December 18, 2010
Matt Peddycord
The Powerdriver Review

Monday Night Raw
February 3, 1997
Toronto, ON, CA
The Skydome
(Taped on 1/31/97)

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)

So WCW does a Monday night dome show, now the WWF does one too? Vince wastes no time in taking a moment to brag that it’s the biggest live audience for a Monday night show that no one is watching.

Your hosts are Vince McMahon and Good Ol’ JR.

This show is entitled the ‘Royal Rumble Raw’ because last week, we were told we would get to see the whole Rumble ’97 match uncut! Well, that isn’t what happened. Every so often when it came time to discuss a feud or an angle related to the Rumble match, they would show what happened and then continue on. No full-length Rumble match here. While they DO show what truly mattered from the match (which I’ll explain throughout the recap), it’s just somewhat hypocritical to call what WCW did ‘bait and switch’ (which they do) with saying they would air the Hogan-Giant Nitro Superdome match during the program and ended up moving it into the commercials of the 10pm episode of ‘Robin Hood’ (which they did) and what the WWF did here, which is tell you that one thing would happen only to find out that it really doesn’t. It’s the same thing. It’s just the angry and desperate pot calling the kettle black.

Vader (w/Paul Bearer) vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
Here is what I’m talking about. They show the finish of the Rumble match where Stone Cold Steve Austin cheats to win because it pertains to what you’re about to see. Before the match gets under way, Bret Hart breaks loose and brawls with Stone Cold Steve Austin until the stooges and referees break it up. Vader stands back and watches, but eventually trades blows with Bret. Once Austin and Bret are on the floor, the fight continues and then ends as Bret is taken backstage. Now that Bret is taken care of, Austin stomps a mudhole in Vader to start. He was doing so well and then turns his back on Vader only to be plowed down. Vader continues the violence and goes up top for the Pump Splash, but he takes too long and Austin low blows him down. Ref gets bumped by Austin before we go to commercials. When we return, Vader splashes off the ropes for two. He misses the sit down splash, so Austin slams him down (gives Vader the double bird) and delivers the second rope elbow drop for two. Vader wins a slugfest, but Austin’s trick knee acts up right into Vader’s balls to take back control. The ref tries to stand in the way and eats a STONE COLD STUNNER for his troubles. To the floor we go, they brawl like mad using the steps until the match is completely thrown out. (5:33 shown) Seemed like a house show performance to me. Even though we know now that it’s great, it definitely didn’t get me interested to see the upcoming Final Four match. *

Savio Vega (w/the NOD) vs. Flash Funk
JR is at ringside asking Savio Vega how he thinks his fans feel about him now that he’s turned on Ahmed Johnson and joined the Nation of Domination. Of course, he doesn’t care what the people think. To be honest, I don’t really care that he turned because he was never that interesting to me to begin with. I liked his matches with Austin just fine, but he wasn’t someone I would tune in just to see or anything like that. D’Lo Brown looks all serious standing behind Savio, but YOU JUST KNOW he’s wanting so bad to bust out the head bobbing from side to side. WELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL Dok Hendrix joins Vinnie Mac for commentary since it understandably takes JR a while to get back up into the skybox. Savio plays the overbearing heel until Funk starts to FUNK UP and takes Vega to all head smash all four turnbuckles. Crazy Flying Splash gets 1-2-NO! WHAT A MANEUVER. Just for fun, Flash Funk flies down on top of D’Lo Brown and spinning heel kicks him down. That proves to be his demise though as he flies back in the ring with a Moonsault, but nobody’s home. Savio rolls over on top of Funk for the 1-2-3. (4:21) Afterwards, Faarooq embraces his new brethren to show how proud he is of him. *½

Man, these commentators are everywhere tonight. Vince is shown in the crowd interviewing Peta Wilson better known as the star of ‘La Femme Nikita’, which follows Monday Night Raw at 10PM. She could kick Robin Hood’s butt, says Vince.

After commercials, we return to JR bringing out Psycho Sid for his first Raw appearance since losing the WWF title at the Royal Rumble. He’ll be facing the WWF champ Shawn Michaels in a rematch next week on Thursday Raw Thursday! He says something about how evil is sometimes the thing we enjoy the most. Oh yeah, and come next Thursday night, he will once again be the man, the master, and the ruler of the world.

Calling the Superstar Line to find out where Yokozuna and Brian Pillman have gone! Press “2? if you think they went to heaven, press “1? if you think they went to hell, or press “0? if you’re an evil non-American atheist who thinks we all just rot in the ground, because you are in fact a zero.

Ouch. Wow. I’m sorry. That’s not even funny. AND YET IT IS.

Back to the show, Vince has a brief chat with the tag champs where he stirs up a bothersome issue. He brings up what happened at the Royal Rumble where Owen Hart tossed out Davey Boy Smith (which they show and then cut us off). Owen just wants Vince to drop the issue so that everything can go back to being just dandy between them, but then Davey Boy calls him an ‘idiot’ and things get a little heated again. Yikes.

WWF World Tag Team Champions Owen Hart & Davey Boy Smith vs. Doug Furnas & Phil LaFon
Do not adjust your sets, folks! This is indeed a *title* match. JR suspects that our tag team championship duo aren’t getting any kind of leadership since Clarence Mason is so busy with the Nation of Domination. He also mentions that Doug Furnas is fighting the flu here today. Even if it’s not true and regardless of the fact that Shawn was mentioned to have had the flu bug at the Royal Rumble, I like on rare occasions when they factor in human elements. It just makes everything seem more real to me. Moving on. LaFon tries to take DBS legs away from him to start, but Davey Boy finds the ropes. He goes to the air and tries a crossbody out of the corner, but gets caught for a tease at the RUNNING POWERSLAM. LaFon shoves him off, but gets run down. Tag to Owen, who goes right into an armdrag. Owen wants a monkey flip, but LaFon lands on his feet and armdrags Owen into the armbar. Furnas tags in and goes to town on Owen. He decides to match power with power and tags Davey Boy. Furnas sticks with a headlock, but the tag champs blind tag as Owen levels Furnas with a Spinning Heel Kick. That begins the face in peril segment as Owen and Davey Boy keep the flu ridden Doug Furnas on their side of town. Lots of the usual tag team games follow. It’s just boring to sit through with a crowd this dead. At one point, Davey Boy is turned away standing on the apron posing for the crowd when Owen wants a tag. Owen goes over to confront his partner only to have Furnas school boy him for 1-2-NO! Off the kick-out, Furnas is launched into Davey Boy and knocks him off the apron. Now the tag champs get into an argument as we go to commercial. AND WE’RE BACK! More Furnas beatdown time. Desperation belly to belly throw by Furnas on Davey Boy sets up a HOT TAG TO LAFON! Owen tries a crossbody out of the corner, but LaFon rolls through for 1-2-NO! Snap suplex continues the hotness. LaFon blocks a hiptoss into a DDT! Cover, 1-2-3! Oh wait, Owen had his foot on the bottom rope. Match continues. He levels Owen with a Hook Kick for 1-2-NO! Meanwhile, Davey Boy knocks Furnas off the apron. The tag champs set up LaFon as Davey Boy is doubled over to backdrop him off a whip, but LaFon reverses and Owen takes a backdrop by Davey Boy over the top rope to the floor. Oops. Does Davey Boy have to do everything about here? He scoops up LaFon and delivers a Standing Powerslam. He covers LaFon, but Owen is the legal man who has apparently “twisted his knee really bad” out on the floor and causes his team to lose via countout. (11:27 shown) Heatless match as still no one is buying Furnas and LaFon. However, this Owen and Davey Boy issue is pretty entertaining to watch. **

More Rumble moments. Ahmed Johnson beats Faarooq out of the match with an abnormally long 2×4. Perhaps he’s compensating for something? In the back, Vince talks with Ahmed via camera. He says he’s off his PROZAC now, so you should expect anything from Ahmed. Clearly you should still be taking your meds, pal. Ahmed threatens to wipe out the Nation of Domination in this next match. That’s when Undertaker comes by to confront Ahmed to wrap up the interview with a GOOZLE. He says that if Ahmed goes out now, he goes alone. But if he waits, they can bury the Nation of Domination together. SNAP! Those two team up for one night only to take on Mankind and Faarooq in tonight’s main event!

Crush (w/the NOD) vs. Goldust (w/Marlena)
Vince and JR boast about all the guarantees they will be promising the fans. Not only are they hyping bad matches to come, but they are PROMISING bad matches to come. It’s an armbar match. Eventually, Hunter Hearst Helmsley comes down to get a little closer to the sweet irresistible nectar that is Marlena. Goldust threatens the IC champ from the apron, which allows Crush to hammer him from behind. After Crush takes over, Goldust stops all that with a DDT. Bulldog hits Crush for 1-2-NO! When Goldust tries the CURTAIN CALL, Clarence Mason distracts the ref while Savio Vega runs by and clears Goldust’s head with the SPINNING HEEL KICK! Oh man. STAN THE MAN STASIAK’S HEART PUNCH puts everybody down including Goldust for the 1-2-3. (8:17) This is clearly just a house show disguised as a Monday Night Raw without some substantial editing. Surely NO ONE would expect us not to turn over to Nitro during an eight minute Crush-Goldust match. COME ON. ½*

The Blackjacks are going to ride again! That’s just what will save you from WCW! Cowboys.

The US Army Slam of the Week is highlights of the HBK-Sid match from the Royal Rumble. But that’s not even from this week? Can’t we get something that actually happened during that week? Am I being too picky here?

Out comes the WWF champ Shawn Michaels to meet Vince McMahon in this very ring. There’s a mixed crowd reaction for HBK, but of course nothing like he would receive and continue to receive post-Survivor Series 1997 until this very day. As far as the reaction goes, Shawn had his moment in his backyard in San Antonio at the Royal Rumble, so he doesn’t mind that here in Canada, the crowd is solely behind Bret Hart. It looks like Bret is watching on from the gorilla position while this interview is going on. In response to Bret’s less than flattering remarks about him, Shawn says that nobody likes you when you’re on top. Everyone hated Muhammad Ali when he was champ, now everyone calls him the greatest. Bret can call himself the best there is, was, and ever will be. It doesn’t really matter because only Shawn Michaels can call himself the WWF champ. Here comes Bret Hart to get the crowd riled up. No matter how much Bret tries, he just can’t seem to find a reason to like Shawn Michaels. Bret says Shawn summed up what he thinks of Shawn as a whole by calling himself a degenerate. Bret continues on to call Shawn a “jackass” and a “punk”. Shawn says you can call him whatever Bret wants to call him – he’ll still be the WWF champ and Bret won’t. Out comes Stone Cold Steve Austin to attack Bret. This isn’t the fight we thought would happen. Meanwhile, Psycho Sid heads out to yell at Shawn as we take a commercial break.

When we come back, JR tells us that Sid and Austin have both been escorted to the locker room while Bret and HBK remain in the ring. Shawn draws a line in the sand so to speak with the WWF title belt. When he goes to pick it back up, Bret sticks his foot on it and picks up the WWF title belt himself. Shawn decides to take off his male stripper vest in case this needs to get physical. Some refs seem to have convinced Bret to give Shawn back his WWF title belt. When Shawn reaches out to grab it, Bret drops the belt to the mat and walks away giving HBK the bird to leave on a high note as the crowd roars in approval.

After the break, we see that Tiger Ali Singh (son of the legendary Tiger Jeet Singh) has officially signed with the WWF.

WWF Intercontinental Champion Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Marc Mero
HHH’s bodyguard Curtis Hughes and Mero’s main squeeze Sable are both barred from ringside, but managers don’t typically make house show appearances anyway. This is also being called Mero’s last shot while HHH is the IC champ. Feeling out process to start. Mero picks things up as he stops himself from missing the somersault plancha once Helmsley moves out of the way. Back in, Hunter gets his knees up to block a slingshot splash. Stalling suplex sets up the knee drop for two. Mero flips out of a back suplex and catches HHH with a rolling clutch, but then telegraphs a back drop and eats a facebuster. Commercials! We return as this time, Hunter telegraphs a back drop as Mero slams his face off the canvas. Mero delivers the tilt-a-whirl headscissors and the Knee Lift. He whips HHH into the corner for the Harley Race bump to the floor. Somersault plancha! Back inside, Mero hits the slingshot legdrop for 1-2-NO! Helmsley gets caught up top for the Badd Day! Cover, 1-2-NO! Mero charges into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker to give HHH an opportunity to regroup and untie a turnbuckle pad. They reverse some whips to build drama to the exposed turnbuckle, but it goes nowhere as Mero catches HHH for a Samoan drop. MEROSAULT! Cover, 1-2-NO! HHH reverses a corner whip into the exposed corner, but Mero puts on the brakes and elbows HHH away. As Mero shows the ref some piece that fell off the turnbuckle, HHH yanks an international object out of his tights to KO Mero for the 1-2-3. (11:02 shown) Started out slow, but turned into quite a fun match. Definitely match of the night. **½

Replay is shown of Jerry Lawler being eliminated in a matter of seconds in the Royal Rumble match.

The Undertaker & Ahmed Johnson vs. Mankind & Faarooq (w/Paul Bearer and the NOD) – No Holds Barred
No bait and switch tactics for THIS match ladies and gentlemen, although the one that we didn’t show you in its entirety that we said we would show you – that definitely would be considered ‘bait and switch’. However, this PARTICULAR match, we will give you exactly what we promised. Ahmed’s brought his trusty 2×4 with him to the ring. HOOOOOOOOO! Every conceivable combination brawls while they take turns being in and out of the ring with the faces in TOTAL control. As Clarence Mason brings down Crush to ringside, we check out some commercials. When we come back, Mankind has Taker in the ring stuck in the MANDIBLE CLAW as he begins to fade. Ahmed makes the save and delivers the PEARL RIVER PLUNGE on Mankind for 1-2-NO! Faarooq stops the count and gives Johnson the DOMINATOR! Mankind runs at Taker with a chair in hand, but gets the chair kicked back in his face. Meanwhile, Nation of Domination members like Crush and future D’Lo Brown are beating down Ahmed until he chases them away with his giant 2×4. Chokeslam from Taker to Mankind! Faarooq saves his partner from further damage, but he’s chased away as well by Ahmed and his wood. In the ring, Mankind has some powder, but that’s knocked back into his face. Here comes Vader! He splashes Taker and grabs a chair while Mankind holds up the Dead Man. Of course, Taker moves and Mankind gets wiped out to further the problems between Mankind and Vader. Vader nails Taker anyway, but he NO-SELLS! Taker punches Vader out of the ring and gives Mankind the TOMBSTONE PILEDRIVER on the chair for the 1-2-3. (7:47 shown) The Taker-Mankind-Vader stuff was fun, but I just don’t care for Ahmed v. Faarooq anymore. **

Next up, THURSDAY RAW THURSDAY! Titles will be won, smiles will be lost!

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