The SmarK Rant for WWF Monday Night RAW – 04.07.97
Yeah, might as well start mixing these in again because NXT just isn’t moving the chains for the blog, I’m afraid.
RATED TV-MA! Sexual content, mature language and violence, apparently, aka Donald Trump’s Twitter account.
Taped from somewhere not mentioned. Muncie, IN, according to the Observer. No wonder.
HOUR #1: RAW is WAR!
Your hosts are Vince MAC-Man, Jim Ross and The Honky Tonk Man.
Owen Hart & British Bulldog v. The Godwinns
Owen, fresh off the reunion of the Hart Foundation last week, gives a magnificent heel promo before the match, threatening to beat the hell out of anyone who speaks out against his loving brother Bret or thinks that he should fight his brother-in-law. Also, Shawn Michaels should watch his mouth as well. Godwinns control the Harts to start with their scufflin’ ways and PIG gets all RILED UP. Jesus, Vince and his damn hillbilly fixation. Finally Owen comes in with a leg lariat on Phineas while Bulldog celebrates in over-the-top fashion, and distracts the ref while Phineas gets a backslide for two. Owen gets the Owenzuigiri for two and Vince is CONVINCED that it’s over. But it’s not. We take a break and return with poor PIG getting double-teamed by the Harts, but he comes back with a double clothesline and it’s hot tag to Henry. We cut to the LOD for a promo while the Godwinns are making their comeback, and Owen cheats and pins Henry with a double axehandle off the top at 9:40 while the inset promo is going on. ** The Road Warriors won’t stand for bad words being said against America, dammit! I feel like Hawk would have voted for Trump had he lived long enough. Just saying. The LOD come out to confront the champions, but the Godwinns accidentally slop them and they get into a brawl that quickly becomes a DONNYBROOK. Vince can’t get the hell off commentary in this ear soon enough. Also, it’s not like Hawk never woke up covered in pig filth, I’m pretty sure.
Meanwhile, Owen points out that Canadians don’t walk around with paint on their faces and carrying around slop buckets. Because we’re CIVILIZED. Owen and Bulldog were clearly having SO much fun at this point.
Stone Cold Steve Austin v. Billy Gunn
Honky comes out with Billy, so we’re supposed to believe that Billy is Honky’s secret protégé, I guess. Billy sticks and moves, so Austin just takes him down and beats on him to the delight of the crowd. Billy bumps around the ring like a clown and Honky is great on commentary, declaring “He’s doing fine! Every match has its peaks and valleys!” Meanwhile, Owen & Bulldog cut ANOTHER promo from backstage, threatening to go after Austin as well for daring to say things against their loving brother Bret. Back in the ring, Austin works the arm while the crowd chants for him to make the comeback after being in control for the entire match already. Gunn gets a cheapshot to take over while JR shills “Sunday Night Heat” on USA, ie three of their god-awful original series. Silk Stalkings! The Big Easy! Austin blatantly goes low on Billy, then flips off the ref behind his back and goes up, but Billy crotches him. What the hell was Austin going to do from the top rope, anyway? Billy misses a lariat out of the corner and KICK WHAM STUNNER finishes at 6:13. Gunn was completely squashed, and the crowd ate up every moment. *1/2 A disgusted Honky heads into the ring to give Gunn a dressing-down afterwards, and notes that there’s no shame in losing to Austin, but Billy’s going to have to step up his game with Honky’s help. He’ll get a nice haircut and some sideburns! And he can thank Honky later. So Billy lays him out and that’s that, I guess. Gosh, it sure would be a shocking swerve if Gunn joined up with Honky following that!
Meanwhile, Dok Hendrix, who once engaged in a blood feud with the Von Erichs and drew thousands every night, shills for an Undertaker door-hanging poster backstage with two kids. You used to be cool, Dok.
And now, a banner moment in WWE history, as The Commandant joins us, letting us know that the next episode of RAW comes from South Africa. Like, they couldn’t even spring for the $30 in whiskey needed to get Ed Wiskoski for this role as Col. DeBeers? This completely killed the crowd.
Shawn Michaels, who as you may have heard is flamboyant and outspoken, joins us to speak his mind on Bret Hart. Last week he got his ass kicked for flapping his jaw, and he’s well aware that this is a common occurrence for him. So Shawn reveals that he and Bret hate each other in real life, and Bret wasn’t just a “bad guy” last week, he’s always been one. Bret talks about family values, but he exploits his own family week after week for the money. Ouch. So let’s go back six years, when Bret was World champion for the first time, and Shawn put him over gladly to help the business, but when Bret was asked to return the favor, he did it kicking and screaming. And then Bret threatened to leave last year, and the company did great business with Shawn on top. WHAT?! Come on now, Shawn. Anyway, Shawn claims that Bret returning to the WWF for anything other than money is HORSESHIT. Whoa! And then some guy in the front row yells “What about you?” and Shawn goes on another rant about all the people throwing money at him, but he does it for Vince’s benefit because the fans want to see a guy “working his ass off.” Oh, Shawn was working all right. Back to Bret! Bret is obsessed with the WWF title (which is rich coming from a guy who weaseled out of pretty much every job he was asked to do as champion) and he’s obsessed with being Bret Hart 24/7, whereas Shawn goes home and separates the character from the man. He’s not wrong there. Anyway, fans are free to cheer for whoever they want, so don’t let some wrestler come out and tell you who to cheer for. Unless it’s Roman Reigns. Big finale: Shawn has heard a lot of guys selling themselves as role models and superheroes, but he never told anyone to grow up like him, but he’s going to work his ass off in the ring every night whether anyone likes him or not. So mark Shawn’s words: The WWF title will ultimately be Bret’s DESTRUCTION.
Owen and Bulldog have heard enough of this slander against their loving brother Bret, so they head out to kick some ass, and Shawn chases them off with a chair and presumably heads back to the dressing room to get piled on pills and fuck Sunny.
HOLY SHIT WHAT A SEGMENT. Unfortunately, according to the Observer, it got MURDERED in the ratings. But it was a crazy truth bomb dropped by the biggest hypocrite in the business at the time. And to think it would only get crazier from there. And they didn’t even hate each other in real life yet!
HOUR #2: The Warzone!
The Headbangers v. Barry Horowitz & Freddie Joe Floyd
Honky Tonk continues to valiantly work through a chipped tooth via Billy Gunn, but he’s not going to whine and cry about it like Shawn Michaels. Good for you, Honky! Horowitz works a headlock on Thrasher, but Mosh comes in with a clothesline on the middle rope to take over. And then we get a surreal moment, with an inset promo from VERNON WHITE, who went on to become a pretty good MMA fighter. He’s “fighting” Ken Shamrock tonight in an exhibition match tonight. The Headbangers continue to double-team Horowitz in this god-awful boring match while the announcers remind us that the show comes from South Africa next week, so it can always get worse. “Hot” tag to Freddie Joe while JR works in Jack & Gerry Brisco references for those who get the wink-wink joke with Freddie Joe Floyd. Stage dive finishes at 4:38, no one gives a shit. DUD
No Holds Barred Exhibition: Vernon White v. Ken Shamrock
I’m disappointed they didn’t screen the movie instead. Hogan and Zeus were doing “storyline becomes reality” storylines years before Vince Russo ever got into the business. Plus apparently I love Zeus now according to the OVP podcast I did last week. Hearing Vince hype up “Victor Belfor” is on another level of weird. This was just awful, with Shamrock doing some silly looking worked takedown attempts and then rolling around on the mat with him. So then White just unloads on him with a stiff kick, and Shamrock takes him down and throws punches until White taps at 2:00. And White was just busted open horribly off that, leaving huge splotches of blood on the mat. This was a disaster. This need an actual wrestler for Shamrock to “spar” with, not some poor MMA guy who’s never done a worked match. Vader comes out for words, and THAT would lead to quite the deal as well.
Vader v. Frank Staletto
Vader immediately clobbers this poor goof and destroys him with a german suplex ala Brock Lesnar, then beats the piss out of him in the corner and hits a Vader Bomb, setting up the powerbomb for the pin. Now THAT’S what Shamrock should have done in his debut. Just murdered some loser.
Meanwhile, on the Superstar Line, there’s violence in South Africa! Holy shit, that IS big news.
Meanwhile, Sid still isn’t here, so Gorilla Monsoon is going to get Steve Austin to wrestle Mankind in the main event instead. Austin lets him know what kind of bullshit that is, so Gorilla offers Austin a match with Bret Hart at the PPV as a gratuity. Wait, so an authority figure doesn’t just make matches off a clipboard and the wrestlers don’t have to just go meekly along with it? How about that.
Sid, by the way, had suffered a pretty gnarly car accident on the day of the show and that pretty much ended his WWF career aside from a one-off appearance before King of the Ring later in the year. So at least he had a good excuse. This time.
Mankind is out to explain his fire-throwing ways last week. Do we know how it feels to sit on a plane with the smell of your own charred flesh in your nostrils for 14 hours? BECAUSE HE DOES. Well, I mean, my apartment building did burn down once, so I can somewhat sympathize I suppose. However, I’ve never had children bombard my house with rocks and chant “Die, Mankind, Die”, so he’s still got one up on me. Mankind finishes with a poem about Presidential assassinations and ties it back into his title match with Undertaker on April 20. So you probably shouldn’t order the show if the smell of Undertaker’s burning flesh upsets you. Well, don’t worry, Mick, no one did order the show. Undertaker comes on the screen to cut a promo that sounds like he’s in the bathroom stall backstage. He’ll open the VAULT OF SOULS and BLAH BLAH BLAH. Is the vault of souls the toilet tank?
Mankind v. Steve Austin
They immediately brawl on the ramp and it’s yet another inset promo from the loving brothers of Bret Hart, and they’re DISGUSTED by the conspiracy against them and Bret, with Gorilla forcing Bret to fight the man he’s already fought, and BEATEN, twice. BRET’S BEEN SCREWED AGAIN. Meanwhile, Austin drops Mankind on the railing with a stungun and drops an elbow off the apron. Mankind stomps away from the apron, but Austin takes him down and gets an elbow for two, then goes to a chinlock. And as if we didn’t have enough Bulldog & Owen on the show, they’re watching from the crowd as well. We take a break and return with Mankind suplexing him back into the ring and back to the floor again. Back in the ring for a chinlock, but Austin escapes with a jawbreaker. Mankind tosses him and follows with the Cactus elbow off the apron, but Austin throws him off the ramp and into the railing. And then you wonder why Mick needs a hip replacement. Back in, they go up, but now the Harts hit the ring, as do the Road Warriors, and it’s just a big schmoz at 12:15 with supposed partners Vader and Mankind brawling with each other to end the show. Call it **.
Next week: The LOD faces The Godwinns as we get one of the undisputed worst episodes in the history of the show from South Africa, and RAW gets a new head writer soon after.
Overall, they actually did a damn good job of crafting a compelling show out of a skeleton crew this week, though. That Shawn promo was something else, I’ll give him that.