The SmarK Rant for WWF Monday Night RAW–03.31.97

(So this week’s RAW/Nitro double shot is the end of my original 24/7 rants from 2007, as Sasktel pulled the plug on the channel shortly after I wrote this one and I never got any further.  I’m still not sure how to proceed at this point, especially because Nitro is turning into a boring slog at this point in the timeline and I’m not really wanting to devote two hours a week to reviewing it. Maybe I’ll just continue with RAW?  Cut down to one a week and alternate RAW and Nitro?  Just do more Observer Flashbacks?  I dunno, we’ll let it play out and see how it goes.)   

– Taped from somewhere not mentioned.

– Your hosts are Vince, JR & King.

European title: The British Bulldog v. Owen Hart. Now this is what I’ve been waiting for. Owen baseball slides Bulldog to cut off his entrance and sends him into the stairs. He rams Bulldog’s back into the post, and springboards back in with a bodypress for two. Owen hammers Bulldog down, but they slug it out and Bulldog wins that one. Until Owen kicks him in the little Davey Boys. Owen throws forearms in the corner and catches Bulldog with a clothesline on the rebound for two, and we hit the chinlock. Bulldog fights up, but runs into Owen’s knee. Owen tries the Sharpshooter, but Bulldog powers out so Owen goes to a rear chinlock instead. Bulldog fights out and blocks another knee attempt by Owen with a rollup for two. Nice little callback there. Blind charge hits knee, however. Bulldog with a backslide for two, but Owen dropkicks him for two. Piledriver and we take a break. Back with Owen taking Bulldog down with a legdrag, and a suplex gets two. Back to the chinlock, but Bulldog fights out until Owen elbows him down again. To the top, but Owen’s missile dropkick misses and Bulldog puts him in a Sharpshooter. Badly. Owen quickly escapes and hits the enzuigiri, and they fight to the top. Bulldog sends Owen down, but Owen shoves him to the floor in response and follows with a pescado. Bulldog catches him and slams him on the floor, and back in for the Bulldog comeback. Clotheslines and a catapult into the corner get two for Bulldog. Faceplant gets two. Backdrop and he clotheslines Owen to the floor, and follows him out for a suplex on the ramp. Back in the ring, Bulldog gives him a hairtoss and follows with a press slam for two. Ref is bumped and Owen levels Bulldog with a leg lariat, then grabs the Fink’s chair. Bulldog clotheslines him into it and they threaten each other, but Bret Hart runs in and tells them both to knock it off. No finish at about 12:00. ***1/4 The champs keep fighting and Bret pushes them apart and calls a truce. Bret then gives his famous speech about family values and how this crowd isn’t worth fighting for. Bret rages about the American media turning families on each other, and how the WWF pushed them apart. Bret has a great moment with Owen, and the three men hug to reunite the Hart family and kick off the biggest angle of 1997. The crowd doesn’t really know what to make of this, but soon they would.

Ironically, after Bret’s speech about family values, Sunny joins us for commentary.

El Mosco v. Super Nova. The luchadors trade armdrags and Mosco gets a leg lariat, but misses a blind charge. Nova gets a powerslam for two. Powerbomb gets two. Sunny and Vince totally ignore the match and do PPV plugs and Spanish jokes. Nova goes up with a bad rana from the top rope and Mosco bails, so Nova follows with a somersault tope. Back in, Nova whiffs on a moonsault and Mosco powerbombs him into a springboard moonsault for the pin at 3:53. Blown spots galore here. **

– Jim Ross interviews LOD about their upcoming title match with Bulldog & Owen at In Your House. Nothing of note here.

Jesse Jammes v. Jerry Fox. Jammes overpowers Fox and dumps him, then follows with a clothesline off the apron. Back in, pumphandle slam finishes quick. Honky Tonk Man offers him the spot as his new protégé, but Jesse smashes up his guitar and refuses.

Savio Vega & Crush v. Rod Bell & some other jobber. Just a squash. The Nation wins with Demolition Decapitation at 3:17.

Hour #2!

– Paul Bearer heads out and begs Undertaker to take him back again as manager. Undertaker teases acceptance, but then beats up Bearer instead. Paul runs away, and Mankind attacks Undertaker from behind, and hits him in the face with a fireball. Sid makes the save and chases Mankind off, but he’d be gone from the promotion before they could even get to the PPV.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Goldust. No valets tonight. Goldust attacks to start and hammers away in the corner, then tosses him into the turnbuckles as HHH bumps around. Goldust with the bulldog on the rebound, and Hunter bumps out to the floor. Back in, Hunter goes to the eyes, but Goldust hits him with a butt-butt. Bodypress misses and Goldust hits the floor, allowing HHH to follow with a baseball slide. Hunter does some posing in the ring while Goldust recovers, and it’s back in for a high knee. Hunter stomps a mudhole in the corner and follows with a neckbreaker for two. Kneedrop gets two. We hit the chinlock as things drag along, and HHH gets a DDT for two. Goldust comes back, but hits knee in the corner and gets dumped again. HHH follows with an axehandle off the second rope, to the floor, as Chyna joins us on the ramp. We take a break and return with Goldust hammering away in the corner, and the Curtain Call gets two before Chyna runs in for the DQ at 9:49. Total snoozer. *1/2 Hunter and Chyna continue beating on Goldust, but a fleet of referees and Pat Patterson break it up, and Patterson goes after HHH as revenge for getting beat up by Chyna previously.

– Steve Austin joins us to give his mission statement: He never said “I Quit”, Bret didn’t bust him open, he doesn’t care if people cheer or boo him, and if Bret’s got any guts he’ll put on his pink panties and come out to face him. Bret interrupts on the TitanTron and promises to make Austin look even worse than he did at Wrestlemania 13 the next time they meet.

Intercontinental title: Rocky Maivia v. Bret Hart. Here’s another later dream match. Unfortunately, Bret was retired by the time Rocky got good enough to carry his end in that kind of main event, so it never would have happened. Bret stalls outside to start and they start with Rocky taking him down with a headscissors. They trade armbars and Rocky gets a crossbody for two. Bret tries another wristlock, but Rocky reverses to his own armbar again. Bret takes him down with a knee, however, and pounds on the neck. Clothesline and Russian legsweep set up the legdrop, and Bret chokes him out in the corner. And we take a break. Back with Bret working on the back, into a backdrop suplex for two. Rock comes back with a small package for two, but Bret elbows him down again and follows with a backbreaker, but misses an elbow off the middle rope. Fisherman’s suplex gets two for Rocky. Belly to belly gets two. Hurricane DDT and Rock goes up with a flying bodypress, which Bret rolls through for two. Rocky goes after him in the corner like a sucker, and Bret pulls him down and applies the ringpost figure-four until Hebner rings the bell, rings the fucking bell at 10:34 for the DQ. Steve Austin uses the moment to attack Bret, but the Hart Foundation makes their first official run-in appearance and they all beat up on Austin like a big happy family. The LOD makes the save and we’re out.