What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – November 25, 1996

by Logan Scisco

-Vince McMahon, Jerry “the King” Lawler, and Jim Ross are in the booth and are in New Haven, Connecticut.

-Opening Contest:  Bret “the Hitman” Hart defeats Owen Hart (w/Clarence Mason) via disqualification after Steve Austin interferes at 9:25 shown:

You can’t opt for a better opener than this, but there’s nothing that stands out about this one being any better than average.  They work in some basic wrestling before the commercial break and Bret eventually gets Owen ready for the Sharpshooter before Steve Austin interferes.  Austin tries to Pillmanize Bret’s ankle, but the British Bulldog runs out and makes the shocking save.  Owen isn’t happy about this, but puts those feelings aside when Austin whacks the Bulldog with the chair.  This sowed the seeds of dissension between Owen and the Bulldog, which led to some nice comedic moments in early 1997, and also defined Austin’s character as someone who just didn’t care about anyone but himself.  Rating:  **

-McMahon recaps the end of the Owen-Bret match that we just saw.

The Executioner (w/Paul Bearer & Mankind) defeats Freddie Joe Floyd via submission with the Asian spike at 3:02:

We’re treated to a rare Executioner singles match here, which is meant to build him up for the Undertaker at the next In Your House pay-per-view.  The Executioner is facing the Undertaker in an Armageddon match, but we don’t get any clarification about what the rules are going to be for that.  Floyd actually manages to score a near-fall in this match, but he’s quickly finished off with the Asian spike.  Gordy needed a better finisher than that, but the WWF was not going to let him use the powerbomb when Sid was already doing it.

-McMahon interviews Shawn Michaels and Jose Lothario, who are in Lothario’s home in San Antonio, Texas.  Lothario says he feels guilty for costing Michaels the WWF title at the Survivor Series and that he’s going to have a procedure done on his heart.  Michaels says that he’s lost his edge since he won the WWF title and he lays into Sid for attacking Lothario at the Survivor Series.  A pretty intense interview, but it went on too long.

-Sunny comes out to do guest commentary and McMahon dances with her as we cut to a commercial break.  1990s McMahon would really get a kick out of Brodus Clay.

-In the Karate Fighters Holiday Tournament we have semi-final action between Sable and Sunny.  So did these two brawl before or after they filmed this segment?  Sunny wins, which makes me happy, but the referee discovers that Sunny put gum on the foot of her Karate Fighter and reverses the decision.  In response, Sunny punches out the referee, which gets an accompanying side effect.

-Rocky Maivia pins Salvatore Sincere with a shoulderbreaker at 4:27:

Sunny says she has her eyes on Maivia, showing that she does indeed have an eye for talent.  Tom Brandi holds the distinction of being Maivia’s first major opponent in the WWF, as these two had a small feud on WWF TV through the rest of 1996.  Maivia’s offense is very basic and doesn’t show a lot of flavor, which is why the crowds began to turn on him.  Maivia gets the victory after Sincere’s blind charge sends him shoulder-first into the ring post.  This could’ve been a good match on the house show circuit, but they needed to speed it up for TV.  Rating:  *½

-Marc Mero tells Vince McMahon that he isn’t worried that Hunter Hearst Helmsley sitting at ringside for his match with Billy Gunn tonight.  Sable is sporting a more realistic look here, as she isn’t wearing as much makeup and has straightened her hair.

-Call 1-888-WWF-SHOP to get a piece of the 1996 Survivor Series ring for $59 (plus $8 shipping and handling)!

-Call 1-900-737-4WWF to find out where Mr. Perfect is.  That’s a ripoff because they can just tune into Nitro to find that out!

-Hendrix says that he heard the British Bulldog tell Owen Hart that he wants a piece of Steve Austin.

-Flash Funk’s 450 splash on a jobber is the Acclaim Slam of the Week.

-“Wildman” Marc Mero (w/Sable) defeats Billy Gunn via disqualification when Hunter Hearst Helmsley, who is doing guest commentary, interferes at 7:58 shown:

This is a decent contest that serves as filler for the larger Mero-Helmsley feud.  They make Billy look strong, as he is able to kick out of some of Mero’s trademark moves like the slingshot leg drop from the ring apron.  However, the crowd doesn’t buy Billy as a threat or even on Mero’s level and quite frankly I don’t either after watching WWF television for the entire year of 1996.  It would’ve helped Billy’s case to have a better gimmick and to squash some jobbers for a month.  The WWF had conditioned fans to accept the fact that tag team wrestlers were well below their singles counterparts, so tossing Smoking Gunn Billy into the mix and expecting the crowd to respond to him in matches like this is ludicrous.  Helmsley ruins the finish, with Mero ready to hit the Wild Thing, and this prompts Jake Roberts to come out and come to Mero’s aid, thereby setting up a possible tag team match next week.  Rating:  **

The Final Report Card:  Another acceptable wrestling episode of Raw, so no real complaints.  The WWF was having some decent ring work carry the shows, but the problem during this period was that outside of a handful of guys, the crowd didn’t care about the roster.  For example, there was a dead crowd for the Mero-Billy match that ended the show and that’s a reminder that you can put on great wrestling, but if the fans don’t feel any connection to the talent then they aren’t going to tune in and watch.

Monday Night War Rating:  2.1 (vs. 3.1 for Nitro)

Show Grade:  Neutral

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – November 25, 1996

by Logan Scisco

-Vince McMahon, Jerry “the King” Lawler, and Jim Ross are in the booth and are in New Haven, Connecticut.

-Opening Contest:  Bret “the Hitman” Hart defeats Owen Hart (w/Clarence Mason) via disqualification after Steve Austin interferes at 9:25 shown:

You can’t opt for a better opener than this, but there’s nothing that stands out about this one being any better than average.  They work in some basic wrestling before the commercial break and Bret eventually gets Owen ready for the Sharpshooter before Steve Austin interferes.  Austin tries to Pillmanize Bret’s ankle, but the British Bulldog runs out and makes the shocking save.  Owen isn’t happy about this, but puts those feelings aside when Austin whacks the Bulldog with the chair.  This sowed the seeds of dissension between Owen and the Bulldog, which led to some nice comedic moments in early 1997, and also defined Austin’s character as someone who just didn’t care about anyone but himself.  Rating:  **

-McMahon recaps the end of the Owen-Bret match that we just saw.

The Executioner (w/Paul Bearer & Mankind) defeats Freddie Joe Floyd via submission with the Asian spike at 3:02:

We’re treated to a rare Executioner singles match here, which is meant to build him up for the Undertaker at the next In Your House pay-per-view.  The Executioner is facing the Undertaker in an Armageddon match, but we don’t get any clarification about what the rules are going to be for that.  Floyd actually manages to score a near-fall in this match, but he’s quickly finished off with the Asian spike.  Gordy needed a better finisher than that, but the WWF was not going to let him use the powerbomb when Sid was already doing it.

-McMahon interviews Shawn Michaels and Jose Lothario, who are in Lothario’s home in San Antonio, Texas.  Lothario says he feels guilty for costing Michaels the WWF title at the Survivor Series and that he’s going to have a procedure done on his heart.  Michaels says that he’s lost his edge since he won the WWF title and he lays into Sid for attacking Lothario at the Survivor Series.  A pretty intense interview, but it went on too long.

-Sunny comes out to do guest commentary and McMahon dances with her as we cut to a commercial break.  1990s McMahon would really get a kick out of Brodus Clay.

-In the Karate Fighters Holiday Tournament we have semi-final action between Sable and Sunny.  So did these two brawl before or after they filmed this segment?  Sunny wins, which makes me happy, but the referee discovers that Sunny put gum on the foot of her Karate Fighter and reverses the decision.  In response, Sunny punches out the referee, which gets an accompanying side effect.

-Rocky Maivia pins Salvatore Sincere with a shoulderbreaker at 4:27:

Sunny says she has her eyes on Maivia, showing that she does indeed have an eye for talent.  Tom Brandi holds the distinction of being Maivia’s first major opponent in the WWF, as these two had a small feud on WWF TV through the rest of 1996.  Maivia’s offense is very basic and doesn’t show a lot of flavor, which is why the crowds began to turn on him.  Maivia gets the victory after Sincere’s blind charge sends him shoulder-first into the ring post.  This could’ve been a good match on the house show circuit, but they needed to speed it up for TV.  Rating:  *½

-Marc Mero tells Vince McMahon that he isn’t worried that Hunter Hearst Helmsley sitting at ringside for his match with Billy Gunn tonight.  Sable is sporting a more realistic look here, as she isn’t wearing as much makeup and has straightened her hair.

-Call 1-888-WWF-SHOP to get a piece of the 1996 Survivor Series ring for $59 (plus $8 shipping and handling)!

-Call 1-900-737-4WWF to find out where Mr. Perfect is.  That’s a ripoff because they can just tune into Nitro to find that out!

-Hendrix says that he heard the British Bulldog tell Owen Hart that he wants a piece of Steve Austin.

-Flash Funk’s 450 splash on a jobber is the Acclaim Slam of the Week.

-“Wildman” Marc Mero (w/Sable) defeats Billy Gunn via disqualification when Hunter Hearst Helmsley, who is doing guest commentary, interferes at 7:58 shown:

This is a decent contest that serves as filler for the larger Mero-Helmsley feud.  They make Billy look strong, as he is able to kick out of some of Mero’s trademark moves like the slingshot leg drop from the ring apron.  However, the crowd doesn’t buy Billy as a threat or even on Mero’s level and quite frankly I don’t either after watching WWF television for the entire year of 1996.  It would’ve helped Billy’s case to have a better gimmick and to squash some jobbers for a month.  The WWF had conditioned fans to accept the fact that tag team wrestlers were well below their singles counterparts, so tossing Smoking Gunn Billy into the mix and expecting the crowd to respond to him in matches like this is ludicrous.  Helmsley ruins the finish, with Mero ready to hit the Wild Thing, and this prompts Jake Roberts to come out and come to Mero’s aid, thereby setting up a possible tag team match next week.  Rating:  **

The Final Report Card:  Another acceptable wrestling episode of Raw, so no real complaints.  The WWF was having some decent ring work carry the shows, but the problem during this period was that outside of a handful of guys, the crowd didn’t care about the roster.  For example, there was a dead crowd for the Mero-Billy match that ended the show and that’s a reminder that you can put on great wrestling, but if the fans don’t feel any connection to the talent then they aren’t going to tune in and watch.

Monday Night War Rating:  2.1 (vs. 3.1 for Nitro)

Show Grade:  Neutral

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – November 18, 1996

by Logan Scisco

-Vince McMahon, Jerry “the King” Lawler, and Jim Ross are in the booth and they are live from New Haven, Connecticut.

-Opening “Tough Man” Contest:  “Stone Cold” Steve Austin defeats Mankind (w/Paul Bearer) via disqualification after the Executioner interferes at 9:00 shown:

Yokozuna injured Vader’s shoulder last night at the Survivor Series so Mankind is taking his spot.  This match continues the WWF’s move away from strictly having face vs. heel matchups and this is billed as a “tough man” contest, where both men are fighting for pride.  That works for me.  Ross does a fantastic job selling the intensity of the match on commentary and we get lots of wild brawling that goes into the crowd.  The crowd senses that this is something different than what they usually get at a WWF event and they eat it up with a silver spoon.  This is a pure war of attrition that is unfortunately cut short by the Executioner’s interference when it appears that Austin might have the match won after getting a near-fall from his second rope elbow drop.  The Undertaker runs down to make the Executioner and Mankind flee, but Austin clotheslines the Undertaker over the top rope instead of saying thank you.  Rating:  ***

-We get a replay of the Austin-Undertaker encounter at the end of the Austin-Mankind match.

-Ahmed Johnson takes a seat in the crowd and Sunny comes down to the ring.  She welcomes Faarooq, the leader of the Nation of Domination, to the ring.  PG-13 does the cool NOD rap as Faarooq makes his entrance with Clarence Mason.

-Rocky Maivia’s performance at the Survivor Series is the Acclaim Slam of the Week.

-Faarooq (w/Nation of Domination) pins Savio Vega after PG-13 hit Savio with a 2×4 at 8:10 shown:

Savio has a chance to get revenge on Faarooq here for beating him in the first round of the Intercontinental title tournament a couple of months ago, but the announcers focus is on Faarooq’s new Nation of Domination cult of personality.  Faarooq and Savio play to each other’s strengths, with Savio taking great bumps from Faarooq’s power offense and Faarooq allowing Savio to get enough hope spots to break up the monotony of long beat down segments.  There is a scary part of the match where Savio goes for a superplex and either he or Faarooq botch something and dangerously fall off the top rope and to the floor.  I’m surprised Faarooq didn’t break his neck.  Although the pacing of this was slow, both guys gave a great effort and ended up looking good as a result.  Rating:  **½

-After the match, Ahmed Johnson runs down to ringside, takes out PG-13, grabs the 2×4 and forces Faarooq and Clarence Mason to flee into the crowd.  Ahmed gets on the house mic and says that Faarooq is going down, which the crowd chants with him.  Scott makes fun of Ahmed’s enunciation in this segment, but Ahmed is easily understandable here.

-In the Karate Fighters Holiday Tournament Sunny defeats Bob Backlund, which sets up an interesting semi-final match with Sable.

-McMahon narrates photographs of last night’s Sid-Shawn Michaels title match at the Survivor Series.  McMahon reflects on Michaels title reign and takes a few subtle shots at the fans who booed him last night at Madison Square Garden.

Doug Furnas & Philip LaFon defeat Leif Cassidy & Bob “Spark Plugg” Holly after LaFon pins Cassidy following a side suplex out of a cobra clutch at 5:56 shown:

Owen Hart and the British Bulldog appear in the split screen and say that they were impressed with Furnas and LaFon last night, but that they weren’t ready so the win that the newest tag team in the WWF scored was worthless.  It’s really odd that they paired Cassidy and Holly together, but after Jannetty’s injury at the pay-per-view they probably didn’t have a lot of reliable options at their disposal.  The roster was thin enough at this stage of 1996.  Furnas and LaFon look more comfortable than they did last night at the pay-per-view, which is understandable.  Everyone worked well together here, but the whole purpose of the contest was to showcase Furnas and LaFon, so it’s not like this match was very competitive or ever in doubt.  Rating:  **

-Call 1-88-WWF-SHOP to get a piece of the 1996 Survivor Series mat for $59!  I guess these didn’t sell well because the WWE doesn’t do this today.

-Ross interviews WWF Champion Sid.  The crowd showers Sid with applause and Sid says that Jose Lothario intervened in the match last night and when he stepped into the game, he deserved every bit of what he got.  Sid says he’d give Shawn Michaels a rematch and that he will be a fighting champion on behalf of the people.  Sid addresses Bret Hart, who he will face at In Your House, and accidentally says “Bretman” instead of “Hitman” and then corrects himself.  Ross should’ve just ended the interview after the people part because the part about Bret didn’t flow with the rest of the interview.

The Final Report Card:  People tend to complain that Raw didn’t offer a lot of great ring work during this time period, but this show proves that generalization wrong.  With a new influx of talent like Furnas and LaFon, and Flash Funk, the WWF was bolstering the number of guys on the roster who could go out and put on solid matches.  This is a great wrestling show, with guys giving it their all in each match and doing everything they could to entertain the crowd.

Monday Night War Rating:  2.4 (vs. 3.2 for Nitro)

Show Grade:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – November 18, 1996

by Logan Scisco

-Vince McMahon, Jerry “the King” Lawler, and Jim Ross are in the booth and they are live from New Haven, Connecticut.

-Opening “Tough Man” Contest:  “Stone Cold” Steve Austin defeats Mankind (w/Paul Bearer) via disqualification after the Executioner interferes at 9:00 shown:

Yokozuna injured Vader’s shoulder last night at the Survivor Series so Mankind is taking his spot.  This match continues the WWF’s move away from strictly having face vs. heel matchups and this is billed as a “tough man” contest, where both men are fighting for pride.  That works for me.  Ross does a fantastic job selling the intensity of the match on commentary and we get lots of wild brawling that goes into the crowd.  The crowd senses that this is something different than what they usually get at a WWF event and they eat it up with a silver spoon.  This is a pure war of attrition that is unfortunately cut short by the Executioner’s interference when it appears that Austin might have the match won after getting a near-fall from his second rope elbow drop.  The Undertaker runs down to make the Executioner and Mankind flee, but Austin clotheslines the Undertaker over the top rope instead of saying thank you.  Rating:  ***

-We get a replay of the Austin-Undertaker encounter at the end of the Austin-Mankind match.

-Ahmed Johnson takes a seat in the crowd and Sunny comes down to the ring.  She welcomes Faarooq, the leader of the Nation of Domination, to the ring.  PG-13 does the cool NOD rap as Faarooq makes his entrance with Clarence Mason.

-Rocky Maivia’s performance at the Survivor Series is the Acclaim Slam of the Week.

-Faarooq (w/Nation of Domination) pins Savio Vega after PG-13 hit Savio with a 2×4 at 8:10 shown:

Savio has a chance to get revenge on Faarooq here for beating him in the first round of the Intercontinental title tournament a couple of months ago, but the announcers focus is on Faarooq’s new Nation of Domination cult of personality.  Faarooq and Savio play to each other’s strengths, with Savio taking great bumps from Faarooq’s power offense and Faarooq allowing Savio to get enough hope spots to break up the monotony of long beat down segments.  There is a scary part of the match where Savio goes for a superplex and either he or Faarooq botch something and dangerously fall off the top rope and to the floor.  I’m surprised Faarooq didn’t break his neck.  Although the pacing of this was slow, both guys gave a great effort and ended up looking good as a result.  Rating:  **½

-After the match, Ahmed Johnson runs down to ringside, takes out PG-13, grabs the 2×4 and forces Faarooq and Clarence Mason to flee into the crowd.  Ahmed gets on the house mic and says that Faarooq is going down, which the crowd chants with him.  Scott makes fun of Ahmed’s enunciation in this segment, but Ahmed is easily understandable here.

-In the Karate Fighters Holiday Tournament Sunny defeats Bob Backlund, which sets up an interesting semi-final match with Sable.

-McMahon narrates photographs of last night’s Sid-Shawn Michaels title match at the Survivor Series.  McMahon reflects on Michaels title reign and takes a few subtle shots at the fans who booed him last night at Madison Square Garden.

Doug Furnas & Philip LaFon defeat Leif Cassidy & Bob “Spark Plugg” Holly after LaFon pins Cassidy following a side suplex out of a cobra clutch at 5:56 shown:

Owen Hart and the British Bulldog appear in the split screen and say that they were impressed with Furnas and LaFon last night, but that they weren’t ready so the win that the newest tag team in the WWF scored was worthless.  It’s really odd that they paired Cassidy and Holly together, but after Jannetty’s injury at the pay-per-view they probably didn’t have a lot of reliable options at their disposal.  The roster was thin enough at this stage of 1996.  Furnas and LaFon look more comfortable than they did last night at the pay-per-view, which is understandable.  Everyone worked well together here, but the whole purpose of the contest was to showcase Furnas and LaFon, so it’s not like this match was very competitive or ever in doubt.  Rating:  **

-Call 1-88-WWF-SHOP to get a piece of the 1996 Survivor Series mat for $59!  I guess these didn’t sell well because the WWE doesn’t do this today.

-Ross interviews WWF Champion Sid.  The crowd showers Sid with applause and Sid says that Jose Lothario intervened in the match last night and when he stepped into the game, he deserved every bit of what he got.  Sid says he’d give Shawn Michaels a rematch and that he will be a fighting champion on behalf of the people.  Sid addresses Bret Hart, who he will face at In Your House, and accidentally says “Bretman” instead of “Hitman” and then corrects himself.  Ross should’ve just ended the interview after the people part because the part about Bret didn’t flow with the rest of the interview.

The Final Report Card:  People tend to complain that Raw didn’t offer a lot of great ring work during this time period, but this show proves that generalization wrong.  With a new influx of talent like Furnas and LaFon, and Flash Funk, the WWF was bolstering the number of guys on the roster who could go out and put on solid matches.  This is a great wrestling show, with guys giving it their all in each match and doing everything they could to entertain the crowd.

Monday Night War Rating:  2.4 (vs. 3.2 for Nitro)

Show Grade:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – November 11, 1996

by Logan Scisco

-Vince McMahon and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and are wrapping up the Raw taping in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Opening WWF Tag Team Championship Contest:  The British Bulldog & Owen Hart (Champions w/Clarence Mason) defeat “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels & Sid (w/Jose Lothario) after the Bulldog pins Sid after Shawn Michaels accidentally Sweet Chin Music’s his partner at 10:14 shown:

Steve Austin appears in the split screen and says that he isn’t going to apologize for his actions on last week’s show.  They use the standard tag formula, with Sid and Michaels dominating the first few moments and Owen and the Bulldog pounding on Michaels after cheating.  The only thing that stands out is the ending, where Michaels goes to hit the Bulldog with Sweet Chin Music, but the Bulldog ducks and Sid eats the move for the finish.  You would’ve expected more here from three of the four participants, but they didn’t do a good job selling the idea that Sid and Michaels had a chance to walk out as the champions.  Today, Sid and Michaels probably would have won the titles heading into Survivor Series, but the WWF had a little more respect for the tag titles and was unwilling to hot shot them onto an awkward pairing just for the hell of it.  As another side note, this is another big victory for Owen and the Bulldog in a tag team match against Shawn Michaels this year, but they never could get the best of him in a singles match when the WWF title was on the line.  Rating:  **

-Call 1-900-737-4WWF to find out who the mystery partner for Yokozuna’s team will be at the Survivor Series this weekend!  This was SUCH a letdown back in 1996.

-Kevin Kelly is backstage and he says that WWF officials have placed Sid and Shawn Michaels in separate locker rooms.

-Dok Hendrix gives the Survivor Series report.

Mankind (w/Paul Bearer & the Executioner) defeats Freddie Joe Floyd via submission with the Mandible Claw at 2:41:

Floyd continues to play the role of a jobber to the stars, as he jobs to Mankind in less than three minutes.  The WWF really wasted Tracy Smothers with this gimmick, but I’ve said that more times than I can count.

-After the match, the lights in the arena go out and a cage with a dummy of Paul Bearer hanging upside down is lowered.

-Kelly announces that Killer Kowalski and the Valiant Brothers will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year.

-Rocky Maivia video package.  Maivia was the WWF’s first third generation superstar.

-Kelly interviews Sid backstage.  Sid says that he’s tired of giving Shawn Michaels the benefit of the doubt and that he will end Michaels title reign at the Survivor Series.

-Steve Austin says that he’s going to give Bob Holly a quick wrestling lesson and tells Bret Hart that he’d better watch the match so that he’s ready for their match at the Survivor Series.

-The Karate Fighters Holiday Tournament sees Sable defeat Dok Hendrix in first round action.

-Shawn Michaels appearance on the Regis & Kathy Lee show is shown.

-Kelly interviews Shawn Michaels in his locker room.  Michaels tells Sid that tonight was a mistake, but even though it was a mistake it showed that he can knock Sid out with his finishing move.

-“Stone Cold” Steve Austin pins Bob “Spark Plugg” Holly with the Stone Cold Stunner at 6:01 shown:

Although Holly is also a jobber to the stars at this stage of his career like Freddie Joe Floyd, he was higher on the pecking order and he’s allowed to work in some significant offense against Austin, which includes his hurricanrana and dropkick.  Of course, the outcome of this match wasn’t in doubt, but you had two veterans that gave it a good effort considering the time constraints and their positions on the card.  Rating:  *¾

-Austin walks to Bret Hart’s locker room, but decides not to charge in.  Austin yells through the door that he’s going to make Bret suffer at the Survivor Series this Sunday.

-Tune in next week to see Steve Austin face off with Vader!

The Final Report Card:  A disappointing first match set the stage for the rest of the show, but this provided a good build for the Survivor Series pay-per-view.  It’s nice to look back at the beginnings of the Bret-Austin feud and see how their first encounter at the pay-per-view was a straight wrestling match and didn’t need any gimmicks to sell it.  Oh, the good old days.

Monday Night War Rating:  2.5 (vs. 3.7 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: WWF Monday Night Raw – November 4, 1996

by Logan Scisco

-Vince McMahon and Jerry “the King” Lawler recap the Bret Hart-Steve Austin feud and tell us that Kevin Kelly will be live from Brian Pillman’s home in Walton, Kentucky, where Austin is expected to make an appearance this evening.

-Kelly gives us an overview of the situation at Pillman’s home:  Pillman is immobile after an attack by Austin on a recent edition of WWF Superstars and that his kids have been sent elsewhere because of Austin’s threats.  Wouldn’t you want to call the police too if someone threatened to break into your home?  It’s not like live television is going to save you.

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

-Opening Contest:  Goldust (w/Marlena) and The Stalker wrestle to a double-disqualification at 4:36 shown:

Mr. Perfect, Crush, and Hunter Hearst-Helmsley come down to ringside because they are going to team with Goldust at the Survivor Series.  In response, the Stalker brings Marc Mero, Rocky Maivia, and Mark Henry out with him.  Windham isn’t wearing the Stalker face paint, which I guess he figures is silly.  He’s also wearing a WWF t-shirt, which doesn’t match his camouflage ring pants.  These two had been having a feud on the house show circuit that was triggered by the Stalker merely watching some Goldust’s matches from afar and Goldust making some lewd comments about the Stalker.  Goldust has an interesting counter for the superplex, as he kisses his opponent to avoid the move.  The ending features one of the least intense brawls you have ever seen, as the two Survivor Series teams square off, and the crowd quietly applauds when the faces win.  This was just a paint by the numbers match and it didn’t do anything for either guy.  Rating:  *½

-Dok Hendrix does the Survivor Series report.

-Kelly interviews Pillman and his wife in their home.  Pillman says that Austin has made their feud personal.  McMahon hijacks the interview and asks Pillman if he feels like a hostage in his own home.  Pillman pulls out a gun in response and a friend tells him that Austin is here as we cut out for a commercial break.

-The Karate Fighters Holiday Tournament sees Sid beat Marlena.  Last week, Mr. Perfect beat Phineas Godwinn.

-Two of Pillman’s friends try to restrain Austin, but he beats them up in the drive way, using a red jeep and some kid’s toys as weapons.  Austin then tries to get into the house, but the doors are locked.

-The Sultan (w/Bob Backlund & the Iron Sheik) defeats Alex “the Pug” Porteau via submission to the camel clutch at 2:07 shown:

A simple squash for the Sultan here, but he’s still not over with the crowd.  They really gave up on the Porteau experiment early in his run.  I think he got a couple of victories on WWF Superstars and was jobbed out to all of big heel names after that.

-Austin breaks into Pillman’s home and enters the living room, where Pillman points a gun at him.  Kelly and his wife scream as the camera feed cuts out.  Lawler is the most rational one during the entire segment by saying that someone should call the police.

-Ross hosts a face off segment between WWF Champion Shawn Michaels and Sid.  Michaels said that he forgave Sid for powerbombing him three times after WrestleMania XI, but Sid says that’s bull.  Ross tries to rile things up between the two and Michaels says Sid is not in his league and Sid says that’s true because he’s not in the “little” league.  Good comeback.  Both men destroy the podium and start shoving each other, but Jim Cornette comes down with Vader, Clarence Mason, Owen Hart, and the British Bulldog.  Sid and Michaels join forces to clear the ring, but after they do so they get into a staredown until they get separated by a sea of WWF officials.

-A summary of the Pillman-Austin segments is shown.

-The Fake Razor Ramon (w/The Fake Diesel) defeats Wildman” Marc Mero (w/Sable) with the Razor’s Edge at 7:47 shown:

The commentary isn’t concerned about the match as Ross takes jabs at McMahon for putting Pillman’s life in danger.  Mero runs through some of his normal moves, but his heart isn’t in this one and he’s lethargic out there.  It doesn’t help that he’s wrestling the Fake Razor, who moves as slow as molasses.  Perfect and Helmsley interfere and Razor goes over in a puzzling booking decision.  Sure, it’s not a clean victory, but the Fake Razor had hardly beaten anyone at this point and having Mero job to him in any fashion makes him appear weak and undeserving of the Intercontinental title.  Rating:  ½*

-We get another recap of the Pillman-Austin issue.

-The satellite feed is restored to the Pillman home and Pillman is being restrained by his friends.  Austin charges back into the living room and as he is restrained by Pillman’s buddies, Pillman comes after him with a gun and curses and points a gun at him.  All Kelly can do is scream “call the police” because grabbing Pillman or the gun isn’t too important.  That plays us out.

The Final Report Card:  The Pillman-Austin stuff was the focal point of this show and was very controversial for its time period.  After the angle aired, the WWF and Pillman had to apologize for the threatened use of the gun and the cursing that wasn’t edited out.  The WWF was also criticized because people flooded the northern Kentucky 911 lines to report Austin breaking into Pillman’s home.  Some of this still holds up in that it’s not as corny as when HHH invaded Randy Orton’s home a few years back, but they might’ve done better if they sent Jim Ross to do the interview instead of Kelly.  His shrieking like a school girl during the serious parts was very annoying and unmanly.  The wrestling on this show is bad, but if you are interested in the Pillman-Austin stuff you can YouTube it because several people have put the different segments together.

Monday Night War Rating:  2.3 (vs. 3.4 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Neutral

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – October 28, 1996

by Logan Scisco

Note:  Thanks to Bobby Daniels for sending me a copy of this show to review.

The announce crew discusses Steve Austin’s assault on Brian Pillman on WWF Superstars.

Opening Contest:  “The Real Double J” Jesse James pins Salvatore Sincere with a pump handle slam at 4:14:

McMahon accidentally calls James “Jeff Jarrett” and Lawler has to correct him early in the match.  Both of these guys are serviceable workers, but it’s tough to take them seriously with these gimmicks.  Both men do a great job getting the crowd involved, with Sincere taking a few big bumps to the floor to get a reaction.  James is the new guy on the block and needs a victory and he gets it here after blocking Sincerely Yours and immediately transitioning into his finish.  Rating:  **¼

Dok Hendrix tries to run down the Survivor Series card, but Steve Austin arrives and curses him for taking up TV time.  Austin complains that Bret Hart is in Canada and he flew up from Texas to be at the show to confront him.

Marc Mero calls into the show and hypes the Survivor Series match between his team and Hunter Hearst Helmsley’s team.

Crush (w/Clarence Mason) defeats “The Portuguese Man O’ War” Aldo Montoya with a heart punch at 2:42:

The only person that Montoya can beat at this stage of his WWF career is occasional talent like Jerry Lawler, so he stands zero chance here.  Crush pulls out one of my favorite spots by gorilla press slamming Montoya out of the ring and Jim Ross arrives to do commentary and cracks me up by complaining about this “preliminary match.”  Ross does point out that Mason is now Faarooq’s manager after Faarooq consulted him for legal advice regarding Ahmed Johnson.  That last piece of information is the only reason this match is notable, but it was fun to see Crush toss Montoya around like a ragdoll.

After the match, Crush gets mad at being called a jailbird by the fans at ringside, so he pulls a “security guard” over the railing and beats him up.

McMahon says that next week they will interview Brian Pillman from his home and Austin interrupts and says that he’s going to show up at Pillman’s house next week. 

-Kevin Kelly presents a segment that covers Austin’s attack on Pillman on Superstars.  Kelly also discusses Ahmed Johnson’s attack on Faarooq before the last In Your House pay-per-view and how WWF President Gorilla Monsoon has suspended Ahmed pending an investigation.

-Austin promises to show up at Pillman’s house next week and says that the WWF lets him say what he wants because he will bring in money to the company for his Survivor Series match with Bret Hart.

Sunny comes down to ringside to watch our next match.

Billy Gunn defeats Freddie Joe Floyd with a flying leg drop at 3:06:

The Gunns had officially broken up at this point, with Billy ditching part when they faced the New Rockers on WWF Superstars.  Bart interrupts the match and challenges Billy to a match, but WWF officials come out and make Bart go to the locker room.  This is a quick squash for Billy, which disguises his lack of singles offense.  Sunny is unimpressed with the win, though, but Billy doesn’t care.  Rating:  ½*

McMahon moderates a face off segment between Bret Hart, who is in Calgary, and Steve Austin, who is in the WWF studio.  Austin brings the intensity to this segment, while Bret is more reserved.  This is pretty tame based on where this feud will go, but it suffers from most face-off segments in that there can’t be any physical interaction between the participants so it gets awkward as both men run out of stuff to talk about a couple of minutes in.  The best part is the end, where Austin gets mad that the segment is cut off and he assaults a production assistant.

Non-Title Match:  “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels (WWF Champion w/Jose Lothario) defeats The British Bulldog (w/Clarence Mason & Owen Hart) via disqualification after Owen Hart interferes at 7:55 shown:

An added treat is that Owen is on commentary.  At least Owen brings up the In Your House:  Beware of Dog pay-per-view, where the Bulldog was WWF champion for about a minute.  That’s probably a pay-per-view McMahon wants to forget.  Owen gets really indignant when Michaels busts out an enziguri, which Owen claims is his move.  The crowd dynamic is split, with the older, male fans in the crowd supporting the Bulldog and younger fans supporting Michaels.  Michaels and the Bulldog mesh together well, as per usual, but since there’s nothing on the line it detracts a little from the atmosphere.  The Bulldog’s relegation to tag ranks also makes him look like less of a singles threat and the only person that pushes him as a threat in this match is Owen.  Owen grabs Michaels leg when he tries Sweet Chin Music, drawing the disqualification, which is an unfortunate finish to what was an exciting contest.  Rating:  ***

Sid runs out to help Michaels when Owen and the Bulldog start to double team him, but Michaels doesn’t appreciate the gesture.  Owen gets on the mic and challenges them to a tag team title match at a later date and Sid and Michaels accept.

Austin is forced out of the studio by a police officer and appears to be headed for jail.  I guess you could consider this a practice run for some of his exploits during the Attitude Era.

The Final Report Card:  While the card on paper doesn’t look like much, most of the superstar showcased brought the goods and it made for an exciting episode.  Michaels and the Bulldog always put together a solid match and anytime that you can have Owen on commentary it’s a bonus.  It’s a shame that he passed away because he could’ve been the Jesse Ventura/Bobby Heenan of his generation after his career ended.  Next week we get the crazy gun angle with Austin and Pillman, which also features a screaming Kevin Kelly.

Monday Night War Rating:  2.0 (vs. 3.6 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

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

Random Thought For The Night

Given that the Muppets are on RAW next week and the show has a chance to break out of the current funk and be something different and fun (although it won’t be), there’s really one storyline that they have to do. At some point, Miss Piggy has to put the moves on Dolph Ziggler, leading to a knock-down drag-out catfight with Vickie where Piggy quickly ends it with a “HIYA” karate chop and Vickie sells it like death. There’s just no way around it.

If they were really thinking, they’d bribe Chris Jericho to make a guest appearance and do a skit with Fozzie Bear.

It could be fun. We’ll see.

Random Thought For The Night

Given that the Muppets are on RAW next week and the show has a chance to break out of the current funk and be something different and fun (although it won’t be), there’s really one storyline that they have to do. At some point, Miss Piggy has to put the moves on Dolph Ziggler, leading to a knock-down drag-out catfight with Vickie where Piggy quickly ends it with a “HIYA” karate chop and Vickie sells it like death. There’s just no way around it.

If they were really thinking, they’d bribe Chris Jericho to make a guest appearance and do a skit with Fozzie Bear.

It could be fun. We’ll see.