Something to Wrestle – RAW December 22, 1997
Release date: December 21, 2018
Recap by: Caitlin Lavelle
Splitting RAW into 2 Shows
This is, of course, a Holiday episode of RAW, but awkwardly it comes at a time when WWF is consciously shifting to a more adult product, which Bruce explains is a conscious effort to attract a more adult demographic for adult advertisers, namely beer companies. This is only a week after Vince McMahon’s “shades of gray,” PSA (good guys and bad guys are passé).
In an attempt to get ahead of negative press about their mature content, WWF is trying to differentiate RAW into 2 shows: Monday Night RAW & RAW is WAR. Kevin Kelly & Michael Cole announced the first hour, while Jim Cornette and JR hosted the second (Because Vince wasn’t crazy about the Cornette-Ross ‘Southern’ pairing, Cornette eventually replaced with Lawler…who Conrad, of course, mentions is from Memphis). Bruce says the two show model was also done to differentiate ratings, saying that 2 shows meant 2 separate ratings for advertisers.
DX and The European Championship
A lot of this show is centered around DX – Triple H, Shawn Michaels and Chyna. Bruce calls this silent bodyguard version of Chyna his favorite. This is also when Triple H and Shawn Michaels disrobe, with the ‘Censored’ graphic ‘covering them up’. Bruce says they actually went out and bought the robes DX was wearing and didn’t steal them from a hotel (they look like Hotel robes).
Sergeant Slaughter makes a match between Shawn Michaels and Triple H for European Championship. This will of course lead to the main event, where Shawn Michaels, who is also the WWF World Heavyweight Champion at this time, will (almost) immediately lay down and allow himself to be pinned by Triple H for Hunter to become the new European Champion.
Bruce & Conrad both argue that this segment is different that WCW’s infamous “finger poke of doom” match, that the context was much more nuanced, and that this segment was nicely done.
Bret Hart’s Survivor Series 1997 Fallout
Bruce & Conrad also discuss the continuing fallout from Survivor Series 1997 at this time. They talk about many of Bret Hart’s comments given around this time, including:
- That he would never attend a WWF Hall of Fame Ceremony even if he was being inducted.
- That he didn’t curse on-air on purpose during the well-known segment where a ‘frustrated’ Bret went off on Vince McMahon at ringside prior to the screw job.
- That he didn’t let his kids watch RAW since the day after Pillman’s death when the company aired the Melanie Pillman interview.
- And Calling Owen coming back to WWF a “Pimp forcing a ho into prostitution.”
Bruce says Bret was great at blurring the line between reality and fantasy.
Stone Cold Stuns Santa
Bruce and Conrad also talk about Stone Cold stunning Santa.
- This leads Bruce to a story about the USA Network being “up in arms” back in the day when Roddy Piper attacked Bobby Heenan when Heenan was dressed as Santa.
- Bruce reveals that the kid sitting on Santa’s lap during this segment was actually one of the Uso twins! So cute!
- Bruce also says this Santa was an indie worker who worked a Mountie gimmick on the independents.
- Bruce clarifies that Austin’s issue with Santa here was that he wasn’t the real Santa. Which is why he had to test the fake Santa. He also notes that the fans were into it and says, “Beating up Santa was over.” Bruce talks about sometimes wanting to beat up Santa, like when he got a chalkboard for Christmas and chalk in his stocking when he was a kid because he was, “poor.”
Ahmed Johnson’s Auto Accident
Bruce & Conrad discuss Ahmed Johnson being shelved after an ‘auto accident’. Bruce calls this accident, “suspect at best,” says WWF never got any information from a Doctor confirming it, and says the goal line for Johnson’s return kept moving back while Johnson kept questioning who he’d be working with at WrestleMania.
Bruce calls the 1997 iteration of The Undertaker, “too Pirate-y and Medieval” for his liking, but Conrad says this may be his favorite Undertaker. They discuss Undertaker missing shows at this time due to, “high blood pressure.” Bruce explains that Undertaker’s dad was sick, that Taker was flying back and forth from Houston to visit his dad anytime he got a chance, that he was also nursing injuries and, “trying to please everyone,” which Bruce says was wearing on Undertaker.
Bruce and Conrad once again discuss the controversy about who pitched the, “The Rock says,” promos to The Rock. Bruce digs in, saying Russo had no idea what to do with a returning Rocky Maivia, says it was his (Bruce’s) idea to put him in the Nation of Domination, that Russo called The Rock to pitch a heel turn (which the Rock wasn’t sold on), but that Bruce and JR called the Rock back to explain that The Rock could talk in the third person like Deon Sanders and that this, “intrigued,” The Rock.
Marc Mero, Sable, Kergan & Gordon Solie
They watch a Marc Mero & Sable segment where Sable comes out dressed in a full-coverage Rudolph Suit and Mero wrestles a pre-‘2 Hotty’ Scotty 2 Hotty. They also watch a Kurgan match. Bruce calls Kurgan one of the nicest guys in the Wrestling Business, says Don Callis had nice hair, and says Kurgan’s oddities gimmick came from Vince McMahon watching Kurgan dance at WrestleMania, loving it and wanting to give his character more personality.
They also talk about Vince McMahon not being a big fan of Gordon Solie’s work, the new talent coming into WWF at the time, and Dan Severn butting heads with Dory Funk.
Christmas Shopping for Vince McMahon
Unsurprisingly, Bruce tells Conrad that Vince McMahon is hard to buy Christmas presents for. Bruce says the Best gift he ever got Vince was a custom piece of artwork, featuring a plane flying over New York City pulling a banner that said, “Vince McMahon and Titan Sports: Not Guilty,” after the WWF steroid trial. Bruce says that, as far as he knows, this is still hanging in Vince’s home. Bruce says he’d usually just give Vince a sweatshirt or some other novelty gift.
Goldust & Luna Vachon
They also talk about Goldust, who came out dressed as a Christmas Tree with Luna Vachon to read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Bruce says the outfit by Kane’s ‘Christmas Monster’ character in Memphis. Bruce also says he loved Luna Vachon, calling her, “terrifying in real life.”
European Title Change
This brings Bruce & Conrad to the main event, where as previously mentioned Triple H ‘captures’ the European Title. Bruce highlights his, “favorite line,” where he says Shawn Michaels, “cries every time he’s in Lowell, Massachusetts,” (where this was shot and where Michael’s delivered his ‘lost my smile’ promo.
Overall, Bruce says this episode is a great example of the shift in the business at the time, that WWF was getting edgier and that they were trying to, “identify the line.”
While I’m not crazy about the watch-along format, this is a fun Christmas episode of RAW to revisit.
Caitlin is a wrestling fan who hopes to one day discover that she is the illegitimate daughter of Vincent Kennedy McMahon and the rightful Anonymous RAW General Manager. Until then, she’ll keep on living in Orlando, Florida with her husband and son.