Rewriting The Book: What if … Shawn Michaels didn’t lose his smile? (Part IV)

1 Submitted by on Thu, 31 January 2013, 18:28

 

Rewriting the Book

By C.G. Scum

 

What if Shawn Michaels never “lost his smile” or forfeited the WWF Title in February of 1997?

Part IV

 

Moving along in the story, there are several big question marks to be answered heading forward into the month of May and the upcoming “Cold Day in Hell” pay per view. Some of the faces continue to thrive at the top of the card, while some others are just beginning to move toward those upper card positions, with others yet fading out of the picture and in some cases out of the company entirely. .(NOTE- Once again, as we move forward in Part IV of the story, there are some events at this point in WWF history that actually took place that stay within the major storylines of this “Rewriting of the Book,” which I personally believe are better off left as they occurred. Thus, although the dates of when the happenings occur in some cases may be a few weeks off as far as when they actually occurred, they do play well in continuing the story as well as continuing to build where they will go heading forward. In my eyes these happenings would have happened regardless of the “losing of Shawn’s smile” and are some of the more memorable moments in the company’s history and leaving them out I think would lessen the story I am moving along with. Some of these moments, I do add a few minor twists to, but for the most part they are untouched. In giving credit and recalling these moments, I will label them with three stars before and a corresponding number after these segments (***) and in doing so give credit in my brief explanation in recalling these spots to the website www.thehistoryofwwe.com , where I got the descriptions that I am using.  At the bottom of this part, each numbered event will be explained.) That being said, the story continues as Raw is War comes to us from Omaha, Nebraska.

Raw is War- April 28, 1997- Omaha, Nebraska- After the opening theme and pyro, we go right to the announcers table, where J.R., the King, and Vince McMahon discuss the different angles surrounding Bret Hart, Owen Hart, and the British Bulldog. They show highlights and detail these three and their battles with “Stone Cold,” the recent controversial tag title loss by Owen and Bulldog, and the reemergence last week of Brian Pillman, who has apparently joined the faction which is now being referred to as the “New Hart Foundation.” They then inform us that this group will have plenty of opportunity tonight, as Owen Hart will get a shot at the Intercontinental Champion, Rocky Maivia,  and the British Bulldog will get a shot at the WWF Championship versus The Undertaker. Following this, we go to the ring for the first bout of the night, as the Legion of Doom defeat Doug Furnas and Phil Lafon with a Doomsday Device. After the match, we see Sycho Sid arrive at the arena, hobbling to the door on crutches just before a break.

When we return, we see a video package, showing Ken Shamrock training for his match with Vader at the upcoming “In Your House” event, after which, we head back up to the ring for the Intercontinental title bout.

***Match- Intercontinental Championship Match- Champion, Rocky Maivia vs. Owen Hart-*** Owen Hart pinned WWF IC Champion Rocky Maivia with a leg backslide at 8:26 to win the title; prior to the bout, Owen dedicated the match to his  brother Bret who, along with Davey Boy Smith, watched the match from the stage*** (1)

After the match, we go backstage, where Paul Bearer is frantically trying to find someone. Sycho Sid hobbles up to him as Bearer appears very nervous.

Sid: “So, I heard your interview last week. I dropped the ball, did I? I couldn’t get the job done? Well, let me tell you what, I suggest you meet me in the ring right now with some answers or I am gonna have to show you what it means to get the job done. Got it?”

Bearer: (Very nervously speaks)”Oh yes, Sid, it is so good to see you here. I will be out there in just a minute, how is your leg? I was” (Sid interrupts)

Sid: “Save it, I don’t want to hear it. I will see you in a few minutes.”(Cut to commercial)

After the break, we head to the ring, where Sid has made his way there and calls out Paul Bearer

Sid: “Let’s get right to the point here. So, I am sitting at home last week, nursing my injuries and I tune into Raw and see your fat face on the screen telling everyone that I dropped the ball and that I am yesterday’s news? Are you kidding me? I came on board and did everything you asked, I brought you the WWF Title, I punished the Undertaker, hell, I even went out during the tag title match when you asked me too at the pay per view and I don’t even know why. Paul Bearer, get your ass out here, you have some explaining to do , right now.” (Bearer comes out to the ramp, pauses for a second, and the New Blackjacks follow him  with their tag titles slung over their shoulders. They all stop and he talks, standing about half way down the ramp)

Bearer: “You see Sid, you did drop the ball. You couldn’t get the job done, so I just used you for what I needed and then I discarded you like a piece of garbage. You were the weak link in the ‘Alliance,’ and now, with your help, thank you for that by the way, these two men, Bradshaw and Windham are the World Tag Team Champions and they will get the job done for me because they are the newest members of the ‘Unholy Alliance.’”

Sid: (Red in the face and very angry) “Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? A piece of garbage, I am a two time WWF Champion, which is more than anyone in the ‘Alliance’ can say. Do you know who you are talking to? I am the master and the ruler of the world. I suggest you reconsider very soon, Mr. Bearer, because other wise this will prove to be the biggest mistake of your life.”

Bearer: (Looks to the sky, and rubs his chin in thought) “Okay, I have thought it over and you can read my lips. Sycho Sid you are fired from my ‘Alliance.’ You are terminated, gone, your services are no longer needed or wanted. Now even a moron like you should be able to understand that. Now limp your way home and good riddance.” (Bearer and the Blackjacks share a laugh and point as Sid grits his teeth in anger in the ring. The camera goes to the backstage area and we see the Hart Foundation in their locker room, getting ready. Bret, Owen, and Bulldog are all welcoming Pillman. In the exchange, Bret notes that he wishes he could compete tonight, but his back is still hurt from Austin putting him in the sharpshooter last week. The segment ends as Pillman says that he can’t wait to unveil the next big surprise for “Stone Cold’” Steve Austin tonight.)

Following a break, the action goes back to the ring, where Ahmed Johnson soundly defeats Savio Vega. After the bout, both Faarooq and Crush berate Savio, and walk away, leaving him in the ring. Ahmed grabs a microphone after the matchup and challenges the Nation to a gauntlet match at the upcoming ‘In Your House,” adding that if one of the three beat him, they will never again have to fight him, but if he wins, the Nation must disband. After the match, we again go the dressing rooms, where we see the Undertaker stretching in preparation for his match later in the night. He stops his routine, as he looks to his side and sees a note taped to his locker. He snatches it and it reads, “Me again, check your bag for another surprise.” Undertaker thinking aloud says, “What the hell, check my bag?” He opens up his own gear bag and once again, the bullrope is there. ‘Taker slams the locker shut and breathes heavily as the show goes to another commercial.

When Raw returns, we see a taped interview with Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Chyna. Helmsley says how he is sick and tired of Goldust attacking him and jumping on him from behind and that he wants him in one last matchup at “In Your House.” He says he doesn’t care what type of match it is, Goldust can choose whatever he likes, but after that bout he will wash his hands with their rivalry as he plans to become the next big star in WWF and he plans to begin that climb next month by becoming the 1997 King of the Ring. The commentators then announce that Goldust was in the building earlier but inexplicably had to leave, adding that he and Marlena will be involved in a very personal sit down interview with Jim Ross next week.  Following this, we go back to the ring, where “Stone Cold” Steve Austin makes quick work of The Sultan, pinning him in under three minutes following a stunner. After the match, he calls for a microphone.

Austin: “So, little Bret Hart thinks he is cute bringing his family and all his little Canadian buddies together to jump on ol’ ‘Stone Cold, does he? Well Bret, you better do better than that raspy, punk, Brian Pillman. I carried his ass for years and now he wants to come and get some of ‘Stone Cold?’ Well son, I say this, if you want some of Steve Austin, this right here is one son of a bitch that ain’t hard to find. So, I have no problem with whippin’ your ass  first and then whippin’ your buddy Bret’s pink and black ass at the pay per view. How’s that sound boys? Sounds pretty good to me, oh and Brian Pillman, you got a surprise for me? Well that’s great, I love surprises and maybe if you are not careful,  I will have one for you. WHAM! There is my surprise, a stone cold stunner for your silly ass. Oh and Bret, did I hurt your little back? Oh I am real sorry about that, and by the way, remember how I told you I’d get you last week and I did? Well before the end of the night, your ass is mine again and that’s the bottom line, ‘cause ‘Stone Cold’ said so.”

Following the match, we go backstage again, where Honky Tonk man and “Rock-a-Billy” Gunn are chatting. Flash Funk and the Funkettes walk by and Gunn makes a racy comment, which sees Flash turn and start pummeling him. Honky picks up his guitar and lays Funk out cold, as we head to commercial.

After the break, we prepare for the World Title main event. Just before the intros, we again see the Hart Foundation talking. Bret tells them that there is no way Austin can get to him if they stick together as a unit. They all agree and head toward the gorilla position. Back to the arena, the lights then go down and The WWF Champion, the Undertaker is introduced, followed by the European Champion, the British Bulldog, who walks out with Owen, Pillman, and Bret. They wait and watch the match from the top of the ramp, to stick together as Bret had planned.

***Match- WWF Championship Match- Champion, The Undertaker vs. The British Bulldog***- WWF World Champion the Undertaker defeated European Champion Davey Boy Smith via disqualification at 4:08 when Owen Hart interfered as Taker prepared to hit the tombstone***(2a) Owen chased down from the ramp, leaving Bret all alone at the top, as Brian Pillman had chased to ringside moments before when while the referee was down, the Bulldog had Undertaker up for his running powerslam and the mysterious, black masked attacker again appeared, blasting Davey Boy across the back with a chairshot, and running back through the crowd with Pillman in hot pursuit. This chairshot set up Bulldog for the tombstone finisher.   ***After the bout, Steve Austin came to the ring, fought off Owen Hart, then hit the Stunner on the WWF champion; moments later, Austin sustained the chokeslam from Taker before going after Bret who was at the top of the ramp; as Austin prepared to attack Bret, Jim Neidhart came from the back and assisted in sending Austin off the stage to the floor where he was later put on a stretcher. This was Neidhart’s surprise return after more than a 2-year absence. ***(2b) Raw goes off the air to the image of Austin being stretchered away.

Raw is War- May 5, 1997- Green Bay, WI

Raw begins with a taped message from WWF President, Gorilla Monsoon.

Monsoon: “Hello to all of our fans of the World Wrestling Federation both in our live crowd here in Green Bay and across the world watching us on the USA Network. I come to you tonight to address several issues that I have been feverishly looking into of late here in the WWF and I am happy to inform you that between myself and the WWF Board of Directors, we have arrived at what I believe are two very fair and reasonable ways of finding a solution for said issues. First, I must address the continued interference of the unnamed person that continues to insist on entering the ring and attacking people, coming through the crowd all dressed in black and hiding his face under a black mask. While we do have several leads, we do not to this point have definitive evidence as to who this nuisance actually is. However, Bret “The Hitman” Hart and several others WWF superstars have made valid points in noting the similarities between this mystery man and the “Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels. That being said, to try and avoid any outside interference at “Cold Day in Hell” this Sunday, I am naming Shawn Michaels as the special guest commentator to join our broadcast team during the Bret Hart and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin match at that event. Speaking of Austin, while he did suffer multiple  injuries  at the hands of Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart last week when he was pushed off the stage here on Raw, I attempted to give him the night off tonight, but  “Stone Cold” insisted that he compete here in Green Bay tonight against a member of the New Foundation. Considering what he went through, I obliged and tonight in a non-title match where every member of the Hart Foundation is barred from ringside, he will take on the European Champion, Davey Boy Smith.  In addition, to getting the Bulldog tonight,  two weeks from tonight on Raw, from Mobile, AL, Austin will get his chance for revenge against the ‘Anvil,’ as he and Neidhart will square off one on one. Now, back to our ‘mystery man’ problem. At our last pay per view, in Rochester, NY, this attacker cost Hart Foundation members, Owen Hart and The British Bulldog the WWF tag team titles in their match with the New Blackjacks. Thus, I am signing a rematch between these two teams, also to take place at this Sunday’s event and once again, Shawn Michaels will be joining J.R, Vince, and the King on commentary, just in case it truly is him under the mask. I hope that these rulings will help to bring us a clear cut winner, free of controversy in these two huge contests this Sunday. I thank you for your time, and enjoy the show.

After Monsoon’s address, the opening music hits and then the pyro, before we are flashed a graphic showing the Austin and Bulldog match to go down later tonight. The first match of the evening is next as “Rock-a-Billy” Gunn defeats Flash Funk by disqualification, when Funk takes the guitar from Honky Tonk Man and wallops Gunn over the head with it. Following this, we see a taped promo with Vader, showing him training for his match Sunday with Ken Shamrock. This montage also includes clips of Vader attacking a talk show host in Kuwait when overseas with the company and him talking of how he was detained in a Kuwaiti prison while serving out his suspension from WWF, as he made the trip for P.R. reasons.

Following the commercial, we see a non-title match for the Tag Team straps, as the New Blackjacks and the Legion of Doom brawl their way to a double disqualification. Paul Bearer was at ringside for the bout with the Blackjacks but was uninvolved in the outcome, as the two teams brawled all the way to the back at the match’s conclusion.  After another quick break, Raw returns for the sit down interview between Goldust, Marlena, and Jim Ross.***This segment focuses on the real-life background of Dustin (Goldust) & Terri Runnels (Marlena), with Dustin talking about growing up in the shadow of his father Dusty, the harassment he took early on as Goldust, and having to deal with other wrestlers – Scott Hall mentioned as one – not wanting to work with him; during the segment, Dustin said he hasn’t spoken to his father in over 2 years but he loved him.*** (3) Immediately after the interview, we cut backstage to Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Chyna. Helmsley mocks the emotional interview with Goldust.

Helmsley : “Hey, Dustin, is that what you are calling yourself now ‘Goldie?’ I almost forgot about your big, fat daddy. How about we pay tribute to him and make that match on Sunday one of your old man’s specialties, a bullrope match. I mean, hey, a bullrope seems to be back in style around here lately, right? You got the tag champs carrying one, the Undertaker keeps getting one every week, so I figure why not beat the hell of of the Dream’s kid and beat him at the family game. Shoot, maybe if you win, which you won’t, but just maybe, then your old man will stop being so embarrassed of you and give you a call or something (They laugh hysterically) Anyhow, see you Sunday.” (They are still laughing when Undertaker walks into the picture, causing them to stop abruptly as he stares at the two)

Undertaker: “Something funny about a bullrope? Look, I asked you before and I am only going to say this once more, so hear me loud and clear. If it was you, plain and simple, you are a dead man Helmsley, both you and your cyborg over here. I suggest you quit your clowning around and dropping my name as though it is in anyway some kind of joke what has been going on around here. You got it?”

Helmsley: “Yes, yes, yes I do. Nothing funny about it.”

Undertaker: “That’s what I thought.” (Just as ‘Taker turns away, a sprinting Mankind blindsides him. The two crash into a nearby shelf with metal piping and boxes dropping on them as they fall to the floor and roll around trading punches until the two are broken up by a host of wrestlers and backstage hands as we go to commercial. )

Next up we go back to in ring action. Faarooq comes to the stage and introduces Crush, explaining he will be running the gauntlet tonight against three wily veterans as the Nation accepts Ahmed’s challenge from a week earlier for Sunday’s “In Your House.”  The gauntlet challenge appears to be a complete farce as each of the first two competitors are complete jobbers wearing masks. *** In the third match, Ahmed Johnson defeated Crush ; Crush defeated jobber #1 with a press slam gutbuster in 28 seconds; Crush defeated jobber #2 with a heart punch at 1:17; a third masked jobber hits the Pearl River Plunge and gets the pin in 10 seconds; after the match, he unveils himself to be Ahmed***(4) Following this we see another Ken Shamrock training promo before heading to commercial.

Returning from the break, Kevin Kelly is backstage with the entire New Hart Foundation. He begins his questioning with Bret Hart.

Kelly: :Well, Bret, it seems you have assembled quite a team here, adding Brian Pillman and your longtime partner, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart to this group. Now that you do have numbers and given President Monsoon’s announcement regarding Shawn Michaels earlier tonight, do you see the odds somewhat in your favor as you head to “Cold Day in Hell.”

Bret: “Well, first off let me welcome Brian and “The Anvil” back into the fold, if I said it once, I said it a million times, nothing beats family. Second, as far as President Monsoon and his announcement, it is total nonsense. Shawn Michaels should be suspended indefinitely. He is running around here causing all kinds of problems, I mean come on, this ‘mystery guy’ just happens to be laying people out with a superkick. More bullshit from the WWF higher ups. As for the odds, I am not a betting man, Kevin Kelly, and I don’t need odds or luck to destroy “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, I just need him to show up so I can leave him laying a bloody pulp like I did at WrestleMania. Heck, he might not even make it to Sunday once Davey gets through with him tonight, but, if he does, I will be happy to beat the living hell out of him again. ‘A Cold Day in Hell’ is a perfect name for Sunday’s show actually, because it is a cold day in hell around here when anyone gives me and my family here any respect or even a fair shake. I will say one thing in conclusion here though and that is that after I beat Steve Austin again, just like I have every other time he has ran his big, vulgar mouth into getting a match with me, I am through with him. I am bored with beating Steve Austin. I want my WWF Title back and I want to get my hands on Shawn Michaels little scrawny neck again after all the crap he has pulled being a sore loser after WrestleMania. So, “Stone Cold,” be ready for the fight of your life on Sunday and be ready for  a prelude to that here in a few minutes.”

After the shows last commercial break, we head to the ring for the main event.

Match- “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. the British Bulldog- The introductions begin with a surprise that gets the crowd on its feet and cheering, as Shawn Michaels music hits to the delight of the crowd. He joins the three commentators for the play by play, before  the British Bulldog is introduced next. The Foundation tries to come to ringside, but is stopped by a row of uniformed police. Bret has a microphone in hand and is complaining that this is an injustice, typical of the current WWF product. He questions Michaels being at the announce table and Michaels responds on air by calling Bret a “big crybaby.” Bret says if they can’t come to ringside that they will stand at the top of the ramp the entire match. Austin is introduced next, but he does not come out when his music hits. Bret begins saying what a chicken Austin is and that he doesn’t blame him for jumping in his pickup truck and heading home to avoid another beating from the Hart Foundation. His music hits again, but still no response. The referee calls for the bell and begins a ten count, as Bret continues to call Austin a coward. As the count reaches six, Austin comes from the crowd on the far side and sneaks in behind Davey Boy who is looking up the ramp waiting for his opponent. The official stops his count and Bulldog turns and immediately gets hit with a boot to the stomach and a stunner for an unbelievably quick victory for Austin. “Stone Cold” rolls off the cover and turns the Bulldog into a sharpshooter as the rest of the Foundation tries to get past the police. Austin continues to sit back on the hold, laughing and hollering insults at Bret, Owen, Pillman, and Neidhart as they try to get to the ring to help their partner. Michaels sarcastically quips, ‘Boy, you got to hate it when something like this happens to the Hart family. It seems they are just always getting screwed.” J.R. chimes in, “Screwed is right, the Bulldog is screwed. Austin is gonna snap his back in half and there is nothing Bret and his cronies can do about it. The wily old ‘Rattlesnake’ has outsmarted the Harts once again. Can he finally get the big win over the ‘Hitman’ on Sunday? That question and so many more to be answered live on pay per view. It looks like we are out of time,” he screams, as the final shots see an irate Bret trying to get to the ring and then Austin smiling from ear to ear still leaning back on the sharpshooter.

In Your House 15- “A Cold Day in Hell”- May, 11, 1997-

The broadcast starts and we begin during the “Free for All” segment, where the first thing we see is an interview from earlier in the day, where Goldust and Marlena are both once again dressed in their street clothes and address Hunter Hearst Helmsley’s comments from Monday night. Goldust agrees to the bullrope match stipulation, but adds one of his own, noting that since Helmsley wants so much to be the “King of the Ring,” that the loser of this match will not be able to compete in the prestigious tournament. He warns Helmsley that him making fun of the Rhodes name just days before a bullrope match is not a smart idea. Just as he says that, The Undertaker confronts him, just as he did Helmsley, questioning him about the bullrope. Goldust tells Undertaker that “with all due respect, the bullrope match was the calling card of the “American Dream,” Dusty Rhodes, not Goldust or Dustin Rhodes.” He adds that he has not seen his father in over two years and it’s been even longer since Dustin Rhodes has seen a bullrope.” ‘Taker seems ok with the response and they part ways. After this we go to the ring and in another part of the “Free for All,” “Rock-a-Billy” Gunn defeats Flash Funk with the shake, rattle, and roll neckbreaker. Following this, the pay per view portion  of the show starts with a promo video detailing the long time feud of The Undertaker and Mankind, as well as the Austin/Bret and Vader/Shamrock feuds.

As “Cold Day in Hell” hits the air, we are greeted once again by J.R., the King, and Vince McMahon, they briefly give their thoughts on the bouts to come this evening, before the opening contest is announced and it is the Gauntlet Match. Ahmed Johnson destroys Savio Vega in the first match, prompting Faarooq to scream at the Puerto Rican star and send him back to the locker room. Ahmed then found himself struggling in a power versus power match number two that eventually sees him topple Crush. In a shocking development, Ahmed seems to have the third fall in hand when the referee is knocked down. Crush interferes and Ahmed does his best to fight the two off, before Rocky Maivia appears to help out Ahmed. When the official comes to, he sees Maivia hitting Faarooq and disqualifies Ahmed and awards the bout to the Nation. Rocky apologizes profusely to Faarooq as the show heads back to the interview area, where Dok Hendrix stands by with Mankind, Vader, and the New Blackjacks.

Hendrix: “Well, the ‘Unholy Alliance’ has somewhat of a new look, but once again, the team is back on the field and at full power. All of you gentleman have huge matches tonight here at ‘In Your House,’ but very conspicuous by his absence here is your leader, Paul Bearer, would anyone care to let us in on his whereabouts?”

Vader: “How about you keep your nose in your own business, Hendrix? How is that for his whereabouts? How about me telling you that Paul is here, he is conducting some Alliance business and that is all you need to know. How about after 30 long days, it is finally Vader Time, it is finally Vader time for you, Ken Shamrock. I can’t wait to pop your little pea head like a zit tonight and show you like I showed that puke, talk show host in Kuwait that you do not come in as an outsider to my business and try to make me look like a fool. Tonight, Shamrock, you are the fool.”

Mankind: “Here a fool, there a fool, everywhere a fool, fool. Dok Hendrix, don’t be trying to stir the pot, you see the stew that is the ‘Unholy Alliance’ has finally reached a boil and added its last ingreedients, in Windham and Bradshaw, the World Tag team Champions. Uncle Paul has created this machine and tonight, Undertaker, once again, we cross paths. The big difference is tonight,  my happy, smiling face after another victory over you will not just be lit up with glee over my destruction of you, it will be lit up from the glare off my new WWF Championship belt. A cold day in hell is what they are calling this one, Undertaker, and how apt a name is that when despite the cooling temperature down there, we both know that someone here tonight has a very good chance that they will get burned.” (As he says burned, Foley emits a fireball from his hands toward the camera. The camera man drops his device and it spins, when he picks it up at a distance, we see Paul Bearer down the hallway speaking to with someone that is inside an open dressing room door. The viewers cannot see who is speaking with and when he notices the camera, he walks away from the door in a hurry to join his ‘Alliance.’

Heading back to the ring for the next match, we get a bonus unannounced match that sees the Legion of Doom viciously assault and make quick work of Doug Furnas and Phil Lafon. Much like this past Monday, Hawk and Animal seem much more vicious than usual, which the announcers pick up on and speak of throughout the match. When they leave the ring, J.R. catches the legendary team for a quick interview, where they say they are “tired of being overlooked in  the championship picture and that they didn’t just return to the WWF as some type of nostalgia act.” They conclude by saying that the lack of attention has forced them to “return to their roots.” Next up is the Goldust and Hunter Hearst Helmsley bullrope match. In a brutal affair, Helmsley scores a cheap win when Chyna assaults Marlena outside the ring, distracting Goldust just as he had set up for the ‘Curtain Call,’ allowing Hunter to hit a pedigree and get the win. Once he comes too, Goldust is furious, screaming “I’ve had enough, the games are now over,” as he shoved down several EMT’s and officials that tended to his fallen wife before slinging her over his shoulder and leaving.

Next up is the World Tag Team Title bout, the guest commentator, Shawn Michaels comes out first, with the former champions, Owen Hart and the British Bulldog, being led out by Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart getting introduced first and then the champions, the New Blackjacks coming out with their manager, Paul Bearer.

Match- WWF Tag Team Championship Match- Champions-The New Blackjacks (with Paul Bearer) vs. Owen Hart and The British Bulldog (with Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart- This rematch from last month begins with the Bulldog and Bradshaw locking up. Bradshaw takes the advantage with a pair of big shoulderblocks off the ropes, but the Bulldog responds in turn dropping Bradshaw with two shoulder blocks as well. They again lock up, but Bradshaw goes to the eyes, and again gets the upper hand. A whip to the rope and a big boot nearly beheads Bulldog, as the Blackjacks begin to cut the ring in half and work him over. Windham comes in and hits hard and fast, scoring with a flying forearm and following up with a DDT that nearly gets a three count. Utilizing the referee’s five count, the Blackjacks score with a double clothesline and then a double suplex that has the Bulldog in serious trouble. Bradshaw then flings the European Champ to the arena floor, where his partner moves in to attack, but instead is floored from behind by a double axe handle blow by the ‘Anvil.’ Neidhart helps Bulldog up and upon reentry, he does a somersault underneath a Bradshaw lariat attempt and tags in Owen. Owen comes in and catches Bradshaw with a spinning heel kick and then turns and gives the same to Windham. He slings Bradshaw to the corner, then Windham into Bradshaw in the same corner. Bulldog then enters and he whips Owen in for a big splash on to the two and as Owen moves, Davey does the same to the ‘Anvil’ who has entered the ring and nails the champions, with Windham in front taking the brunt of the big shoulder tackle. Both Blackjacks slide out to the floor to regroup at this point, Neidhart again comes around the corner their way, but this time the champs see him coming, as Bradshaw levels him to the floor with a lariat and the two and Bearer lay the boots to him. “Come on, he is not even part of the damn match,” argues Ross, to which Michaels, brimming again with sarcasm chimes in with, “Here we go again, the Hart’s are always getting screwed. I would think after all that screwing, they have got to be somewhat sore.” McMahon directs the conversation back to the match on that note after cutting off Michaels, saying, “Pleeease, Shawn Michaels, let’s keep it focused on the action.” Seeing Neidhart down, Owen sprints to the far side and leaps over the top rope, wiping out both Blackjacks and Bearer, as the official begins to lose control of the match. Bulldog also comes around to this side of the ring, and all four men begin brawling. “All hell has broken loose here, the referee is losing control of this one,” observes Ross, when Michaels stands up at the table and tells his colleagues that he has just received word that he has a family emergency and needs to leave. He takes his headset off and runs towards the back. The action continues and finally we have Bulldog and Windham back in the ring. Unlike earlier, Bulldog takes a decisive advantage. Scoring with a big running clothesline followed by a vertical suplex. Rolling over for a pin, Bulldog only gets a two count. He then again whips the Blackjack off the ropes and when he returns ducks down to flip Windham high in the air with a big back drop, followed by a gorilla press slam. While Windham was up for the slam, Owen tags himself in and climbs the ropes, meeting Windham after the press slam with a spectacular frog splash off the top. Bradshaw just gets in to break up the count at two and a half, laying a boot to Owen’s head. Bulldog races in after Bradshaw and goes to sling him again into the corner but has the attempt reversed, as Davey is slung at full speed into the other corner, nailing his shoulder on the steel ring post and falling to the floor. Bradshaw follows him to the floor and whips him hard of the post again, dropping the Bulldog. Neidhart races to Davey’s aid again, and he and Bradshaw begin brawling on the outside, as Owen goes for the sharpshooter on Windham. Bearer hops to the apron to distract the ref and while doing so, drops the urn in the ring. Suddenly, the mysterious masked man once again appears from the crowd, chair in hand, unseen by any, as he hops the side railing half way down the entrance ramp. As he sneaks up to the ring however, Brian Pillman sprints from the back and chases him to ringside. Pillman actually catches and tackles him from behind. And the two roll on the floor trading punches. The official sees this, and leaves the argument with Bearer to go to the floor to break up both fights that are going on. Pillman and the masked man  spill into the crowd over the barrier, and after almost unmasking him, the intruder hits a low blow on Pillman and escapes again through the crowd. Neidhart and Bradshaw have also spilled over the barrier and through all of this, with the referee trying to still restore order, the Legion of Doom hit the ring. Seeing the urn still on the mat, Hawk picks it up and levels Owen, knocking him out and placing Windham’s arm over him for the pin. The L.O.D. slide out of the ring and the official returns and counts three, giving the Blackjacks the win. After the bell rings, Hawk and Animal return to the ring and pick Owen up and drop him with a Doomsday Device as Paul Bearer looks on with joy. His smile turns to a frown though, when seconds later they also scoop up Windham and level him with their devastating flying clothesline finisher, before looking Bearer in the eye, scooping up and confiscating his urn and waving goodbye to him as the manager throws a fit, jumping up and down.

After the camera follows L.O.D. up the ramp, the show again goes to the interview area, where Kevin Kelly waits with the WWF Champion, The Undertaker.

Kelly: “WWF champion, the Undertaker, tonight, you renew your old feud with Mankind, a man who has not only had more success against you than almost anyone, but also a man that is deranged, twisted, and seems to truly enjoy both inflicting and receiving pain. Heading into your big defense, how do you combat someone who knows your arsenal so well, and also, on a side note, have you made any headway in your search for the ‘gift giver?”

Undertaker: “Gift giver? You have got to be joking me right? I have a World Title defense tonight against a sick man, Mankind, and you want to know about the gift giver? Does it look like I have found the damn gift giver? Well, whoever that coward may be, I ask you to please tune in tonight to the savage beating I give Mankind, because as far as I am concerned, that is you, whoever you may be that I will be decimating out there. Mankind, you are the wrong man, in the wrong place, at the absolute wrong time. You have been attacking me, trying to set me on fire, trying to maim me, for way to long. I have shown you before that if you want to play with fire, then eventually someone is going to get burned, and that someone is not me. You and Paul Bearer get a big laugh out of trying to burn me again on Raw. Let me just remind you two that you don’t want to try and set fire to the gatekeeper of hell. Tonight, Mankind, you rest in peace and you rest in peace for good.”

A promo detailing the history of Vader and Ken Shamrock runs next, as immediately following this, the two competitors are introduced. Just before the introductions, Jim Ross told the viewers that due to the personal nature of this upcoming bout that WWF President Gorilla Monsoon had sent word to the broadcast team that he had made it a no hold barred match.

***Match- No Holds Barred Match- Ken Shamrock vs. Vader (with Paul Bearer)***- Ken Shamrock defeated Vader in a no holds barred match via submission with the ankle lock at 12:10; a graphic before the bout stated the match could be won via a referee standing 8 count but Jim Ross clarified the match could only end by submission or knock out; during the bout, Vader sustained a broken nose following a series of knees to the face This was Shamrock’s TV in-ring wrestling debut with WWF)***(5)

Next up we see a promo package for the upcoming WWF Title match between Undertaker and Mankind. Following the piece, we see both men introduced, as Mankind and Bearer enter first followed by the WWF Champion, who Ross notes “seems even more focused and evil than ever.”

***Match- WWF Championship Match- Champion-The Undertaker vs. Mankind (with Paul Bearer)***- WWF World Champion the Undertaker pinned Mankind (w/ Paul Bearer) with the tombstone at 17:26; after the match, the champion shot a fireball into the eyes of Paul Bearer, forcing Bearer to be stretchered to an awaiting ambulance backstage.***(6)

Following the horrific scene of Bearer being scorched with the fireball, the announce team recaps the long history and twists and turns in the feud between Bret Hart and Steve Austin that have occurred since Bret’s return at Survivor Series 1996, last November. Following this, Bret is introduced and he comes to the ring with the entire Hart Foundation. “Oh come on, talk about having the odds stacked against you,” J.R. argues before the introduction of “Stone Cold.” Lastly, Shawn Michaels is introduced as the guest commentator and he takes his spot at the table, immediately being questioned by Ross and McMahon after his disappearance earlier during the tag title match and then the appearance of the mystery man in his absence. Just before the bout is scheduled to start, WWF president, Gorilla Monsoon walks to the stage and announces that this will also be a no disqualification match, but adds one major stipulation, that all members of the Hart Foundation are banned from ringside.  The four members not in the match are escorted, as both Austin from the ring and Michaels, now standing on the announce table wave goodbye to them.

Match- No Disqualification Match- Bret ‘the Hitman” Hart vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin- After getting all worked up over his family being led away, Bret wildly charges Austin, but his roundhouse right is blocked and Austin slugs him back. The two trade punches at center ring for a bit, with Austin eventually getting the better of the exchange. He hurls Bret to the ropes and immediately scores with his trademark Lou Thez Press and follow up right hands much to the joy of Jim Ross. Following up, Austin pulls Bret up and guns him to the corner, where Bret hits face first, full force and falls. He pulls “the Hitman” up and slings him full speed to the opposite corner, with Hart again bouncing face first off the buckle and falling in the corner. Smelling blood, “Stone Cold” stomps repeatedly on Bret, delivering a flurry of kicks to him while down, eventually kicking him under the ropes to the floor. Austin follows him out and continues the onslaught as Bret begs away. He whips Bret shoulder first into the ring post and then immediately slings him back first into the steel barricade. As Hart staggers off, Austin drops him to the floor with a clothesline, before cinching him up and delivering a suplex on the concrete floor. In complete control, Austin grabs a chair and unloads on nearly every inch of Bret’s body, nailing him in the legs, arms, back, and then scoring with a sickening chair shot to the back of the skull. “Austin is taking the “Hitman” out back to the woodshed,” Ross adds, while Michaels comment again is steeped in sarcasm as he adds, “When its Bret Hart we are talking about, it might be less of a woodshed than it is the ‘toolshed’ if you hear what I am screaming.” Lawler chuckles in response, “Haha, yeah, Bret is a tool.” Rolling him back into the ring, Austin continues his attack with the chair, bending it over Bret’s leg repeatedly before pulling him to the corner and sliding outside to give Bret a taste of his own medicine with a ringpsot figure four. However, this proves Austin’s first mistake, as Bret frees his legs as “Stone Cold,” drops back to lock the hold, and his head instead smacks off the arena floor, giving Bret a moment to regroup, before he limps to his feet. Hart scoops up the bent up chair and crawls to the floor, blasting Austin over the back with a series of loud shots. He reaches over and grabs a cord from the floor and begins choking his rival out, raining multiple punches to his forehead as he does. While still strangling Austin he turns to Michaels, and hollers at him, flipping him off, to which Ross quips, “Hey Shawn, at least we know Bret still thinks you’re number one.” Hart then viciously Russian leg sweeps Austin on the floor, driving the back of his head into the ring apron. Stalking his prey, Bret now goes to the time keeper’s table and pushes down the time keeper and grabs the bell. He turns and belts Austin in the face with the weapon, busting him open with one big shot. He then rolls “Stone Cold” back into the ring and whips him off the ropes, catching him with a sleeper when he bounces back. Fading fast, Austin latches his arm over the top rope in a move of desperation, forcing Bret to break the hold before he was completely out. Always a thinking wrestler, Bret lets go, but sweeps Austin’s legs from under him, dragging him to the center of the ring and locking in a figure four. Austin screams in pain as the referee continues to ask him if he submits. After fighting through the pain for a bit, Austin reverses the hold momentarily, before Bret squirms free, leaving Austin still as the man in far worse shape out of two. Bret then steps outside of the ring and clears off the Spanish announcers table, while Austin still squirms on the mat. “What the hell is Bret thinking here? Nothing good can come of this,” J.R. says, as Bret pulls Austin to the side ropes and steps between, standing on the apron. He cinches his opponent into a front face lock and begins jockeying for position, attempting to suplex Austin from the ring, over the top and to the now cleared table. Austin blocks two attempts and breaks somewhat free with a few shots to the ribs that stun Bret. Another pair of kidney shots has the “Rattlesnake” free and in a quick burst he sprints off the far side ropes and comes full speed at Bret, knocking him off the apron and flying all the way through the table and to the floor. After a very brief breather, Austin head to the floor and mounts Bret, nailing him again with repeated punches before turning around and seeing the bell on the floor still. He picks it up and despite Bret’s pleas, bashes him in the face with the instrument, bloodying Bret’s face. Following this, Austin rolls the battered “Hitman” back into the ring and continues the beating, hitting a pair of belly to back suplexes and a second rope elbow for a two count. Austin then picks Bret up again and after a whip to the ropes, hangs Bret out to dry on the top rope via a move he once called the “Stun Gun,” for another near fall. Again pulling Bret up, Austin ducks a wild right and locks Bret in the “Million Dollar Dream.” Hart is fading fast, when Neidhart and Pillman sprint out to the ring, where they are cut off by the security force. Austin releases Bret and goes to the floor and trades punches with Pillman first, getting the better of him and knocking him into the crowd. Then he does the same to the “Anvil,” before returning to get at Bret. Bret has recovered however and hits Austin with a taste of his own medicine, catching him with a boot to the gut and then a stunner. After a brief few seconds that both men lay down, Hart lays an arm over Austin for a one, two, and then just before the three, Austin lifts a shoulder. Frustrated, Bret jumps on Austin and mounts him, punching him in repetition in the face. Just as this is going on, Michaels again informs his fellow broadcasters that he has been told through his head set that there is another emergency and that he needs to leave. Ross and McMahon both question the move, while Lawler wishes him well, reprimanding the other two announcers saying, “Good luck, Shawn, I hope all is ok. McMahon, Ross, you guys should be ashamed of yourselves.” Still slugging away, Bret notices Michaels leaving and points to him, then leaning over the ropes and hollering at McMahon. Michaels taunts Bret, shrugging his shoulders as he walks away smiling before heading into the backstage area. Bret turns and walks into a small package by Austin that very nearly reaches a count of three before a kick out. A now furious Bret scoops Austin and delivers an inverted atomic drop, but when going for a second one, Austin blocks it and yanks Bret’s legs out from under him and twists him into the sharp shooter. This draws Owen and Bulldog from the back, but they like their friends before are cut off by security. Austin continues to lay back on the move as Bulldog and Owen frantically try to make the save. Austin again makes a crucial mistake, as he takes one arm off Bret, allowing him to slide underneath and reverse the sharp shooter. Bret now has Austin locked in the center of the ring, as Bulldog and Owen are still battling security at ringside. Suddenly, the mystery man again appears from the crowd about halfway down the entrance ramp. He blindsides Bulldog with a chairshot to the back and then nails Owen, unbeknownst to Bret, who still leans back on the sharpshooter. Austin struggles and nearly reaches the ropes, but just as he almost wraps his hand around the bottom strand, Bret stands and walks him back to the center of the ring and sits back on the sharpshooter, locking it even deeper. The mystery man now walks to that side of the ring and stands in plain view of Bret, who screams in protest at him being there, but does not release the hold. As the mystery man stands there, to the shock of everyone, Michaels walks back through the crowd and steps over the barricade right behind the announcers, putting his headset back on and grabbing a seat at the table as the masked man still stand before Bret. With Bret still arguing, a confused J.R., observes, “Wait a minute, the masked man in black is right there, and Shawn Michaels is right here, but I thought that, they were one and the same?’ Michaels responds , “Well, I hate to say I told you so, but, I told you so,” as Bret now releases the hold and stands at the side of the ring calling out the masked man, still not seeing Michaels. The masked man responds to Bret’s shouts and challenges, pointing to the other side of the ring. When Bret turns, HBK stands on the announce table again, waving to Hart. Bret then turns to the other side and the masked man also waves. Thoroughly confused, Hart turns again to look back at Shawn, but when he does, Austin pops up miraculously and hits a boot to the stomach and a stunner for a one, two, three and the victory. As Bret lays in the ring, a bloody and spent Austin has his hand raised before shaking his arms free, walking to the ropes and flipping Michaels off. Shawn responds, by pointing to the far side, where the masked man has entered the ring and blasts Austin with a sickening chairshot that stagers Austin who is out on his feet. Quickly, Michaels pounces into the ring and before the rubber legged Austin falls, he scores with “sweet chin music,” as the mysterious attacker has again disappeared through the crowd. The show goes off the air with Hart and Austin bloodied and out on the mat, while Michaels hits his classic double bicep flex to the strains of his “Sexy Boy” theme music. Jim Ross brings the pay per view to an end, stating, “Folks, I have no idea, we will try to sort this all out tomorrow night. Austin is the winner, but it is Shawn Michaels that stands tall over everyone somehow here at “Cold Day in Hell,” and I never thought I’d be saying this but HBK gets a hand from the ‘man in black.’ What in the hell is gonna happen tomorrow on Raw?”

Raw is War- May 12, 1997- Newark, DE

***The opening segment of Raw features Vince McMahon conducting an opening in-ring interview with Steve Austin in which it was announced he would have one final match one on one match with Bret Hart on June 8 at King of the Ring; during the segment, Austin challenged Bret  to an immediate match and then said he had one minute to come out or he would go back and find him; a clock then appeared on the big screen, with Bret, WWF European Champion Davey Boy Smith & I-C Champ Owen Hart appearing on the big screen after it ran out and Bret accepting the challenge to a streetfight later in the show; Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler announced the match would happen at the start of the broadcast; Hart then argued, asking why Austin was getting another match, with Austin saying if he was going to hell then Bret would be coming with; after McMahon joined the commentary team, footage showed Austin looking for Bret backstage;  after a quick break the show returned backstage and featured Austin shown hitting the Hart Foundation dressing room door, with Bret shown inside having Pat Patterson, Tony Garea, Blackjack Lanza, and Dave Hebner send Austin out to the ring***(7a) Following this segment, the announcers discuss Shawn Michaels controversial involvement in the two matches the night before, adding that HBK will be at Raw later and he will be interviewed in the center of the ring by Vince McMahon.

After another quick commercial, we see the Undertaker back stage, strolling through the hall with the WWF title slung over his shoulder. He walks into catering and sets his belt on a table before retrieving a tray of food. Just as he turns to sit down, a food service worker, asks him, “Hey, you are the Undertaker, right? To which the “Phenom” answers sarcastically, “Um, yeah, I’m the Undertaker.” The worker then reaches under the food line and pulls up a huge heart shaped box of chocolates, that he hands to the ‘Dead Man’ and says, “This has nothing to do with me, but when I got to the building for work, I was told to give you this for your dessert. Again, I am just doing my job as I am told.” Undertaker rips it from his hands, tears the heart shaped box open, to reveal no candy, but once again a bullrope, with a note that he reads aloud, “Very impressive last night, I can’t wait to ‘strip’ you of your title soon, thanks for keeping it warm for me. Maybe that won’t be all I ‘strip’ from you. I will see you real soon. P.S.- Can you guess who yet?” Undertaker throws the box to the ground, tips his food tray over, grabs his belt and storms off in a huff as the show heads back to the ring, where Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart destroys Jesse James, scoring a pin after a powerslam, with the announcers plugging the Neidhart vs. Austin match to come next week on Raw. After a commercial, the show comes back for in ring action, where Rocky Maivia loses to Faarooq by disqualification when after the official went down, Crush interferes, prompting Ahmed Johnson to run in. Just like the night before, the official arises to see Ahmed pummeling Faarooq, costing Rocky the decision. After this match, J.R., the King, and Vince inform us from ringside that WWF President Monsoon has booked three big matches for tonight in addition to the Bret/Austin streetfight,  a rematch for the WWF Tag Team Titles between the New Blackjacks, Owen Hart and the British Bulldog, the Raw wrestling debut of Ken Shamrock, as he will take on “Rock-a-Billy’ Gunn, and a non-title rematch from a few weeks earlier between WWF Champion The Undertaker and Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Following this, we head backstage to Dok Hendrix, who stands by with the Legion of Doom.

Hendrix: “Hawk, Animal, much controversy surrounding your interference in the WWF tag title match last night at ‘In Your House.’ You attacked both teams involved and actually handed the match to the champions. After wards, you made reference to ‘returning to your roots.’ Could you please explain what your reasoning was and what you meant in that comment?”

Animal: “Dok, it’s real simple. We came back to the WWF a few months back and we have been treading water, we have been stuck in the middle of the pack. We are American originals, we are the greatest tag team to ever step in a ring, and we are sick and tired of taking a back seat. So, that fat toad, Paul Bearer came to us last night and offered us a spot in his ‘Unholy Alliance.’ He hired us to make sure his paper champions , Bradshaw and Windham kept their belts, so we took his money, but we don’t answer to him or anyone else, so we wiped out his chumps as a way of saying ‘no thanks’ on joining his band of goons. So, we are getting back to the old Road Warrior way, and that is simply, “We don’t care.” Owen and Bulldog, Blackjacks, or anyone else out there, we are coming for you and we won’t stop until we get the tag team titles. As far as Bearer, don’t insult us by saying we need your backup, we have all the backup we need right here and your boys are gonna feel pain and suffering like they have never known. Tell ‘em Hawk.”

Hawk: “Wellllll. It’s like you said, Animal. We don’t care. We are going to leave a path of destruction the likes of which has never been seen before here in the WWF. We are gonna see the old and destructive side of the Legion of Doom as we reign over the WWF. We dine on danger and snack on death, and you have our word that we will wipe out Bearer’s scum stable and anyone else in our path to the titles. Ohhhhh, what a rush.”

We then head back to the ring, where in his Raw is War debut, Ken Shamrock destroys “Rock-a-Billy” Gunn, making him tap out to his ankle lock submission. The announcers inform us that Vader was severely injured in the match with Shamrock last night and they are unclear on how long he will be out. After the match, while Jim Ross stops Shamrock for an interview, Mankind charges from the back and drops Shamrock with a lead pipe shot to the knee, before jumping on top of him and clamping on the mandible claw until a host of referees pull him off as we head to a commercial. After the break, we head back to the ring for the Austin/Bret streetfight.

***Match- Streetfight- Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin- ***Steve Austin fought Bret Hart to a no contest in a streetfight at around the 8-minute mark; prior to the match, WWF Tag Team Champions – WWF European Champion Davey Boy Smith & Owen Hart jumped Austin from behind, with Bret helping in triple teaming Austin; moments later, Shawn Michaels came out of the crowd and chased Owen and Smith backstage with a steel chair, leaving Bret in the ring with Austin; the bout was stopped when Austin refused to break the Sharpshooter after assaulting Bret’s knee with a steel chair, with the crowd chanting “Austin” as referees tried to pull him away; after officials pulled Austin away, Bret remained on the mat during the commercial break, with Smith and Owen having returned to the ring to call for medical help; moments later, backstage footage showed WWF President Gorilla Monsoon berating Austin beside an ambulance, in which Monsoon ejected Austin from the building; after another commercial break, Bret was taken backstage on a stretcher and loaded into the back of the ambulance by medics, Owen, and Smith; once inside, it was revealed Austin was in the driver’s seat, with Austin again going after Bret until he was beaten off by Owen and Smith and pulled away by officials***(7b)

After the break, we again go to the ring for the World Team Title Match, as Paul Bearer, with his face heavily bandaged from the fireball attack the night before, leads the New Blackjacks to the ring. Owen and the Bulldog follow, still seeming a bit distraught about the attack on Bret. They are alone, as Pillman and Neidhart left the building to check on “The Hitman” in the hospital.

Match- WWF Tag Team Championship
Match- Champions-The New Blackjacks (with Paul Bearer) vs. Owen Hart and the British Bulldog-
The match begins with all four men brawling in the ring. As it gets underway, we see prerecorded comments on a split screen from Paul Bearer, who promises doom for The Road Warriors for double crossing him unless they make better of their choice tonight. He tells them that this is their last chance. Before the split screen returns to one, we see the L.O.D. backstage viewing Bearer’s comments on a monitor. The match continues in back and forth fashion until Owen gets a decided advantage over Windham. He catches him off the ropes with a powerslam for a near fall, before running though several cover attempts including a small package, a rollup, and a backslide that each get a two count. Bulldog is tagged in and he has complete control. He hits a solid running clothesline and then spins to knock Bradshaw off the apron with a right hand. He then turns and puts Windham over his shoulder to deliver the running powerslam, but Bearer grabs his ankle from the outside. As the official reprimands the manager, Windham hits a low blow and gets to his corner finally for a tag. Bradshaw dominates, with a vicious spinebuster leading to a near three count, before he hits a big boot to the face and a lariat that would’ve got the win, but Davey got his foot over the ropes. Bradshaw goes for an Irish whip to the corner, but Bulldog reverses and throws the Blackjack hard into the corner. He spins and follows in for a running clothesline, but at the last second, Bradshaw pulls the official in front, knocking him down and out of the ring. At this point, Windham slides a chair into the ring, but Bradshaw’s attempt to slam Bulldog on the chair backfires, as Davey Boy floats over and nails the big Texan with a DDT on the chair. Davey crawls over to tag Owen as Bradshaw tries the same. Just at this point, the Legion of Doom hit the ring, knocking both Owen and Windham to the floor. They then pick the bones of the two injured participants, first picking up Bulldog and hitting the Doomsday Device, to the glee of Paul Bearer. Again, Bearer’s joy is short-lived as they immediately turn to Bradshaw and hoist him up for another Doomsday Device, following which, Hawk drapes Davey Boy on top, as Animal rolls the ref back in the ring, stopping only to floor Paul Bearer with a punch before leaving. The referee counts to three and Owen and Bulldog are the champions once again. 

Before break, we are told that the HBK interview with McMahon will be next. Following a quick commercial we hear Shawn Michaels music and he hits the ring, with Vince waiting with a microphone.

McMahon: “Shawn Michaels, it is safe to say that you may be the most controversial star in WWF history. Everywhere you go it seems, controversy follows. So many items to touch on, Bret Hart, Steve Austin, the mysterious ‘man in black’ as Jim Ross has dubbed the person who continues to raise absolute hell here in WWF. Can you please fill us in and possibly clear some of these situations up and also, everyone wants to know, when will “The Heartbreak Kid” be back in the ring here on Raw is War?”

Michaels: “You know Vinnie Mac, I think the ‘Man in Black’ issue regarding me is a dead one. You saw the pay per view, I was sitting right next to you when he appeared in “Stone Cold” and the “Hitman’s” match. Obviously, that whole scenario is another case of Bret Hart being delusional and letting his jealousy of me run rampid to where it cloud his better judgment. Speaking of the “Hitman,” I have once again had it up to my ears with him questioning my character here on Raw and everywhere else. So, when does HBK come back, oh, I don’t know, why don’t we say at ‘King of the Ring?’ Oh , and why we are at it, how about at King of the Ring we see Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart do it one more time? That sounds good to me, how about you, Vin-Man?”

McMahon: “Well, Shawn, with all due respect, that would be great, but Bret Hart already has a match scheduled at ‘King Of the Ring,’ with ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, so I am not sure, as good as that does sound, that it is a possibility.”

Michaels: “Well, someone better make it a possibility, because I am not coming back until I get Bret Hart in the ring, end of story. Oh, and I almost forgot, I hope you had a nice joy ride tonight, Bret, and I really, truly hope that your leg is ok. (Michaels smiles and rubs eyes as if he is crying) Anyhow, there are your answers, McMahon, you know I will keep myself busy over the next few weeks, but I will see you for sure at ‘King of the Ring.’” (HBK’s music hits and he poses for fans until commercial)

After the break, we are informed that it is main event time, as Hunter Hearst Helmsley is introduced first with Chyna, followed by the Undertaker.

Match- Non-Title Match- WWF Champion- The Undertaker vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley (with Chyna)- The match begins and the Undertaker is dominant. He tosses Helmsley high overhead with a pair of hip tosses, and the scores twice in opposite corners with “Snake Eyes.” The beating continues, as we see a split screen graphic, with prerecorded comments from Helmsley where he talks about becoming the King of the Ring and rising to the top of the WWF. He adds that he is finally washed his hands of Goldust and ready to move on to bigger and better things. The screen returns to one, as the Undertaker rings Hunter’s arm and climbs the ropes to deliver his “old school” forearm smash followed by a sidewalk slam for a two count. Undertaker then delivers a huge chokeslam and covers for the win, but at two, Chyna pulls the official to the floor by his legs. Undertaker seeing this, reaches over the ropes and pulls Chyna into the ring to a huge pop from the audience, laying her out with a chokeslam, too. Just then, Paul Bearer again appears, but he is wheeling to the ring an enormous shiny gift wrapped box. He stops as he gets to ringside and the Undertaker seeing this comes out to chase down his former manager. After catching him and laying him out with two punches and a bodyslam on the floor, Undertaker tears the huge box open, expecting to see his attacker from the bullrope incident. Instead, he tears it open and no one is inside, only the bullrope, as he looks confused at a card at the bottom of the huge package that reads “Just be patient and you will get your man.” Undertaker tears it up and returns to the ring, in the meantime, Helmsley has slowly risen and just at this same moment, Goldust and Marlena once again appears from the crowd. Goldust has a chair in one hand and Marlena  carries a large purse. Goldust enters the ring and ‘Taker stares him down and looks at him as if to say ‘have at him,’ as Helmsley begs off while the plain clothed Goldust lifts the chair to attack his rival. The as the stunned crowd gasps, Goldust blasts the Undertaker, laying him out with a sickening thump. “What the holy hell is going on here,” questions , J.R., as a smile comes across Helmsley’s face. During this time, Marlena has walked over and seems to be helping Bearer, as Goldust grabs his bag and slides out, rolling the official in and then going over and kneeling over the hurt Paul Bearer as well.  Just before the referee crawls into position, Helmsley hits a pedigree on the chair and scores the huge upset win with an assist to Goldust. Helmsley begins celebrating, as Goldust, Marlena and Bearer appear to be together climbing into the ring. Bearer and Marlena stand over the Undertaker, as Goldust slides quickly out to the floor and retrieves the bullrope from the box, letting the world know he was the attacker and responsible for the mystery gifts, as he stroked the rope suggestively. He joins the two managers over the Undertaker, as Marlena opens her purse and gives him his long blond wig and a gold cowboy hat that he puts on before laying down and slithering on top of the Undertaker, pushing the rope into his face again in a disturbing and suggestive manner. “This is absolutely despicable, these actions by Dustin Rhodes or Goldust or whoever he has become,” Ross yells. McMahon chimes in, “He is a freak, Goldust is a sick freak, this is disgusting,” as Marlena hands Goldust gold lipstick that he applies to the WWF Champion as he kneels over top of him. After this, he wraps the bullrope again around Undertaker’s throat and Raw goes off the air to the disturbing image of Goldust strangling the almost unconscious ‘Phenom’ with Paul Bearer and Marlena celebrating behind them.

Raw is War- May 19, 1997- Mobile, AL

The show begins with a backstage shot of an irate Undertaker turning furniture over as he looks for Goldust and Paul Bearer backstage. After this lead in, we see the Raw is War theme and pyro before J.R., the King, and Vince open the show. They discuss the Austin/Bret incident from the week before and note that Bret Hart has been injured and will be in Mobile to make an announcement regarding his participation at King of the Ring. They also speak of the “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Jim Neidhart match that will take place later in the show. They also inform us that we will hear via satellite from Goldust and Marlena, who are not at Raw tonight and they also add that Shawn Michaels is in the building for tonight’s program in Mobile. Following this, we see a taped promo, with Ahmed Johnson and Rocky Maivia, where Johnson is somewhat taking Rocky “under his wing,” preparing for him to do battle against the Nation of Domination. After the vignette, the first part of a personal sit down interview between Mick Foley (Mankind) and Jim Ross airs. This is the first time that many real life occurrences and Foley past in other companies is addressed on WWF TV. Following this segment, we see the Hart Foundation coming out of their locker room and heading toward the ring. Owen is pushing Bret as he sits in a wheelchair as a result of the attack by Austin last week.

Following a break, we head up to the ring, where the Foundation waits as Bret has a microphone.

Bret: “Well, I hope all of your blood thirsty animals in the crowd are happy. I have suffered serious damage to my knee as a result of that no good, rotten, hyena, Steve Austin’s attack on me and because of this, I have been informed by my doctor that I will not be able to compete against “Stone Cold” in our scheduled match at ‘King of the Ring.” I find it real convenient that suddenly the biggest chicken in the WWF, Shawn Michaels, after seeing my injury suddenly wants to challenge me for a match, when he knows I probably won’t be able to compete. So, Shawn, you coward, I will not be able to fight you as you hoped either, but honestly, I am pretty sure you didn’t really want to fight me anyhow. This brutality and this violence that was perpetrated by Steve Austin, quite frankly borders on criminal and I come before everyone here tonight, to call out the WWF President, Gorilla Monsoon, to deand that he takes action on this immediately. I know he kicked Austin out of the arena last week, but that is not good enough, I want to see that no good scum be dealt some actual justice. So, President Monsoon, if you could come join me please.” (Monsoon comes down the ramp and enters the ring)

Monsoon: “Bret, it is unfortunate and completely reasonable that you ask for some consequences to be dealt to Steve Austin after such a heinous attack. I would like you to know that I will be discussing the matter with WWF’s board of directors later this week, and next week, we will have what I am sure to be ample punishment for Austin’s actions. I have been telling him of the rules and regulations around here for months now, and now, he has simply gone too far and I have no choice but to bring down some type of consequences regarding this issue. Austin has…” (Suddenly, the glass shatters, and out walks “Stone Cold, interrupting Monsoon as he stands on the ramp)

Austin: “Consequences? Repercussions? Let’s hold on one minute here President Monsoon. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin has been telling you since day one, he don’t give a damn about your regulations or your rules. He does what he wants, when he wants. Your little board meeting don’t mean a crap to “Stone Cold.” I will still be whuppin’ ass and droppin’ stunners, no matter what you or any of your suits up at Titan Towers have to say, and as for you Bret, you coward, you are backing out at ‘King of the Ring?’ I knew your colors weren’t black and pink, I knew they were yellow you gutless piece of garbage. The difference between Bret hart and Steve Austin is that you would have to kill me to make me miss out on opening another can of whup ass on you, but from the looks of it, and I guess I can’t really blame ya’, Mr. Canadian Hero, is nothing more than a big coward, hiding behind his family out here.”

Bret: “Have to kill you? You did try to kill me, you animal. I am lucky to be out here tonight. Trust me, I can’t wait to get my hands on you and that phony, Shawn Michaels, just as soon as I am cleared to do so. Unfortunately, that will not be at ‘King of the Ring,’ so really, it looks like today is your lucky day, Austin. My doctor specifically told me that…” (Suddenly, Bret is interrupted by Shawn Michaels appearing on the TitanTron. It is a close up shot of Shawn backstage and he buts in and begins to speak)

Michaels: “Well, well, well. Bret Hart. The role model. The big hero. I would be a liar to say that this is not something that I am enjoying very much. You see Bret, do you recall a few months back, I was injured. I had hurt my leg and needed some time off? (Bret interrupts)

Bret: “Yeah, right. The only difference is my injury is real. You were ducking me and not wanting to get beat by me for your title. I remember and not only do I…”(Shawn interrupts again)

Michaels:  “Who, hold on there “Hitman,” let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. You called me a fraud, you wouldn’t hear of me missing my matches or relinquishing my WWF Title. Of course I never wanted to give up the championship I dreamed my whole life about winning and holding, but I was broken down and I needed to heal, but you just wouldn’t hear of it would you Bret. Well, how is this for a reversal of fortunes? How do they say it? How is this for ‘the pot calling the kettle black?’ (Camera zooms out and Michaels is in the training room with the same doctor Bret appeared with in February on Raw) Remember this gentleman, Bret? Well, I have spoken with him about his diagnosis of you and your knee, and I would just love for President Monsoon, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, all of your idiot family members out there with you, and heck, the whole world to hear what he has to say regarding your status for ‘King of the Ring.” What do you say, doc?” (Michaels gives the doctor his microphone, as Bret and the Foundation argue and get mad in the ring. Monsoon looks on intently, and Austin wears a big, sly grin as he still watches from the ramp.)

Doctor: “Well, I did indeed do a full check up on Bret Hart this past week, and much like when I had looked at you back in February, Mr. Michaels, I did see great damage done to both Mr. Hart’s knee and back.”

Shawn: (sarcastically puts hand over his mouth before butting in) “Oh, ok, there was damage, but please doctor, continue and tell the world what you told Bret as far as in ring competition.”

Doctor: “Well, again, it was much like I told you Mr. Michaels, I told Bret that it would be in his best interest to probably take some time off and heal these injuries.” (Bret interrupts)

Bret: “Ha, see I told you Michaels, you can’t come out here and try to embarrass me, my injuries are legit or everyone knows I would be out here kicking your ass and Steve Austin’s ass, every single week just like I always do and another thing…” (Shawn again interrupts)

Michaels: “Bret, please, let the man finish before we get our pink and black tights all in a wad. (Bret is now steaming mad in ring) Doc, you were saying?”

Doctor: “As I was saying, while I did recommend that Mr. Hart take some time off to heal said injuries, I told him exactly what I had told you, Shawn, that these injuries are a culmination of years of wear and tear from the grueling schedule you all work as WWF superstars. I explained that while it would be in his best interest to let them heal at this point, that in no way would he be worsening them any more than they currently are at this point by competing in the ring, as if he planned to return at some point, he would still be at the same risk then as he would be right now.”

Michaels: “So, in English, doc, let me get this straight (sarcastically scratches his head) What you are saying is that Bret Hart, much like my situation a few months back, so long as he plans to continue his wrestling career at some point is in no more or less danger of worsening these injuries than at any point that he would come back? So you are pretty much saying that he is cleared to wrestle at least by ‘King of the Ring’?

Doctor: “Well, I do suggest that he takes a few weeks before  returning to the ring, but as I said, I see no reason for him to not compete at ‘King of the Ring.’”

Michaels: (Smiling widely as camera again goes to close up shot) “Oooh, that’s got to hurt, Bret. Looks like Mr. Hero is the big chicken and the fraud, eh Bret. What do you think President Monsoon? I think we will be seeing the “Hitman” at ‘King of the Ring’ after all.” (Bret is furious in the ring and directs the Foundation to go find Michaels. They sprint up the ramp, and Owen and Bulldog get into it with Austin, while Neidhart and Pillman race off to find HBK. Monsoon shrugs his shoulders at the irate “Hitman” as he leaves the ring, shakes his head and can be heard saying, ‘looks like I have another item to address next week, too, Bret.’ As the brawling on the ramp continues, Bret sits alone in the ring in his wheelchair. Michaels, who is still on the TitanTron laughing, again addresses Bret.) “Oh yeah, and “Hitman,” now that you are all alone out there in your little wheelchair, you may want to turn around and look behind you.” (Bret turns and the ‘Man in Black’ has entered the ring from the crowd. Right as Bret spins around, the attacker blast him backwards out of his wheelchair with a sickening chairshot to the head before retreating once again back through the audience. A sprawled out “Hitman’ is the image we see as we head to commercial.)

After the break, we get a quick backstage shot of President Monsoon in the hallway speaking with the doctor. He invites the medical expert into his office and the door shuts behind them. Immediately after this, we are back in the ring where the Legion of Doom destroys the Headbangers, attacking them before the bell and winning in under a minute. As they head back to the locker room, Paul Bearer and the New Blackjacks meet them half way up the ramp and the two teams brawl into the back. In the melee, Bearer steals back his urn that L.O.D. had taken from him and begins to walk to the back with a smug look on his face as the teams continue to slug it out, when longtime Road Warrior manager, “Precious” Paul Ellering walks from the back and tears the urn from his hands as Bearer cowers from him, looking as though he had seen a ghost. Ellering turns and walks away with the urn as we head back to the interview area, where Kevin Kelly waits with Mankind.

Kelly: “Mankind, we begin the qualifiers for the ‘King of the Ring’ tournament next week, and you will be involved in one of our four quarter final bouts. In an interesting scenario, if you win, another man involved in the qualifiers is Ken Shamrock, who you brutally attacked last week, for no apparent reason. I must ask, why exactly would you want to poke the proverbial bear, in this case, “The World’s Most Dangerous man” with a stick and provoke him by sneak attacking him?”

Mankind: “The proverbial bear, Kevin Kelly, well, let’s just say that Mankind, much like Yogi, is smarter than the proverbial bear, and Kenny Shamrock, anytime that you leave the opening, I will be the first guy to run on by and steal your proverbial ‘pic-a-nic basket.’ Ken Shamrock, you made the business with the ‘Unholy Alliance’ personal when you injured, Vader, at “Cold Day in Hell,” and…” (Suddenly, Shamrock blindsides Foley and tackles, him, raining punches down on him before cinching up on the ankle lock as Mankind shrieks in pain. Agents and wrestlers hustle to break this up, but Shamrock refuses to release the hold as we go to a break)

After the break, we go to in ring action, where Hunter Hearst Helmsley defeats Jesse James. We are told during the bout that Helmsley will also be in one of the qualifying matches for King of the Ring next week as he will face Ahmed Johnson and that in the other qualifier, Ahmed’s protégé, Rocky Maivia will take on one of the members of the Nation of Domination. After Helmsley hits the pedigree for the win, we go to Goldust and Marlena live via satellite. Goldust wears no makeup, but his hair is dyed black and he wears a black cowboy hat, while Marlena wears a tight black dress as opposed to her normal gold. Goldust begins explaining his recent actions.

Goldust: “Everyone wants to ask, why would Goldust or Dustin do what he has done? Everyone wants to know after pouring his heart out on Raw and letting us into his personal life, why he would resort to the attack on the Undertaker and the gifts and all the mind games. Well, it’s simple. Dustin Rhodes is sick of being some kind of joke. Dustin Rhodes is sick of being laughed at and being called a queer. Look at this beautiful lady right here. This sexy thing is my wife, and let me assure all of the Goldust haters that Dustin Rhodes is all man. Undertaker, you should know that after I have choked you to within an inch of your life twice now, and oh, by the way ‘Dead man’ I must say, I really think gold is your color (Breaths deeply and rubs hands up his chest in classic Goldust form) Why, the Undertaker? Well, that one is simple. Paul Bearer approached me, knowing that Goldust is the king of psychological combat to become part of his ‘Unholy Alliance.’ He promised me what I did not get when I was just a joke, when I was just a clown and a novelty act as Goldust. He promised me world title shots, and all he wanted in return was for me to take out the Undertaker. He wanted me to out ‘mind game’ the Undertaker, a man who has become a legend through his intimidation and aura that has his opponents nearly defeated due to the fear of the mystique behind the ‘Deadman’ persona. Well, I know all about persona and ‘mind games,’ ‘Dead Man,’ and I know you can’t wait to get your hands on me and honestly that is quite arousing, when I say it out loud (again, rubbing his chest) So, you want me, and I want you ‘Dead Man,’ so how about we do it at ‘King of the Ring?’ Me and you for the WWF championship. But you never know Undertaker, you never know who you may get at ‘King of the Ring.’ You may get your teeth knocked in by the toughest Texan in this company, Dustin Rhodes, or (breathing in again and rubbing himself)you may never forget the name of Goldust. See you soon, big fella” (Both Goldust and Marlena blow a kiss at the screen as the show goes to another commercial.) 

After the break, we go back to ringside, where unannounced, the Undertaker walks to the ring and grabs a microphone, interrupting what was set to be a tag match between Savio Vega and Crush and The Godwinns. He destroys all four men, laying each out with a chokeslam, before grabbing a microphone.

Undertaker: “Goldust, Dustin Rhodes, or Runnels or whatever you want to call yourself you weirdo, you have made the worst mistake of your life. You are on at King of the Ring and I don’t care if you are a cowboy or a cow girl, or Goldust or what in the hell you are, you are gonna know one thing and that is excruciating pain and suffering. Boy, I am going to hurt you and the fact that you arealligned with that lousy scumbag, Paul Bearer, makes it even sweeter. I should’ve known. You want to come out here and do what you did to me last week after sending me your bullshit gifts and choking me out?(Shakes his  head) Son, at King of the Ring, you will not only rest in peace, but you will rest for good.”

We next see the Hart Foundation locker room in complete disarray, as Bret is furious still at Michaels for embarrassing him earlier. Neidhart notes that he has to go back out for his match, and Bret stops and tells him to “go get that lousy Austin.” He sends Pillman to go to the ring with the “Anvil,” as that match is up next.

After the break, Neidhart is introduced, as Pillman seconds him and upon arriving at ringside, joins the announcers for commentary. Then the place comes alive as Austin’s theme music hits and the “Rattlesnake” strides toward the ring.

***Match- “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart-***- Steve Austin defeated Jim Neidhart by disqualification after Brian Pillman, who was doing guest commentary, hit Austin with a crutch at 1:51; after the bout, Shawn Michaels made the save for Austin against Davey Boy Smith and Owen Hart; Austin and Michaels began to brawl with on another after fending off the Hart Foundation.***(8)

Raw is War- May 26, 1997- Evansville, IN

Raw hits the airwaves and immediately, we are told of four qualifying quarterfinal bouts in the King of the Ring tournament that will take place over the course of the next two weeks. We are informed that in tonight’s two bouts, Mankind will face off against Jesse James and Ken Shamrock will go one on one with Crush. They also note that next week, the other two quarterfinal bouts will see Rocky Maivia taking on Faarooq and Hunter Hearst Helmsley go up against Ahmed Johnson. Following this announcement, we are told that other feature bouts tonight include a singles bout between Blackjack Bradshaw and Road Warrior Animal, with the winner earning their team a title shot at the tag straps, as well as Shawn Michaels return to in ring competition as he will form an unlikely team with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin after the events on Raw to end last week’s show and face Owen Hart and the British Bulldog for the WWF Tag Team Championship. They add that both the Undertaker and Goldust are in Evansville tonight and they recap all of the events leading up to last week’s challenge and acceptance of their upcoming WWF Title bout at King of the Ring.  The show then goes to a commercial, and when it returns, the show opens with Michaels coming to the ring for a promo. His music hits and the crowd erupts as he heads to the ring.

Michaels: “Wow, there sure is a lot going on here lately in the WWF. I guess it is true what they say, anything can happen here. Who would’ve ever thought, tonight, it’s me and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin teaming up together and going  for the WWF tag team titles. Well, “Stone Cold,” let’s make one thing abundantly clear. I am all for taking those straps alongside you. Make no mistake about it, I don’t like you and you don’t like me, this is all about business, and of course you know I’d do anything to stick it to the Hart family, so tonight, we stand united, but I have a little idea, since we have some unfinished business to attend to after the end of Raw last week. (Clip shows on TitanTron of Michaels and Austin and Shawn brawling at end of last week’s show) So, how about we win these straps tonight and then at ‘King of the Ring,’ it you and me, mono-e-mono, right here in this very ring. We can win these belts and then we can have it out like men once and for all. We are good enough that as long as we are on the same page.”(Austin’s music hits and he comes to the ring, interrupting Michaels)

Austin: “The same page? Me and you? Listen, ‘Boy Toy,’ me and you couldn’t be further from the same page, the way you come out here and prance around, but I agree on one thing, that we can team up and whup some Hart Foundation ass. You are damn right about one thing, I do not like you. Honestly, I could give a rat’s ass if you like me or not. So, let’s win these belts tonight and go from there. As for ‘King of the Ring,’ trust me, I’d love to beat the living hell out of you and your pretty little face, but why can’t you get it through your thick skull that it is me and the “Hitman” at King of the Ring? Trust me, I’d love to whip your ass, and there is plenty of “Stone Cold” to go around, so you can have some just as soon as I am done with Bret. Hell, I don’t even know what Monsoon is gonna say tonight about Bret trying to weasel out of our match because of his little knee injury. So, if he can’t go, hell yeah, I’ll be happy to give you what he had coming, but, you are challenging Bret, you are challenging me, and you know damn well we already have a match and that’s all I got to say about that. Now that all of that is taken care of how about for this night, you look me in the eye and let me know there ain’t gonna be no ‘man in black’ jumping on me, there ain’t gonna be no bullcrap, and that you have got my back, just like I will have yours so we can win these damn belts.” (The two go chest to chest and stare each other down. They slowly shake hands and exchange words, before the L.O.D.’s music hits and Hawk, Animal, and Paul Ellering hit the ring.***During the opening in-ring interview , the Legion of Doom came out to confront Shawn Michaels & Steve Austin, with the four men agreeing to a title match the next week if Michaels & Austin won the championship later that night***(9) Austin and Michaels wish Animal luck in securing the title bout with a win over Blackjack Bradshaw later in the night. After this, we take a quick break and come right back to the ring, where in the first King of the Ring quarterfinal, Ken Shamrock defeats Crush after a back and forth battle that Shamrock scores a pin when Savio Vega’s interference backfires and he nails Crush with a spin kick. As Shamrock celebrates, he is again attacked by Mankind and the two are separated as the ring fills with security to pry the two off each other. We then go to the back, where Dok Hendrix stops a passing by Steve Austin to inquire about his partnership with Shawn Michaels. Before Austin has a chance to respond, he is blindsided by the British Bulldog and Owen Hart, who stomp on the fallen Austin as we go to another commercial.

*** Following this, we go to the second portion of the Mankind sit down interview with Jim Ross which focused on the ‘Dude Love’ character featured in Mick Foley’s home video as well as the story of how he hitchhiked to see Snuka vs. Muraco at Madison Square Garden***(10) After the interview, we go back up to the ring for action as Hunter Hearst Helmsley makes quick work of Bob Holly, scoring the win with a pedigree. Helmsley and Chyna again appear on  the split screen during the contest with prerecorded comments, where Helmsley again expresses him obsession with becoming King of the Ring. We next see another vignette with Ahmed Johnson and Rocky Maivia training. They talk about their matches next week, with Ahmed focusing on Rocky having to face off with Faarooq before we go to another commercial break.

Following the commercial, Kevin Kelly is in the back and he stands by to interview Paul Ellering. During the interview, Ellering details how the Legion of Doom has been a “runaway train” since their return and that he has returned to steer them on the track they need to be taking. He also speaks of the different factions (Unholy Alliance, Nation, Hart Foundation) and says that he plans to expand the Legion of Doom to at least four or five members. He is joined mid-interview by Hawk and Animal and questions the actual ‘unholiness’ of Paul Bearer’s stable, asking, “What is more unholy than the destructive force that is the Legion of Doom?” He adds that he has been scouting several members of the current WWF roster for new recruits to the L.O.D. We then head back to ringside, where in the second King of the Ring quarterfinal, Mankind (with Paul Bearer) defeats Jesse James with the mandible claw. As he continues to apply the claw after the bell, Shamrock reappears and attacks, and once again the two have to be separated by security in a wild scene in the ring. The announcers point out that due to both of their victories, Mankind and Shamrock will face off in the semifinals at the King of the Ring pay per view.

After a break, we again go back to the locker room area, where we see the Hart Foundation in their dressing room. Bret, still in a wheelchair is irate at the fact that Austin and Michaels will be getting a shot at the tag belts tonight. He promises Owen and Bulldog that he will be watching and that as long as the five of them stick together they will remain the champions. Leaving the locker room and heading back up to the ring, Blackjack Bradshaw is introduced and he is accompanied by his partner blackjack Windham and Paul Bearer. Animal is introduced next and he comes to the ring with Hawk and Ellering.

Match- Blackjack Bradshaw vs. Road Warrior Animal- Just before the opening bell sounds, Ellering taunts Bearer with his urn, and the Blackjacks and Road Warriors have a stare down in the center of the ring. The official clears out the two men not in the match and Bradshaw and Animal stand toe to toe, trading big punches before a whip into the ropes by Bradshaw sees a shoulder block the stands both men up, but really doesn’t move either. Animal returns the favor, slinging Bradshaw in with the same result, a shoulder block with neither man budging. Animal then runs to the ropes, but before coming off, Windham grabs his ankle, causing him to turn around long enough for Bradshaw to take an upper hand with a clubbing forearm. With the Road Warrior down, Bradshaw lays in some heavy kicks, before scooping his opponent up and tossing him overhead with a fall away slam. Climbing to the second rope, Bradshaw again drops Animal with a flying shoulder tackle, scoring a near fall with a cover following the blow. When Animal regains his feet, Bradshaw doubles him over with a kick to the gut and then hits a huge powerbomb, which somehow Animal again managed to kick out of, as the referee’s count was even closer to three this time. Sensing victory, the Blackjack again throws Animal into the ropes, nailing him coming off with a big boot to the face. Crouching and waiting for Animal to arise, Bradshaw was setting up for his devastating lariat finisher, when Hawk reached in and grabbed his ankle, causing a momentary distraction. This was apparently enough for Animal to at least gain his senses, as when Bradshaw turned and charged, the Road Warrior caught him, using his own forward momentum and pivoting into a thunderous powerslam, that brings the crowd to its feet , as the referee hops down and counts three, before Windham could enter and dive at making a save, earning the L.O.D. a title shot in the upcoming weeks. Windham does get to Animal after the cover, but Hawk enters and uses the urn that Ellering hands off to level him. As Windham staggered from the blow, Hawk clotheslines him over the top ropes, as Animal arises and tosses Bradshaw over the far side ropes as well. The Road Warriors and their longtime manager celebrate the win in the ring, as Bearer shouts his disapproval at the outcome as he tends to his stunned team. Just before going to another commercial break, we see the Undertaker walking backstage and the announcers note that he is “heading our way,” for a few words after the commercial.

Once again we come back from break, and the Undertaker is all business as he strides to the ring. There is no elaborate entrance, he is still in his gear, but the lights do not go down, nor is there any music. He enters the ring and grabs a microphone.

Undertaker: “Goldust, Dustin, I am once again going to be short and sweet with this. You came out here talking mind games, well, I am not interested in  your mind games. Once you choked me out and humiliated me boy, the game playing ended there. No more gifts, no more flowers, no more tricks, plain and simple, I am not waiting for King of the Ring, get your sorry ass out here right now and face the music. (He waits and after a few seconds, Paul Bearer walks out dressed in an all gold, shiny suit. He is accompanied by the New Blackjacks and is wheeling another huge wrapped package to the ring. He wheels it all the way around from the ramp to the far side of the ring, and actually, the three struggle, but lift the five foot box up and into the ring. It stands before the Undertaker, as he grows increasingly angry.)What don’t you understand about no games dammit. Bring your boy, Rhodes out here right now or I will beat down all three of you clowns here and now.”

Bearer: “Oh, my Undertaker, we come in peace, yes, we do. We come with an offering. An offering that even you cannot refuse, you see, this is not a bullrope, or not some gag, open the box and take our offering. Hey, you may even like it.” (The Blackjacks and Bearer share a laugh)

Undertaker: “I said enough of this crap, I am not getting baited into anymore of your nonsense. I warned you and now I hope your hired help came for a fight, because…”(Undertaker stops in his tracks as the box opens itself. Marlena steps from the package in a very revealing black leather outfit, her hair now died black. She runs one hand down the Undertaker’s arm, and her other seductively down his chest. As the Undertaker stops to look over at the Blackjacks and Bearer who are still having a laugh, Marlena turns and bends over in front of the ‘Taker, grabbing a bullrope from the bottom of the gift box. She loops the rope, again seductively over the ‘Taker’s head and pulls him slowly closer, holding both ends of the rope in one hand, while again rubbing his chest. Lawler chimes in from the announcers table, “Hey, that’s quite the package, I mean she’s got quite the box, I mean, ahhhh, go for it ‘Dead Man.’ J.R. deadpans in response, ‘Well said, King.’ Just as she pulls the Undertakers face within about an inch of hers, after sneaking down the ramp, Goldust, in his complete gold body suit, wig and makeup, slides into the ring behind the Undertaker. He tip toes up on him and just as he is about to attack, the ‘Taker flips the rope off himself and over Marlena, and turns just in time to greet Goldust  with a slap of his hand to the throat and a huge chokeslam. The ‘Phenom’ kicks the box over and Lawler again throws in a zinger “Ahhh, be careful of her box.” In the confusion, Bradshaw and Windham charge, but he catches both of them around the throat and in an amazing display delivers a double chokeslam. Marlena falls down in the confusion, and as Undertaker points and threatens Bearer, Goldust crawls to her aid. When Bearer flees, the ‘Taker bends down in the corner and looks as though he is reaching for something. When he turns, he emits a familiar flash, tossing a fireball at Goldust. At the last split second though, the ‘Gold One’ ducks and the flames engulf the face of Marlena, who lets out a sickening shriek as the audience is stunned in silence. Undertaker also seems a bit shocked, hesitating long enough for the Blackjacks and Goldust to leave the scene, with Goldust carrying his wife as the ‘Dead Man’ reached for the bullrope and was about to continue his attack. A non-remorseful Undertaker picks up the microphone and warns Goldust as the group heads up the ramp.

Undertaker: “I told you boy. Game playing time is over. If your old lady wants to play with fire, then just like you, she is gonna get burned. At King of the Ring be prepared to rest in peace.”  

***Match- WWF Tag Team championship Match- Champions- Owen Hart and The British Bulldog vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels-***  -Steve Austin & Shawn Michaels defeated WWF Tag Team Champions Owen Hart & Davey Boy Smith to win the titles at 13:25 when Austin pinned Smith after Michaels hit the superkick behind the referee’s back; after the bout, Austin grabbed his title belt and left ringside to attack Bret Hart on the ramp while Smith, Owen, Brian Pillman, and Jim Neidhart attacked Michaels inside the ring; during the bout, Bret, Pillman, and Neidhart watched on from the ramp; if the champions had won, they would defend the titles as scheduled against the Legion of Doom at the King of the Ring but if the challengers won then they would defend against the LOD the following week.***(18) As Austin neared the “Hitman,” President Monsoon came out on the ramp and stepped between the two, with microphone in hand he addressed the two.

Monsoon: “Hang on, hang on, Steve. Save it, save it, please, and you gentleman in the ring, and I use the term gentleman very loosely, enough, you may want to listen up too.  I have an announcement to make and I think both you and Bret are going to want to hear it. After meeting with the doctor and the WWF board of directors, it turns out you will not have to wait too long to put your hands on each other as the “Hitman” will be competing against you at King of the Ring. (Austin smiles as Bret argues his case pointing at his leg, the rest of the Hart Foundation leaves Michaels in the ring and start coming up the ramp, protesting.) Oh, and I am glad you four gentleman are heading this way too, as I have a few things that may be of interest to you as well.(They  all continue to protest) First, before I was so rudely interrupted, I was not finished speaking about the “Hitman” and “Stone Cold’s” match at King of the Ring. As I said, they will be facing each other on June 7, however, they will not be the only ones involved in that bout, as it is now booked as a triple threat match with the third man in the match being none other than the “Heartbreak Kid,” Shawn Michaels. (A still groggy Michaels looks from the ring in approval)As for the remaining  Hart Foundation members, you want to come out here and run in on other people’s matches week after week, well, since you are so eager, I have decided that you will each compete at that pay per view spectacular as well, as both Owen Hart and the British Bulldog will be defending their respective titles, Owen the Intercontinental and Davey Boy the European Championship. Brian Pillman and Jim Neidhart, you both will be in action at that event as well in a tag team match.( The four go ballistic demanding their opponents names)Who will each be in the ring against on that night, you ask, well, I guess you had better train for the worst fellas, as I have not yet decided on who your opponents will be, but I am certain that I can give you those answers right here next week on Raw, so I guess we will just have to wait and see.  Have a nice week, fellas.” (Monsoon walks away, and Raw leaves the air as we see alternating shots of Bret and the Foundation still voicing their disapproval, Austin smirking as he walks away and Michaels slowly regaining his feet but with a somewhat pleased look on his face. The final shot we see is one in the crowd of the masked “Man in Black,” nodding his head in approval and softly clapping. Upon a second glance, there is a slightly shorter, but almost identical second masked person standing right next to him, exactly mimicking the nodding and applause. “Wait just a minute, am I seeing double? There are two ‘Men in Black,’ and apparently neither of the two are Shawn Michaels? What the hell is going on around here? And what a blockbuster announcement regarding our upcoming pay per view spectacular from President Monsoon. King of the Ring is gonna be one for the ages,” hollers J.R. as the screen fades to black.

This concludes Part IV of the story. Heading into the next section, we move into the summer of 1997 and the big King of the Ring pay per view, where several of the middle card talent continues to climb to the top of the card, as several of the main players at the time in the WWF continue their marquee feuds. We grow closer to the blossoming of WWF’s “Attitude era in the upcoming “Part V,” as we continue to visit the question, “What if Shawn Michaels never lost his smile.”

***As stated in the intro to this part, several of the matches in this part played out as they actually did in WWF. These noted instances in this story were recalled as told by the website, thehistoryofwwe.com .  The actual dates and events these events took place at are listed below, for a good feel on how these matches and the company at this point in time were playing out (and to give this story a more realistic feel),  I would suggest, if you have the time, look these up on YouTube and give them a look while moving along here.***

1)- Raw is War-April 28, 1997

2a)-Raw is War-April 28, 1997

2b)-Raw is War- April 28, 1997

3)- Raw is War-May 5, 1997

4)- Raw is War-May 5, 1997

5)-  Cold Day in Hell- In Your House-May 11, 1997

6)- Revenge of the ‘Taker- In Your House-April 20, 1997

7a)-Raw is War-  April 21, 1997

7b)-Raw is War-  April 21, 1997

8)- Raw is War- May 19, 1997

9)- Raw is War- May 26, 1997

10)- Raw is War- May 26, 1997

11)- Raw is War- May 26, 1997

Written by

Creator, editor and semi-sorta-retired original author of Rewriting The Book, husband, father of three, gamer, lover of 90's MTV animation.
1 Response to "Rewriting The Book: What if … Shawn Michaels didn’t lose his smile? (Part IV)"
  1. simongr81 says:

    Just finished part IV. Was great. Hope to be done part V by tomorrow!

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