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What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw - April 7, 1997

by Logan Scisco

-Footage of Mankind throwing a fireball into the Undertaker’s eyes last week is shown.

-Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and The Honky Tonk Man are in the booth and they are live from Muncie, Indiana.

-Owen Hart and the British Bulldog come out for the opening match and Owen tells the crowd that Bret brought love to the Hart family.  Owen says Shawn Michaels better not say anything bad about Bret or they will lay waste to him tonight.

-Opening Non-Title Contest:  Owen Hart & The British Bulldog (WWF Tag Team Champions) defeat The Godwinns (w/Rebecca Jones) when Owen pins Henry after an elbow drop to the back of the head at 7:07 shown:

If you wonder who Rebecca Jones is, she’s the guest manager for the Godwinns in this match.  Henry Godwinn’s hillbilly gimmick had a surprisingly long shelf life, surviving the gimmick holocaust of 1995-1996.  Owen and the Bulldog get the opening match for the third straight week and they get a good fight from the Godwinns, who appear more motivated than usual tonight.  The Godwinns win the four way brawl near the end of the match and Henry gives the Bulldog a Slop Drop, but Owen breaks up the cover behind the referee’s back and the tag team champions get some momentum heading into In Your House in two weeks.  Rating:  **¼

-As Owen and the Bulldog head towards the back, the Legion of Doom appear behind them.  The champions back away, but the Godwinns come up behind them.  The Godwinns try to throw slop on the champions, but the champions duck and the slop goes all over the Legion of Doom, who predictably take offense and brawl with the Godwinns as Owen and the Bulldog laugh at the top of the stage.

-Owen and the Bulldog tell McMahon that they are civilized, unlike the Legion of Doom, and they will annihilate them at In Your House.  They get the WWF production crew to show the slop miscommunication twice to showcase their wit.  Steve Austin wants to give the champions a piece of his mind, but WWF officials get him to back off.

-“Stone Cold” Steve Austin pins Billy Gunn (w/The Honky Tonk Man) after a Stone Cold Stunner at 6:09:

Austin comes out to a big pop, his first big face reaction on Raw, while Billy comes out with the Honky Tonk Man, who has seemingly picked him as his new protégé.  Austin completely dominates Billy in this encounter, beating him from pillar to post, using a low blow, and then flipping him off, as well as the referee, in the middle of the beat down.  In fact, Billy doesn’t get in a single major offensive move.  That’s exactly how this should’ve been booked, as Billy was nowhere near Austin’s level and his cowboy gimmick wasn’t setting the world on fire.

-After the match, the Honky Tonk Man tells Billy that there’s no shame in losing to Steve Austin and he offers his services, but Billy gives him a right hand and walks out.

-Dok Hendrix hypes the Undertaker door banners, which you can get for $29.95 (plus shipping & handling)!

-The Commandant, the leader of the Truth Commission, makes his debut and he hypes the next Raw, which will be from South Africa.  He gives a long, dry fascist tirade and says that the Truth Commission will teach Americans the true meaning of democracy.  The Truth Commission wasn’t a terrible idea, but their entire thunder was taken away by the Hart Foundation already doing an anti-American gimmick.

-Bret Hart gives a taped promo from South Africa where he says that he can think clearly and American wrestling fans can’t handle the truth and that’s why they don’t like him anymore.  Bret is shown carrying the South African flag into the ring at a South Africa house show to reinforce the fact that he’s pro-international wrestling fans and anti-American.

-McMahon interviews Shawn Michaels, who isn’t selling the knee injury he received a couple of weeks ago.  Michaels says Bret Hart has always been a bad guy because he drags his family out on television so he can make a buck.  Michaels says that he supported Bret when he was champion in 1992, but Bret threw a fit when he was asked to return the favor and went home, hoping that the WWF would fall flat on its face.  Michaels goes off on Bret trying to jump ship to WCW and being a mark for himself.  After finishing his interview, Michaels starts doing a striptease and Owen and the British Bulldog come out to put a stop to it.  Michaels grabs a chair and that’s enough to keep the tag team champions at bay after WWF officials pour out of the back.  This was an entertaining shoot promo for the older fans and it did a great job selling the animosity between Shawn and Bret.  The only problem is that these long interview segments came off too well, so that’s why we get the twenty minute promo at the beginning of Raw each week.

-The Headbangers defeat Freddie Joe Floyd & Barry Horowitz when Thrasher pins Floyd after a powerbomb-flying leg drop combination at 4:27:

Since most of the roster is halfway around the world, the WWF had to take Floyd and Horowitz out of mothballs for this match.  The Headbangers methodically destroy their opponents and that’s all that can be said about this one.

-No Holds Barred Exhibition:  Ken Shamrock defeats Vernon White by tap out from mounted punches at 2:00:

In case anyone wonders if the WWE should ever try an MMA contest, they actually did so in 1997.  In fact, in this exhibition McMahon plugs a UFC pay-per-view, something you would definitely not see happen today.  This is clearly worked, but White does land a stiff kick and Shamrock busts White open from his mounted punches to put him away.

-Ross interviews Shamrock, who says the exhibition got a little out of hand.  Vader and Paul Bearer interrupt the interview, but WWF officials get between both competitors before anything breaks out.

-Vader (w/Paul Bearer) pins Ken Stiletto with a powerbomb at 2:11:

This is supposed to serve as a “counter exhibition” to rival what Shamrock did earlier since the WWF was beginning the build for a Shamrock-Vader no holds barred match for May’s In Your House.  Vader toys with Stiletto, giving him a release German suplex and two Vader Bombs, before going back to his traditional roots and finishing him with a powerbomb.  I hope that Stiletto made over the jobber maximum for taking this beating.

-WWF President Gorilla Monsoon says that Sid is not at the arena to face Mankind, so Steve Austin is the only comparable competition left on the card.  Austin comes out and correctly points out that he’s already fought his match tonight and he has no interest in fighting another.  However, Austin says he will accept if Monsoon will give him Sid’s match with Bret Hart at the next In Your House and Monsoon relents.  That was a nice twist in the booking that they had to make on the fly.

-Ross interviews Mankind, who goes into quasi-shoot mode and says that he’s had his flesh burned and his wife inquire about it.  He ridicules wrestling for making him work 300 days a year so he can’t protect his three year old daughter back home and he says that In Your House will not be for the faint of heart.  The lights begin to flicker in the arena and the Undertaker does a voice over pledging to get his revenge.

-“Stone Cold” Steve Austin defeats Mankind by disqualification when Vader interferes at 10:33 shown:

These two pick up where they left off from their tough man contest the previous year by brawling around ringside for much of the match.  It’s really hard to get into this one, as the crowd is tired from all of the promo and angle segments and there is very little flow from one spot to the next.  I think a lot of this is due to the fact that they are doing this match on the fly because of Sid’s no show.  Owen Hart and the British Bulldog, who have been carrying this entire show, come out of the crowd, but the Legion of Doom come out of the back to prevent them from interfering.  With those odds checked, Vader makes a run-in when Austin is pounding away on Mankind in the corner, but heel miscommunication results and Vader and Mankind brawl for a while before making up at the behest of Paul Bearer.  I give Austin and Mankind credit for trying, but they just couldn’t make this one work.  Rating:  **

The Final Report Card:  Some readers might find it odd that the WWF had so much of its talent in South Africa at the time of this show, but in 1997 the international gates were still doing well and were significantly helping the company’s bottom line.  Sid no showing the event really hurt from a booking standpoint because there was no one around to take his place.  Thankfully, Austin was there as the main draw of the show and he was able to do double duty.  The WWF did what they could with this show based on the limited talent available, but it didn’t make for great television and the terrible rating for this show bears that out.

Monday Night War Rating:  2.2 (vs. 3.7 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down


  1. The whole Truth Commission thing seemed like a complete waste to me. As it happened, I was thinking that the South African hooplah was long over, at least in terms of relevance to the United States, and as mentioned, the Hart Foundation were already establishing themselves as Anti-American heels. To be fair, I guess the TC wasn't any worse than the D.O.A., Nation, or Boricuas.

  2. "The Truth Commission wasn't a terrible idea".  Really?  A generic, outdated, evil, foreigner gimmick based off a government that hadn't been in power for three years wasn't a bad idea?

  3. I loved the Nation, and hated the Gang Wars that followed after Crush and Savio were cut from the group. Keeping Savio and Crush in the Nation with Kama, D'Lo, and later the Rock would have been a better movie.

  4. I think I was sort of hoping for a Nation-Truth Commission feud.

  5. I think the Truth Commission did get inserted into the "Gang Wars" a bit, so maybe that was in the works at some point.  

  6. The Truth Commission was a waste overall. Sniper was a career Journeyman, Recon was a green rookie (Bull Buchanan!), and Kurrgan was another Big Slug of a worker. Tank (Mantaur) was a one-shot, and the Commandant was a decent enough actor, but wasn't really given an interesting character to play. They really had no chance of going over, even with Jackyl coming in to do a weird "Cult Leader" gimmick.

  7. I imagine the writers backstage going ''Well no-one complained when we did a Black Panthers type group...fuck it, let's do a South African one too!''

  8. What exactly was the deal with Sid? Were they really going to have the Hart-Sid match at IYH, or did they always plan on switching to Austin? Sid shows up on like 2 or 3 Raws later in the year, and then disappears again. So was he already out of the long-range plans after Wrestlemania, or was he supposed to be part of the roster had he gone along? This is something that has always mystified me.

  9. No, Hart-Sid was the plan at IYH. But he claimed a back injury, which due to his history, the WWF had trouble believing, so they switched the match to Austin. Bret was supposed to win the match with Sid. Sid would start doing house shows again in June, but got into a car accident with a few other wrestlers, and hurt his back (again? who knows?). They eventually released him in the summer.

    Not sure what the plans were for him after that IYH. They probably figured, given Sid's history, that they could count on him for only so long, so making adjustments wasn't too difficult.

  10. Thanks. I've always been slightly amazed at how the guy defending the title heading into WM basically disappears from the promotion soon after. Technically it happened two years in a row (well, three, I guess, if you count Hart at WM 12), but at least in the other cases we know what happened there.


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