WWF RAW June 2, 1997

Shawn Michaels speaks on Monday Night Raw

Cinematic stock music plays over the recap of Austin and Michaels winning the tag team titles, after which Stone Cold left his partner “for dead” to attack Bret Hart. Plus, The Undertaker reluctantly joined forces with Paul Bearer. Shazam (which I am using for the first time ever) identifies the song as a piece called, “Cold Sweat”. After theRaw is Wartheme (Too much punk and not enough ska!), Vince welcomes us to “Huntington, West By God Virginia”! The Undertaker comes to the ring to speak with Vince McMahon while his music continues playing. Undertaker says that he gave in to Paul Bearer’s blackmail to protect the ones he loves. However, he promises to make arrangements with Satan so that Paul Bearer burns in hell forever. The lights go up, Undertaker’s music stops, and Paul Bearer trots down to the ring. “You talk a little bit too much, don’t you Dead Man?” says Bearer, hoping to make it into Maffew’s next video. Bearer brags that once his Undertaker destroys everybody in the WWF, Bearer will be the ruler of the world. Right on cue, Sycho Sid’s music hits, returning from his “lower lumbar injury”. Either that, or his softball team just got knocked out of the playoffs. Sid firmly establishes that he was the one who ruled the world… at least until WrestleMania. But now that Taker is doing Bearer’s bidding, Sid has lost respect for the WWF champion. Sid wants his rematch tonight, and Undertaker accepts. Immediately, Faarooq steps out to tell both men that regardless of who wins tonight, a Black man will be champion this time next week. Speaking of title matches, Shawn & Steve will defend against Animal & Hawk. Plus, Savio Vega, who last year won three of his four matches at King of the Ring, tries to qualify for this year’s much easier tournament. But to do that, he’s got to beat “the man that’s called Mankind”. It’s going to be a big night, says McMahon, and speaking of big, he says, Ahmed Johnson will “hook up” with Faarooq. Ahmed yells at Faarooq through the camera before the break.

Jim Ross narrates a recap of the Johnson-Asad feud, which started ten months and a kidney ago. As Ahmed makes his entrance, Ross details Johnson’s troubled childhood, including his tenure in the Bloods. Johnson was later discovered by Scott Putski’s dad. At the outset, Ahmed whips Faarooq with a leather strap. Vince McMahon warns of “atmospheric difficulties”, which have already caused some slight disruption to the picture and sound. Ahmed knocks Faarooq down with a scissor kick, which JR somehow segues into more college football talk involving Ron Simmons and the Heisman trophy. Faarooq starts shoulder-blocking Ahmed to the mat repeatedly, telling his long-time rival to “get [his] Black ass up”. Ahmed then busts Faarooq’s spine before the remaining members of the Nation comes to ringside. Crush trips Ahmed, but the Undertaker soon runs down to attack the Nation outside the ring. Taker punches Faarooq in plain view of the referee, then Irish whips Faarooq, who collides with Ahmed, knocking the Pearl River Powerhouse into the steps. Faarooq then rolls his prone opponent into the ring, pinning him in another fantastic display of officiating. “Faarooq has become victorious”, says McMahon, verbosely. Faarooq backs off from a confrontation in the ring with Taker, but now Ahmed has a problem with the Dead Man (who cost him the match with what McMahon called a Devastating Maneuver). In response to Johnson’s indignation, Undertaker chokeslams him. I don’t know about that one, Taker. Seems kind of racist. Bret Hart is seen with the rest of the Hart Foundation backstage, leading Vince to speculate about the status of “his leg, his knee area”. “Is Bret Hart on his way to the King of the Ring?” Vince asks. “Here’s a chair fit for a king.” Cue the inflatable chair commercial from last week.

Vince directs the crowd’s attention to “the gigantic Titantron”, where the new tag team champions appear side-by-side via split screen (They don’t get along). In the ring, Bret Hart is on crutches with the rest of the Hart Foundation. Bret Hart says that unlike fellow Canadian Donovan Bailey, who beat Michael Johnson in a 150m sprint yesterday, he won’t be able to compete. By doctor’s orders (and possibly resentment from the “Sunny Days” comment), Bret won’t wrestle Shawn Michaels in six days. Michaels blames Steve Austin for costing his the chance to rid the US of Bret Hart, while Austin counters that he wanted to rid the world of Bret Hart, not just the US. Shawn says Austin didn’t get the job done at all, prompting Austin to say, “What?” Fortunately, this did not catch on as a catchphrase or anything. Shawn repeats that Austin didn’t get the job done at all, which thankfully doesn’t result in another “What”. Shawn storms off in pursuit of Austin. Why didn’t he just reach across the screen? The tag team champions exchange heated words in person; Austin tells Shawn he won’t protect his ass anymore, but Shawn says, “this ass doesn’t need protecting”. And with that irresponsible remark, Michaels cost himself a lucrative condom endorsement deal. Brian Pillman then proposes that Michaels take Pillman’s place against Austin this Sunday. Austin agrees, then vows to kick Pillman’s “little crippled raspy horse-voiced ass” the following night. Linguists could debate this series of adjectives for years. Pillman looks scared, while Owen Hart looks appalled at the language.

Shawn is still talking with Pat Patterson, et al. This is bonker. Bob Holly, whose receding hairline gives his mullet an even more exaggerated look, is in the ring to take on Owen Hart. Unlike during Holly’s upset of Hart two weeks ago, the Intercontinental title will be on the line tonight. Hart, who was just in the ring five minutes ago, walks to the ring again. Holly gets in a Beautiful Maneuver (#2) right out of the gate, taking Owen down with a huracanrana and punches. Jim Ross mentions that Bob Holly had a cup of coffee with the Intercontinental title; since his 1995 victory over Jeff Jarrett was of course not official, I must assume Ross means that Holly literally took the belt on a date to Starbucks once. Vince says Holly is a stock-car racer “in the off-season”, of which there is none in the WWF. On the subject of outside competitions, Jim Ross mentions that Diana Smith, Owen’s sister, will be competing this week in the Mrs Calgary contest. Holly, formerly a welder, attempts another huracanrana, but Owen counters with a powerbomb and a sharpshooter to retain the title. Shawn Michaels accepts Brian Pillman’s offer to wrestle Steve Austin, but clarifies that this is not a favor to Pillman, who spent the spring of 1996 getting plastic surgery to look like HBK (or so the rumor went).

Behind the announce table, fans hold up signs reading, “Lawler fears Tim” and “Die Phineas”. While I don’t know enough German to translate the latter sign, the former is clearly untrue, as Tiny Tim died the previous November, having never avenged the destruction of his ukulele. In a preview of tonight’s Mankind interview, Mrs. Foley’s little boy recalls going to Japan and wrestling his first deathmatches.

It’s episode four of Sunny’s Search and Soak Mission. Backstage, all of Sunny’s previous victims (Headbangers, Cornette, and Honky Tonk Man) hatch a plan to lure Sunny into an ambush. Sunny’s not falling for it. In previous episodes, Sunny has used the Super Soaker CPS 2000, which is the same model (and likely the very same gun) that the WWF would paint pink and give to Val Venis. Except it didn’t shoot water. But this time, with Honky and Cornette in front of her, and Mosh and Thrasher hiding on either side, Sunny uses the XP85 Triple Shot. The nozzle of this gun separates into three separate streams, something not even Val Venis could do.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Goldust are wrestling yet again, with the winner challenging the British Bulldog next week on Raw for the European title. Helmsley is accompanied, as always, by his “200 pound bodyguard” (statistically, the smallest bodyguard in wrestling history). Goldust mounts Helmsley in the corner, forces him to touch his butt, then kisses him. It’s okay though, because Dustin Runnels isn’t really gay, he just does this stuff to make his victims uncomfortable. As Vince noted earlier, Goldust is “rapidly becoming a fan favorite”. Outside the ring, Helmsley charges at Goldust against a ring post, which predictably backfires. JR points out that Hunter grew up in wealth, which “certainly was not the way that Goldust was reared”. Trust me, Jim. Anyone who has seen Goldust wrestle in that body suit knows how he is reared. Helmsley takes down Goldust with a high-knee of his own before Jim Ross drops this tidbit: as a trainee under Killer Kowalski, Chyna had to dress in drag to trick men into wrestling her. Ross seems to have the story backwards, as apparently it was her male opponent who dressed in drag. Helmsley whips Goldust into the turnbuckle, which has a “devastating impact”. Chyna climbs onto the apron, holding Goldust for a cheap shot until Marlena grabs her leg. Helmsley misses a knee to Goldust, knocking Chyna off the apron and allowing the Bizarre One to win with a schoolboy. “Yes! Yes! Yes!” says Vince, celebrating the tremendous victory. This will slow down Helmsley’s momentum heading into this Sunday’s tournament, says JR. Unfortunately for the referee, nothing could stop his own momentum when Chyna threw him out of the ring. On the WWF Superstar Line, callers can find out about three WWF Superstars in a music video, plus another Superstar whose career almost ended recently. The Sega Slam of the Week, featuring Fighters Megamix for the Sega Saturn, is a Shawn Michaels huracanrana on Davey Boy Smith.

Hawk says the Legion of Doom is going to kick HBK’s teeth down Austin’s throat. Vince McMahon chuckles heartily. Vince McMahon hypes up that upcoming match, plus tonight’s Undertaker vs. Sid WrestleMania match, which he sneakily mentions is a non-title affair. It seems Sid is not an expert negotiator. It’s now time for the second hour. Too much tar, and not enough pine! Though Vince McMahon repeatedly insists they are in the Warzone, the logo still says, “Raw is War”. We see LOD’s 1991 title victory over the Nasty Boys, while Jim Ross lists off the Road Warriors’ accomplishments, including tag team titles not only in the WWF, but in the “now defunct” AWA and the practically defunct NWA. All of this hype serves to make the LOD seem ancient. However, if the LOD win the titles again tonight, they’ll be just like Clinton attorney Robert Bennett said: “No apologies”. Thanks, JR. While Vince McMahon plays up the conflict between Stone Cold and Shawn Michaels, before assuring us Vince-ily that, “notwithstanding the animosity, both individuals are consummate professionals”. He’s referring to Steve Austin, who invaded his rival’s home last year, and to Shawn Michaels, who has forfeited five of his seven titles — and counting! Both men are also experienced in tag team wrestling, says Jim Ross, teaming with Brian Pillman and Marty Jannetty, respectively. The Road Warriors control Shawn Michaels early on, despite interference from Austin. The Hart Foundation come to ringside, coincidentally just before a commercial break when viewers are tempted to change the channel.

After the break, the Hart Foundation are nowhere to be found, having been forced backstage. Sorry, fans who stuck through the commercial break! The LOD bounce Austin around until Stone Cold mule kicks Animal’s NADs when the ref wasn’t looking. Shawn Michaels tags in, but meets resistance from Animal, who is back on his feet just seconds later. Maybe Animal is the most resilient WWF Superstar ever? Hawk tags in, but gets double-teamed by the champions. Jim Ross points out that the fans are behind the Road Warriors tonight, which might explain why Austin & Michaels are wrestling like heels (or vice versa). The ref misses the tag for Animal, who charges in and accidentally knocks him over. During the confusion, Austin uses the belt to fell Hawk, who then kicks out of HBK’s pin. The Hart Foundation is back, drawing Shawn Michaels out of his corner. Austin tries to drag Michaels back into the match, yanking his hair. Big mistake. The two tag team partners brawl with each other on the outside, triggering a countout. The Legion of Doom therefore win the match but not the titles, as stated in the on-screen graphic.

Jerry Lawler enters after the break to perform commentary before the next installment of the Mankind interview airs. As a piano-only version of Mankind’s theme plays in the background, Mankind recounts his days as Cactus Jack. He discusses his deathmatches in Japan, where he finally earned respect. Unlike now, he says, he at least had his dignity back then. Mankind shows his scarred and burned arm and quotes the St. Crispin’s Day speech from Henry V. In a preview of next week’s conclusion to the interview, Mankind screams that every time he executes the mandible claw, he imagines he’s putting it on Vince McMahon, who didn’t sign him until after his body was ravaged. “Well, what can you say,” says a chipper McMahon. “He is bizarre, ladies and gentlemen! He is truly one of a kind!” Mankind, the man of the hour, gets cheers for the first time in his WWF tenure on his way to the ring.

Mankind, who went looking in vain for Paul Bearer during the break, brawls with Savio Vega outside the ring to start the match. I’m not sure that’s legal, but the match is officially under way. Mankind baseball slides into Savio Vega, then gets back body-dropped onto the ramp. Vega hits a wild flying body press from the top rope to the outside, then slams Mankind’s head onto the ramp and tosses him back into the ring. Vega then hits a Kwang-like spinning heel kick in the corner, rolling over the top rope and landing upright on the floor. After a clothesline to the outside, both men spill to the floor in front of the announcers’ table, giving Jerry Lawler to repeatedly call Mankind a freak. Not surprisingly, Mankind can hear this and drags Lawler over the desk. Mankind enters the ring and puts the mandible claw on Savio. Crush appears and accidentally punches Savio, allowing Mankind to secure the pin. Crush does not seem too bothered. Crush and Savio then brawl in the ring, drawing out Faarooq, who then turns right around and exits through the curtain. Jim Ross then runs down the King of the Ring card, including the updated bracket, Austin vs. Michaels, and a new six-man tag pitting Owen, Bulldog & Anvil against the LOD & Sid.

Sable is back on Raw to fondle the new King of the Ring chair. Jim Ross gives a first-hand endorsement of the chair, which can “seat a wide-body”. “Ha ha ha ha!” chuckles Vince. “I know that’s right!” As Sycho Sid enters the ring for the main event, Jim Ross notes that Sid debuted ten years ago as “Lord Humongous”, was trained by Tojo Yamamoto (not the World War II guy), and, from what he hears, “has got the sweetest softball swing in the entire WWF”. Ross also notes that the fans still cheer The Undertaker even though Paul Bearer is at his side.

The Super Soaker Rewind is Undertaker’s chokeslam on Ahmed Johnson earlier tonight. The main event is in progress when Raw returns, with Sid choking and punching the champion against the ropes. Vince rattles off a list of concerns the Undertaker has to deal with at the moment: the blackmail, the Black male, and Sid, who chokeslams Taker and scores a two-count. Undertaker finally turns the match around by tossing Sid by the neck into the corner and unleashing a flurry of punches to the abdomen. Wow, what a pure striker! But Sid takes control again, clubbing Taker after the Dead Man telegraphed a back body drop. Sid works Taker against the ropes some more, then slaps on a chin lock. Undertaker makes his comeback off an Irish whip, clotheslining Sid and tombstoning him for the victory. The Nation, including D-Lo Brown, rush to the ring to beat up Taker. When Sid tries to fight off the Nation, they take him down, too. As the ring fills with suits, the fans chant in vain for the LOD, which the announcers ignore, as the Legion of Doom is the one faction that’s not doing a run-in tonight. Jim Ross declaring that Faarooq wants to be the first Black champion so badly that he’s willing to commit assault. Jeez, race relations in the WWF have reached an all-time low already this year, and the apartheid faction hasn’t even debuted yet!

Final Tally:

2 Maneuvers (Year total: 70)

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