The SmarK Rant for WWF Monday Night RAW – 07.28.97
It’s the last show before Summerslam!
Live from Pittsburgh, PA. Hopefully no one has anything untoward to say about the city this week. The show did an all-time record gate of 12,000 people paying $185,000 as both shows in the war make money hand over fist.
Your hosts are Vince McMahon, Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler
The Hart Foundation joins us to start, and Jim Ross informs them that they’ll avoid suspension for now because they don’t want to jeopardize the Summerslam main event for the fans, but next week a new commissioner will be named and he might not be so nice. So Bret immediately goes into a rant about “Americans will do anything they can to SCREW YA” and then we cut to Vince McMahon at ringside.
Anyway, Bret reminds us that if he loses, he promised not to set foot in America again, but not LITERALLY. It was just a figure of speech! But in Canada, we stick to our word. Well unless you’re a liberal prime minister promising to eliminate the GST. Still bitter about that one. Anyway, Bret wonders what happens if Shawn doesn’t call the match fairly as referee? Then Bret gets SCREWED and Shawn sits at home for another 10 years “looking for his smile”. So Shawn better apologize for the terrible things he said about Canada last week, or else. Also, Bret wants to clarify that although he called the US a giant toilet bowl last week, if you want to give the country an enema, you’d stick the hose RIGHT HERE in Pittsburgh. The crowd is just losing their shit at this point while Pillman riles them up and Bret continues on with his promo and promises to make an example out of the Patriot tonight, the latest American that he’s going to FLUSH DOWN THE TOILET. And then the championship is coming back to Canada. Where it belongs.
You’re still my hero, Bret! What an awesome heel promo.
Legion of Doom v. Los Boriquas
Hawk gets a neckbreaker on Savio and Animal powerslams Miguel, but Hawk misses a flying whatever and the Boriquas take over. We get some double-teaming in the corner and Miguel gets a standing moonsault for two. The LOD makes a quick comeback and then everyone runs in for the DQ at 3:00. Hawk gets slopped outside and he probably flashes back to waking up the same way that morning. Nothing to this one. *
Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Vader
Well this is random. Hunter declares that “it looks like it’s Jenny Craig time” for Vader in his pre-match promo. SAVAGE. Also, he thinks Mankind is a big sissy for crying about getting beat up by a girl. And then while Chyna stands there jawing with Vader outside, the cameraman turns on Hunter and beats him up, revealing himself to be Mankind! Granted the mask was a bit of a giveaway, but that’s a cool angle. And they brawl out into the crowd to set up the cage match at Summerslam. Great stuff.
Meanwhile, Braccus (or Brakus as they spell it here) is still on his way and he’s still really angry and German.
Flash Funk, Jesse Jammes & Bob Holly v. The Truth Commission
Oh yeah, we’re still a couple of weeks away from Jammes reinventing himself. So this was a fucking awful gimmick, with green as grass Bull Buchanan and Kurrgan and the former John Rambo as a six-man unit who were supposed to be top heels. In this case, they were re-dubbed Recon, Sniper and the Interrogator, sounding like rejected concepts from GI Joe or something. The babyfaces manage to hold Sniper in their corner for a bit before Jammes takes a knee from Recon on the apron and the heels go to work. Well, “work” is a strong word. They do stuff. Some of it hits. Sniper appears to be blown up just standing on the ring apron. Also, if he’s a sniper, why would he even tag in? Shouldn’t he just take cheapshots from outside and then steal the pin? Interrogator hits a sideslam on Holly and pins him at 3:22 and you might as well get them some motorcycles because this gimmick is DOA. DUD In the Observer, Dave assures us that they looked even worse in Memphis. That’s a scary thought.
Meanwhile, who even is this Patriot guy anyway? Let’s take a look as his career highlights, which are mostly from the two weeks he’s been in the WWF, mixed with stock footage of the American flag waving. AMURICA! Patriot doesn’t like the things that Bret has been saying about his country, and he, Del Wilkes, doesn’t like Bret Hart personally. HE’S SHOOTING! Hopefully there’s no pictures hanging on the fourth wall because it just got broken!
Crush v. Faarooq
Ahmed Johnson is still with the Nation at this point, returning from knee surgery looking even bigger and somehow even oilier. I’m pretty sure the human body isn’t equipped to handle that much baby oil covering it without going into shock. I’m shocked they didn’t find him dead in a hotel room, with empty bottles of the stuff strewn around. The body would be so slippery that the coroner couldn’t even get onto the stretcher without it flying down the hallway. On the bright side, Ahmed can be his own Slip N Slide in the summertime. Anyway, one guess what the finish is going to be here, but they go through the motions of doing the match anyway with Faarooq getting a slam for two and pounding on the back. That goes on forever until Crush comes back with an incredibly contrived electric chair spot and a piledriver and then, SURPRISE, everyone runs in for the DQ at 3:15. They couldn’t have just gotten there 2 minutes sooner? -*
WWF tag team titles: Steve Austin & Dude Love v. The Godwinns
In retrospect, they probably should have just screwed the babyfaces here and put the belts on the Hogwinns. Owen & Bulldog are at ringside doing commentary so one guess again what the finish is going to be. Bulldog gets a sick burn right away, declaring Mick to be “DUDE LOSER”. Big brawl to start and Austin dumps HOG while Dude beats on PIG. Owen: “If we were in Canada, you wouldn’t hear an ovation for Austin like this!” JR: “We know, we were just there last week!” Phineas boots Austin and brings in Henry, but the champs double-team him in their corner and Dude gets Sweet Shin Music for two. Henry slams Phineas onto Dude to take over while Bulldog challenges Shamrock to an arm-wrestling match NEXT. This has got Jim Cornette written all over it. Dude comes back with a bulldog on PIG and makes the hot tag to Austin and he’s something to behold getting a hot tag. KICK WHAM STUNNER on Phineas, but Henry dumps him to save the pin, and then Owen clobbers him with the IC title and the Godwinns win by countout at 4:40. Owen and Bulldog were great on commentary, acting as completely uncool heels with no redeeming value. Match was OK. **
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT ACTION: Ace Darling v. Devon Storm
These guys were actually a regular team on the indies, although their name escapes me at the moment. The Extreme? Extremists? Storm quickly gets a monkey flip, but Darling rolls him up for two. Storm with a powerbomb, but Darling reverses to a rana, and Storm rolls him up for the pin at 0:45. I’m continually mystified as to why this division didn’t get over.
So now Vince and his historical trouble with telephones continues, as he calls a potential winner of the Summerslam contest, but gets an error code from the phone company. Luckily a second try finds someone who actually gave a working phone number.
Arm Wrestling Challenge: Ken Shamrock v. British Bulldog
Usual arm wrestling gimmick here with Bulldog gaining the advantage and then Shamrock making the dramatic comeback before Bulldog attacks him with the chair and beats the tar out of him. And then Bulldog dumps a can of dog food on him so you really know it’s Cornette or someone who’s a big fan doing the heavy lifting behind the scenes.
Goldust v. Rockabilly Gunn
So this was pretty much rock bottom for Billy Gunn. Or very close to it. Billy stomps Goldust down in the corner but gets clotheslined to the floor, where he makes the bad decision to slap Michael Moorer at ringside. That gets him knocked out like he’s Bart Gunn, and Brian Pillman runs in for the DQ at 1:20. Well, limps in. Nothing to this one. ½*
Meanwhile, we take a video look at the Undertaker, with Bret doing commentary where he throws shade at Sid and Diesel by calling them “giants with no mobility”. Hey now, Nash can lift his boot in the air in TWO different ways!
Bret Hart v. The Patriot
Shawn Michaels joins us for commentary, doing his full entrance while completely ignoring the crippling knee injury that he suffered last week. Well that one certainly went nowhere. But first, Vince interviews him in the ring, and we find out if Shawn will apologize for his remarks last week. And of course, the answer is “No”. But he’s not looking to win popularity contests. Good thing. Speaking of unpopular, Bret demands the playing of the Canadian national anthem. And of course the classless, disrespectful Pittsburgh fans boo it. Have they never been to a sporting event before? Shawn Michaels, meanwhile, has TEARS IN HIS EYES listening to it. Shawn’s really funny on commentary, questioning how JR knows that Patriot played football (“Because his name is Del Wilkes!”) and then questioning why he wears the mask if we know his real name. Man’s got a point. So then Patriot wants the US anthem played, and Bret attacks him once it’s completely finished, although on the Network they obviously redub the audio to make it LOOK like he attacks while Patriot is still saluting the anthem. Typical. Bret and Patriot brawl to the floor. Back in, Patriot gets the flying shoulderblock for two and we take a break. Back with Bret coming back with a backbreaker to take over. JR wonders if Shawn is qualified to be a referee, and Shawn notes that you count 1-2-3 when someone is pinned, so how hard can it be? Bret with the suplex and middle rope elbow and he pounds away in the corner, but Patriot comes back and the ref is bumped. Bret with a piledriver but there’s no ref because everyone keeps SCREWING him in this country, so Bret goes low and Shawn runs in and pulls him off. Bret goes to yell at Shawn, and Patriot rolls him up for the pin at 8:38, with a handful of tights mind you, and Bret is SCREWED once again. Shawn of course dances on the announce table and continues egging Bret on, as it’s obvious where the REAL payoff was going to be. ***
Dave’s thoughts on the Bret-Shawn situation: “The tension with Bret and Shawn together is tremendous because it seems like even they can’t distinguish between working and shooting.”
You don’t say?
Anyway, not a lot of good wrestling on this show, but a lot of stuff happened and most of it was pretty entertaining.
Next time: SUMMERSLAM 97, which I actually haven’t watched in like 20 years. Time flies when you’re old.