(Sorry, it occurred to me that I did RAW for 12/30/96 this week and then totally forgot to do Nitro, but my schedule is full this weekend so here’s the original version from 2006 when I was doing the WWE 24/7 shows.)
The SmarK 24/7 Rant for The Monday Night Wars – December 30 1996 Edition
– So it’s the day after Starrcade 96, as Roddy Piper beats Hulk Hogan in a match that wasn’t announced as non-title until AFTER the match, and the Giant blows it against Lex Luger. Also, Eddie Guerrero defeats DDP with the help of the nWo and wins the US title.
WCW Monday Nitro!
– HOUR #1!
– Live from Knoxville, TN
– Your hosts are Tony and Larry.
– Hulk Hogan and the nWo hang out behind the building and cut a promo, but the Giant points out that his name is still on the World title belt (which it was — WCW never never bothered to change it, unlike the WWE, who often have belts changed before the titles change) and he wants his World War III title shot. Hogan is all “Chill, brother, but in all fairness you dropped the ball last night.” Will the nWo implode? STAY TUNED!
The Amazing French Canadians v. The Public Enemy
This should be their usual trainwreck. Two years before and this is a dream match between the WWF and ECW tag team champions, but here it’s a time-filling opener. Big brawl to start and Jacques bails, with Pierre joining him soon after. TPE won’t let them back into the ring, which makes for a thrilling couple of minutes of stalling, so we get a further brawl into the aisle with a table magically appearing at ringside. Public Enemy ends up going through it themselves, struck down by the deadly hand of IRONY, and the French finish Rocco in the ring with the cannonball.
(The Amazing French Canadians d. The Public Enemy, Pierre cannonball — pin Rocco Rock, 3:30, DUD) Wasn’t even a match, really.
WCW Cruiserweight title: Ultimo Dragon v. Jushin Thunder Liger
So Dragon is fresh off defeating Dean Malenko to win the title, unifying it (temporarily) with the New Japan J-Crown, thus giving him nine titles. Liger backdrops him to start, but it’s a stalemate. Liger hits him with a backbreaker and bow-and-arrow. Handspring elbow gets two. Senton gets two. Powerbomb, but he doesn’t go for a pin and Dragon recovers and dumps him. Dragon follows with a suicide dive and they brawl on the floor. Back in, Dragon goes up and lands on the foot, and Liger gets a brainbuster for two. To the top and Liger gets a superplex for two. Dragon tries a blind charge and hits foot, but gets the top rope rana and tiger suplex to finish.
(Ultimo Dragon d. Jushin Liger, tiger suplex — pin, 4:40, **) They book Dragon v. Liger and only give it FOUR MINUTES? Fuck that.
Strap Match: Konnan v. Big Bubba
Yes, not only do we get a rematch of the shitty match from last week, but a GIMMICK match too! Luckily, Bubba no-shows, thus giving us a better match. And Michael Wallstreet comes out to take his place. Well, I guess I’d rather have a shitty IRS match than a shitty Bossman match.
Konnan v. Michael Wallstreet
Wallstreet jumps him from behind and stomps away, but Konnan goes low with the strap and does some whipping. Wallstreet clotheslines him with the strap and starts dragging him around the ring, with Konnan hitting the turnbuckles behind him. Oh, how original. They do the cliched “fight for the fourth” bit and Konnan falls into it for the win.
(Konnan d. Michael Wallstreet, touches all four corners, 2:37, DUD) Well, it wasn’t negative stars, so that’s an improvement, I suppose. Another one that was barely a match.
– And now things should pick up, because it’s time for another Hogan and Bischoff interview! They dedicate the show to the memory of Roddy Piper. Thanks for that, guys. They attempt some revisionist history, but really once you’ve seen enough WWE DVD releases, even changing the finish of the main event of the biggest PPV of the year from the night before doesn’t sound so bad. I mean, have you SEEN that Ultimate Warrior DVD?
Kensuke Sasaki v. Hugh Morrus
Tony has the gall to say that we’re in the midst of the most stacked Nitro card ever during THIS MATCH. Neither man can gain the power advantage, and they slug it out until Sasake decides to choke him out on the ropes. Suplex gets two. Morrus comes back with a clothesline for two and we hit the chinlock. Just what this needed. Sasake comes back with a lariat for two as Bischoff steals the tape of the Piper-Hogan match from the announce team (“What was the point of that?” asks Larry, and I’m inclined to agree) while Sasake goes up and misses something that myself and everyone in the arena no longer cares about. Morrus finishes with the moonsault, but Sonny Onoo runs in for the DQ.
(Hugh Morrus d. Kensuke Sasake, interference — DQ, 4:38, DUD) Oh, we’re on quite the roll this week. I’ve never understood the (kayfabe) logic behind that finish — the guy is losing the match anyway, and if you break up the pin at two it’s clear that he was about to lose, so what’s the difference whether it’s by DQ or by pin? Am I supposed to care any more or less about Sasake because he got DQ’d instead of being pinned?
Harlem Heat v. The Faces of Fear
Meng slugs it out with Stevie Ray to start, and Barbarian does some one-man clubbering, but falls victim to a sidekick from Booker T that gets two. Booker goes up and gets crotched, and Barbarian brings him down with a superplex, but he no-sells and keeps fighting. Meng comes in with a backbreaker that gets two. Stevie comes in as Robert Parker comes down to ringside with the French Canadians and goes after Sherri,allowing Jacques to throw salt in Stevie’s eyes. Meng gets the cover, but Booker comes off the top and puts Stevie on top for the pin.
(Harlem Heat d. The Faces of Fear, Stevie Ray pin Barbarian, 3:31, 1/2*) Hey, another finish that sucked. This poor crowd is getting deader by the minute, and I can’t blame them.
– HOUR #2! Will this hour join the nWo? STAY TUNED!
Disco Inferno v. Glacier
KILL ME NOW. Disco tells Glacier to surrender now or face his new leglock, but Glacier proceeds with the match anyway. That’s just cruel. Kick kick kick from Glacier and stall stall stall from Disco, and finally Glacier uses a non-kick when he gets a gutwrench suplex. Disco hides behind the ref and then catches him with a lariat, and stomps away. Disco goes for his dreaded leglock, but forgets which leg it is and gets kicked down as a result. Disco stalls again after a neckbreaker, and the superkick proves to the last days of Disco.
(Glacier d. Disco Inferno, superkick — pin, 4:13, 1/4*) Well that was kind of a match, at least. You could at least show it to friends and they’d go “Oh, that’s wrestling.” That’s something! Isn’t it?
Chris Benoit v. Chris Jericho
Thank you Jeebus! Jericho gets a springboard dropkick to the floor and then a missile dropkick to the floor, and back in they start throwing chops until Benoit drops him on the top rope out of a powerbomb position. Benoit lays the quality badmouth on him and follows with a spinebuster, and an elbow gets two. Powerbomb is reversed by Jericho into a backslide for two, but Benoit chops him down for two. They trade the chops and Jericho gets a rollup for two, but they collide on an elbow and both are down. Slugfest and Jericho meets the turnbuckles, but comes back with an atomic drop and superkick. Lionsault misses, but he goes up with a high cross for two. Blind charge misses and Jericho gets caught in the corner as a result, allowing Benoit to kill him dead with a backdrop suplex.
(Chris Benoit d. Chris Jericho, backdrop suplex — pin, 3:58, **) C’mon, this is ridiculous, give someone more than 5 minutes today.
– And it’s more with As The Horsemen Turn, as the women squabble and Jeff Jarrett whines to Flair about getting second-class treatment. Flair dances with Woman as this whole segment is just totally nonsensical and advances nothing. Basically every week they come out and say nothing and do nothing and look like ineffective clowns, and it’s really no surprise that WCW killed them off.
MIDGET MADNESS: Octagoncito & Mascarita Sagrada v. Jerito Estrada & Piratita Morgan
The face side gets a pair of rollups for two to start, and Estrada kicks Octagoncito out of the ring. Sagrada does the headstand in the corner and brings in Octagoncito, who fights off both heels. Back to Sagrada, who rolls up Estrada for the pin. Vince stole Sagrada in the coup of a lifetime and renamed him Max Mini, which kind of shows you how hopeless it was for him at that point.
VANILLA MIDGET MADNESS: Dean Malenko v. Rey Mysterio
Dean quickly snapmares him into a chinlock, but Rey sends him to the floor and follows with a headscissors. Dean regroups and takes him down on the mat, and they trade facelocks as the announcers totally ignore the match and talk about Roddy Piper. Dean gets an exploding gutbuster as the crowd just has no interest in paying any attention to this match and it’s just sucking the life out of the show. Dean works the leg, and a suplex gets two. Rey comes back with a backbreaker for two, but Dean pounds him down again. Rey slugs away in the corner, but Dean tosses him into the turnbuckles and brings him down with a superplex attempt that Rey reverses in mid-move. He tries a rana, but Dean powerbombs him for two. Victory roll gets two for Rey. Sunset flip gets two. Dean takes him down with a clothesline and goes up, but Rey springs up with a leg lariat to bring him down and follows him out with a senton to the floor in a crazy bump. I can’t believe he’s wasting that stuff on this dead crowd. He tries the West Coast Pop back into the ring, but Dean blocks with a boston crab, which Rey reverses for two. Headscissors is reversed into a sideslam by Dean, but Rey sends him into the turnbuckles and goes up with a rana as the time expires.
(Rey Mysterio draw Dean Malenko, 9:03, **1/2) Apparently that was supposed to be a ten-minute draw, but I guess they forgot to steal the WWF’s timekeeper when they were raiding all their other talent in desperate attempts to recreate the entire promotion. Amazingly, they ALMOST got this arena full of zombies excited by the end of it.
Greg Valentine v. Lex Luger
Hammer attacks to start and elbows him down, but Luger fights back. Blind charge hits boot and Valentine gives him a kneelift, but Luger clotheslines him and then charges and hits the floor as a result. Hammer elbows him off the apron, but Lex slips back in and racks him.
(Lex Luger d. Greg Valentine, torture rack — submission, 2:51, 1/4*) When Luger is the most motivated guy on the card, you’ve got trouble.
– Roddy Piper joins us for the end of the show, thus making him my hero, and talks about how he’s the biggest icon, but of course Hogan and Bischoff come out to respond. Piper is all “Let’s do it tonight!” and the nWo run in, as we can’t even have an interview without the nWo finish. However, the Giant, looking all morose, wanders down last and doesn’t participate in the beatdown. Giant goes to chokeslam Piper, but then has a conscience and changes his mind. Maybe he’d sleep better at night had he done something BEFORE they hit Piper in the hip with the chair. Just a thought. And after a verbal dressing-down from Hogan, Giant makes his exit from the nWo and chokes Hogan into a title shot. See, the Horsemen would never put up with that crap — Flair would act like everything is fine and then have the Andersons break his leg with a tire iron in the parking lot. Another beatdown results, which continues the generally depressing week-to-week booking. There’s something to be said for strong heels, but when you beat down the babyfaces EVERY week and WCW just never gets their win back, it gets really tiresome. And the next PPV coming up is Souled Out, so it only gets worse.
Monday Night RAW
– Live from Albany, NY
– Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler
Steve Austin & Faarooq v. Jesse Jammes & Savio Vega.
Thank god for Austin, who ambushes Jammes while he’s singing his shitty song in the aisle. Austin starts the match with Vega, quickly stun-gunning him off a rollup attempt and dropping an elbow. Over to Faarooq, who gets a spinebuster for two. He runs into a boot and Savio spinkicks him down for two. Austin comes in and stomps a mudhole, but Vega cradles him for two. Austin takes him down with a lariat for two. Austin charges and walks into a spinkick, and an enzuigiri allows the hot tag to Jammes. He slugs Austin down and gets a forearm to set up a bulldog, and that gets two. Austin thankfully smacks him down again, but Faarooq comes in and gets backdropped. Jammes charges and hits the floor, and Austin sneaks over and clips him, but Bret Hart joins us because he just hates it when people get screwed. Jesse Jammes is apparently horribly injured by that chop block and can’t continue, thus making him a lame-o babyface and a wuss, so Bret Hart takes his place. We take a break and return with Faarooq chinlocking Savio. Over to Austin and he’s all about that chinlock as well. Savio fights out and tries a splash, but hits knee and Austin responds with an elbowdrop for two. Back to Faarooq for a powerslam that gets two. Savio makes the comeback with an electric chair , and it’s hot tag to Bret. He’s wrestling in his jeans for a nice touch of realism. Atomic drop for Faarooq and russian legsweep sets up the elbow and Sharpshooter, but Crush runs in for the DQ. The Nation of Domination proceed to beating Bret and Savio down, but Ahmed Johnson makes the save.
(Bret Hart & Savio Vega d. Steve Austin & Faarooq, interference — DQ, 10:31, **) Bret didn’t really figure into this one much, and Savio’s heel turn has to be coming soon after this because he was part of the NOD by Thursday RAW Thursday in February. I don’t even know what the point of this tag match was, but at least it was more leisurely paced than the frenetic crap of Nitro.
Flash Funk v. Hunter Hearst Helmsley
Non-title match here. Funk attacks to start and backdrops him out of the corner, and a spinkick and standing moonsault get two. Funk works him over in the corner but whiffs on a bodypress attempt and lands on his face, and HHH clotheslines him and throws chops in the corner. He dumps Funk and it’s the FORMAL BOW OF DEATH, but Funk springs back in with a rollup for two. Neckbreaker gets two. Suplex, but he stops to yell at Goldust and Funk gets a bodypress for two. Back to offense for HHH, as he chokes Funk down (hey, at least he’s not just using the knee) and goes to a rear chinlock. We return from break with Funk escaping from an abdominal stretch, but hitting knee on a splash attempt. And now Hunter goes back to the moves we love, as a kneedrop gets two. Vertical suplex and diving fistdrop get two. He pounds away on the ropes and Funk makes the comeback, but Jerry Lawler suddenly grabs the mike and cuts a promo against Goldust in the stands. Funk goes up with a flying bodypress that gets two and goes up with a moonsault that gets two. Lawler keeps distracting the ref, which allows Hunter to grab the IC title and knock him out with it.
(HHH d. Flash Funk, beltshot — pin, 8:55, *1/2) Colossally dull match, as they just had no chemistry and HHH was still months away from being able to carry things alone.
– And now, things get interesting again, as it’s a face-to-face interview with Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart, back when they were still real life friends but sowing the seeds for their eventual feud in the newsletters. Shawn is all “Let the great Hitman go first!” and Bret complains that he used to respect Shawn until he posed in Playgirl, at which point it became apparent that the only ones who can’t see through his act are 14 year old girls. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? John Cena needs his Bret Hart, so that the disgruntled grown-ups who are sick of him can have someone to cheer. Shawn immediately starts firing the shoot comments, noting that “he’s seen Bret on the road, and he’s no role model.” Oh, LOW BLOW. Sid interrupts before the hair-pulling and crying can start, and then there’s Undertaker, and then there’s Vader, and a bunch of referees, and we’re done with this.
Goldust v. Jerry Lawler
We’ve got Honky Tonk Man and HHH on commentary for the total trainwreck. Lawler attacks and chokes Goldust out on the ropes, but Goldust comes right back with the same. Clothesline and fistdrop, but Lawler pounds away in the corner. HHH goes for the run-in already and hits on Marlena, opting for the direct approach by kidnapping her, but Marc Mero cuts him off. Goldust rushes out to save and gets counted out.
(Jerry Lawler d. Goldust, countout, 2:51, DUD) Just a setup for the HHH-Goldust stuff.
Oh, not a good week, kids, not a good week. But then these end-of-year shows rarely are. Next time: 1997! And soon, RAW will be WAR!