WWF RAW 3/31/1997

Written by: Kevin Kindelberger
Match Write-up/Ratings/Thoughts: Written by Bob Colling

World Wrestling Federation presents RAW
From: Peoria, IL

The show opens up with a video highlighting Bret Hart’s official heel turn from last week saying the American fans didn’t respect him anymore. Michaels told Hart to love it or leave it and was attacked from behind by Hart.

Vince McMahon welcomes everyone to the show. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler also mention who will be appearing on the show which includes Steve Austin and the Legion of Doom.

Opening Contest: WWF European Champion/WWF World Tag Team Champion British Bulldog fought WWF World Tag Team Champion Owen Hart to a no contest to retain the title:
Owen hits Bulldog with a quick baseball slide to get the early advantage before the bell. Owen sends Bulldog shoulder first into the ring steps and rams him back first into the ring post a couple times. Bulldog is sent back into the ring and Owen connects with a top rope cross body for a two count. Owen continues to hammer away on Bulldog until Bulldog fires back with several of his own but is stopped with a low blow. Owen sends Bulldog back first into a corner and maintains control with several uppercuts. Owen nearly wins the bout following a clothesline. Bulldog battles out of a headlock but is stopped with a knee lift by Owen. Owen goes for the Sharpshooter but is kicked away by Bulldog. Bulldog comes off the ropes but counters a knee lift with a roll up for a two count. Owen stops a charging Bulldog with a big boot in the corner. Bulldog counters a uppercut with a backslide but that is still not good enough. Owen quickly comes back with a standing dropkick for a two count. Owen plants Bulldog with a pile driver as RAW goes to commercial. Owen still has control by working on Bulldog in the corner. During the break, Owen almost won the title but Bulldog had his foot on the bottom rope. Owen gets another two count following a snap suplex. Bulldog gets out of another headlock with several right hands working on Owen in the corner. Owen battles back with an elbow strike after sending Bulldog into a corner. Bulldog blocks a top rope missile dropkick and locks in the Sharpshooter! Owen gets out of it and kicks Bulldog on the side of the head! Owen crotches Bulldog on the top rope looking for a superplex. Bulldog battles punching Owen off but he flips and knocks Bulldog off the top to the floor! Bulldog catches Owen on a slingshot cross body attempt and drops Owen chest first over the guard railing. Bulldog clotheslines Owen several times before catapulting Owen face first into a corner for a two count! Bulldog drops Owen gut first to the mat but isn’t able to put him away. Bulldog continues with a backdrop and clotheslines Owen to the floor. Owen begins to walk up the aisle way but Bulldog stops him and delivers a vertical suplex on the steel ramp way! Bulldog punches away on Owen in the corner and gorilla press slams Owen for a two count. Owen leapfrogs over Bulldog who crashes into the referee. Owen spin kicks Bulldog and grabs a chair on the floor. Bulldog avoids the shot and clotheslines Owen onto the chair. Bret Hart runs down and tackles Bulldog to prevent him from using the chair. Bret has the chair and is telling both men to stop. Bret is able to stop both men from going after each other. Bret has grabbed a microphone. Bret says that this is exactly what the fans want to see. They want them to fight each other. Bret asks what they are fighting for. He says the fans know nothing about family values. Bret needs them. Bret says that America is all about family problems. Bret says that they turned him against Bulldog and Owen. Bret talks to Owen about getting him in the WWF. Bret says they have driven a wedge between the family. Bret talks about dressing Owen up when he was a baby and making sure he got to bus in time. He recalls setting a teacher straight when Owen was getting picked on. Owen is hilariously acting like he is crying. Bret doesn’t believe America cares about their family. Bret needs their help. Bret wants Owen to look him in the eye and says he was there for Owen so many times. Bret tells Owen that he loves him and Owen breaks down telling him that he loves him too. Bret hugs Owen and Bulldog and they all hug in the ring. Owen and Bulldog have made up as well! (****. Quite honestly the match was very good and the aftermath made the whole segment just incredible. I love having Bret associate with Owen and Bulldog again and his reasoning behind it was classic. Besides, he is right. Americans have plenty of family issues!)

Sunny makes her way out to be a special commentator for the next match.

Second Contest: El Mosco defeated Super Nova:
Mosco won the match following a split legged moonsault.

Legion of Doom come out for an interview with JR. They will face Owen and Davey for the tag titles at the PPV and they are no longer a dysfunctional team. Animal does not like the Hart’s insulting the integrity of the USA. No one remembers the loser in sports and he rattles off the Super Bowl and Bulls; in the WWF in order to be recognized you have to win the WWF belts and they will win them and bring them back to Chicago. Hawk is going to do something to Davey, and kick something out of Owen, that did not make too much sense.

Honky Tonk Man comes out and apparently he is searching for someone just like him. He goes up to the broadcast table. Jesse James comes out singing that damn song; he has little dude with him who looks scared. Really this gimmick needs to just disappear….

Third Contest: Jesse James defeated Jerry Fox:
James wins the squash match following a pump handle slam.
After the match, the Honky Tonk Man enters the ring and says that he has been on a mission to find the greatest wrestler ever. Honky says that he could do a lot with James taking him all the way to the top. Honky decides to present his guitar to James. All James has to say is yes. James says he is breathless because Honky is next to him. He has music history in his hands. James ends up smashing the guitar on the canvas and Honky freaks out. James says the guitar is a little out of tune for him and leaves!

Here comes the Nation of Domination and they have a new rap and Clarence gets his name dropped.

Fourth Contest: Crush and Savio Vega defeated Rod Bell/Adam O’Brien:
Vega pins O’Brien after Crush delivered a middle rope elbow drop while O’Brien was over Vega’s knee.

They show highlights of Shamrock in MMA and the WWF.

Paul Bearer comes waddling to the ring. He apologizes for his actions and for holding him back, and now that he is the champion he wants to come home. Here comes the Undertaker. His typical, really slow, and I mean really slow entrance. He locks the coffin in case of any shenanigans via Paul Bearer. He starts off by talking about betrayal and it cannot be forgotten but he may be able to forgive. He and Paul have taken on the WWF and laid many people to rest, and for that he does owe him. He kisses the belt and hands it to Paul Bearer who is really happy but UT socks him and Paul skedaddles, tumbling to the floor. UT heads out after him; he slowly stalks Paul who crawls away. UT has the Urn and Mankind is under the ring and comes out, UT turns around and gets burned by Mankind. Sid runs off Mankind and Bearer as UT writhes in pain. He knocks over some refs and flails all the way to the back.

Sid is in the back and they should not have messed with UT just like Bret should not have messed with Sid. Sid admits that Undertaker was the better man that night (WM) but he also will always be better than Mankind and if he wants to use fire he will burn in Hell.

Fifth Contest: Goldust defeated Hunter Hearst Helmsley by disqualification:
Goldust quickly gets to the ring and pummels HHH with right hands in the corner. Goldust sends HHH flipping into a corner and plants HHH with a running bulldog. Goldust sends HHH over the top to the floor but follows him. Goldust clotheslines HHH on the floor but they return to the ring quickly. HHH gets a shot in and pokes Goldust in the eyes. Goldust blocks a back drop and rams his butt into his face. Goldust misses a cross body and rolls to the floor. HHH baseball slides Goldust to keep the advantage. HHH slams Goldust on the aisle way and knocks Goldust back down with a forearm shot. HHH nails Goldust with a high knee lift back in the ring. HHH beats down Goldust with right hands and stomps in the corner. HHH follows up with a swinging neck breaker for a two count. HHH takes Goldust down with a snap suplex and taunts the fans before delivering a knee drop for a near fall. Goldust comes off the ropes hitting a cross body for a two count but HHH plants him with a DDT for a two count only. Goldust begins to fight back with a few strikes and an atomic drop. HHH knee lifts Goldust in the corner and tosses him to the floor, again. HHH gets on the middle rope and leaps off diving onto Goldust on the floor as we see Chyna standing at the top of the aisle way as RAW goes to commercial. She makes her way down to the ringside area as Goldust hits the Curtain Call on HHH. Chyna enters and kicks Goldust in the ribs. (*1/4. Not that good of a match, really. It seemed more of just an advancement for the feud.)
After the match, Chyna spin kicks Goldust and along with HHH gets a few shots in. Pat Patterson comes out and begins to attack HHH! Chyna breaks free from officials and beats down Patterson with HHH! Goldust is back up and backdrops HHH. Goldust clotheslines HHH over the top to the floor. Goldust turns around and is held away from Chyna by officials.

Vince calls out Austin and he asserts that he never quit. Bret claims that he beat him to a pulp but Austin hit his head on a guard rail and Bret had nothing to do with it. He passed out because of the loss of blood and Bret is a piece of trash. Austin continues that Bret coming back to the WWF because of a lack of heroes is a bunch of BS. Austin will not change and it does not matter who he goes up against, and it does not matter if he is booed or cheered. All in all he is going to get the job done. If Hart is not busy crying in the back he should put on his panties and come on down so he can kick his ass. Bret pops up on the TitanTron and states that Austin has a lot of nerve showing up after getting his ass kicked at WM. Austin does not have a tail to tuck and he got his butt kicked by the real king of the jungle. He does not like the fact that he got his ass kicked and he will do it over and over. Austin responds that he will have to kill him and he can bring in Davey and Owen with crowbars….Bret interrupts that he beat him at Series and WM on his own and will do it again. Stone Cold finishes that he will beat him up and they will meet again and on Bret’s grave it will say here lies the biggest pieces of crap…..

They show Rocky in the back looking a little frightened.

Main Event: WWF Intercontinental Champion Rocky Maivia defeated Bret Hart by disqualification to retain the title:
Rock backs Hart into a corner but doesn’t hit him which allows Hart to just slide under the bottom rope to the floor. Hart returns to the ring and offers a handshake but Rock declines. Rock gets out of a headlock by putting a head scissors on Hart but that doesn’t last. We see Tony Atlas sitting in the front row watching the match. Hart with a go behind takedown to regain control of the match but Rock gets up and hits a cross body for a two count. Hart gets up and puts a headlock on Rock again. Rock counters by putting a hammerlock on Hart for a few moments. Hart kips up and has a wristlock on Rock but that doesn’t last as Rock pops up and works on Hart with several elbow strikes while having an arm bar on. Rock comes off the ropes but is met with a knee lift to the midsection and begins to nail Rock with several forearm strikes. Hart gouges Rock’s eyes across the top rope and continues to stomp away on Rock before delivering an atomic drop and running clothesline. Hart follows up with a side Russian leg sweep and drops a leg across Rock’s chest. Hart chokes Rock in a corner but switches to pummel Rock with punches and stomps. Hart taunts the fans as RAW goes to commercial. Hart continues to control Rock with head butts to his lower back. Hart drives Rock to the mat with a back suplex but only gets a two count. Rock nearly pins Hart with an inside cradle after countering a backdrop attempt but Hart quickly regains control with an elbow strike. Hart misses a middle rope forearm drop as Rock rolls out of the way. Rock hammers away on Hart with right hands. Rock punches Hart in the gut and hits a fisherman suplex for a two count. Rock connects with a belly to belly suplex but only gets a two count. Rock plants Hart with a float over DDT! Rock heads to the top rope and hits a cross body but Hart rolls through and nearly manages to pin Rock. Hart drags Rock to a ring post and puts a figure four leg lock on Rock around the ring post! Hart refuses to let go and is disqualified. (**. Hart controlled a good portion of the match but Rock got a few decent runs of offense. Obviously Rock wasn’t anything near what he would become so this isn’t a hidden gem by any means. A fairly weak main event all things considered but the after math was entertaining.)
After the match, Hart keeps the hold on Rock until Steve Austin comes out and begins to attack Bret. Owen and Bulldog come down and along with Bret beat down Austin on the floor. Here come the Legion of Doom to chase the Hart’s away! Bret, Owen and Bulldog run through the crowd to get away!

Final Thoughts:
It was a pretty solid overall show, I thought. The start of the show was great with Owen vs. Bulldog and the formation of the Hart Foundation. I just love the idea of Bret, Owen and Bulldog as a unit. Plus, the way it was done was great. The Jesse James segment was goofy but it’s an attempt to make him interesting and have the fans rally behind him. Mankind using a fireball on Undertaker gives their feud some legs after feuding for almost a year now. You add in the Hart/Austin stuff and the show was pretty enjoyable. I’ll give it a thumbs up.

Thanks for reading.

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