’97 RAW is WAR Review: May 19

We get a recap of last week’s RAW with the kick that didn’t make air. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin kicks off RAW with a great ovation upon his entrance music playing. Austin clarifies his actions from last week and says he doesn’t care about Shawn Michaels but that he saw an opportunity to a take a cheap shot on the turned backs of the Hart Foundation. Shawn Michaels makes his way ringside and tells Austin they’re even now and that the only common bond is their hatred for the Hart Foundation. Michaels mimicks Austin and calls him son and tells him he’s fallen from ladders, steel cages and so he’d have been fine without Austin’s help. Austin tells Michaels he never said he wasn’t tough but he’ll still kick Michaels’ teeth down his throat. Michaels replies and says if he thinks he can kick him than Michaels will stun him and this leads to the two brawling. Owen and Bulldog mock Austin and HBK over the titantron noting they can’t get along. Owen issues a challenge for the World Tag Team Championships to them and both men say they’ll find partners before brawling once again. At this point, Austin feels on par with the other main event guys like Bret, Michaels and WWE Champion the Undertaker.

King of the Ring Quarterfinal Match
Hunter Hearst Helmsley def. Crush
Vader was originally scheduled to face Crush in this first round King of the Ring match. Vader is deemed unable to compete due to a broken nose. Gerald Brisco clarifies why Helmsley is a replacement. He notes that the referee told Helmsley that you only advance via pinfall or submission and to avoid legal action Hunter has been given Vader’s spot. I’m unsure if this was always the plan going forward with Hunter in the tournament. At the end of the match both Vega and Chyna get on the ring apron. The referee admonishes Chyna and behind his back Vega looks to nail Hunter with a kick but hits Crush instead. Helmsley picks up the victory and after the match Crush and Savio begin to shove one another until Faarooq breaks them up.

Bob Holly def. Owen Hart
IMG_0815We are in Bob Holly’s hometown of Mobile, Alabama. Prior to the match we see local fans giving their support of Bob. Lawler says he has footage with some real Alabamians. King makes fun of both and says the one man is an orthodontist’s dream. He asks how many cars they have out front their house and if the gentleman and his wife got divorced would they still be brother and sister? Ross calls Lawler hideous for such conduct. Holly gets the surprise rollup pin. It may be funny only to me as we hear Holly’s happy theme music playing as we see an irate Owen losing it.

There is a Sunny super soaker ad with Sunny soaking Cornette. Michaels is backstage and looks to have chosen Shamrock as his partner.

Next we have a Mankind interview with Jim Ross similar to that of the Goldust one from previous weeks. Mick Foley does a masterful job of telling his story all the while leading to how he came to be Mankind; a tortured soul. Mankind says there are many reasons to hate him but he doesn’t want people to hate him for untruths or rumours. He talks about his childhood and playing cowboys and Indians. He says he was always the Indians (forgive this dated terminology) because they were the underdogs and he stood up for what he believed him and if that makes him a bad guy then you’ve got him dead to rights. He talks about the attention he got when he was spotted in a bloodied shirt. He said the attention he got led him to think what he could do for a living where he could replicate this experience. When he knew wrestling was the answer he and his brother would wrestle and he once broke his brother’s bone. He said, “Mom said no more wrestling but she never said no more dreaming.” Lastly, he discusses humiliation he faced when a group of kids threw worms at him and he ate them as his form of retribution and these kids changed the narrative; something that continues in the life of Mankind. There is more to come in the following weeks, but again Mick Foley indeed did a masterful job of using real life experiences to paint the history of the fictional Mankind.

Scott Taylor def. Leif Cassidy
The future Scotty 2 Hotty beats the future Al Snow in a mediocre match. We also learn from the King that Paul Heyman has threatened legal action to RVD from RAW.

We get the same recap we got at the beginning of RAW and Vince joins the commentary team for the second hour. Bret (no longer in a wheelchair) and the Hart Foundation come out to kick off the “War Zone”. Bret tells the crowd to shut up and says Shawn Michaels wouldn’t allow him his right to freedom of speech last week. Crowd chants USA! Bret notes Michaels proved he is no better than Austin by beating up a man in a wheelchair and says, “I guess that’s what makes him an American hero.” Bret says his fans around the world and even the scum Americans want to know his surprise. Bret says that Michaels may be returning at the King of the Ring but a real hero coming back from a real knee injury will also return at the King of the Ring and that’s him! Bret challenges Shawn to a match with the following stipulation; if Bret cannot beat Shawn in 10 minutes than Bret will never wrestling in the USAIMG_0810 again. Shawn comes on the titantron and says Bret took his freedom of speech so far that they went off the air listening to him babble. Shawn notes that at Wrestlemania last year, Bret couldn’t beat Shawn in 60 minutes so what makes him think he can beat Shawn in 10? Shawn answers his apparent rhetorical question by saying it’s because Bret has the Hart Foundation but Shawn wants them there during this match with each member handcuffed to a ring post so that it can be 1-on-1. Shawn says Bret couldn’t go 10 minutes in any situation and adds even though Bret has had some “sunny” days he still can’t get the job done. Bret didn’t address this comment but does accept the challenge.

Rockabilly def. Goldust by DQ
Goldust introduces his wife and daughter and they make their way to the ring. Marlena tries to get their daughter, Dakota, to say her name but Dakota takes the mic right her mom. JR notes she is just like her grandpa. Goldust says they are his pride and joy as the crowd cheers. Lawler says the stork that brought that child was charged with carrying dope; a heel line that you couldn’t use today for heat. Goldust is disqualified for nailing Honky Tonk Man with his guitar.

Ahmed Johnson is backstage and Vince McMahon and asks about Faarooq’s comments of last week? Ahmed says Faarooq told the truth and asks when was the last time a black man challenged for the WWE title? McMahon says there have been black challengers but they’ve never won. Ahmed sarcastically says “I wonder why.” but adds he isn’t a racist or ignorant like Faarooq and that he’ll be the first black champion.

Backstage we see Austin recruiting Harvey Whippleman as his partner. Brooklyn Brawler volunteers but Austin beats him up. Commentators announce that due to time constraints the Godwinns match will be on Shotgun Saturday Night.

Faarooq def. Rocky Maivia
JC Ice and Wolfie D are now apparently out of the NOD as they are’t accompanying Faarooq to the ring. Faarooq asks Maivia to raise his arm in unity with the NOD but Maivia rejects the offer. Post match, the NOD look to attack Maivia but Faarooq calls them off.

Hart Foundation is seen backstage beating down Bob Holly.

Undertaker is out next for an in-ring interview with McMahon. McMahon asks about Faarooq and Paul Bearer’s comments. Undertaker says he’d like to talk about Faarooq. Undertaker says Faarooq played the race card and that he isn’t the white saviour. Undertaker clarifies that isn’t white, he isn’t black but that he is the reaper of souls. Undertaker says that when Faarooq isn’t champion after the King of the Ring it won’t be because he’s black but because he couldn’t get the job done. McMahon asks about Bearer but Undertaker says it isn’t the time. Paul Bearer comes on the titantron yelling “OH YES IT IS!” and tells the Undertaker to listen. Paul Bearer says fire has opened up some old wounds (remember this line). Undertaker says he need more time so Bearer says he’ll give him seven sunsets to return and be subservient to him.

“Stone Cold” Steve Austin def. Jim “the Anvil” Neidhart by DQ
Pillman nails Austin with a crutch and the Hart Foundation attack Austin until HBK makes the save nailing each member with a chair. JR gets in the ring and says Monsoon has ordered that Austin and Shawn team up next week to challenge Owen and the Bulldog for the Tag titles. Shawn and Austin exchange words and brawl to end RAW.

I thought another strong edition of RAW and it go me excited to watch the upcoming tag team match. My opinion on the Shawn/Bret dynamic is still that Shawn is taking shots at Bret Hart the person whereas Bret takes shots at Shawn the character. Admittedly so, Shawn has said there really wasn’t a difference between the two at this time. You can get hints of Shawn’s insecurities with how he interacts with different superstars. His mimickry of Austin seemed out of place but I’d venture a guess he knew Austin was on the rise and would soon surpass him as the number one guy. Also, Ahmed Johnson addressing Faarooq’s comments was of interest to me. Ahmed could not dispute the comments because they were true. Race is an interesting thing not only in wrestling but all cinematic entertainment. We are taught hate the evil foreigners (of all races) and adore the American hero; often a white hero. Once a black hero joins the fray he is may be positioned as secondary or fills a stereotypical role despite fighting the same worthwhile cause. I don’t mean to go into a sociological debate but I don’t blame the powers that be in not crowning a black man as their leading WWE champion because they seek to respond to desires of their audience who themselves are only responding to lessons taught to them of old.

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