WWF RAW May 12, 1997

Paul Bearer and Mankind

Tonight’s episode is dedicated to Rose Anderson, who died on Saturday. She was mentioned by JR during the sign-off for last night’s pay-per-view, as well. While no one bothers to explain who exactly Rose Anderson was, she was a member of the Anderson family (just not that Anderson family). Vince recaps the pay-per-view, noting that Ken Shamrock used his “superior athleticism” against Vader, and that “the bully was forced to submit to a man half his size”. It’s the dawning of a new era in wrestling: tap-outs are in, Vader’s push is out. Vince then puts Mike Tyson on notice. In other results, Faarooq solidified his status as a top heel by not only preserving the Nation of Domination, but making the fans watch three Ahmed matches with no payoff. In the main event, “the diabolical Hart Foundation” was seated at ringside, allowing Brian Pillman to prematurely ring the bell, which distracted Steve Austin and cost him the match. There was then a “mee-lay” where the Foundation “fled like a pack of RATS” (with extra phlegm on that last word).

The Hart Foundation comes out on stage, where Bret gives an angry, defiant promo about the trust he puts in his family, including his “lovable brother Owen”. Bret thinks it’s pathetic that fans are trying to make him out to be the bad guy (like Jim Ross did to Rick Bognar) instead of that “dirty, rotten, stinkin’ hyena” Steve Austin. Stone Cold, furthermore, is a “rotten, stinkin’ cutthroat” who picks on an invalid. Bret has a big shocking surprise (which he hypes for over a minute) to tell the audience and his family, but he changes his mind because the fans won’t shut up.

Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler are on commentary tonight without Vince, meaning there will be no Maneuvers on this night. The Undertaker will face fellow BSK member Savio Vega in a non-title match, while the Nation of Domination (pictured with five members, including Savio) take on the Legion of Doom. Triple H faces Ahmed Johnson in a King of the Ring quarterfinal match. What happened to the qualifying round? Well, the Fed’s roster is even shallower than last year’s, meaning they can only field eight participants. But hey, at least they have eight! It would be really embarrassing if they had to have a seven-man tournament or something. This year’s bracket includes only two babyfaces (Johnson and Goldust) to make room for two members of the nation and one commentator. Lawler, who will face Goldust in the first round, says Helmsley would make a great king, but not “the King of Kings” like himself. Todd Pettengill narrates what appears to be a video package about Stone Cold. “You can’t talk his talk”, says the Toddster. “You can’t walk his walk”, he continues. “But you can wear his shirt!”

After the break, Ahmed makes his entrance. “Obviously, it’s very simple,” says Jim Ross. “You’ve gotta win to advance.” It always tickles me when wrestling announcers explain the concept of a single-elimination tournament. You mean to tell me you can’t advance by losing? Hunter makes Ahmed chase him around the ring, then stomps him when Johnson enters. Ahmed no-sells Helmsley’s punches and chomps, then dominates Triple H for the next two minutes or so. Jim Ross, filling the void left by Vince, calls Ahmed as devastating as the recent earthquake in Iran (which killed more than 1500 people). Triple H gains control with a knee. JR contrasts the two opponents’ upbringings, leading Jerry Lawler to use for the second night in row the line about going to reform school on a scholarship (having used it for Mankind last night). Ahmed hits the spinebuster and looks ready to hit the Pearl River Plunge, so Chyna comes in and hits Ahmed with a chair. Johnson, who wins by DQ, runs up the ramp and brawls with the fleeing Helmsley.

Now it’s time for Sunny’s Search & Soak Mission. No, it’s not the sequel to Sunny Side Up; it’s a commercial for Super Soaker, the sponsor for this year’s King of the Ring. CIA Director Todd Pettengill gives Sunny her mission: shoot the Headbangers with the new water gun. Sunny dowses “Slush and Splasher” and tells the camera, “Wetter is better” (in water gun fights).

Steve Austin is out for an interview. Vince calls his bout with the Undertaker, “one hell of a match”, but Austin tells him to stop kissing up. Austin, who is holding one of Bret Hart’s crutches, challenges the Hitman to take it from him if he’s “got the… guts”. I was worried he was going to say “jam”. Austin calls him a liar, “the Judas Priest”, and human trash. Well, if he thinks Bret’s going to sit back and take those insults, he’s got another thing coming! Austin compares the Hart Foundation to a snake, then asks Vince if he’s ever killed a snake before. Vince would prefer not to comment, so Austin calls him a chicken. You’d better be believe there’s a Vince McMahon snake story the Chairman’s keeping under wraps. Austin says he ought to cut off the head of the snake, verbiage that Val Venis would echo the following summer. But instead of going after Bret, the snake’s head, he’s now going to target the “snake’s ass”, Brian Pillman, whom Austin carried “in the bush leagues”. Pillman’s ass is Austin’s, Stone Cold says. To recap: the Hart Foundation is a snake, and its ass is Brian Pillman, and his ass belongs to Stone Cold, ergo the Hart Foundation’s ass’s ass belongs to Stone Cold.

As Austin leaves, Jim Ross announces the debut tonight of Scott Putski (pronounced “PUTT-skee”) and shows some footage of his dad Ivan. Lawler makes sure to note that he was beating up Roddy Piper (now in WCW) in one of the clips. Leif Cassidy makes his first appearance in a while, entering to a generic rock theme that’s different from Tiger Ali Singh’s and Furnas & LaFon’s generic rock themes. It’s also different from the old Rockers theme, although Leif is still dressed in his New Rockers gear. Jim Ross suggests of Scott Putski that the acorn doesn’t “far fall [sic] from the tree”, and Jerry Lawler is quick to make light of JR’s transposition error. Putski enters, not to a generic rock theme, but a generic drum machine beat lifted from a cheap Casio keyboard. Ross marvels at what Putski could do if he’s “just half as good as his Hall of Fame father”, which he is. Hyping Putski’s athletic credentials, Ross mentions that Scott played football at Texas Christian and graduated mid-term. That implies that Putski finished college a few months ago and not, say, 1988. JR calls both opponents, “impressive light heavyweights” and that he’d like to see more from such “light heavyweights” in the future. Putski hits a German (or Polish?) suplex on Cassidy and pins him to a smattering of applause. After the match, an upset Leif Cassidy dives through the ropes onto Putski, which the cameras almost miss. The “rookie” (who debuted in 1986) brawls with Cassidy back in the ring and clotheslines him over the top rope.

Jim Ross lists off some upcoming WWF events, including one at Madison Square Garden. Next week, they’ll be in Mobile, Alabama, prompting Jerry Lawler to make an incest joke. Backstage, the LOD wonder which two members of the NOD they’ll get to mistreat like the domestic animals they used to abuse as children. Helluva babyface promo.

WWF’s favorite animal-torturers enter and await their opponents. Meanwhile, Faarooq, Crush, and Savio discuss who should wrestle the Legion of Doom and settle on PG-13. Wolfie D and JC Ice have been rapping about Faarooq winning wrestling matches for the past six months, and this is the thanks they get? The white rappers flail, flop, and look even more pathetic than two years ago when they wrestled the Smoking Gunns. The Road Warriors give both members the Doomsday Device to win the total squash. The rest of the Nation promptly walks backstage. As far as the WWF Hotline, JR promises yet more “scintillating news” about Sycho Sid on the Ross Report. Backstage, Mankind speaks with Kim Chee. Or maybe Paul Bearer, bandaged up.

In a local TV spot, Dok Hendrix is still advertising Sycho Sid for this week’s MSG show; neither he nor Vader will appear, and instead the Undertaker will wrestle Mankind in a lumberjack match. In another commercial, a hot wife brags about her blubbery mate’s newfound virility as he dances to Shawn Michaels’s theme song.

Mankind cuts a promo on the cowardly Undertaker for burning Paul Bearer, whom he leads by the hand onto the stage. Paul looks like Neil from Seinfeld. Mankind begs Paul to reveal the big secret he has about the Undertaker. Two different big secrets on one Raw? What is this, amateur hour? Paul gives Taker just one more chance before he reveals the secret he swore on Taker’s parents’ graves (literally) to keep. The Undertaker has until next Monday (May 19th, that is).

The WWF’s signature (about being the worldwide leader in sports-entertainment) airs again, as does the intro video, to kick off the Warzone. By classifying Raw is War and Warzone as two separate shows, the WWF gets to claim both the 2nd and 3rd-highest-rated wrestling shows on Monday nights. The camera zooms in on a fan’s lifelike replica of the Intercontinental title, before such items were officially sold and worn by the coolest fans on the planet. The lettering looks a little off, but kudos to this guy for getting WWF cameras to focus on a bootleg. In the ring, Vince McMahon asks Faarooq how it feels to be the #1 contender for the WWF title, which is news to everyone watching. After not wrestling since WrestleMania, Faarooq earned this opportunity by beating Phineas Godwinn, Aldo Montoya, and an exhausted Ahmed Johnson on consecutive nights. To answer Vince’s question, it feels fine, obviously. Faarooq grills McMahon over the lack of a Black WWF champion during the company’s history. He concedes that there have been some token Black champions for a short period of time, like Bobo Brazil as US Champion (when’s the last time that title was mentioned?) or Ahmed Johnson as IC Champion. And when was the last time Ahmed Johnson got a WWF title shot? Great point, except Faarooq was the one who injured Ahmed in the first place, causing him to forfeit his IC title and WWF title shot last summer. The leader of the Nation says Vince thinks a Black man isn’t worthy of being champion, but is worthy of washing his car (or, in the case of James Dudley, driving it). McMahon denies that race plays no part in who is champion; Faarooq counters that a Black man has never gotten a shot at being WWF champion. Do the words, “King Mabel” mean nothing to Faarooq? “Don’t you feel these comments are racist!?” asks Vince, who seems just itching to remind Faarooq that the correct term is “African American”. Faarooq says the Black kids watching at home know exactly what he’s talking about. McMahon walks out of the ring to end the interview; Ross is at a loss for words, too.

Savio Vega enters with the rest of the Nation to face The Undertaker. If Vince wanted to convince Faarooq of the WWF’s progressive racial politics, he could point out that two years ago at the King of the Ring, Savio had four matches while Taker only had one. In a short match, Taker tombstones Savio, but the Nation interferes before he can make the pinfall. Faarooq whips the Undertaker “like a dog”, in JR’s words. Possibly the Road Warriors’ dog. Faarooq holds up the WWF title, which Jim Ross declares has never been about race. Not the Black race, anyway.

Before Raw returns, a commercial airs for La Femme Nikita, featuring the tagline, “The Cure for the Common Show”. First “Sunday Night Heat”, and now this — Vince loves stealing from the USA Network’s marketing department. Next thing you’ll be telling me is that he stole the scratched steel logo and the name, “Raw is War” from Acclaim’s WWF Raw video game.

Sable is here in the Austin 3:16 t-shirt. Sexy! Dok Hendrix narrates the proceedings by referencing “Twist and Shout” and “Brickhouse”. Sexy? The ECW theme plays over the PA — it’s Rob Van Dam, making his WWF debut against Jeff Hardy, who is billed as being from Virginia. Jerry Lawler kicks out Howard Finkel and tells him to borrow one of Vince Mcmahon’s toupees. Why would the Fink do that? Did he lose the one from Wrestlemania X? Jerry Lawler talks about ECW (“Extremely Crappy Wrestling”), and introduces the fans to RVD, who knows firsthand how rotten that company is. Rob Van Dam’s new attitude stems from his frustration at being booked only as a last-minute substitute on ECW’s debut PPV, called Barely Legal (which Jerry Lawler probably ordered by mistake). Lawler dubs RVD, “Mr. Monday Night” and calls Hardy a “Jon Bon Jovi wannabe”. RVD does RVD things, while fans in the front row chant, “Sabu” and “You sold out”. Van Dam wins with the split-legged moonsault and mugs for the camera while making the pin. More importantly, Nikita poses as the long-lost daughter of a nuclear terrorist tonight after the War Zone.

Jerry Lawler, who last week grudgingly praised Goldust’s bravery, now calls him a sissy before part two of his special interview airs. The two are scheduled to wrestle in the first round of the King of the Ring. Dustin Runnels says that it’s his goal to entertain the fans with the Goldust character, and to be there for his daughter. He hopes that when he’s seventy years old, Dakota can still come sit on his lap. That’s Jerry Lawler’s goal, as well. Dustin closes by telling his dad that he loves him.

After the break, The Undertaker is on the Tron, taking questions from Jim Ross about Paul Bearer’s “secret” and about his match with Faarooq at King of the Ring. His answers involve the Dark Side and the Vault of Souls. A simple, “No comment” would have sufficed. Already in the ring are four tag teams for an elimination match: the champs Owen & Bulldog, The New Blackjacks, the Headbangers, and Furnas & LaFon. Except for the champions, this is a rematch from WrestleMania. The King says he loves this kind of match — “It’s the Raw Bowl, baby!” While there are no bowl games in May, he brings up a good point. Remember a year and a half ago, when they built the whole episode, including the decor and costumes, around the Raw Bowl? Now they’re just throwing four-way matches on TV with no advanced notice. The announcers don’t bother clarifying whether the titles are on the line, but they are sure to emphasize Furnas & LaFon’s new gimmick: the tag team that’s not over because they lack charisma. The Blackjacks eliminate them just a few minutes into the match.

During the commercial break, the Can-Am Connection (But Boring) returned to ringside to help eliminate the New Blackjacks. Bradshaw chases after Furnas & LaFon, but he shouldn’t be mad at them; he should be mad at whoever wrote “BJ” on his trunks. This leaves the Headbangers in the ring with the tag team champions, who may or may not be defending their titles right now. The champions are scheduled to defend against the LOD at King of the Ring. Thrasher front-suplexes Mosh from the turnbuckles onto Hart for what appears to be a three-count. However, Owen’s foot is on the ropes. Owen tags in to Bulldog, but King suggests Bulldog tag in the other Headbanger and make Mosh and Thrasher wrestle each other. At that point, I guess the champions could just exit ringside and wait for the Headbangers to either pin each other or leave the match too and get counted out. Finally, Jim Ross clarifies that the tag titles are not on the line. Supposedly, JR doesn’t like the Headbangers; the King says it’s because Ross, a country fan, doesn’t like their kind of music. “You think Fleetwood Mac is a new hamburger down at McDonalds”, says Lawler. Needless to say, Ross won’t be stage-diving to “You Make Loving Fun” any time soon. There is some commotion backstage, says Ross, involving the Hart Foundation and their “secret” (which I suppose is tonight’s main event). While JR tries to keep fans tuned in, Jerry Lawler shoehorns the dubious possibility of the Headbangers being on Regis & Kathie Lee (should they continue to grow popular) in order to segue into a topical reference to Frank Gifford and a flight attendant. Eventually, the champions whip the Headbangers into each other, setting up Davey Boy to hit the powerslam for the victory. Jim Ross points out that neither man involved in the pinfall was legal. The rest of the Hart Foundation come to ringside for tonight’s ersatz main event. The Super Soaker Slam of the Week is Chyna dropping Flash Funk on his crotch last night.

Nine minutes remain in the broadcast when Raw returns from its final commercial break. Bret Hart sends the rest of the Hart Foundation to the back, leaving the Hitman alone in the ring in his wheelchair. However, he warns Steve Austin that his “pack of lions” will tear him to shreds if he tries to attack him. Instead, Bret calls out Shawn Michaels, “that poser”. The only way Shawn is a “poser” is if you count the time he posed for Playgirl with his title belt covering his wang. Shawn comes down in his suit jacket (and the rest of his clothes, of course). Bret’s surprise is that he’s going to tell Michaels how much he hates him. Shawn is “rotten”, just like America, where the people like blood, guts, violence, and crime in the streets. Like Ancient Rome, America is heading for a downfall because it’s led by scum like Shawn Michaels (who was Bill Clinton’s running mate in ’96, if you’ll recall). Bret scolds Shawn for screwing him in the Iron Man match, then “posing for girlie magazines”, piercing his navel, and “shaking your ass” (Shawn’s ass, not yours personally). Bret calls Michaels, “a self-professed degenerate” while Shawn just stands there. Michaels, he says, chickened out of wrestling Bret at Wrestlemania this year and also accused Bret of greed for signing a big contract (which will turn out to be basically phony). Bret implies, by quoting Vince McMahon’s “million dollar question” about when Shawn will return to action, that Michaels is holding out for a million dollars. The sign-off text comes on screen as Jim Ross promises fans they’ll keep the cameras rolling. The last thing viewers see before La Femme Nikita is Bret calling Shawn a piece of crap. And Bret promised a secret….

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