Monday Night Raw – January 27, 1997: Hunting For A Nation

Monday Night Raw
Date: January 27, 1997
Location: Montagne Center, Beaumont, Texas
Attendance: 4,834
Commentators: Vince McMahon, Jerry Lawler

We’re only a few weeks away from Final Four and the main event was set last week. Oddly enough Shawn wasn’t on the show after he won the world title at the Rumble. My guess is tonight is his big moment after last week’s Bret centered show. I get the idea of pushing the main event of the PPV, but at the same time shouldn’t the focus be on the champion instead of his challenger? Let’s get to it.

We open with a recap of Bret whining and the announcement of the fourway match at Final Four for the title shot at Wrestlemania.

Ahmed Johnson vs. Crush

During Ahmed’s entrance we get a video of Savio turning on Ahmed in a tag match but not joining the Nation. Ahmed goes after the Nation lackeys (Faarooq and Savio are nowhere to be seen) to start but gets jumped by Crush as the bell rings. Johnson comes back with a quick slam and an ax kick for no cover. Crush gets kicked in the back and has his head smashed into the mat by Ahmed’s boot. A corner splash and a kick to the chest put Crush down and Ahmed stands around again.

Crush rolls away from an elbow drop before putting Ahmed down with a belly to belly. He stays on Ahmed’s back due to Johnson’s lacerated kidney as Faarooq comes out to watch from the entrance. We take a break and come back with Ahmed dropping Crush down onto the mat to break what looked like a chinlock. Crush gets two off a backbreaker but jumps off the middle rope into a dropkick to give Johnson a breather. They head to the floor for a second and Faarooq runs out for a cheap shot by whipping Johnson into the steps. Back in and Crush’s heart punch (exactly what it sounds like) gets the pin.

Rating: D+. This was pretty slow but it continues the story of Faarooq vs. the Nation which had gone on for months by this point. The idea was that Johnson couldn’t handle the Nation on his own but having him lose all the time didn’t do him much good. Crush was fine for a power lackey though and it fit him much better given his real life prison sentence around this time.

Ad for Thursday Raw Thursday. We’ll get to that one soon.

Here’s Shawn for his first interview after regaining the title. Vince talks about Shawn vs. Sid III on Thursday Raw Thursday and about the Boyhood Dream. Shawn says it isn’t a dream but a reality and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep the title against Sid. Vince asks him about the fourway and which person he’d like to face, but Shawn of course doesn’t answer.

Shawn talks about how all of the potential challengers have a bad side and right now it’s bringing out the worst in everyone. Vince says it brings out competition so here’s Bret Hart with something to say. Bret says that he wants Shawn to do whatever he has to do to come out of Thursday Raw Thursday (who named it that anyway? It sounds so strange) as champion because Bret wants to beat him at Wrestlemania. He wants it so bad that he’ll watch Shawn’s back against Sid.

Vince now brings out Undertaker who says that Bret has earned his respect after their wars, but Taker is tired of hearing about Bret getting screwed. If anyone has been screwed over the years, it’s Taker himself and it’s time for the title to come to the dark side. That means Taker vs. Shawn at Wrestlemania, so Shawn better give his soul to the Lord because his body belongs to Taker.

Now it’s Austin’s turn to say he’ll fight Shawn at Wrestlemania. Instead of going to the ring though, Austin has JR come down the aisle with him carrying a microphone. Austin says he’s tough but he knows an ambush when he sees it coming. He’s thrown them over the top rope before and he’d have done the same thing to Shawn if he had the chance. Austin starts walking to the ring but turns around, only to run into Vader. Trash is talked but nothing physical happens.

British Bulldog vs. Doug Furnas

Bulldog grabs a quick headlock but gets dropkicked out to the floor for his troubles. Back in and Furnas hits a charge in the corner and a suplex for two each. Bulldog throws Furnas out to the floor and then into the steps before dropping said steps on Furnas’ back. Why this isn’t a DQ is anyone’s guess but we take a break before we can get an answer. Back with Ahmed trying to break into the Nation’s locker room. Bulldog has Furnas in a chinlock before pounding on the back.

Bulldog easily shrugs off a comeback big as this match just keeps going. Furnas blocks a piledriver attempt with a backdrop but is almost immediately caught in a suplex for two more. Back to the chinlockery as Owen yells about how bad of a Canadian Furnas is. Furnas dropkicks Bulldog down and gets two of his own off a powerslam.

Bulldog counters what appears to be a rana attempt into a powerbomb for no cover as Owen and his Slammy get up on the apron. We get some heel miscommunication with Bulldog going into the trophy but Furnas only gets two. Not that it matters as Bulldog counters a sunset flip into a rollup for the pin a few seconds later.

Rating: D. So let me get this straight: we’re supposed to buy Furnas and LaFon as contenders to the tag titles after they lose a non-title match and Furnas can’t beat Bulldog even after Owen blasts Bulldog in the head with the Slammy? It’s pretty clear why the tag division was in such a shambles at this point.

Post match Owen and Bulldog get in an argument over the mistake with Bulldog throwing down the Slammy and his tag title belt. Scratch that as they shake hands a few moments later.

We go back to MSG to see more of Savio turning on Ahmed.

We also get a clip from Shotgun Saturday Night with Savio saying he hasn’t joined the Nation. He then had a match with Rocky Maivia and revealed that he had joined the Nation. Well that’s certainly a swerve, a full seven minutes in the making.

For just $1.49 a minute, you can find out Sid’s secret weapon for the world title match.

Video of the press conference to announce Tiger Ali Singh has signed with the WWF. If you don’t remember that name, keep it that way.

Vader/Mankind vs. Godwinns

Mankind and Phineas start things off as we hear about Royal Rumble Raw next week, which will be the Rumble airing on Raw. It’s quickly off to Henry who wins a slugout with Mankind. Mankind is knocked into the corner but would rather rock back and forth than tag Vader. After a quick skirmish on the floor it’s time for Vader vs. Phineas. Vader easily knocks him into the corner and goes NUTS, pounding Phineas down into the corner.

Mankind comes back in for the Mandible Claw but Henry clotheslines them both out to the floor to break it up. Henry is pulled over the top and out to the floor to start a big brawl as we take a break. Back with Phineas missing a charge at Mankind before a double tag brings in Henry to pound on Vader. Henry actually slams Vader down but gets punched in the face a few seconds later. They head to the floor with Mankind swinging a chair and hitting Vader by mistake, earning the Godwinns a countout win.

Rating: C-. I’ve seen worse and Henry looked great in the brawls with Vader. The Godwinns were one of the few regular tag teams around at this point but their time was already over. It looks like we’re heading towards Vader vs. Mankind which is odd given that Vader is already in the world title scene at this time.

Ahmed finds the Nation and swings at their car as they speed away to end the show.

Overall Rating: D+. The main event stuff was pretty good here but all the other stuff dragged the show down. The tag stuff was nothing interesting and the Ahmed vs. Faarooq stuff isn’t enough to carry a show. It was nice to have the champion on the show and thankfully his segment was really strong. Unfortunately the rest wasn’t and the show was pretty dull as a result.

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