Previously on the Best and Worst of WWF Monday Night Raw: Stone Cold Steve Austin is furious about EVERYTHING and getting thrown out of studios and arrested by local cops because he’s learning how to be the biggest star in the world. Bret Hart is chilling at home, petting cats, because he literally can’t even. Meanwhile, we’re building to Survivor Series with a new Intercontinental Champion, a DOA Double J Jesse James and a broken-up Smoking Gunns. Austin’s all you need to be paying attention to.
Click here to watch this week’s episode on WWE Network. Please scroll through for the Best and Worst of WWF Monday Night Raw for Nov. 4, 1996.
Best: A Worked Shoot
Here’s the episode that’s not only a soft launch for the Attitude Era, but so controversial it almost got Raw taken off the air.
To catch you up on the angle, Stone Cold Steve Austin is a tightly-wound psychopath who wants a match with Bret “Hitman” Hart. Their mutual friend, Brian Pillman, helped put the match together. Bret had been on a Carnival cruise vacation for like six months following his loss to Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 12, so he was in no hurry to get back. Even when he agreed to the match, he only cut promos about it from his house, via satellite. This got Austin feeling insecure and neglected, and when Pillman dared to use Bret’s nickname in a hype promo, Austin snapped on him and used a chair to break his ankle. This isn’t the cool funny sheriff Steve Austin we came to love … this is an unhinged maniac who seemed like the most dangerous man in wrestling. He was like the nWo as one unstable, confrontational redneck.
Austin got tired of everyone but him getting to cut promos from their house, so he promised to go to Cincinnati and beat up Pillman in his own home. He makes good on that threat in this episode, and the entire thing revolves around an immobile Pillman chilling in his basement with his wife and Kevin Kelly while Austin drives there, beats up all of Pillman’s friends and tries to break into his house. Oh, and Pillman’s last line of defense is a f*cking gun.
The angle seems kinda silly when you jump 20 years into the future and look back on it, but this was INSANE. Who the hell thought of bringing A GUN into a wrestling angle? The most dangerous thing that could happen in a wrestling ring is a steel chair, and if you were in the NWA, maybe somebody’s try to hang you with a comically oversized bullrope or smother you with a plastic bag.