Previously on the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War: The Hart Foundation’s war on jerks who go to wrestling shows in the United States continued with a six-man tag team flag match and a scuffle-fight with Vince McMahon. Also, Canada’s Hero Rhode Island’s Bryan Walsh competed.
If you haven’t seen this episode, you can watch it on WWE Network here. Check out all the episodes you may have missed at the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War and Best and Worst of WWF Monday Night Raw tag pages. Follow along with the competition here.
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War for July 28, 1997.
Best: He’s Saying Pittsburgh Is The Butthole
This week we finally get to one of Bret Hart’s most famous heel promos: the one about how American wrestling fans are literally shit, and how if he had to give the United States of America an enema, you’d “stick the hose right here in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.”
I know it’s severe, but I’m siding with the elitist Canadian and his family of terrible but talented people over a wrestling fan in a Burger King crown holding a sign that says IF YOU DON’T LOVE AMERICA, THEN GET THE HELL OUT.
It’s such a good promo, in fact, that Bret worked himself into a shoot and had to back-peddle about it during Wrestling With Shadows. Although if we’re being honest, in picturing America as a fat-assed dog with Texas and Florida as the legs and Maine as the head (as we all do, and always have), the hose would need to be hooked up in Sasabe, Arizona. Not only does it make sense geographically, but I think we can agree that most of our worst shit has collected in Arizona. I mean, what do you think the Grand Canyon’s for? Sight-seeing and getting the Brady Bunch lost? That’s made to hold 323.1 million shits.
Tonight, Bret Hart takes on The Patriot, a masked guy who tells everyone his real name because his wrestling persona is supposed to represent “every man, woman and child in the United States.” Bret Hart fights millions of children right here tonight!
Worst: Mankind, Master Of Disguise
We’re wading balls-deep into what’ll eventually be branded as the “Attitude Era” right now, which means as the weeks go on, less and less of the show will involve wrestling matches with endings as most segments become two unrelated guys thrusting pelvises at each other until 40 guys run in.
The funniest/worst of these is Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. The Man We Job Vader. Before Vader can even get to the ring, Mankind, dressed as a camera man, hits Helmsley with a camera. Amazingly, Vince McMahon is screaming A CAMERA MAN, A CAMERA MAN IS ATTACKING HELMSLEY, despite “a camera man” looking like Mankind and wearing a Mankind mask. Where was Vince McMahon raised, Metropolis? Lawler is like, “that’s no camera man,” and after like 30 seconds of watching Mankind attack Hunter, Vince goes, “WAIT A MINUTE!”
The fight spills out into the crowd, and we’re still building to that big SummerSlam blowoff most people only remember for Chyna punching Mankind in the Pittsburgh.
Best: I Want To Love Anything As Much As This Guy Loves America
That GIF is the GIF that keeps on giving. Every time you watch it you notice something else. Enormous Brett Favre jersey! Kid who won’t stop pawing Mankind, even when he’s out of reach. Pittsburgh-themed Cat in the Hat lady! And then that glorious stiff-arm at the end.
This Week In EVERYBODY FIGHTS
Raw is increasingly dedicated to just ending matches with 10 people brawling, so I’m going to lump these into a lightning round, because seriously, how much do you think even I have to say about Los Boricuas?
Up first is the Legion of Doom vs. Savio Vega and Miguel Perez of Los Boricuas. You can tell they’re the ones in charge because they have last names. Sorry, “Jose and Jesus!” Before the LOD can hit the Doomsday Device, the Diva Boricuas slide in and cause a disqualification. That brings out the Godwinns to get in another slop-and-Slop-Drop sneak attack on Road Warrior Hawk, and brings the fight to 6 on 2. I bet the Legion of Doom misses their friend Ahmed Johnson right about now. Nothing ends a gang fight quicker than that slick-wet Orca motherfucker bow-legged jogging to the ring in pajamas and hitting people with a stick.
Not only is that match not the only one on the card to end with EVERYBODY FIGHTS, it’s one of two that end with Los Boricuas interfering. Match #2 is Crush vs. Faarooq, which OF COURSE causes Gang Warz®. While a straight up Nation of Domination vs. Disciples of Apocalypse “put smiles on people’s faces” race war only adds up to 4-on-4, Los Boricuas showing up brings the fight to 8-on-4. Crush gets a four-person powerbomb on the ramp, which by Shield math should have medically killed him.
If you saw the card, you’d point to Stone Cold Steve Austin and Dude Love vs. The Godwinns with the Hart Foundation on commentary and be like, yep, that one, everybody fights. And sure enough, hey, everyone fights!
During the match, which seriously sees Stone Cold Steve Austin teaming up with a Deadhead to face two pig-fucking farmers, Owen Hart sneaks up and bashes Austin in the back of the head with a Slammy Award. Austin’s response is to go back and kick Owen’s ass, which leads to a disqualification and causes a big fight between the tag champs, the Hart Foundation, the Godwinns, and the Legion of Doom. Seriously surprised that Los Boricuas didn’t ride out on prejudiced skateboards or something and join the fight.
This is what they use Steve Austin for in this episode, so … good job. Hope nothing horribly awful happens to him at SummerSlam!
Blood Tests Run Cold
Er ist Brakkus! Er wird für nur ein paar Wochen hier sein!
Now Here’s Ken Shamrock Covered In Shit
It’s actually dog food, but if I told you that was shit you’d believe me, right? The Attitude Era was crazy like that. And aren’t we glad to be out of it? Nobody, say, ten years later would do an angle about a wrestler getting covered in shit. Fifteen years later there’s even less of a chance!
This is the aftermath of an arm wrestling contest. Which … makes less sense, somehow? Anyway, from the February 24, 1997, edition of the Best and Worst of Raw:
I don’t know if you’ve ever seen an arm wrestling contest on a pro wrestling show, but here’s how it works. You’ve got a heel and a face … The heel stalls and stalls and stalls, and when they’re finally forced to wrestle arms, they cheat just before they lose.
That’s what happens here. British Bulldog is about to lose to Ken Shamrock, so he headbutts Shammy, attacks him with a steel chair and pours dog food on his face. Actual arm wrestling tournaments go through so much dog food, it’s such a waste.
Worst: 105 Live
In 1997, WWE only had a few plans for light heavyweight matches:
- 1980s white guys with mullets in bad trunks who throw bad dropkicks and do sunset flips
- Michinoku Pro guys they can’t keep under contract, and eventually stick with the most racist Japanese gimmicks they can imagine
- piles of luchadors, all dressed the same, each with less personality than the last
Adjust the first one to “2000s,” replace “bad dropkicks” with running knee strikes and “sunset flips” with suicide dives (and “Michinoku Pro” with “New Japan”) and you’ve got modern WWE. But yeah, this week’s light heavyweight match attempted something a little different: bringing in a pair of the O.G. “indie darlings” for a match. Then only giving that match 44 seconds. 44 seconds.
If you read PWI in the 90s, the indie guys you could name were probably Devon Storm and Ace Darling (who always seemed paired up or wrestling each other), Reckless Youth, probably Christopher Daniels, probably Mike Quackenbush. Storm and Darling where sorta the original Punk and Cabana, so imagine if in 2005 you saw CM Punk in basketball shorts and Colt Cabana doing sunset flips for just over 40 seconds and then never saw either of them again.
Now imagine that one of them was doing a really bad Chris Jericho impression and wasn’t very good at gymnastics yet:
Devon Storm, probably the only person in wrestling history whose career was improved by David Flair.
Worst: The Truth Hurts!
Also formally debuting in this episode is the Truth Commission. If you looked at the current WWF landscape and were like, “hey, you know what we need? A group of white guys who hate America, but nobody knows who they are and none of them have personalities or are good at wrestling, also they’re from a country we rarely go to,” congratulations, you’re the only person in the world who needed The Truth Commission.
– The Commandant, a South African actor whose entire wrestling career lasted four months
– The Interrogator, who eventually becomes Kurrgan, a 6-foot-10 man who isn’t even the tallest dude in his faction of rejects
– Recon, who eventually becomes Big Boss Man’s friend Bull Buchanan, who eventually becomes John Cena’s best friend B-Squared
– Sniper, who most notably wrestled as “Rambo,” but not “John Rambo,” who is a different guy
They get a squash win over the prototype J.O.B. Squad of Bob Holly, Flash Funk and Jesse Jammes. The Interrogator puts Holly away with a side slam. Just a transitional-ass side slam. THE HART FOUNDATION WOULD BE SO MUCH BETTER IF THEY WRESTLED LIKE STUDENTS AND WORE KHAKIS.
Worst: Boxer Gets Us Mainstream Press, Attempt 2
You’d think the beginning of the Goldust vs. Brian Pillman angle where Pillman will have to wear Marlena’s dress if he loses at SummerSlam — the first part of the last angle of Pillman’s life — would be the larger point of this Goldust vs. Rockabilly match. Especially when Pillman rips up the mannequin wearing the dress and uses it to kiss Goldust. 1997 loves its mannequin angles.
But nope, all of this plays second fiddle to Vince McMahon’s favorite possible angle: a celebrity from a different sport shows up and instantly humiliates our talent, then never shows up again. But maybe ESPN will talk about us!
They’d eventually do this with Mike Tyson and pretend it was a spur of the moment crazy thing that happened, but they actually did the angle three times in the same calendar year. The first time was back in June when ‘Hitman’ Tommy Hearns got into a fight with Bret Hart and ended up knocking out the Anvil, and again this week with Michael Moorer:
You may know him as the guy who defeated Evander Holyfield to win the WBA, IBF and Lineal Heavyweight Championships, or as the guy who does extended edits of documentaries like Bowling for Columbine.
Here, Moorer runs afoul of the great ROCKABILLY, who has King Barrett disease and instantly dies if someone more famous than him touches him. He slaps Michael Moorer for no reason, so Moorer knocks him out.
Just like Hearns/Hart, this doesn’t go anywhere or build to anything, but maybe SportsCenter talked about them for a second before chuckling to themselves about how embarrassing wrestling is. Join us in three months when all four members of the Nation of Domination get knocked out by one Julio César Chávez punch.
Ironic Best: The SummerSlam Million Dollar Challenge
On Raw, the announce team tries out this whole “calling people at home during a live broadcast” thing to give away some SummerSlam tickets and give you the “chance to earn a chance” at winning a million dollars. It’s like at the San Diego Comic-Con where if you wanna meet the cast of Riverdale you’ve gotta be there at 6AM in a mile-long line to get a lottery ticket that MIGHT let you meet them, but nobody tells how how it works or what to do. Only with Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler trying to figure out how to call people on their headsets in the middle of a live wrestling show.
Two of their three calls are successful. One is a little kid who I’m 80% sure is just Rodney from the Mean Street Posse backstage doing a little kid voice, and the other is a guy who just screams YEAHS~!! into the phone. The highlight is Sunny wearing an outfit that makes her look like the inside of a windshield during a car wash, if you ever wanted to have sex with that.
As a test run it’s pretty harmless, but oh man, wait until we get to SummerSlam. Wink Collins could’ve sacrificed a goat to the Lord and that shit wouldn’t have gone any better.
Best/Worst: America, Land Of Cheaters
You’d think if Bret Hart was on a crusade to prove that Americans are a bunch of cry-baby liars who cheat too much and say curse words because of violent TV shows and racism or whatever that the Americans would be on their best behavior. Or at least like, not openly cheat when they wrestle the Hart Foundation. But here’s Shawn Michaels, the guy who is sworn to call Bret Hart’s SummerSlam Championship match down the middle or else, crawling into the ring to break up a pin behind the referee’s back so Bret loses to the Patriot.
Earl Hebner gets lightly brushed during Bret’s “walk up the corner” counter and collapses to the ground for like five minutes. During this time, Bret has the match won two or three times. And keep in mind, Bret didn’t bump the ref on purpose or anything shady, it was an actual total accident. So on the final pin attempt, Shawn slides in from color commentary and yanks Bret off. Bret tries to get the referee to notice what happened and get Michaels out of here, so the Patriot sneaks up and schoolboys Bret for a win AMERICA SHOULD BE PROUD OF.
After the match, Shawn tries to rub it in Bret’s face by stripping, but is interrupted by the Undertaker’s dong.
Just gonna leave that description as-is.
Best: Wrestling Fan Opinions
During this episode, WWF cameras ask fans who will win the WWF Championship match between The Undertaker and Bret Hart at SummerSlam. Here are a few of my favorite comments, and I swear I’m not making any of these up.
“The Undertaker, will win the match. Because he has the power of the dark side behind him. And he will send Bret Hart, AND the Hart Foundation, back to Canada with their tails between their legs!”
“I think the Undertaker’s gonna win because he’s American, he’s a better wrestler, and I don’t like Bret Hart bein’ in this country PUTTIN’ US DOWNNN!”
“I think the Undertaker’s gonna win, [suddenly screaming] HE’S GON’ TAKE BRET HART, PICK ‘IM UP, AND TOMB STOME’IM BABY, RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RING, AT EAST RUTHERFORD NEW JERSEY! WOO!”
“BRET HART IS, BECAUSE HE’S THE BEST THERE IS, THE BEST THERE WAS, AND THE BEST THERE EVER WILL BE, BABY, WE LOVE HIM BABY WE LOVE HIM, CANADA BABY CANADA”
“I have a feeling it’s gonna be the Undertaker just because I don’t think Shawn Michaels can be a fair referee in that match but that’s okay because Shawn Michaels is best” haha!
“I think Bret Hart’s just trying to get publicity for his country. He better, he should just go back to the Canada with his cry-baby self.”
“We all know that the Salvation Army could go up there and whip Canada’s ass!”
“HEY BRET HART MAN THIS IS AMERICA MAN LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT BABY”
“Bret Hart will never ever be able to tell anybody here IN PITTSBURGH that the Canadian flag rules over the WWF, because I tell ya one thing about Pittsburgh, if Canada’s so great then why is Mario Lemieux live in Pittsburgh? MARE-IO!!! USA! USA!”
SummerSlam 1997, brought to you by Stridex! SummerSlam: This Is Zit!®
- the end of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s career, kind of
- the second most brutal “cage door slamming on someone’s head” of the month
- the most wonderfully awkward and terrible phone call segment imaginable
- Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, can they co-exist???