WWF RAW June 23rd, 1997

Bret Hart insults Steve Austin and his team

A brief video clip airs to mark the death of Meat’s dad. In 2018, he would be inducted into Legacy wing of the WWE Hall of Fame. Vince welcomes us to Monday Night Raw, perhaps by mistake, before calling it Raw is War.

The Nation of Domination, who are celebrating Ahmed Week, are in the ring to speak with Vince McMahon, who asks “Why, Ahmed? Why?” Johnson says the fans wouldn’t back him up because he’s Black, but the Nation would. I don’t know if Ahmed was listening to the commentary the past two weeks, but fans are forbidden from jumping the rails, so I don’t know why he expected them to fight the Undertaker. Johnson points out that when he came back from injury, Vince didn’t grant him a title shot (which he was supposed to get the night after SummerSlam).

Vince assures him that Ahmed was going to get his opportunity. Johnson says Martin Luther King is dead because he tried to be nice, unlike Louis Farrakhan. But what does the Nation of Islam have to do with the Nation of Domination? Wait a minute… Ahmed calls Undertaker a slave for listening to Paul Bearer. D-Lo takes to the mic for the first time to recap what Ahmed just said. Faarooq compares the new Nation to MLK and Malcolm X joining forces. D-Lo takes to the mic for the second time to recap what Faarooq just said. Kama, when asked, says he is indeed proud for beating the Undertaker last week. D-Lo takes to the mic for the third time to say that the Nation rules the WWF by any means necessary. You didn’t think he’d just repeat what Kama said, did you?

Crush and three white guys ride to the ring on motorcycles. Thus begins the “Race War” era of the WWF. Crush, mostly covering his temp tattoo with a bandanna, lies and says that Faarooq didn’t fire him, he quit. He then introduces Faarooq, the Nation, and the audience to “a real brotherhood”. Would that be the Aryan Brotherhood? The Disciples of Apocalypse fight with the Nation until armed security separate the rival factions. Brian Lee dismantles the ring steps to allow the DOA to ride away.

The Nation will be back later tonight on Raw is War to take on Paul Bearer’s team of Undertaker & Vader in the tag team tournament. Also competing will be the LOD, who face the Godwinns. On the War Zone, Owen Hart will defend the Intercontinental title against both Goldust and Hunter Hearst Helmsley in Raw’s first ever triple threat match. Apparently, Raw is now the name of both shows, with Raw is War being just the first hour — although there’s a Raw is War logo in the background for the War Zone match, so who knows?

Dan Severn (or “Sevrin”, as McMahon calls him) is at ringside for commentary for the Ken Shamrock-Rockabilly match. Two things are noteworthy in this screencap: one, the logo on the chyron just says, “Raw”, and two, there is an Elvis impersonator in the front row. Only in Memphis (or in this case, Detroit)! McMahon says Shamrock is a great competitor and asks Severn whether he agrees. He is met with silence, which he blames on audio difficulties. That’s convenient for Severn, who never respected Ken Shamrock and who to this day thinks he’s all hype.

Vince McMahon puts over UFC as “misunderstood”, especially by politicians, and says the UFC ring is safer than that of the WWF due to a lack of ropes. Ken Shamrock beats Billy in a squash, making him to tap out to the ankle lock. Shamrock then catches Honky Tonk Man before he can hit Ken with his guitar; Honky pretends to play it and exits the ring. Shamrock shakes “Sevrin’s” hand at the announce table.

Backstage, the Godwinns are without shirts. Henry refuses to believe that the LOD breaking his C4 vertebra was an accident.

The Army Slam of the Week is Ahmed Johnson’s Pearl River Plunge on The Undertaker. That’s a lot of capital letters. This week in Anaheim will be the California Tan Contest, featuring Sable. “I gotta say folks,” says Vince McMahon, “she’s blonde, she’s buxom, and she is bee-yootiful!” But Jim Ross wonders if Marc Mero is growing jealous, a rumor examined by Vince Russo in this month’s WWF Magazine. Could Sable be “on the prowl”? “I don’t know what you mean by that,” says McMahon. “She is an extraordinary lady in addition to an unbelievable beauty.”

Speaking of bare-chested, the Godwinns are here to face the LOD. Each Godwinn has a bucket of slop, which this week is all solids, consisting of rolls and lettuce. They sling the contents at the Road Warriors and their shoulder pads, which Vince and Jim agree is an outrage. Also an outrage is that the Hart Foundation just attacked Ken Shamrock backstage, we are told. Hawk executes an enzuigiri on Henry and no-sells his subsequent piledriver.

The LOD has the crowd “jazzed” and “jacked”, says Ross. Shotgun would later be renamed Jakked in some TV markets, but I’d much rather watched WWF Jazzed. The fans are considerably less jazzed when Henry Godwinn throws Animal into the steps. Phineas jumps off the second rope at Animal, who counters with a late clothesline that misses Godwinn entirely. Phineas sells it anyway. Hawk hot-tags and cleans house. The LOD attempt to get Henry in the Doomsday Device, the same move that broke his neck two months ago, but Phineas intervenes to get his cousin off Animal’s shoulders. Hawk still hits a flying clothesline on Henry, who lands on Animal’s back. Hawk gets the pin, but the Godwinns attack the LOD with a bucket after the bell.

Animal chases them away with a chair, but the Hart Foundation arrive on the scene to assault the Doomers. The Hitman looks on in approval from the stage. After the chaos subsides, Jim Ross points out boxer Tommy “The Hitman” Hearns in the front row. Two Hitmen in one segment? What is this, amateur hour?

Backstage, the Undertaker gets half a sentence into a soliloquy before Paul bearer tells him to shut up, because it’s all about Paul and what Paul wants. Undertaker goozles them both until Bearer reminds him of “the fire”.

Owen Hart tells Vince McMahon that having to defend his IC title in a triple threat match is a bunch of “bull crap” because he doesn’t even have to get pinned to lose his title. However, he has a big surprise. This is the second triple threat match in WWF history; the first one from a January house show saw Ahmed Johnson beat Mankind and Faarooq by countout somehow. This is the first triple threat match for a title in WWF history, although the term “triple threat match” was originally applied to a series of gauntlet-style matches scheduled between Bret Hart, Undertaker, and Diesel for Bret’s title in early 1996. These were changed to Bret-Taker singles matches due to an injury to Diesel.

In a vignette, Stone Cold promotes his new video tape, which Vince points out is rated TV-M and is “as stone cold as Stone Cold likes to be”.

Paul Heyman is on commentary again, this time for Sabu vs. Flash Funk. Jim Ross points out that Sabu’s manager, Bill Alfonso, is a former Federation referee. Raw viewers will recall Sabu as the guy who fell off the “R” back in February. Flash Funk delivers a spinning splash off the top rope onto Sabu. “What a Maneuver that was,” says McMahon. “He won’t be getting up from that one!” He does. “Well, I guess he does,” admits McMahon. Sabu takes Funk down with a top rope huracanrana, but a second attempt later in the match results in him getting crotched. Nonethless, Heyman describes Sabu as a capable athlete, not just “suicidal, homicidal, and genocidal” (Heyman hesitates in the middle of that last adjective, as McMahon probably doesn’t want him using the g-word). Funk lands squarely on Sabu with a moonsault, but gets only a two count. Heyman credits ECW for bringing out the best in Flash Funk tonight.

Sabu launches himself over the ropes to the outside, catching Funk with a huracanrana for the night’s second Maneuver. McMahon and Heyman agree that the other’s wrestling promotion has a lot to offer while Eric Bischoff’s WCW does not. Sabu puts Funk on a table on the arena floor while both men are counted out. Sabu then hits an Asai moonsault on Flash but fails to break the table. A follow-up splash also fails to break the table. Finally, a springboard leg drop breaks off the table’s legs, although the board remains intact. An angry Sabu exits through the crowd and throws chairs around.

The British Bulldog faces Mankind, who enters the ring wearing an Austin 3:16 shirt and a sign around his neck reading, “Pick me Steve”. He dedicates the match to his “friend”, Steve Austin. Stone Cold, who is injured, is on the phone. Steve chews out Vince for calling him collect, which might ruffle some feathers with 1-800-COLLECT, one of tonight’s sponsors. Austin will be back in action this Friday; that means he must be as injured as Shawn Michaels. Austin says Mankind is a “kind man” but also a freak. If you’re keeping track, the past three episodes of Raw have established that Mankind is a good kisser, has a nice, big, fat ass, and is a freak. No wonder he’s so popular all of a sudden! At King of the Ring, Jim Ross even said he was hung!

Mankind and Bulldog tumble over the top rope, where Davey Boy throws him into the steps and suplexes him onto the ramp. Vince says Mankind is willing to put himself through a lot of pain to gain acceptance, but Jim Ross, still sore about the mandible claw during the interview they taped last month, won’t pity Mankind. Bulldog, thinking better on his feet than Jim Ross, gives Mankind a mule kick to the groin to escape his mandible claw. He then smashes Mankind on the back with a chair to draw a disqualification in this non-title match. Davey Boy gives Foley a few more chair shots, including two to the head. Bulldog poses, but Mankind puts the mandible claw on him again.

Backstage, Owen Hart demands that Gorilla Monsoon allow Brian Pillman to be in his corner to counteract Goldust and HHH’s respective “broads”. Monsoon agrees, twice, but Owen won’t take yes for an answer. After the third “okay”, Owen accepts it and credits his tough negotiating.

We see a video package on the Intercontinental champions of the past, including Tito Santana, labeled, “Titto” in the chyron. Notably absent are Randy Savage, Ultimate Warrior, and Curt Hennig. It’s now time for the War Zone. Too much Dutch, and not enough Thai! Pat Patterson, the first Intercontinental Champion, is the referee for this match, as evident by the special referee’s polo shirt he wore to the arena.

Both challengers have held the title before; highlights of Helmsley’s win over Marc Mero omit Mr. Perfect’s interference, while Goldust’s victory over Razor Ramon omits the 1-2-3 Kid’s interference. Owen won his title from Rocky Maivia, who is currently sidelined with a knee injury, says Ross. This match is conducted under sudden death rules (and is therefore the first title match in WWF history where the champion doesn’t have to be involved in the decision to lose the championship).

Goldust and Helmsley take turns breaking up the other’s pins on Owen to drive home the sudden death rule. Helmsley sets up Goldust for the Pedigree, but Owen heel-kicks him out of the ring. Goldust then gives Owen the Curtain Call and pins him for the 1-2-3, but Hart’s foot is clearly on the rope. Brian Pillman argues with Pat Patterson, while Vince speculates that Owen only put his foot on the rope after the three count. Ross points out that Patterson is Canadian, implying that Pat’s not biased against Owen, nor are he and Goldust in cahoot. Earl Hebner even interjects himself in the dispute, but as McMahon says, the referee’s decision is final.

During the break, Gorilla Monsoon overturns the referee’s decision. The match therefore restarts. “The first man to score a pinfall or a submission is the Intercontinental title,” says Ross. Talk about high stakes! Owen Hart, not accustomed to triple threat rules, puts Goldust in the Sharpshooter while HHH is still in the ring. Hunter clotheslines Hart, breaking up the hold.

None of the three men have quite figured out that they’ve got to throw one of their opponents out of the ring if they want a realistic chance of winning the match. Vince clarifies that Pat Patterson restarted the match on his own volition, as Gorilla Monsoon could not force him to do so. When he puts it that way, maybe Bret had a point about getting screwed in the Iron Man match. Owen Hart dropkicks Goldust and Hunter simultaneously, but Helmsley manages to break up Owen’s pin on Goldust. When Hunter and Owen spill to the outside, Chyna gives Goldust a huracanrana. Referee Pat Patterson doesn’t see this, but if he did, would Goldust have won by DQ?

Goldust recovers enough to come off the top rope to break up Owen’s pin, but Hart dodges. Owen then rolls Goldust out of the ring; Pillman prevents him from breaking up “the cover, the count, and the victory” by Owen on Hunter. Patterson hands Owen his title after a match that was totally nut.

Bret and Anvil come to the ring for an interview with McMahon. Jim Ross says that we are live, and we are “jammed”. Is that like “jazzed”? When asked to comment on the upcoming ten-man tag match at In Your House, Bret says the LOD is the greatest tag team in Federation history. “Not!” Ken Shamrock is from the “Ultimate Fairy Championship”, says Hart. Bret’s four sisters will beat up Marlena if she tries to slap Davey Boy again, and Steve Austin is “just the scum of the earth”. Hey, he got off easy!

Bret then calls out Tommy “Hitman” Hearn for stealing his nickname. Hart fumbles Hearn’s career stats and challenges to get in the ring. “I don’t think you’re the Hitman,” says Bret. “I think you’re the Chicken Man”. The Chicken Man hops the rail and slides into the ring. Isn’t that inexcusable, McMahon? Hearns punches out Jim Neidhart, but his entourage intervenes before he can get to Hart.

The Nation of Domination stand by backstage for comment on their tag team match tonight. As often happens, the interview is interrupted, this time by Savio Vega. The Caribbean legend says he won’t turn his back on the Puerto Rican people, but the Nation beats and whips him before he can finish his thought.

Scott Taylor is in the ring to face USWA’s “Too Sexy” Brian Christopher, who is accompanied by his good friend and colleague Jerry Lawler. The two future tag partners compete in Light Heavyweight Division action. The King sidesteps the allegation that Lawler is Christopher’s father. Nobody cares about that stuff, he says, just like nobody cares where anyone in the WWF played football. Ultimately, Christopher’s top rope leg drop proves too much for Scott Taylor.

Jim Ross plugs the Superstar Line, which has scoops on Shawn Michaels, Sycho Sid, Yokozuna, and Maury Povich. Before the break, we see a replay of Paul Bearer getting choked and repeatedly yelling “fire” like Beavis.

Backstage, Paul Bearer, whose burn is slowly healing, refuses to answer questions about the fire that he kept telling Undertaker not to forget. Is this part of the Undertaker’s terrible secret, or is Bearer just a U2 fan? In the ring, the Nation of Domination (minus Ahmed Johnson) awaits The Undertaker and Vader. Reportedly, Ahmed was injured in the brawl with the DOA. Well, Ahmed’s Nation run was good while it lasted (one segment). During Vader’s entrance, the cameraman zooms in on a woman he thinks is cute and ignores the Elvis impersonator standing right next to her. D-Lo jumps Undertaker before the bell, which gives him an advantage for nearly five seconds before Taker clotheslines him.

Backstage, number-one contender Ahmed Johnson watches a monitor with a bad knee (Ahmed has the bad knee; the monitor is doing fine). Vince blames Ahmed’s injury on the Nation’s brawl with DOA, which required “uniformed security individuals” to break it up. However, he raises the possibility that this is merely a “ruse” (pronounced “roos”).

The Disciples of the Apocalypse walk down to the ring and fight D-Lo, who is joined by Faarooq and Kama. Somehow, the referee does not feel this warrants a disqualification. The Undertaker fights everybody as Raw heads into its last commercial.

Vader delivers his eponymous Bomb to D-Lo, but Faarooq breaks up the pin, drags D-Lo to the corner, and tags in. Jim Ross, in defiance of Jerry Lawler’s earlier rant, identifies both legal men as “two great ex-college football players” (but not as ex-WCW champions). Vader comes off the second rope, but Faarooq counters with a Maneuver (#3 – powerslam). McMahon reminds viewers that Ahmed was injured in the brawl with the “Depostle, Depah— What is it?” He means, of course, the Apostles of Discipolypse. D-Lo tags in, which proves unwise when Vader kicks his ass. D-Lo tags back out, and Vader looks to do the same, but Undertaker punches him. Faarooq clotheslines Vader and pins him, advancing his team to the semifinals against LOD.

Vader picks a fight with Taker, but gets a big boot to the kisser for his trouble. Undertaker tombstones Vader and walks away until Bearer grabs the mike and vows to reveal the big secret. He’s made his casket, says Bearer, and now he’ll have to lie in it. Paul fights with the camera as War Zone goes off the air.

Final Tally:

  • 3 Maneuvers (Year total: 78)
  • 3 Notwithstandings

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