What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – October 21, 1996

by Logan Scisco

-Vince McMahon narrates a video package concerning Bret Hart’s absence from the World Wrestling Federation.  Jerry “the King” Lawler discusses the in-ring return of Mr. Perfect tonight, as he is scheduled to face Hunter Hearst Helmsley.

-McMahon and Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Fort Wayne, Indiana.

-Call 1-900-737-4WWF to hear why Sid will be the next WWF champion!

-Opening Contest:  Sid beats Owen Hart (w/Clarence Mason) via disqualification after the British Bulldog interferes at 6:40 shown:

They work a small guy vs. big guy formula for this one and Owen spends most of the match working the leg.  However, Sid eventually stops selling it when he makes the comeback.  Sid gets ready to win the match with a powerbomb, but the British Bulldog runs in and assists his partner to draw the disqualification.  The tag team champions try to do damage to Sid, but Shawn Michaels hits the ring and drives them off.  Owen employed a good strategy against a larger opponent, but the long work on the leg went nowhere.  Rating:  *½

-McMahon and Lawler narrate pictures from last night’s buried alive match between the Undertaker and Mankind are shown.  O Fortuna is played in the background for effect.

-The Godwinns (w/Hillbilly Jim) defeat The Smoking Gunns when Henry pins Bart after a Slop Drop at 4:12 shown:

Talk about feuds that never die.  This is meeting #275 or so between these teams this year.  Jim Ross joins the announce team and McMahon tries to get him to reveal what Bret Hart is going to say tonight.  The problem is that if Ross is supposed to be the point man for this segment later in the show, who is going to believe him after that Razor Ramon debacle a few weeks ago?  Ross says that the winner of this match may get a match with Owen Hart and the British Bulldog for the tag team titles.  Haven’t the Gunns had enough shots by now?  They don’t give this one a lot of time, not that I am complaining, and shortly after we return from a commercial break the Godwinns whip Bart into Billy, who is on the apron, and Henry finishes Bart off.  After the match, Billy and Bart argue about the loss.  This was the end of the Gunns-Godwinns feud and is the only time the Godwinns got a clean win over them on television.  Rating:  *

-Kevin Kelly announces that Pat Patterson, Jimmy Snuka, and Vince McMahon Sr. will be inducted into this year’s WWF Hall of Fame.

-Mr. Perfect is shown warming up backstage.  Hunter Hearst Helmsley appears and rams an equipment cart into his knee.

-Ross interviews Bret “the Hitman” Hart about his future.  He says that a rival organization offered him a lot of money and treated him with respect.  McMahon plays the role of an anxious boss sitting at the announce table waiting for an answer until Bret says that he’s going to return to the WWF.  He said that Shawn Michaels beat him fair and square at WrestleMania XII, but says that Michaels gets under his skin.  During this interview, it’s pretty funny to see the guys cheering for Bret and the girls cheering for Shawn.  He says that he will accept the challenge of Steve Austin, who he considers the best wrestler in the company, for the Survivor Series.  The camera cuts to the backstage area, where Brian Pillman is ecstatic about the news, but Austin quickly looks through him and Pillman settles down.  He talks about his nephew who recently passed away and how he promised him that he would make a comeback.  Bret’s promos were always good when he was just himself and wasn’t trying too hard.  This promo also begins to set the stage for Bret’s feud with Shawn that would last until he left the company at the end of 1997.

-Todd Pettengill and Lawler host the Karate Fighters Holiday Tournament segment.  The matchups for this year’s tournament are:  Bob Backlund-Sunny, Dok Hendrix-Sable, Sid-Marlena, and Mr. Perfect-Phineas Godwinn.

-Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Mr. Perfect:

Perfect comes to the ring with Intercontinental Champion “Wildman” Marc Mero, Sable, and WWF President Gorilla Monsoon.  Ross asks Perfect what is going on and Perfect reveals that Monsoon will not allow him to wrestle tonight because of the knee injury he suffered earlier in the show.  Perfect says that Mero has volunteered to take his place, but Helmsley says that the only way that he’ll wrestle Mero is if he puts the Intercontinental title on the line.  Mero says that Perfect helped him win the Intercontinental title so he’ll put the title on the line.  Monsoon makes sure that’s cool and proceeds to sanction the match.

-Intercontinental Championship Match:  Hunter Hearst Helmsley defeats “Wildman” Marc Mero (w/Sable) after a Pedigree to win the title at 6:36 shown:

There probably wasn’t a mark at home heading into this contest that gave Helmsley a chance and I wonder how many smarks turned their TV sets to Nitro when they found out Perfect wasn’t wrestling.  Since there isn’t a lot of time left in the show, both guys go through a quick series of near-falls and rehash some sequences from their previous battles on pay-per-view.  Mero goes through most of his signature spots (slingshot leg drop from the apron and Merosault), but Helmsley inexplicably keeps kicking out and that should’ve been a signal to the crowd that this was not the old Helmsley.  Mr. Perfect gets a hold of a chair after a ref bump, but clocks Mero and Helmsley takes advantage to win his first title in the company.  After the match, Helmsley and Perfect embrace as McMahon calls this the “Perfect hoax.”  The crowd is completely shocked and devastated at the result and Helmsley is now officially out of the doghouse and is resuming his push to the top of the midcard.  Rating:  **½

The Final Report Card:  This was a very important edition of Monday Night Raw as Bret Hart returned to the company and Hunter Hearst Helmsley scored an upset Intercontinental title victory over Mero.  I was always surprised at how quickly they took the title off of Mero and was even more surprised that they had him drop the title to Helmsley, who had won only a handful of televised matches against top talent in recent months.  Perfect and Helmsley were supposed to be partners for a while, but Perfect bolted to WCW shortly after this and they had to change the storyline.  Nevertheless, this was a great ending to the longstanding feud between Perfect and Helmsley.  As a side note, the return of Bret and Perfect was a definite ratings draw for this show, as it came within .6 points of beating Nitro, the closest margin the WWF had produced since August 19th.  The WWF would not manage to pull this close again until February 3, 1997.  Our next review will take up to November 4th (featuring the Austin-Pillman gun angle) since my copy of October 28th will not play.

Monday Night War Rating:  2.6 (vs. 3.2 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up