The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 07.08.96 Back from being away from the internet for three days! Unfortunately I don’t have time to catch up on Payback or even Nitro this morning, so we’ll go with RAW instead. I did read JTG’s book while I was away, along with a bunch of old Observers from 1988. The most interesting thing was the discussion of the Hogan-Andre match, which of course ended up being the most-watched wrestling match in history. However, that being said, what I didn’t realize was how disappointing that rating actually was. NBC put them on prime time with expectations of being a top 5 show for the week so they could use the Main Event as a backdoor pilot for a live weekly prime time show, and in fact the show ended up something like #25 for the week and was actually viewed as a failure. Dave felt like it was actually a blessing, because there’s no way WWF would ever be able to pull off a live two-hour show on a weekly basis anyway. Taped from Green Bay, WI Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler Gorilla Monsoon announces that Ultimate Warrior is immediately suspended for no-showing, but he’s here tonight at this show to wrestle Owen Hart. Because this show is totally not taped or anything. AWKWARD. I love how they sanctimoniously bury the Warrior for no-showing, and then make sure to cash in on his name one last time by showing his match instead of just cutting it out and using some of the other hours of shit they had taped from the past month. Like they couldn’t have subbed in something from Superstars or a King of the Ring match or something? The Ultimate Warrior v. Owen Hart Vince hopes we’re not seeing the Warrior for the very last time on RAW. Somehow I don’t think that feeling is accurate. Although according to the Observer at the time, Vince was still proceeding as though Warrior would in fact be posting his appearance bond and would be returning after the PPV and facing Bulldog at Summerslam. That seems uncharacteristically optimistic for Vince. As someone else noted on the blog, if the taping cycle hadn’t been so annoying, they could have booked Warrior to do a squash job to someone like Vader. Meanwhile, in an inset promo, Shawn Michaels and Ahmed Johnson promise to unveil their replacement partner in a few minutes. At least Shawn does, because I seriously had no idea what Ahmed was saying. Poor Owen bumps all over the ring for Warrior while Vince and Lawler make ridiculous speculation on who the partner will be. Warrior completely destroys Owen and gives him nothing until finally Owen hits a leg lariat…and Warrior no-sells it. Finally Owen clotheslines him with the cast a few times to turn it around and we take a break. Back with Owen choking away on the ropes and a shot with the Slammmy gets two, but Warrior makes the comeback with the usual and Bulldog runs in for the DQ at 10:44. Well, this was clearly Warrior’s best match of this run, which isn’t saying much. **1/2 Camp Cornette does a 3-on-1 beatdown afterwards to write him out of the promotion. Meanwhile, the third man is on his way. No, not that one. Savio Vega v. Justin Hawk Bradshaw Brian Pillman tries to attack Savio on crutches, but gets cut off by JJ Dillon. That went nowhere. Savio pounds away in the corner and follows with a leg lariat for two. Bradshaw comes back with a bulldog for two and Vince declares it a SEE-SAW MATCHUP, his highest praise. Bradshaw uses the clobbering forearms to put Savio down for two and grabs a sleeper. Bradshaw with a big boot and elbow for two, and we hit the chinlock. To think that Bradshaw’s braying moron cowboy character would end up as a rich New York stockbroker and color commentator. Savio comes back with a splash that was supposed to miss but actually hits Bradshaw’s back, and Vince implores him to SHOOT THE HALF while Lawler makes “jokes” about debuting wrestler Who. Man, RSPW didn’t shut up about that one for about six months. Bradshaw goes back to the chinlock as this crowd-killer continues unabated. I think people in the front row are literally falling asleep. And then we get a phone interview with Mr. Perfect as we take a break. OH MY GOD JUST END THIS MATCH. Back with Bradshaw hitting a pumphandle slam for two as speculation on the third man now includes Yokozuna and Mr. Perfect. Not quite the same interest level as the PPV the night before. Savio comes back while Lawler continues his unfunny feud with Jake Roberts, and Savio finishes with a leg lariat at 14:24 off an accidental trip from Uncle Zeb. *1/2 The British Bulldog & Vader v. The Godwinns Camp Cornette overpowers Bulldog to start, but Henry comes back with a clothesline on Vader after a missed charge, and PIG splashes him for two. Bulldog comes in and it’s a bulldog on the Bulldog, which Vince thinks is the greatest thing ever. Jim Cornette, on commentary: “How much caffeine have you had today?” Vince: “It doesn’t matter!” They had such a great dynamic on commentary together. The Godwinns double-team Vader, but HOG walks into a clothesline and the heels take over with more boring offense. I should note that Cornette and Lawler going off on Hillbilly Jim about how stupid he is works fine from a heel standpoint, because it’s not based on anything real like the Jake Roberts stuff is. With Jake it’s just constant mean-spirited harping on a real problem and doesn’t build any kind of usable heat. We take a break and return with Henry still getting beat up, but he catches Vader with a bodyslam out of the corner and it’s hot tag Phineas. Poor Cornette runs over and tries to pound the mat and get the fans going, but even the canned heat is bored. It’s BONZO GONZO and Bulldog powerslams Phineas for the pin at 14:37. Yeah. ** Meanwhile, Shawn and Ahmed are STILL promising their partner will be here. Jim Cornette promises that everyone else in the WWF is booked, so they’re BLUFFING. And in fact, Shawn reveals that his partner is Sid. Boy, did THAT one backfire on him by November. The Pulse Ugh, fourth week of the taping cycle still to come. Although I should note that the week after THAT is where RAW gets picked up in Canada by TSN and thus I’m able to watch it semi-live every week.