What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – January 20, 1997

by Logan Scisco
The announce crew
discusses the results of last night’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view.
Vince McMahon,
Jerry “the King” Lawler, and Jim Ross are in the booth and they are live from
Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas
.

In a great segment
to start the show, Bret Hart comes out, snatches the house mic from Howard
Finkel, and tells McMahon that he hasn’t been given his opportunity for the WWF
title because he has been screwed by Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, the WWF, and
McMahon.  Bret says that since he isn’t
being given a fair opportunity to win the WWF title, he’s quitting, which leads
to the crowd chanting “We want Bret.”
After Bret walks
out through the audience, Steve Austin comes out and gets on the mic and says
that when the going gets tough, the Harts get going.  He is angered that Sid’s concussion prevents
him from facing the former WWF champion tonight, but he says he isn’t afraid to
face the Undertaker, who has been penciled in as his new opponent.
McMahon walks
backstage for a reason that is not announced, but Ross says it is probably
connected to Bret’s decision to leave the company.  This gives us our first glimpse of what a
Ross-Lawler combination looks like in the booth
.
Opening Non-Title
Contest:  Owen Hart & The British
Bulldog (WWF Tag Team Champions w/Clarence Mason) defeat Doug Furnas &
Philip LaFon when the Bulldog pins LaFon with a running powerslam at 9:37
shown:
Clarence Mason’s position is very awkward at this point
in the company, since he’s the manager of the tag team champions and one of the
major figures in the Nation of Domination. 
However, in storyline terms he’s able to keep those interests separate.  Aside from the Survivor
Series, this is Furnas and LaFon’s first crack at the tag team champions and
they give them everything they can handle. 
The hot crowd is very receptive to this match, which maintains a brisk
pace, and the champions barely win after Owen clocks LaFon with his Slammy.  I expected Furnas and LaFon to get a victory
here, since it was non-title, but the WWF must have thought this was a way to
even things up from the Survivor Series. 
If there was one fault with Furnas and LaFon it was the lack of a
memorable finishing maneuver.  They had
multiple moves that looked devastating and that could beat you, but having a
single tag finisher is a great way to connect to the audience.  Rating:  ***
Some brief footage
of the Ahmed Johnson-Faarooq match at the Royal Rumble is shown
.
Faarooq (w/the
Nation of Domination) pins Bart Gunn with a Dominator at 5:16 shown:
As the WWF transitions to the Attitude Era, Bart Gunn’s
cowboy act looks really out of place.  I
know Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman was still a big hit, but I don’t think that was
the demographic the WWF was reaching out to at this time.  Faarooq shows off chinlocks until Bart works
the crowd into a frenzy by bulldoging Faarooq and attacking PG-13 after they place Faarooq’s foot on
the bottom rope.  This shows the
quality of PG-13’s heel work and the distraction allows Faarooq to nail Bart from the apron and finish him off in the ring. 
Ross’s voices his usual indignation, albeit in a PG sense, at the outcome.  Rating: 
Dok Hendrix hypes
the next Madison Square Garden show, but it’s not updated to reflect the
results of the Rumble because Sid is still defending the WWF title against the
Undertaker.
McMahon and WWF
President Gorilla Monsoon come into the ring. 
Monsoon says that he can’t overturn Austin’s victory in the 1997 Royal
Rumble, but he can deny him his title shot at WrestleMania 13.  He announces that at In Your House, Steve
Austin and the three men he illegally eliminated in the Royal Rumble:  Vader, the Undertaker, and Bret Hart will be
in a four way elimination match, with the winner becoming the number one
contender for the WWF title and facing the WWF champion at WrestleMania.
  Steve
Austin comes out and tells Monsoon that Bret Hart already quit, but regardless
of that he’ll go to In Your House and still be going to WrestleMania.  Austin threatens to get violent on Monsoon,
which leads to him getting in McMahon’s face, and Bret Hart returns out of the
crowd, announces that he’s back, and brawls with Austin in the aisle until WWF
officials separate them.
-The Western Union
rewind is a massive brawl from Shotgun Saturday Night.
The Undertaker defeats
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin by disqualification at 6:37 shown:
The match starts on a chaotic note as the Undertaker gets
into a brawl with Bret Hart in the aisle before moving on to Austin.  Austin uses his technical skill to wear down
the Undertaker and it’s odd to see the Stunner used as a move to generate a
double KO.  During the match, the cameras
cut to the back where Vader and Bret are being separated by WWF officials,
thereby reinforcing the tensions and high stakes of the In Your House
match.  Vader runs down to the ring when
the Undertaker starts his comeback and Bret Hart soon follows, creating a four
way brawl that sends the crowd into a frenzy as we go off the air.  This match was serviceable, but the real fun
came with the post-match activities.  Rating: 
**
The Final Report Card:  Finally we get an episode of Raw that
maintains a good story arc and builds momentum during the show.  The interaction of Bret, Austin, McMahon, and
the Undertaker was fantastic and started to move the company into a new
direction where face/heel distinctions were not as clearly defined.  The hot crowd in Beaumont also helped the
show as they reacted to everything, including the midcard match between Faarooq
and Bart, and anytime you have a hot crowd it adds another element to the
show.  An easy thumbs up effort by the
company for this week.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.2 (vs. 3.7 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – January 13, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Vince McMahon and
The Honky Tonk Man are in the booth and they are taped from Albany, New York.  This is the go home show for the Royal Rumble
.

Opening
Contest:  Hunter Hearst Helmsley &
Jerry “the King” Lawler defeat “Wildman” Marc Mero & Goldust (w/Sable &
Marlena) by disqualification at 11:21 shown:
To think that this tag match was predicated on the final
of a Karate Fighters tournament.  Goldust
throws off his entrance attire in the aisle and charges the ring, demonstrating
that he means business tonight.  There’s
lots of stalling since Lawler is in charge of most of the action for his team
and Helmsley flees when Goldust is tagged in. 
These factors make the match very disjointed and also make it difficult
to build a decent heat segment. 
Eventually, Goldust gets his hands on Helmsley after the hot tag, but
refuses to release a choke, gets his team disqualified, and decks Mero after
they lose.  The story they are trying to
tell here is transparent, but the match quality suffered as a result.  Rating:  ½*
WWF Champion Sid
cuts a promo in the vacant Alamo Dome and says that he’s going to destroy Shawn
Michaels in front of family in San Antonio this Sunday.
Shawn Michaels
cuts a promo in the midst of some crazy fans in San Antonio and says that Sid’s
attack on Pete Lothario last week has released the monster inside of him.  A fat Latino lady keeps grabbing Shawn during
the interview and that’s worth a laugh
.
Bret Hart, who is
limping around on an injured ankle that Austin Pillmanized on Superstars, comes
out to do guest commentary.
-Footage of Marc
Mero yelling at Sable on Shotgun Saturday Night and Rocky Maivia coming to her
aid is shown.  This was supposed to
foreshadow a Mero-Maivia program where Mero would be the heel, but he was
injured before that could happen
.
Rocky Maivia
defeats The British Bulldog (w/Clarence Mason) by count out at 9:06 shown:
Bret puts over Maivia’s potential on commentary, but the
crowd doesn’t buy into him.  They aren’t
booing him, but just don’t react to his early offense against the Bulldog.  However, I don’t think it’s a problem with
Maivia as much as it is a crowd that is burned out from the taping.  Owen comes out and stands in front of Bret,
which seems more of an indictment of Bulldog’s abilities than anything
else.  There’s very little action in this
match, as the Bulldog uses chinlocks to slow down the action.  Steve Austin comes out when both men go over
the top rope, chop blocks the Bulldog, delivers a Stunner, and then flees to the
back where Bret and Owen follow him. 
This is hardly a great way to put over a young face, but it does sew the
seeds for the emergence of the Hart Foundation to torment Austin after
WrestleMania XIII.  Rating:  *
The Nation of
Domination says that it has unity and Crush says he’ll dominate the Undertaker
tonight using whatever means are necessary.
Steve Austin’s
attack on the British Bulldog earlier in the show is the Starburst Fruit Twists
Rewind segment
.
The Undertaker defeats
Crush (w/The Nation of Domination) by disqualification at 8:35 shown:
The Undertaker must not be a fan of the PG-13 rap,
because he interrupts it and forces the Nation to scatter.  Both guys work up a good pace at the
beginning of the match, but can’t sustain it and by the time we head to
commercial we’re getting too much of an exchange of punches and kicks.  Crush just doesn’t look comfortable with this
gimmick and the only heat he can generate is yelling at the crowd not to call
him a Jailbird.  We get our third
inconclusive finish of the evening as the Nation runs in before the Undertaker
can Tombstone Crush and Vader runs in to do some damage as well.  Ahmed Johnson tries to make the save with a
2×4, but PG-13 jump him and Faarooq seizes control of the 2×4 and wears him out
with it.  Rating:  *
The Final Report Card:  This RAW was more about the storylines and it
showed with the poor match quality. 
Austin’s attack on the Bulldog keeps the Bret-Austin feud going and is going
to draw in more actors and was the highlight of the show.  That also sustains a distrust angle between
Owen and the Bulldog that is taking place. 
However, there just wasn’t a lot to get into on this show as it seemed
like the company wanted to fast forward to the Rumble so it could move onto
bigger and better things.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.3 (vs. 3.4 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – January 6, 1997

by Logan Scisco
Last week a plurality of readers wanted to move onto 1997, so that’s where we are headed.  According to Jim Cornette, 1997 is the year that laid the foundation for the late 1990s boom period, which allowed the WWF to regain its place as the top wrestling promotion in North America.  Some of the Nielsen ratings for these Raw’s are not great, but the storylines improve throughout the year and as Cornette attests, created a new product that revolutionized the business.  So, let’s start reviewing the 1997 season of Monday Night Raw.
Vince McMahon and
Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are taped from Albany, New
York
.

-Opening Toughman
Contest:  Mankind pins Owen Hart
(w/Clarence Mason) with a stump piledriver at 7:02 shown:
Owen is subbing for the British Bulldog in this contest
and he and Mankind have an interesting battle between Owen’s Slammy and
Mankind’s chair.  Just so you know, the
Slammy wins.  It’s hard to tell who’s
side the crowd is on, since they hate both guys.  Owen takes a brutal shot to the head with a
cooler near the end of the match and a blind charge allows Mankind to hit a
piledriver for the finish.  These two had
some nice chemistry and the transitions between technical wrestling and
brawling were very smooth.  Rating: 
**½
Jose Lothario and
Shawn Michaels are backstage and Lothario says that Michaels is going to win
the WWF title back at the Royal Rumble. 
Jose’s son Pete reiterates that and Michaels says that he’ll be doing
guest commentary for the Bret Hart-Vader main event tonight.
Footage of Ahmed
Johnson’s altercation with the Nation of Domination on Shotgun Saturday Night
is shown.
The Honky Tonk Man
joins McMahon and Lawler for commentary. 
Honky is in the midst of scouting talent for someone that he can manage.
Doug Furnas &
Philip LaFon defeated The Fake Razor Ramon & The Fake Diesel when Furnas
pins Ramon after a modified Doomsday Device at 9:02 shown:
With the tag team division in flux, this sort of
functions like a number one contenders match for Owen and the Bulldog’s
belts.  The Fake Diesel is clearly the
star of the Fakes, as he brings some much needed energy to the contest after
the Fake Razor puts the crowd to sleep with armbars.  Unfortunately, the crowd isn’t into Furnas
and LaFon at all here and they have very little sympathy for them when the
Fakes do their beat down.  This was one
of those matches that you watch that you want to see end, but it just kept
going and going.  Rating:  **
Hunter Hearst
Helmsley throwing Goldust into Marlena on last week’s show is shown.  Marlena flashing the Sultan on Shotgun
Saturday Night is also shown
.
Bret Hart tells
the announce crew that if Shawn Michaels wants to interfere tonight he can go
right ahead because he’ll be ready for it. 
He also says he’s ready for Vader and then gets angry when Sid’s music
starts during his interview time
.
Jim Ross
interviews WWF Champion Sid, who says that he was born the man and he’ll
overcome the odds and defeat Shawn Michaels at the Royal Rumble.
  Shawn Michaels
comes out to do color commentary and starts dancing and stripping on the
announce table.  This leads to some
unintentional hilarity as Sid starts smiling at his dance and nodding his head.  I think you can find a .gif of this sequence on the Internet.
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to find if Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin could co-exist as tag
team partners.
Dok Hendrix hypes
the next Madison Square Garden card, where Sid will defend the WWF title
against the Undertaker, Shawn Michaels will face Mankind, Goldust collides with
Steve Austin, Bret Hart squares off with Vader, and Ahmed Johnson and Savio
Vega challenge Faarooq and Crush
.
Ahmed Johnson
giving the Pearl River Plunge to a member of the Nation of Domination on a car
on Shotgun Saturday Night is the Starburst Fruit Twists Rewind segment.
Vader pins Bret “the
Hitman” Hart with a Vader Bomb at 8:03 shown:
Jim Cornette is not at Vader’s side, nor will he be from
this point forward, because the Undertaker Tombstoned him on WWF Superstars.  I’m really surprised that they would waste
this pay-per-view caliber match on free TV, but that shows you what kind of
booking funk Vader has been in since SummerSlam.  We get a very physical match in the early
going, with Bret using the stairs, but Vader using his girth in flying at Bret
to generate an advantage.  Bret is able
to block a Vader Bomb and take control, but when the action spills to the
floor, Sid comes and grabs a camera man. 
Steve Austin comes out and gives Bret a Stunner, which the camera fails
to catch, and Vader uses that interference to pick up his biggest victory in a
while.  The victory gives Vader some
needed momentum heading into the Royal Rumble and also continues the
Bret-Austin feud.  This match was also a
little refreshing because Bret tended to win big matches like this on Raw.  This match could’ve been better, but they did
what they could with their limited TV time 
Rating:  **½
The camera
backstage shows Sid beating up Pete Lothario and powerbombing him on a table
before Michaels can get backstage.
The Final Report Card:  The first Raw of 1997 had some good wrestling
and showed that 1997 was going to have more “attitude” than 1996.  The feuds that the WWF was building had
multiple dimensions and the tangled web that encompassed Shawn Michaels, Bret
Hart, Sid, and Steve Austin would help carry the company to an entertaining
year.  This show is an easy thumbs up
because of the good work during the main event and the opener.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.1 (vs. 3.0 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – December 23, 1996

by Logan Scisco

-Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and
Jerry Lawler are in the booth and they are still from somewhere that is
undisclosed.
-Footage of the aftermath of last
week’s Karate Fighters Holiday Tournament is shown.

Opening Intercontinental Championship
Contest:  Hunter Hearst Helmsley
(Champion) defeats “Wildman” Marc Mero (w/Sable) with a Pedigree at 6:11 shown:
Helmsley
can lose the belt here if he gets counted out or disqualified.  Right before the bell rings, Goldust’s theme
plays and he and Marlena take seats in the crowd because Goldust will face the
winner at the Royal Rumble.  They play to
the stipulations, as Helmsley opts not to use a chair so he doesn’t lose the
title and they have a very competitive match. 
There is also some good continuity with the finish, as Helmsley avoids a
Merosault, which got him pinned at the Survivor Series in November, and he hits
the dazed Mero with the Pedigree.  This
is a bit of an upset, considering how many victories over Helmsley in non-title
matches Mero had accumulated up to this point and it was a sign that the WWF
was putting more stock into Helmsley for the future.  This would also constitute the official end
of the Helmsley-Mero feud, as Helmsley now moves on to feud with Goldust and Mero
moves on to a knee injury in a couple of months, which will destroy his career.  Rating:  **½
-After the match, Helmsley gets
on the house mic and tells Goldust that at the Royal Rumble he’s going to show
him how to be a man and then says that he’s going to let Marlena feel what it’s
like to be with a real man.  Goldust
charges to the ring, but Helmsley flees before anything happens.
-McMahon and Ross discuss the
ending of the Bart Gunn-Billy Gunn match on last week’s show.  Bart’s comments about how the incident was an
accident on Livewire are also played.
-Sunny comes down to the ring to
do commentary for our next match.  Her
appearance on MTV’s “Singled Out” is also discussed.
Rocky Maivia pins Salvatore Sincere (w/Jim
Cornette) with a shoulderbreaker at 5:49:
We
get another match between these two, with Sincere having won none of the
matches in this series.  He wasn’t even
able to get a single leg up on Maivia in this small feud.  Sunny fawns over Maivia as this match follows
the Randy Savage template:  Maivia gets
destroyed until making a comeback out of nowhere and finishing Sincere off once
and for all.  Rating:  *½
-McMahon interviews WWF Champion
Sid.  Sid says that in thirty days he’s
defeated Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart, two of the best technical wrestlers on
the planet, and that proves that power is the best skill that he has in his
arsenal.  He runs down his height and
weight and says that isn’t changing.  A really
bland interview, but it made its point.
Pierroth & Cibernetico defeat The New
Rockers when Pierroth pins Marty Jannetty with a top rope splash at 3:51 shown:
Pierroth
and Cibernetico were guest participants in the Royal Rumble when the WWF had a
working relationship with AAA in Mexico. 
Mil Mascaras is shown doing guest commentary at the Spanish announce
table because he will be in the Royal Rumble match.  The crowd doesn’t care about the New Rockers
and they don’t know what to make of the Mexican team, so they just choose to
sit on their hands until Cibernetico blasts Cassidy with a suicide dive in the
finishing sequence.  Pierroth and
Cibernetico didn’t look that good in this match, as they had trouble executing
basic maneuvers like a leapfrog and a sunset flip.  Rating:  *
-Ross interviews Mil Mascaras and
Mascaras quickly discusses the honor of getting to compete in the Royal Rumble.
-McMahon announces that Hunter
Hearst Helmsley, Flash Funk, the British Bulldog, Ahmed Johnson, and the
Undertaker will be in the Royal Rumble match. 
For the wrestling trivia buffs out there, the 1997 Royal Rumble was the
first time since 1993 that the Undertaker was participating in the Rumble
match.
-The Honky Tonk Man comes down to
ringside to do guest commentary.  He’s on
a search to find someone to carry on his legacy because he can’t be as active
in the ring as he used to.
Bret “the Hitman” Hart defeats The Fake
Razor Ramon via submission with the Sharpshooter at 5:58 shown:
Bret’s
always lauded for pulling off miracles in the ring against opponents who
couldn’t carry their weight, but this match proves that you can’t work miracles
all the time.  The problem is that Ramon
dominates three quarters of the match with every type of striking and choking
move you can imagine.  The highlight of
the match is when Bret whips Ramon into the steps, but Ramon stops himself
before hitting them and lightly taps them with his rear end.  McMahon also praises Bret after his victory
for showing a mean streak, but that’s really tough to sell when he gets
dominated by a midcarder.  Altogether,
this is one of the worst Bret matches that I’ve ever seen.  Rating:  ½*
-McMahon asks Shawn Michaels, who
is in the locker room, what he thinks of Bret Hart and Sid and Shawn just acts
like McMahon is asking dumb questions. 
He says he’ll be ready for the Royal Rumble.
-Tune in next week to see Goldust
face Jerry Lawler!
The
Final Report Card:  They really should’ve
just scrapped Bret Hart-Razor Ramon main event and given the Helmsley-Mero
match more time.  For a blowoff to their
feud, both guys deserved more time to tell a story than what they were given on
this show.  Aside from those two matches,
you have a Sincere-Maivia part 15, which was one of the more poorly developed
feuds of the year, and a squash for Pierroth and Cibernetico, where both guys
looked terrible.  Overall, just a bad
show that’s not worth looking for because the one match you may want to see,
Helmsley-Mero, underperforms.
Monday
Night War Rating:  N/A (vs. 3.1 for
Nitro)
Show
Grade:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – December 16, 1996

by Logan Scisco

-Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and
Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from parts unknown.
-Bret Hart comes down to the ring
angry, so Ross interviews him.  Bret says
that the WWF has changed during his absence and that there are no more
rules.  He complains that Shawn Michaels
violated his pledge not to interfere in his title match at In Your House and
says that since there are no rules anymore he will do whatever it takes to get
to the top.  He also announces his entry
into the Royal Rumble and says that he’s going to do guest commentary just like
Shawn Michaels did last night for the next match.

-Opening Contest:  Stone Cold” Steve Austin defeats Vader (w/Jim
Cornette) by disqualification when Bret Hart interferes at 4:30 shown:
This
match was supposed to happen a month ago, but Vader’s injury at the hands of
Yokozuna sidelined him for a few days and he missed a whole month of Raw
tapings.  Talk about having your momentum
halted.  The crowd gets worked in to a frenzy,
as both guys beat the hell out of each other inside of the ring and out into
the crowd.  Austin avoids a Vader Bomb
with a low blow, but Bret gets involved shortly thereafter, locks in a
Sharpshooter, and creates the disqualification. 
It’s too bad Vader was on his way out in 1998, because he could’ve been
some great corporate muscle for Vince to use against Austin.  Predictably, Vader gets angry at Bret and
brawls with him as WWF officials come out to separate them.  This was an entertaining opener, but it was
cut way too short.  Rating:  **½
-Ahmed Johnson’s appearance at In
Your House last night, where he called out Faarooq and told him and the Nation
of Domination that they are going down is shown.
The Fake Razor Ramon & The Fake Diesel
defeat The Godwinns when Diesel pins Phineas with a Jackknife at 6:26:
Hillbilly
Jim isn’t with the Godwinns, but I don’t think the fans care.  In a nice opening spot, Phineas catches the
toothpick Ramon tosses at him, puts it in his mouth, spits it in the air, and
then throws it back at Ramon.  The match
is pretty decent and it follows the usual formula you would expect, with the
Godwinns dominating Razor and Henry becoming the whipping boy of the
heels.  They have a hot finish, where
Henry gives Ramon a Slop Drop, but the referee forces him out and Diesel uses
the opportunity to hit a Jackknife and the heels get the win.  Everytime I see Glen Jacobs give someone a
Jackknife I just pray the guy taking the move doesn’t get killed.  Rating:  **
-WWF Champion Sid is in the
locker room and he says that he doesn’t think anyone can beat him.  He says that he thrives on adversity and he
says that it will be sweet to beat Shawn Michaels in his hometown at the Royal
Rumble.  He warns Jose Lothario not to
show up.
-Shawn Michaels says that fans in
Texas don’t like what Sid did to Jose Lothario at the Survivor Series and that
he’s going to win his title back at the Royal Rumble.  He says that Bret Hart can whine all he
wants, but it won’t do him any good.
Doug Furnas & Philip LaFon defeat TL
Hopper & Dr. X after LaFon pins Hopper after a cobra clutch suplex at 3:16
shown:
Dr. X
is a masked jobber, who Ross says is a newcomer to the WWF, but I don’t think
he has much of a future.  This match is
joined in progress and it allows Furnas and LaFon to showcase their power/submission
style.  I’m surprised they had Hopper and
not X take the pin, since the fans at least knew who Hopper was, but let’s face
it, a jobber is a jobber is a jobber.  Rating: 
*
-Jerry Lawler faces Sable in the
Karate Fighters Holiday Tournament championship match.  Hunter Hearst-Helmsley is with Lawler and
Marc Mero is with Sable.  Helmsley gives
Lawler some tips on using his Karate Fighter, which is pretty funny, and Lawler
takes shots at Sable’s gender.  In the
ensuing match, Sable wins.  Lawler
demands a rematch and when Mero gets in his face, Helmsley attacks him from
behind.  Mero receives a heel beat down
until Goldust, of all wrestlers, makes the save.  As Mero chases Helmsley through the crowd,
Lawler says that Goldust shouldn’t be mad that Helmsley made a pass at Marlena
because he’s gay.  Goldust refutes that
and nails Lawler with a right hand and turns face.  Well there goes Goldust’s character in one
fell swoop.  By the way, is this what
happens when you play Karate Fighters with your friends?  A fight breaks out, you get beaten down, and
a freaky guy saves you from injury?
Billy Gunn and Bart Gunn wrestle to a no
contest at 3:40 shown:
Well
it’s finally time for the Smoking Gunns to explode.  They should’ve just had a blow off where they
gave both guys pistols and filmed a duel segment on a Western movie set.  It would’ve fit their gimmick and only left
one cowboy in the WWF.  One of the worst
blowoff matches of all time follows and is brought to an end when Bart hot
shots Billy and Billy feigns paralysis as his wife rushes the ring and yells at
Bart.  This was a ridiculous attempt by
the booking staff to get ratings.  It
didn’t work.  Grade:  DUD
-Tune in next week to see Bret
Hart face the Fake Razor Ramon!  Also,
Hunter Hearst-Helmsley defends the Intercontinental title against Marc Mero and
he can lose the title by count out or disqualification.
The
Final Report Card:  Billy’s neck injury
was a work and he vanished from WWF TV for a few months after this match.  The first half of the show was really
exciting, with the Austin-Vader match and subsequent Bret beat down serving as a
breath of fresh air.  However, the second
half of the show was the complete opposite. 
The Karate Fighters segment was fine, but the Smoking Gunns blow off
needed to be a lot more and the worked injury angle came off as a bad imitation
of the Shawn Michaels-Owen Hart concussion angle that was done a year prior to
this.
Monday
Night War Rating:  N/A (vs. 3.2 for
Nitro)
Show
Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

The SmarK RAW Supershow Rant–04.16.12

The SmarK RAW Supershow Rant – 04.16.12 Live from London, England Your hosts are Michael Cole & Jerry Lawler WWE title: CM Punk v. Mark Henry Mark Henry doesn’t even get an entrance! At least they do the in-ring introductions to make this seem like a big deal. Punk goes for the legs to start, but Henry easily overpowers him with the CLUBBING FOREARMS. Punk tries the leg kicks again, but he walks into a spinebuster as the fans try to do the “Yes” thing for Punk. Henry bails and Punk hits him with a tope suicida, but he charges and Henry redirects him into the post. Punk keeps fighting and hits a Jeff Hardy-esque railrunning bulldog in a fun spot, but can’t get Henry back into the ring. Punk keeps throwing kicks and the crowd sets up for an epic “OOOOOOOH YES!” finale, but Henry catches the kick and throws Punk into the railing. Ouch. And we take a break. Back with Punk fighting back out of a chinlock and grabbing a chair for some safe shots that get two. Henry just gets MAD and uses the chair himself, but Punk fights back again with shots in the corner…until Henry clotheslines him to cut off another “yes” rally from the crowd. Henry with the bearhug, but Punk elbows out of it and hits a short DDT for two. To the top for a bodypress, but Henry catches him. Punk escapes and hits the high kick, but Henry won’t go down. Mark charges and hits his own chair in the corner, and that puts him down finally, allowing Punk to take the chair TO THE TOP and finish with a chair-assisted Macho elbow at 14:10. Great PPV quality title defense for Punk, as they did the Sting-Vader thing and it was totally effective. ***1/2 Jericho pops up on the screen afterwards and announces that they’re doing a Chicago Street Fight at Extreme Rematches. And he has footage of Punk in a PUB from earlier in the day! Punk claims he was just having fish and chips with a friend. This kind of dragged on a bit, as the alcohol thing just isn’t working for me. Meanwhile, R-Truth gets recruited by Teddy Long. US title: Santino Marella v. David Otunga Oh lord, don’t tell me they’re gonna do this. Otunga gets a powerslam for two and pounds away with forearms, then drops a pair of elbows for two. Santino comes back and slugs away, but Otunga boots him down and hits the spinebuster for the pin, but Santino is in the ropes. Otunga stupidly argues the point, allowing Santino to make the comeback with the Cobra at 2:00. Whew. Otunga looked terrible here, with bad timing on all the big stuff. Meanwhile, Lord Tensai talks to Josh about fear. Brock Lesnar gets a video package, showing his NCAA highlights and UFC photos! Holy crap! At Extreme Rules, it’ll be an Extreme Rules match. Which differs greatly from a Chicago Street Fight, I’m sure. Anyway, great promo from Brock. Zack Ryder v. Kane Kane boots Ryder off the apron and beats the shit out of him on the floor before the bell even rings, and we don’t get a match. Ryder gets escorted out like the geek he is now and Kane moves onto cutting a promo on Orton instead. If this stupid feud isn’t leading to Orton & Orton v. Kane & Paul Bearer, then I give up on wrestling. Meanwhile, Daniel Bryan makes it clear that just because he’s broken up with AJ, that doesn’t mean Kofi Kingston is allowed to talk to her. And he decides that the Lebell Lock is now the Yes Lock, because when the referee asks you if you want to tap, all you can say is “Yes!” Kofi trying not to lose it with Bryan yelling “YES” in his face made this segment. John Cena comes out to whine about how Johnny Ace has been picking on him, and brought in Brock Lesnar to end his career. And at the PPV, he will overcome fear and fight him. On April 29, at Extreme Rules. Thank god, someone who remembers how to hard-sell a damn PPV. Big Johnny interrupts to make an EXTREME RULES match for Cena tonight, and announce a contract signing next week. Big Johnny’s music is magnificent. Daniel Bryan v. Kofi Kingston The crowd goes BATSHIT for Bryan here. Bryan with a northern lights suplex and dropkick in the corner, and he drops a pair of knees and goes to work on the arm. Running knee puts Kofi down for two, but he fights back until Bryan knees him down again. Kofi comes back with a back elbow, but Bryan tosses him. The running knee misses and Kofi fires off a springboard bodypress to the floor, and we take a break. Back with Kofi getting a monkey flip, but Bryan kicks him down and chokes him out. Giant kicks in the corner get two. Bryan goes to a chinlock, but Kofi fights back with kicks of his own and makes the comeback to huge boos. Wacky kick misses and Bryan tries to finish, but Kofi gets the SOS for two. That’s such a stupid finisher. Kofi pounds away in the corner and goes up, but Bryan brings him down and then dodges a bodypress. The YESLOCK finishes at 9:00. Bryan continues the punishment, but Sheamus makes the save and gets booed out of the building. So much for Miami being an aberration, I guess. Really enjoyable match to put Bryan over strong before he jobs to Sheamus at the PPV. *** Brodus Clay v. Dolph Ziggler You’d think Jack Swagger would be the next step up for Clay, not Dolph. Swagger comes in at 0:20 for the immediate DQ. Vicki beats up one of the Funkettes and Brodus jiggles at her. Lame. Meanwhile, Eve meets up with Big Johnny. Epico & Primo v. Big Show & Great Khali Khali pounds on Epico in the corner and hauls Primo in for a big boot, and the champs take a walk, but Show throws them back in for Khali to chop down. Stereo slams finish at 2:00. Useless segment. DUD EXTREME RULES MATCH: John Cena v. Lord Tensai They’re swinging for the fences with Tensai, I see. Cena actually appears concerned for once. Tensai pounds him down and throws boots, then no-sells a suplex and clotheslines Cena down. He gets a pair of corner whips and follows with a splash, allowing Cena to bail and regroup. Tensai beats on him outside the ring and sends him into the stairs, but Cena backdrops him. Cena puts him down with the stairs to the head and they head back in, but Tensai’s man-servant lays out Cena and Tensai gets two off a suplex. He misses a charge and Cena comes back with the usual, but Tensai chops him down off the Five Knuckle Shuffle and hits a senton for two. Tensai with a Herb Kunze armbar, but Cena rolls into the STF, so Otunga runs in and breaks it up. Cena gives him the FU, but he walks into the GREEN MIST OF DOOM and BALDO BOMB at 7:00. Quite the leap from squashing geeks to going over John Cena, but I guess they had to do something drastic. **1/2 The Pulse Hell of a show this week. Two good long matches, John Cena sells a PPV and then does a clean job for a new guy, Rosa Mendes dances, what more do you need? More like this, please.

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – December 9, 1996

by Logan Scisco

-A video package recaps the
Undertaker-Mankind feud.
-Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and
Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are wrapping up the taping in
New Haven, Connecticut.

-Opening Non-Title Contest:  Sid (WWF Champion) defeats Hunter
Hearst-Helmsley (Intercontinental Champion) via count out at 2:56:
These
champion vs. champion matches were always interesting and they did a nice job
establishing an internal pecking order in the promotion.  That said, I don’t agree with the booking
here as Helmsley gets beaten from pillar to post, is powerbombed, and crawls to
the locker room to fight another day.  It
makes Sid look strong, but does little for the Intercontinental title or those fighting for it.  Helmsley continues a RAW jobbing streak,
since Marc Mero has pinned him in several tag contests and he was destroyed
against one of the more popular stars on the roster in this bout.
-Footage of Mankind and the
Undertaker’s boiler room brawl at SummerSlam is shown.
-Goldust (w/Marlena) defeats Bart
Gunn with a chop block at 6:01 shown:
Bart
was getting a small singles push during this period, as he came close to
beating Hunter Hearst Helmsley for the Intercontinental title on WWF Superstars
prior to this show (see my comment about Helmsley above).  This is a paint by numbers television match,
with Goldust seizing the initial advantage and Bart making a comeback after the
break.  Bart hits his finisher, which was
a bulldog at this point, but Goldust kicks out of it and finishes shortly
thereafter to keep himself in the middle of the midcard.  The finish is really strange, but I like
random finishers every once and a while because they condition crowds to react
to the little stuff.  After the bout,
Billy comes out and runs down Bart on the house mic until Bart comes to his
senses and runs him off, thereby continuing that feud.  Rating:  *½
-Highlights of the Undertaker’s
match with Mankind at In Your House: 
Buried Alive are shown.
-Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw and Zebekiah say that “The Real Double J” Jesse James is making a mistake by
agreeing to face them in a handicap match tonight.
-In the Karate Fighters Holiday
Tournament get a quick video package recaps the action.  Yes, back in 1996 a KARATE FIGHTERS
TOURNAMENT got a video package.
-Handicap
Match:  “The Real Double J” Jesse James defeats Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw & Zebekiah after pinning Bradshaw after a heel miscommunication spot at
5:50:
This
is the blowoff to the short feud on TV between these two.  The heels use their numbers to gradually wear
James down and cheat, but when Zebekiah tries to hit James
with his branding iron, in plain view of the referee, James moves and Bradshaw
takes the blow to create the finish. 
After the match, Bradshaw attacks Zebekiah, gives him a lariat, and
brands him to send him back to the USWA, where he would be the last Unified
champion of the promotion before it shut its doors in 1997.  The crowd was not into this contest at all.  After this bout, Bradshaw would be taken off
of TV for a while and repackaged as part of the New Blackjacks with Barry
Windham, who was ditching his Stalker gimmick. 
Rating:  *½
Ross interviews Bret “the Hitman” Hart about
his title match with Sid this Sunday at In Your House.  Bret says things are getting crazy in the WWF
and that he wants the WWF title
-Flash Funk’s Tumbleweed
variation on the Goon on last week’s Raw is the Acclaim Slam of the Week.
-The ending of the
Mankind-Undertaker match at SummerSlam is shown.
-No Holds Barred Match:  The Undertaker pins Mankind (w/Paul Bearer)
with a Tombstone at 9:47 shown:
After
these two have fought in boiler rooms and buried alive matches on pay-per-view,
the WWF decided to throw a bone to the fans and let them see these two fight it
out for free.  There is some nice
continuity in the match as the Undertaker anticipates Mankind’s Pearl Harbor
job when he gets into the ring and seizes the offensive.  However, this is a shorter version of their
Survivor Series bout and honestly, I’m starting to tire of this feud.  Mankind is not looking nearly as strong as he
did three months ago, as the Undertaker has dismantled him on three consecutive
occasions at this point (Buried Alive, Survivor Series, and here).  Foley really wouldn’t find a new direction
for the character until the summer of 1997 when he turned face and feuded with
Hunter Hearst Helmsley.  After the
finish, the Executioner attacks the Undertaker and applies the Asian spike in an attempt to make us buy the In Your House pay-per-view
to see the Armageddon Match between them. 
I feel bad for any fan that did that. 
Rating:  **
Tune in next week
to see the Smoking Gunns explode!
The
Final Report Card:  The
Undertaker-Mankind match probably brought in more viewers than last week’s
show, but it wasn’t a pay-per-view caliber match and came off as underwhelming
for such an intense feud.  It also didn’t
help that the Undertaker beat Mankind clean at the Survivor Series, so he’d
already gotten revenge in storyline terms. 
I still can’t believe that they jobbed Helmsley so quickly to Sid.  I understand making Sid look strong heading
into the In Your House pay-per-view, but they didn’t need to make Helmsley look
like such a paper champion either.
Monday
Night War Rating:  N/A (vs. 3.3 for
Nitro)
Show
Evaluation:  Neutral

The SmarK RAW Supershow Rant–04.02.12

  The SmarK RAW Supershow Rant – 04.02.2012 Johnny Ace gives a peptalk to the roster to start, but CM Punk is already standing up and lipping him off. So Johnny retaliates the best way he knows how: Making matches! Santino v. Jack Swagger v. Dolph Ziggler! CM Punk v. Mark Henry! It’s a new era…again. Live from Miami, FL Your hosts are Michael Cole & Jerry Lawler The Rock opens the show to a pop that blows the roof off the arena. And finally, the Rock has come back home. He notes that the match with Cena gave him a “JHC moment”, as in “Jesus H Christ get this guy off me!” Yet another funny bit as he reminisces about getting cut from the Canadian Football League and noting how much you have to suck for that to happen. Ouch. But true. The crowd pleads with him to stay, but Rock had a vision while dancing the night away in Miami. And that vision is be WWE champion again someday. I wouldn’t bet against him. US title: Santino Marella v. Jack Swagger v. Dolph Ziggler Santino tries running away and gets double-teamed, and the heels take turns humiliating him. Santino manages to backdrop Ziggler out, and we take a break. I should note we just took a break BEFORE the match started. Hopefully they’re loading up the ads early to save time for something awesome. Back with Santino coming back with the cobra, but Ziggler DDTs him. The heels hit a double-team fameasser, but disagree on who should pin him. Swagger turns on Ziggler and eats the cobra as a result at 5:18. Team Vickie go for the beatdown, but Brodus Clay makes the save to finally get a storyline. Santino and Brodus could totally work as a unit. Match was nothing and mostly occurred during the commercial. * LORD TENSAI v. Alex Riley They actually acknowledge Matt Bloom’s past and the crowd chants “Welcome back” and then “A-Train”. As expected, this is a total demolition, as Tensai headbutts him into mush in the corner and hits a butterfly powerbomb and senton. Elbows in the corner knock Riley silly and the BALDO BOMB finishes at 2:50, with the ref stopping the match. Afterwards we get an IRON CLAW, which actually works well with him. Crowd wasn’t really buying into it, but we’ll see where they go with him. *1/2 WWE title: CM Punk v. Mark Henry This is actually an interesting matchup that we haven’t seen before, which makes me wonder why they’d waste it on free TV. Henry easily overpowers Punk and stomps him on the ropes, as the crowd starts a “Yes!” chant (stemming from the Rock’s opening promo) to fire up Punk. That’s gonna get annoying. Henry pounds him in the corner (“I didn’t TELL you to move!”) , but Punk kicks at the knees and gets a DDT for two. Punk with kicks (“Yes! Yes! Yes!”) and a Shining Wizard for two. He goes up and gets caught, but fires back until Henry kicks him in the head to put him down again, thus RUINING the crowd’s climactic “Yes” chant. Vaderbomb misses, but Punk springboards right into a clothesline and we take a break. Back with Henry continuing the abuse with a nerve hold, but a blind charge misses and Punk fires back again and leads up to the high kick as this crowd is just insanely into the “Yes” thing. Punk with the flying elbow and the running knees into the corner, but Henry tosses him out of the ring on the bulldog attempt. And Punk is counted out at 14:10. That’s fine, keeps Henry strong and Punk retains the title. ***1/4 Henry destroys him with a World’s Strongest Slam on the floor afterwards, Johnny comes out and basically promises to make Punk defend the title every week to make his life miserable, and then Jericho comes out of the crowd to dump booze on him and smash a bottle over his head. So not Punk’s best week. And that is how you build sympathy for a babyface. Sheamus joins us for his victory promo, but Alberto Del Rio immediately interrupts. The crowd, in rare form tonight, chants “Si!” for him. And then they talk over ADR with “Daniel Bryan” chants. And then they boo the shit out of Sheamus when he’s talking. Uh oh, they might have shot themselves in the foot with the 18 second thing. ADR basically announces himself as the next challenger, and the crowd boos it and chants for Daniel Bryan. I hope someone was paying attention there. Sheamus lays out ADR with the Brogue Kick, and then we cut back to Bryan in the back watching, which triggers a gigantic babyface pop from the crowd. BACKFIRED. Cody Rhodes v. Kofi Kingston Cody puts Kofi down with a clothesline to start, but gets hit with a bodypress for two. Disaster kick looks to finish, but Big Show interrupts with a Cody Rhodes Wrestlemania moment. And he walks into the kick and gets pinned at 1:40. Yeah, that really makes Kofi look tough. He was beaten in 40 seconds by Cody and then got a fluke win. Meanwhile, Abraham Washington returns, attempting to solicit the services of Mark Henry. I don’t even really remember who he was. Eve comes out and brags about screwing over Zack Ryder. And uh, yeah, that’s about it. The Miz v. Zack Ryder Zack is actually fired up for once, beating on Miz outside and bringing him in for two. Miz boots him out of the corner and goes to a chinlock, but Zack blocks a charge and makes the comeback. Broski Boot gets two. Miz sends him into the post and finishes with the stroke at 2:54. Another day, another job for Ryder. You’d think, hey, both guys are fired up after Wrestlemania and have an issue, maybe do a brawl between them and set something up for a PPV, but no, Miz just puts him away and that’s it. ** John Cena gets the main event interview, once again suffering the wrath of the insanely pumped Miami crowd. He’s not making excuses, and he meant everything he said. The crowd lets him know that he’s a loser. Why don’t they have every show in Miami? He assures us that he will not turn on the fans, and he’ll work even HARDER to be Super-Cena now. So he’s not here to “call out” the Rock, and now the crowd wants Lesnar. Cena does not, he wants the Rock, and he wants to tell him that he’s the greatest superstar in the industry. The crowd still wants Lesnar, so Cena leads them in a “Yes” chant and puts over Daniel Bryan, and he’s still going on about the Rock and how he was the better man. And in other news, the sky is still blue. And instead of the Rock, we get THE BROCK. And Cena eats an F5 to end the show. So there’s that. Lemme say, I basically stopped watching RAW originally because I basically followed Brock Lesnar to UFC, and now he’s back here, so if you think I’m obnoxious with my Rock fanboyism, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The Pulse: Who cares if the show was good or bad, it was an all-time classic thanks to the smarky crowd to end all smarky crowds, and I loved it. Here’s hoping Brock Lesnar continues the exciting new trend of John Cena getting his ass handed to him at the end of major PPVs, because I would buy them all if so. Let’s close with an e-mail that I got while typing up the rant: “Hi Scott,
Blog fodder:  The Miami crowd was extremely vocal this evening, surpassing places like Toronto and Philly as smark central, bizarro world, etc.  They were chanting for Daniel Bryan throughout, including during Sheamus’ promo time, and obviously they sidetracked Cena with the chants for Lesnar.
In the past, the crowds in Toronto and Philly have been cute (Philly more so, maybe because of the legacy…I seem to recall more people than not wanting Toronto crowds just to STFU), but tonight for some reason, it was going overboard, like they crowd was determined that they WOULD be heard, dammit, whether anyone liked it or not.  Granted, the audience is always (or often) right in terms of what they want, but I’d have to say that Brock’s return was somewhat lessened b/c of the chants for him, and Sheamus’s big emergence as World champ was diluted by the crowd’s focus on Bryan. And not that anyone would give a shit about del Rio really, but he had NO chance out there.
So I’m curious as to your and other people’s thoughts regarding when the crowd is so overpowering, since tonight I think WWE almost lost control of the show with the crowd crossing from being a part of it to trying to dictate its pace.”
That’s what happens when you neuter your talent by forcing them to read lines off of scripts instead of training them to lead the crowd and improvise. If Vince can’t handle the crowd like the master showman he always hypes himself up to be, then too fucking bad for him. I hope the crowd shits all over his booking decisions every week until he takes the hint, because it’ll make for really entertaining television and hopefully wake him up. His mouthpieces are always “blah blah blah best fans in the world freedom of speech blah blah blah”, so now they can put up or shut up. Hopefully the latter since the former is unlikely. clip_image001