What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – July 28, 1997

by Logan Scisco
Jim Ross discusses
the Hart Foundation’s triumph in last week’s flag match
and how Shawn Michaels will be the guest
referee at SummerSlam.
Vince McMahon,
Jerry “the King” Lawler, and Jim Ross are in the booth and they are broadcasting
from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The Hart
Foundation, accompanied by a personal security force, are interviewed by Jim
Ross.  Ross tells Bret Hart that he won’t
be disciplined for his attack on Vince McMahon last week, although a new
commissioner to be appointed by WWF President Gorilla Monsoon might reassess
that punishment after SummerSlam.  Bret
says when he said he would never wrestle on American soil if he failed to win
the WWF title was a figure of speech, but the powers that be are trying to
screw him by taking it literally.  Bret
doesn’t have much faith in Shawn Michaels calling the match fairly, by saying
that if Michaels screws him he’ll be out of a title and Michaels “can sit at
home for ten years and find his smile.” 
This is a great promo, capped by Bret’s famous comment about how
Pittsburgh is where the U.S. would plug an enema.  Before leaving, Bret challenges the Patriot
to a match tonight.

Fans give their
opinion on who they think will win the WWF championship match at SummerSlam.  All of the fans, including an old guy in a
mask, all say that the Undertaker will win and send Bret Hart back to
Canada.  I miss segments like this, but
they also make me embarrassed to be a fan sometimes
.
Opening
Contest:  The Legion of Doom defeat Savio
Vega & Miguel by disqualification when Los Boricuas interfere at 2:59:
At first glance you may not think much of this match, but
it’s a very serviceable match that allows Miguel to showcase some of his
flexibility in the ring.  The LOD appear
to have the contest won by setting Miguel up for a Doomsday Device, but Los
Boricuas attack Animal to draw the disqualification.  The Godwinns join in on the beating by giving
Hawk a Slop Drop on the floor.  The
Godwinns slop Hawk for good measure to raise the tension for their match at
SummerSlam.
McMahon lets us
know that Raw is moving one hour later to 8:57
.
A video package
chronicles the Hunter Hearst Helmsley-Mankind feud.  After showing it, McMahon interviews Helmsley
and Chyna and Helmsley says that Chyna just interferes in matches when he has
them already decided.  Helmsley tells
Vader that it’s not Vader time, it’s Jenny Craig time.  It’s a lame line, but Helmsley delivered it
in a way that make it seem fine.
Chyna teases a
confrontation with Vader when Vader comes out to wrestle Helmsley in the next
match, but as she faces the entrance, Mankind, dressed as a camera man, attacks
Helmsley.  Chyna finally comes to her
man’s aid, but Mankind eventually fights her off and he and Helmsley brawl
through the crowd like Canadian Stampede. 
It’s easy to point to the DX program as the time that Helmsley shed the
“blue blood” gimmick, but it was this feud that really put him on the map.
The Commandant
says that we are about to have the privilege of watching the South African
Truth Commission.  He says that the truth
will hurt.
IBF Heavyweight
Champion Michael Moorer is recognized in front of the crowd.
A vignette for
Brakus is aired
.
The Truth
Commission (w/The Commandant) defeat “The Real Double J” Jesse James, Bob
“Spark Plugg” Holly & Flash Funk when The Interrogator (Kurrgan) pins Holly
after a sidewalk slam at 3:21:
The first hole in the gimmick appears when the Truth
Commission can’t march well on command and they end up with massive gaps on the
way to the ring.  WWF President Gorilla
Monsoon stops by the announce table and says that he’s appointing a WWF
commissioner next week on Raw because things are getting out of hand.  It’s really amazing that of the three jobbers
offered as a sacrifice to the Truth Commission here that Flash Funk was the one
that never really caught on during the Attitude Era.
McMahon calls a
kid named Ryan, who gets to come to SummerSlam as a WWF guest and gets a chance
to win one million dollars.  A funny
moment happens when Ryan asks McMahon how many guests he can bring and McMahon
says “how about just one.”  Lawler
quickly jumps on that and calls McMahon a cheap skate.
A video package
hypes the Patriot as a main event talent.
Owen Hart and
Mankind’s match on Shotgun Saturday Night is the Stridex Triple Action segment
.
McMahon asks the
Patriot if he accepts Bret Hart’s challenge and the Patriot says he will gladly
accept
.
Faarooq (w/The
Nation of Domination) wrestles Crush (w/The Disciplines of Apocalypse) to a
double disqualification when the Nation and the DOA start brawling at 3:13:
Ahmed Johnson makes his return in this match by
accompanying Faarooq to the ring with other Nation of Domination members.  This one isn’t pretty, but they work in a few
good spots like Faarooq yelling at the crowd while he is on top of Crush and
Crush rising up and giving him an electric chair.  However, Kama Mustafa trips Crush when he
runs the ropes and that’s a pretext for both gangs to start fighting and that
draws a double disqualification.  Rating: 
*
In the midst of
the brawl, Crush is tossed out of the ring and Los Boricuas, who are booked to
face DOA at SummerSlam, come out and give Crush an assisted powerbomb on the
entrance ramp
.
More fans offer
their main event predictions for SummerSlam. 
A few women think Bret can win, which makes you wonder based on Bret’s
book…
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  The Godwinns defeat
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin & Dude Love (Champions) by count out at 4:35:
The Godwinns earned this title match by winning a triple
threat match against the Headbangers and the New Blackjacks on last week’s
show.  Owen Hart and the British Bulldog
sit near the announce table to watch the match and provide some commentary.  The fact that Owen is on commentary already
adds * to the match.  The crowd is
nuclear for Austin, starting a big chant for him prior to his entrance, and
going nuts when he cleans house with the Godwinns.  During the match, the Bulldog challenges Ken
Shamrock to an arm wrestling match.  This
is the one time in wrestling I would welcome someone declining a
challenge.  Dude ends up in peril for
less than a minute and then tags Austin, who hits Phineas with a Stunner but is
knocked out of the ring by Henry.  Owen
blindsides Austin with the Intercontinental title and that causes him to get
counted out.  Owen’s justification is
priceless when asked why he did that by Ross: 
“Austin was trying to steal my belt!” 
This really could’ve been something very good if it was given more time
and it was the best match that the Godwinns have had in a long, long time.  Rating:  **
After the match,
all hell breaks loose as Austin goes after Owen and the Legion of Doom come out
and end up brawling with Owen and the Bulldog when they try to tussle with the
Godwinns.  Owen and the Bulldog run away
as Austin warns Owen that he will destroy him at SummerSlam
.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your 18 month WWF calendar for $12 (plus $3 shipping & handling)!
Devon Storm beats
Ace Darling with a rollup in 44 seconds:
This was a quasi-dream match for me at the time since I
had followed the indy scene with the help of the Apter mags and saw these guys
written about all the time.  This is a
light heavyweight exhibition and it doesn’t last long as Storm rolls through a
hurricanrana counter of his powerbomb. 
Some dream match.
The announcers
call a fan as Sunny shows off the one million dollars.  The first fan dialed had an invalid phone
number.
Arm Wrestling
Match:  Ken Shamrock defeats The British
Bulldog by disqualification:
Surprisingly, there is very little stalling in the set up
for this arm wrestling match, which makes it arguably the best arm wrestling
match in the history of the WWF.  The
Bulldog has the upper hand early, but when Shamrock starts a comeback the
Bulldog headbutts him, smashes him in the face with a chair, and then dumps a
can of dog food all over him, which is rather disgusting.
Goldust
(w/Marlena) defeats Rockabilly (w/The Honky Tonk Man) by disqualification when
Brian Pillman interferes at 1:14:
Goldust brings a mannequin in a dress to the ring with
him in order to show off the dress that Brian Pillman is going to be forced to
wear after he loses at SummerSlam.  After
getting tossed out of the ring, Rockabilly makes the mistake of slapping
Michael Moorer, who is heckling him, and he gets rocked with a right hand that
knocks him out cold.  When Goldust
watches this, Brian Pillman comes out and attacks him from behind.  Marlena eventually comes to her man’s aid by
locking in a sleeper before WWF officials intervene.  There wasn’t a lot of wrestling here, but
those two segments back-to-back were very entertaining.
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to find out who the top five candidates are for the WWF
commissioner position!
A video package
hypes the Undertaker-Bret Hart championship match at SummerSlam.  They combine footage of past encounters
between the Undertaker and Bret, including their showdown at the 1990 Survivor
Series, which is where the Undertaker character debuted.
McMahon interviews
Shawn Michaels, who says that he’s not the most popular man in the WWF and that
he wants to do color commentary for the main event between Bret Hart and the
Patriot.  Bret is shown throwing chairs
and kicking boxes backstage.
More Pittsburgh
fans give their opinions about SummerSlam and Bret Hart.  One guy has the line of the night:  “Everyone knows that the Salvation Army could
kick Canada’s ass.”  Statement of the
night for humor, not factual basis as people forget that Canada had one of the
world’s strongest navies at the time of the Second World War
.
Bret gets on the
house mic and does his Iron Sheik interpretation by having the Canadian
national anthem played.  Shawn Michaels
mocks the anthem while it is played.
-The Patriot comes
out to what most fans now know as Kurt Angle’s WWF theme and he has the Star
Spangled Banner played.  Before the
anthem finishes, Bret jumps the Patriot to get a HUGE heel reaction and it
keeps playing as he does a beat down in the ring.  This kicks off our main event.
The Patriot pins Bret
“the Hitman” Hart with a school boy at 6:38 shown:
The Patriot had quite a unique run in the WWF, as he got
a huge push when he came in and he was gone by the Royal Rumble after suffering
a debilitating bicep injury brought on by steroid use.  The national anthem bit was good, but I like
to think that they should have saved that for pay-per-view because it told such
a great story.  When Bret dominates most
of the match, the announcers play it off like the Patriot isn’t used to someone
on Bret Hart’s level, which isn’t really the best way to sell a guy that you
are going to give a WWF title shot to in a month.  The referee gets bumped when Bret escapes a
full nelson and that means the referee is not in a position to count a fall
when Bret delivers a piledriver.  When
the referee is ready to count after a headbutt to the abdomen, Shawn Michaels
runs in and breaks it up.  Bret turns to
yell at Michaels, but the Patriot rolls him up and scores the upset.  This is where Earl Hebner’s slow count spot was
unwarranted and it made Bret, the “Excellence of Execution” look ridiculous
because he couldn’t find a way in six seconds to escape a school boy when he
incurred very little damage in the bout. 
At the time, this is where it started to hit me that Bret’s “aura” was
starting to come apart in the WWF as he jobbed to a guy that he NEVER would
have lost to in his previous runs at the top. 
Rating:  *¾
The Final Report Card:  Many of the matches were abbreviated, but the
angles did a great job hyping the major matches at SummerSlam.  It also provided lots of water cooler
material for the next day since you could talk about Michael Moorer knock out
Rockabilly, the Patriot’s upset victory, and how much Austin was going to
destroy Owen Hart at SummerSlam.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.9 (vs. 3.4 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up