The SmarK Rant for WWF Monday Night RAW – 04.28.97
Although last week’s show was bookended with one of the greatest angles in the history of the show, THIS week is almost as great in a lot of ways, too.
Also, they should sell retro reproductions of Vince’s black demin “RAW is WAR” jackets on WWE Shop, because I’d buy the shit out of that.
Last week: Steve Austin engaged in a show-long war with Bret Hart, attacking him from the driver’s seat of the ambulance, leading up to the return of Brian Pillman to even the score for the Hart Foundation!
Live from Omaha, NE
Your hosts are Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler & Vince McMahon
Brian Pillman joins us to start, and he wants us to know how deeply religious he truly is. He was having sleeping nights since last week, wondering if his attack on Austin was the right thing to do, but he had a REVELATION, and now he knows he was righteous. So it’s time for a prayer, wishing Bret Hart a speedy recovery, forgiveness for those who cheered for Austin’s brutality last week…oh, and he’d also like the complete destruction of Steve Austin, and may he be STRICKEN DOWN in this building tonight. Also, everyone should let Bret Hart into their lives, because he’s the savior. TESTIFY, BRIAN! Let Bret Hart into your hearts, you heathens! Especially Hartkiller. He really needs the spirit of Bret.
Austin interrupts, so Pillman says he’s not a man of violence, and he’ll turn the other cheek, which in this case is his ass cheek. Of course, it’s a trap from the Harts, and Austin nearly gets jumped by Bulldog & Owen, but escapes into the crowd. So Pillman leads them in prayer as they all pray for the speedy healing of Bret Hart’s knee. Owen of course is amazing here. Austin, however, has had enough peace and forgiveness and charges the ring with an axehandle, chasing them all off. That is hardly the spirit of forgiveness and love that Brian Pillman was preaching to us. Austin then gets the line the whole thing was leading to: “You better give your soul to the Lord, because your ass is mine.” FANTASTIC.
Meanwhile, Pillman continues praying for the safety of Bret Hart tonight.
Flash Funk v. Rockabilly
Flash gets a dropkick and hiptoss to start, but Rockabilly backdrops him onto the apron. Funk comes back in with a crossbody for two while Vince tries to get across this story about Honky choosing Billy Gunn for a “bizarre reason” but keeps getting cut off by Lawler. Funk goes after Honky and gets jumped by Billy and suplexed into the ring, which gets two. Fameasser and Gunn goes up, but Funk counters, so Billy brings him down with a tornado DDT instead. Billy stops for some dancing, but Funk whips him into Honky and pins him with a rana at 4:20. Gunn immediately hits him with the guitar afterwards to get his “heat” back, luckily. There was zero reaction for any of this as this Rockabilly gimmick is DEAD. But you knew that. ¾*
Bret Hart, fresh from knee surgery the week before, joins us in a wheelchair, and he knows that even prayer won’t save Steve Austin, who is the SCUM OF AMERICA and a hyena. Also, everyone in the audience is just part of Austin’s pack of lousy hyenas, and American fans in general are a DISGRACE. Everyone else in the world appreciates a real hero like Bret, not like the bloodthirsty, sick, depraved US wrestling fans. But Bret assures us that he’s still the best there is, and then gets the line of the show: “Don’t you hate how I keep telling you how I’m the best? Well that’s how the rest of the world feels about the USA!” That’s the line that made Bret a national hero in Canada again, by the way. Steve Austin’s days are numbered and the people make Bret SICK. And then Bulldog and Owen wheel him off like an invalid, just to draw one more heel reaction on the way out. Everything about this was incredible, as Bret was 100% into this character and all the little nuances. And Dave actually called this “Bret’s weakest interview since the turn” in the Observer at the time! Typical anti-Bret propaganda. Everyone’s against him.
The Legion of Doom v. Furnas & LaFon
This was right after LOD broke Henry’s neck with the Doomsday Device, and they actually show a slow motion replay before this match! Furnas & LaFon actually get promo time before the match, where they complain about people not supporting them and the announcers talk about how they’re not getting over. Yeah, that’s the ticket to success! Tell the fans what a flop that the act is. Hawk dominates Furnas for a bit, but gets hit with a cheapshot from the apron and LaFon gets two with a leg lariat. LaFon with a cross armbreaker that Hawk basically ignores, and they clothesline each other and Animal gets the hot tag. Powerslam on Furnas gets two. LOD clotheslines LaFon from both sides and Hawk goes up to finish, but Furnas breaks up the Doomsday Device. And then Hawk just clotheslines LaFon anyway and pins him at 3:49. That’s kind of a dumb finish. Furnas & LaFon blame the fans afterwards, which seemed to be leading towards them joining the Harts but never went anywhere. *
Meanwhile, Ahmed is ready to get CRAZY.
Meanwhile, the Harts have a strategy session, while Brian prays for Owen and blesses his Slammy awards.
Intercontinental title: Rocky Maivia v. Owen Hart
Owen dedicates the match to his loving brother Bret and Davey cheers from the ramp like a good sycophant. I hope Vince was paying them a huge bonus every week for this stuff. Owen attacks to start and Rocky fights back with a clothesline out of the corner and goes right to his patented armdrags. Lawler points out the hypocrisy of Vince’s disgust with Owen’s dedication: If Rocky had dedicated the match to his father Rocky Johnson, that would be viewed as wonderful, right? Rocky works the arm, but Owen tosses him over the top and baseball slides him into the railing while heel fans in the front row go nuts. Back in, Owen with a missile dropkick for two and hits the chinlock. I love how Davey makes sure to be 100% enthused for Owen every time the camera cuts to him on the ramp. Owen works the leg, but Rocky cradles for two and tries to make the comeback, only to have Owen cut him off. Owen then tries the Sharpshooter (stopping to dedicate the move to his loving brother Bret), but Rocky escapes and makes the comeback with the hurricane DDT after a couple of botched attempts that Owen covered up. Rocky comes back and arms are flailing everywhere, with a terrible Rock Bottom that gets two. He was still working on that one. Owenzuigiri and Owen goes up (with a thumbs up for Bret!), but Rocky cuts him off with a nice backdrop superplex that gets two. And then Owen suddenly rolls him up with a cradle to win the title out of nowhere at 8:26 in what was actually a shock title change and Owen’s first major singles title. The normal finish would have been Bulldog just running in for the DQ, since Owen was already tag champion. Owen immediately presents the belt to Bret and the Harts have the most wonderfully obnoxious celebration ever, wheeling Bret around in the chair. Pretty good match to end the Rocky Maivia experiment once and for all. Maybe they should repackage him with a heel turn or something? **1/2 The plan was originally for Owen to win the title at King of the Ring, but the angle was so hot that they moved it up two months.
Steve Austin is out to start hour #2, and he’s got not much to say.
Meanwhile, Ken Shamrock is the World’s Most Dangerous Man. Huh, I thought that was Seth Rollins.
Vader v. Jesse Jammes
Jesse gets his dancing clothesline in the corner, but then gets FLATTENED by Vader and hit with a middle rope splash for two. Vader picks him up, then goes up and hits a pump splash to finish at 1:33. Complete destruction. DUD JR asks him if he regrets being stupid in Kuwait, but Vader regrets NOTHING and threatens to beat up Jim as well, but Ken Shamrock makes the save and chases Vader away.
Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Goldust
Oh goodie, more of this feud. Goldust runs in and attacks to start, hitting a lariat and slugging him down in the corner. Goldust pounds him in the corner, but Hunter puts him down with an atomic drop and high knee to take over. Goldust bails and the “Amazonian” Chyna attacks, which brings out Marlena as we take a break. Back with Chyna glowering, which Vince calls “shades of Ellen”. OK then. Goldust makes the comeback with a bulldog and Marlena throws powder in Chyna’s eyes, which draws Hunter out of the ring for a countout at 6:00. ½*
Meanwhile, Undertaker finally cuts a promo to remind us that he’s defending against Steve Austin on PPV in two weeks, since we’ve basically been ignoring that whole thing in favor of the Hart/Austin feud for the past two weeks.
Undertaker v. British Bulldog
Davey would also like to dedicate this match to his loving brother Bret, the man who introduced him to Diana. Undertaker quickly overpowers Bulldog and we take a break. Back with Bulldog getting a delayed suplex for two, but Taker chokeslams him and Owen runs in for the DQ at 1:46. Literally the entire match took place during the commercial break. DUD Steve Austin makes the save and then steals the WWF title and lays out Undertaker with a stunner…and Taker no-sells it and chokeslams him in turn. Austin recovers and goes after the wheelchair-bound Bret instead, like a HYENA going after a wounded lion, but Jim Neidhart makes his return and saves Bret. Bret then heroically uses a crutch to fight off Austin and send him off the ledge, beating him with one leg because he’s a real man. Apparently the addition of Neidhart was because Pillman actually re-injured his ankle doing the attack on Austin the previous week, and was in tremendous pain and unable to work six-man tags that were advertised.
What a great show! Everything outside of the Hart Foundation stuff was complete death, but 90% of the show was focused on the Harts so it ended up being tremendous.