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

What the World Was Watching: In Your House: It’s Time

Vince McMahon and
Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from West Palm
Beach, Florida
.

Free for
All:  Rocky Maivia defeats Salvatore
Sincere (w/Jim Cornette) via disqualification when Jim Cornette interferes at 6:01:
Sincere is Cornette’s latest attempt to get back at
Maivia, who refused his managerial services. 
Both men get in an equal amount of offense, with the veteran Sincere
leading the young Maivia through the match. 
Sincere nearly scores the upset by rolling through a flying body press,
but he eats a shoulderbreaker shortly after this, leading to Cornette charging
into the ring and causing the disqualification. 
This match did what it needed to do in giving Maivia a victory and was
your typical Free for All fare.  Rating: 
**
Now onto the
pay-per-view, where Jim Ross joins the announce team…
Flash Funk (w/the
Funkettes) pins Leif Cassidy with the Funky Flash Splash at 10:32:
This is Funk’s singles pay-per-view debut and Cassidy is
now a singles star in the promotion, although he’ll need a new gimmick in order
to get over.  I’m not sure what it was
with the WWF thinking that tag team taking on old team names and putting “new”
before them was a good idea.  The Rockers
and the Blackjacks were already legendary teams and the copy is not going to be
as good as the original.  McMahon can’t
keep himself from dancing during Funk’s entrance and Ross gives a hilarious
critique of it at ringside.  They go
through some fun sequences on the floor, where Cassidy belly-to-belly suplexes
Funk over the top rope and follows with a springboard somersault plancha and
Funk follows minutes later with a springboard plancha.  This is a textbook example of how the WWF
could have built its light heavyweight division, since both guys bust out lots
of high risk moves, but mix in some technical wrestling throughout.  Cassidy was expected to lose here, but he
went down fighting and enhanced his credibility in this contest.  Rating:  ***½
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear Steve Austin ranting about the WWF!
Kevin Kelly
interviews WWF Tag Team Champions Owen Hart & the British Bulldog and Kelly
asks the Bulldog about Steve Austin. 
Owen says Austin doesn’t matter and accuses Kelly of trying to distract
the Bulldog prior to their tag team title defense tonight
.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  Owen Hart & The
British Bulldog (Champions w/Clarence Mason) defeat The Fake Razor Ramon &
The Fake Diesel when the Bulldog pins Razor after Owen hits Razor with a
spinning heel kick at 10:44:
This was the pinnacle of the Fake Diesel/Fake Razor
pairing in storyline terms, as they would disappear from the company after the
Royal Rumble.  Pierroth and Cibernetico
from AAA show up in the aisle, which would appear to set up a confrontation with
the winner of this match for the titles, but that never took place.  After Pierroth and Cibernetico go back to the
dressing room, Steve Austin comes out and he and the Bulldog tussle on the
arena floor until WWF officials separate them. 
With these distractions done, the match settles into a good groove, as
the Fake Razor and Fake Diesel proceed to give the tag team champions a run for
their money with several effective double teams of Owen.  The four way brawl to end the match is well
executed and the crowd pops big the finish, when Owen saves the Bulldog from a
Razor’s Edge with his spinning heel kick and helps his team retain the
titles.  After the match, Austin comes
back out and chop blocks the Bulldog. 
Looking back, this match could’ve resulted in a more sustained push in
the tag division for the Fake Razor and Fake Diesel, but their gimmick was
already past its expiration date.  Rating: 
***
The Nation of
Domination is shown giving some dictation to the WWF technology crew who is
operating the America Online chat rooms
.
McMahon interviews
Ahmed Johnson, who says that he’s lost everything he’s had since he got injured
at the hands of Faarooq.  Faarooq and the
Nation of Domination appear in the crowd and Faarooq calls Ahmed an Uncle Tom.  Ahmed in response leads the crowd to chant
“Your going down” to Faarooq.
The announce team
runs down the Royal Rumble card.
A video package
recaps the Hunter Hearst Helmsley-Marc Mero feud
.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  “Wildman” Marc Mero
(w/Sable) defeats Hunter Hearst Helmsley (Champion) via count out at 14:06:
Helmsley now has “Ode to Joy” as his theme music, which
is much more effective for an entrance than his original theme.  During the pay-per-view, there was satellite
trouble during this match and McMahon had to be going apoplectic at ringside
since the satellite feed went out after these two faced off at In Your
House:  Beware of Dog earlier in the
year.  Earl Hebner has one of the better
spots of this match, as he gets Helmsley to cower in the corner when Helmsley
tries to push him around.  Mero’s offense
carries the match, as Helmsley has still not perfected the art of keeping the
crowd engaged while he is on the offensive. 
Both men counter each other’s finishers and in a nice piece of continuity,
Helmsley kicks out of a slingshot into the ring post and a Merosault, moves
that Mero used to beat him in two prior pay-per-view encounters.  We get a ref bump and Helmsley’s attempt at
using the title belt as a weapon is thwarted by Mero.  Goldust comes out and accidentally nails Mero
with the title belt when he’s aiming for Helmsley, but then nails Helmsley
after the miscue and Mero has just enough energy to get back into the ring for
another unsatisfying finish over Helmsley. 
After the match, Mero gives Helmsley a Wild Thing for a moral
victory.  The middle of the match
dragged, but the closing sequences were well done and brought up the rating of
the match.  Rating:  **½
Dok Hendrix
interviews WWF Champion Sid, who says that Bret Hart doesn’t scare him because
Shawn beat Bret and then he beat Shawn like a dog, which makes him the better
man
.
A video package
recaps the Undertaker-Executioner feud
.
Armageddon Rules
Match:  The Undertaker defeats The
Executioner (w/Paul Bearer) with a Tombstone at 11:31:
This is technically a Texas death match, where you can
pin your opponent and after the fall is counted your opponent has ten seconds
to get to their feet and resume the match. 
After the Undertaker has been in a life and death struggle with Mankind
over the last six months, this feud just appears silly by comparison.  The match is quite sad, as Terry Gordy can’t
really hold his share of the contest, so Mankind has to run out and make this a
de facto handicap match.  Mankind takes
all of the big bumps, as the Undertaker throws him through the In Your House
set, thereby disproving to the marks that there’s an actual house there.  Just when this couldn’t get sillier, some
independent wrestlers dressed as security personnel come out and subdue Mankind
and eventually put him in a strait jacket. 
The Undertaker throws an Executioner double into a water embankment on
the outside of the arena and beats up Mankind, who tries to charge him in the
strait jacket.  The Executioner then
returns and we get a funny visual that has water spraying out of his boots as he takes the Tombstone. 
The match was a complete wreck and it never used the stipulations.  However, Mankind did make some of it
entertaining so I’ll give it ½* for that alone. 
Thankfully the Undertaker is moving onto better things after this.  Rating:  ½*
Hendrix interviews
Bret Hart, who says that he’s ready to face Sid.  Shawn Michaels theme music starts playing
during his interview time and he becomes irate and screams about how much he
hates Michaels
.
WWF Championship
Match:  Sid (Champion) pins Bret “the
Hitman” Hart after a powerbomb at 17:04:
Shawn Michaels is the guest commentator for this match,
as he will face the winner at the Royal Rumble. 
Michaels commentary really enhances the match, since he just shoots all
over Bret and Sid and helps to codify his new persona of not caring what anyone
thinks of him or his actions.  Going into
this match, I gave Bret no chance to win. 
The match lacked a strong build and I didn’t think the WWF would give
Bret the title when he had bigger issues to settle with Steve Austin and Sid
still had to finish his issues with Michaels. 
My young mind also recognized that it made very little sense to run Bret-Michaels
at the Rumble, when you could do it at WrestleMania and make more money.  Bret works the back for nearly ten minutes
and Sid shouldn’t be able to walk at all after that point, but when Sid goes on
the offensive he forgets all about the back. 
Austin makes his second sneak attack of the evening by chop blocking
Bret on the floor and the British Bulldog comes out to fight Austin back to the
locker room.  To really show you the
contrast in psychology, Bret sells the one move by Austin better than
Sid sells ten minutes of work on his lower back.  Of course, Sid also doesn’t even target
Bret’s leg when he’s hobbling after Austin’s attack.  I mean you don’t have to be a rocket
scientist to realize that when your opponent has one bad wheel that you should
zone in on it and finish him off.  They
botch a sequence into a reversed turnbuckle, so they have to redo it so Bret
ends up eating the steel.  Sid pushes
Michaels near the commentary table and when Michaels gets on the apron to yell
at Sid, Sid whips Bret into Michaels and hits the powerbomb to get the
victory.    The psychology was blown
throughout the match and as a result, I just couldn’t get into it.  The finish was well done, but after the
turnbuckle botch I thought things fell apart. 
Rating:  **¼
After the match,
Bret blames Shawn for costing him the match and assaults him on the floor.  Michaels then jaws with some fans at ringside
as the pay-per-view goes off the air.
The Final Report Card:  This show was a filler pay-per-view, since
there were no title changes and there were lots of “throwaway” matches at the
top of the card.  The only terrible match
on the card is the Armageddon Rules match, but if you like train wrecks it’s
worth a look.  The show was an
entertaining two hours and for the price that you used to pay for these shows,
it was a worthwhile investment.
Attendance: 
5,708
Buyrate: 
0.35
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

Assorted April PPV Countdown: 1997

  (2012 Scott sez:  I  was tempted to go back and redo this one, but sadly this tape was one of the lost souls in the Great Videotape Purge Of 2005 and didn’t make the transition over to DVD.)  The Netcop Retro Rant for In Your House:  Revenge of the Taker. – On Monday night, Bret Hart said he beat Steve Austin every time they met.  Not true.  (Well, the man’s a stroke victim, you have to expect some memory problems.)  – Live from Rochester, New York. – Your hosts are Jim Ross, Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler. Free For All:  The Sultan v. Flash Funk.  The Sultan is hot off jobbing to Rocky at WM13, and Flash is hot off jobbing to Billy Gunn. Flash still has the Funkettes, demonstrating that he’s two years before his time. (I guess I was going for the Godfather joke there, although really Funk was in fact 15 years before his time given that Brodus Clay swiped his whole act.)  The match is nothing, as they trade some stuff and then Flash tries a rana off the top, but gets it blocked into a powerbomb for the pin.  * for a couple of nice spots, but no wrestling to speak of. – Another great Freddy Blassie promo starts us out. – Opening match, WWF tag team title: Owen Hart & Davey Boy Smith v. The Legion of Doom.  The Harts are fresh off re-joining with Bret Hart (and not earning many fans in the US by doing so) and the LOD are…well…the LOD. Animal controls Owen with some power stuff to start.  The champs take over, and Hawk no-sells a bunch.  Then Owen gets beat up by the LOD.  Then Hawk gets beat up by the champs.  It’s all as exciting as it sounds.  A heel miscommunication spot leads to the hot tag, and Animal hits a powerslam off the top rope…for the pin!  The LOD regains the tag titles and…oh, wait.  Here’s another referee, pointing out that the wrong man was pinned, so the match continues. Hey, the ending sucks already and we’re not even done yet.  Okay, we’re on again, and Animal is getting double-teamed by the heels.  Owen misses a splash off the top rope and Hawk gets the hot tag.  Doomsday Device, but Bret Hart runs in for the DQ.  Okay, that sucked.  *1/2 for the whole mess.  (I feel like I short-changed this one, commentary-wise, but holy shit was this a terrible opener.  Hawk was just a mess at this point.)  Intercontinental title match:  Rocky Maivia v. Savio Vega.  Rocky attacks early with a couple of ARMDRAGS OF DOOM and Faaarrrrrooooqqqq (is that spelling right?) joins us for racist commentary.  Rocky continues working on the arm. Savio takes over with a leg lariat and a VULCAN NERVE PINCH OF DEATH!  FFFFFFffaarrroooqqqqq challenges Ahmed Johnson to a match for the *next* PPV.  (That’s actually the kind of long-term planning that they could use more of, outside of Rock-Cena’s one year build of course.)  More devastating restholds and choking from Savio, thrilling the crowd.  Rocky hits a fisherman’s suplex for two, but Savio retaliates with a superkick.  Rocky hits the hurricane DDT out of nowhere and gets two.  Rocky makes the superman comeback.  Rock Bottom only gets two.  Savio tosses him to the floor, nailing Crush in the process, so Crush gives him the heart punch for the countout.  Lame match with a dumb ending.  1/2*  The Rocky angle was mercifully killed a couple of weeks later as Owen Hart won the IC title on a RAW.  The Nation does a big beatdown on future leader Rocky, but Ahmed Johnson makes the save.  (One would have to assume that this was setting up Rocky & Ahmed v. NOD in some form so they could pull the trigger on the Rocky turn, and the injury just delayed it a couple of months.)  – Dok interviews Marc Mero and Sable, and in the background Steve Austin goes into the bathroom.  Suddenly, you hear a bunch of yelling and screaming, and Davey Boy Smith emerges with a length of steel, bent at the middle.  He does a HILARIOUS double-take upon seeing the camera, and Owen follows, shoots another hilarious look at the camera, and they run off.  Funny stuff.  (See, this was the kind of anarchic fun that Vince Russo was GOOD at, and it freshened up the product because it was totally different than anything they had done before with the dull backstage interview segments.  Of course now that’s ALL they do.) “Double J” Jesse Jammes v. The Honky Tonk Man’s protege.  Yes, HTM spent months hyping his newest find, and we get…Rockabilly Gunn.  Oh you didn’t know that this match sucked?   Your ass better call somebody! (They should totally feature this match on the Are You Serious YouTube show.  Also, you should follow @WWEPuppetH, because I fucking love puppet HHH.)  Honky does a quick interview to explain the nonsensical Gunn turn.  The crowd is just gone, not caring a whit about either guy.  Astonishingly, Gunn and Jammes would be tag champions by the end of the year, and the most over tag team in WWF history within another 6 months.  (And then the geniuses at Titan Tower thought “Hey, if they’re doing great as a team, we can split them up and make TWICE AS MUCH off them!  We’ll make BILLIONS!”)  Rockabilly gets a two off a Rocker Dropper.  This match made the Netcop Busts compilation for sheer historical value of the stupidity.  Massive stalling and showboating from both guys here.  Jesse makes the big comeback with a bunch of punches.  Rockabilly goes for a suplex and Jammes reverses to a small package for the pin.  An awful match with an ending that made zero sense of several levels.  On the bright side, it sewed the seeds for the New Age Outlaws.  DUD  (God, I must not have been incredibly sick of Billy Gunn at that point.)  – ECW’s Lance Wright interviews the Hart Foundation about the Steve Austin attack. – Really weird promo for the title match. – WWF World title match:  The Undertaker v. Mankind.  What is with Mick main eventing the show after Wrestlemania, anyway?  (I don’t know, Seinfeld, you tell me.First here, then Unforgiven, then Backlash (before his injury changed that).  (And what’s with the WWF not being able to make up their damn mind about what their PPVs are named?  Do you know how tough it is to remember whether “Unforgiven” was in April or September or December or whatever in every given year?  I’m 37 years old, I can barely remember that Smackdown is on Fridays without my DVR taping it for me.)   Mick threw a fireball at UT to set this up.  Of course, the stuff that UT ended up doing in later years makes that look pretty tame by comparison. (The stuff that UT did to Mankind just one year after this makes that look tame by comparison, in fact.)  Vince notes how strange “WWF champion Mankind” would sound.  (WWF Champion anyone would sound weird now.)  Heh, just wait. They brawl outside the ring, with Mankind taking a couple of decent bumps.  UT continues the punishment with his ropewalking clothesline. Paul Bearer distracts the ref and Mankind nails UT with the urn for a two.  Mankind takes control with a devastating nerve hold.  They fight outside the ring again and Mankind whacks him with a pitcher of water. He drops an elbow from the second rope to the floor on Undertaker. Nasty.  Back in the ring with a piledriver for two.  Jerry Lawler asks Vince what the WWF suits would think of WWF champion Mankind, and Vince replies that “I’m sure they’ll find some way to market it”.  Socko, anyone? (Yeah, that’ll put butts in seats.)  Ref gets bumped and Mankind applies the Mandible Claw.  Another ref runs in and gets Clawed.  Fat Paul throws in a chair, but Mankind prefers a larger weapon and bring in the stairs.  UT dropkicks it back in his face, then just kills him with a chairshot.  Mankind gets tied in the ropes, losing his mask, and then takes the bump of the year (well, until Badd Blood), as UT rams the stairs into his head, and he flies off the apron, into the Spanish table, head-first.  Ouch.  Back in the ring, a chokeslam gets two and the tombstone gets three.  Wild match.  ***1/2 After the match, UT beats up Bearer while Mankind struggles to light a fireball.  UT grabs it from him and fumbles with it some more, finally setting it off in Bearer’s face.  This would be the angle that causes Bearer to change his hair color and eventually introduce the world to….Kane.  (Why DID he dye his hair back to black in 2004?)  Steve Austin v. Bret Hart.  (See, Austin was getting hot at this point, so to capitalize, at Wrestlemania they did the famous match where he got distracted by his girlfriend and pinned in 18 seconds by the babyface.  Oh, no, wait, that would be retarded.  My mistake.)  Slugfest to start.  Austin quickly gets control and nails Bret with an axehandle off the apron to the floor. Bret to the stairs.  Austin mocks Hart in the ring, then tosses him to the stairs again.  He tosses Bret over the railing, into the crowd, then hits an axehandle off the railing.  Bret is bumping like mad here.  Back in the ring and Austin with a “fuck you elbow” for two.  Bret grabs a chair it backfires, as Austin takes it from him.  Ref gets bumped and Hart smashes the chair into Austin’s knee a few times.  Vince talks about Bret’s ego.  Bret hooks the ringpost figure-four, then smashes a chair into Austin’s knee a few times.  Austin’s knee is gone.  Austin comes back with a series of elbows, but Bret simply kicks him in the knee to retake control. He rips off Steve’s faithful knee brace and works on the knee some more.  Back in the ring and Austin with a low blow to counter.  Dammit, that could cause a serious GROIN injury, the likes of which we’ve never seen before!  Ahem.  (That was referencing Bret’s WCW run at the point when I was writing this rant, as he was doing this weird heel thing where he was claiming a groin injury to get heat.)  Austin chokes out Bret with his tape.  The Fuck You Elbow misses and Austin lands on his knee. Bret, of course, goes back to it.  Bret hits a figure-four.  Austin reverses and they fight outside the ring again.  Austin drops Bret on the railing and clotheslines him from the apron to the floor.  Back in the ring and Austin with the CROSS CORNER WHIP OF DEATH.  Bret should do that bump in every match.  (He does.)  It gets two.  Austin tries a piledriver but his leg gives out.  Bret goes back to the knee.  Austin drops him facefirst on the top turnbuckle for two.  He goes for the Stunner but Bret makes the ropes.  Bret with his own low blow.  Bret with the superplex.  Bret goes for the Sharpshooter, and Austin grabs his wayward knee brace and whacks Bret with it, allowing him to reverse to his own Sharpshooter!  But then Owen and Davey Boy run in.  Austin breaks the move, chases them off, and tries the Sharpshooter again, but Davey Boy smacks Austin with a chair for the DQ.  **** Huge brawl breaks out and Austin fights them off.  The next night on RAW, all hell would break loose, triggering the biggest feud of the year. The Bottom Line: Sure, the first portion sucked, but for a two hour show you can’t complain too loudly about the co-main events.  Many people on RSPW called this one of the worst shows of all time, but it’s not even close. (Many people on RSPW were fucking morons.)  Definitely worth the rental to check it out a couple of years later for the good matches and interesting history. Very mildly recommended.

Kyle’s News: Cena Turning Heel at Wrestlemania 28?

Bret Hart had an interview with Rob McNichol for The Sun‘s podcast One Sided Ring. He gave his predictions on the top four matches of Wrestlemania and had some interesting thoughts on Cena vs Rock, including him saying he wouldn’t be surprised if Cena turned heel.

We’ve talked about Cena turning heel since 2007.  If Cena was going to turn heel, this would be the best place to do so. The Rock being screwed in his hometown would start a possible riot. It would be nearly as crazy as when Hulk Hogan turned heel.

 The WWE has been foreshadowing his heel turn a bit with his more edgy character and him sounding like Stone Cold Steve Austin’s when he was telling the Rock “I will do ANYTHING to win” Lastly, it would explain why they’re trying to make the match 50-50 and that is so Cena has fans to turn on. 

If Cena turned heel, the product would become  more interesting. The most complained about thing about the  WWE is its by-the-book shows, and since Cena has been the top-dog of the company, he takes a good brunt of the frustration because of it. In other words, Cena as heel would make the product seem to the fans less cookie-cutter and more fresh.

On the other hand, a John Cena heel turn chances are would hurt WWE’s merchandising sales. John Cena has been the cash cow of the WWE for about 7 years. They’ve had wrestlers that came close, but nobody has surpassed him.  Plus, with the new “Cena sucks shirts”, it’s almost like he’s heel already. 

And with all due respect to CM Punk, he’s not ready to be the cash cow of the WWE because he’s not yet over enough and neither is Randy Orton. Thus, there’s nobody right now who I could think of that could become the cash cow of the WWE, but that doesn’t mean Cena cannot elevate a babyface to cash cow status After all, a great heel can always make a babyface more popular.  

Whether it will work or not, mostly comes down to how well or poorly the turn’s executed and then booked, though he’s somewhat tweener  right now so I personally don’t see them turning him because they’re getting money from the people who like him and dislike him. .

Thoughts?

Wrestlemania Countdown: 26

(Someone had requested a repost of this, and since I can’t retrieve the 2012 Scott sez version from the other server at the moment, you’ll have to settle for the boring unadorned version.)  The SmarK Rant for WWE Wrestlemania 26 – Live from Phoenix, AZ – Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler & Matt Striker Unified tag team titles: Big Show & The Miz v. R-Truth & John Morrison Morrison dropkicks Miz to start and the faces hit legdrops for two. Truth hits Show with a leg lariat, but walks into a fallaway slam. Show pounds Truth down and goes up for a pump splash, but Morrison kicks him down and Truth gets two. Morrison comes in and runs wild on Miz, but misses Starship Pain, giving MIz two. Morrison counters the Stroke for two, but Show tags himself in with the KO punch to finish at 3:22. Really, that was it? *1/2 Ted Dibiase v. Cody Rhodes v. Randy Orton Not sure how this is a triple threat match when it seems to be more clearly a handicap match. Orton dumps Rhodes , but gets dropkicked by Dibiase to set up the Legacy beatdown. They take turns pounding away on him, but Orton tosses Dibiase for a comeback. Rhodes with an Alabama Slam for two, but Legacy erupts for some reason and brawls to the floor. They look like such geeks here. Orton comes back with clotheslines and powerslams, but Dibiase stops the RKO. Rhodes accidentally nails Dibiase with a pescado, and Orton brings both geeks back in with the DDT. Orton sets up to finish Rhodes, but then changes his mind and punts him instead. RKO kills Dibiase dead at 8:58. Holy cow did Legacy ever look like the jobbiest pair of jobbers who ever jobbed there. This didn’t work at all, but the crowd was very into Orton so there was that. ** Meanwhile, Santino Marella bites into a magic Slim Jim that turns Jillian Hall into a series of wacky people. Yeah. Money In The Bank: Kofi Kingston v. MVP v. Evan Bourne v. Jack Swagger v. Shelton Benjamin v. Matt Hardy v. Dolph Ziggler v. Kane v. Drew McIntyre v. Christian Kane is sporting an impressive shiner before we even start. Big trainwreck to start and everyone climbs the ladder until Swagger and Hardy are left. Kofi knocks them off, but Christian monkey-flips him into a ladder in the corner. Christian climbs, but gets zig-zagged to the mat. Ziggler goes up and MVP brings him down. Kane brings MVP down, but all the black guys gang up on him in the corner. Shelton clears the ring and climbs, but Swagger knocks him off, then Bourne comes off the top onto him. Bourne looks eerily like Eddie Guerrero in standard definition. Weird spot with Christian and Matt sandwiching Swagger between two ladders while he stands under the main ladder. That leads to Christian fighting it out with Bourne on a ladder ramp. Evan wins that and climbs, but Hardy takes him down, then takes a sick backdrop bump onto the horizontal ladder. Everyone gets car crashed to the floor and Kane beats on Dolph in the ring. A couple of poor ladders get murdered, so Kofi takes a broken one and uses it as stilts in the most innovative spot I’ve seen in years. Sadly, Drew comes in after doing nothing, gets rid of Kofi, and climbs. Matt Hardy thankfully gets rid of him and makes his attempt, but Christian makes the save. They fight it out and Christian brings him down with the inverted DDT. Christian and Swagger fight for it next, and that gives Swagger the case at 13:39, after he takes forever to unhook it. Well that’s a waste of a briefcase as it stands. This was the same as it always is, a bunch of cool spots and sick bumps. ***1/4 Next month: Extreme Rules! Presented by KFC! EXTREME CHICKEN! HHH v. Sheamus HHH being this far down the card worries me. They trade shots in the corner and HHH goes for the Pedigree, but Sheamus backs off quickly. Sheamus pounds away, but HHH hits him with a suplex and kneedrop for one. Sheamus bails, and HHH clips him on the way back in and follows with the figure-four. Sheamus makes the ropes quickly to break, and sends HHH into the stairs as Matt Striker tries to get “Ace of Spades” over as a new nickname for HHH. Really? Is this a thing now? He’s already the King of Kings, does he need the whole damn deck of cards? Sheamus takes over with a pair of backbreaker variations and stomps a mudhole in the corner. Axehandle gets two. Sheamus slugs away for two and goes to a chinlock, but HHH makes the comeback. He goes up and Sheamus tries to bring him down with the Razor’s Edge, but HHH slips out. Sheamus gets a pump kick for two. HHH gets the spinebuster for two. Sheamus bails to the apron and gets a pump kick there, but KICK WHAM PEDIGREE finishes him at 12:05. I’d say Lawler’s “70000 people just witnessed a classic!” was a bit much, but this was fine. **1/2 CM Punk v. Rey Mysterio Rey is paying tribute to the Na’vi tonight instead of his usual superhero garb. I was looking forward to an Iron Man outfit, too. Oh well. Punk attacks, but gets taken into the corner. Rey hangs himself in the Tree of Woe and gets abused by Serena, and Punk drops him onto the stairs for good measure. Back in, Rey comes back with a bodypress, but Punk turns it into a powerslam for two. Punk ducks a low kick and rolls him up for two. Punk with the high kick for two. Rey comes back with a somersault DDT off the top, which looked pretty cool. Punk blocks the 619 and Rey escapes the GTS. Rey makes it to the apron and goes up with a frog splash, but that misses and Punk gets two. High knee in the corner sets up a powerbomb attempt, but Rey reverses into the 619. Serena throws herself on Punk to stop it, but Rey hits it on the other side instead and finishes with the big splash at 6:30. Kind of surprised they’d blow it off so fast without even going down the “Rey goes straight edge” road. It was also pretty short, like everything else tonight thus far. I did enjoy the “big stadium match” feel they gave it. **3/4 No Holds Barred: Bret Hart v. Vince McMahon Really there’s only one possible finish here. So Vince decides to stack the deck beforehand, bringing out the entire Hart family as his enforcers. Well I’d expect that from Diana and Bruce and especially Smith, no doubt, but I though Natalya was made of sterner stuff. And Bruce is the special referee, still wearing his stupid sunglasses. But Bret reveals that they were already onto him and now the Harts will screw Vince over. So Bret attacks and chokes Vince down, and the Hart Dynasty immediately drags Vince out and kicks his ass. They add a Hart Attack from the top rope to the floor, and back in Bret drops elbows on him. Vince bails again and the Harts drag him back out from under the ring, but now he’s got a crowbar. Bret gets it away from him without much trouble and beats him down (“That’s an international object!” declares Striker), and he teases a Sharpshooter before going back to the crowbar for a bit. And then he stomps on Vince’s nuts a few times, which always adds an extra star to the rating. Bret grabs a chair and takes a seat while Vince recovers, then lays waste to Vince with the chair. Like, Rock-Austin from WM 17 tribute time. Never let it be said that when it comes time for Vince to get his ass kicked, he doesn’t go out and give it his all. And finally the only thing left is to make him tap to the Sharpshooter at 11:09. Everyone said all they wanted as Bret kicking Vince’s ass for 10 minutes and then making him tap, and that is what was delivered to the letter. If this was in Canada the heat would have been off the charts the whole time. But it wasn’t. Wasn’t really a match and it’s not fair to rate it as such, but it was about *1/2 given the physical conditions of both guys. Smackdown World title: Chris Jericho v. Edge Edge puts him down with a pair of shoulderblocks as Cole notes Jericho is a six-time World champion. That can’t be right, can it? Edge gets a flapjack and goes for the spear early, but Jericho bails to escape and heads back in for a baseball slide. Back in with a Jericho backdrop suplex for two. We hit the chinlock and Jericho pounds away in the corner, but misses a blind charge. He comes back with a suplex onto the top rope, but misses a dive and gets sent into the announce table. Back in, they fight on the top and Edge faceplants him for two. He goes up with a flying bodypress, rolled through for two. Jericho tries the Walls, but Edge powers out and gets a sunset flip for two. Jericho tries the Codebreaker and gets sent into the corner to block, but Edge tries a spear and Jericho turns it into the Walls. Edge reverses into a small package for two. Lionsault misses and Edge gets the Edge-O-Matic for two (am I the only one in the world who still calls it that?), but Jericho with an enzuigiri for two. Edge hits the Impaler for two. Jericho gets a forearm off the top and sets up for his own spear, but walks into Edge’s boot. Edge tries his own, but walks into the Codebreaker. Well really, he waited for the crowd to chant “spear”, what did he expect? That gets two. So now we get to the meat of the match, as Jericho starts stomping on the Achilles tendon and then gets the Walls again (wouldn’t an anklelock be more apropos?), then turns it into a half-crab on the injured ankle. Edge channels his inner Dan Hardy and makes the ropes, then rolls up Jericho for two. Cactus clothesline puts them both on the floor, and the ref is bumped. Jericho nails Edge with the “championship” and gets two. IT’S A FUCKING BELT, MICHAEL COLE! A championship is an abstract concept, that is a BELT. Codebreaker finishes clean at 15:43. Really? That was actually looking it was going to be a good 20-25 minutes once Jericho started working the ankle. Oh well, Edge is boring as a babyface anyway. They really need to have the Royal Rumble winner actually win one of these years, though. This wasn’t “close the show” great, but it was never boring and the finish totally made sense. I’m also glad to see Jericho get his first Wrestlemania win since, what, 2001? ***3/4 Edge snaps afterwards and spears Jericho off the announce table, showing that he’s a sore loser as well as a choker. Layla, Vickie Guerrero, Maryse, Michelle McCool & Alicia Fox v. Beth Phoenix, Eve Torres, Mickie James, Gail Kim & Kelly Kelly Man, Vickie is the like best sport ever. All the good girls beat on Vickie in the corner (triggering an impressive screech from Vickie) and then all the women get to do their finishers. This leaves Beth with Vickie, as Vickie has a panic attack in the corner before getting rescued by McCool. The heels actually send Vickie to the top for a “hog splash” that gets the pin on Kelly at 3:20. I’m sure Eddie was flattered to have that tribute paid to him. DUD – Quick question: Why are they using an Audioslave song from 6 years ago as an “official theme”? Did they overpay usage rights and need to burn off some airplay or something? The band doesn’t even exist anymore! RAW World title: Batista v. John Cena Cena’s ridiculous entrance this year: A military honor guard. Because he once played a former Marine in a movie. Batista looks trimmed down and it works well on him. They do the lockup battle and Batista gets a headlock, but Cena reverses to his own. Batista clotheslines him out of the corner and pounds away, then adds a boot from the floor. Cena fights back with a suplex and a bulldog for two. He goes for the FU early, but Batista reverses into a sloppy DDT for two. Big boot gets two. We hit the chinlock and they slug it out until Cena backdrops out of a facelock. Cena makes the comeback (7 minutes in?) with his usual run of stuff, but it turns out that Batista CAN see him, and hits him with a spinebuster. Cena reverses into the STF, but Batista makes the ropes without too much trouble. Batista spears him for two. They fight on the top and Batista goes down, allowing Cena to hit the five knuckle shuffle off the top. Batista comes back with the powerbomb for two. Cena tries the FU, reversed by Batista, reversed again by Cena to the FU for two. The crowd is going apeshit for this stuff. They’re really doing the big superhero v. supervillain match well. Cena goes up and tries the legdrop, but he lands in a spinebuster. Batista goes for the bomb, but Cena rolls through into the STF. Batista taps at 13:29 to give the title back to Cena. These guys have mad chemistry together, especially in a big match situation like this one. **** – The two title matches would make this a thumbs up show on their own, so anything that the main event delivers will just be gravy. Streak v. Career: Undertaker v. Shawn Michaels Shawn fires away with chops in the corner, but eats Snake Eyes and a big boot. Corner clothesline and Taker tries to go Old School, but Shawn pulls him down. A second try hits, however. Taker pounds away in the corner and sets up for the tombstone, but Shawn slips out and fights for a crossface. Taker fights that off, but nearly takes the superkick before slipping away. Shawn decides to work on the leg in the corner, but Taker slugs him down and clotheslines him to the floor. That sets up a tope attempt, but Shawn slides in and clips the knee to stop him. Taker tosses him and runs his back into the post, then drops the guillotine legdrop on the apron. Back in, Shawn takes him down with a figure-four, but that only seems to make Undertaker really, really mad. He reverses the move and Shawn releases, and they slug it out. Shawn puts him down and kips up, but it’s a chokeslam for two. Tombstone is reversed into an anklelock by Shawn, so I guess that’s why Jericho couldn’t have it. Taker kicks him in the head a few times to break, but Shawn clotheslines him to the floor and follows with a moonsault. Taker catches that and tombstones him on the floor, and you have to figure that’s not good for Shawn’s career. An EMT runs down to check on Shawn, but Taker beats him up and rolls Shawn back in for two. Last Ride, but Taker’s knee gives out and Shawn gets two. Looked bad. Shawn goes up and drops the elbow, but Taker gets his knee up to block and Shawn takes the bump on his ribs. Ouch. Taker tries Hell’s Gate and Shawn rolls it over for two. They both struggle up and Shawn superkicks him for two. Shawn cues up another one, but Taker catches it and counters to the Last Ride for two. That was a giant near-fall. A frustrated UT tosses Shawn and preps the announce table, but Shawn escapes a powerbomb and superkicks him onto it instead. And given that it’s Wrestlemania, Shawn can’t resist a moonsault from the top, which puts Taker through the table. He even hits the knee, which is either a great bit of psychology or a lucky miss. Back in, Shawn adds one more superkick…for two. This match needs Jim Ross so badly. Shawn wants another one, but Taker chokeslams him. No cover, as he opts for the tombstone instead, and that only gets two. The crowd is just going insane now. Taker’s had it and he pulls the straps down, but he stops because he doesn’t want to end Shawn’s career. Just awesome facials from Shawn, as he gives Taker’s throat-cutting gesture right back to him, and then slaps Taker. And that’s it, as Taker tombstones him extra-super-duper hard for the pin at 23:57 to end it. If this was Shawn’s last match (which it’s not), he went out with another Wrestlemania classic. However, I just don’t think it was as good as last year, because expectations were so ridiculously high. ****1/2 Now hopefully he doesn’t go to TNA and job to Hogan again. The Pulse: Everything that was supposed to deliver, delivered, and the main event was suitably epic and had the clean finish we needed. Huge thumbs up this year!

The First Montreal Question Of The New Blog!

Hey Scott,
Watching the Hart/Michaels rivalry DVD, there’s a point where Bret mentions he had already worked well beyond his contractually-obligated dates and could have legally told Vince to take his PPV and shove it, but didn’t out of good faith (or something, can’t remember exactly why he said he didn’t end up doing that).
It’s the first I’ve ever heard of this and, if true, doesn’t it give him all the leverage in the world (not even mentioning the creative control clause) to dictate, at least partially, how he wanted to go out? Would he have been black-balled in the business for no-showing, especially in Bret’s alleged case where he had already satisfied the terms of his contract and, throughout the years in general, was typically one of the true iron men when it came to working an insane number of dates?
Just curious as to your thoughts on that comment in general since, like I said, I’d never heard that part of it brought up by anyone before, but it seems to possibly paint Bret in a bit of a better light in hindsight.

Well, here’s the tricky thing with that particular contract dispute.  Yes, Bret had creative control over his character, and yes, Bret was only obligated to work a certain number of dates and thus had a huge amount of leverage.  However, you’ll recall that Bret punched Vince in the face after the events went down, which meant that Vince had a very solid case for assault and they would have spent the next millennium tied up in court counter-suing each other, and in the end both decided that the Mexican standoff wasn’t worth pursuing.  Would he have been blackballed?  Doubtful, he was already going to WCW, it’s not like Vince could resent him any more.  People have done WAY worse and gotten back in Vince’s good graces sooner.