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WWF RAW is WAR - March 24, 1997

by Scrooge McSuck

Ahmed Johnson

Presented LIVE from the Metro Center in Rockford, IL, with Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and Jerry "The King" Lawler calling the action, unless otherwise noted. We're 24-hours removed from WrestleMania the 13th and we have a NEW WWF Champion in the form of the Undertaker. Also, Bret Hart won the critically acclaimed Submission Match, but Steve Austin never gave up. The rest of the show was whatever. We don't waste time finding out that Mankind has been named the #1 Contender and will face the Undertaker at In Your House.

WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
The British Bulldog & Owen Hart (c) vs. The Headbangers:

The Headbangers won a shot at the titles by winning a 4-Way Elimination at WrestleMania. I'm surprised to see them honor that stipulation, but even more by how quickly they did. Owen and Bulldog take turns cutting each other off on the ramp, so you know things aren't going smoothly for the duo. BREAKING NEWS: The Legion of Doom will face the Tag Team Champions at In Your House on April 20th. Owen and Mish start. They trade hammerlocks and Owen takes him over with an arm drag. Thrasher sneaks in from behind and they take Owen out with a high-low combo hit. Bulldog with the blind tag. Owen with a drop toe hold and Bulldog adds a leg dsrop. He plants Thrasher with a slam and press drops Owen on top for a two-count. We cut to a split-screen with the Legion of Doom. They cut their usual screaming promo as the Headbangers double-team Owen. Whip to the corner and Mosh misses a charge. Bulldog back in, catching Mosh off the ropes with a soft spine-buster. Owen comes back in and gets caught in another double-team situation. Owen cuts off a back body-drop attempt and casually tags out. Bulldog with a delayed vertical suplex. Whip and Thrasher drives a knee into the midsection. Vince hypes what we'll see tonight as Thrasher slows it down with a chin-lock. Bulldog escapes but runs into Owen on the apron and gets rolled up for two. Bulldog bails out to yell at Owen to stay in the corner. Owen says he's sick of this and walks as we go to commercial.

We come back with Bulldog in trouble while we see Owen has returned to ringside but seems uninterested on the apron. Bulldog is literally in his corner and Owen gives the greatest short arm in tag team history. Thrasher holds Bulldog in place as Mosh hits a splash for two. Whip and Bulldog with a sunset flip for two. Whip and Bulldog hits both Headbangers with a DDT before making the tag to Owen. He nails them both with spinning heel kicks and takes Thrasher over with a belly-to-belly suplex for a near-fall. Owen with a back breaker and tags in the fatigued Bulldog to do his share. Whip and he catches Thrasher with a powerslam for two. He tags Owen back in and he hits a gut-wrench suplex. Owen with a missile dropkick. He applies the Sharpshooter but Mosh saves. Bulldog hits Thrasher with the Running Powerslam and tries to put Owen on top, but Owen isn't appreciative of the assistance. They get into a heated argument and poor Earl Hebner gets tossed aside for the cheap Disqualification at 9:44 (shown). They trade shoves and end up on the canvas throwing hands with referees and agents struggling to separate them. Owen grabs a microphone to tell the Bulldog he's sick and tired of carrying the team, so he's challenging the Bulldog to a shot at the European Championship. Bulldog doesn't care if he won 10 Slammy's, he beat Owen fair and square for the title and accepts the challenge. The wrestling wasn't much, but the match was all about advancing the Bulldog/Owen relationship. **

Mankind is hanging around a dank part of the arena, probably the bathroom with the lights turned off. He mumbles "he's gone." He's beat the Undertaker, and in less than a month, he'll be the WWF Champion. It won't mean a thing, because Uncle Paul is gone. He needs his family and pleads for Uncle Paul to come back.

Bret Hart shows up on the titan-tron and wants to address the WWF audience. He wants Vince McMahon to promise him all his time he needs to get everything off his chest and promises not to use any profane language as he did last week.

Bart Gunn vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/ Chyna):

Bart's infrequent appearances on Raw makes it hard to accept he has a chance in heck of not looking up at the lights by the end of this match. Helmsley's streak of success continued with not only a victory over Goldust at WrestleMania, but Chyna's complete destruction in rag-dolling poor little Marlena. Hunter grabs a side headlock to start. Bart counters and comes off the ropes with a shoulder block for a two-count. Helmsley backs Bart into the ropes, burying a series of shoulders into the midsection. Whip and Bart with another shoulder block. They trade blows in the corner. Whip across the ring and Bart with a delayed press slam, followed by a suplex. If that's one of Bulldog's signature spots, why are others doing it? Helmsley avoids a flying elbow drop as we see Goldust is all alone backstage. Hunter with a hangman's neck breaker as it feels like Goldust is teasing this feud is far from over. For the love of God, let it be over. Helmsley with a series of stomps in the corner as Vince promotes Goldust vs. Helmsley NEXT WEEK with neither Marlena nor Chyna at ringside. Helmsley comes out of the corner with a knee drop for a near-fall. Bart's comeback is cut short with a running high knee. Snap mare out of the corner and Helmsley with a leaping elbow drop for two. Bart counters the corner mounted rights, dropping Helmsley across the top rope. He comes off the ropes with a pair of clotheslines and takes him over with a powerslam. Whip to the corner, Bart hits the ropes for a bulldog, but Chyna pulls them down, causing Bart to take a fall out of the ring. She gives Bart a slam at ringside as J.R. tries to claim BART GUNN weighs 270 pounds. Bart gets up, looking annoyed, so Chyna sends him face-first into the post. That's non-verbal code for "sell for me." Helmsley pulls Bart into the ring and the Pedigree finishes at 7:15. Basic match to build Helmsley up for another match with Goldust next week. *½

Abismo Negro, Hysteria, and El Mosco vs. Venum, Super Nova, and Discovery:

Oh lord, the WWF/AAA relationship continues! This is going to be a mess to follow, with six men in full body suits and masks, most of them we haven't seen before. I hope Jim Ross can keep me on track. We don't even bother identifying the men starting the match as we cut immediately to Bret Hart via split-screen, demanding time to get things off his chest. Abismo Negro plants Nova with a powerbomb but misses a dive into the ropes. Venum does a flashy flip in and gets met by a spinning heel kick from Hysteria. Venum dropkicks Hysteria to the outside and teases a dive. Mosco and Discovery back in and the crowd doesn't give a tenth of a crap. Discovery does a springboard and nearly hangs himself up on the top rope. Negro sidesteps a dropkick from Nova, then misses his own charge into the corner. Nova follows him to the floor with a moonsault as the match resumes. I guess we're following AAA rules (tags aren't allowed if a man exits the ring under any circumstance). Venum hits a super-sized Asai moonsault. Nova with a missile dropkick on Negro, followed by a hurricanrana into a pinning-combination for three at 4:12. My head hurts trying to follow this. Vince apologizes if the commentary didn't do the match justice.

We cut to a pre-tape of Vince McMahon sitting down with Rocky Maivia and Rocky Johnson, reminiscing about WrestleMania. Johnson says he paid his own way there to surprise his son, but he wasn't going to let three men hurt his son and promises to never interfere in his match again. To be fair, he didn't interfere in his match in the first place, it was already over.

Flash Funk (w/ The Funkettes) vs. The Brooklyn Brawler:

When I think of the night after WrestleMania, the Brawler should always be in the conversation. Funk lost to Billy Gunn at the Free for All, so he's got little momentum right now. Honkytonk Man joins the commentary team to be as obnoxious as possible. Honky says he refuses Traci and Nadine attempting to become "Honkettes." The Brawler attacks from behind and buries a series of shoulders into the midsection. Funk fights out of the corner with rights and a jumping heel kick. Whip to the corner and Funk charges in with a clothesline. He ducks a clothesline from the Brawler and takes him down with a half-nelson suplex, but meets the knees going for a standing moonsault. Brawler taps into his 1984 offense, dropping Funk across the top rope. Jim Ross hypes the "USA Movie" of the week, Major League. Whip and Funk with a push-off dropkick, followed by a heel kick. He tosses the Brawler out, hits a wrecking ball dropkick, and follows with a plancha. Back inside, Funk comes off the top with a flying body press for two. Whip to the corner and Brawler meets a boot charging in. Funk with another slam and he finishes with the 450 splash at 3:08. I'm convinced Flash could've had the same match with a broomstick.

Ken Shamrock is standing by to explain his actions last night. Austin was unresponsive, so he felt he had to stop the match to protect Austin for his best interests. For the record, Austin never spoke the words "I Quit", but when a man is unconscious and unable to defend himself, he had to step in. After the match, he felt Bret Hart was trying to end Austin's career, and he put a stop to it. He doesn't care for Austin, but he went through a lot of pain, and he wouldn't quit.

Bret Hart comes out to kick off the second hour, and he has all the time he wants to air his grievances and explain his actions. Bret apologizes to his fans in Germany, Great Britain, all of Europe, Japan, the Middle East, South Africa, and especially Canada. To the U.S. fans, he apologizes for nothing. There's a salty looking Bret Hart booster in the front row. No matter how much he wins, the fans in the USA make him feel like he lost. He beat Stone Cold to a bloody pulp, but they cheer him on the way back to the dressing room like he won. This goes back to WrestleMania XII when he was the WWF Champion, and they cheered a pretty boy like Shawn Michaels and allowed him to screw him out of the WWF Title. He found himself sitting at home, watching the WWF on TV, and they needed a role model they could look up to, not someone with ear-rings, tattoos and poses for girly magazines that are gay magazines. He came back to set the record straight and clean up the WWF. He came back and beat Steve Austin in the Survivor Series, then their hero Shawn Michaels cost him his shot against Sid, and nobody cared. Then he won the Royal Rumble, but they justified in their minds that Austin won even though he was clearly eliminated. Anyone less would have quit, but he was begged to stay for the fans. Suddenly, the hero Shawn Michaels developed a life-ending, career-ending knee injury and forfeits the title so he could go home and find his smile. He wins the Final Four to become WWF Champion for the 4th time.

But WAIT, you don't get to rest, despite fighting three other men, you must defend against Sycho Sid the next night. He had the match won until Steve Austin whacked him with a chair and that was OK for the American fans. He was offered a shot to regain the belt in a Steel Cage, and once again outside interference played a big factor in screwing him out of the title. After being screwed over by everyone in the WWF and abandoned by the WWF fans in America, he's decided to go into the Submission Match and give Austin a good old fashion a$$-whipping. He's proven himself time after time and been everything they want him to be, but they don't understand what it means to have dignity and poise. They'd rather cheer for Charles Manson and O.J. Simpson because nobody glorifies the criminal conduct like Americans do. It's obvious to him that the American fans don't respect him, and the fact is he doesn't respect them because they don't deserve it. From here on, the fans in the US can kiss his a$$. Shawn Michaels makes his way down the ramp to let everyone know that it takes a hand-written note from the Lord almighty for Bret to hand over the belt. Just because he chooses to live his life openly and freely instead of putting on a facade doesn't make Bret the better man. Bret doesn't like hearing from Shawn that Austin never gave up. Shawn says he's tried to take the high road and blah-blah Bret is tougher than him. He doesn't obsess like Bret does. He does it because he likes it and calls Bret a mark for himself. The fans pay their money, so they can cheer and boo whoever they want. They're cheering him now, but they've booed him before, and it didn't bother him (someone screams he's a liar). Shawn keeps preaching years before finding religion. He tells Bret that they have a saying, "America: Love it or leave it." Bret finally has enough of Shawn's mouth, attacking the knee from behind and trapping Michaels in a Figure-Four wrapped up around the ring post. Officials can't break them apart, but the arrival of Sid sends Bret running.

Rocky Maivia vs. Leif Cassidy:

Rocky retained the title at WrestleMania the 13th with a victory over the Sultan, but this is non-Title. Not even the slightest pop for Maivia. The match is Joined in Progress, with Cassidy missing a charge from the ramp and hitting the ring apron. Rocky with a flying body press from the apron and the crowd isn't impressed, but then less impressed when Bret Hart starts making his way down the ramp. He joins the commentary team, saying he's opened his eyes, burying the so-called role models in the WWF. Meanwhile, Shawn Michaels is being helped by Rene Goulet and Jack Lanza. Oh, there's a match going on, I forgot. Rocky makes his comeback to no response. He hits Cassidy with a belly-to-belly suplex as Vince says Bret flushed his legacy down the toilet. Rocky with the spin-around DDT and the flying body press for three at 2:27. Bret says he'll show them what "wickedly bad" is, attacking Maivia from behind and working over his knee.

Ahmed Johnson vs. Savio Vega (w/ The Nation of Domination):

Vince notes Faarooq has suffered a separated shoulder and punctured lung (true. The splatter spot from the second rope to the floor did a number on him). Savio rushes in, wasting no time throwing right hands. Ahmed turns it around, sending Savio to the corner, but he posts himself on a missed charge. Savio continues to hammer away and plants Ahmed with a slam. Whip and Ahmed counters a back body-drop. He sends Savio to the corner and this time he meets a boot. Vince goes into hard-sell mode as this match is the definition of guys taking it easy after a rough night. Ahmed hits the saddest atomic drop and straddles Savio across the top rope. He comes off the ropes with a tackle that takes both men over the ropes and to the floor. We come back from commercial with Ahmed taking Savio over with a delayed suplex. HOW MANY GUYS ARE DOING THAT SPOT? Ahmed goes high risk (oh Dear God, NO) and hits a somersault dive. I hope Savio got paid extra for being willing to take that. Savio avoids an elbow drop and knocks Ahmed silly with a Super-Kick. Ahmed fights out of a sleeper and starts jogging in place. He plants Savio with a uranage, followed by a spine-buster. The Nation come to the ring to pull Savio to safety and that's the bell at 6:13 (shown). What do you call a waste of time? This match. Ahmed gets on the microphone to say things have gone too far. He offers them a deal since Faarooq isn't here. If he can beat one of them, they leave the WWF. Is Ahmed not offering anything to benefit them if they're to win? ½*

Paul Bearer is standing by, and how convenient since the Undertaker is scheduled next.

The Undertaker makes his entrance, with less than 5-minutes of television time left. If he makes it to the next episode of Raw, that automatically makes this his (at the time) longest reign as WWF Champion. Vince McMahon offers congratulations for becoming the NEW WWF Champion. Taker welcomes his creatures to the dark days of the WWF (no, that was 1995). He promises to fight for the fans and defend against all who oppose. Taker thanks Sid for being a man and having the courage to step in the ring. When his time is due, he will get his chance. As for Mankind, he must stay sharp and calls him the most dangerous individual in the WWF. Paul Bearer makes a slow stride to the ring. If Taker feels the need to beat him up, he'll do what he must do. Mankind interrupts from the titan-tron, screaming for Uncle Paul as the show fades to black. WOW. What a terrible way to wrap up the show.

Final Thoughts: Nothing as far as good wrestling this week, but some great promos, with Bret Hart's quasi-shoot cementing his heel turn, and the bickering between the Bulldog and Owen reaching a fever pitch being the highlights of the night. Sloppy execution made the Undertaker's promo at the end feel like a waste of time because we're left on a cliffhanger for a rivalry that grew stale in the Fall of 1996. Next week promises Bulldog vs. Owen and the return of Stone Cold, so we should probably expect another big storyline driven episode.

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