Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Raw #199 - March 3rd, 1997

Vince McMahon recounts the division of Berlin in tonight’s cold opening. Trying to play up the historical significance of tonight’s Raw (number 200, by the way, although the Network doesn't count Thursday Raw Thursday), he says that, as the eyes of the world were on Berlin during the fall of the Berlin Wall, so too will the eyes of the world be on Berlin tonight for the pre-taped episode of Raw. The difference, of course, is that significantly fewer eyes will be watching tonight’s episode than were watching the re-unification of East and West Berlin. Hell, significantly fewer eyes will be watching tonight’s episode than were watching last week’s episode. Tonight concludes the European title tournament, which has played out on the house shows in Germany for the past week or so. Tag team partners Owen Hart and Davey Boy Smith wrestle for the coveted new title that was just announced two weeks ago and whose significance and purpose have still yet to be explained.
The Honky Tonk Man comes to ringside for commentary, introduced in German by the ring announcer. “Guten Abend, Honky Tonk,” says McMahon. Hunter Hearst Helmsley is set to face off against Bret Hart. A female fan gives a “yucky” face to Triple H. Backstage, Bret Hart says Hunter will be “sore-y” he ever messed with the Hitman. After Hart gets a big ovation from the German fans, McMahon says he is “beloved by so many individuals.” On the other hand, JR compares Bret Hart to Rodney Dangerfield in terms of the lack of respect they receive, thanks to Stone Cold, who will join the taped show live from WWF Studios. Hunter punts Bret Hart teddy bears out of the ring to the crowd’s dismay. Vince points out that everything Bret Hart does gets cheered by the Germans, and he’s not kidding: they even cheer his headlock takeovers and escapes from head scissors. They decidedly do not cheer when Triple H catches him with a knee to the gut before the commercial break.

Triple H bows to the crowd with Bret Hart’s arm in a key lock before falling backward to the mat. Hart later turns the match around with a superplex, then starts on his Five Moves of Doom, hitting a leg sweep, backbreaker, and elbow smash, before mixing it up with a vertical suplex. I have still yet to see the Five Moves done in sequence after more than four years of Raws. Hart slingshots Hunter into the corner, then attempts a Sharpshooter but gets his face raked. Hart sets up Helmsley in the tree of woe, then shoves Earl Hebner clear across the ring, drawing a disqualification. Chyna, whom Vince calls “that bionic-type-looking woman,” steps into the ring, looking much smaller in comparison to Bret Hart then she does to Marlena. Bret declines to engage her physically, and a number of officials take the woman away. She walks backstage with Triple H, as if the fact that she crossed a continent to confront Hunter’s opponent wasn’t proof enough that she is aligned with the Blue Blood. Back in the WWF studios, Austin is nowhere to be seen, but the sound of a toilet flushing delights the kids watching who are too young to know how to read a TV Guide and figure out that Nitro is also on right now.
Vader comes through the entrance way with Paul Bearer to take on Rocky Maivia, the Intercontinental champion who has already earned more titles in the WWF than Vader would in his entire Federation career. Honky Tonk Man takes exception to the rookie being IC champion. Vader actually defeated Rocky earlier in the tour in a non-title match in the European title tournament. Vader dominates the early-going of the match, scoring a series of two-counts, until Rocky suplexes Vader in an Unbelievable Maneuver (#1).

Vader hits a splash from the second rope after the commercial, but Rocky kicks out. Vader picks Rocky’s leg until he reaches the ropes, then leaps at Maivia from the second rope. Rocky turns this into a powerslam for a Maneuver (#2), but only scores a two-count. A belly-to-belly likewise scores a near-fall. After hitting a floatover DDT, Rocky wastes some time doing a stupid pose, then hits a flying body press on the big man. Vader rolls away from a pin attempt, rather than rolling through the body press for the pin, as he did in their last match when Rocky hit a Similar Maneuver (#3). The two brawl outside of the ring until Mankind (who teams with Vader at Wrestlemania) hits Rocky with the urn, drawing a disqualification to Vader’s frustration. The big man takes out his anger on Rocky after the bell.
We watch a replay of last week’s ECW invasion. Well, technically, I watch the replay; you just read about it. It highlights Jerry’s and Paul E’s bickering, though, on an amusing note, the Sandman’s beer-drinking gets pixelated, while neither Jerry Lawler's forcing of Aldo Montoya and Jake Roberts to drink liquor last year, nor Steve Austin’s beer bashes in 1998, ever get the same treatment.
The Sultan, who has not been seen on Raw for months but who will nonetheless end up getting an Intercontinental title shot at Mania in three weeks, comes to the ring to face Flash Funk. Jerry Lawler calls up to complain some more about ECW as ECW alum Too Cold Scorpio makes his way to the ring. Lawler teases another confrontation with Paul E on next week’s Raw before Vince promises to return to Raw with “a whale of a match.”
Dok Hendrix voices over a commercial for next week’s episode of “Raw is War,” the show’s new format. And what better way to reflect Raw’s new, edgier format than by hosting it in an arena named for vitamins? Honky Tonk Man smiles about how much he likes the frauleins here in Germany. “They want to see the Honky Tonk Man shake, rattle, and roll,” says Honky. “I know that’s right!” says Vince. Fun fact: the real Elvis never toured internationally, as his manager Col. Parker was an illegal Dutch immigrant with no U.S. passport. Paul E Dangerously calls Vince up to vaguely accept Lawler’s challenge for a clash with ECW sometime in the future before plugging ECW’s pay-per-view. Meanwhile, in the ring, The Sultan counters Flash Funk’s flying head scissors with a Maneuver (#4 - reverse powerbomb).

We (or, more accurately, I) see a lengthy replay of what happened the last time Steve Austin was in the WWF studios, all hyping up Austin’s sit-down interview in an empty studio. Meanwhile, Vince mentions that Mankind, ‘a most unusual athlete,” gave a “most unusual interview” earlier today where he spoke German. We don’t get to see this interview, though, just hear about it. Sid, Mankind’s opponent tonight, cuts a promo about how Mankind shouldn’t have spent so much time brushing up on his German and more time getting ready for his match. Tonight, says Sid, Mankind will become a symbol of one of his many victories on his way to Wrestlemania. He even repeats the idea that Mankind will become a symbol of his victories, in case we didn’t understand it the first time (and I still don’t understand it the second time).
Ahmed Johnson comes to the ring for a bilingual interview. Jim Ross wonders whether Ahmed will accept Faarooq’s challenge to a Chicago Street fight, where the participants come to the fight dressed as they are. Given that Ahmed ends up wearing the same bikini briefs to the ring that he always does, you’ve got to wonder about Johnson’s fashion sense. The German announcer asks the questions in his native language first, the translates into English for Ahmed. Johnson, whose English is far less intelligible than the German announcer’s, says he’s not going to come alone to the street fight at Wrestlemania.
The Road Warriors’ return last week gets recapped at length, the third such replay package this episode. On Shotgun, the LOD called out the NOD and said they hoped to be at Wrestlemania in Chicago. Hmmm… and Ahmed says he’s not coming to the street fight alone. I wonder what will happen?
Mankind, who left his ear in Munich in 1994, comes to the ring for his title shot. We finally see the German interview Mankind gave. “Ich bin Mankind!” he says, which, as any educated person knows, actually means, “I am a jelly donut.”
After a commercial, we get another set of replays, this time from tonight’s episode itself. Vince notes that the European title is the first new championship in the WWF in over twenty years, forgetting that the IC title was created in 1979, and its precursor, the North American title, debuted in 1978. Moreover, there were the Women’s Tag Team Titles (est. 1983) and the Canadian Championship (est. 1985). Steve Austin interrupts the match on the split screen, complaining about his flight to Stamford and Bret Hart.
After the break, Sid and Mankind brawl on the outside until Sid returns to the ring, only to get a stunner across the top rope from Mankind. Vince takes the opportunity to point out that the WWF superstars are not past their prime before Mankind hits a Maneuver (#5 - leg drop) from the top rope and gets a two-count. Jim Ross tells us to call the WWF Superstar Line for news on Ken Shamrock and Sable. Mankind subdues Sid with the mandible claw, drawing comparisons from JR to Sam Sheppard, the former wrestler, doctor, once-convicted murderer, and inspiration for the Fugitive TV show. Sid stands up while in the hold, looking like a fish with a hook in his mouth, then pulls Mankind’s fingers out of his mouth. Vince notes that should Mankind win the title tonight, it will be Mankind vs. Undertaker (for the sixth time) at Wrestlemania 13. Paul Bearer steps onto the apron, where he is accosted by Sid, then knocked to the floor accidentally by Mankind. Sid hits a chokeslam for a two-count, then a powerbomb for the victory. Backstage, The British Bulldog (who on Superstars nine days earlier fired Clarence Mason as his manager) and Owen hart prepare for their European title match. As Raw goes to break, Stone Cold is seen looking none too pleased in the WWF studios as Vince plugs La Femme Nikita. “What’s the matter?” says Vince, unamused.

Vince brings up the many times as of late that Stone Cold has attempted, once successfully, to cost Bret Hart the WWF title, including in his title match against Sycho Sid, where Austin hits Bret with a chair while the Hitman had Sid locked in his Patented Maneuver (#6 - sharpshooter). Steve has no remorse for his actions, and says he has been “screwed” more than Bret, having competed in the Final Four match sick and with an injured knee and got no sympathy, but when Shawn Michaels wrestles sick, the announcers point it out, and when he injures his knee, he gets a video tribute. How many one-legged people could take on three of the world’s top wrestlers, asks Austin, before uncharacteristically clarifying that he’s not trying to make fun of one-legged people. Austin’s level of political-incorrectness has just reached new lows; he should have said, “persons with one leg.” Geez, Steve, use person-first language! Stone Cold — excuse me, the person with stone-coldness — guarantees that he’s not going to quit in his submission match with Bret Hart.
Vince suggests that “the fur is gonna fly” in tonight’s main event between Owen and Bulldog. I don’t think I want to know to what fur McMahon is referring. In a long-winded sentence featuring the words, “individuals,” “athleticism,” and “I would suggest,” Vince notes that these two men are athletes in their prime, not “Team Over 40.” By the way, the men they defeated to advance to the finals were Bret Hart (39) and Vader (41), respectively. Vince also plays up the tension between the two tag team champions. British Bulldog escapes a wrist lock with some Very Fancy Maneuvers (#7) , reverses the hold, then falls prey to it again, leading to some more Fancy Maneuvers (#8). Bulldog regains the upper hand by spinning on his back like a turtle, if turtles spun on their shells, which they don’t. Bulldog locks Owen in a test of strength, which Owen escapes High Energy-style by jumping onto the top rope and springing off it for a backflip. “How about that Maneuver” (#9), says Vince. Bulldog counters a huracanrana attempt with a powerbomb, then slingshots Owen over the top rope before holding the ropes open for his opponent and partner. Vince notes how well these two men know each other’s Maneuvers (#10).

After the commercial, Bulldog has Owen in yet another wristlock, with which he lifts his opponent off his feet and slams him onto the mat. McMahon assures us that we “are not watching the classic sports channel,” which is either a dig at the ages of the WCW wrestlers or an honest clarification for those fans tuning in who might be confused by the poor video quality into thinking this Raw was filmed decades earlier. As Bulldog sets up Hart for a surfboard, Vince wonders whether he will be able to apply the Submission Maneuver (#11). Owen escapes by grabbing the referee, then dumps Smith over the top rope and celebrates with a Bulldog-style front flip. It’s now Honky Tonk Man’s turn to rag on WCW. Everyone wants to be part of the WWF, says the recently-returned 44-year-old wrestler, and it’s not “the over-40 crowd.” Owen feigns a knee injury, allowing him to hit a cheap shot on his brother-in-law. Bulldog powers out of a sharpshooter attempt, prompting JR to praise Davey Boy’s lower-body strength and lack of artificial hips. He’s referring to Roddy Piper’s artificial hip, which he wrestled with at the previous year’s Wrestlemania. After a brief shoving match, Owen hits a spinning heel kick, which Vince describes as devastating.
In the last segment of the night, Bulldog lifts Owen up on his shoulders and drops him backwards rather dangerously. Owen rebounds (not literally) to pin Smith, using the ropes for leverage, but Bulldog kicks out at two. Hart sets Davey Boy up for a superplex, the Maneuver (#12) that Vince speculates will finish off Smith. Instead, Bulldog counters with a body press in mid air for a two-count. Smith whips Owen sternum-first into the turnbuckles, presses Hart over his head, then dumps him crotch-first onto the top rope. Owen Hart reverses a powerslam attempt with a Maneuver (#13), grabbing onto the ropes and falling on top of the British Bulldog for a two-count. After an enziguiri kick, Owen slaps on the Sharpshooter, which Bulldog escapes by grabbing the bottom rope. Soon after, Bulldog hits the running powerslam, but Owen kicks out, then uses the victory roll. However, Bulldog rolls backward onto Owen to kick out and scores a three-count to win the new title. Bulldog and Owen shake hands and Raw ends before Owen cuts a smarmy heel promo for the crowd. Next week, Raw is war, but this week, it was the lowest-rated episode ever. Well, tied for lowest. There was another 1.9-rated show on September 25th, 1995, which was headlined by Bulldog vs. Undertaker, followed by two commercial breaks.

Final tally:

12 Maneuvers (Year total: 40)

1 comment:

  1. Worth noting: WWE does not consider (or have posted to the Network) Thursday Raw Thursday an official episode of Raw, despite other Friday episodes being counted. As such, this is actually episode #199, officially.

    Just so by the time you get to a milestone they do celebrate, you wonder why the count is slightly off.