WWF RAW June 16, 1997

The Hart Foundation speak backstage

Vince again calls the WWF fans at Raw, “the most enthusiastic fans in all the world”, then addresses the locker room fight between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels that occurred before last week’s Raw. Vince and JR cover for Michaels, saying he injured his neck and re-injured his knee, causing him to miss 4-6 weeks of action. In reality, he walked out of the WWF and threatened to go to WCW. Bret Hart, we are told, also re-injured his knee but will be back in a few days. Hart, Vince notes, was the aggressor. Due to Shawn’s absence, there will be a tag team tournament to face Steve Austin and a partner of his choice (possibly Michaels himself).

Austin marches down to the ring and motions for an announcer to come in the ring and hold a microphone in his face. Good manners, all things considered, when he could just grab a microphone and start talking. Austin says he doesn’t need a partner, but Mankind appears on the Titantron to make his case. Like Shawn Michaels, he has long hair, can wear one earring, and can shake his ass. “I’ve got a nice ass!” says Mankind. “You got a nice, big, fat ass!” says Austin. Does he ever! Too bad there will be no Slammy Awards next year. “Notwithstanding” the tag team tournament, Austin wrestles Brian Pillman tonight, unless it gets canceled again, and the other members of the Hart Foundation will be handcuffed around the ring. They’ve got to make some use out of all those handcuffs they bought for Bret vs. Shawn. Vince also scolds Stone Cold for giving Ken Shamrock the stunner after he saved Austin last week. Shamrock himself comes to the ring to say that he doesn’t like bullies, and that Austin is a bully just like the Hart Foundation. “As a matter of fact,” says Ken, “tonight, I challenge you to a match, tonight! As a matter of fact…” Ken pauses, perhaps to reflect on the symmetry of what he has just said. “As a matter of fact, why don’t we just do it right now?” After the Pillman match, says Austin, whose new ‘Cause Stone Cold Said So video is on sale now.

Brian Pillman stands by backstage, the chyron putting “Brian” in small text, like it’s his title or something. Vince shows Pillman the King of the Ring bathroom footage, then asks him if, “notwithstanding” the swirlie, he will suffer a greater indignity in his match with Austin tonight. Will there be another toilet in the ring? Sounds like it, as Pillman says that “Stone Cold is going down the toilet tonight”. The New Blackjacks face the former champions, Owen & Davey Boy, in a first-round tournament match and say they’re going to win it all. Cute. McMahon chides Hart & Smith for their greed, as they already have two titles (and two Slammys) between them. The Hart Foundation were heavily cheered in Canada this weekend, a sign of the US-Canada split among WWF fans. Vince says he hopes to hear next week from both Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, who are certainly watching from their respective homes tonight. Unless they’re watching Nitro. Owen sneaks in a spinning hell kick to Bradshaw, allowing Bulldog to pin him in pancake position. That means no more BJs for the rest of the tournament.

Jim Ross narrates a recap of last week’s Nation drama where Savio and Faaroow left their leader “for dead”. They really like that phrase lately. Faarooq fired everyone but D-Lo Brown. Faarooq and a new member of the Nation face The Undertaker & Ahmed Johnson, which will be a challenge “notwithstanding” Taker and Ahmed’s recent conflict. The Undertaker starts to talk, but is interrupted by Paul Bearer. “Hush, rigor mortis!” The only thing that matters is what Paul wants.

In the locker room, Ken Shamrock cuts a promo on Stone Cold that won’t make anyone’s highlight reel. In the ring, Phineas Godwinn awaits the arrival of the new King, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, who has accepted Mankind’s challenge for Canadian Stampede. Chyna “manhandles” (womanhandles, actually) the ringside attendant who takes Hunter’s robe. It’s not his King of the Ring robe, but his everyday robe. Helmsley has no crown tonight, having destroyed his previous two. PIG gets in some early offense, but soon HHH takes charge, stomping the hog farmer in the corner and shoving the referee. Jim Ross recalls Hunter’s feud with Henry Godwinn, whom he calls Phineas’s brother. They have always been billed as cousins but might be both. Vince McMahon outlines the predicament that male WWF Superstars face when dealing with Chyna, who after all is a lady. “No, wait a minute,” says Vince. “She’s a woman, not necessarily a lady”. She’s no Sable, that’s for sure. Hunter comes off the top rope with a flying nothing, which Phineas counters with a clothesline. He then whips Hunter to the corner, where Helmsley does the HBK upside down flip, then clotheslines the King of the Ring. Phineas is all set to do the Slop Drop until Chyna steps up onto the apron and distracts him. Last time this happened, it was Sunny flashing him her Best Buns. Chyna shoves him, so he kisses her. Helmsley avenges the sexual assault with a Pedigree and a pinfall. An angry Henry Godwinn then comes to the ring and pushes around his dumber, hornier cousin.

The Sega Slam of the Week is from Shotgun, where Thrasher did the “Stage Dive”, a flying clothesline, on RVD onto the ring apron. A fan holds up a sign with the network’s name on it to get on TV. It reads: “Undertaker Should Stand Alone” (or, USSA). Backstage, Faarooq promises not one, but “two bigger, better, badder, and… a whole lot blacker” Nation members. Faarooq’s original WWF manager, Sunny, comes to the ring as a guest ring announcer for an “interpromotional match” between the USWA’s Brian Christopher and ECW’s Chris Candido (her boyfriend and former Bodydonna). Vince asks guest commentator Paul Heyman to “tell us a little something about Chris Candido”, as if he hadn’t wrestled in the WWF just last year. Heyman is the one to say that Candido left the WWF, also mentioning his alliance with Shane Douglas and Bam Bam Bigelow (who themselves had two stints each in the Fed). Candido gives Christopher a neckbreaker, a Telegraphed Maneuver (#1). Jim Ross eggs on Paul Heyman to talk about Brian Christopher; Heyman says he’s Jerry Lawler’s son whom he never acknowledges. “His mother’s probably 38 years old,” says Heyman. “Who the hell knows.” Brian Christopher is 24 years old, so the math checks out. Jerry Lawler comes down to slap Heyman, then throws Candido off the top rope, then triple-teams the former Bodydonna with Christopher and Van Dam until Tommy Dreamer rushes in with a chair. Before the commercial break, Ahmed Johnson comments on his match, and Goldust and Marlena are still married and heterosexual.

Vince and Jim Ross advertise some upcoming live events, including this Sunday in one of JR’s favorite cities, Hershey, PA. “JR likes chocolate,” says JR. “And then from there,” says McMahon, there is a “tanning contest” at the WWF’s show in Anaheim. Ross would have liked to enter, but he says has outgrown his Speedo. Take that as you will. Footage airs of Bret Hart and the Hart Foundation in Canada, where they received a hero’s welcome. Backstage, Jim Neidhart, who will face Goldust tonight, resents having to be handcuffed (fortunately, not in the match with Goldust). During the entrances, Jim Ross pushes back against the Hart Foundation’s claims of discrimination by American fans, citing freedom of speech. In the corner, Goldust gives Neidhart nine punches, then fondles Anvil’s beard. The Bulldog marches up to Marlena, who tries to slap him. Davey Boy grabs her arm until Goldust punches him. Some referees would disqualify Goldust for that, but not this one. Neidhart blindsides Goldust and double-teams him with Neidhart (which should result in a DQ, were the ref not distracted with Marlena). Anvil rolls Goldust back into the ring, but Goldust uppercuts and pins him. “Rue Britannia” plays briefly over the PA, although Goldust won the match, while the British Bulldog wasn’t even in it. Goldust’s music then plays to mark what Ross calls an upset. Backstage, Stone Cold says that he’s going to beat Brian Pillman, and if Ken Shamrock wants Austin to enter his world, Austin will “rock [Ken’s] world”. Sexy!

Jim Ross recaps the first hour’s events before the start of the War Zone. Too much blood, and not enough dye! The fans, here with their banners and their cousins, are pumped up and ready to express themselves. Brian Pillman walks to the ring with the Hart Foundation (sans Bret) and a bunch of officials, who handcuff Bulldog, Owen, and Anvil to different turnbuckles. Pillman’s former Hollywood Blonds partner comes to ringside and flips off the various handcuffed wrestlers. Austin is all over Pillman in the first few minutes. Vince points out that Stone Cold isn’t attempting a cover, because he wants to punish Brian Pillman. Immediately, Austin tries to pin Pillman, who kicks out. On the ring apron, Owen Hart tries to break his handcuffs. Pillman gets on his knees, crosses his heart, and offers his hand to Stone Cold, which goes as well as one would expect. Brian climbs to the top rope but gets dropped on his crotch on the ropes before Stone Cold tours the ring posts and beats up the Hart Foundation. Along the way, Pillman gets his own steel chair smashed back in his face by Stone Cold. Pillman later sneaks up behind Austin and chokes him with a cable before the break. “If anything happens here, ladies and gentlemen,” says McMahon, “We’ll show you the replay when we return. Stone Cold and Austin [sic] getting it on!” “Let’s get it on!” repeats Mills Lane in the commercial for USA’s Tuesday Night Fights.

Brian Pillman has Austin in trouble when Raw returns. Jim Ross discusses Stone Cold’s new video, which is rated TV-M (now TV-MA). Austin mule-kicks Pillman in the groin, prompting Ross to say that the “moves like that” on the video tape are “even more explicit”. Do I even want to know? Vince McMahon mentions that Austin’s break-in, which will never be aired on the USA Network again, is on the tape. Pillman takes back control after an Austin telegraph and puts Stone Cold in a headlock. A close-up shows Pillman bleeding from the bridge of his nose. After Pillman spits on Stone Cold, Austin tackles him, then stomps him in the corner. When referee Mike Chioda pulls him away, Austin gives him the stunner. Pillman then punch Austin right in the groin and hits him with a foreign object — one of those knuckle gimmicks wrapped in tape. Pillman pins Austin, but Stone Cold kicks out before replacement ref Jack Dohn can count to three. Owen Hart, having stolen the key from an unconscious Mike Chioda, unlocks himself then passes it on to Jim. Owen interferes, drawing a disqualification, and Jim rushes the key over to Davey Boy. The Foundation quadruple-teams Stone Cold until Mankind, Goldust, and Ken Shamrock make the save. “We’ve got a house full of competitors!” says Vince. One competitor who isn’t present is Sid, who put over Owen and Davey Boy in matches in Canada last week and then disappeared from the WWF again. Austin and Shamrock are the last men in the ring; when Austin tries to start something, Shamrock takes him down with a bell-to-belly. After Stone Cold tackles Shamrock, both men punch each other until the LOD pulls them apart. Goldust grabs the mike and says he, the LOD, Steve Austin, and Ken Shamrock should be the five men who face the Hart Foundation. Austin reluctantly agrees.

Stone Cold’s stunner on Mike Chioda is today’s Super Soaker Rewind. Back in the Hart Foundation locker room, Owen’s Slammys are on display. Owen says that in Canada, there’s no discrimination, so they’ll treat their five opponents like the scum that they are. Brian Pillman yells about stepping into the Dungeon until Vince cuts off the interview. After all, it’s time for Sable! She’s the guest ring announcer. After saying “Notwithstanding” for about the tenth time tonight, Vince shows Marc Mero pulling Sable off stage last week. Jim Ross says the two were running late for an engagement and that Mero thought they were off the air, and Vince tries to quash any rumors circulating among WWF fans. The opponents in this “lightheavyweight match-up” are Bobby Fulton and Tommy Rogers; Vince defers to Mid-South’s Jim Ross to explain the two men’s history together as The Fantastics. Too bad no one ever explained to Vince why WCW’s cruiserweights were so popular; this is now Vince’s third misguided attempt this year (after the heayweight luchadores of AAA and the minis) to emulate the WCW division. As the match begins, Vince explains that the weight limit for this division is 215 pounds. Some fans chant “Boring” at the two Fantastics, who have never appeared in the WWF nor wrestled anywhere near Lake Placid, New York. While a replay is shown of one high spot that did get a pop (a dropkick by Fulton through the ropes), Rogers gets the only other pop of the match, hitting Fulton with the Tommyknocker, later adopted by Christian as the Unprettier. Rogers gets the pin. Marc Mero comes to the ring and beckons Sable; Tony Chimel introduces the Wild Man, who walks up to the ramp with Sable.

In a rematch from Shotgun, The Headbangers now face Jerry Lawler and Rob Van Dam in the tag team tournament. Mosh & Thrasher say they want to win the belts so they’ll have something to hold their skirts up. Vince chuckles. Tommy Dreamer and Paul Heyman are in the crowd; Jim Ross speculates that Lawler attacked Heyman tonight for revealing that Brian Christopher is Lawler’s son. Rob Van Dam starts off with Mosh. The ECW star does a split to duck under Mosh, who then dropkicks RVD’s back. for the night’s second Maneuver. Pat Patterson is at ringside to ensure that Paul Heyman doesn’t jump the rail like last week, which is something you just can’t do. If you do, you’ll only be invited back the next week to do commentary on one match. Jim Ross likens that USWA vs. ECW match from earlier tonight to interleague play in the MLB, although it wasn’t a total blowout like when “the boys from the Northeast”, the Baltimore Orioles, embarrassed the Atlanta Braves this weekend. A sweep of a baseball team by an average of 1.67 runs usually isn’t noteworthy in wrestling, unless that team is owned by Ted Turner. Fans chant, “You sold out!” at Rob Van Dam, who certainly didn’t sell out this event; fewer than 3000 fans are in attendance at the Olympic Center, which has a capacity of 7700 (and that’s for hockey). RVD hits a frog splash, which Jim Ross calls a “Hall of Fame maneuver”. Lately, Ross has been saying, “maneuver” a lot more, and Vince McMahon a lot less. While Lawler taunts Tommy Dreamer, and a “whole host of individuals” restrain the ECW contingent, a Zubaz-clad Sandman hits King in the groin with a Singapore cane. Thrasher front-suplexes Mosh from the second rope onto the King, pinning Lawler to advance in the tournament. RVD jumps over the rail to fight Dreamer and Sandman until referees pull them apart. “These ECW people have no business here,” says Vince, no doubt angry at President Monsoon for inviting Heyman to do commentary tonight.

McMahon asks Ahmed Johnson and the Undertaker whether they’re ready for the main event against the Nation. Ahmed says he was born ready (all the way back in 1963, despite what he told the WWF when he signed). When Paul Bearer tries to assert his leadership, Ahmed calls him the Pillsbury doughboy, though he would outweigh Bearer by the end of Bearer’s life.

Vince McMahon recounts Undertaker’s recent chokeslam of Ahmed. We also see Ahmed’s Pearl River Plunge eight nights ago after Taker “repeatedly goozled Faarooq” at Bearer’s behest. Johnson, after all, “knows what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a goozle”. Faarooq comes out with D-Lo, who is not in ring gear. That’s because D-Lo’s not wrestling tonight; Kama Mustafa is. The former Supreme Fighting Machine was supposed to reprise his Papa Shango character, but on short notice was placed in the Nation. Kama, now as bald as a voodoo priest, sneaks into the ring and attacks his perennial nemesis The Undertaker from behind, setting the tone for the rest of the match until the commercial break. The announcers still don’t know who or where the second new member of the Nation could be but speculate that he’ll appear during or after the break.

The Undertaker hits a leaping clothesline and a chokeslam on Faarooq, but Kama breaks up the pin. Vince McMahon speculates on who the other Nation member will be, suggesting Mr. Hughes. Jim Ross guesses Butch Reed or the Junkyard Dog, unintentionally highlight that there haven’t been a lot of Black wrestlers in the WWF. Vince even suggests Abdullah the Butcher. Kama hits The Undertaker with a uranage and pins him clean in the ring for the first time. Ahmed Johnson, who never got to tag in, steps into the ring, causing the Nation to retreat up the ramp.. He then gives Taker the Pearl River Plunge and joins the Nation in a salute on the stage. The announcers condemn Ahmed for setting up the Undertaker like this.

Final Tally:

2 Maneuvers (Year total: 75)

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