WWF RAW June 30th, 1997 – Veterans Memorial Coliseum – Des Moines, IA
A recap of the Undertaker-Bearer storyline airs to a soundtrack of “Cold Sweat” (Not the James Brown song, but the stock music). The WWF fans are exercising their freedom of expression again, “and boy are they ever gonna express themselves in an enthusiastic way tonight here on Raw!”
Future King of the Ring Ken Shamrock faces current King of the Ring Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Speaking of kings, Jerry Lawler is back on commentary. Shamrock grapples with Hunter until the Blue Blood pokes him in the eye. Helmsley shoves Earl Hebner twice while stomping Ken in the corner until Earl pulls him away by his Slammy award-winning hair. Helmsley takes Shamrock over with what Vince calls “a lame snapmare”; Lawler takes exception to that. Hunter tosses Ken over the top rope to the floor, where Chyna throws him into the steps. Back in the ring, Helmsley in distracted by Mankind walking slowly down the ramp, allowing Shamrock to win with a belly-to-belly. Mankind chases Hunter out of the ring.
In other Raw business, Jerry Lawler speculates on Paul Bearer’s secret, and the announcers narrate the recap of last week’s race riot, which left Ahmed Johnson injured. After his surgery, Ahmed blames the Undertaker for sending the biker gang after him.
Backstage, new correspondent Michael Cole speaks with the LOD. Cole is jittery. Hawk has this to say to the Nation of Domination, their opponents tonight in the tag team tournament: “When we get done with you tonight, you’re gonna be the equivalent of a large pile of steaming bat guano and other small animal excrements. Ugggh what a rush.” Vintage Hawk!
Sunny, sporting a wad of one dollar bills in her cleavage, poses with a coffin full of money. It’s part of the Summerslam Million Dollar Chance contest.
The LOD take on the Nation, with the Des Moines audience firmly behind the Road Warriors (except for one fan, who is firmly behind Jeremy Borash for the Marconi radio award). At the outset of the match, Animal charges Faarooq in the corner but is met with “knees right in the chest area”.
The LOD’s nemeses The Godwinns watch the match from the stage; they must think the backstage monitors are haunted. D-Lo Brown, hoping to one-up Faarooq’s obvious telegraphing from three weeks ago, whips Hawk to the corner and ducks his head for a Telegraphed Maneuver that makes Vince audibly groan.
Hawk gives D-Lo a neckbreaker for his trouble. The Legion give D-Lo what Jim Ross calls the “Devastation Device”, but with “Kama bin Mustafa” (Vince’s words) distracting the referee, Henry Godwinn is able to bash Hawk with an empty slop bucket. Faarooq performs Twin Magic with D-Lo and pins Hawk for the victory. Maybe Faarooq has a point about the WWF being racist; how else could a referee confuse Faarooq for D-Lo?
LOD chase after the Godwinns, and Faarooq calls Vince into the ring. He wants to know why, with Ahmed Johnson injured, another Nation member wasn’t chosen to take his place in the WWF title match. Faarooq says that Vader was chosen because he’s a white man (ignoring Vader’s recent accomplishments, such as losing a tag team match). D-Lo repeats this, as he is wont to do. “Let’s talk about another white man, if you would,” says McMahon. “What about Crush?” I thought he was Hawaiian? Faarooq calls the Disciples of Apocalypse, “Disciples of the Undertaker”, then turns his attention to last week’s beating of Savio Vega. “Aw, shut up”, says Vega. “You talk too much Faarooq.” Savio is on stage wearing a wifebeater (or, as PWI might call it, W. Beater) and says he wasn’t fired — he quit!
Faarooq challenges Vega to bring his “jalapeño-picking ass” to the ring, so Savio whistles for back-up. “Here comes Savio’s gang, I guess,” says Jim Ross. It looks like this race war has just been taken al extremo. The DOA then circle the ring on their bikes and fight not only the Nation, but Savio Vega’s new Puerto Rican faction for whatever reason. Draw your own conclusion there. As the cops restore order, Raw takes its first commercial break of the night.
With the “mee-LAY” now sorted out, Vince sends it to Michael Cole in the back, who can’t find the LOD. Instead, Savio’s gang shows up. They’re called Los Boricuas (the indigenous Taíno name for the inhabitants of Borinquen, or Puerto Rico). Savio shouts bilingually over the other members of the group.
Jerry Lawler plugs a story from Raw Magazine about a “secret liaison” between Sunny and Brian Pillman at a bikini photoshoot (of Sunny’s). Backstage, Undertaker is distraught over the forthcoming revelation of the terrible secret that will ruin his life.
Now here’s an oiled-up Scott Putski, son of “The Polish Power”! He takes on Brian Christopher, son of his dad. King declines to respond to paternity allegations. Scott and Brian have an informal posedown to kick off this Light Heavyweight division match. Another great light heavyweight, says Ross, is the Great Sasuke. Sasuke, or “Sah-soo-ki”, as JR pronounces it, will compete at this Sunday’s pay-per-view. Brian Christopher hits Putski with a Skull-Crushing Finale, an Excellent Maneuver (#2). However, as it’s not his finisher, it is merely a Skull-Crushing Transition. Shockingly, Jerry Lawler disparages Putski’s Polish heritage.
Scott hits Brian with a splash from the top rope, but Lawler distracts the second-generation wrestler (Putski, not Brian Christopher, whose father is unknown). Putski whips Too Sexy into Jerry Lawler, sending the King off the apron. However, King trips Putski when he attempts a running powerslam, allowing Brian Christopher to roll him up for the win. “Here is your winner,” says Tony Chimel, “Brian Chree-stopher.”
Putski attacks Chree-stopher after the bell, but Lawler steps in and, with Brian, performs a “stuffed piledriver” (JR’s words) on Putski. Lawler taunts Putski and his dad some more about being Polish (which is not the word he uses).
Speaking of controversial, says Vince, we see footage from Stone Cold’s new video. “Not too many individuals thought they would see Stone Cold Steve Austin imitating Hulk Hogan,” says Vince. “Anything can happen.”
Undertaker is in the locker room, telling fans that Paul Bearer’s forthcoming version of events is slanted and an attempt to poison the fans’ minds. He says he hopes the fans will give him a chance to tell the true story. You could just tell the secret right now, you know.
Jim Ross gives us the low down on the Great Sah-soo-ki, who faces “his arch-rival, Taka Michinoko [sic]”. On the match graphic, Taka’s picture is missing, but at least his name is spelled right.
Brian Pillman, who is in the ring for the next match, was fired from commentary for his “un-be-lievable actions” on Shotgun, beating up a fan. In a pre-recorded video mandated by Gorilla Monsoon, Pillman apologizes for beating up the fan, as well as for being the only one in the WWF with any guts and for telling it like it is. The apology does not strike me as sincere. He then says he’ll bite Mankind’s ear worse than Marv Albert or Mike Tyson ever bit someone (Tyson-Holyfield II was this past Saturday).
Mankind arrives with another “Pick Me Steve” sign, plus a gift for Jim Ross. It’s a mannequin hand with Mankind’s signature claw covering. Pillman attack Mankind from behind and jams him in the face with the mannequin hand before tearing up the sign. Jim Ross says he doesn’t hold Mankind responsible for giving him the mandible claw (the move, not the gift), but he appreciates Mankind’s “nice gesture”. On split-screen, Austin says Mankind “sucks”. Triple H and Chyna appear on stage before the break.
The referee attempts to hold Mankind back from attacking Brian Pillman on the outside, but he doesn’t see Pillman hit Mankind in the head with the ring bell. He then smashes Mankind “ear-first” into the ring post, pulls at the ear, and tries to stab Mankind with a pencil. At least it’s nice to see Pillman and the pencil on good terms after their violent brawl last year in ECW. Pillman bites Mankind’s ear, but he releases the bite before the referee’s five-count, so the match continues.
Mankind crotches Pillman on the ringpost, but counters an Irish whip by collapsing. Mankind fights off HHH’s interference with a mandible claw on the outside, but Pillman reaches through the ropes and clubs Mankind with his boot. That’s cheating; now, if Pillman had hit him with his boot with his foot still in it, that would have been legal and much more effective.
As Pillman tries to put Mankind back in the ring, Hunter accidentally hits Brian with a chair, which Mankind then grabs to chase off Helmsley. Pillman wins by countout, but at what cost? His boot, that’s what.
Paul Bearer is up next for the second hour. Too much blush, and not enough shine! It’s time for the War Zone, which, like Raw, is live from Des Moines, Iowa. Paul Bearer walks to the ring but a woman in black, presumably a Creature of the Night, grabs his leg before security ejects her. In the ring, Paul Bearer tells a boring story about a family that lived upstairs from their own funeral home. They had two kids: one a “redheaded punk”, and the other “sweet little kid” named Kane. Who cares!
Paul Bearer says he was an apprentice at the funeral home under the Undertaker’s father. Oh, I get it. This is the secret he’s been talking about! Bearer says the “devil’s seed” Undertaker and his brother would run around the funeral home like little Marc Meros (“wild men”), stealing chemicals and sneaking out to smoke cigarettes. One night, Bearer found the funeral home in flames and the Undertaker in the bushes. Paul calls Undertaker “a g—— murderer” before the lights flicker spookily.
Backstage, Vader gives his manager emotional support. Cameras then turn around to reveal Sable with Marc Mero (Sable getting top billing on the chyron). While we’re on the subject of The Undertaker and murder, let’s open up a casket… of money! Marc Mero steps in front of Sable to hog the camera as we find out our first clue on how to win the million dollars (or, as we’ll find out later, to win just a 1 in 100 chance to win a million dollars). HHH hands over the keys to his Mercedes to a valet, and “Mr. Tee-Vee Trivia” tells us that the first clue is “The Key”.
The Headbangers, who bodyslammed WABC’s weather man in the ring last week on a New York morning show, face Owen & Davey in the tag team semifinals. The ‘Bangers handle the former champions quite well until Davey Boy sneaks a tag to Owen, who catches Thrasher by surprise with a heel kick. After some delay, Vince gets Bret Hart on the phone; Bret predicts the fans in “God’s country”, Calgary, to boo the “scoundrels” from the US. The Headbangers attempt a double-team, but Davey Boy crotches Thrasher on the top rope. Owen rolls up Mosh with a jackknife pin to win the match. “A cover, a count, and a tremendous momentum on the part of Bulldog & Owen” before In Your House.
Jim Cornette cuts the celebration short, blowing a whistle to bring in the hefty Headhunters (though they are not identified as such). They were last seen at the 1996 Royal Rumble as the “Squat Team”. The Headhunters fight Davey & Owen. Then the Headbangers join in. Then Davey Boy slams one of the Headhunters. Then the Headbangers fight the Headhunters, who struggle with mobility. Jim Cornette steps in, distracting the ‘Bangers, who fall prey to the “unusually-constructed individuals”. Both unusually-constructed individuals go to the top rope, one for a headbutt, the other for a moonsault. And that’s the last we see of them. Backstage, Undertaker is seen pacing with his head down. He must have been disappointed in the Headhunters’ debut, too.
The Undertaker clears things up regarding Paul Bearer’s allegations. Taker says his father caught him and Kane playing with matches the day of the fire. But then he pins the fire on Kane, whom he saw with flammable embalming fluids (Years later, Taker would admit he set the fire on purpose because Kane was too weak to live). He also explains why he wasn’t at the funeral (which Paul actually forgot to mention; Taker’s promo must have been filmed earlier in the night). He says he was scarred for life after Paul Bearer, two days before the funeral, made the young Taker look at his parents’ bodies in the funeral home (not the one Taker burned down, but a different one).
Time for another Rockabilly match! He faces #1 contender Vader, who hopes to pick up his first win in eight weeks. Vince calls it “an unusual match” (because it’s between two heels) and teases that The Undertaker will show up. Rockabilly hits Vader from behind with his guitar before the bell; the head separates completely from the neck and goes flying. Vader no-sells and does Vader things to Rockabilly until The Undertaker shows up, right on cue. Taker, who changed out of his street clothes and into his ring gear during the commercial break, sheds his black leather trench coat and punches out Vader. The referee doesn’t call for the bell, as the match never officially began.
Paul Bearer grabs the mic and calls Undertaker a murderer until the Dead Man slaps him and demands he tell the truth. “I’ll kill you”, says the Undertaker, not seeing the irony. Bearer says Kane told him himself, and that Kane is alive, making us question everything we thought we knew for the past hour or so. Vader clubs Taker from behind and rescues Bearer.
Jim Neidhart, the only member of the Hart Foundation without his own music, is in the ring to face Steve Austin again. Stone Cold is still billed as one half of the tag champions, meaning Shawn Michaels hasn’t officially forfeited his third tag team title yet. Austin attempts a Sharpshooter, then puts Anvil in an abdominal stretch, using the rope for leverage until the referee finally catches him. On the outside, Neidhart tries to slam Austin onto the ramp, but Stone Cold slips out and slams Anvil. There’s something going on backstage (as often happens right before the commercials) involving Bret Hart.
During the break, Bret Hart, who was supposed to be in Calgary, sneak attacked Ken Shamrock as he watched on the backstage monitor. Maybe this is when everyone started craning their neck at weird angles to watch the monitor; it makes it harder to get jumped like this. In the ring, Anvil has Steve Austin in a chin lock; Stone Cold escapes after two and a half drops of his arm. Anvil later comes off the second rope in “uncharacteristic” fashion, so obviously Austin moves out of the way. Stone Cold starts mudhole-stomping until Bret Hart shows up in jean shorts and a knee brace.
The Hitman puts Austin in a figure-four on the ringpost; with Shamrock incapacitated, Goldust not at the taping, and LOD no longer in the building, no one on his team can come save him. Mankind rushes to ringside and put the mandible claw on Bret. The rest of the Foundation intervenes as Raw goes off the air.
- 2 Maneuvers (Year total: 80)