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WWF Raw
March 17, 1997
Taped 03/17/97

Hour 1Hour 2Hour 3Composite
2.202.512.34

Written by: John Petrie

WWF Monday Night RAW: Live.
HOUR ONE: Hosted by Vince McMahon, Jim Ross and Jerry "The King" Lawler.

- THE ROAD WARRIORS vs. SAVIO VEGA/CRUSH
Both Ahmed Johnson and Faarooq (along with his Nation of Domination) have
been barred from ringside. We get some brief split-screen comments from
Ahmed, then an incredibly racist rant from Faarooq. (He tells Ahmed to
bring all the help he can, then repeats it using "Ebonics" so that Ahmed
will "understand it"). They also show footage of Ahmed getting attacked
by the NOD at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.

There wasn't too much of a match here-pretty much all brawling. A few
minutes in we learn that Faarooq has left the lockerroom. They cut to
Ahmed and ask if he's concerned. Before he can say to much he's attacked
from behind by Faarooq. Faarooq beats him to the ground with a nightstick
before he's chased away by WWF officials. Back in the ring, just as the
Road Warriors are getting the upper hand Faarooq runs in, causing the DQ.
The entire Nation stomps on the LOD until Ahmed runs in for the save.
Ahmed Pearl River Plunges one of PG-13, then the Warriors do their
clothesline off the top rope to D-Lo Brown.

The crowd was really into this one.

- They run a Slammy Awards promo, with this award being the "Larry Flynt
Freedom of Speech" award. Paul E. Dangerously is one of the nominees.
This constituted the sole mention of ECW on the show. Also nominated were
Lawler, Steve Austin and Howard Stern. The Slammys will be on the USA
Network Friday night at 11:00 PM Eastern time.

- McMahon, Lawler and Ross speak about tonight's main event. Supposedly
there is some kind of a complication, and it may or may not be a World
Title match. The match will take place though. President Gorilla Monsoon
will appear later to explain things. (If you ask me, this all was just
a bit of "mystery" thrown in to keep viewers tuned in). It's also
rumored that Shawn Michaels is on his way to the arena.

- HUNTER HEARST HELMSLEY (w/ Chyna) vs. FLASH FUNK (w/ The Funkettes)
The two start of ... oh, I'd say at about half speed. Funk takes the
early advantage, but Helmsley reverses a leapfrog into a backdrop to take
command. Vince gives away the ending of the entire show (sort of) by
mentioning that "La Femme Nikita" will be seen in it's entirety following
RAW (inferring that RAW will again run long). Helmsley drops a knee, then
moves Funk into the corner. Funk comes back with a few blows of his own.
He then reels off a series of offensive maneuvers, ending with a legdrop
off the top. He only gets a two count. Funk then gets into an argument
with Chyna at ringside. Helmsley moves in and applies a belly-to-back
suplex, but Funk kicks out of the pin. Helmsley comes off the top rope,
but Funk meets him with a kick to the jaw. Funk hits a side suplex, then
heads over to the corner to deliver an aerial move. Chyna jumps up on the
apron to argue with him again. This again allows Helmsley to move in and
deliver the Pedigree for the win.

The crowd was pretty much behind Flash, but Helmsley had his fans too
(ugh). Post-match he and Chyna stomp on Funk.

She's called Chyna because she's delicate.

- Shawn Michaels arrives in the arena.

- MINI MANKIND/MINI VADER vs. MINI GOLDUST/MASCARITA SAGRADA JR.
They first show footage of a press conference in which it's announced
that the state of New Jersey has struck down a law on their books that
imposed an extra stiff tax on pro-wrestling events in that state.
Governor Christine Todd Whitman appeared, alongside the Undertaker. This
means that a future taping of RAW (which from now on will apparently be
called the "War Zone"), as well as SummerSlam 1997, will be held there.

These minis are dead-on replicas of the originals-especially Mini
Goldust. Sagrada Jr. is a real blast to watch. The match is fairly short
and the highlights include a great offensive flurry by Sagrada Jr. and
a senton from the apron to the floor by mini Goldust onto Mini Vader.
Mascarita Sagrada Jr. wins the match by hitting Mini Mankind with a
forward victory roll into a pin. After the match Sagrada Jr. chases Mini
Vader up the ramp to the stage beneath the jumbo screen. He pushes Vader
off the stage, several feet to the floor, then follows with a suicide
crossbody (which got a real pop from the crowd). Short, but fun to watch.

- Gorilla Monsoon says that although there have been a lot of rumors
flying about, tonight's Sid/Bret Hart steel cage match will indeed be for
the title. McMahon states the viewpoint of the Undertaker's fans, who
think the 'Taker is getting a raw deal. Monsoon tries to defend Hart, but
McMahon seems to be siding with the Undertaker (and his fans) in this
one. Hmmmm ...

- Bret Hart comes out for an interview. He says the WWF's new motto is "You
scratch my back, I'll stab yours!" He talks about the Undertaker, Steve
Austin and Ken Shamrock. He guarantees a title victory tonight. McMahon
makes a point of mentioning the "checkered response" of the fans.

- Rocky Maivia comes up for color commentary.

- THE SULTAN (w/ Mr. Bob Backlund & Iron Sheik) vs. MIKE BELL(?)
The Sultan puts him away quickly with the Camel Clutch. They then come
over and taunt Maivia. Rocky stands to accept their challenge, but is
held back by Tony Atlas who slips in from out of nowhere.

HOUR TWO: Hosted by Vince McMahon, Jim Ross and Jerry "The King" Lawler.

- Shawn Michaels comes out and in a lengthy, upbeat interview states that
he will probably be returning in a few months, then goes on to invite
himself to WrestleMania and the Slammy Awards. That ought to quiet the
"Shawn's going to WCW" rumors.

- VADER (w/ Paul Bearer & Mankind) vs. THE BRITISH BULLDOG (w/ Owen Hart)
Owen shows an undue amount of interest in the Bulldog's European Title
belt, helping him hold it aloft. The Bulldog actually has to pull it away
from him.

Vader starts off tossing the Bulldog around fairly easily. The Bulldog
comes back with a shoulderblock, clothesline, then a thoroughly
impressive vertical suplex shortly thereafter. Vader is then clotheslined
over the top rope and they go to a break.

Vader is now in command. The Bulldog is down on the mat in the corner and
Vader lands a splash off the second turnbuckle. Bulldog kicks out at two.
The Bulldog hits Vader with a crossbody block. He then tries a crucifix
rollup, but Vader drops down on the Bulldog, smashing him beneath his
shoulders. Vader splashes for a cover, but only gets the two count. Vader
drops the Bulldog with a short clothesline, then goes up for another
corner splash. The Bulldog catches him mid-air and turns it into a
powerslam. Two clotheslines follow. Vader reverses a whip and sends the
Bulldog into the corner, charges, and is caught. The Bulldog carries
Vader to the center of the ring and slams him. Davey Boy then lays in a
few shots and scoops him up, hoisting Vader across one shoulder. Mankind
jumps up on the apron to help Vader. This brings up Owen and he nails
Mankind. The ref calls for the bell, disqualifying Vader. Mankind and
Vader stomp on Owen until the Bulldog can recover enough to knock out
Paul Bearer, recover Bearer's urn, and nails Vader and Mankind with it.
The Bulldog gets the win, and this weekend's Tag Title match just got
that much more interesting.

- Ken Shamrock comes out for color commentary.

- BILLY GUNN vs. ERIN FERGUSON(?)
Gunn puts the jobber away with a terrible armbar submission hold. Gunn
then taunts Shamrock into getting in the ring. Shamrock, refusing to
turn down a challenge, goes into a UFC style stance (which draws a
chuckle from Gunn). Gunn closes in and Ken takes him down with an armbar.
Billy screams to be released, then says he wants another try. They again
lock up and Shamrock drops him to the mat and ties up Billy's ankle. Gunn
taps out, then backs away from the ring saying it's not over between the
two. I think we've seen Shamrock's first opponent after WrestleMania.
Shamrock metamorphoses from his usual laid back, smiling self to a fairly
intense attitude towards Gunn. Gunn grabs a chair, but does nothing with
it.

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin comes on the jumbo screen and says he's not at
all impressed with Shamrock, and again warns him to call the Submission
Match at WrestleMania down the middle. He goes on to say he's in the
arena tonight to make sure Hart wins the title.

- Sycho Sid delivers comments from the back, warning Austin to keep his
nose out of the match tonight.

- BRET "HITMAN" HART vs. SYCHO SID
Hart and Sid had fought this same match over the last week or so in house
shows, and from what I hear they've been mediocre at best; just plain
miserable at worst. This one fell somewhere in between.

For the first few minutes they do nothing more than trade punches. Steve
Austin is shown watching the match via monitor in the back. Hart is the
first to try and escape, but is hauled back down by Sid. Sid scoops up
Hart and slams him against the cage, then takes his time climbing up the
cage wall. Hart eventually gets over to Sid and the two dispiritedly
trade blows on the top rope. Hart is dropped, straddling the ropes. Sid
moves over and kicks him in the head. Sid climbs down and Hart hits him
with an elbow. Bret then tries to escape but is again caught by Sid. Sid
bodyslams him off the top turnbuckle, in the first high impact move of
the match. Sid heads to the door, but Hart takes him down below the
knees. Before Sid can crawl over to the door, Steve Austin comes out and
slams it shut.

Back from a break and Hart briefly has control of things, but Sid
maneuvers Hart into a powerbomb. (Austin is outside the cage cheering
Hart on). Sid climbs to the top of the cage. Austin climbs up on the
outside and the two sit upon the top, wailing on each other. (I should
note that this really had the crowd going, but I'm not sure who they were
more behind). Hart eventually makes his way up also and he and Austin
pound on Sid from both sides.

Suddenly the Undertaker runs out, which raises the decibel level even
more. The Undertaker climbs the cage and goes after Hart. Sid after a
while is able to knock Austin off the cage. Hart is waiting for Sid
though, and suplexes him off the top turnbuckle. The Undertaker climbs
down and is met by Steve Austin with a chair. Austin, sensing victory for
Hart, raises his arms in triumph and leaves. Sid starts climbing the cage
as Hart approaches the door. Hart reaches the doorway, leans through,
pauses, and is nailed by the door as the Undertaker streaks over and
slams it shut. On the opposite side of the ring, Sid drops to the floor
and is declared the winner. The crowd seems generally okay with the
decision.

After another break we see Hart still in the ring-the cage walls having
been partially dismantled. McMahon enters for an interview. He begins the
usual "you must be frustrated" type of question, but Hart cuts him off by
shoving him to the mat. "Frustrated isn't the goddamn word for it ...
this is bulls#!t!" McMahon gets to his feet and exits the ring, not even
attempting to speak to Hart. "You screwed me ... everybody screwed me ...
and nobody does a goddamn thing about it!" Hart screams about injustice
and how nobdy, Monsoon and McMahon included, does anything about it.
McMahon has a look of utter disgust on his face. The crowd starts to go
quiet, especially when Hart reels off the "Best there is, etc." line.
Looking directly at the crowd, Hart says " ... and if you don't like it,
tough s#!t!" By now the crowd, except for a few diehard fans, have
stopped cheering for Hart (but no "boo's" as of yet). Austin then comes
on the jumbo screen and chastises Hart for blowing the match. Jim Ross
tries to make apologies to the viewing audience. Austin calls Hart a
loser. Hart says Austin is called "Sone Cold" because "your stones are so
cold that you're afraid to come out here and fight me." Sycho Sid then
comes back out down the ramp. Hart yells how everyone knows he's the best
man. "I don't know s#!t!" yells Sid.

By this time we've run over the top of the hour and a scrawl runs across
the bottom of the screen saying "La Femme Nikita" will follow in it's
entirety. McMahon begins to make profuse apologies. Sid enters the ring
and he and Hart circle each other. The Undertaker then comes back out and
just as he reaches ringside Hart dives through the rope, crashing into
him. They scuffle on the floor until Austin arrives, then he and Hart go
at it. Meanwhile Sid and the Undertaker tangle as well. The ring fills
with officials, but the Undertaker chases them off. Hart and Austin brawl
up the ramp and Hart punches Pat Patterson. McMahon goes nuts, calling
Hart a "no good dirty son-of-a ... " before he regains control of
himself.

Just when it looked like things couldn't get any wilder, Shawn Michaels
comes to the top of the ramp to survey the chaos. He makes his way to the
ring and grabs a section of pipe uses in holding the cage together, but
Pat Patterson seems to talk him into dropping it. He then slides in the
ring to watch all four men brawling up the ramp. He finally slides out
and grabs a chair, but that's when the show ends.

- Next week's main event: None mentioned.

Comments: Definitely an energy packed show, but it fell far short of blowing
me away (like last week). They did do an excellent job of promoting
WrestleMania though (at last). Every second of this show got you looking
towards the PPV (with the possible exception of the whole Rocky Maivia/
Sultan angle).

The Mexican minis match was good, but far too brief. Vader/Bulldog was an
okay match. Other than that, the card only served to hype WrestleMania.

There's a lot of talk on the 'Net about Hart doing a shoot. I doubt it.
Apparently the WWF is claiming it's a shoot, which is probably the best
evidence against it being one. The WWF is also supposedly taking a lot of
heat from the USA Network, as well as the FCC for the strong language used.
I doubt this also. What Hart said isn't even close to being something the
FFC concerns itself with. As for the USA Network, if they had a problem with
the footage, why did they air it unedited three hours later on the tape
delayed west coast feed? There was plenty of time to edit it, as Nitro
routinely does in cases like this on their replays. My opinion is that this
whole thing was cleared beforehand by not only McMahon and the WWF, but the
USA Network as well. I can only see one goal in all this: the indomitable
task of turning Bret Hart heel. They took a major step in that direction
tonight.

The total lack of any ECW mention was noticable, but not a surprise on my
part. The WWF needed to hype WrestleMania this week, not Barely Legal. With
over three weeks to go until the ECW PPV, I'd expect them to return at least
once more. As was signalled by last week's show, anything from this point on
will not be an amiable cooperative effort.

Herb Kunze had to have hated this week's main event. He's a great believer
in the steel cage match being used to end feuds. Finishes like this one
cheapen their value. I don't entirely disagree. In this case, I think the
goofy finish and interference is the only thing that saved the match.

This was an okay show, though not great. It was certainly memorable.


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