The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 02.05.96
Taped from Stockton, CA.
Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler.
Shawn Michaels & Diesel v. British Bulldog & Yokozuna
This was still the weird tweener phase for Diesel, while Yoko was getting prepped for the babyface turn no one asked for. We get rock-paper-scissors and a posedown to start, so clearly this is an important match for everyone. Vince pushes that Shawn & Diesel are undefeated…which is of course because they lost the titles without getting pinned…TWICE! Is this really something to be proud of? Shawn bumps around a bit for Bulldog, but the Dudes clear the ring and we get MORE stalling. Diesel slugs it out with Yoko before walking into a samoan drop, but Yoko misses the elbow. Shawn comes back in, but gets flung over the top rope and he’s YOUR male stripper in peril. Kind of a clever directing spot sees them panning over to Vince and Jerry on commentary at ringside during the beating on the floor, so we can see them seamlessly doing LIVE comments on the match. Normally camera shots on taped shows would accidentally reveal them sitting there silently, so that was a nice touch. And then we take a break and return with that exact thing occurring, so I take back my compliments. Anyway, there’s also a match, and much of it involves Yokozuna holding Shawn in a nervehold. Bulldog tosses Shawn around by the hair and does some showboating, back when he could backflip without his knees collapsing on him, but Yoko misses the big splash, and Shawn launches off his ass to make the hot tag. That was pretty cute. Diesel cleans house and boots Yoko, allowing Shawn to come off Nash’s shoulders with a flying splash for two. A superkick puts Yoko on the floor for the countout at 12:40 and Lex Luger wins the WWF Title! Wait, I’m all mixed up now. Shawn and Diesel completely goof on the inspiring win, two guys who could not give any fucks at that point because they knew they ran the company. Match was reasonably entertaining for what it was. **1/2 Afterwards, Cornette gives Yokozuna the gears, which Vince describes as “VERBALLY RAPING HIM”, and Yoko chases off the other heels for his babyface turn.
Meanwhile, Mankind is coming. Have a nice day.
The 1-2-3 Kid v. Hakushi
So we were building to the first (and thankfully last) “cry baby” match with Razor Ramon, where the loser gets diapered. They trade armbars and Hakushi kicks him down and out of the ring, teasing a Space Flying Tiger Drop before the Kid moves away. Back in, the Kid continues to demonstrate his impressive martial arts cred by waving his arms around menacingly, then dumps Hakushi and follows with a dive. I will say that Ted Dibiase in a simple suit is much more impressive as a heel manager than his goofy sequined jacket. We take a break and return with Kid in control after a spinkick, but he goes up and gets dropkicked on the way down. Hakushi makes the comeback with a handspring elbow for two and Kid hits the floor, which allows Hakushi to hit a nice springboard bodypress out there. Back in for the flying shoulderblock for two. Kid spinkicks him down again for two, but Hakushi reverses for two and follows with a rana for two. Hakushi goes up and Kid brings him down with a butterfly superplex to finish at 9:50. Turned into a hell of a match. ***1/4
Meanwhile, Clarence Mason promises to sue if Vader isn’t reinstated. He’s got CASE LAW! Stevens v. Steiner!
WWF title: Bret Hart v. Undertaker
This is quite the match to give away on a random taped RAW show. Bret pounds him in the corner, but Taker chokes him down in a variety of ways. Taker tries the ropewalk while Diesel joins us on commentary, but Bret yanks him down and goes to work on the leg. Diesel notes that he’s not afraid of Undertaker because he’s got “one of those rechargeable flashlights at home” to counter the darkness. So Bret continues working on the knee and we take a break. Back with Taker in control and pounding on Bret outside. Diesel is remarkably quiet on commentary tonight, as usually Nash with a headset is just begging for hijinks. Taker with the clothesline, but the ref is bumped on the tombstone attempt and Bret gets a visual pinfall with a rollup. Bret goes to work on the leg again, but Diesel pops up and runs Bret into the post to end his epic commentary debut. Undertaker breaks them up, so Diesel lays Taker out with a chairshot and powerbombs him in the ring. Poor Tim White is probably losing brain function given how long he’s been out without medical attention. And we take a break with the match being thrown out during the commercial. What a finish. And they wonder why Nitro was beating them?! *1/2
Main Event: Billionaire Ted’s press conference continues, despite legal threats from Turner! Vince is a hero! One of the questions is about how WCW lost millions of dollars, which isn’t fair to the stockholders. Gee, good thing nothing like THAT is happening right now, huh? What an embarrassment as a fan. And it still took another year for Vince to grow some balls and improve his product instead of whining like a little bitch!