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[1997-01-13-WWF-Raw] Davey Boy Smith vs Rocky Maivia

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Last few minutes. Owen is at ringside for Davey Boy staring at Bret. Rock is pretty green here. Austin runs out and attacks Davey Boy's leg. But Owen has his back turned and won't let Bret make the save. Bret limps after him, still selling a knee injury from the previous week and again, the crowd isn't really into this. Proof that Austin was not an overnight sensation. Rocky wins by countout.

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Rock's bump after the doulbe nogging knocker was horrid. Incredible where he would be at just two years later. Austin is certainly not as polished as he would be in 1990 but the blueprint is there. Owen stonefaced staring down Bret is a cool visual. I liked the attack of Austin and Bret selling after him down the aisle with Owen stalking behind.

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Rocky with the Cactus clothesline to the outside. Austin attacks Bulldog for fun and Rocky gets the count out win. That was a weak Stunner on Bulldog. They were piping those Rock chants in big time.

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Interesting how slowly and organically the whole Hart Foundation coming together was happening at that time. Without being planned or even thought out at this point, really. WWF totally lucked out with so many things at this point, but it was so much more compelling to watch than the dull over-scripted product they've been delivering since the 00's.

 

Rocky is still basically Rocky Johnson Jr. at this point. Yeah, in two years he'll be the biggest star in the business, that's amazing when you think of it.

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Rocky has energy but he was definitely better off once he stopped aping his father's spots. The push was simply too much, too soon, even if he was a fit for the plucky blue-chipper character. He was a natural trash-talker heel who played football for the biggest heel college program maybe of all-time. Anyway, at this point they were still building to Austin vs. Davey Boy and Bret vs. Shawn at WM--this is a decent enough angle that also fosters the potential Owen/Davey Boy split, as Owen is too busy staring at Bret to notice Austin laying the Bulldog out. There's also a lot of weird peripheral stuff here--Honky Tonk Man is sitting in on commentary along with Bret, and Clarence Mason is still managing Owen & Bulldog and not doing much.

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The match isn't much. Rock hasn't figured out how to best use his charisma yet. It'll take him a little while longer. I liked Bret on commentary. The Rumble match is being built around Austin-Bret which is interesting. I do like the booking though with Austin attacking Bret on Superstars & Bulldog here seemingly taking out two of his biggest competition in the match. There's personal & business reasons for why he'd attack them which is a sign of strong, layered booking. Owen's role in all of this hasn't really been defined yet. I guess it leads to brief Davey Boy split down the line as he sort of sides with Austin at first. Owen stands in front of the commentary booth to prevent Bret from interfering in the match. This backfires allowing Austin to come out & attack Davey Boy. Bret limps after Austin & Rocky wins by count-out. Solid build to the Rumble adding intrigue with Bret & Davey Boy both being hurt leading into the match.

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I'm surprised the Bret/Austin program has not been hotter post-Survivor Series Lots of Austin sneak attacks the biggest being at Its Time. Bret got his receipt by Sharpshootering Austin during Vader match. Last week we saw Bret bail out Road Dogg when Austin clipped him. Bulldog has been anti-Austin since the attempted Pillmamizing in late November. He cost Austin a handicap match to two jabronis. Austin attacked Bret during Superstars the day before and Pillmanized Bret's leg. I guess what's weird is that Bret is obsessed with Shawn and then with the Championship so by proxy SID so it makes Austin seem like nuisance and 3rd on pecking order. Plus Austin hasn't gotten promo time in over a month. It makes sense given the booking of Austin/Bulldog which at best would probably be the 3rd or 4th biggest program had plans gone appropriately. Austin attacks Bulldog but Bret can't help because Owen is blocking his path but because Owens back is turned he doesn't know what happened. Bret & Owen give chase. It is funny that by accident the Hart Foundation vs Austin story is coming together.

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As a match this wasn't much and it's sort of hard to imagine Rock being the absolute megastar he'd become. But then that's the fun thing with the yearbooks, I guess (you know, getting to see it unfold). I wasn't sure why Bret was hobbling here but Sleeze's post clears that up. They may have lucked into the Hart Foundation/Austin stuff, but at least they had the sense to run all the way with it when the opportunity presented itself. 

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