What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – April 7, 1997

by Logan Scisco
Footage of Mankind
throwing a fireball into the Undertaker’s eyes last week is shown
.
Vince McMahon, Jim
Ross, and The Honky Tonk Man are in the booth and they are live from Muncie,
Indiana
.
Owen Hart and the
British Bulldog come out for the opening match and Owen tells the crowd that
Bret brought love to the Hart family. 
Owen says Shawn Michaels better not say anything bad about Bret or they
will lay waste to him tonight.

Opening Non-Title
Contest:  Owen Hart & The British
Bulldog (WWF Tag Team Champions) defeat The Godwinns (w/Rebecca Jones) when
Owen pins Henry after an elbow drop to the back of the head at 7:07 shown:
If you wonder who Rebecca Jones is, she’s the guest
manager for the Godwinns in this match. 
Henry Godwinn’s hillbilly gimmick had a surprisingly long shelf life,
surviving the gimmick holocaust of 1995-1996. 
Owen and the Bulldog get the opening match for the third straight week
and they get a good fight from the Godwinns, who appear more motivated than usual
tonight.  The Godwinns win the four way
brawl near the end of the match and Henry gives the Bulldog a Slop Drop, but
Owen breaks up the cover behind the referee’s back and the tag team champions
get some momentum heading into In Your House in two weeks.  Rating:  **¼
As Owen and the
Bulldog head towards the back, the Legion of Doom appear behind them.  The champions back away, but the Godwinns
come up behind them.  The Godwinns try to
throw slop on the champions, but the champions duck and the slop goes all over
the Legion of Doom, who predictably take offense and brawl with the Godwinns as
Owen and the Bulldog laugh at the top of the stage.
Owen and the
Bulldog tell McMahon that they are civilized, unlike the Legion of Doom, and
they will annihilate them at In Your House. 
They get the WWF production crew to show the slop miscommunication twice
to showcase their wit.  Steve Austin
wants to give the champions a piece of his mind, but WWF officials get him to
back off
.
“Stone Cold”
Steve Austin pins Billy Gunn (w/The Honky Tonk Man) after a Stone Cold Stunner
at 6:09:
Austin comes out to a big pop, his first big face
reaction on Raw, while Billy comes out with the Honky Tonk Man, who has
seemingly picked him as his new protégé. 
Austin completely dominates Billy in this encounter, beating him from
pillar to post, using a low blow, and then flipping him off, as well as the
referee, in the middle of the beat down. 
In fact, Billy doesn’t get in a single major offensive move.  That’s exactly how this should’ve been
booked, as Billy was nowhere near Austin’s level and his cowboy gimmick wasn’t
setting the world on fire.
After the match,
the Honky Tonk Man tells Billy that there’s no shame in losing to Steve Austin
and he offers his services, but Billy gives him a right hand and walks out.
Dok Hendrix hypes
the Undertaker door banners, which you can get for $29.95 (plus shipping &
handling)!
The Commandant,
the leader of the Truth Commission, makes his debut and he hypes the next Raw,
which will be from South Africa.  He
gives a long, dry fascist tirade and says that the Truth Commission will teach
Americans the true meaning of democracy. 
The Truth Commission wasn’t a terrible idea, but their entire thunder
was taken away by the Hart Foundation already doing an anti-American gimmick.
Bret Hart gives a
taped promo from South Africa where he says that he can think clearly and
American wrestling fans can’t handle the truth and that’s why they don’t like
him anymore.  Bret is shown carrying the
South African flag into the ring at a South Africa house show to reinforce the
fact that he’s pro-international wrestling fans and anti-American.
McMahon interviews
Shawn Michaels, who isn’t selling the knee injury he received a couple of weeks
ago.  Michaels says Bret Hart has always
been a bad guy because he drags his family out on television so he can make a
buck.  Michaels says that he supported
Bret when he was champion in 1992, but Bret threw a fit when he was asked to
return the favor and went home, hoping that the WWF would fall flat on its
face.  Michaels goes off on Bret trying
to jump ship to WCW and being a mark for himself.  After finishing his interview, Michaels
starts doing a striptease and Owen and the British Bulldog come out to put a
stop to it.  Michaels grabs a chair and
that’s enough to keep the tag team champions at bay after WWF officials pour
out of the back.  This was an
entertaining shoot promo for the older fans and it did a great job selling the
animosity between Shawn and Bret.  The
only problem is that these long interview segments came off too well, so
that’s why we get the twenty minute promo at the beginning of Raw each week.
The Headbangers
defeat Freddie Joe Floyd & Barry Horowitz when Thrasher pins Floyd after a
powerbomb-flying leg drop combination at 4:27:
Since most of the roster is halfway around the world, the
WWF had to take Floyd and Horowitz out of mothballs for this match.  The Headbangers methodically destroy their
opponents and that’s all that can be said about this one.
No Holds Barred
Exhibition:  Ken Shamrock defeats Vernon
White by tap out from mounted punches at 2:00:
In case anyone wonders if the WWE should ever try an MMA
contest, they actually did so in 1997. 
In fact, in this exhibition McMahon plugs a UFC pay-per-view, something
you would definitely not see happen today. 
This is clearly worked, but White does land a stiff kick and Shamrock
busts White open from his mounted punches to put him away.
Ross interviews
Shamrock, who says the exhibition got a little out of hand.  Vader and Paul Bearer interrupt the
interview, but WWF officials get between both competitors before anything
breaks out
.
Vader (w/Paul
Bearer) pins Ken Stiletto with a powerbomb at 2:11:
This is supposed to serve as a “counter exhibition” to
rival what Shamrock did earlier since the WWF was beginning the build for a
Shamrock-Vader no holds barred match for May’s In Your House.  Vader toys with Stiletto, giving him a
release German suplex and two Vader Bombs, before going back to his traditional
roots and finishing him with a powerbomb. 
I hope that Stiletto made over the jobber maximum for taking this
beating.
WWF President
Gorilla Monsoon says that Sid is not at the arena to face Mankind, so Steve
Austin is the only comparable competition left on the card.  Austin comes out and correctly points out
that he’s already fought his match tonight and he has no interest in fighting
another.  However, Austin says he will
accept if Monsoon will give him Sid’s match with Bret Hart at the next In Your
House and Monsoon relents.  That was a
nice twist in the booking that they had to make on the fly
.
Ross interviews
Mankind, who goes into quasi-shoot mode and says that he’s had his flesh burned
and his wife inquire about it.  He
ridicules wrestling for making him work 300 days a year so he can’t protect his
three year old daughter back home and he says that In Your House will not be
for the faint of heart.  The lights begin
to flicker in the arena and the Undertaker does a voice over pledging to get
his revenge.
“Stone Cold”
Steve Austin defeats Mankind by disqualification when Vader interferes at 10:33
shown:
These two pick up where they left off from their tough
man contest the previous year by brawling around ringside for much of the
match.  It’s really hard to get into this
one, as the crowd is tired from all of the promo and angle segments and there
is very little flow from one spot to the next. 
I think a lot of this is due to the fact that they are doing this match
on the fly because of Sid’s no show. 
Owen Hart and the British Bulldog, who have been carrying this entire
show, come out of the crowd, but the Legion of Doom come out of the back to
prevent them from interfering.  With
those odds checked, Vader makes a run-in when Austin is pounding away on
Mankind in the corner, but heel miscommunication results and Vader and Mankind
brawl for a while before making up at the behest of Paul Bearer.  I give Austin and Mankind credit for trying,
but they just couldn’t make this one work. 
Rating:  **
The Final Report Card:  Some readers might find it odd that the WWF
had so much of its talent in South Africa at the time of this show, but in 1997
the international gates were still doing well and were significantly helping
the company’s bottom line.  Sid no
showing the event really hurt from a booking standpoint because there was no
one around to take his place. 
Thankfully, Austin was there as the main draw of the show and he was
able to do double duty.  The WWF did what
they could with this show based on the limited talent available, but it didn’t
make for great television and the terrible rating for this show bears that out.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.2 (vs. 3.7 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down