What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – March 31, 1997

-A video package
highlights Bret’s heel turn last week.
Vince McMahon, Jim
Ross, and Jerry “the King” Lawler are on commentary tonight and they are taped
from Peoria, Illinois.

Opening Contest
for the European Championship:  The
British Bulldog (Champion) and Owen Hart wrestle to a no contest at 12:09
shown:
Both guys revert to their natural roles here, with the
Bulldog playing face and Owen playing the heel. 
Owen keeps the Bulldog grounded for much of the match and they work
through a great sequence where Owen misses a missile dropkick, the Bulldog
applies a Sharpshooter, and Owen powers up to connect with an enziguri.  Owen also does an awesome flip off the top
rope to avoid getting knocked off and eats a suplex on the ramp.  Near the end, the referee is bumped and Owen
tries to use a chair, but the Bulldog wrestles it away from him.  Bret Hart then runs in, tackles the Bulldog,
and uses the chair to calm him down and then gets between both men.  Bret gets on the microphone and says that the
fans want the Bulldog and Owen to tear each other apart and it makes no sense.  He makes fun of American talk shows and seeing him educate Owen and Bulldog about American values
is hilarious.  Owen forces out a few
tears to add some effect to the occasion and a group hug seals the deal and
ends the Owen-Bulldog and Owen-Bret feuds simultaneously.  I was getting into the match until the no
contest, but this is a great example of tying together a lot of loose ends and
moving all parties into a different storyline. 
Rating:  ***¼
Sunny comes out to
do guest commentary for the next match. 
She makes fun of Ross’s cowboy hat.
El Mosco pins
Super Nova after a springboard moonsault at 3:53:
So why is Sunny out here to do guest commentary again?  Ah, well she and Ross hype the house show
circuit because none of the commentators cared to get educated to call this
match.  Sunny then goes over to the
Spanish announce table and speaks decent Spanish.  This is another small spotfest, but it’s not
as crazy as you would see in a six man tag. 
Sunny gets more heat than either guy. 
This was good filler, but it’s not going to factor into any future
storylines.  Rating:  *½
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Ross interviews the
Legion of Doom and Animal says that Bret Hart has no right to insult the United
States.  The Legion of Doom say that the
tag team belts will be theirs after In Your House
.
“The Real Double J”
Jesse James beats Jerry Fox with a pump and handle slam at 1:26:
James has a young kid with him as a guest manager, but the poor
kid doesn’t know what to do when he comes out from the curtain and James tries
to get him to dance to his song with no success.  Honky Tonk Man is on commentary for this
match and says that James is near the top of his list.  James makes short work of Fox and Honky steps
into the ring and puts over James.  Honky
gives James his guitar and offers him his tutelage, but James smashes the
guitar and rejects Honky’s offer.
Chyna’s attack on
Bart Gunn on last week’s show is the Playstation Slam of the Week.
Dok Hendrix hypes In
Your House:  Revenge of the Taker.
Crush & Savio
Vega (w/the Nation of Domination) defeat Rod Bell & Adam O’Brien when Savio pins O’Brien after a Demolition Decapitation at 3:17:
The Nation attacks the jobbers before the match and they are
subsequently dominated by the much larger heels.  Shawn Michaels calls into the show and says
that he’ll show up and get some promo time on next week.  The jobbers get a hot tag sequence, but Crush
puts a stop to that with a side suplex off the second rope and O’Brien falls
victim to a double team not long after. 
The WWF should’ve pushed the Nation as a tag team because they were
easier to tolerate in a tag setting than in singles matches.
A video package hypes
Ken Shamrock.  Shamrock will have a no
holds barred exhibition on next week’s show
.
Paul Bearer comes out
and admits that he made a mistake and wants the Undertaker to take him
back.  The Undertaker comes out and
carefully locks a coffin that is sitting at ringside.  It’s refreshing to see a face being so
cautious.  The Undertaker tells Bearer
that he does owe him for helping him lay many past opponents to rest, gives him the WWF title, but then nails him. 
The Undertaker goes to hit Bearer with the urn, but Mankind comes from
underneath the ring and throws a fireball into the Undertaker’s face.  Sid runs out, but Mankind and Bearer flee
into the crowd and Sid runs after them.
Sid tells McMahon
that if Mankind wants to play with fire he is playing with the wrong man because
the Undertaker will make him burn in hell
.
Goldust defeats
Hunter Hearst Helmsley by disqualification when Chyna interferes at 9:44 shown:
In this match, Chyna and Marlena are barred from
ringside.  Goldust charges the ring to
go to work on Helmsley, but soon falls victim to Helmsley’s traditional,
plodding offense.  We do see a new side
of Helmsley, though, as he goes aerial to hit Goldust with a double axe handle
on the floor.  Goldust hits Helmsley with
the Curtain Call, but Chyna comes out and interferes and that gives Goldust his
first televised victory over Helmsley. 
After the match, Helmsley shoves Pat Patterson out of the way when he
tries to get him away from Goldust, but Patterson fights back, only to have
Helmsley and Chyna beat him down. 
Goldust recovers and the crowd wants him to go after Chyna, but Helmsley
gets her to leave with him.  The match
was okay, but these two really struggle telling a story in the ring.  Rating:  *½
McMahon interviews
Steve Austin, who says that he never quit at WrestleMania.  He says he doesn’t care if he’s cheered or
booed because he’s all about kicking someone’s ass.  Bret Hart appears on the Titantron and says
he’s done with Austin, but Austin says Bret will have to kill him first to make
that so.  Austin busts out a great line
of one day going to Bret Hart’s grave and Bret’s tombstone reading that he’s laying there
because Steve Austin whipped his ass.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  “The Rock” Rocky
Maivia (Champion) defeats Bret “the Hitman” Hart by disqualification when Bret
refuses to break the ring post figure-four at 10:32 shown:
Although Bret was “above” the Intercontinental title at this
stage of his WWF career, it didn’t appear out of the realm of possibility that
he might win the belt here, especially considering how poorly they had booked
Maivia up to this point.  This match was
set up by Bret’s attack on Maivia on last week’s show.  Tony Atlas is shown watching yet another Maivia
match in the crowd and at the time you might’ve thought that the WWF was going
to bring him in and have him randomly feud with Maivia.  Bret methodically outwrestles the
inexperienced Maivia and for the first time in his singles career misses his
second rope elbow drop.  Maivia manages
to hit his flying body press, but Bret rolls through and nearly wins the
title.  Bret then locks in the ring post
figure-four and refuses to break it, causing a disqualification, but it does
lure Steve Austin out and he’s quickly ambushed by the Hart Foundation.  The Legion of Doom run out to make the save
and the Harts flee to fight another day. 
This turned into something decent when Maivia made his comeback, but the
rest was rather pedestrian.  Rating: 
**¼
Tune in next week to
see Sid face Mankind!
The Final Report Card:  This show
did a good job advancing the promotion’s major angles and on the strength of
that alone, the show earns a thumbs up. 
The wrestling wasn’t that good, but the show helped the fans place more
of an investment into Austin, Chyna, and Bret’s heel character and that’s what
helps drive business.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.7
(vs. 3.4 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up