December 18, 2010
Matt Peddycord
The Powerdriver Review

Thursday Raw Thursday
February 13, 1997
Lowell, MA
Memorial Auditorium
LIVE!

The current WWF champs were as follows:
World Champion: Shawn Michaels (1/19/1997)
Intercontinental Champion: Hunter Hearst Helmsley (10/21/1996)
World Tag Team Champions: Owen Hart & Davey Boy Smith (9/22/1996)

Since the dog show interrupted Monday Night Raw’s regular timeslot and left WCW’s flagship program completely unopposed considering I highly doubt too many wrestling fans wanted to see which person’s dog took home the gold or whatever happens on those things, the WWF and the USA network fought back with a stacked card just three days before the next In Your House PPV with their own completely unopposed one-night-only wrestling program – THURSDAY RAW THURSDAY!

And they start us off with a bomb shell… “Tonight, the World Wrestling Federation Title will be declared vacant. Thus, this Sunday’s ‘Final Four’ winner will become the new World Wrestling Federation Champion. Tonight…live…Shawn Michaels will forfeit the World Wrestling Federation Championship.”

Your hosts are Vince McMahon, Good Ol’ JR, and Jerry “The King” Lawler.

WWF Intercontinental Champion Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Rocky Maivia ,BR> According to Vince, HHH’s bodyguard Curtis Hughes is ‘conspicuous by his absence’. Of course he is. Not sure how this comes off on recent DVDs, but the live crowd is extremely loud in their disapproval of Rocky Maivia. Basic headscissors and headlocks to start. HHH pulls a page out of Razor Ramon’s playbook and paintbrushes Rocky around. Rock throws a weird dropkick, by the way. He needs to stop doing that. Hunter grabs a chinlock, but Maivia escapes and dropkicks Helmsley to the floor. Rocky follows him out, but misses a clothesline up against the ringpost. Back inside, Hunter feasts on the arm like he’s a long lost cousin of the Anderson family. Of course, he’s got too good of a head of hair for that to be true. Commercials! When we come back, Hunter is still in control and the Honky Tonk Man has come to join Vince, JR, and the King. Suplex and the Knee Drop gets 1-2-NO! High Knee connects for another nearfall. HTM says that every man he’s looked at to be his successor or whatever it is he’s looking to do has let him down. They trade off on a sleeper, but HHH gets the better of that exchange as he runs Rocky into the top turnbuckle. Rocky wins a slugfest with the Johnson Shuffle. Backdrop sets HHH up for the Flying Bodypress and he ROLLS THROUGH for 1-2-NO! Facebuster by HHH leads to a reverse neckbreaker for two. Piledriver gets 1-2-NO! That riles Helmsley up as he gets in Hebner’s face. Now HHH delivers a superplex for 1-2-NO! Vince has pretty much given up on the Rock. HHH grabs a limp Maivia for the PEDIGREE, but he outsmarts the IC champ and surprises him with an inside cradle for the 1-2-3! (14:22 shown) Similar to Prince Iaukea, they might have just got him over for one night only. As we all know, it’s going to take a DRASTIC character change for the Rock. ***

The Headbangers vs. Aldo Montoya & Bob “Spark Plugg” Holly
Just for fun and because we haven’t seen her in a while, Sunny does the ring introductions for this match. They show us a clip of the Godwinns, Hillbilly Jim, and Jesse James from a show called Prime Time Country on TNN. Of course, the host of the show gets into a wrestling match and WINS? Anyways, this is the RAW debut of the Headbangers who recently dropped the Flying Nuns gimmick. Holly really takes it to Mosh to start with a nice headscissors takedown. Our esteemed commentators spend the whole match reminiscing HBK’s 1996. Meanwhile, Holly plays face in peril while the Headbangers deliver some of their double teams. Thrasher misses a moonsault and makes the HOT TAG TO MONTOYA! He catches Mosh with a flying bodypress, but Thrasher blind tags and the Headbangers give Aldo the STAGE DIVE for the 1-2-3. (5:44) Fun little squash to get the Headbangers over. *

Time for the controversial “Lost My Smile” speech.

First of all, let’s just be honest here and remind everyone that NO ONE really knows for sure whether Shawn had a knee injury except the ones involved. Bret says in his book that HBK didn’t want to job to him at WrestleMania 13 even though he felt he owed him the job, HBK sticks with his story in his book and says he really did need to have reconstructive knee surgery and that his unwillingness to job is unjustified, and then Sid will say that Shawn just didn’t want to job to him on free TV if that was in fact supposed to happen. Either way, you don’t know. I don’t know. Only those involved REALLY know the truth – whether they want to speak the truth is another story.

The Undertaker vs. Savio Vega (w/the NOD)
Didn’t I just review Undertaker/Kwang from RAW ’94? DÉJÀ VU! Taker turnbuckle smashes Vega in all four corners and connects with a jumping legdrop. Old Skool is dished out, but then Savio’s leg winds up in the balls of the Undertaker. He makes Savio pay with a clothesline. Out of nowhere, Vega hits a Hook Kick and the SPINNING HEEL KICK gets 1-2-NO! From here, Vega puts the boots to the Deadman while PG-13 gets their hands on him every now and then. After some chinlocks and nerve holds, a swinging neckbreaker scores for two. Zombie sit up! UT tries a Famouser and completely overcompensates. Whoops. CHOKESLAM gets 1-2-3. (8:49 shown) PG-13 and D’Lo Brown attack after the bell. When they can’t get it done, in comes Faarooq and Crush. Ahmed Johnson runs in for the save, but the numbers game overwhelms him as well. UT gives PG-13 a DOUBLE CHOKESLAM! D’Lo Brown gets punched away. Eventually, the NOD decide to retreat as Ahmed tosses Crush over the top to the floor. Match was what you expect, but I enjoyed the hot post-match stuff. *

Dok Hendrix interviews the WWF President Gorilla Monsoon. What would be fair to everyone concerning the future of the WWF title is that the winner of the Final Four match will be the new WWF champion. As for Psycho Sid who deserves a title rematch, he’ll face the winner of the Final Four match on next week’s RAW.

Psycho Sid vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
Sid gets his signature fireworks sign that was probably intended for the title match, but decided to use anyway. They trade blows to start with Sid going for the Chokeslam early, but Austin kicks him in the nuts instead and celebrates in the corner! AWESOME. To the floor they go, the crowd is solidly behind Austin. Sid eats the ringpost before they head back inside. A weak ab stretch (because Sid is SO BIG) goes nowhere. Sid grabs a chinlock, but Austin drops down for a jawbreaker for two. Sid misses a legdrop as Austin attempts the Sharpshooter, but Sid kicks him away. Sid scores with a Big Boot and in comes Bret Hart to attack Austin for trying his hold for the DQ. (3:42) Actually not as bad as you might think. Of course we always think that way about Sid. Bret and Sid get into a neat pull apart brawl, which builds some unexpected tension for their match next week. ¾*

In the back, Vader brags about defeating Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and soon-to-be-defeated Bret Hart over the past six weeks. He thinks his chances in the Final Four match are pretty good.

When we return from a commercial break, they replay moments of Shawn forfeiting the WWF title. Vince and JR spin the speech as a classy and character revealing moment in HBK’s life.

WWF World Tag Team Champions Owen Hart & Davey Boy Smith vs. Faarooq & Crush
Despite their problems, Owen and Davey Boy pal it up in the aisleway. This would appear to be a complete conflict of interest for Clarence Mason, but no mention of that is made. Crush throws Owen around to start, which brings in Davey Boy. After some commercials, we return to see DBS telegraph a backdrop to take a nasty piledriver. Crush dumps Davey Boy out to the NOD while Owen distracts the ref to cause MORE double-teaming. On the split-screen, we go to Bret Hart watching on in the back to get his reaction to Shawn forfeiting the WWF title. Long story short, he has a score to settle with Shawn Michaels, so he hopes Shawn gets his knee fixed. Back to the match with Davey Boy playing face in peril, Faarooq tries a splash off the ropes and hits knees. Still no tag as Crush grabs a body scissors. False tag spot ensues, which allows Crush and Faarooq to do more damage to Davey Boy. Finally, Owen gets the tag. Missile dropkick to Crush gets 1-2-NO! As the action breaks down, Owen gets dumped and tweaks his knee – just like he did last week in the Skydome – to lose the match via countout. (9:22 shown) Afterwards, Davey Boy receives a DOMINATOR while Owen limps around on the floor. Knowing from what people have said about Owen, this makes me wonder if this is all just a funny nod to Shawn’s controversial knee injury. Formula tag if it ever was. **

Bret Hart vs. Vader (w/Paul Bearer)
Undertaker interrupts before the bell and reminds Bret, Vader, and Austin will all have to look into the eyes of the reaper come this Sunday. REST IN PEACE! Enough talk, Vader attacks at the bell and throws Bret out to set up a commercial break. During the break, Stone Cold Steve Austin came out and stomped a mudhole in Bret Hart. Vader heads up top, but he’s slammed down. Bret hits the Russian Legsweep and slams Vader for a try at the SHARPSHOOTER, but Vader kicks him off. Back suplex by Bret sets up the Flying Vertical Elbow Drop. Vader misses an avalanche and gets stuck in the SHARPSHOOTER this time, but reaches the ropes. Stone Cold shows up in the balcony (reminds me of Jerry Lawler when Bret faced Bigelow on RAW in ’93!) barking at Bret to cause another huge distraction, which Vader capitalizes on. VADERSAULT? No sir. Bret jumps on top of Vader for the 1-2-3. (4:55 shown) If there was ever any proof that Vader was getting de-pushed, this was it. **¼

Bret dares Austin to come on down and get him some. Austin starts to CRAWL DOWN FROM THE BALCONY, but yeah that’s not going to happen. AND WE OUT!

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