Shotgun Saturday Night (01/25/97)
Bret Hart vs. Mankind
Owen Hart joins Vince McMahon and Sunny at the announce table for this one, tights and all even though he’s not actually wrestling tonight. He and Bob Holly did lose to the Godwinns earlier in the day however. Mankind starts by crawling after a pair of go-go dancers in assless chaps until Bret makes the save and gives Mankind a pounding. Another dancer swinging around on a rope prompts Sunny to declare the scene “not for my virgin eye!”
They brawl around ringside for a while in uninspired fashion, though admittedly the guardrails are so close to the ring that it’s practically impossible to do anything out there, so they head inside where Bret breaks out a snap suplex and a leg drop. Mankind’s in the mood for a fight however, so they brawl up to the commentary position where Bret hits a suplex on the stage. Mankind quickly takes over and gets a legdrop for two, but Bret evades a charge and Mankind hits the deck again as we head to a commercial.
Back from that, Bret crotches Mankind on the guardrail before the annoying New York fans start chanting “HBK!” just to piss Bret off, and then wouldn’t you just know it? The now-standard “bWo! bWo!” chants break out, lead by Lenny the Superfan, a/k/a Faith No More Guy, who you might recognise from many WWF and ECW front rows of the late 90s. And yes, Vladimir is stationed next to him, just as he was in Texas last week. Bret clotheslines Mankind and sends him into the steel steps, just in time to cutaway to Todd Pettengill who’s found a woman in a fuzzy bra, which in his mind somehow makes her “Princess Leia.” Ugh. Mankind gets a crappy double arm DDT which Bret just basically forward rolls through, then misses another charge in the corner as Bret goes into the big finishing sequence: Side-Russian legsweep, bulldog headlock, spinning neckbreaker, side backbreaker, clothesline, Sharpshooter. And then Owen jumps in for the lousy DQ finish, the plague of Shotgun Saturday Night. Pretty average match if all be told.
Final Rating: **¼
Savio Vega vs. Rocky Maivia
Earlier today in Madison Square Garden, Savio turned his back on tag team partner Ahmed Johnson and apparently sided with the Nation of Domination. Savio apologises for his actions, claims to really like Rocky, and promises a good, clean match. The crowd immediately start on the “Rocky sucks!” chants, and one guy has the temerity to shout “Boring!” less than a minute into it. What a tail end. And then the “bWo!” chants break out again! Who knew the Blue Meanie was such a clubhead? Faarooq and Crush arrive at ringside in time for a round of “Die Rocky, Die!” chants, and then the crowd decides it wants the Legion of Doom back. Give it a month, lads. Rocky shows the same fire he has the previous couple of weeks, but Savio keeps dragging things down with a series of trapezius holds and armbars. In fairness to the guy, he’s already wrestled once today, but it’s a real comedown after his energetic performance two weeks ago. Savio throws Rocky over the top to the floor and Rocky injures his knee for the count-out (the kind of finish you might expect them to run before the Royal Rumble, not after it) to cap off a truly crappy match. Savio joins Faarooq and Crush in destroying Rocky after the match, then throws up his fist in support of the Nation. Bleh.
Final Rating: ½*
– Elsewhere, Jake Roberts makes out with Revelations. I know this is late-night but do we really need bestiality on the show?
This is not for my virgin eye!
Jake Roberts vs. Salvatore Sincere
Hunter Hearst Helmsley (whose friends call him “Bob” according to his comical on-screen graphic) joins the commentary team to mock Jake’s demons (and why would you book an alcoholic in a nightclub anyway?), and throw out a series of snappy lines. “This is the World Wrestling Federation, where the big boys don’t have time to play!” he declares in a pot-shot at WCW. “Hey McMahon, that Rocky Johnson had a real good match earlier on! Good play-by-play too.” Vince apologises for messing Rocky’s name up before an odd discussion on New York sexuality arises – “Around here, straight’s not the way to go… from what I hear.” Responds McMahon, “Yes, there are some luminaries around here.” Luminaries?! The crowd starts chanting “bWo” yet again, which has long since grown tiresome, and Jake finishes a routine squash with the DDT in what would actually prove to be his final televised match in the WWF.
Final Rating: SQUASH (Not rated)
– During the break, Helmsley gives poor Sal a Pedigree after declaring himself “second best”, owing to his status as Intercontinental Champion. Quite the night for old Bob.
Crush vs. Sycho Sid
This might have held some intrigue if it had been 1992. Sadly it’s 1997, so Sid just kicks his ass for a while until it’s time for a commercial break. Well of course it is, what with time running so low yet again. Back from the break and the Nation have found their way out to ringside, giving Crush the advantage. He goes for the heart punch but Sid goozles him instead for a chokeslam. He follows that with a powerbomb but the Nation get involved, leaving Sid to grab a chair which he absolutely belts Crush with, causing the DQ. Way too long for what it was, even with time running out and the adverts eating up a good three minutes of it.
Final Rating: ½*
THE SHOTGUN RECAP:
Most Entertaining: Mankind. His match with Bret was nothing to write home about but he was still willing to get bumped around on wooden stages and steel guardrails for my viewing pleasure, plus he provided amusement with his pre and post-match pursuit of a couple of strippers.
Least Entertaining: Savio Vega by a country mile. His shifting personality work was fine, but man alive were those rest holds ever tedious.
Quote of the Night: “I know you would do anything keep Bret Hart in the World Wrestling Federation!” – Sunny adds fuel to the fire of conspiracy theorists everywhere as she address Vince McMahon after Bret “quit” the WWF last Monday on RAW.
Match of the Night: Bret Hart vs. Mankind. Outside of a few house show matches in England and Germany and a handful of six-man tags on RAW and at live events, this is actually the only high-profile in-ring meeting between Bret Hart and Mick Foley caught on film, giving it a curiosity value above its actual quality.
Summary: Not a good show this week as everyone looked to be on autopilot after pulling double duty at MSG earlier in the day, and that Savio Vega match was interminable.