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WWF 'Royal Rumble RAW' Review: February 3rd,1997

Kartik Arry
ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10
1.23K   //    Timeless

Last week we witnessed Ahmed Johnson trying to get even with the Nation of Domination & failing to do so despite three attempts. Savio Vega had a ‘real’ bad day, so I guess he decided to join the Nation. Owen Hart proves that he’s the best there is at being awesome (& the best there ever will be…)

For those who have no idea about what went down during last week’s show, (27th January 1997) you can check my exclusive recap by clicking here.

As for this week, it’s ROYAL RUMBLE RAW!

First question- What is Royal Rumble RAW? Well, from a historical standpoint, Royal Rumble RAW was the first ever 2-hour RAW broadcast. It took place at the Skydome in Toronto, Canada. However, the story behind its culmination is not so majestic. You see, instead of fans getting a Royal Rumble match for free on TV, (as they were promised) all they got was a glorified piece of House-Show footage with some 1997 Royal Rumble highlights added in between as filler.

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Pay-Per-Views were a huge deal back then, & there was no way Vince McMahon would be allowed to air the whole PPV on free TV. Hence what we’re presented with is two hours of dark, murky footage of the Toronto house show with some memorable Royal Rumble moments added in bits & pieces throughout its runtime a.k.a ROYAL RUMBLE RAW!

With all that being said, let’s get right into it—

MATCHES-

1) Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Vader (w/ Paul Bearer).

2) Savio Vega (w/ Clarence Mason) vs. Flash Funk.

3) The British Bulldog & Owen Hart (c) vs. Doug Furnas & Phil Lafon {WWF Tag Team Championship Match}.

4) Goldust (w/ Marlena) vs. Crush (w/ Nation of Domination).

5) Hunter Hearst Helmsley (c) vs. Marc Mero {WWF Intercontinental Championship Match}.

6) The Undertaker & Ahmed Johnson vs. Farooq (w/ Nation of Domination) & Mankind (w/ Paul Bearer) {No Holds Barred Tag Team Match}.


House Shows & Egg Yolks!

MATCH #1: Stone Cold Steve Austiin vs. Vader (w/ Paul Bearer).

It's not good, it's not bad...It's just a House Show Match!
It's not good, it's not bad...It's just a House Show Match!

Bret “The Hitman” Hart attacks Stone Cold in the ring during Austin’s entrance. Officials try to separate both of them apart, & Stone Cold versus Vader begins eventually.

Of course, Bret attacks Austin- The two of them are currently embroiled in a feud against one another, & they just so happen to be a part of The Four Man No DQ Elimination matchup (to decide who will main-event WrestleMania 13 for the WWF Title) which will take place in the future.

Vader is dominating Austin. Remember, they only wrestle each other for about 8 minutes. So things pick up quickly & Austin gets the upper hand. He does his signature elbow drop from the middle-rope. Just to clarify how house-show(ey) this match feels, things keep changing constantly in order to hype the crowd, & this rarely leaves any room for storytelling.

Later on, Austin’s back is facing Vader. So when Austin feels Vader getting closer to him, the Texas Rattlesnake lifts his leg right between Vader’s thighs.

Some shenanigans ensue, as Stone Cold delivers a stunner to the referee. Again, things just happen for some reason (perhaps in order to satisfy the crowd). In situations like this, the story rarely does move forward, & before we even realize, Steve Austin & Vader are brawling outside. The bell rings instantly.

The footage is so murky, that it is very difficult to make out what went wrong. But apparently, Vader has defeated Steve Austin via disqualification.

Vince McMahon keeps on digging about the fact that this show is not "bait & switch" (unlike WCW). But the irony is, ROYAL RUMBLE RAW itself is the ultimate example of "bait & switch" tactics.

Heck, gears shift so quickly after this match, that it almost feels as if Vince McMahon put these two together just to attract more viewers.

It’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s just a House Show Match (should that be a T-shirt or something? I don’t know).

RESULT: Vader wins via DQ.


MATCH #2: Savio Vega (w/ Clarence Mason) vs. Flash Funk

Here we see an egg-yolk jumping off the top-rope
Here we see an egg-yolk jumping off the top-rope

As Savio Vega is accompanied by N.O.D, Jim Ross interviews Vega mid-way through their entrance. JR asks Vega about his betrayal towards Ahmed Johnson.

Savio states that he doesn’t care about what fans think anymore but he’s still going to make all Latin American people proud (I think it’s safe to assume that most of Savio Vega’s fans are Latin American in the first place). He also says that N.O.D is going to rule the WWF from now on...

…And then there’s Flash Funk. Get a hold of this guy. Amidst this dark, fuzzy telecast of RAW, we see a bright yellow flame standing in the middle of the ring. No, this is not a metaphor or something. There is LITERALLY a bright yellow flame jumping around the ring (more like an egg yolk). Except, this bright yellow flame is a wrestler, & that wrestler is Flash Funk. Move over Hulk Hogan, because Flash Funk’s wrestling attire is about to BURN IT DOWN!

However, there is a new attitude in Savio Vega. He just wants to demolish this bright (no pun intended) athletic guy, & he doesn’t need to please the fans anymore by doing it in some flashy (again, no pun intended) manner.

Forget the puns, even Vince had to acknowledge his bizarre appearance by commenting—

“He (Funk) will take a high risk in a moment…in a FLASH, if you will!”

Sneaky bast*rd.

Oh. Sorry. I was distracted from the match because of his attire. Here’s the thing, Flash Funk can do flips. He got the crowd into it too. They loved it. Spin kick, mid-air rotating Frog Splash, a somersault leg-drop. In the end, Funk goes to the top & dives right onto an N.O.D member outside the ring.

He gets back in the ring, goes to the top again & attempts a Moonsault. But we all know what’s going to happen- Flash Funk has wasted too much time, & Vega moves out of the way right at the last second.

What happens next? Vega does nothing but pins him…successfully (for the three count). Savio Vega wins the match. Throughout the whole contest, the Toronto audience was like— “Oh, so you can do flippy stuff all the time?!”

A fast-paced match (comparatively) with an underwhelming finish. But its Flash Funk, with all his athletic moves, fans seated at the rafters would almost think that they were witnessing an egg yolk jumping off the top-rope…

RESULT: Savio Vega wins via pinfall. 

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Kartik Arry
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