Monday Night Raw – February 24, 1997: ECW Invades Raw

Monday Night Raw
Date: February 24, 1997
Location: Manhattan Center, New York City, New York
Attendance: 1,000
Commentators: Paul Heyman, Vince McMahon, Jerry Lawler

Based on the commentators and perhaps the date you might know why we’re reviewing this one. This is of course the ECW Invasion of Raw for one night only while the main guys are in Europe or somewhere like that. This is more or less a hype show for Barely Legal, the first ECW PPV. Seeing the ECW guys on Raw this early is just weird, even though the Dudleys would be there in less than three years. WCW is KILLING Raw at this point so they were doing whatever they could to get a quick ratings boost. This didn’t do that, but it’s certainly historical so we’ll take a look. Let’s get to it.

The old school WWF logo, as in the one with the storm and all red used to scare me when I was a kid and terrified of thunderstorms.

The old Raw intro still rocks.

Godwins vs. Blackjacks

The Blackjacks are Barry Windham and Bradshaw. It’s so weird hearing the guys talking about ECW when we have the same look for the show as there was back when the show debuted. BIG brawl to start as Bradshaw might be the smallest guy in there. Vince promises a big surprise for later. Oh hey we get Sunny vs. Marlena in ARM WRESTLING. Oh joy indeed. Wait it’s 97 Sunny. OH YES.

We get to an actual match now with Phineas and Bradshaw in there. Clothesline from JBL but it isn’t a finisher or named yet. Henry runs over Barry and we head to the floor where the heels take over. This is weak so far. The fans want the Dudleys and some guy named Ken Shamrock is sitting in the front row. Now the fans want Sandman. Would it be too much to ask for SOMETHING to happen here?

Phineas finally gets the hot tag and no one cares in the slightest. I was writing and didn’t realize he got a tag due to the lack of any kind of reaction. Clothesline takes him down but he gets a foot on the rope. This goes unnoticed and the Blackjacks win it. The referee gets slopped for his troubles.

Rating: F+. Oh this was boring. It went on forever and was a total borefest with the styles completely clashing. Four power guys can rarely make a match work and this was no exception. The tag division left something to be desired around this time as we were about 6 months from the Outlaws forming to save things a bit. Weak match and a bad omen for the rest of the night.

Ad for some boxing match. Sugar Ray Leonard is back. Ok then.

As we’re about to go to a break there’s a ring attendant looking at a turnbuckle. The ECW Tag Team Champions hit the ring and hit Total Elimination on him as Heyman shouts about the challenge being accepted. The look on Lawler’s face is great.

Little Guido vs. Stevie Richards

Richards would be in the #1 contenders’ match at Barely Legal for absolutely no apparent reason. The BWO is here with Richards which as Joey perfectly described: “If any gimmick never deserved to make a dime and made a whole boat load of cash, THIS IS IT.” I remember this actually but just vaguely. Stevie says they’re taking over as Paulie joins on commentary.

Heyman couldn’t be happier to be here to put it mildy. The match means nothing at all of course with Guido being the epitome of a jobber at this point in a big comedy stable. Jerry can’t say who the BWO is ripping off in a funny bit. Moving from funny to borderline surreal, Raven comes out and stands in front of the RAW set, which is just big letters saying Raw. Raven stares Richards down and the future psychiatrist freezes.

Goldust says he isn’t impressed and says nothing when Vince asks him about his match with Savio. Heyman kind of compliments Goldust as the fans LOUDLY chant BWO. Lawler more or less is shooting on ECW here as he hates the thing. Stevie Kick ends it clean. Lawler points out the obvious that Shawn has done the same move about 1000 times.

Rating: D. Like I said the match meant nothing so don’t pay much attention to that anyway. This was about having a different kind of thing being shown on Raw which definitely worked. No one but Paulie ever really got the idea of how Richards wound up in the three way at the PPV. Guido would get a lot better but here he was more or less a joke. Nothing special at all here, but the point was having ECW on Raw, which is mind blowing when you consider this is back in 1997.

Honky Tonk Man comes out to referee the arm wrestling match. Sunny comes out first and does the Rick Rude intro by calling everyone fat and saying to hit the music. Naturally she looks amazing but the costume is more or less tame compared to today’s stuff which is weird to say. Marlena has bad ribs due to HHH’s associate injuring her. The associate would soon become known as Chyna.

Sunny offers to let her forfeit due to the injuries which of course is turned down. Loud TAKE IT OFF chant. Any wrestling fan knows the formula here so I’ll spare you the details. Sunny stalls a lot, she takes over early, Marlena makes the comeback, Sunny throws powder (seriously do I even need to make jokes here?) in her eyes and it’s over.

Savio Vega comes out to get on Marlena so here’s Goldust to come out for the save. They’re scheduled for a match so this is it I guess.

Goldust vs. Savio Vega

One of the guys that becomes part of Los Boricuas is on commentary now. Miguel talks about Savio not being Puerto Rican anymore or something. No one cared at all about the group but Vince pushed them for over a year. Crush helps beat up Goldust with a powerslam on the floor.

Boring match so far as you can clearly see why WCW was destroying them around this time. Lots of punches both ways and then we have announcements for upcoming shows that take up a third of the screen. And now we hit a chinlock to make my head hurt a bit more. Oh wait scratch that. It’s a nerve hold rather than a chinlock.

Every time you look up there are more members of the Nation out there. Sunny is there cheering for them as well I guess because Goldust is associated with Marlena. Savio’s splash hits knees. This match needs to end badly. We get our third shot of Shamrock tonight as Lawler says he’ll go talk to him. Savio slaps Goldie’s a bit so Goldust elbows him and kisses him.

Crush trips Goldust, allowing Vega to take over, and here’s Crush to help with the beatdown to end it. Twelve minutes to get THAT ending? Perez, the guy from the announcers’ table runs in to help with the save.

Rating: F. Oh man this was boring. It got TWELVE MINUTES and we get a weak DQ ending? This was just so boring on all levels and nothing at all happened. I never got the appeal of Savio and he was just not interesting as a heel in the slightest. Granted you could argue that he wasn’t interesting ever but you get the point. Just a boring match that took up over 5% of the whole show. Mind boggling.

Raw is in Berlin next week, which featured the Bulldog vs. Owen match in perhaps the best match in Raw history for the first ever European Title.

We flashback to Jerry Lawler making fun of Tiny Tim, a weird singer that was in wrestling more than once but no one knew why. Weird thing to air here.

Jerry talks to Shamrock, allegedly his friend. Shamrock says he’s never met Lawler in ANOTHER pointless segment. Granted Shamrock would become a fairly big star in a few months’ time.

The Slammys are coming. I love those things.

Heyman gets in the line from the Rise and Fall DVD: Man, has this show sucked without ECW or what huh? He’s right.

Taz vs. Mikey Whipwreck

Whipwreck is a cool name. Nice amateur stuff from Taz. We don’t see the extreme aspects here which is what’s hurting the show. Lawler asks him about that and Heyman says why do that when we can do that on PPV? Taz DESTROYS him as we hear from Farooq. Notice the ECW matches have had interviews that have nothing to do with the show spliced in but we hear nothing during the WWF matches. Not saying it’s unfair as it’s a WWF show, just an observation. Sabu pops up on top of the Raw R and falls off which sums up his career pretty well. Tazmission completes the squash.

Rating: N/A. This was to make Taz look good and that certainly worked. Whipwreck would also get a lot better which was fun watching. This wasn’t much at all though but it did its job well enough I guess. Still though, would it kill you guys to tell us why Taz vs. Sabu is a big feud? They didn’t say it on Barely Legal either so it doesn’t really matter.

Headbangers vs. Legion of Doom

Yep this is the surprise. If this breaks a minute I’ll be stunned. The people are, to put it mildly, stoked to see the LOD. Even the ECW fans are happy here. We start calling the LOD American Originals which never went anywhere but they kept calling them that for about a year. Animal and Mosh start us off and I think you can guess how that goes. Apparently the Lawler vs. Tiny Tim thing was because Raw is back where it all began tonight. That makes sense.

The fans chant Nitro Sucks which Vince won’t say. The match is already at two minutes which means it’s too long. BIG powerbomb from Animal to Mosh gets two. Hawk hits his decent dropkick and we go WAY too long here. There’s a reason the Road Warriors rarely went long without a great team in there such as the Horsemen with them: they kind of sucked other than power moves.

And now the Headbangers are on offense. Well of course they are. We go to a break and come back to the Headbangers in control. Yes, in this match we’ve gotten a commercial to go with an already long match. Shawn is injured apparently. And there’s a DOUBLE COUNT OUT? ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? Mosh takes a Doomsday Device just because he deserves one.

Rating: F+. The match was boring, it went about 15 minutes counting commercial, AND WHY WOULD YOU BRING BACK A FREAKING TEAM LIKE THE LOD TO HAVE THEM GO TO A DOUBLE COUNTOUT WITH THE FREAKING HEADBANGERS??? DO I HAVE TO DRAW YOU A PICTURE HERE? They deserved to lose at this point with stupidity like this.

We get the very cheesy Tell Me A Lie video about Shawn that always turns my stomach a bit. He was “probably retiring” due to his “knee injury” which popped up right before he was supposed to drop the title back to Bret at Mania. What are the odds???

Tommy Dreamer vs. D-Von Dudley

We get Beaulah if nothing else. Dreamer looks YOUNG here and for some reason didn’t wrestle at the PPV. They lock up immediately as everyone is FAR more impressed with Beaulah than the match which I can’t blame them for. Heyman rightfully kisses up to Vince for this. Dreamer breaks out some weapons to make things interesting for a change. Lawler hating on violence is funny considering one of his most famous things is the Tupelo Concession Stand Brawl (look that up if you’ve never heard of it).

All Dreamer so far here. Naturally we plug the stuff later on in Raw but again ECW needs to be happy with what they got, which I’m sure they were. Lawler goes on a total shoot, talking about how he’s been in wrestling for 20 years and has never been ashamed to be a wrestler but is now because this stuff is in his ring. He also didn’t mind showing up on ECW shows at least twice and getting a big paycheck for it.

Dreamer with a Piledriver next to a chair as Lawler is reaching Austin levels of ranting here. Taker cuts a split screen promo and while he’s talking about Sid (it was the main event of Mania 13 so first of all it’s more important than the match, but second, THIS GETS A PROMO WHILE WE HAVE A MATCH?) Dreamer hits the DDT for the pin.

Rating: N/A. Just a quickie here as the highlight was Lawler’s insane rant against Heyman and ECW. Based on what I’ve heard most of that was legit as Lawler wasn’t a fan of ECW at all. There are few people more old school than Lawler so that doesn’t surprise me, but considering how many Memphis companies he’s been apart of he doesn’t have a ton of room to talk about anyone else’s failing. Granted he had a national TV spot every Monday night so maybe he can talk about them.

Bubba runs down for the 3D on Dreamer but Sandman comes through the crowd and general beatings occur. Paulie thanks Vince which sounds very legit but goes after Lawler, resulting in the ECW guys coming down for a big pullapart deal.

We recap the insane world title scene around this time. Bret won the Royal Rumble and the shot at Mania but Austin snuck back in and threw him out and was declared the official winner. Due to the controversy, they put Taker and Vader who were also feuding and were the other final two in the Rumble along with Austin and Hart in a match called Final Four at a show appropriately titled Final Four.

Sid and Shawn had been trading the title, resulting in Shawn winning it back and then losing his smile, forfeiting the belt. There was supposed to be one last Sid vs. Shawn match at Final Four with the winner fighting the winner of the Final Four match at Mania. Bret won the match and the title but lost it to Sid the next night due to interference from Austin. That was a week before this and Taker has been named #1 contender. There would be a rematch between Bret and Sid in a cage sometime in March but Sid retained so it means nothing. Austin and Hart had a match at Mania that you may have heard of. Taker vs. Sid sucked.

Todd Petingill (the 90s version of Michael Cole but less annoying and just a backstage guy) talks to Ken Shamrock in an actual interview. He has his wife and father with him and introduces them. Ken picks Taker for the world title at Mania and can’t pick a winner for the submission match. Todd was annoying but he knew how to connect with a crowd so he throws in a very quick crowd poll. Little things like that can make a guy because he talks specifically to the crowd which is the best thing a guy can do.

Farrooq vs. Undertaker

Hmm I wonder who wins here. Before we start though and before Taker gets here, Shamrock and Farrooq have a standoff. Shamrock can’t talk at this point AT ALL. After a break we come back for Taker’s entrance which lacks something in this small of an arena. Most of the Nation is out there so Taker is just like screw this and goes out to beat on random people.

Ah there we go and all of a sudden the mat is really loud. BIG Old School takes down Farrooq again. Farrooq was a guy that could have been a top level heel but Austin being such a huge star all of a sudden kind of stopped anything they had planned but in a good way I’d think. This is your standard let’s beat on Taker and think we’re hurting him before he pops up and is perfectly fine. We take a break with a Nation member (D’lo Brown) taking down Taker by clipping his knee.

Back with Taker’s knee in trouble. Farrooq is smart and just keeps hammering on the knee like he’s supposed to. Taker busts out a Fameasser of all things to break the momentum. Never seen him use that before. In a weird bit the fans are singing the Nation theme song. Long chinlock sequence follows as we’re kind of killing time here. Ok there’s no kind of to it. We head to the floor as we’re desperately running out of time. And then after about 15 minutes again the rest of the Nation runs out for the DQ. The LOD comes out to save as we RUSH off the air.

Rating: C-. Match wasn’t much at all but Farrooq wasn’t boring here. This was better than I expected with both guys pounding on each other hard and some better than average (for him anyway) selling from Taker. The ending sucks but I get why they did it was obviously Taker couldn’t lose and Farrooq was kept strong looking here. Much better than what I expected here.

Overall Rating: D. Paulie was dead on when he said this show has sucked without ECW. I don’t remember a ton of Raw from this time frame but if this is any indication it’s no secret I would have been watching WCW. This was just DULL with matches no one cared about for the majority of the night. However since a lot of the stars were on a tour the lack of talent is more than understandable so I can give this a bit of a break.

This was a rather weak show though but the ECW addition is very interesting as it was totally not what WWF was about at the time and considering ECW hadn’t even debuted on PPV yet it’s unlikely most people had any clue who they were, making it at least an attraction. Bad show but very interesting form an historical standpoint.


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2 Responses

  1. The Killjoy says:

    Good grief! 1000 in attendance? That’s smaller than the Impact Zone. Was WCW really doing that much damage?

    • Thomas Hall says:

      Nah the Manhattan Center is just really small. That was a place they hit very often, back when New York was still their home base.

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