The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 09.06.96
Between changing blogs and playing Arkham Knight, my time has kind of been taken up by other stuff, but hopefully I can get back in the groove and finish up 1996 in reasonable time. On the subject of Arkham, did they find playtesters who were like “I’m tired of swinging around the city like a superhero and I want to do stealth sections in a tank to grind the game to a halt every hour” and then base the game around them? Because that’s what it feels like sometimes, even though it’s typically great otherwise.
This was actually a Friday Night RAW to be accurate, as they moved it because of tennis or something. So it’s CHAMPIONSHIP FRIDAY! I heard they were going to call it Belt Friday but Vince made them change it.
Taped from Wheeling, WV
Your hosts are Kevin Kelly & Jim Ross
Intercontinental title tournament, first round: Sid v. Hunter Hearst Helmsley
Sid overpowers Hunter to start as JR notes that Sid isn’t going to “redefine the fireman’s carry” in the ring. That’s one way to put it. Sid puts his head down and gets caught with a neckbreaker, and Hunter goes to work while the fake crowd noise goes wild. Sid quickly comes back with a chokeslam while Mr. Perfect wanders down to ringside, but Sid casually powerbombs and pins Hunter at 3:35 anyway. A complete squash made worse by the canned heat droning in the background non-stop for the entire match. ½* Perfect steals Hunter’s valet again here, setting up their eventual angle in November.
Meanwhile, Ahmed Johnson updates us on his kidney problems.
Intercontinental title tournament, first round: Steve Austin v. Marc Mero
Brian Pillman joins us on commentary, looking coked out of his MIND. But he does have a cool tiger shirt. Pillman rants about inside information on the future of Bret Hart while JR promises that he also HUGE news that will shatter the WWF forever. As it turned out, Pillman was the one with the real scoop. They trade headlocks and we take a break after some near-falls are exchanged, but return with Austin hitting a stungun for two. That’s one that would still work as a finisher these days. Mero comes back with a corner clothesline and pounds away, and a double axehandle gets two. Kneelift gets two. Austin finally just clocks the ref for the DQ at 8:12, so Mero advances. What a shit finish that was. Kind of a nothing match, as they’ve wrestled each other a bunch of times in 96 by this point. **
Mark Henry chats with Jerry Lawler, and the King has no respect for Mark and wants to challenge him to a match. The fake crowd noise thinks this is just great! Everyone else, not so much. Hopefully this Henry guy won’t stick around for long. The Observer reports on another Olympian in talks: “Kurt Angle, who won the gold medal at 220 pounds in the Olympics, received an offer from Linda McMahon. Angle has also recieved offers from at least two Japanese promotions, at least one of which was either RINGS or UWFI.” The next paragraph talks about them also scouting Achim Albrecht, the guy who became Brakkus, and if you can’t guess which guy they ended up signing out of the two, you have no business reading this.
Mankind v. Alex “The Pug” Porteau
Mankind pounds away in the corner while Jim Ross announces that, yes, Diesel and Razor Ramon are on their way back to the WWF. According to reliable sources. We’ll get to that one eventually, of course. The Pug goes down to the Mandible Claw at 2:00. Was Porteau supposed to be some kind of play on Rick Steiner, I wonder?
Meanwhile, Sid and a group of Special Olympians win a tug of war with an elephant. That should have been a 3.5 rating right there.
Speaking of ratings, Mr Bob Backlund introduces The Iron Sheik, who will be mentoring the guy who will be the next WWF champion, apparently. This ended up being the Sultan, as the angle piles disappointing payoff on disappointing payoff. Sheik rants about nothing and they just cut it off and go to commercial.
WWF World title: Shawn Michaels v. Goldust
Shawn does his wacky antics, but Goldust quickly dumps him and allows Marlena to blow smoke in his face so that Goldust can take over. We take a break and return with Mankind off in a dark corner somewhere backstage while Goldust holds a chinlock. Shawn makes the comeback, but Goldust rolls through a flying bodypress and we suddenly take another break with a minute left in the show. Back with Shawn dropping the flying elbow, but he stops to go after Marlena and Goldust gets the Curtain Call, which Shawn flips out of before finishing with a moonsault press at 11:47. The crowd was super-hot for some reason, but the match was edited all to hell and apparently went much longer in the arena. **1/2
As usual, a really nothing-happening show filled with increasingly desperate ratings ploys like dropping Bret Hart’s name and the fake Razor/Diesel bullshit.