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Shotgun Saturday Night - March 8, 1997
by Scrooge McSuck
Taped on February 26th from the Deutchslandhalle in Berlin, Germany. We're teased with Ahmed Johnson in action, footage of the instant classic for the European Championship, and what next from Helmsley's "Bionic Woman"? Jim Ross and Jim Cornette are calling the action, unless otherwise noted. The matches taped this week would be the last featured on "WWF Superstars", with the March 16th episode kicking off the era of the show being strictly a recap show. Once the show was pulled from syndication it was clearly doomed, but now it's officially a show to forget about.
Ahmed Johnson vs. Leif Cassidy:
Ross and Cornette are curious what Ahmed ("Chicago's his kind of town") meant about not showing up alone for the Chicago Street Fight at WrestleMania the 13th. Leif gets the "already in the ring" treatment ("It's all German to him"). Ahmed is nursing an injured arm, according to J.R. Cassidy goes for a top wristlock but Ahmed throws him down with ease. Cassidy pops up and casually slaps Ahmed across the face. Ahmed throttles him, backing Leif into the corner, and gives him a receipt. Cassidy targets the bandaged arm. Whip and Ahmed with a shoulder tackle, sending Leif out of the ring. Ahmed with a delayed vertical suplex as Ross makes it sound like it'll be Ahmed vs. Faarooq as the official match. Ahmed comes off the ropes with a scissors kick. Whip to the corner and he meets the post on a missed charge. Cassidy with an arm bar takedown and more punishment to the injured arm. Ahmed fights back with right hands, but Leif cuts him off with an arm twist. Ahmed counters a whip with a short clothesline. Ahmed with more right hands and a piledriver. Whip to the ropes, spinebuster, and the Pearl River Plunge finishes at 6:18. This was perfectly fine to give Ahmed some momentum heading into Mania. **
Two weeks ago on Monday Night Raw, we saw the return of the Legion of Doom (but don't see them going to a non-finish with the Headbangers). Later that week on Shotgun Saturday Night, they noted they wanted to be part of WrestleMania the 13th because it'll be in their backyard of Chicago, IL.
Highlights from Monday Night Raw where "The Bionic Woman" stepped up to Bret Hart. It's been about a month since her debut, and we still don't have a name attached to her.
"The Pug" Alex Porteau vs. Salvatore Sincere:
Wow, they wasted airfare on THESE guys?! I guess they needed some prelim junk to pad out the shows. Surprisingly, PORTEAU gets an entrance (still recycling the Steiner Brothers theme song), while Sincere gets the "already in the ring" treatment. We don't even get goofy quote graphics! Lockup and Porteau grabs a side headlock. They do a series of counters until Porteau hits a cross body press for two. Deep arm drag into the arm bar. Ross and Cornette try to put over Porteau's ability, leading to Ross asking if German fans want to see "bald men posing" (ANOTHER shot at WCW). More chain wrestling as the match is background noise to discuss the Bionic Amazon. Seriously, how many nicknames are they giving her? Porteau puts on the breaks to avoid a leapfrog and throws Sincere with a belly-to-belly suplex for two. Whip is reversed and Sincere with a forward powerslam. He springs off the middle rope with an elbow drop for two. Whip and Sincere with a clothesline for two. Porteau fights out of a chin-lock, only to get caught in a sleeper. He counters that with an angled back suplex. Whip to the ropes and Porteau with a dropkick for two. Sincere rakes the eyes but a suplex is countered with an inside cradle for two. Whip is reversed and Sincere catches him with the Sincerely Yours (Pump handle Slam) for three at 5:01. Fine action, but it was obvious neither man means much to the big picture. **
The WWF visits Madison Square Garden on March 16th with a 7:30 start time. Sid defends against Bret Hart inside a Steel Cage! Ahmed vs. Savio! Undertaker vs. Vader in a Casket Match! The Tag Team Titles and Intercontinental Title are on the line! They've finally updated the card, after showing the same video promoting Shawn as WWF Champion a solid 2 weeks after forfeiting the belt.
The British Bulldog vs. Owen Hart from the March 3rd episode of Monday Night Raw is shown practically in full. In the hype throughout the show, Ross said it's already considered a "Match of the Year Contender", which is surprisingly accurate praise considering how the company sometimes over-sells how good or important something is. Instead of recapping the match here or doing a cheap copy-and-paste, I'd just like to say how great of a match it is, not because "oh so many moves", but how fluid the action was, how they told the story of two men who knew everything the other did so well it was a wrestling version of chess, and putting in maximum effort in the middle of a long overseas tour where it was common for even the best of workers to hold back just a little bit. 24 years later, this is still one of the best matches in the history of Monday Night Raw, is possibly Bulldog's best singles match (that didn't involve Bret), and gave us a chance to see Owen pull off some babyface spots that he'd tucked away for years at this point. If you have a subscription to the Network/Peacock, I highly recommend watching it. If you've seen it before, it's always worth re-visiting, and if you haven't, you'll see why it gets all the praise.
Highlights of Rocky Maivia defending the Intercontinental Championship against Vader, with a run-in from Mankind costing Vader a chance at winning the gold.
Doug Furnas & Phil LaFon vs. Aldo Montoya & Bob "Spark Plugg" Holly:
Weird to see a tag team match of all babyfaces. We're told that Holly "rides Shotgun." Ross notes that the German fans appreciate the wrestling ability of guys like Furnas and LaFon. LaFon and Holly start. Lockup and LaFon goes to work on the arm. Whip to the ropes, Holly ducks a heel kick and bounces back with a shoulder tackle. Furnas tags in and they don't waste time going into a test-of-strength. Holly drives a knee to the midsection and grabs a headlock. Crisscross and Furnas with a hip toss, followed by an arm drag into the arm bar. We're told Furnas and LaFon will be in action at WrestleMania the 13th in a Four-Team Elimination that will also feature the Godwinns, New Blackjacks, and Headbangers, with the winning team earning a future shot at the Tag Team Titles. We come back from commercial with Holly planting LaFon with a slam. He comes off the top rope and eats boot. Furnas in with a shoulder tackle, followed by a dropkick for two. Whip and Furnas with a powerslam for two. Holly with a boot and back-slide for two. Holly counters a suplex with an inside cradle for two. Whip and Holly counters a hurricanrana with a powerbomb. Montoya tags in, coming off the top for a body press. Furnas catches him, but stumbles into the ropes. He picks Aldo up, allowing LaFon to hit a flying clothesline for a near-fall. Whip and Montoya with a sunset flip for two. LaFon catches him off the ropes with a snap dragon suplex and that's three at 4:40 (shown). I wonder if there was a huge edit there, because it went from 0 to 100 mph with the stuff from before and after the break. The action was good, but not having context made it "moves for the sake of moves."
Final Thoughts: An enjoyable batch of under-card matches, with the big winner for the week being the rebroadcast of Owen vs. Bulldog for the European Championship. Only one man on this show (in new content) is in a prominent spot at the PPV, with Furnas and LaFon being card-filler for a tag team match that doesn't have much to get excited about. Other than the Blackjacks debut causing a couple of non-finishes, there's no reason for all four teams to be in the same match.
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