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