WWF MONDAY NIGHT RAW
February 17, 1997
Lief Cassidy . . . puts on another surprisingly watchable performance, considering his standing in the promotion.
Flash Funk . . . shows why he could have been a valuable member of the roster, if the WWF remembered what the first W stood for.
Psycho Sid . . . puts in a performance that’s probably better than anyone would expect from him.
MARC MERO vs. SAVIO VEGA
The match itself isn’t much more than a backdrop for the Ahmed Johnson run in, but there are a couple of nice moments. The best one is Mero’s dive onto Crush and Savio. Aside from that, Savio mostly just punches and kicks, and Mero doesn’t do much else other than perfunctory spots like arm drags. Sable gets involved, the NOD gets involved, and Ahmed shows up to run them off. But, the real disappointment is the facta that JC Ice had live microphone couldn’t cut a promo on Sable. That would have been guaranteed to be more entertaining than the match.
ROCKY MAIVIA © vs. LIEF CASSIDY (WWF Intercontinental Title)
I suppose it’s fitting that Snow gets something of a high profile match, after his performance the night before. The match is watchable, but it’s not exactly interesting. Rocky and Snow both target the arm, but they don’t do much else other than arm drags and basic armbar holds. Well, Snow does break out a juji-gatame, but it’s not for very long and the crowd doesn’t react to the hold anyway. If nothing else, Snow adds a nice touch by angling his body so that it looks like Rocky is bending his arm back as far as possible. Rocky gets the pin after a shoulder breaker so that the arm work actually has some meaning other than filler. The thought is appreciated, but the match itself is full of cutaways to Sunny as the time keeper, for HHH to cut a backstage promo, and for Lawler to snatch a sign from a kid in the front row. So it’s not like this was intended to be something engaging to the viewer.
MOSH/THRASHER vs. MATT HARDY/JEFF HARDY
The Hardys were a couple of years away from meaning anything, so this is just a quick squash for Mosh and Thrasher. Matt takes the brunt of the punishment. He bumps and sells just fine, but it’s not like the Headbangers are giving him a lot to work with. Matt gets worked over and makes the tag, and Jeff gets pinned after the Stage Dive.
OWEN HART vs. FLASH FUNK
This is easily the best match up to this point, which isn’t much surprise given who’s involved and that it gets a decent amount of time, despite its lousy finish. The match is mostly a spotfest, but the execution is spot-on and their exchanges, such as Owen’s surprise counter of Scorpio’s whip into a German suplex, are all very smooth. There are a couple of times that Scorpio oversells, like Owen’s lariat keeping him down for an inordinate amount of time so that Owen and Clarence Mason can argue. But, he makes up for it with how well he puts over the after effects of the German. After he kicks out, it’s clear that Scorpio is still a bit out of it and moving a little bit slower. Davey Boy interferes to help Owen win and seemingly patch up their differences, which makes the finish of their PPV match an even bigger waste of time. With twenty minutes to work, and a finish that isn’t so stupid, this could be a great pairing.
HUNTER HEARST HELMSLEY vs. BART GUNN
This is only here as a backdrop for Goldust to run in, and play off the angle from earlier. The work is as stripped down as it gets, aside from the sequence from the night before where HHH ducks the lariat and hits his jumping knee. Somehow, Goldust running into the ring and chasing HHH out through the crowd results in a count out win for Bart, instead of the ref calling it as soon as Goldust entered the ring. Whatever.
BRET HART © vs. PSYCHO SID (WWF World Heavyweight Title)
I hate having to make a qualifier, like saying that this is good “for a Sid match” but that’s pretty much what this is. It’s watchable, but not much more than that. It’s probably most notable for Bret first using the ringpost figure four, but, he also adds a flurry of headbutts to Sid’s lower back and a few other basic spots to wear down Sid for the sharpshooter. Sid’s selling of his leg isn’t bad either, other than his use of the legdrop. He keeps it in mind rather consistently and even adds a great touch when he has to delay his second rope legdrop a bit. Sid’s execution of the sunset flip is as goofy as can be, but, the spot itself is a fine way to get to the sharpshooter. It puts over Bret’s mat skills, and it looks like Sid screwed himself by doing something that he’s unfamiliar with.
It seems like they telegraph the finish by having Bret turn Sid around before he gets the hold, so that Bret faces the ropes, which allows Austin to hit Bret with the chair. But, the position they were in after Bret rolls through the sunset flip would have had Sid facing the ropes. The ropes were close anyway, and with Sid’s height and reach, he’d have easily reached them to break the hold. Bret’s choices were to drag Sid across the ring or turn him around, and he obviously went with the one that required less effort. The other nice touch with the finish is that when Austin levels Bret, Sid was already trying to power out of the hold. As far as Sid knew, he’d broken the hold and then given Bret the powerbomb to win the title. It’s a stark contrast to the night before. Bret knew that Austin’s interference played to his benefit and he didn’t mind, since he got the title in the end. Meanwhile, there were two other occasions that Austin tried to get involved, and Sid stepped in both times, even though Austin attacking Bret would have been to his benefit. The heroic babyface, who wants justice and clean competition, is OK with his hands getting a little dirty when the ends justified the means. The quasi-heel wins the title on his own, without doing anything underhanded.
Conclusion: This is only known for Sid’s title win, but, once again, there a few inspired performances on the undercard, and unlike a PPV show, I think that makes this a worthwhile watch.