Royal Rumble Match. Now it's a pile-on assault on Ahmed with Taker saving, giving PG-13 a double Chokeslam and helping Ahmed clear the members that matter. The Ahmed/Nation feud appears far from over. Match wasn't much to speak of, but it was OK. *1/2
Sycho Sid vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin:
Before the match, Dok Hendrix catches up with Gorilla Monsoon on the announcement that the winner of the Final Four Match will win the WWF Championship, and that man will defend the title the next night on Monday Night Raw against Sycho Sid. Austin attacks before the bell with right hands and shoulders to the body. Sid fires back but Austin kicks him in the junk to avoid a chokeslam. WHERE'S THE DQ?! Austin works Sid over at ringside as we get a healthy "Austin" chant. Sid with more right hands but Austin sends him into the post. Back inside, Austin with a whip and elbow for two. Austin hooking an ABDOMINAL STRETCH on Sid feels like something that shouldn't be a thing, even with the use of the ropes. Whip is reversed and Austin counters a sleeper with a jaw breaker for two. Sid fights out of a front face-lock and throws even more terrible right hands. Austin avoids the leg drop and teases the Sharpshooter, but Sid kicks him off and lays Austin out with a pair of clotheslines. Whip and Sid with a big boot. Bret Hart decides to interfere, attacking Austin for the Disqualification at 3:43. Sid doesn't appreciate Bret costing him the match and they get into a slugfest. WILL WE SEE THESE TWO MEN BATTLE IT OUT NEXT WEEK?! Too short, but it's Sid selling most of it, so you know it wasn't good.
- Vader is standing by for comments on the upcoming Final Four Championship Match. Something tells me Vader has the longest odds of winning that match.
WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
The British Bulldog & Owen Hart (c) vs. Faarooq & Crush (w/ The Nation of Domination):
Clarence Mason is with Crush and Faarooq, so what does that mean for his relationship with the Bulldog and Owen?! Owen and Crush start. Crush shoves Owen down, but Owen nips up and unloads with rights. Whip to the corner, Owen brings up a boot and drops Crush with a clothesline. He climbs the ropes and hits a flying body press for two. Crush catches Owen off the ropes with a body press, followed by a press slam. Bulldog and Faarooq in as we take a break. We return from commercial with Crush hitting the Bulldog with a piledriver for two. Bulldog gets dumped, where Faarooq greets him with a short trip to the ring steps. We cut to Bret Hart watching backstage from a ridiculous angle that no reasonable person could possibly find comfortable. He cuts a promo on Shawn's announcement, and he believes down the line Shawn will be back. That's as nicely as he's ever said it. Back to the action, Bulldog continues to play face-in-peril. Faarooq with a forward slam but he meets the knees going for a splash. How much did Vince pay J.R. to say "donnybrook" without a condescending tone? Crush prevents the tag and hooks a body-scissors. Faarooq keeps things in second gear, grabbing a bearhug. Bulldog counters with a belly-to-belly suplex but is still unable to get to his corner. Owen gets the tag, but it's the front face-lock blind spot, allowing Crush and Faarooq to double-team Bulldog in their corner. Bulldog and Crush meet in the middle with a double clothesline and FINALLY Owen tags in, running wild with right hands and spinning heel kicks. Owen goes high risk and nails Crush with a missile dropkick for two. Bulldog clotheslines Faarooq out of the ring while Crush sends Owen over the top rope. He sells the knee and gets counted-out at 9:23 (shown). Yes, they did THE SAME FINISH FROM LAST WEEK IN TORONTO. Owen continues to play injured as Faarooq hits Bulldog with a Dominator. We're getting Bulldog vs. Owen at WrestleMania, right? Match was another in the category of "meh." *1/2
Bret "Hitman" Hart vs. Vader (w/ Paul Bearer):
We're rapidly running out of time, so don't expect much from this one. Before the match starts, the Undertaker makes his presence known. SELL THAT PAY-PER-VIEW, DAMMIT! SELL IT! He says he doesn't seem to get any respect these days, and promises in four days, they'll have to look into the eyes of the reaper, and of them knows that he can't be beat. Vader uses the distraction to attack Hart and dump him out of the ring. Austin shows up to take some shots at Bret as we cut to a commercial. We come back from the break with Vader unloading on Bret with headbutts. Vader pummels Bret in the corner with a flurry of rights and lefts. Whip to the corner and Vader with a snug clothesline. He goes to the middle rope but gets caught with a powerslam. Bret picks the ankle and lays into Vader with rights of his own. He takes the big man off his feet with a Russian leg sweep and a slam. Vader fights off the Sharpshooter attempt. Bret continues to pound the body, takes Vader down with a back suplex and comes off the middle rope with an elbow drop. Whip to the corner, Bret avoids an avalanche and goes for the Sharpshooter again, but Vader is in the ropes. Austin shows up in the balcony, so he's not going to interfere. Vader potatoes Bret with a rabbit punch and lays him out with a short clothesline. Bret avoids the Moonsault and covers for three at 4:41 (shown). That's a weak finish. Decent but too short to build momentum. **
Final Thoughts: In Your House: Final Four is looking like another one-match PPV, with the stakes far greater now with Shawn Michaels' crippling knee injury putting him on the shelf indefinitely. As a 2-hour program, this one started off fine with the Intercontinental Title change, but it fell off after Michaels' forfeit. Lots of subpar matches and/or bad finishes is becoming a trend again. With WrestleMania scheduled to take place in approximately six weeks, how much can we look forward to? Heck, without the Rumble winner's guaranteed title shot being honored, we don't even have half of the puzzle for the WWF Championship Match for the big event. Thanks to Shawn's infamous promo, this show gained a bit of notoriety, especially in the days before having content on demand, and trust me, it wasn't that good 20+ years ago, either.
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