WWF RAW April 28, 1997

Brian Pillman opens the show, revealing that he is a sensitive and religious man, praying for Bret Hart’s recovery, for all the bloodthirsty fans who cheered Stone Cold’s actions, and for Steve Austin’s total destruction (i.e. death). He calls Bret the savior of the WWF and prays that fans would let him into their hearts. That’s H-E-A-R-T-S, hearts. He gets booed for this, but that won’t stop Tiger Ali Singh from calling himself the messiah in hopes of a babyface pop later this year.

Stone Cold appears on the Tron and tells Pillman to pray that he won’t beat the hell out of him, to which Brian sticks his butt out and says he’ll “turn the other cheek”. To his credit, Pillman holds that pose for about 30 seconds. Austin enters the ring but immediately exits after Bulldog and Owen try to ambush him. Pillman and the brothers-in-law continue praying for Bret.

Backstage, Austin finds an axe, kicks off the blade, and heads to the ring. Before he can deliver a literal axe-handle smash, they all flee, although Brian Pillman gets caught on the guardrail. Austin gives him a discreet boost over the rail. Vince tells the viewers that Steve Austin will be around all throughout tonight’s Raw (in case more matches with Rockabilly and The Real Double J don’t pique their interest). Bret Hart will be here, while brother Owen challenges Rocky Maivia for the IC title, and brother-in-law Davey Boy wrestles The Undertaker.

Cameras catch Brian Pillman backstage, mid-prayer, where he asks the Lord to spare Bret from further injury to, and I quote, “his beloved knee”. Flash Funk takes on Rockabilly in a clash of musical genres. Billy tosses Funk over the ropes from the corner, and Funk lands on the apron, but not before catching his abdomen on the turnbuckle connector. Flash hits a flying body press that nearly scores him what Vince calls an upset. Since taking on the new gimmick and management of Honky Tonk Man, Rockabilly is 1-1 (both against Jesse Jammes). Funk hits a flying clothesline to the outside for a High-Risk Maneuver (#1).

Backstage, Bret Hart sits in the back of an ambulance, which was apparently his ride to the arena. Is it an Omaha ambulance, or a Binghamton one? Hart had knee surgery that Wednesday, but he still has to appear tonight on Raw to save its ratings; the show is just that bad. In the ring, Rockabilly hits a Maneuver (#2) — a tornado DDT from the corner — then poses for a long time. Honky Tonk Man steps up onto the apron, and Rockabilly appears to try to Irish whip Flash Funk into him for some reason. Funk reverses, Rockabilly knocks HTM off, and Flash scores the pin with a huracanrana.

Undaunted by the loss, Honky distracts Funk so Rockabilly can smash him with another “hair-loom” guitar. A fan holds up a sign reading, “Hey Honky, Rockabilly sucks ‘cause Stone Cold said so”, whose conclusion is correct even if it is a non sequitur.

Vince McMahon is in the ring with a microphone, informing the audience of Bret’s recent surgery before introducing the Hitman. A few seconds of hard-to-comprehend surgery footage air before Bret rolls out and cuts a promo. The American fans, say Hart, are a “lousy rotten pack of lousy stinkin’ hyenas” who cheer that “lousy stinkin’ creep” Stone Cold. They want to see blood and hear the snap of the bones — and thanks to Jakks Pacific’s line of WWF figures with Bone Crunching Sound, they can!

And if American fans are sick of Bret bragging about calling himself the best there is, now they know how the rest of the world feels about the USA. “Go ahead and chant your USA”, says Bret. “My mother’s American”, he adds. Hitman says that tonight, the Hart Foundation will be the ones dishing out the violence and gore. The Hart Foundation rolls Bret away. Backstage, Austin is looking for the first aid room.

Road Warrior Hawk and Road Warrior Animal (known collectively, naturally, as the Legion of Doom) are fresh off breaking Henry Godwinns neck with a Doomsday Device. That’ll teach him to spill his slop bucket. The LOD take on Furnas & LaFon, whom Jim Ross interviewed earlier about their lack of fan support in the US, despite their international reputation. Vince characterizes their style as “European in nature”.

The Legion of Doom tilt the match in their favor with what JR calls a “double-double clothesline” before attempting the Doomsday Device on LaFon. Furnas dropkicks Animal to prevent its execution, but Hawk clotheslines Furnas for the pin and the win. JR steps into the ring for a post-match interview with the Can-Am team, who complain about double-teaming and want a rematch.

We see unseen footage from “Sunday Under Cover” from Shotgun Saturday Night, where the Headbangers jumped in bed with Sunny without even paying for the privilege. Sunny is live tonight, modeling an Austin 3:16 t-shirt as Dok Hendrix gives the order details and Jerry Lawler jokes about shipping and handling.

Ahmed Johnson apologizes for putting the Sultan in the hospital last week, then snaps at Faarooq and says he won’t apologize. Also, he is a gang member. “Alright,” says an exhausted Vince. “I think we’ve heard enough of this.” Meanwhile, the Hart Foundation is strategizing, and Brian Pillman is praying, this time with Owen’s Slammys in hand.

This week’s Super Clean Slam of the Week is Marlena choking Chyna from last week’s Raw. Owen Hart comes to the ring with Davey Boy and Bret, with Bret Hart’s theme music playing. Owen has a chance to not only hold two Slammys, but two belts as well. Owen grabs the mic and dedicates this match to Bret. After all, it was Bret whom Shawn and Triple H wanted to beat Rocky Maivia for the Intercontinental Title. Their logic: Kill Rocky’s push while keeping Bret Hart out of the main event picture.

The announcers discuss a story in the latest WWF Magazine speculating on whether Rocky Maivia will face a “sophomore jinx” now that he’s in his second year in the WWF. He debuted six months ago. Rocky Maivia does Rocky Maivia things to little reaction: arm drags, drop kicks, etc. Owen works over Rocky’s legs with an Indian deathlock until Rocky small packages him (packages him, in small fashion).

Owen escapes and continues to kick Rocky’s leg out of his leg until Rocky drops him with a floatover DDT, a high-impact maneuver (in the words of Jim Ross, which doesn’t count towards the count). Maivia lands the worst Rock Bottom you’ll ever, with Owen apparently thinking it was a belly-to-belly suplex. Owen kicks out of a back suplex from the second rope, then pins Rocky with a variation of the O’Connor roll for the 1-2-3, beating Maivia for the his first singles title, clean as a whistle. Too bad for that Rocky guy.

Owen hands his belt to Bret, whom Bulldog rolls around the stage in celebration. “Look at all the gold”, says Owen. “We’re rich!” As Raw goes to commercial, Austin is riding around in a wheelchair for some unfathomable reason.

At the top of the second hour, Steve Austin drags the wheelchair through the crowd, throw it into the ring, and sits in it. “Who wants to see a wheelchair match?” says Austin. The fans do, apparently. Austin offers to stay in his wheelchair if Bret agrees to come to the ring and fight him, but then reneges because he’s a lying SOB. But is he lying about that? Paradox, man. Austin says he’ll become WWF Champion at In Your House, then, when goaded by Bret over the Tron, marches up the ramp.

“We are about to experience Vader time, here on Raw is War”, says Vince, who airs the Kuwaiti talk show footage that landed Vader under house arrest. Kuwait wouldn’t hold a wrestling event again until 2009. Challenging Vader at In Your House (and Mike Tyson at no specified event) is Ken Shamrock; Todd Pettengill narrates a video package about the “No Holds Barred” fighter that includes UFC footage and an André shot of his crotch. His highlight reel also includes impressive performances against the likes of Bret Hart and Billy Gunn.

Jesse Jammes is up now to face Vader. Lawler reflects on Double J’s Desert Storm service and Kuwait’s show of ingratitude in the way they treated Vader. Vince agrees, saying that if Kuwait wanted to show gratitude to the US, they shouldn’t have sent Vader back home at all. In the recent WWF tradition of exaggerating its Superstars’ carceral stays (like Crush’s one day in Hawaiian prison), Vader’s week and a half of house arrest have turned him into a “caged-up monster”. “He’s guilty of being stupid”, says Ross.

The announcers cross-promote the UFC pay-per-view on May 30th. Vader appears to make quick work of Jammes, splashing him from the second rope, but he lifts up Double J’s shoulders to punish him some more. He then hits the Vader Bomb and pins him for real. One of these men will win eight titles in the WWF; the other, zero. Jim Ross steps into the ring to ask Vader whether he feels any remorse or embarrassment over his actions in Kuwait. Vader says he did his job (beating people up) very well and apologizes for nothing.

Next, Ross asks Vader whether he overreacted to that question using the F-word (“fake”), so Vader takes off JR’s hat and glasses and backs him into a corner. Ken Shamrock rushes in and suplexes the big man. At In Your House, Shamrock promises Vader not Vader time, but hard time. Backstage, Goldust paints his face ahead of his latest match against Triple H and tells Marlena she can’t come to ringside.

After the break, Goldust runs straight to the ring. Unfortunately, the speed and urgency of his entrance is undercut by the slow 24 frames per second of the film used for his entrance. Goldust backs Hunter into the corner for nine punches, but hesitates on the tenth. Fans still count the phantom tenth punch, but Dust instead rubs himself and kisses Helmsley.

Goldust, about whom it is now well-established that he is married to a woman, then knocks over Helmsley with his ass. Hunter catches Goldie with a knee, sending him to the outside, where Chyna stomps away at him. Unable to take any more, Marlena marches down to ringside. “She’s spunky”, says Jim Ross, not cognizant of British slang. I hope she doesn’t get her fanny kicked.

After the break, Vince recaps that Marlena is now at ringside against Goldust’s orders. Across the ring stands the imposing Chyna. “Shades of Ellen to a certain extent”, says Vince, implying either that Chyna is a lesbian or Ellen DeGeneres is totally jacked. Speaking of Ellen, Vince says that this week’s episode (where Ellen’s character comes out as a lesbian) has nothing on the WWF, as Goldust himself “comes out of the closet” next week on Raw. “Although, I would suggest that Goldust is not what you think he is and never has been”. Is he trying to imply that Goldust isn’t really a film aficionado?

Mankind, who is currently suspended for the blowtorch incident, will be back next week, as well. Goldust, with his body suit unzipped, batters Triple H with a flurry of punches that look fantastically weak — but there’s a lot of them! Chyna approaches Marlena, who blinds her with powder. Chyna mistakenly lifts Triple H by the throat as the bell rings; Triple H has been counted out, despite being outside the ring for a five count, tops.

The Undertaker’s bell rings, and the Phenom appears on the Titantron. Vince McMahon interviews him about Paul Bearer’s burning and Steve Austin’s title shot. He says nothing of note before Sable’s music plays. She’s modeling Taker’s famous cross t-shirt — so called because it features the Undertaker’s symbol. Dok Hendrix says Sable even wears it at night so she can rest in peace. Vince chuckles a Vince Chuckle. Meanwhile, Pillman is praying imprecatory prayers against The Undertaker, who faces Davey Boy Smith next.

A parody commercial airs with two parents worried about their little boy, who lately has been dressing an acting like Stone Cold Steve Austin. The WWF a bad influence on kids’ behavior? Kids getting in trouble for imitating WWF Superstars? That’s silly! Speaking of Stone Cold, he is seen pacing backstage, as the WWF needs to shoehorn him into as many segments as possible while going head-to-head with Nitro. The British Bulldog, who enters to Bret Hart’s music, dedicates this match to him, telling the Hitman that he’ll win and become the WWF champion. Vince reminds viewers that this is a non-title match. Taker gives Bulldog the same choke-lift that Chyna used on Triple H, leading Bulldog to take a powder.

After the break, Bulldog gives Undertaker the big vertical suplex, but Undertaker kicks out. Taker chokeslams Bulldog, then signals for the Tombstone, but Owen runs in, drawing the DQ. And that’s the entire match. The tag team champions double-team Taker until Austin runs in and fights off Owen. Stone Cold then grabs Taker’s WWF title and poses with it. Doesn’t anyone in this segment know how to properly win the WWF title? Austin throws the belt down at Taker’s feet and gives him the stunner. He then stands over the champion and flips him off until Taker goozles and chokeslams him.

Now, Austin heads up the ramp and confronts the injured Bret, but is blindsided by someone. Who? That’s right, Jim Neidhart. Bret then cracks Austin in the side with a crutch, sending Stone Cold off the ramp. EMTs quickly put him on a backboard, but I’m sure he’ll be fine enough next week to show up in every segment. A grinning Brian Pillman, his prayers fulfilled, closes the broadcast.

Final tally:

2 Maneuvers (Year Total: 60)

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