Sunday, November 8, 2015

Raw #202 - March 24th, 1997

The Raw after Wrestlemania 13 opens with a long pan across the front row. Jim Ross informs us that Mankind is the number-one contender to The Undertaker’s WWF title, even though astute viewers who stayed awake during last night’s pay-per-view would know that Mankind got counted out in the tag team match. The Headbangers, who won an unannounced and terrible four-way tag team elimination match last night, get their promised title shot against Davey Boy (who has two titles) and Owen (who has two Slammys… and a title). The tag team champions after this match will face The Road Warriors at the next In Your House.

LOD, who are introduced as “two interested parties” to this tag team match, cut a backstage inset promo. “Interested” is a word not often used to describe someone watching a Headbangers match. Vince asks Hawk about the kitchen sink they used last night ,and we learn that Hawk doesn’t like stainless steel. Bulldog gives Thrasher a delayed vertical suplex, giving the fans a clear shot up the Headbanger’s skirt. On the split-screen, both Bret Hart and Chyna are advertised for later in the show. One wants to get something off his chest, and the other one wants to get two things put in her chest. Bulldog accidentally knocks Owen off the apron and nearly gets pinned. Owen storms out in a huff, leaving Davey Boy to fend for himself.
Owen Hart is back by the time the commercial break is over, but his distraction of the referee allows the Headbangers to double-team his partner. Vince notes that the smoke from the opening pyro is just beginning to clear, then implies that Owen isn’t putting forth enough effort to take the tag from Bulldog. After a double-DDT, Davey Boy manages to make the tag to Owen, who gives Thrasher a backbreaker before tagging the weary Bulldog right back in. The two argue before Vince apologizes for referring to Vader as the number-one-contender. He didn’t. Owen tags back in and puts Thrasher in the sharpshooter, only for Mosh to break up the hold. Bulldog powerslams Thrasher and tries to put Owen on top for the pin, to which Owen takes exception. Owen asks Bulldog, “What the fuck was that?” (which the censors mute a second too late). During the argument, Davey Boy shoves the referee, drawing a disqualification. Bulldog gives Owen a double-leg takedown; the two brawl on the mat until a swarm of referees pull them apart.  “Bulldog, I am sick and tired of your crap!” says Owen, holding the mic. Well then maybe they should wrestle in a dog-poop match, as Bulldog would do two-and-a-half years later on this very program. Instead, he demands a European championship match. Bulldog says he doesn’t care if Owen won ten Slammys (for which I’m sure he was reprimanded by Vince later on; no one denigrates the Slammy Awatds!) and says he’ll give him one title only.
Backstage in a dark room, Mankind cuts a promo about Uncle Paul being “gone,” which Jim Ross takes to mean that Paul Bearer died. Sixteen years later, he actually did die. Whoa, prophetic!
Sponsoring tonight’s Raw is Discovery Zone, which Jerry says is “the ultimate entertanment spot, and it’s just for kids!” I’m sure Jerry’s a big fan. Bret Hart gets on the big screen, which Vince refers to as “our Titantron.” Bret says he needs Vince to promise him that he’ll have all the time he needs to get things off his chest, to which Vince agrees, provided he doesn’t use any profanity like last week. Unfortunately, the fans in attendance can’t hear Vince’s side of the conversation, so it sounds to them like Bret is talking to himself.

Bart Gunn is in the ring during all this, awaiting his opponent Triple H, who arrives with Chyna. Goldust gets an inset interview crying over Marlena’s empty director’s chair. Next week, Goldust will face Triple H and promises that there will be no more sequels. Vince informs us that that match will be for the Intercontinental Championship, somehow, despite the fact that Rocky Maivia is the champion. JR says that it’s not about titles next week, which is good because neither man has a title at the moment. During the boring match, Bart Gunn slams Hunter against the ropes with a Clever Maneuver (#1 - stun gun). The Best Hair Slammy-winner goes on the defensive as the future Brawl-for-All winner takes control. Chyna pulls down the top rope, sending Bart to the floor, then scoop slams the cowboy. Unbelievable, says Vince. As Bart tries to re-enter, Chyna pushes him into the ring post. A replay shows that Chyna didn’t pull down the rope in time, so Bart Gunn fell out of the ring on his own, though the announcers pretend otherwise. Helmsley hits the Pedigree for the victory.
Slammy highlights air, including Todd Pettengill singing a “Girl From Ipanema” parody implying that Chyna has a penis and Triple H does not. Also, George the superfan wet his pants because of the Undertaker.

Three little-known masked luchadors take on three other little-known luchadors in WWF’s transparent attempt to compete with Nitro. Vince announces that Stone Cold is not in the arena tonight, thus deflating any attempt to beat Nitro’s ratings. Bret Hart gets on the split-screen and complains that he isn’t getting his time, saying the word, “time” on five occasions in the span of about five seconds. Vince tells him that he will have his time laster on tonight, then focuses back on the colorfully attired luchadors, whom he calls, “matadors.” The team of presumed babyfaces wins after some aimless flippy action that draws little reaction from the apathetic fans. No wonder Russo thought Mexicans would never get over in America.
Kevin Kelly narrates a commercial for the “Wrestle Vessel,” a Caribbean Cruise featuring the WWF superstars, who he claims will “bare it all.” So, they’re going to be naked?
Rockies Johnson and Maivia discuss last night’s Wrestlemania in a pre-recorded clip from before the show.
Honky Tonk Man is still searching for his new protege, so he sits in on Flash Funk’s match against The Brooklyn Brawler. I don’t think Flash wants to be the next “Honky” anything. Vince notes that High-Risk Maneuvers (#2) like Funk’s often backfire. The Honkster claims that he rejected the Funkettes after they requested to be “Honkettes.” He then directly contradicts himself by claiming that he wants to make them Honkettes. They may have hooters, but can they honk? Brawler gets his knees up to counter Funk’s standing moonsault. JR apologizes to Jerry Lawler in advance for the advertising copy he has to read for the movie “Major League,” wherein he describes the Cleveland Indians as “misfit losers.” Jerry Lawler claims that a kick from Flash Funk knocked one of Brawler’s teeth out. He always says that, though. Flash wins with a Maneuver (#3 - 450 splash).

After an ad for the Wrestlemania 13 hockey jersey and denim jacket, in which Sable models clothes for the first of many times on Raw, Ken Shamrock is interviewed on the Titantron by Vince and gets booed. He explains why he stopped the Bret-Austin match last night. The fans, who again can only hear one side of this conversation, cheer when a still of Shamrock taking down Bret Hart appears on the Tron. The boos get louder when Bret appears, pacing back and forth backstage in preparation for his promo at the top of the hour.
It’s time! It’s time! It’s Bret Hart’s time, which he has been requesting all night! Jerry Lawler wants Vince McMahon to do the interview based on what Bret did to Vince last week, but it’s JR in the ring instead. Bret Hart starts out by apologizing to his fans in Europe, Japan, the Middle East, South Africa, and Canada, but refuses to apologize to his fans in the US. He doesn’t understand why the fans cheered Stone Cold last night, even though he lost. He also rails against Shawn Michaels for wearing earrings, having tattoos, and posing for a gay magazine. Actually, his exact words were that Shawn has “got earrings all over himself.” Disturbing images aside, if Shawn’s got rings on other body parts besides his ears, they’re no longer earrings. Vince seethes as Bret recounts the many (goddamn) injustices he has suffered since returning to the Federation, which the American fans have all been fine with. “You know he is telling the truth, McMahon,” says Jerry Lawler, siding with the Hitman for the first time since, well, ever. Hitman can’t get over the fact that Americans cheer for people like “Charles Manson and OJ Simpson” and other universally beloved American heroes, finally ending his diatribe by telling the American wrestling fans coast to coast to kiss his ass, in so many words (those words being, “The American wrestling fans coast to coast can kiss my ass.”).

Enter Shawn Michaels to a mixture of boos and cheers. Michaels implies that Bret always refuses to drop the title (compared to Michaels’s five title forfeitures and counting), then celebrates that he chooses to live his life “openly and freely.” So, it actually was a gay magazine he posed for? He then gives a Cena-style speech about how the fans have a right to cheer or boo whomever they want. “It’s called freedom of expression,” explains Vince. “Tough titty, said the kitty,” adds Michaels. Go on, read that sentence again. Yeah, he actually said that. Baloney, fudge, and mustard, Michaels was Cena before Cena! HBK challenges Bret to a fight right then and there, even though he is admittedly in no shape to compete. Bret refuses, so Michaels says that the only reason that Bret knew Shawn was in Playgirl was because he had looked at the issue himself. Zing! It was either that, or Bret saw it on TV when the WWF advertised it. Bret waits until Michaels turns his back to leave, then kicks him in his injured, injured knee before locking him in the dreaded figure-four leglock on the ring post, which doesn’t actually hurt. Shawn is wearing loafers tonight, by the way, which is a nice change of pace from the cowboy boots. Mike Chioda, Gerald Brisco and Vince McMahon himself have to pry Bret off. Sid comes to ringside and Bret exits the premises, flipping the bird on the way up the ramp.

Next up is Rocky Maivia, who comes out to generic drum-and-bass music to slap hands with the fans. Hey! What’s he doing with that belt? Oh, right. He’s the Intercontinental champion. After a commercial break, the match has already begun. Bret Hart comes to ringside again to interject himself into this boring match, a trend that started last night at Wrestlemania when he kept interfering in the abysmal main event. While everyone’s paying attention to Bret, Leif Cassidy hits an alley-oop on Maivia, whose title is not on the line tonight. On the split-screen, Shawn Michaels is seen being helped out of the arena with a giant bag of ice on his knee. Meanwhile, Bret does commentary at ringside, where Vince tells him that he’s flushing his legacy down the toilet. Bret runs with the toilet-flushing metaphor by blaming the American fans for flushing his toilet. He saw little kids holding up signs saying he sucks, when it is in fact those little kids who suck. The production people were kind enough to mute the word “suck,” no doubt appeasing those fans who were frustrated by last week’s abusive language from the Hitman. Actually, “frustrated” wasn’t the goddamn word for it; it was bullshit. Rocky Maivia hits a flying body press on Leif to win the match before being blindsided by Hart. Leif Cassidy gives the Hitman an appreciative thumbs-up for his efforts. Hart, in turn, flips off a fan at ringside.
Vince plugs the encore of Wrestlemania 13, which he assures us may be the greatest Wrestlemania ever. Faarooq has been sideline with a separated shoulder and a punctured lung after last night’s street fight, so it’s Savio going one-on-one with Ahmed in the de facto main event. Next week, Vince reminds us, it will be Triple H versus Goldust “when Raw continues to be War.” Ahmed picks up and crotches Savio on the top rope, the topples him with a running shoulder tackle, sending both men to the floor before the break.

Vince and the announce crew continue to wonder why the rest of the Nation of Domination is keeping their distance at the top of the entrance ramp. Ahmed somersaults off the top rope onto Savio, but misses a follow-up running elbow drop. Savio fights back with a crescent kick, after which he poses in a martial arts stance, forgetting that he isn’t Kwang any more. Savio locks Ahmed in a sleeper hold for a minute, but Ahmed escapes and hits Vega with a uranage. The rest of the Nation approaches the ring, drawing a disqualification. Ahmed then grabs the mic and says that their feud has gone on too long (and it has). He challenges any one of them to a match where, if Ahmed wins, the nation has to leave the WWF. Sounds like a fair deal. Ahmed poses Hogan-style, cupping his hand to his ear, but the Nation doesn’t respond and heads back up the ramp. As Ahmed leaves, he slams against the ramp his 2x4, which flies out of his hand and he has to pick up. Paul Bearer paces back and forth backstage awaiting The Undertaker’s promo. Poor Paul will probably be completely blown up by the time Taker comes to the ring.
Vince screws up his intro of The Undertaker: “Would you please welcome me… in… Here comes the new World Wrestling Federation Champion!” “Who will ever, ever forget,” says JR, “Bret Hart’s interference that certainly led to Sycho Sid’s demise?” The answer: everyone. The only thing today’s fans remember about that match is that Sid crapped his pants in the middle of it, and that didn’t even really happen. Undertaker is sporting his fabulous leather hat tonight. He says that he will fight for all the creatures. I guess that makes him The Creature’s Champion. Undertaker also gives Sid credit and offers him a rematch in the future, which Sid never received due to injury and/or the start of softball season.  Taker acknowledges that his first title reign was short because he lost his edge; actually, it was short because Hulk Hogan threw the charred remains of a dead guy into his eyes and rolled him up for a pin. Paul Bearer interrupts the promo as Taker starts talking about Mankind. Bearer pleads with him that everything he has done, he has done for The Undertaker, while Mankind yells for Uncle Paul via the Titantron. Raw goes off the air right in the middle of the segment so that viewers can watch La Femme Nikita in its entirety as advertised.

Final tally:

3 Maneuvers (Year total: 50)
1 Ahmed Johnson wedgie

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