It’s more or less halfway through the year, so we figured it would be as good a time as any to take a look back at what’s gone down so far on the Year in Rawview, and reflect on the best and worst of the year 1997 in WWF history. We’ve seen dozens and dozens of wrestlers, storylines, and matches, heard thousands of lines of dialogue and commentary, and seen our share of retarded audience members. We’ve watched over 70 hours of footage for this, and written roughly a million billion words … and we’re only halfway through the project. Hey, let’s do some celebrating!
Part One went up yesterday, where we covered such coveted awards as Best Crowd Participation, Best Mankind Quote, Best Tag Team, Worst Gimmick and Best Gimmick. For each category, both Adam and Dave will make a pick, and explain his case for it. Parts Three and Four are coming up next week, so hold tight. Let’s do this!
Throughout any given episode of Monday Night Raw, there are numerous storylines being worked through, sometimes even intersecting. Some are fun, others are boring. Some run too long, others too short. Here’s our picks for best storyline:
For this one, I’m actually going to pick one of our longer-running storylines, one that actually started in 1996 and we picked up at the start of ‘97, and is actually still going on midway through the year. And that’s Stone Cold Steve Austin and Bret Hart’s mutual hatred of each other. This one has provided us with some great mic work (thanks, Stone Cold), a lot of great match interruptions and in my opinion, one of our best matches so far this year when the two faced off at WrestleMania 13 in a submission match.
What’s really great about the storyline is just how many people have been brought into it, and still at it’s core, it’s just about these two dudes just fucking hating each other. Hart re-formed the Hart Foundation, and Austin was forced to team up with Shawn Michaels, who to be fair, already did hate Bret Hart. We got to see Bret Hart fully turn into a heel and really play up the Canadian angle, and we got to see Austin absolutely blow up up. Pretty much everything involving this storyline works for me.
I didn’t realize when I made my picks yesterday that Adam was going to turn this into a competition, so let me first say that he’s a piece of shit and his dog doesn’t love him. Now, with that out of the way (for the moment), my pick for best storyline: Vader Crisis!
This one was pretty short, lasting only for a few episodes, but it was handled in the silliest manner possible, with some awesome graphics, and even a racist drawing done by Jerry “the King” Lawler, which could only have been improved if it had been done in crayon … or poop. When a few WWF superstars went to Kuwait, Vader and Undertaker were allowed on a morning television program produced in the country. The host of the program asked Vader if wrestling was fake, and as the big, dumb psychopath that he is, Vader flipped out, grabbed the host by the collar, and threatened him before walking off. The host looked understandably shaken, and, if this was American TV, you can bet he’d have sued the shit out of Vader (if this wasn’t a planned event). This is Kuwait, however, and Vader’s a stranger in a strange land, so he was thrown in Kuwaiti jail (like American jail, but with more camels … uh, according to King).
He made it out without incident, and not much happened, but we were kept up informed with weekly updates from our broadcast team, even when they had nothing to say. I only wish we’d gotten to see his breakout.
Unfortunately, they can’t all be Austin vs. Hart. Something’s got to fill up that middle section of the show, after the big names have come out and talked and before they come back out to fight. And that’s where these come in handy:
There’s a few that fell really flat for me, but only one that really stood out as the worst storyline of the half-year. And that’s Phil LaFon and Doug Furnas trying to become popular. Early on in the year, they were getting a big push in the tag team division, as they were seemingly every week fighting Owen Hart and British Bulldog for the tag belts. Either the WWF thought these guys could blow up, or they were really just the only tag team around at that point. After a while, though, they disappeared and we got teams like Legion of Doom, Mankind and Vader, Headbangers, Stone Cold and Shawn Michaels, teams that were far more compelling and fun to watch. But then, after a long time with no screen time, these two assholes popped back up, complaining that nobody liked them. They cut promos to say they were an exciting team and had a lot to offer, and during their matches, Vince McMahon would say things like “These guys just haven’t seemed to catch on with the fans yet” or other similarly insulting remarks about how the fans haven’t taken to two fine wrestlers with no charisma, gimmick, mic skills or hook to draw you in. Fuck those guys and fuck the WWF for featuring them so heavily.
I already mentioned Goldust’s “I’m just a normal guy who loves his family and isn’t really some sort of alien fuck-monster” thing yesterday, so I’ll leave that one alone. Instead, how about Ken Shamrock’s “I HATE BULLIES!” thing? The fuck is going on here? I kind of get the feeling that whoever in the WWF hired Shamrock earlier in the year was just like “whoa, this dude is insane in the UFC, we gotta get him!” and just signed him on the spot without actually listening to the guy say something. Then, after realizing he had no charisma or public speaking ability, it was decided that Shamrock needed the simplest story possible: he just fights a bunch of mean people.
Take, for example, his fight with Vader at In Your House 15: Cold Day in Hell. The lead-up to it was pretty much this: Vader’s a big fat guy who hits people and is generally a rude guy, and Shamrock said he was a bully and didn’t like it. That’s it. They didn’t even repeat that a bunch of times, it was basically a once back and forth between them, maybe an interference here or there, but they barely even spoke! Then, a few moments before the match, McMahon looked at the schedule for the show, realized he’d forgotten to have someone write a storyline for them, and just blurted into the microphone “Buhhh, we just got word that Vader has attacked Ken Shamrock backstage!” Problem solved. They now have a reason to fight. Finally.
And that shit has been going on ever since. Shamrock has been getting more comfortable on the mic, but his boring, clean-cut nice guy image isn’t really working for me in general. Not that wrestling in general has too many lofty ambitions, but this whole thing is kindergarten stuff.
Bullies rule, Shamrock drools.
Yeah, this is an award of Gifs we [read: Dave] created. You want to tell us not to give ourselves an award on our site? Exactly. Go fuck yourself.
This one is a tough one, because Dave’s created a bunch of great ones, and this is really Adam writing this! This isn’t Dave editing what Adam wrote at all! Dave is the greatest!
now that Dave wrote all that stuff in my entry let’s continue. When I think about all the Gifs we’ve featured, really just one magical day comes to mind, and that day is May 25 of this year. On that day, Dave wrote a post he titled “Animated Gif of the Week: Goldusting Around.” In it, he features four gifs of Goldust doing some great Goldusting around, so make sure to go check those out. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but if I have to choose, I choose you!
Thanks Adam! That Raward really means a lot to me. Uh, Goldust also says “whatever.”
I have a bit of a different perspective on these gifs, I think, having spent so much time staring at each individual frame while producing them. So, while I want to say Mankind licking his lips is my favorite, I think my perception has been completely warped by it, and this may be more of a weird psycho-sexual attraction, rather than a valid opinion or objective evaluation. I just can’t control myself.
So I’ll go for something completely different: this gif of Paul Bearer … wagging his tongue around. Okay, it’s basically the same thing, but fatter. Fatter and better are the same thing, right? I don’t even know. But look at the guy, he’s like Jabba the Hutt after eating one of those gross space bugs he eats!
Paul Bearer Award for Best Voice
There are lots of people in the WWF have great speaking voices. You can’t argue that anyone but Stone Cold Steve Austin is the WWF’s best speaker, because if you did you’d look like a fool. He absolutely kills it every time. But his voice is just okay. But there are a bunch of people who are only amusing on the microphone because they have ridiculous voices. Here are our picks for Best Voice:
My pick for this one is the master and ruler of the world…Sycho Sid. What I like about Sycho Sid’s voice is that is only knows two ways of showing itself: an near-inaudible whisper and a HOLY SHIT WHY DID I LISTEN TO HIM WITH HEADPHONES ON SCREAM. We don’t know what his normal speaking voice is like, and that’s, I assume, because he doesn’t have one. And while this didn’t factor into my decision, it certainly validated it in my mind. When he talks, Sid doesn’t even say anything that makes sense. He just yells and whispers and at the end of it, you think he might have just died, but you’re not sure, and you can’t wait for his next promo.
I’m going Hawk on this one. If all he ever said was “Well!” like he opens every promo, I would still have no trouble giving him this award. Hearing his raspy squawk is one of my favorite things in the world; every time I hear that we’re going back stage for a few words from the Legion of Doom, I start bouncing around my room, waiting for him to say it. I don’t know if Animal is actually bad on the mic or what, but every time he interrupts Hawk, I get furious over it. Never deprive me of some Hawk vocals!
Recently, it seems as though the Legion has been playing up this strong suit, having Animal open the interviews, letting him plow through whatever it is he’s going to say, before passing things off to Hawk for whatever awesome, insane shit he’s going to bark out there. It builds the suspense, and keeps Animal from excitedly jumping the gun.
Oooohhh, what a rush!
Sycho Sid Raward for Speaking In a Reserved Manner
Well, as Adam just told us, Sycho Sid likes to scream a lot. So what better way to shame him into talking like an actual adult than to name a Raward after him for the person who speaks in the most reserved manner.
Here’s the deal, I’m picking Paul Bearer solely because I want to give Sycho Sid a Raward named after Bearer and want to give Bearer one named after Sid. That’s all there is to it. Bearer sometimes talks in a reserved manner, sometimes he screams. I don’t give a shit. Just let me have this.
(Also, a real choice for this one by me would be, fuck, I don’t know, British Bulldog. Dude can barely speak English, so he can’t really yell)
The obvious choice for this ironic Raward would be to give it to Sid: by this point in 1997, he just waits until his mic goes live, flips his “shriek” switch, and doesn’t stop until they cut away from him. But he’s already got the Raward since it’s named after him, so I’ll give it to Paul Bearer instead.
The guy speaks with an abnormally high-pitched voice, and it’s almost always a scream. Recently, it’s even been cracking, he’s pushing it so hard. I’m honestly starting to worry that he’s going to lose his voice before he can reveal Undertaker’s daaaaarrrrrk seeeecreeeet …
So there it is, Part Two of our midyear awards. Check back next week for Parts Three and Four.