Art’s Raw Review #208 – May 5th, 1997

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Raw opens with a recap of last week, including that brief footage of Bret Hart’s knee surgery. Two things to note: Bret’s name is spelled wrong, and the footage that the announcers last week found so gruesome appears to consist of the nurse shaving Bret’s leg before the incision. Like last week, the recap includes time stamps for all the different clips of Austin/Hart, as if to say, See, this went on all night. You can’t just watch one segment then change to Nitro!

The Hart Foundation arrives with belts, Slammys, and crutches in hand. Bret thanks all his fans in South Africa, Germany, England, the Far East, Middle East, and Canada. But what about his American fans? Bret quotes Shawn Michaels and says… well, something. It’s muted on my copy, but I’m sure it was positive and uplifting. In fact, the censored phrase is, and I quote, “Tough titty, said the kitty”. The Hitman praises all the members of the Hart Foundation for their accomplishments last week and rails against the US’s “sick, violent violence society”. Steve Austin, having been knocked off the ramp last week, doesn’t have the “jam” to show up tonight. Not only is he a “gutless stinkin’ rotten hyena”, but now he’s “just a broken up piece of pile of broken bones”. Stone Cold, by the way, is scheduled to wrestle the Bulldog. Tonight, the Hart Foundation focuses on Shawn Michaels, vowing to make him “sore-y” for running in and interfering in the Harts’ matches (despite, Bret adds, his allegedly bad knee). 

The Castrol Super Clean Slam of the Week is Undertaker’s chokeslam on Steve Austin, who is yet to arrive at the arena tonight. Ahmed Johnson, wearing black Zubaz-style pants, takes on Rockabilly, who is seemingly  contractually obligated to wrestle on every Raw. Rockabilly looks to up his record to 2-2. Believe it or not, the next PPV is in six days and, Jim Ross reminds us, will feature three Ahmed Johnson matches. Let’s not all dial Comcast at once! Rockabilly catches Ahmed’s neck on the top rope with a Clever Maneuver (#1). Vince welcomes Faarooq via split screen and says he must be impressed with Ahmed, barring that last Maneuver (#2). In fact, he’s not impressed. Instead, he has hired “three of the biggest, baddest ghetto men” for Crush to beat one-on-one tonight, just to show how tough Crush is. So now viewers have that to look forward to. Billy dominates Ahmed, nearly putting him down with a sleeper hold — but before Johnson’s arm drops a third time, Rockabilly lets go like an idiot and celebrates (also like an idiot). He then grabs his guitar, but Ahmed takes it from and smashes him in the head with it, drawing a DQ. Hey, a win is a win. Ahmed, who has just proven incapable of beating Rockabilly, has to beat three members of the Nation on Sunday in order to disband the group. Jerry Lawler throws in some obscure topical references about golfer Fuzzy Zoeller, warning Jim Ross not to say anything about “fried chicken or collard greens” and get banned from Kmart. Backstage, the Hart Foundation burst into a locker room looking for Shawn Michaels, but all they find is a bunch of jobbers… oh, and Bob Holly.

During the break, the Hart Foundation continues to search in more locker rooms. A video package airs of “ABC’s most dangerous man” Ken Shamrock, where for a second he is misidentified as Vader. We see his adoptive father, as well as his wife and four children. Ken cheers on his son Ryan Shamrock at his Little League game. Remember that name. Shamrock also explains his “zone” and revisits his challenge to Mike Tyson, whom he respects for his boxing but not some of the things he has done (like rape).

The real Vader comes to the ring, followed by his In Your House opponent Ken Shamrock, who walks to ringside for commentary. Goldust, who is slated to “come out of the closet”, is Vader’s opponent tonight. Vince McMahon informs us that the Undertaker’s WWF title is missing, as if he expects us to look for it or something. One place where it isn’t is in Ken Shamrock’s zone, where no one else is allowed. The man Vince calls, “The Man They Call Goldust” kisses The Man They Call Vader in the corner. That’s the same Vader who once broke a man’s neck just for not selling a standing splash well enough. No such retaliation is forthcoming here; I guess jail will do that to you. Before the break, Vader turns things around enough to take a break and jaw with Shamrock at ringside.

After the break, Vader punches Goldust a lot. Tickets to this Sunday’s pay-per-view are still available; the problem is, there aren’t enough Ahmed Johnson matches on it. Vader splashes Goldust in the corner, but the Bizarre One catches him and body slams him to the mat. Goldust gives Vader a series of punches, Dusty Rhodes-style, but Vader soon drops him with a slam, then Vader Bombs him for the victory. Vader taunts Shamrock from the ring. “Shut up!” says Ken, still wearing his headset. Ken runs in and tackles Vader, but Mankind intervenes. Goldust neutralizes Mankind’s interference and runs the two Paul Bearer clients out of the ring.

Jim Ross sat down with Dustin Runnels — better known to fans as the guy who just lost. “Dustin Runnels is the son of a wrestler,” says Ross, “who was in turn the son of a plumber.” Dustin could never escape his father Dusty Rhodes’s shadow (though few could), so he transformed into Goldust. Dustin recalls getting pelted with change and cursed at by fans (even the goofy-looking ones). The interview turns to a particular “Superstar once known for his machismo” and refused to wrestle him (although, they did in fact wrestle twice and would have wrestled a third time save for a failed drug test). He also got a lot of angry letters from “the minorities out there, the gays and whoever”, whom he can now identify with. He understands how Ellen DeGeneres feels, now that he is coming out as straight. But now, Goldust is accepted, as evidenced by footage of grown fans dressed as Goldust as part of a “Gold Dust [sic] Fan Club”. The footage is from his first month on TV. But does he have his father’s respect? He hopes so, but they haven’t spoken in two years. Next week is part two of the interview, for which even Jerry Lawler gives Goldust credit (until three weeks from now, when he calls him a f**).

Backstage, the Hart Foundation stand outside a bathroom, where they believe Shawn Michaels is taking care of business. After a flush and a door opening, they swarm the hapless occupant, who turns out to be some kid with long hair. They keep beating him up anyway.

The Nation is in the ring, where Crush will take on three “individuals”. Crush beats the first jobber with a gut buster, and the second one with three leg drops (weird ones where Crush physically lifts his leg with his hand) and a heart punch. These were the two jobbers the Hart Foundation found in the locker room, the latter of whom is wearing some sort of S&M gear, perhaps as tribute to Crush’s old tag team of Demolition. Does this mean the third opponent will be Bob Holly? The last opponent rushes to the ring with pantyhose on his head and gives Crush the Pearl River Plunge for the 1-2-3. He unmasks to reveal Ahmed Johnson, whom I suspected (but, without seeing his butt cheeks, couldn’t confirm).

Outside, the Hart Foundation run around the parking lot looking under trucks for Shawn Michaels. The search is interrupted by the crack of a whip and the growl of a cat. “Oh my goodness, it’s Sable!” yells Vince in utter astonishment. She’s modeling the Austin 3:16 shirt tonight. “I know that’s right!”

The second hour of Raw kicks off with Shawn Michaels, wearing his now-familiar suit jacket. Shawn reiterates that his battles with the Hart Foundation have nothing to do with helping Stone Cold. He then takes a stand against the latest trend of wrestlers cutting down the fans in their promos. His alternative? “Sucking up to the fans”. Vince notes that Shawn has found his smile again, while Shawn claims that the Kliq is the most powerful faction in this business. Oh yeah? Then how come Shawn and three fans won’t take on the Truth Commission at Survivor Series? Vince wants to know when Shawn will put on the tights again (to wrestle). Shawn, whose career was finished less than three months ago, vows to return at the King of the Ring next month. HBK then addresses Bret Hart’s rants against American society, who have given Homer Simpson “icon status”. Hey, Shawn wasn’t even on Simpsons! Michaels thinks Bret should leave the country and will tear the Hitman to pieces when he gets his hands on him.

Shawn bounces around ringside until an angry Bret comes on the Titantron. “You know, I don’t mind if you make fun of me,” says Bret, “but don’t make fun of The Simpsons.” Shawn takes his shirt off to an ovation, leading Bret to wonder whether that was “for the guys or the girls”. Bret not only questions Shawn’s sexuality, but his injury as well, challenging him to a match with Jim Neidhart. That is, if Shawn has “the jam”. What does he mean by that, anyway? Is that like “spunk”? That’s rather lewd. Anvil steps into the ring, followed by his brother-in-law and brother-in-law-in-law, but the Legion of Doom arrive to even up the sides.

Shawn storms backstage with a chair in hand in search of the Hart Foundation. He doesn’t find him, but he does manage to drive off Sunny, who is wearing a Stone Cold shirt, and Stone Cold himself, who is also wearing a Stone Cold shirt and, more importantly, is not supposed to be in the building yet. Whoops.

Furnas and LaDon walk down the ramp for a rematch with LOD. In a prerecorded inset promo, Furnas promises that this time, the fans will be behind them, so the Legion of Doom won’t have an unfair advantage. LaFon calls his team the most exciting in the WWF, which Vince McMahon takes issue with. Jerry Lawler says the fans in Green Bay should appreciate a football player like Doug Furnas, who played for the University of Tennessee. Yeah, but did he wear spikes on his shoulder pads? Vince has an update about the WWF championship belt and Stone Cold Steve Austin, which are both still missing (except for Stone Cold, whom eagle-eyed viewers may have spotted backstage two minutes ago). Hawk opens the match with chops to Phil LaFon’s chest. “Oh my goodness!” says McMahon. “Forget about it!” Forget about what? Vince calls tonight’s venue, “a smoky-filled [sic] arena” due to the pyro. Eventually, I presume, Vince will take wrestling out of such smoke-filled arenas. Backstage, officials separate Shawn Michaels from Bret Hart, Brian Pillman, and Jim Neidhart just before the commercial break.

Jim Ross teases a secret from Michael’s past on the new episode of La Femme Nikita at 10 PM tonight. Furnas and LaFon suplex Animal onto referee Jack Doan’s ankle, and Furnas dropsaults Animal, which King points out is an exciting move. They try suplexing Animal again, but he suplexes both of them by himself (even avoiding Jack Doan altogether!). Animal gets the hot tag on Hawk. Maybe he can try chopping LaFon’s chest! Unless he already did that earlier in the match. I forget. With the referee and Animal distracted by “one British Bulldog” (that is Davey Boy Smith, not Dynamite Kid), Owen Hart hangs up Hawk’s neck on the top rope, allowing fellow Canadian Phil LaFon to pick up the pin. Interference or not, it’s a victory for “those two individuals”, Furnas & LaFon. Backstage, referees try to separate Shawn Michaels from Bret Hart, Brian Pillman, and Jim Neidhart (again). This time, Austin shows up.

Jim Ross looks forward to an update on the “hellacious situation” as The Undertaker enters the ring for a promo. Taker arrives without the title, which is missing, in case you haven’t heard. Vince hands the mic to Taker, who reminds everyone that he is the champion, the “defender of the belt” (which belongs, after all, to the Creatures of the Night). Undertaker, who has devil horn-like eye makeup, threatens whoever stole his belt. Furthermore, it will be a “cold day in hell” before Steve Austin becomes champion; since that’s the name of the pay-per-view, Austin could still win it any time after that.

Sunny is out to model the Austin 3:16 t-shirt she was wearing backstage. King said it would look even better on the floor of his bedroom. That seems rather messy — doesn’t he have a hanger, or at least, like, a clothes chair?

The Hart Foundation music and Titantron play, but the British Bulldog is not forthcoming. The entrance video is amazing, featuring highlights of Bret Hart that are obscured by a giant cartoon heart. Bulldog surfaces eventually after what Vince McMahon tries to pass off as “mind games”, even though it was his opponent who didn’t even show up to the arena until five minutes ago (kind of). Steve Austin starts off the match with stomps and punches — basically, wrestling like he would, post-neck injury. He then attempts to roll an abdominal stretch into a pin. 

After the break, Bulldog punts Austin right in the groin in full view of the referee, who gives Davey Boy a talking-to. Jim Ross promotes the WWF hotline with news about Sycho Sid and “some beauties that may think about taking it all off this summer”. Those are separate news items, by the way. Also, the WWF is trying to “negotiate a huge deal” with Shawn Michaels for the King of the Ring. Finally, Ross announces a match this Sunday between Mankind and Sycho Sid… which is canceled, obviously. Instead, Mankind will wrestle, “somebody”. Who? Probably not. Bulldog has dominated the match ever since kicking Austin’s crotch, leading Ross to note how far he has come since teaming with the Dynamite Kid. Lawler says Davey Boy dumped him like Donald Trump dumped Marla, at which point Vince admonishes the King to “be nice”. Does that make Owen, Melania? Austin shifts the momentum with a Lou Thesz press, but he is unable to put the Sharpshooter on Smith, who slaps a chinlock on Stone Cold. 

After the final commercial break, Austin slips out of an attempted powerslam by the European Champion, who is not defending his title in this match. That’s good news for Davey Boy, as he eats a Stunner after telegraphing a back body drop. Austin wins but is immediately waylaid by the New Foundation (Owen and Jim). Owen hits Austin with the missing WWF title belt as Brian Pillman and Bret Hart watch from backstage. At least, I think that’s who’s watching — it’s hard to tell when they’re not facing the camera, their heads tilted 120 degrees toward the monitor. The Road Warriors try to even the sides, but Furnas & LaFon join the fray to help… someone? Owen Hart and Phil LaFon end up fighting each other for no apparent reason until Shawn Michaels runs in. Then they start beating up the LOD until they are surprised by a blackout and the Undertaker’s big dong. When the lights come back up, Taker is in the ring. Everyone leaves except Taker and Stone Cold, who ends up holding the belt. Taker snatches it out of his hand and lays it on the ground between them. One of these men will walk out of In Your House the champion (and one of these men is “still f’ing gay”, if one fan’s sign is to be believed). The two brawl outside of the ring until the end of the show. 

Final tally:

2 Maneuvers (Year Total: 62)

Written by

Art has been writing inductions for WrestleCrap since 2012. He also writes reviews of old Monday Night Raws, posted here every other Sunday. You can find his old reviews at the "How Much Does This Guy Weigh?" blog. Follow him on Twitter @Art0Donnell. Email at: art@wrestlecrap.com

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