Shotgun Saturday Night (02/08/97)

WWE.com

Lee Maughan: And with the whole Shotgun concept dead in the water, the WWF was unable to locate an actual nightclub for its final edition, instead setting up stall in Penn Station of all places, a public venue that resulted in the promotion being unable to make any cash back through ticket sales. Hey, maybe TNA could look into running here sometime?

Crush & Faarooq vs. The Godwinns
What an absolute armpit of an opener this promises to be. Still, if this truly is a celebration of all things Shotgun, one big final blowout, who better than these two cornerstones of the program? One can only hope Savio Vega is still to come. And yes, the fans are soon chanting “bWo! bWo!” as if just for old times sake. And how about a new one? “Nation sucks dick!” As all this is going down, the camera cuts to a split screen where Todd Pettengill can be found making fun of a bloke without any teeth. Really. What a jerk. And indeed, (drumroll please), Savio is here! Yay! An Irish whip and a double clothesline set up the hot tag and Phineas runs wild on both guys until Savio trips him from the outside. Phineas goes after Savio which sets him up for a charge from Crush, but he moves just in time and Crush decks Savio instead, so Phineas looks to follow with a Slop Drop but alas, Faarooq rips his head off with a clothesline to give Crush the three. Not bad given what I was expecting.
Final Rating:

WWF Intercontinental Title:
Hunter Hearst Helmsley (c) vs. The Undertaker
A title match! On Shotgun! This really IS a big final blowout! Helmsley arrives in a stretch limo, and Undertaker makes his way out through the crowd after showing up at the building in Ozzy Osbourne’s ‘Crazy Train’. Time of course for a commercial break just as the match begins, but back from that comes a full replay of Helmsley jumping Undertaker to start, but Undertaker no-selling it and destroying Helmsley in the corner instead. A whip into the corner sees the referee get bumped in just the spot Shotgun has been crying out for all these weeks, and Helmsley bashes Undertaker with the belt as we take another commercial break! Already?!

Back again with Helmsley going to work with choking, a snapmare, a face buster and series of stomps in the corner, but Undertaker gets the best of a slugfest. Helmsley comes back off an Irish whip with a swinging neckbreaker for two, and brings the belt back into play but misses on a big swing. Undertaker grabs the belt and uses it himself for (you guessed it) the disqualification. After the match, the crowd chant for a Tombstone but Undertaker gives them a chokeslam instead. Helmsley then tries to make a dash for it but Undertaker catches him on the way up the stairs and gives him a Tombstone onto an escalator, which an unconscious Helmsley rides all the way back to the ring in the closest thing to an iconic image this wretched show ever got. Fun, energetic stuff here.
Final Rating: **½

Savio Vega vs. Aldo Montoya
You know, if you asked me for my dream line-up before this show, as in “How do we go out with a bang on the last ever live edition of Shotgun?” I’d have hoped against hope that you’d book the guy with two “Least Entertaining” awards to his name against the bloke debuting on the show, with a yellow jockstrap on his head.

Savio runs through his usual, though thankfully forgoes the nerve pinching, and Aldo keeps it rolling with a hiptoss, two dropkicks to the outside and a plancha. Back in he gets two off a flying body press off the top but Savio takes control with knees to the midsection and some wicked chops. He works in his spinning heel kick in the corner and adds a delayed suplex, but soon enough he resorts to choking. In the meantime, roving reporter Pettengill has found a man named Terry who’s carrying an LJN Vince McMahon action figure in his pocket. “You still have the same jacket? 1985, you were like 40 then, right?” The rapture is upon us – Shotgun is coming to an end, and Todd Pettengill cracked a decent joke!

Back from a commercial, Savio is firmly in control as the crowd chants “We want 2 Cold!” I do too, but Flash Funk is the best you WWF fans are going to get I’m afraid. And NOW it’s time for the nerve pinch! Vince uses the dead spot to promote an upcoming Hector Camacho fight on pay-per-view, and before you know it, the Nation are brawling with the Godwinns at ringside. And you know what that means? Six-man tag team match, playa!
Final Rating:

The Nation of Domination vs. Aldo Montoya & The Godwinns
Back from the final mid-match commercial of the Shotgun era, and the Nation are busy getting heat on Aldo as Pettengill finds a woman in the crowd who wants to beat up another woman for stealing her man! “We already have midget wrestling!” decrees Todd. Back in the ring, Aldo catches Faarooq with a swinging neckbreaker after having eaten a backbreaker from Crush, and he goes for the hot tag but Savio cuts him off as the NYC crowd finally win me back over with a hearty chant of “Boring!” that even Vince himself can’t ignore. Aldo actually gets a false tag, so I guess we’re going all-in on this one, and the Nation give him another shit-kicking in the corner. He catches Savio with a missile dropkick off the top and it suddenly all breaks down, with Savio scoring the pin on Aldo amidst the chaos with a spinning wheel kick. The Godwinns did absolutely sod all in this, which was probably for the best.
Final Rating:

Back from one last commercial, and the actual purpose of the Godwinns’ presence is made clear – Phineas chases the still unidentified D’Lo Brown backstage and wildly throws his slop bucket all over Pat Patterson, stationed at the Gorilla position. Given the state of his Bill Cosby-style sweater, I’d say he deserved it. He threatens to come down to ringside and make out with Sunny since she thinks its so funny.

– And finally, Pettengill catches up with Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels who sends out a threat to the Nation. That would equal Faarooq vs. Ray Traylor in some other far off nightmare.

THE SHOTGUN RECAP:

 

Most Entertaining: It’s a toss-up between the Undertaker and Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Undertaker dished out the ass-kicking, but Helmsley took the ride down the escalator, so take your own pick there.

Least Entertaining: I didn’t really want to single any one person out tonight, but Savio Vega did use that fucking nerve pinch of his again…

Quote of the Night: “Welcome to Amtrak’s night train to hell! Ha ha ha!” – The Undertaker works in some corporate sponsorship in his own inimitable style.

Match of the Night: Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. The Undertaker.

Summary: And so to its chilling conclusion comes the WWF’s month-and-a-half experiment with producing a mildly risqué yet ultimately directionless live broadcast from a dingy New York dive. In actuality, the show continued on for several more years, though under a much different make-up. The next week’s show was simply a “greatest hits” from previous episodes (that’s right folks, it’s six sensational weeks of the Shotgun Saturday Night show!), while week eight saw content entirely regurgitated from the final Superstars taping. With RAW then switching to a two-hour weekly format and the cessation of all other WWF TV tapings, Shotgun was soon being recorded before (and occasionally after) RAW, a taping method that would continue with the addition of programming such as Los Super Astros, Sunday Night HeAT, Metal, Jakked, Velocity, Main Event, NXT and the revived Superstars.
Verdict: 35

Shotgun Saturday Night (01/18/97)

WWE.com

Lee Maughan: Three weeks in and there’s already a change to the format, as we’re out of New York and into San Antonio, with everyone in town for tomorrow’s Royal Rumble. In another change, Sunny has been replaced with Jim Ross, so she’s off line dancing with Dok Hendrix and Todd Pettengill. Line dancing? Oh, did I forget to mention Denim & Diamonds was a country and western grill? Brace yourselves for a rootin’, tootin’ hour folks!

Rocky Maivia vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley
Hunter arrogantly declares this a tune-up match before his meeting with Goldust tomorrow, and basically promises to f*ck Marlena once he’s done. Believe it or not, this is actually the very first HHH-Rock singles match on record (hey, they had to start somewhere), and it’s really rather good. Rocky has so much poise for a guy with so little experience at this point, and the only other guy I can think of in recent memory who managed to get just as good in a similarly short span of time is probably Kurt Angle. Credit to Hunter too, who takes a typically solid ass-kicking while leading the match. Rocky runs through his basics until Helmsley hits an inverted atomic drop, and suddenly there’s a python in the ring! And in true Saturday Night’s Main Event fashion, a mid-match incident means it’s time for a commercial break!

The action picks up with Jake Roberts at the announce desk, doing a wonderful job of selling the Royal Rumble match tomorrow. In the ring, Hunter is back in firm control, but Rocky continues to fight back with a high cross body. Helmsley fires back with a knee crusher for two, but Rocky lands a powerslam as Marlena makes her way out to ringside. A dropkick of course sends Helmsley to the floor when Goldust suddenly steps out of the shadows, and Hunter opts to flee rather than fight, giving Rocky a count-out win. Very fun stuff as it was all action-meets-angle, meaning Helmsley had no time to work in his usual chinlockery and/or other assorted tedium. Very enjoyable stuff, especially with a red hot crowd that was completely into everything here.
Final Rating: ***

 

– Elsewhere, Dok, Todd and Sunny run through a country-fied version of ‘The Macarena’. As if the song itself wasn’t bad enough, try to imagine it drenched in backwater fiddles.

– Meanwhile, the Honky Tonk Man cheats a couple of luchadores out of their pesos over at the blackjack table.

– Back in New York, Mr. Backlund is losing his mind over morality.

 

Histeria & Mini Mankind vs. Venum & Mascarita Sagrada
This is actually a mixed match as Sagrada and Mankind are minis, but Venum and Histeria are full-sized luchadores. Venum is probably best known as Venum Black, having previously worked under a mask as Power Raider Rojo. Histeria you’ll likely know better as Super Crazy. It’s the regular luchas who start, popping the crowd with a back-and-forth sequence that concludes with Venum sending Histeria to the outside with a pair of head scissors and following with a springboard plancha. The minis follow with a sequence of their own, Sagrada landing a flying crossbody to the floor on Mini Mankind, and that’s the cue for Steve Austin to hit the announce booth, which is both a blessing and a curse. He’s wildly entertaining of course, rambling on about people trying to censor him because of his foul language and promising a Royal Rumble victory tomorrow night, but the whole thing results in a split-screen that takes the focus off the actual match. It’s like someone in the production truck didn’t realise that you could still hear Austin without the need for a close-up of his mug (or more likely, figured most people would somehow find high-flying, mask-emblazoned superhero wrestlers too dull to pay attention. Kevin Dunn, I’m looking at you). At this point, they seem to start running through some of the same spots, as often seems to happen in lucha matches owing to the wildly different psychology down Mexico way, but it’s kind of hard to tell when the action is all squished into a little box at the side of the screen. Venum misses a corkscrew moonsault and Histeria lands a sitout powerbomb for the win. More good stuff here.
Final Rating: **¾

– Meanwhile, George and Adam are already at the Alamodome.

– And now for something completely different as in a total surprise, Pettengill brings out Texas legend Terry Funk, who’s determined to get himself over kicking and screaming with an incredible, out-of-control promo:

“Yeah! I’m home! This is my state! This is my town! I’m in the heart of Texas, where I wanna be Pettengill! This is where I wanna be and everyone out here knows I’m a windmilling, piledriving, neck-breaking, back-breaking, bear-hugging, wrist-locking, knee-dropping, toe-holding son of a son of a gun, meaner than a rattlesnake, tougher than shoe leather, and more dangerous than a hollow-eyed scorpion, and I am ready to rumble!

Now, I wanna know what number I’m going to be in that ring. What number am I going to be? Am I going to be number 1 or am I going to be 29? To hell with number 15, I wanna walk out there with that first man. George Bush and the representatives of Texas designated me as their Texas member. I wanna start the Rumble, and I wanna end the Rumble, and I wanna start that Rumble not tomorrow night, how ‘bout a one-sided rumble with you right now Pettengill? How about a rumble with you?

 

Well is there somebody else out there? I am looking for anybody! Where’s a person that wants to rumble with me? There’s not a person in the WWF that wants to rumble with me! Not a person in the WCW, those bunch of snake-sucking scumbags, they don’t have an athlete enough for me! I’m looking around here, where’s Vince McMahon? That Yankee BASTARD!

I realise this is live! Hey Pettengill! Give me the microphone! How about rumbling with you? Your mother’s a whore! If you don’t like that, why don’t you rumble a little bit? You wanna rumble Pettengill? No! No you don’t! Is there anybody here? Where are you Jim Ross? Where are you, you Oakie asshole! Where are you?!


Oh. Oh. Come on ‘Stone Cold!’ ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin! Do you wanna rumble? Do you have the guts to get in the ring? How about you? This is live! How about you? I’ll lay here on the ground for you Austin! Come on! Yes! Nobody’s got the guts! I’m staying out here for the rest of the show! Come on! Where’s your guts Austin? I want a rumble! I wanna rumble!”

Austin finally responds to the challenge with a brief brawl into the commercial break. This was exactly the kind of segment Shotgun was crying out for, not that goofy karaoke shit with Pettengill the last couple of weeks.

Faarooq vs. Jesse Jammes
I guess I spoke too soon, as Pettengill joins Jammes for his latest rendition of ‘With My Baby Tonight’, joy of joys. Hilariously, as well as this might play out in an actual country and western bar, Jammes’ mic isn’t working so nobody can hear it anyway. Brilliant. And then the WWF further endears themselves to the hometown crowd by having Faarooq squash Jammes with a spinebuster and the Dominator in around two minutes after some token offence from Jammes. I know why you’d put Faarooq over with his Royal Rumble showdown against Ahmed Johnson just a day away, but why would you have the country bumpkin be the one to do the honours in a hillbilly bar when so many other perfectly sacrificial guys were in town?
Final Rating: SQUASH (Not rated)

 

Steve Austin vs. Goldust
Goldust’s on-screen graphic comes complete with the caption “What does his daddy think?” Chuckle. Once again, timing issues with the show mean this main event will only have about four minutes before going off the air, which exactly doesn’t bode well after last week. And speaking of last week, we never did see the finish to Doug Furnas & Phil LaFon vs. the Headbangers (Furnas & LaFon won), and what happened to Goldust’s pregnancy anyway? Not that I particularly wanted to see such a thing, but that’s such a blatant bait and switch. JR does at least address it by calling the rumours “off the mark”, and Vince calls it “an attempt at a little humour.” Yes, very little humour.

Austin starts by stomping his usual mudhole before Goldust fires back with a clothesline and takes over, but astonishingly, there’s still a commercial break that needs to be shoehorned in. Back from that, Terry Funk returns and attacks Austin, causing the disqualification, then Faarooq, the Headbangers and the Godwinns all dive into the ring for a mini Rumble. Hunter Hearst Helmsley soon slithers out and chokes out Goldust with a pool cue, as Austin backdrops Funk into a Bud Light beer tub.

 

THE SHOTGUN RECAP:

 

Most Entertaining: How could it be anybody but Terry Funk?

Least Entertaining: Not an easy award to give out this time, but we’ll go with Jesse Jammes for his microphone problems. A blessing to many no doubt, but he had his target audience right here, only for his equipment to crap out just in time for him to get his head caved in by Faarooq. Good going, Jesse!

Quote of the Night: Terry Funk’s promo, as transcribed in its entirety above.

Match of the Night: Rocky Maivia vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley.

 

Summary: Good wrestling, wild brawling and crazy promos made this by far the best episode of Shotgun yet, and in truth, I can’t imagine that status ever changing once things move back to NYC.
Verdict: 73

Armageddon ’99

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Arnold Furious: 1999 had been a rocky year for in-ring and the December PPV has always been a bit of a downer. The WWF often struggled to think of things to fill the dead space with between the twisty Survivor Series (this year headlined by a surprise Big Show title win) and the inevitable Road to WrestleMania beginning in January. 1999 was no exception and this PPV was headlined by Triple H and Vince McMahon, doing battle over the future of Stephanie. Almost a battle for control of her soul. The rest of the card contains little of historical value.

 

Tangent: the main event of Sunday Night Heat was Al Snow beating Test. If the WWF had any belief in Test he’d have main evented the PPV, as he was most obviously wronged by Triple H stealing his fiancé and pre-marrying her before their RAW marriage. Vince would have been better served to corner Test here and gain another main eventer rather than once again having a McMahon headline. I think the fans began to turn on McMahon presence on TV around this time and quite rightly so. It was becoming too much.

 

We’re in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Hosts are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler.

Survivor Series ’99

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James Dixon: The last few versions of this show have been pretty monumental. The previous year was the “Deadly Game” tournament to crown a new WWF Champion, which The Rock won after a heel turn and a night where there was next to no wrestling worth shouting home about. The year before was the infamous Montreal Screwjob, about which enough has been written already. 1996 saw Sycho Sid dethrone WWF Champion Shawn Michaels to thunderous applause, while on the undercard Steve Austin and Bret Hart assembled a bona fide classic. 1995 and 1994 both saw title changes too, with Bret Hart winning the title from long time champion Diesel in ’95, having lost it to Bob Backlund in a very long and mostly boring bout in ’94. Plenty to live up to then, and this show will be remembered long into the future too, but for something stupid and idiotic rather than monumental…

 

Rebellion ’99

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James Dixon: Held live in Birmingham, England on October 2nd 1999, this is the second UK exclusive pay-per-view event of the year, following the woeful No Mercy in May, and the similarly crappy Capital Carnage in 1998. In fact, the WWF’s track record on British shores had been pretty dire prior to those also, with the likes of Mayhem in Manchester and Battle Royal at the Albert Hall as well as the host of UK Rampage shows, all failing to deliver a quality experience for WWF fans across the pond. Only One Night Only in 1997 and the excellent SummerSlam ’92 have impressed, so expectations are not high here, especially in a year that has seen the WWF’s PPV output at home come up seriously short in the quality stakes. Glancing through the card on offer hardly inspires confidence either. One notable thing regarding the show is that it is the last to be polluted by Vince Russo and his particular brand of horrible booking, as he and Ed Ferrara both upped and left the company three days later. Ding dong, the witch is dead! Nearly…

 

Jim Johnston’s cobbled together track ‘Rebellion’ plays us in, and it just sounds like the backing track in the Rock’s theme on a loop. The crowd is red hot and there is a sea of signs as far as the eye can see. Jim Ross and Michael Hayes host…

No Mercy (UK)

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Lee Maughan: Hosted by Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. Shane McMahon brings out the Corporate Ministry to kick things off with a bang, with a series of tiresome lines about showing “no mercy” to any of their opponents, bringing the damaged-beyond-repair European title “out of retirement for one night only” for his match with X-Pac, and revealing that tonight’s main event will now be “governed under no holl barls… rules.” Well that cleared that up.

No Mercy ’99

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Arnold Furious: This is a show I begged off James Dixon as I wanted to see the famous ladder match again. I could just watch it by itself, but I never seem to get time for such leisurely activity when we have tapes to review. This came from a time when I was meticulous about recording details of shows, and inside the tape case is a complete match listing of the show, complete with the star ratings I gave out at the time. If only I’d been so meticulous when it came to cataloguing my Japanese tape collections, which appear to have been dumped in large cardboard boxes with no labelling whatsoever. I probably have 40 unmarked VHS tapes in my collection that are completely unidentifiable without sitting down and watching the tape. With all the Japanese matches that have found their way onto YouTube since I acquired all these tapes it makes such a job both excruciatingly dull and utterly pointless. But I’ll hang on them anyway in case I one day need a load of random Japanese matches from the 1990s to keep me amused.

 

We’re in Cleveland, Ohio. Hosts are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. No Mercy has some of the most unfortunately awful theme music of all time. It’s a rubbish techno soundtrack with about three notes repeated over and over again. Garbage.

Unforgiven ’99

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James Dixon: This is a very notable show for one very good reason: it marked the final time Vince Russo and his poisoned pen would ever scribe anything for pay to air television in the WWF. A momentous occasion certainly, and as the tremendous year 2000 will prove, they were far better off without him. Russo’s departure was typical of him, as he let himself become consumed with his own hype and started to genuinely believe that he was the one-man-band who single-handedly turned the WWF around. Everyone with any smarts knows the truth: that Russo threw a million ideas at the wall and Vince McMahon filtered the worst and went with the “best”. Russo jumped ship to an ailing WCW in an attempt to turn their fortunes around, but ended up tanking the company in record time, proving to everyone what they already knew: that he was a complete and total blowhard fraud. It is hard to suppress a large grin at his fate.

 

We get a shot of all the WWF referees, who are outside the venue picketing over unfair working conditions. Scab referees have been appointed for the matches tonight. The fact that anyone involved in the WWF is trying to put together a union is just dripping with irony and smacks of McMahon lording it over anyone who has ever tried.

 

SummerSlam ’99

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James Dixon: We are in Minnesota, home of one Jesse Ventura, and the Governor is the special guest referee for the triple-threat main event tonight. Ventura gets into a debate with Triple H about following the rules, to which Hunter reacts like a petulant, whiny child. That is the way he came across to me for the entirety of his heel run prior to winning the WWF Title for the first time, with him acting like he had some sort of God-given right to the gold. Frankly after some of his performances from 1995 through 1997, he is lucky he even kept his job.

Backlash ’99

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Arnold Furious: This show comes right on the back of the WWF’s hugely underwhelming WrestleMania XV show, one I really detested. I think WMXV was the first big disappointment from the Attitude era. There had been other poor shows, but for a WrestleMania to not deliver in the midst of the biggest wrestling boom since the height of Hulkamania just seemed unacceptable to me. Eager to ensure Backlash didn’t fail, the WWF set about re-booking WrestleMania. They switched Mankind vs. Big Show into a Boiler Room Brawl, as opposed to the dull, straight-up match they had at ‘Mania, and gave Austin and Rock room to breath in their big rematch. 1999, arguably, only has three decent PPV events and Backlash is one of them. 1999’s event was the first Backlash PPV. It would continue on the schedules until 2009.

 

We’re in Providence, Rhode Island. Hosts are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. The main event has recently been declared No Holds Barred, apart from Austin touching referee Shane McMahon, which is a DQ and results in a title change. Got that? Good.