Create

WWF Monday Night RAW Review: January 27th, 1997

Nation of Domination a.k.a Mid-card N.W.O...
Nation of Domination a.k.a Mid-card N.W.O...
youtube-cover

Last week, we witnessed Stone Cold Steve Austin, Bret “The Hitman” Hart, Vader & The Undertaker brawling against each other, taking it up a notch & closing the show by representing the main theme of The Attitude Era- Chaos.

Also, unlike Brock Lesnar & Roman Reigns “tugging” it out for a championship belt amongst each other (remember that?), last week’s show actually showed us how to pull off ambiguous endings perfectly.

For those who have no idea about what went down during last week’s show, (20th January 1997) you can check my exclusive recap by clicking here.

Nevertheless, will this week’s RAW (27th January 1997) live up to all the high expectations established a week before?

In order to find an answer to that question, let’s throw ourselves (once again) into the crazy, upside down world of the WWF where chaos is indeed, a synonym for stability…

MATCHES-

1) Crush (w/ Nation of Domination) vs. Ahmed Johnson.

2) The British Bulldog (w/ Owen Hart & Clarence Mason) vs. Doug Furnas (w/ Phil Lafon).

3) Mankind & Vader (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. Henry & Phinneas Godwinn.


Nation of Domination & Ahmed Johnson: Rivals Forever.

MATCH #1: CRUSH (w/ Nation of Domination) vs. AHMED JOHNSON.

Throughout my weekly recaps, I have noticed that both The Nation of Domination & Ahmed Johnson have been battling it out with each other since eternity, that too, without any proper conclusion.

Johnson gets screwed every time, The Nation SCREWS him every time & whenever Ahmed Johnson gets some sort of revenge, it doesn’t really matter- because next week, the whole process starts all over again.

This is like a Marvel movie, except nobody wants another sequel...

The Nation of Domination is a very well-known stable now. But if you watch their ‘96/early ’97 stuff on a weekly basis, one can easily see that the Nation come off as a mid-card version of the N.W.O.

Just like their feud, this match works on the basis of what I like to call- “The Johnson formula”.

Ahmed Johnson will get some preliminary offense in order to yield some early crowd cheers. Then, his opponent will go for Johnson’s “lacerated kidney” (as McMahon puts it) which will indirectly slow the pace down. Throughout the remainder of this slow-paced section- Johnson will be in pain. By that, I mean that those four letters (PAIN) will figuratively ooze out of Ahmed Johnson’s body. At last, Johnson will make his comeback, & then the finish will happen.

A pretty standard mechanism, which gets tiring to watch week after week.

One important story also plays into their feud this week. You see, in Madison Square Garden last Saturday- Johnson teamed up with Savio Vega to face Crush & Farooq from N.O.D.

Unexpectedly, Vega betrayed Johnson, which allowed N.O.D to pick up an easy victory.

So throughout this match, the commentators are plugging that revelation, pointing out that Ahmed cannot perform at his 100% capability after what went down on Saturday. Ahmed less than his “usual” 100% does nothing but pours more tar over this bout’s progress.

One interesting moment in this pretty standard Ahmed Johnson match happens when commentators note that Farooq seems to be barking orders from the entrance ramp. What struck me as comical is that when the camera finally pans to the entrance ramp, we see Farooq masked in shadow, partially standing between the slits of a huge RAW logo that replaces today’s mini-titantron.

It looks like N.O.D’s own leader is too “chicken” to come out & be with his teammates.

Farooq wants to play hide & seek...
Farooq wants to play hide & seek...

As described above, this match follows “The Johnson Formula” up until its climax, where the Nation’s leader (Farooq) finally comes out of the backstage area and pushes Ahmed Johnson from behind, sending him crashing into the steel steps.

Farooq rolls Johnson into the ring, unbeknownst to the referee. Crush puts down the ex-NFL star with a “Heart Punch”, or what fans usually call a “normal punch to the heart which only hurts ten-times more because it is a finisher”.

That’s it. Crush wins the match. N.O.D celebrate whilst the crowd hurl garbage into the ring.

RESULT: Crush wins the match via pinfall.

Three crybabies & little boy blue...

Three crybabies, & Vince McMahon a.k.a 'little boy blue'...
Three crybabies, & Vince McMahon a.k.a 'little boy blue'...

People are chanting “We Want Shawn!” in one loud, clear voice. The timing is impeccable, as HBK’s iconic theme music hits right when the audience is cheering at its full capacity.

This is his first appearance on RAW after winning the WWF World Heavyweight Championship at Royal Rumble against Psycho Sid.

He comes out wearing a cowboy hat, being hailed as the “hometown hero”. Back then, not everybody knew what was happening behind the scenes. But as a wrestling fan in 2018, one knows what was “really” going on around at that point in time.

Sure, on TV- Shawn comes off as a rule-bending fan-favorite character, but once you burst out of that bubble, we realize that all is not well…

Nevertheless, let’s stay in that bubble as for now. Vince conducts an in-ring interview with Shawn & it is revealed that HBK will have to defend his title against Psycho Sid during the upcoming Thursday RAW Thursday event.

Gears shift as Vince quickly asks him about the 4-Man No DQ Elimination match consisting of Steve Austin, Undertaker, Bret Hart & Vader.

Shawn does his promo, with some contrasting moments occurring when he slightly hints towards the upcoming revolution by mentioning the fact that people have been talking about the ‘attitude’ of ‘certain’ WWE Superstars. Pretty sneaky.

HBK also speaks about something that almost hints at his personal life. Shawn says that the WWF Championship brings out the ‘BEST & WORST’ in many WWF superstars. Again, very sneaky.

With that being said, Vince formally calls out Bret Hart as his next interview. Hart comes in and grabs the mic from Vince.

Here’s another interesting moment- Bret says that he’s gonna win HIS match, but he also wants Shawn Michaels at his 100 percent. Unexpectedly, Vince interferes with Bret & states— “Aren’t you overlooking Psycho Sid?” in reference to Shawn & Sid’s upcoming rematch.

Bret Hart is legitimately caught off-guard. I chuckle at this unusual situation. The audience knows Shawn is eventually going to defeat Psycho Sid in their upcoming match. I know that Shawn is eventually going to win. Bret Hart knows that HBK is ‘booked’ to win. Heck, even Shawn Michaels knows that he’s going to win his match!

What’s funny here is that Vince is desperately trying to put Psycho Sid over as a legitimate contender. The manner in which he interrupts Bret Hart is almost rude. That is why Bret is caught off-guard.

So Bret makes it up by saying that he’s going to be ‘rooting’ for Shawn Michaels anyways. Poor Vince.

Vince formally calls out The Undertaker next. Again, McMahon is not quite the evil maniac yet. He’s more like Michael Cole in this situation.

Jerry Lawler breathes a sigh of relief when ‘Taker’s theme music hits, hoping to finally see some action!

The Undertaker respects Bret. He cuts his promo- Deadman Style & points out that even ‘Taker has been screwed around for a long time. Undertaker says—

“No longer will I be the hunted…but I will now be the Hunter!”

Basically, every wrestler up to this point thinks that he’s been screwed somehow. Nobody wants to take care of it themselves, even Undertaker.

That is what comes off as so off-putting to me. Everyone except Steve Austin can’t help but cry around as to why they’ve been screwed around so many times.

No wonder why Stone Cold became so famous…

Again, everybody is afraid of The Undertaker. So Vince McMahon sneaks his ‘Psycho Sid’ agenda by mumbling it around sarcastically even though everybody knows it’s going to be HBK holding on to that belt till WrestleMania.

As usual, my favorite part of the show happens when Steve Austin finally comes out.

But, he comes outside with dragging JR from backstage. Why?

Turns out, that even if Austin brands himself as being the ‘toughest S.O.B’ on the roster, he is not stupid enough to walk into an ambush.

So Stone Cold will just say his part standing on the entrance ramp. Austin then goes on to reflect the audience’s exact thoughts by stating—

“From where I stand I see three crybabies & little boy blue (Vince McMahon)”

Vader comes out from behind, standing in the shadow of the huge RAW logo. He appears as a silhouette representing danger. A perfect example for your usual over-analytical minds.

Vader's silhouette represents 'DANGER'...
Vader's silhouette in the background represents 'DANGER'...

Steve Austin goes backstage, having a war of words with Vader. Whilst the mastodon himself does nothing but just keeps standing there. This perfectly captures as to why Vader was so underwhelming in the WWF.

The important takeaway here is not the situation, but interpretation. What does that mean?

I’ll simplify it by summing up that Stone Cold Steve Austin is like an elite entity operating on a superior dimension surrounded by smaller worker bees.

I know, it’s a lot to take in…(but it’s true, whether you like it or not).

Slammies & Snowsuits: Owen Hart Rules

Owen Hart stole the spotlight...
Owen Hart clearly stole the spotlight in this one...

MATCH #2: THE BRITISH BULLDOG (w/ Owen Hart & Clarence Mason) vs. DOUG FURNAS (w/ Phil Lafon).

Owen Hart used his Slammy Award last week in order to capture a cheap victory against Furnas & Lafon. And let’s be true to ourselves here, strategically, that is probably the only way a Slammy Award actually comes in to play. It’s nothing but just a show-piece really.

So because of that, we get a glorified camera shot of the Slammy Award itself. Isn’t that so prestigious ladies & gentlemen?

Let me cut to the chase here, this technical match-up really does not help the show at all. Put it this way, in 2018 we have each & every superstar doing crazy flips & bumps in order to stand out as the best match of the night. But what it really does is create a show full of outside dives & crazy flips without any story motivating the past, present & the future.

That’s right, Professional Wrestling or specifically WWE is all about Storytelling, the moves always come second.

So it is what it is- A technical matchup with a secondary story behind it.

Mid-way through this contest, Vince reveals that he has received confirmation that Ahmed Johnson has caught up with N.O.D members backstage!

We see a glorified footage of Ahmed Johnson approaching the N.O.D locker room & legitimately breaking their door down. Johnson gets in & desperately searches for his enemies, only for Vince McMahon to go—

“…AAAAANND they were not there!” (laughing internally).

“…AAAAANND they were not there!” - Vince McMahon
“…AAAAANND they were not there!” - Vince McMahon

We come back to the match, & Jerry Lawler is insisting that the Nation has laid a trap somewhere! Man, this is like a cheesy 90’s thriller now.

As I mentioned before, the wrestling does not help this show at all, no matter how good the performers are. But I have to hand it to Owen Hart.

His comic timing is impeccable. A ringside camera points towards him, which immediately prompts Owen to yell—

“I hate him (Phil Lafon)! He gives Canada a bad name. He’s like my lousy brother Bret. He’s a loser!”

Furnas goes for a head-scissor, but the Bulldog reverses it with a mid-air Pop-Up Power-Bomb. The best in-ring spot of the night.

As always, no matter how good the Harts are- They always need a little ‘something’ to win. So Owen interferes towards the end, which allows The British Bulldog to counter with a Sunset Flip & win the match using a leverage pin.

The post-match events are more interesting than the match itself. Owen & the Bulldog have an intense exchange of words after the match, with Clarence Mason desperately trying to separate both of them apart from each other.

It looks like Davey Boy Smith a.k.a The British Bulldog doesn’t agree with Owen’s tactics. Vince suggests that it’s either Professional jealousy involving Clarence Mason or maybe it’s just a family matter.

The next part was not scripted. You see, we get another glorified camera shot of Owen’s Slammy Award left on the surface of the ring. Due to so much shaking going around, the award trips & falls on the surface in that very camera shot. This coincidence allows Vince to comment— “That’s a bad omen…That’s a VERY bad omen!” (Improv at its best).

"That's a bad omen...That's a VERY bad omen!

The Hart Family come to a resolution anyways.

Oh, & did I mention that Owen Hart just randomly decided to wear a killer Nike Snowsuit throughout this match? Despite being a manager to Davey Boy Smith in this contest, Owen Hart clearly stole the spotlight.

RESULT: The British Bulldog wins via pinfall.

WWF wants you to know that Savio Vega has had a 'real' bad day...

The graphic speaks for itself...
The graphic speaks for itself...

If the reader thinks that we’d had enough of the Ahmed Johnson-N.O.D storyline for one single recap, you’re wrong.

Right after The British Bulldog/Doug Furnas match, the viewers at home are presented with a footage of Shotgun Saturday Night- WWE’s own trashy version of ECW.

The footage starts off with quick raunchy shots of dozens of strippers with Jerry Lawler going— “Wait, isn’t that where Marlena pulled her top off!”

All of it has a certain “nightclub” vibe to it, foreshadowing a very prevalent theme regarding the upcoming Attitude Era.

Anyways, we see Savio Vega insisting that he hasn’t joined N.O.D despite betraying Johnson in the MSG show earlier. All of this gets even more comical when the graphic for this segment clearly states that good ol’ Vega has “had a Real Bad Day”.

We see quick highlights of Vega facing off against Rocky Maivia a.k.a The Rock (in the future). N.O.D members, along with Savio Vega gang up on ‘The Rookie Sensation’ after the match, & beat him to a pulp.

How many N.O.D segments in one single night?
How many N.O.D segments in one single night?

But still, Vega insists that he hasn’t joined the Nation as of yet. Weird.

Weird People versus Big Strong Meaty Country Boys!

USELESS main-event with some USEFUL talent...
USELESS main-event with some USEFUL talent...

MATCH #3: MANKIND & VADER (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. HENRY & PHINNEAS GODWINN (w/ Hillbilly Jim).

By this point, I think it is pretty clear that this week’s show has no chance of topping last week’s edition. Stone Cold Steve Austin’s weekly part is already over, & now the viewers are subjected to a tag team match as their main event.

Basically, the theme behind this tag team match is “Weird people” (Mankind/Vader) facing off against “Big Strong Meaty Country Boys” (The Godwinns).

Vader & Mankind are not getting along with each other. One good spot occurs when both Vader & Mankind yank the ropes with their bare hands in order to tumble one half of The Godwinns right over the top-rope.

Ladies & gentlemen, I perfectly sympathize with the reader if they sigh on realizing what comes next- The Ahmed Johnson/N.O.D feud is still dragging on for the night.

McMahon plugs that Johnson is still on the hunt to find the Nation while the tag-team match is going on. As for the match itself, nothing special. But the result itself is quite underwhelming when The Godwinns beat Mankind & Vader via count-out.

How? Well, towards the end, Mankind grabs a steel chair & decides to use it on The Godwinn brothers. But he misses, & accidentally strikes Vader with it. All of this happens near ringside, & the referee has already counted to ten. Hence, the result.

This to me is a very weird scenario. Let me explain. Take all the characters from your favorite TV Show, let’s say- Breaking Bad. Put all of those characters & insert them into Game of Thrones. What you end up with, is basically great characters with a lot of potential placed in a completely wrong setting.

Similarly, you have these great characters/wrestlers in the WWF, like Mankind. But instead of doing what he is really supposed to be doing, we see him losing against the frickin’ Godwinns in an impromptu tag-team matchup.

RESULT: The Godwinns win via count-out.


Ahmed Johnson isn't done yet...Sigh.
Ahmed Johnson isn't done yet...Sigh.

At the end of the show, we see one of the N.O.D members scared to death, putting all his stuff in the back of their car. The setting is a parking lot, and all other members are urging him to speed it up.

Unfortunately for him, Ahmed Johnson catches up & stuffs the poor guy into the trunk of the car. But their getaway vehicle screeches away in an instant. We can even see a butt sticking out of a window as the car speeds away from Ahmed.

Johnson wasn’t fast enough to catch them, & this is where the show ends. Three frickin’ Ahmed segments with no pay-off, Stone Cold triumphs over three crybabies & little boy blue, Owen Hart (& his snowsuit) is awesome, Savio Vega had a 'real' bad day & somebody decided to put The Godwinns over. All we can look forward to is HBK facing Psycho Sid at Thursday RAW Thursday which is two more weeks to go from now. Sigh.

Time's up. You made it!
Time's up. You made it!

That’s it for this week. Like it or not, Stone Cold Steve Austin is the only ray of sunshine in this period of the WWF. It feels like some invisible force is always holding them back from going all out. Last week’s show was fantastic & unpredictable, which you can always check out by clicking here (recap).

You can almost feel a revolution brewing in some shady background that we are not allowed to go to. We know it’s there, but we can’t feel its power yet.

Join me next week, where I recap the 3rd February 1997 edition of Monday Night RAW.

GRADE: B

Thanks for reading this recap & stay tuned for more.

Quick Links

Edited by Kishan Prasad
Be the first one to comment