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What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw - April 21, 1997

by Logan Scisco

-Footage of the Undertaker tossing a fire ball into Paul Bearer’s face at In Your House last night is shown.

-Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Binghamton, New York.

-McMahon interviews Steve Austin, who will face Bret Hart in a street fight tonight.  McMahon announces that Austin will get a title shot at the next In Your House pay-per-view, but Austin just tells him to shut up because Bret Hart is the topic of conversation tonight.  Austin demands that Bret show up within a minute to fight him, but Bret pops up on the Titantron with the Hart Foundation and says that he’ll face Austin in a street fight tonight.  Bret runs down the American fan base lust for violence and complains that Austin has a title match at In Your House.  After those comments, Austin heads to the locker room.

-Opening Contest:  The Sultan (w/The Iron Sheik) defeats Ahmed Johnson by disqualification at 4:50:

At the beginning of the match, McMahon makes the outrageous claim that during the WWF’s tour of South Africa Ahmed received more acclaim than Nelson Mandela ever did.  This is a boring brawl, but Ahmed does bust out an impressive facebuster from a suplex position.  Ahmed is on the verge of putting the Sultan away when the Nation of Domination shows up on the entrance stage.  Ahmed grabs a 2x4 and he bashes the Sultan with it to make a statement to the Nation and loses.  Rating:  ½*

-Sunny comes out in an oversized Undertaker t-shirt.  Hendrix urges us to buy it for $20 (plus shipping & handling) and that we should call 815-734-1161 to get it.  It’s so odd seeing the WWF sell merchandise on their shows like this fifteen years later.

-Austin is shown trying to break into the Hart Foundation’s locker room and Bret gets some WWF stooges to tell Austin to go away.

-Ken Shamrock comes out for commentary and McMahon announces that Vader will face Shamrock at In Your House in a No Holds Barred match.

-Ross announces that Tiger Ali Singh won the sixteen man tournament for the second Kuwaiti Cup.

-Vader’s bullying of a Kuwait newscaster on “Good Morning Kuwait”, which earned him a trip to a Kuwaiti jail, is shown.  Lawler shows off a funny drawing of Vader shoveling camel dung in the desert based on this incident.  Shamrock says he doesn’t like bullies, thereby making him the first WWF superstar to advocate the “Be a Star” campaign’s agenda, and he challenges Mike Tyson to a match in the WWF.

-Footage of Austin yelling at McMahon at ringside after slapping off his headset during the commercial break is shown.

-Get your tickets for the WrestleMania Revenge Tour, where Sid & The Undertaker battle Vader and Mankind, Ahmed Johnson faces Faarooq, and Steve Austin & The Legion of Doom battle the Hart Foundation!

-Street Fight:  “Stone Cold” Steve Austin defeats Bret “the Hitman at 8:23:

The purpose behind this one is that Austin is angry about not finishing off Bret last night and thinks he can do it here, while Bret is reluctant to fight Austin on his own.  Before the match can get underway, Owen Hart and the British Bulldog attack Austin from behind and Bret joins in for a three-on-one attack.  However, Shawn Michaels comes through the crowd with a chair and eliminates Owen and the Bulldog.  Bret goes to Pillmanize Austin’s leg, but Austin moves and then begins wearing out Bret’s knee with the chair.  Austin applies the Sharpshooter and refuses to break the hold when WWF officials hit the ring.  Pat Patterson eventually helps the officials get Austin off of Bret.  No official winner is declared in this one, but for all intents and purposes Austin won this battle of the feud.  This is somewhat difficult to rate, but it was an entertaining brawl.

-WWF President Gorilla Monsoon tells Austin that he’s out of control and Austin says he’s not done tonight and doesn’t care about Monsoon’s rules.  Monsoon bans Austin from the arena, to which Austin threatens him up, and all of this takes place as the Hart Foundation helps Bret to the locker room.  Seeing Monsoon and Austin go at it is quite entertaining since the voice of the 1980s is facing off with the top superstar of the 1990s.

-Tiger Ali Singh pins Salvatore Sincere with a spinning heel kick at 4:49:

In the discussion of guys the WWF put money on that never panned out, Tiger Ali Singh has to be near the top of the list.  This is Singh’s RAW debut and he would disappear for a year after this match.  The match is technically fine, as Sincere dominates much of the action and sells well for the rookie, who needs more proficiency running the ropes.  A random spinning heel kick gets the victory, but it’s an underwhelming debut.  Rating:  *½

-Paramedics take Bret to the ambulance and the Bulldog and Owen are great here, as they keep yelling at the paramedics for bumping over cables and wires and not adequately taking care of Bret.  Like a horror film, the camera pans inside the ambulance, where Austin is in the driver’s seat and he moves to the back to attack Bret.  Owen and the Bulldog come to Bret’s aid, but more damage has been done.  That’s one of the more creative attack segments in wrestling history, capped by Owen’s “what kind of crap is this?” at the end.

-Owen and the Bulldog are shown looking for Austin backstage.

-Rockabilly (w/The Honky Tonk Man) defeats “The Real Double J” Jesse James with a Shake, Rattle, and Roll at 8:48:

Since their match at In Your House last night was so great we get a rematch between these two.  Rockabilly is such a terrible gimmick, as Billy is just wearing his usual cowboy attire.  There’s a funny exchange on commentary as Lawler says he trusts the Honky Tonk Man’s judgment and Ross asks him “What's going on?  Are you two related?” to which Lawler responds “Maybe.”  Like the previous night’s encounter, this one goes on far too long and it kills the crowd.  After a ridiculously long time, Rockabilly hits the Shake, Rattle, and Roll to get his first victory.  Really?  Why give Rockabilly the win here instead of last night when he debuted?  After the match, James attacks Rockabilly but is nailed from behind by the Honky Tonk Man, who delivers two sick guitar shots.  Rating:  ¼*

-Austin is shown arguing with Shawn Michaels in the locker room and WWF President Gorilla Monsoon attempts to mediate to no avail.  It’s as if Monsoon is trying to mediate a conflict in an eleventh grade classroom.

-Mankind’s head-first plunge through an announce table last night is the Castro Super Clean Slam of the Week.

-Mankind says Paul Bearer didn’t cry when his flesh was burning last night.

-Non-Title Match:  The Undertaker (WWF Champion) defeats Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) by disqualification at 12:14 shown when Mankind interferes:

It’s the beginning of an era, as the Undertaker doesn't want to wait for Helmsley’s ornate entrance and decks him in the aisle.  McMahon makes a great comment as he claims Helmsley can’t love Chyna because he can’t love anyone except for himself.  I know he’s talking about the character, but fifteen years later it can make you laugh.  This is merely a placeholder match, since nothing is on the line and it doesn’t advance a specific story.  Dustin Rhodes, without his Goldust gear, is shown sitting in the crowd with Marlena, who Ross acknowledges as “Terri” thereby setting up the quasi-shoot interview he will give on RAW about his life.  The Undertaker withstands a lot of punishment, but during his comeback Mankind appears with a blowtorch, which is just an insane plot development.  Helmsley wisely flees and Mankind KO’s the Undertaker with the metal casing of the torch, but after he lights it up again, the Undertaker sits up and fights Mankind through the crowd.  Well, the match wasn’t that exciting, since it was largely a kick-punch affair, but that twist at the end was wild.  Rating:  *

-After the Undertaker and Mankind brawl to the back, Marlena chokes Chyna with a leather strap from behind in the crowd and Goldust/Dustin Rhodes brawls with Helmsley.  That was a great plot point for Marlena-Chyna, since Chyna made her debut choking Marlena from the crowd a couple of months prior to this.

-The Motel 6 Rewind is Austin’s attack on Bret earlier in the show.

-Austin comes out to be interviewed by McMahon a second time.  Austin says he accomplished his objective tonight and he says he doesn’t need the crowd’s support.  Austin says that the Undertaker will experience a cold day in hell at In Your House and tells McMahon he won’t be a role model as WWF champion.  Owen and the Bulldog attack Austin at the end of his promo and McMahon tries to help Austin, but Owen tosses him into the corner.  Shawn Michaels comes out and saves Austin for the second time and McMahon is perplexed, seemingly having lost control of his show.

-As we get ready to go off the air, Brian Pillman emerges from the crowd and he attacks Austin with a chair.  Pillman goes to Pillmanize Austin’s ankle, but Michaels makes the save for the third time.

The Final Report Card:  This was the first RAW of the Russo era and it began with a bang.  Bret was taking some time off for knee surgery, so this was a good way to write him out of the ring for a while.  The ambulance attack put another memorable moment in Austin’s career and really sold Austin’s rebel image to the audience.  The show also made a minor plot point that becomes big later:  the bigger on screen role of Vince McMahon as a character, since he got physically involved at the end and the camera focused on his reaction to Austin getting laid out by Owen and the Bulldog.  As a mark, I remember watching this show in 1997 and thinking that the show had moved in a different direction and that I really liked it.  After seeing it fifteen years later, I still enjoyed the Bret-Austin action, but I have to admit that the rest of the show is terrible.  Still, a thumbs up because the parts you remember are the good ones and the chaos at the end left you eagerly anticipating next week’s episode.

Monday Night War Rating:  2.8 (vs. 3.4 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up


  1. Bulldog and Owen are pure comedy gold here

  2. I remember watching that show - it was pretty much built entirely around the Austin-Bret feud, and I remember people commenting on how it was a big move towards being a 'TV show' instead of a wrestling show - since the actual wrestling was pretty much non-existent.

    And Pillman's return at the end was fantastic.  

  3. I found a new character that I dislike more than Rockabilly, Jesse James, and Honky Tonk Man.

    The Patriot. Holy shit, what a terrible idea. 

  4. I remember this show also, and I had a blast watching it then. Still holds up today, especially the Bret-Austin feud.

  5.  I think the Patriot was good for the time, but definitely not for a long term character, and as we saw, he didn't last but a few months.

  6.  I know this episode seemed very Russo-esque, but I thought he only had control over the shows after Canadian Stampede.

  7. Russo may not have had full control yet, but his influence was more than others on the booking team starting with this show.

  8. yea but to get a title shot?? bret stated in his book he was not pleased being paired with him as a side show to taker shawn at fully loaded.

  9. I liked the Patriot as a mark, but it was weird seeing him come in and suddenly become a main eventer after being a midcarder in WCW.

  10.  If I was Bret, I wouldn't be pleased with that either, so I do see where his frustrations came from. And as far as getting a title shot, well, now when I think about it, that was a little strange for Patriot to just get a title shot so quickly.

  11. I think at the time the plan was for Bret to take the title to Wrestlemania and put over Austin once and for all, before the whole "I can't afford your contract" bullshit kicked in.

  12.  I heard that before as well.

  13. As noted recently on the Falls Count Anywhere DVD, that whole Bret-Austin sequence is some fantastic TV and one of the main things that turned the entire business around.  

  14. I really dig these recaps, and I also really dig your writing style.

    I'm going to have to search out this episode on Youtube, it just sounds so awesome [minus the wrestling part]

  15. Not to mention the following month's supercard when Bret, the WWF Champion mind you, was in a midcard tag match.

  16. Logan do you happen to have a link where I can watch the show online? I'm having trouble finding it

  17. "I can't afford your contract"

    Than Vince proceeds to give Tyson $3 million for wrestlemania.

    I always wondered what Brets role would have been in the attitude era after passing the torch to Austin (as was the plan).

  18. I have a copy of this show on DVD.  I'm not sure if a full version is online or not.

  19. That's a really good question.  It's hard to actually see him in the Attitude Era.  Maybe it was fate that he wasn't around when the transition was made.

  20. I was looking for this episode on Youtube, and although it was previously there, it looks like the uploaders' accounts were terminated as a result.

  21. I could easily see him replacing Dude Love post-Wrestlemania XIV, especially as the reluctant enforcer for McMahon.

  22. Give it to Russo for shaking up this stale product. We all remember how good the writing became when he took more control in spring 97. I wish we had a modern day 97-98 ish russo on creative today.

  23. That match was horrible. In fact, outside of the HITC match that was one of the worst PPVs ever.

  24. "Ross announces
    that Tiger Ali Singh won the sixteen man tournament for the second Kuwaiti

    But how many rounds of that tournament were contested in Rio de Janeiro?

  25. Given that he was really supportive of the Rock when he debuted, I could see Bret working with him and eventually putting him over.  

  26. There's a torrent on the pirate bay of all the raws from 97-99 (may be more now) and its being seeded.

  27. I've almost finished all the Raws from 97 and the writing from here onto Summerslam and slightly beyond is excellent. I think when DX turns up the show actually became worse, but still enjoyable due to the presence of Austin. The way Hart was booked post SS really killed his heat, as he points out in his book. It made him the second most important heel behind Michaels.

  28. Oh yeah, I'm aware of this one too!

  29.  It's kinda funny, because the WWF was still kinda trying to figure out how to approach Face Austin. I remember in the opening segment, he made fun of the fans for cheering him. Something like, "Oh yeah, I bet you guys think you're cool for cheering me, huh?!"

  30. I dug the Patriot in Global, circa '91-'92, but anything after that, not so much.

  31. That, and the Hart Foundation seems to have all but separated. I'm two episodes into August and I haven't seen Neidhart since at least Canadian Stampede, and Pillman seems to be dealing with Goldust. It seems like only Bret, Owen, and Davey stick together anymore.

  32. Character-wise, I think he would have been somewhat similar to Kurt Angle's character, circa 2000. Something like "You people have no respect for anyone accomplished anymore, because you have no respect for yourself! You're just a bunch of animals!" Kind of an embittered legend.

    His in-ring style would have become more brawling oriented, which would have been more suited to his advancing age, being easier on the body than technical work.

    As for booking, I think his days as a steady top guy would have been done after WM XIV. He probably would have settled into a special-attraction legend, occassional main-eventer role. Similar to HBK in the 00s, ironically enough.

    Hopefully, he would have been able to transition into a good backstage/creative role as well.

  33. There actually was a tournament. I know I came across the bracket years ago. I think Owen jobbed in the finals.

  34.  Yeah there was certainly a tournament that was reported on in RAW Magazine.


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