Previously on the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War: SummerSlam ’97 happened, and now everything’s happening in a landslide. Bret Hart is the new WWF Champion thanks to Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker wants to kill Shawn Michaels, and Owen Hart nearly paralyzed Stone Cold Steve Austin. Now we’re stepping into what might be the two most important Raws of the year, back-to-back.
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War for August 4, 1997.
America Still Needs Your Help
Up first this week is one of WWE’s favorite tropes: celebration of exciting wrestling things interrupted by middle-management decision-making.
With former anti-American fat guy heel Gorilla Monsoon unable to fulfill all of his duties as WWF President, a former anti-American heel fat guy Sgt. Slaughter was named Commissioner. If you aren’t familiar with Slaughter’s work, he started as an evil drill sergeant who eventually saw the light when America needed to be defended from the Iron Sheik. But then, you know, Hulk Hogan showed up, so Sarge was chopped liver. He eventually came back to the WWF and sided with the Iraqis during the Gulf War, winning the Championship. But then, you know, Hulk Hogan showed up, so Sarge was chopped liver. Somewhere in the middle he joined G.I. Joe and shot lasers at, but never hit, Cobra.
WWF Commissioners make it their duty to be critical to heels and mistreat them for misdirected babyface reasons until jerks like me side with them, so Slaughter opens Raw by getting in the face of the entire Hart Foundation. He signs Bret Hart to a WWF Championship match with The Patriot at Ground Zero, promises Owen Hart he’ll have to face Stone Cold Steve Austin again when Austin’s healthy, gives British Bulldog a TBA match with Ken Shamrock and threatens to suspend Brian Pillman if he doesn’t wrestle in a dress. In fact, Pillman will now have to continue wrestling in a dress until he wins a match. He also decides it’s okay to physically drag Pillman to the ring in the dress:
Pillman ends up losing to Bob Holly, arguably the worst wrestler on the roster, via count-out when Goldust and Marlena distract him at ringside. And Sarge is still like, “that counts a loss, you still have to wrestle in the dress,” despite the extenuating circumstances. And also the crowd chanting gay slurs, because 1997.
The good/bad news here is that Sarge is completely emasculated by November — thanks, D-Generation X — and is a corporate heel lackey by 1998. All the story needed to come full circle is Hulk Hogan showing up and being better at being browbeaten and following orders.