WWF RAW July 28th, 1997 – Pittsburgh Civic Arena – Pittsburgh, PA
Raw opens with a recap of last week’s flag match, HBK’s Summerslam announcement, and the related shenanigans, all set to the WWF’s favorite stock theme, “Cold Sweat”.
In Pittsburgh, the Hart Foundation joins Jim Ross in the ring. JR mentions a disciplinary hearing that took place this morning over his assaults on Vince McMahon and Shawn Michaels last week. At his desk. Vince seethes. There will be no consequences for Hart at the moment, but next week there will be a new commissioner named. Bret cites OJ Simpson as an example of American justice, then says that “Americans will do absolutely anything to screw you”; a prescient cameraman zooms in on Vince McMahon. Hitman says that if Shawn Michaels screws him in the Summerslam, it means Hart won’t be able to wrestle in the US again, but it won’t mean much for Shawn, who will spend the next ten years at home “looking for his smile”. A fan points his laser pointer at the Hitman’s face, but Hart is wearing mirrored sunglasses.Bret then mixes some metaphors, reminding the fans that the United States is one big toilet bowl, and that if you were to give the country an enema, you’d stick the hose in Pittsburgh. “You know why?” asks Bret. “‘Cause you’re the pits.” Should have quit while you were ahead, Hitman. Fans chant, I think, “Let’s go Steelers, let’s go”. Bret addresses the Patriot, saying that him hanging around Stone Cold is like “Bill Clinton walking out with the Unabomber and Richard Simmons”. First off, what did Richard Simmons do? Second, who is the Richard Simmons in this scenario? Hart challenges The Patriot to a match tonight.Steve Austin & Dude Love are scheduled to defend their titles against the Godwinns, while Crush will take on Faarooq, who will have the whole Nation in his corner, including Ahmed Johnson. Two of the Boricuas will face the LOD, while the Truth Commission makes their Raw debut. As for the Summerslam main event, every fan interviewed predicts that The Undertaker will beat Bret Hart.
Savio Vega and Miguel Pérez represent Los Boricuas tonight against the Legion of Doom. Savio tells the DOA in Spanish to come prepared, because Summerslam is in the Boricua’s home, New York City. Despite hosting the New York Giants and Jets, though, East Rutherford is still in New Jersey. When the match gets under way, JR predicts that the bout between “the los Boricuas” and the Disciples of Apocalypse will be more a street fight than a wrestling match. The Boricuas hit a Beverly Brothers-style leap frog double-team on Hawk.
Regarding the Million Dollar Chance, Jerry Lawler wants to know what will happen if they call him and he’s not home. That’s easy, King: Get the babysitter to answer (provided you put your girlfriend’s phone number on the entry form). Pérez takes a break from gang beatdown tactics to execute a standing moonsault on Hawk that is both graceful and completely ineffective. Hawk boots Miguel, attempts a pin (which is broken up by Savio), then ascends to the top rope as Animal puts Pérez on his shoulders. The other Boricuas run in to prevent the Doomsday Device, drawing a disqualification. To make matters worse for the Road Warriors, the Godwinns arrive to Slop-Drop and drop slop on Hawk. One of the Boricuas slips on slop as he exits the ring.
Next week’s Raw begins at its new time, an hour later than normal, at 8:57 PM. Speaking with Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Vince McMahon narrates a replay of Helmsley and Mankind’s encounters, which includes a lot of low blows and interference by Chyna. This Sunday, they will wrestle in a steel cage. Helmsley says it doesn’t matter, then says of his opponent tonight that it isn’t Vader time, it’s “Jenny Craig time”. Helmsley enters first, and Chyna turns her attention to Vader as he makes his entrance. Paul Bearer, perhaps a longtime Trekkie, adeptly flashes Vader’s hand sign.A “cameraman” attacks Helmsley in the ring with his camera. In fact, it’s Mick Foley in a cameraman’s uniform. It would have been an even better disguise if he weren’t wearing his Mankind mask, but you can’t argue with the results. Chyna tackles Mankind, who is then double-teamed by her and Hunter. Chyna climbs to the top turnbuckle, but gets crotched, allowing Hunter and Mankind to brawl in the crowd. The match is thrown out before it even begins, allowing Vader to maintain his two-match winning streak.
Coming up is the Million Dollar Chance contest, which, as McMahon accidentally lets slip, is actually not that great a prize. “You might have an opportunity to win an opportunity,” says Vince, “well, a chance, a trip to Summerslam.”
Michael Moorer, who was apparently a boxer before his documentary filmmaking career, is at ringside. Not at ringside, but coming soon, is Brakus, who calls out the Nation of Domination in German.Jesse Jammes, Flash Funk, and Bob Holly come to the ring with Holly’s music to take on the Truth Commission. The Commission, led by The Commandant, consists of Recon (Bull Buchanan), The Interrogator (Kurrgan), and Sniper. Sniper is Luc Poirier — not the Belgian detective with the funny mustache, but a Canadian wrestler formerly known as Rambo. Unlike the Argentine Rambo from Rambo y sus titanes, this one did not wear a latex mask. Sniper has replaced Tank, formerly known as Mantaur, because I really don’t need to finish this sentence, do I? Vince has “heard a lot about these individuals”, and I would hope so, as they’ve already wrestled on Shotgun, in the wrestling company he owns. Gorilla Monsoon is at the announce table for the first time in years to explain his reasoning for hiring a commissioner. While he’s at it, he should finally institute that rule for multiple referees in tag matches that he had requested for years before he was President.In the ring, Flash Funk scoop-slams Recon for a Nice Maneuver (#1), then hits a flying body press. Jim Ross announces upcoming live events, including one in Montgomery, Alabama, “the cradle of the Confederacy”. I don’t expect the Nation will get a warm reception there. The giant Interrogator pins Bob Holly after a side slam, or maybe a side walk slam. It’s the one that looks like a backbreaker. The Truth Commission celebrates with an X-in-the-air arm gesture that pre-dates D-X by a few months.Now it’s time for the Million Dollar Chance; they dial Ryan Chaddick of Liverpool, New York live on the air. At Summerslam, Ryan will have a chance to win a million singles; I should note that this event is sponsored by Discovery Zone and not an East Rutherford gentlemen’s club. It’s likely Discovery Zone’s money; I can’t imagine Bret Hart taking a pay cut in June just so Vince could give his money away on TV. The kid asks how many guests he can bring, and after a little bit of hemming and hawing, Vince tells him “just one”; Jerry Lawler calls McMahon a cheapskate. This Stridex Triple Action is from Shotgun, where HHH Pedigreed Mankind, Owen Hart put Mankind and the Sharpshooter, and Stone Cold gave Owen the Stunner.For the New York market, Dok Hendrix promotes Summerslam, sponsored by both Stridex and, locally, Autoland. Despite Jim Ross earlier in the evening claiming that Summerslam is “absolutely sold out”, Dok says there are a few tickets remaining. Hendrix runs down the card and the various wagers involved, including, once again, Austin’s pledge to “put a liplock on Owen’s booty” if he doesn’t win. Although intended as a euphemism, that sounds arguably worse than “kiss Owen’s butt”.
Backstage, The Patriot accepts Bret Hart’s challenge, per his duty as The Patriot. But, he adds, speaking as Del Wilkes, it’s personal. It seems Wilkes doesn’t like Bret Hart very much. “I don’t think I like you very much”, says Wilkes.
The Disciples of Apocalypse arrive on their Titan motorcycles. Vince points out that they are not Harley-Davidsons (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but Titans. Judging by the way the announcers have put over these “magnificent Titan bikes” these past few weeks, you’d think that company was owned by Titan Sports. Unfortunately, they aren’t street legal, as the DOA has WWF logos where their license plates should be. Faarooq arrives with the nation, including Ahmed, who finally gets to wear his new gear in Pan-African colors. The two groups confront each other face-to-face before the match. “It will take just a little spark,” says McMahon, “to ignite this thing into a who-knows-what.” I believe “race riot” is the term you’re looking for, Vince. We finally learn the names of the other Disciples of Apocalypse: Chainz, 8-Ball, and Skull.Faarooq beats down Crush, then jaws with the crowd, oblivious to the fact that a man’s head is now between his legs. Crush then lifts Faarooq up on his shoulders and drops him back. Crush then hits one of his famous piledrivers. “Boy, that wasn’t pretty”, says Ross, “but it was effective!” Crush comes off the ropes and boots Faarooq in the head after Ahmed failed to trip him. He then bounces off a different side of the ring, where D-Lo successfully trips him, drawing both factions into the ring for a match-ending brawl.The Boricuas get involved, pulling Crush out of the ring. Three of the Boricuas then assist the other one in powerbombing him, although there’s very little “power” involved — they just kind of drop him like they lost their grip. Maybe it’s a case of each man faking it and counting on the other three to carry the load. They then stomp the leader of the DOA on the ramp. “The Boricuas are just disseminating Crush!” says Jim Ross. He means “decimating”. The Nation throw the remaining Disciples out of the ring, having disseminated them with their four-on-three advantage.
More Pittsburgh fans weigh in on the Summerslam main event. Again, everyone says The Undertaker, except for two young ladies with Canadian flag t-shirts. One fan says he thinks Taker will win because Shawn Michaels won’t be a fair ref to Bret Hart, but that it’s okay because “Shawn Michaels is the best”. Like Bret Hart, these Michaels fans must not have heard his interview last week on Raw, as HBK will be banned from competing in the US if he is biased.Too much corn, and not enough thyme! Welcome to the War Zone! Vince once again puts over the passion of the WWF fans, including one holding an “I Hate Le [sic] Femme Nikita” sign.
The Godwinns, slopless since their attack on the Legion of Doom earlier tonight, face Dude Love & Stone Cold. Vince McMahon tries to get guest commentators Owen Hart and Davey Boy Smith excited for Dude Love, but the former champions dismiss Austin’s partner as “Dude Loser”. Austin attacks Henry Godwinn before the bell. Owen says he looks forward to Stone Cold kissing his butt then polishing his Slammys. Jerry Lawler asks Owen if he’s considered what would happen if he were to lose the so-called “Kiss My Butt” match, implying that the butt-kissing stipulation goes both ways (which it doesn’t). Hart says he looks only at the positive side. Bulldog also seems confused about his own match’s stipulations, saying Shamrock will have to eat dog food if Bulldog wins. He then challenges Shamrock to an arm-wrestling match tonight with no dog food involved.Dude Love makes a hot tag to Stone Cold, who does standard hot-tag things, leading Vince to call him a madman and a lunatic. Austin hits the Stunner on Phineas, but Henry knocks him out of the ring, where Owen hits him with the Intercontinental belt. Stone Cold is then counted out, meaning his team loses but retains their titles. Even the Godwinns aren’t dumb enough to celebrate that. Austin attacks Owen, sparking a brawl involving all three teams at ringside plus the Road Warriors. Stone Cold gets his music played despite the loss, then puts on Vince’s headset to taunt Owen (who can’t hear him). Still to come tonight, Shawn Michaels will be here, perhaps to apologize for his remarks about Canada.
It’s time for a Light Heavyweight match between Ace Darling and Devon “Crowbar” Storm. You’ve their names in PWI, now see the in action! Meanwhile, Ken Shamrock brings a table to ringside for his upcoming arm-wrestling match. Jerry Lawler puts over Brian Christoper as the best Light Heavyweight there is; it certainly isn’t Ace Darling, who gets pinned in under a minute when Storm rolls through his huracanrana.Now it’s time for the important stuff: the Million Dollar Chance. Someone not at the announce table dials a phone number, which still plays on the broadcast for our listening pleasure. There is trouble with the phone service in the area, says a recording, and the call cannot be completed. That means it’s time to ring up someone else. Beep boop boop beep! And again, the number cannot be reached; somebody re-dialed the number. The next call goes out to Lafayette, Indiana; Vince thinks he’s on the line with the winner, but the call hasn’t been made yet. Sunny, who looks better than she has in weeks (i.e. sober), fills time by fanning herself with some money. Finally, the number is dialed and a human picks up the phone. Patrick Stevenson is pumped to go to Summerslam, and also to watch this arm wrestling match.Jim Ross can’t think of a single time the Bulldog has lost in arm-wrestling, forgetting he lost to Ahmed Johnson, which is the only other time he has arm-wrestled in the WWF. He also lost to Vader in WCW in 1993. Bulldog almost wins, but Shamrock makes a comeback. Right before Ken can win, Davey headbutts him and hits him in the head and back with chair shots. He then empties a can of dog food (which he’d been keeping in his vest) on Shamrock.
Goldust comes to the ring and says that Brian Pillman will have to wear a dress (displayed on a mannequin) after Summerslam. Goldust gives the mic to Marlena, although they drop it during the hand-off. She says her girl friends think Brian has a small penis, but her (gay) hairdresser wants to see him in a dress. Pillman lewdly retaliates by “motorboating” over the PA. No, I’m sorry, that’s just the Billy Gunn controls the match early on with kicks to the breadbasket and a hard right hand, but Goldust turns things around with an uppercut and clothesline to the outside. There, Rockabilly slaps Michael Moorer, who promptly knocks him out with one punch.Just as the referee calls for the bell, Brian Pillman runs in and beats up Goldust. He then strips the mannequin nude and either chokes Goldust with it or makes him kiss it. Pillman tries to make Goldust eat the dress until Marlena jumps on his back. “Marlena is trying to choke Pillman”, says Ross. “And she’s not wearing her fightin’ clothes!” (read: bra). Officials come to the ring to get between the two of them (Pillman and Marlena), and Pillman exits up the ramp as another fan accuses Bret Hart in writing of humping cows. With all this chaos, it’s no wonder Gorilla Monsoon is hiring a commissioner — and to find out the candidates, you can call the WWF Superstar Line!
To promote the main event of Summerslam (which, despite what you might think if you haven’t been paying super close attention, is not Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels), they show clips of Undertaker matches throughout his career. The likes of Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, and the British Bulldog comment on why the Phenom is so phenomenal. Bret Hart contrasts Taker to other big men like Sid and Diesel who lack mobility (and who aren’t in the WWF anymore).It’s now time to hear from Shaaaawwwwn Michaellllls! Vince asks Mr. Khaki Shorts whether he’d like to apologize for his remarks about Canada. Nope, says Shawn. But he will do is commentate the next match between Bret Hart and The Patriot. Michaels figures he’s safer at ringside than in the locker room. Backstage, Bret chucks a chair on his way to Gorilla position.
More fans in Pittsburgh share their (negative) thoughts on Bret Hart. One fan even suggests that Bret is simply trying to get publicity for Canada. He may have a point, as I had never even heard of Canada before Bret Hart turned heel.The Hitman comes to the ring with a Canadian flag and four guys in suits. Before he steps into the ring, he points accusingly at McMahon and Michaels (who appears to be wearing Vince’s cheaters). Bret requests the “national anthem of the greatest country on the planet”; this sounds like a set-up so that the sound guy would play the Star-Spangled Banner, but lo and behold, they play Canada’s Titantron video in its entirety. Believe it or not, they are indeed going head to head with Nitro tonight. Shawn Michaels feigns tears (which, if you saw Thursday Raw Thursday, you’d know he’s an expert at) before The Patriot enters with new music (Kurt Angle’s music, in fact).
Jim Ross runs down The Patriot’s college football credentials, leading Shawn to wonder how Ross knows all this. Jim says The Patriot’s name is Del Wilkes, leading Shawn, not unreasonably, to question why he wears a mask if everyone knows his name. Mr. Wilkes then requests the American anthem, and Bret Hart waits, perturbed and impatient. The Hitman attacks The Patriot while the anthem is still playing. When the anthem finally ends, the fans cheer even as Hart wails on The Patriot. Fans start throwing trash into the ring, even as Patriot makes his comeback. The masked man slips as he follows the Hitman out of the ring, but he still manages to roll him back into the dog food-stained ring. Vince McMahon and an on-screen text-crawl inform us that Raw will extend beyond its normal time slot again tonight. Raw takes one last commercial break before the conclusion of the match (and the beginning of La Femme Nikita).
During the break, Bret Hart put The Patriot in a figure-four on the ring post. The Hitman is now in control of Patriot, whom Vince and Jim agree is not yet on the level of Bret. When Wilkes makes a bit of a comeback and puts Hart in a full nelson, Bret pushes off the turnbuckles in hopes of reversing it into a pin (like at Wrestlemania 8 or Survivor Series ’96). Instead, he and Patriot knock the referee over. Hart covers the Patriot after a piledriver, but the referee is still down, so Hart works over Patriot some more and covers him again. This time, Michaels comes into the ring and breaks up the pin. With Hart distracted, Patriot school-boys Hitman for the surprise upset victory… but Earl Hebner, still selling his injury, counts super slow, making Bret’s loss look even worse. If this is any indication of what will happen in Bret’s match against The Undertaker, expect Bret to sneak into America as El Sicario and wrestle The Patriot in a mask vs. match mask. An angry Bret Hart holds up fingers as if to say he got the 1-2-3 twice, or to call somebody an A-hole while totally rocking out.
1 Maneuver (Year total: 92)