WWF RAW April 21, 1997

Raw, which is War, opens with a close-up replay of The Undertaker lighting flash paper in front of Paul Bearer’s face at last night’s PPV. Raw is not only War, it’s live from Binghamton, New York.

Steve Austin arrives for an interview by Vince McMahon. Lawler says Stone Cold will wrestle Bret Hart in a street fight tonight, though Jim Ross suggests this is simply a challenge that has been made. Austin is also set to wrestle for the WWF title at the next PPV. Austin tells Vince to shut his stinkin’ hole (his mouth, that is). Stone Cold had Bret Hart beat with his own Sharpshooter last night before Owen and Bulldog caused a DQ (a big schmozz, if you will), so he tells Bret to come to the ring for a street fight. Along the way, he disparages Bret’s signature black and pink tights.

A countdown clock on the Titantron ticks away, showing that Bret has less than thirty seconds to accepts Austin’s challenge (the one Jerry Lawler spoiled at the top of the show). I’ve never seen a timer used for such purpose in wrestling, but I guess Vince is running a tight ship tonight. Where was this timer last week during the Commandant’s promo? Time runs out with no Bret; Austin then starts up the ramp to fetch Bret himself, only for Hart to show up on the Tron to accept the challenge. But isn’t it too late? I mean, rules are rules.

Bret calls Austin and all the American fans, “hyenas” and says Austin will go straight to hell after their match tonight — but Austin says Bret is coming with him. Fortunately, the WWF’s next event isn’t for another four days, plenty of time to go from Binghamton to hell and then St. Louis.

Later tonight, Ken Shamrock will issue a challenge to Mike Tyson — I can’t remember whether he accepts, so I guess we’ll find out together! We then see a graphic of Vader with prison bars superimposed and the caption, “Vader Held Hostage Day 9”. Day 9? Then how did he manage to fly to Muncie, IN for his tag match on Raw last week? It must have been some sort of a work release. The Undertaker will wrestle Triple H on this 4/21 edition of Raw (maybe it should have been 4/10).

WWF’s own Hershey’s Kiss, The Sultan, is already in the ring for a match against Ahmed Johnson, who is back from his “motherland” of South Africa. The following is a real quote from Vince McMahon: “I don’t think any one individual has ever done what Ahmed Johnson did in South Africa last week. He galvanized an entire nation, something Nelson Mandela, even, has not been able to do.” Has Mandela tried wearing red bikini briefs?

Ahmed downs Sultan with axe kicks until the Sultan retaliates with a Headshrinker-like savate kick. Vince apologizes for the cloudy picture, which he blames on all of the pyro. That’s in contrast to last week’s poor picture quality for the overseas portions of Raw, which was down to inferior equipment and/or conversion from PAL to NTSC. After hitting a spinebuster, Ahmed signals for the Pearl River Plunge but is interrupted by the Nation of Domination, whom he will wrestle in three consecutive singles matches at the next PPV. Ahmed steps outside the ring and bends over — hey, you’ve got to give the people what they want.

The future Rikishi (and heir to the wedgie gimmick) takes advantage of the distraction to pummel Johnson, who then grabs a 2×4 from under the ring and hitting the Sultan with it. Backlund and Sheiky’s protégé thus wins by disqualification.

Sunny comes down the ramp modeling an Undertaker t-shirt and nuthin’ else. Dok Hendrix has the scoop: it’s the “brand-new Undertaker cross t-shirt”. The “cross” in question is the Undertaker logo that WWE would insist for the next two years was simply a “symbol” after Taker crucified Austin on it.

Backstage, Steve Austin tries to break into the Hart Foundation locker room, giving the door several unprotected chair shots. Tony Garea, Pat Patterson, and the rest of the stooges tell Austin to go to the ring.

At the commentary table is Ken Shamrock, who will face Vader at the next In Your House. Vader is still detained in Kuwait, where the WWF recently held its second-annual Kuwaiti Cup, won by Tiger Ali Singh. No, really.

Vince then shows the incident that got Vader arrested, where Vader goes all Doctor D on this Kuwaiti John Stossel after he asked whether wrestling was fake. What an absurd question. Credit to The Undertaker for keeping his cool throughout the interview despite being seated next to his hated rival Vader and opponent the whole time. This Wednesday, a court will decide Vader’s punishment, which Jerry Lawler predicts will be a stint on a chain gang shoveling camel manure (as illustrated). The King also shows a new Vader action figure package with bars drawn in marker over the plastic display. “Stop it”, chides Vince, unamused.

Ken Shamrock, still at the announce desk, vows to beat the bully Vader at the PPV, then challenges another bully, Mike Tyson, to a fight in the WWF. Shamrock calls out the future WWE Hall of Famer’s rape charge (Tyson’s, not Lawler’s) and says he’ll make Tyson serve real hard time in the ring. Interpret that however you want.

During the commercial break, Stone Cold had a confrontation with Vince McMahon, who calls him a “certifiable lunatic” after the fact. As Bret Hart approaches the ring for their street fight, Austin taunts him with two fingers — his index fingers this time, goading him to get in the ring. He then flaps his wings, insinuating that Bret’s just a little chicken cheep cheepcheep cheep cheeeeep.

Owen and Bulldog ambush Austin, and the three-man Hart Foundation put the boots to Stone Cold. Shawn Michaels then hops the rail and swings a chair at the Foundation, hitting Owen and Davey Boy. Though he chases off the other two, Bret Hart remains and continues to beat down Austin. The Hitman tries to Pillmanize Austin’s ankle, but Stone Cold moves out of the way and works over Bret’s leg with the chair. Austin locks Bret in the Sharpshooter until three very useful referees try to persuade him to relinquish the hold. It takes a fourth referee, Pat Patterson, and big Dave Hebner to pry Austin off.

Bret is still on the mat when the show returns from break. Vince McMahon says, somewhat dismissively, that Hart claims his leg is broken. He also acts as British Bulldog’s interpreter for the home audience. Backstage, President Monsoon uses some rare profanity, asking Stone Cold what the hell the matter is with him.

“There are rules and regulations here,” insists Gorilla, “and you’ve broken every one of them!” Now there’s the Monsoon we know! “I want you to get your ass out of the building”, he continues, taking Austin aback. That Stone Cold is a bad influence. Austin walks past an ambulance and out of the arena.

Meanwhile, Bret Hart is being walked up the ramp by Owen and Davey as he shouts some (muted) curse words. I see they’ve started using a seven-second delay since that last time.

It’s now ten o’clock, which means Raw’s heavy metal theme and into again. Yeah! And lots of pyro. Yeah! And Salvatore Sincere and Tiger Ali Singh, already in the ring.

It soon becomes apparent that the lackluster match is designed so as not to distract from the real story, which is Bret Hart being wheeled on a stretcher backstage. Vince says he’ll keep viewers updated on the situation, notwithstanding the action in the ring, with apologies to Tiger Ali Singh.

Jerry Lawler claims Singh only won the Kuwaiti Cup because Vader was locked up. In fact, Vader beat Freddie Joe Floyd, then forfeited to Own Hart in Round 2 to challenge Undertaker for the title that night. Also, Vader is under house arrest at a luxury hotel, not in jail.

Backstage, Bret is at the first aid station, but Vince orders the production truck to cut away after Owen Hart starts yelling and calling the situation “a bunch of crap”. Tiger Ali Singh, who takes his name from his father Tiger Jeet Singh and Muhammad Ali, wins after a spinning heel kick to little reaction. He celebrates with a generic rock theme as Bret Hart is wheeled to an ambulance. “Watch his knee, you idiot!” screams Owen after the EMT rolls the stretcher over some cables.

A cameraman in the passenger’s seat captures Austin, hiding behind the wheel, attacking Bret again. Owen, Davey, and the stooges run Austin off. The tag team champs agree to kill Stone Cold.

Bulldog and Owen march back into the arena, right past a red ladder — one of those double-sided Razor Ramon gimmicks. Coming down the ramp, Jesse Jammes [sic] tells the crowd that Raw is War, and he knows something about war, so let’s get funky. Also, that he spends his days working hard on the go.

Getting a little blown up on the way to the ring, Double J’s voice noticeably falters. Tonight, he wrestles Billy Gunn, rechristened as Rockabilly, in a rematch from last night (which Jammes won). Why have the same match we already saw on PPV? That’s like asking why Honky Tonk Man would manage Gunn just weeks after he punched Honky out.

On the WWF hotline (option 6), Jim Ross offers an update on Sycho Sid (who’d return for a few weeks this summer, then disappear from the WWF until 2012. Must have been one hell of a softball season). Jerry Lawler heaps praise on the Honky Tonk Man for being such a great singer, wrestler, and entertainer, prompting JR to ask if he was his cousin or something. “Maybe”, says the King.

The announcers get sidetracked discussing Undertaker’s brutal flash paper attack on Paul Bearer as Rockabilly works over Jesse Jammes with rest holds. McMahon opines that Taker’s actions, while justified, were out of character; this is because the original plan was for Mankind to light up Paul Bearer by accident. After several failed attempts, Undertaker took the lighter and flash paper himself and ad-libbed the attack to the helpless Bearer.

Not wanting to risk paying attention to this match, the announcers turn their discussion to Stone Cold, whom Jerry Lawler says he would fire if he were in charge (kind of like Eric Bischoff). Jim Ross wonders if Bret Hart, who appeared on Simpsons last night (going head-to-head with In Your House), will take on voice acting full-time if his wrestling career is over.

Jammes gets the snake eyes on the top turnbuckle, making Jerry Lawler squeal with laughter. Rockabilly hits a swinging neckbreaker, which Lawler calls The *New* Shake, Rattle & Roll, to win the match to very little reaction. Jammes then attacks Billy after the bell, but Honky smashes him with a powder-filled guitar. “Another hair-loom!” says King.

Backstage, Shawn Michaels tells Stone Cold that he’s not trying to help Austin, just to hurt the Harts. He tells Austin not to flatter himself, which he also told Diana Smith when she accused him of seduction. Gorilla Monsoon threatens Austin with a loss of his wrestling license (and — who knows — maybe the forfeiture of purse money). Mankind, sitting in the boiler room, cuts a promo about Paul Bearer’s melted face until his Twin Peaks-inspired theme is interrupted by The Undertaker’s.

The Dead Man, still sporting a bandage on his forehead, enters the ring for his match. Fortunately, it’s against Triple H, so Bret won’t mind missing it. The WWF has left more than half an hour for this main event, notwithstanding (says Vince) La Femme Nikita, which airs immediately after. It’s Undertaker v. Hunter, which sounds like a lawsuit from the late Middle Ages.

Triple H and Chyna arrive to the strains of “Ode to Joy” (They must be Suddenly Susan fans). Jim Ross wonders how Undertaker slept last night after burning Paul Bearer, which Vince spins as The Undertaker having a conscience. McMahon then defends the Dead Man from further aspersions by Jerry Lawler. In the corner, Taker plants a big boot to an “overzealous” Helmsley’s face. The King references Andre Agassi and Brooke Shields (star of Suddenly Susan) in spreading rumors about Hunter and Chyna getting married, but Vince McMahon insists that there is no such love interest between the two Superstars.

Taker, whom Vince estimates at 6’9” and whom Jim Ross estimates at 6’10 1/2”, hits old school. He then attempts a rare crucifix pin (or should that be a symbol pin?), but Hunter is in the ropes. Helmsley comes back, stomping Taker and working his burn scar. Hunter whips Taker to the corner and telegraphs a back body drop, but the Phenom counters with a Fame Asser.

Triple H slams Taker’s face into the steps to shift the momentum, then slaps Undertaker in a chin lock, during which time they discuss their next moves. Hunter puts his feet on the ropes for leverage, but the camera pans to the front row, where a man and a woman with what Vince calls, “smoking material” converse with some event staff. “nWo, baby!” says a fan. Jim Ross recognizes the pair as “Dustin and Terri”.

To further drive home the fact that Stone Cold is the only reason to watch this show instead of Nitro, Vince announces that Steve Austin is scheduled for an interview after this match. Hopefully it won’t cut into La Femme Nikita.

Mankind appears on the ramp with a blowtorch, distracting Undertaker, who lets go of a chokeslam. Mankind clubs Taker in the face with an acetylene can, but takes too long lighting the torch. Undertaker goozles Mankind, who slips away through the crowd. As Taker pursues Mankind, Marlena tries to choke Chyna out with the strap of her purse, and Goldust hops the rail to fight off Helmsley.

The Motel 6 Rewind features Austin’s beatdown of Bret in the ambulance. “I guess you feel pretty good about yourself”, says Vince to Stone Cold. Austin resents the audience’s cheers and signs (and Vince McMahon’s dimpled chin) for jumping on the Stone Cold bandwagon. As far as he’s considered, Bret Hart is done, and “Bulldog and Owen Hell” (or Hart) have hell to pay.

Vince suggests that Austin is the one who’ll have hell to pay against the Undertaker, but Austin says the Deadman will have a cold day in hell. That sounds like a pay-per-view tagline! He also says he’s the ruler of the world. Vicious! Owen and Bulldog of the Hell Foundation jump in and attack Austin. Vince puts his hands on Owen Hart to stop the attack but almost trips; Owen shoves him to the mat.

Shawn Michaels clears the ring again with a chair, leaving Austin alone on the mat. Stone Cold pulls himself to his feet, but Brian Pillman hops the rails in hideous tie-dye pants to beat him up some more with a chair. Otherwise, he is unarmed. Michaels runs in yet again to prevent Pillman from, well, Pillmanizing Austin’s ankle.

Final Tally:

0 Maneuvers (Year total: 58)

Discuss This Crap!