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WWF Thursday Raw Thursday - February 17, 1997

by Scrooge McSuck

Bret Hart

- Presented live from the Nashville Arena in Nashville, TN, and the first of the 2-hour era to go head-to-head with Monday Nitro. Jim Ross and Jerry "The King" Lawler are calling the action, unless otherwise noted. We've known ahead of time we're getting Sycho Sid challenging for the WWF Championship, and looks like that's where we open the show...

WWF Championship Match:
Bret "Hitman" Hart (c) vs. Sycho Sid:

BREAKING NEWS: The Undertaker will meet the WWF Champion at WrestleMania 13! He didn't even win a Royal Rumble Match to earn that spot. Lawler compares Vader's face to hamburger meat after last night's match. In the biggest surprise of the century, Steve Austin rushes the ring and gets into a pull-apart brawl with Hart. Sid take some shots at Austin, so Austin clips the knee. Bret breaks free from one group of officials and goes back to throwing right hands on Austin while Sid grimaces in pain. "DAMMIT! DAMMIT! DAMMIT!" isn't touching "What you did was BOGUS!" as far as soundbites go. Sid is still willing to go despite the crippling knee injury, and make your own Shawn Michaels joke here. Speaking of...

- We get highlights of Shawn Michaels' "Lost Smile" promo and a recap of the Final Four Elimination Match.

- Kevin Kelly catches up with Sycho Sid, and he's going to fight even with a broken leg.

"Wildman" Marc Mero (w/ Sable) vs. Savio Vega (w/ The Nation of Domination):

We recap the last few weeks where Mero's developed a bit of an edge and Sable has started getting physically involved in the matches, so we'll put him in the ring with Savio and the Nation, because we're at a point where the heel and face alignment is starting to mean less and less. The entire Nation is here, but Faarooq and Clarence Mason are watching from the balcony. Will Savio EVER GET NEW GEAR? He unloads on Mero with rights and sends him to the corner. Crisscross and Mero with a series of arm drags, followed by a dropkick. Savio rolls out and Mero follows with a tope con hilo on both he and Crush. Back inside, Mero with rights in the corner. Whip across the ring and Savio greets him with a standing heel kick. Whip to the corner and Savio with a spinning heel kick. Mero comes back with a cross body press but Savio quickly regains control. They trade blows in the corner, with Mero getting the better of the exchange. He unloads with mounted rights but Savio drops him face-first across the turnbuckle. Mero gets dumped, where one of PG-13 gets some kicks in. Sable comes over, throwing the saddest looking kick ever, and the poor guy has to sell it. Back inside, Savio misses a dive into the corner and gets taken over with a BAAAACK body-drop. Whip to the corner and Mero with a Samoan drop. Suddenly, the Nation members chase Sable into the ring and the bell rings at 4:17. Suddenly again, Ahmed Johnson shows up with a 2x4 to clear the ring. This was going OK until the abrupt non-finish. It would also mark the end of "Wildman" Marc Mero, as he tore his ACL and would miss the next 6-months, coming back with a new attitude and new nickname. *1/2

- Bret Hart cuts a promo from the locker room and we're still going to see him defend against Sid.

WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
Rocky Maivia (c) vs. Leif Cassidy:

OK, I'm thinking too much about it, but Cassidy has had maybe 2 matches on TV since the calendar flipped, and one was in a losing effort on PPV, but he gets a title match because... why? We recap Rocky winning the belt from Hunter Hearst Helmsley on Thursday Raw Thursday. Sunny gets a ring entrance for the sake of sex appeal and to be the "time keeper." She'll be featured on Entertainment Tonight as the QUEEN F CYBERSPACE. Lockup into the ropes and Rocky gives a clean break. Cassidy with a shove and Rocky gives it back. Cassidy unloads with rights in the corner. It turns into a slugfest and Rocky sends him over the top with a clothesline. Back inside, Maivia comes off the ropes with a cross body press for two. He takes Cassidy over with a pair of arm drags and hooks the arm bar. Hunter Hearst Helmsley is standing by, promising to regain the gold and has unfinished business with Goldust. Back to the action, Cassidy takes Maivia down with an enzuigiri. Whip and Cassidy with a clothesline for two. Whip and Maivia surprises him with a rolling cradle for two. Leif goes to the eyes to regain control and drives a knee into the midsection. Lawler compares Maivia to Tiger Woods. Whip and Maivia with a sunset flip for two. Inside cradle for two. Cassidy with an arm bar takedown as we find out we'll see the finals of the European Championship in 2 weeks from Berlin, Germany. Cassidy grabs a cross arm bar as we get a split-screen to show Sunny's cleavage. Leif goes high risk and connects with a sledge to the top of the head for two. He plants Maivia with a slam and climbs the ropes again, but this time Rocky pops up and slams him down. Rocky unloads with rights as Lawler is distracted by a plant with an ECW sign. Rocky to the top with a flying body press, and the shoulder breaker finishes at 9:33. That's still a terrible finisher. Decent match, when we were allowed to enjoy it with all the distractions of everything else in the world. **

- Jerry Lawler snatches the "ECW Rules" sign, so the fan produces a second sign. He calls ECW a place where a bunch of misfits and losers go when they can't make it somewhere like in the WWF. Lawler continues ranting about a pro-Lawler sign being removed from a WCW show held in Memphis. He offers an invitation for the people of ECW to appear on Monday Night Raw at the Manhattan Center NEXT WEEK.

- Kevin Kelly is standing by for a special interview with Goldust and Marlena, who is doing fine after being assaulted last night by a female fan that has been taken care of and we'll never speak of again. Goldust quickly cuts off Kelly. This isn't the Hills of Hollywood, it's reality, and Hunter Hearst Helmsley made it personal with the indecent proposal he made toward Marlena. Marlena gets a live microphone for the first time in possibly EVER. She goes on record to say from head to toe, Goldust is ALL MAN, and the crowd BOOS. "Well, that set the record straight." Helmsley comes to the ring and gets the jump on Goldust after a cup of water to the face. He plants Goldust with the Pedigree. Marlena slaps Helmsley in retaliation, BUT THAT LARGE WOMAN APPEARS AGAIN AND RAGDOLLS MARLENA! It's 1997 and Rene Goulet is still getting work breaking up fights. Good thing Marlena decided to wear the shortest dress she's had on in months the night she was going to be lifted off the ground and shaken violently to give all the 13 year old boys watching a peekaboo. You know, this AMAZON WOMAN might be the ticket to genuinely getting Helmsley over as more than a piss-break heel.

The Headbangers vs. The Hardy Boys:

No extreme "Z" at the end there, and the first time we're seeing the Hardys on WWF TV since the Summer when they did a handful of jobs at tapings of Superstars. Mosh and Thrasher attack before the bell, with Matt knocked out like a geek. Whip and Jeff hits Mosh with a diving clothesline. He takes Mosh over with a sloppy arm drag and hooks an arm bar. Mosh catches Matt off the ropes with a powerslam as we get a split-screen promo from Faarooq, laying down the challenge to Ahmed Johnson for a CHICAGO STREET FIGHT at WrestleMania 13. Back to the action, Thrasher connects with a diving clothesline from the middle rope. Whip and Thrasher with a tilt-o-whirl slam. Mosh hits a twisting body press with Matt on the apron, and it sounds as confusing as it looked. Back inside, Thrasher nearly decapitates Matt by dropping him awkwardly across the top rope. Headbangers with a combo brain buster and body press that should've ended this match. Matt remains alive and tags in Jeff, who runs wild with dropkicks. Whip is reversed and Mosh takes his head off with a clothesline, and they finish with a combo powerbomb and leg drop at 4:01. This was a sloppy train-wreck.

WWF Championship Match:
Bret "Hitman" Hart (c) vs. Sycho Sid:

Looks like Sid has recovered quite well from a common chop block, and look, it's the top of the hour once again to try and get that ratings boost. We recap "Earlier Tonight" if you're a rube who channels surfs and wasn't watching the show from the beginning. We track Bret's walk from the locker room, and wouldn't you know, STEVE AUSTIN SHOWS UP AGAIN! Sid rushes backstage to get him some of Austin, and even Vince McMahon and Bruce Prichard make a cameo from the Gorilla position as order is restored by a group of referees and officials. No match, but nice "Calgary Hitmen" jacket on Bret.

- Kevin Kelly is with Gorilla Monsoon, who takes his own shots at WCW, and GUARANTEES WE WILL SEE BRET VS SID FOR THE WWF TITLE. TONIGHT!

Flash Funk (w/ The Funkettes) vs. Owen Hart (w/ Clarence Mason):

The fans still don't have much reason to care for Flash Funk, despite the dancing routine and flashy light-show. Owen is carrying around both of the Tag Team Championship belts after Bulldog threw his down the night before at IYH: Final Four. Lockup and Owen goes to work on the arm. They trade counters, doing the usual nip up and rolls. Flash transitions to a side headlock and comes off the ropes with a shoulder tackle. Crisscross and Flash with a dropkick before taking Owen down into an arm bar. Whip to the ropes and they fight over a hip toss until Owen hits a clothesline. Flash rolls away from an elbow and both men whiff on a dropkick. Owen celebrates despite the non-contact stalemate. Jim Ross tells Lawler there's an ECW representative on the phone, and it's Paul E. Dangerously accepting Lawler's invitation for next week. The do the knuckle-lock and trade monkey-flips. Flash pops up first and pops Owen on the chin with a Super-Kick. I love Lawler's badmouthing of ECW includes name-dropping their stars for WWE fans to get a little taste of. Owen with a clothesline, turning Flash inside-out. He sets up for the Sharpshooter, but Clarence Mason hop on the apron for some reason, buying Flash time to recover and cradle him for two. Owen starts arguing with Mason and gets knocked over the top rope with a dropkick. Flash follows, coming off the top with a flying body press. Meanwhile, the British Bulldog makes his way to ringside and gets in Mason's face. We come back from commercial with Owen bridging out of a cover and the two fighting for a back-slide. Owen with a bridging German Suplex for two. He connects with a leaping leg drop and nails Flash with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex for two. We cut to a split-screen with Steve Austin, talking about a conspiracy against him and claiming he is the uncrowned WWF Champion. Owen with a hangman's neck breaker and gut-wrench suplex for two. Whip to the corner and Owen straddles the turnbuckle missing a dive. Flash plants Owen with a slam and comes off the top with a flying bod press for two. Flash with a Funky Splash in the corner and another slam. He goes high risk again and hits a moonsault for two. Whip is reversed, Bulldog nails Flash with the Slammy and Owen finishes with the spinning heel kick at 8:34 (shown). Does this mean Owen and the Bulldog are on the same page again?! Good match when we were allowed to enjoy it. ***

- The 1997 Slammy Awards are sponsored by WWF Full Metal: The Album. The show will be on the USA Network on Friday Night, March 21st.

Bart Gunn vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley:

We recap the incidents over the last few nights where "The Amazonian" assaulted Marlena. Yes, this disturbed fan would be constantly shown on TV and promoted as a part of the roster in a shoot situation. The bell rings and Jim Ross decides now is the time to ask Helmsley about this mystery woman. He denies any knowledge of the situation. Honkytonk Man has joined commentary to blather about his protégé search that has gone on and on for months. Helmsley with a side headlock and Bart comes off the ropes with a shoulder tackle. Where's Billy? Bart controls with a wrist-lock. Whip to the ropes and Bart with a shoulder tackle, followed by a hip toss and dropkick before going to the arm bar. Helmsley escapes with an elbow but misses a charge and finds himself back on the canvas. Odd commentary with J.R. promoting James Andrews' comments on Shawn's condition, citing him as the man who operated on Bo Jackson, and then Lawler and Honky bury him for never coming back (he came back to MLB, but did retire a couple of years later). Suddenly, Goldust bum rushes the ring and chases Helmsley into the crowd. Bell rings at 4:34 and it's a Count-Out victory for BART GUNN? HOW?! Goldust RAN INTO THE RING WITH INTENT TO INTERFERE.

- Dr. James R. Andrews M.D. is standing by with comments on Shawn Michaels' knee problems, and wouldn't you know it, Shawn's career isn't over, and some rehab should help his road to recovery and a return to the ring.

WWF Championship Match:
Bret "Hitman" Hart (c) vs. Sycho Sid:

Here we go, TAKE THREE. With only about 20-minutes of T.V. time left, there's nowhere to go if they want to give the fans what was advertised, unlike that other rasslin show. Lockup, Bret drives a knee into the body and unloads with right hands. Sid turns it around, throwing rights of his own and sending Bret crashing into the turnbuckle. Bret battles back, taking Sid down with a Russian leg sweep. More back and forth until Sid lays Bret out with a short clothesline. Bret with a back breaker and headbutt across the midsection. He comes off the middle rope with an elbow drop and continues to work the lower back. Sid with a back breaker for two. There's an odd flow to this match with neither man controlling the pace for longer than a short spurt at a time. Bret starts going to work on the knee to take Sid off his feet. The crowd seems supportive of that heel-ish behavior, knowing the leg was targeted with a cheap shot earlier by Austin. Bret cranks it up, wrapping the leg around the post and debuting the RING-POST FIGURE FOUR spot. We come back from commercial, with Bret wrapping Sid's leg around the rope. Sid fights free with clubbing forearms across the chest and nails Bret coming out of the corner with a clothesline. Sid with a huge leg drop for two. Sid with a forward slam and comes off the middle rope with a leg drop for two. Sid looked so awkward and uncomfortable doing that spot, but he still pulled it off somehow. Sid with the goozle but Bret breaks out of the grip. He tries trapping Sid in the ropes but misses a dive, straddling the ropes instead. Suddenly, Steve Austin comes out through the crowd, but Sid nails him before he could interfere. Sid with a SUNSET FLIP FROM THE APRON, but Bret rolls through and applies the Sharpshooter. The referee doesn't see Austin brain Bret with a steel chair, and the Powerbomb nets Sid his 2nd WWF Championship at 11:55 (shown). That means we're getting SID VS UNDERTAKER for the WWF Title at WrestleMania 13. Match felt all over the place until Bret started heeling on Sid's knee. **1/4

Final Thoughts: This show did a good job of putting Austin over as this uncontrollable maniac, and in screwing over Bret Hart AGAIN, we know we're getting a PPV rematch between the two to try and settle things. I can't say I'm too excited to see Undertaker vs. Sid, especially as the WWF Championship Match, but we've got a lack of top talent to headline, so it's acceptable, I suppose. The Helmsley/Goldust feud is still sputtering along, though the debut of this mystery woman might be the tool to give it some heat after all. Faarooq has laid down the challenge to Ahmed Johnson for a Chicago Street Fight, and the Bulldog and Owen appeared to sever relations with Clarence Mason, so almost every segment managed to move along a storyline.

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