Skip to main content

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW–03.04.96

The Smark Rant for Monday Night RAW – 03.04.96

Hey Scott

Hey e-mailer.

I am normally a big fan of the original content on the network.  The wrestlemania rewind and rivalries especially.  But it seems like they haven't had any new content outside of the occasional old raw or nitro.  With the current product so bad you would think they would want to keep pumping out new episodes of those types of shows.
Any reason for this outside of no one knows what they are doing?

Calling the upload schedule for old RAW and Nitro shows “occasional” is being rather liberal with the term, I think. I’d lean towards “few and far between”. But hey, they’ve managed to slash costs to almost nothing while getting almost the number of subscribers they need to break even over the course of two years, so I guess we’re the ones who don’t know what we’re doing, right? Besides, as I’ve said many times, my $10 a month is justified many, many times over by NXT, pumping out old TV show reviews as content for the blog for you suckers (I watch shitty TV shows for an hour each night and MAKE MONEY OFF IT!), and any PPV that isn’t total garbage, so I’m way ahead on the deal even $120 into this thing.

Speaking of which…

Taped from Cincinnati, OH

Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler

Shawn Michaels v. The 1-2-3 Kid

Sadly, we enter the last hurrah for the Clique, as Kevin Nash gives notice the day after this show airs and signs with that stinky Billionaire Ted. Kid works a headlock and puts Shawn down with a spinkick for two, but stops to mock him and Shawn rolls him up for two. Shawn with a PRESS SLAM and he puts Kid on the floor with a clothesline. Shawn with the headlock and a powerslam for two as the Xbone gets so unwatchable that I actually have to stop the match and switch to the Roku, which thankfully plays without incident. Kid with another spinkick and he puts Shawn out with a dropkick, then follows with a springboard bodyblock, and even Ted Dibiase gets involved with some cheapshots! Man, he typically doesn’t make any physical contact around this point in his career. Shawn heads back in and goes to the corner, so Kid dropkicks him into the turnbuckle for two and we take a break. Back with Kid in control with the chinlock, and he puts Shawn down with another spinkick for two. Vince notes that there’s no such thing as waltzing through a match on RAW. Fandango of course being the exception. Collision and both guys are out, but Shawn makes the comeback with a moonsault press and the flying forearm. Flying elbow sets up the superkick as you can really see Shawn establishing his rhythm that he would maintain for the next 20 years. Kid ducks the superkick and goes up for the flying legdrop, but that misses and the superkick finishes at 12:43. Good finish. ***1/2 Shawn dancing with a little girl in the ring afterwards is just the kind of pandering crap that killed his babyface run, though. Well, that and Jose Lothario.

Piper’s Pit, starring Goldust, as he and Marlena take over the old set and this feud gets increasingly weird. Not just because the initial challenge was thrown down by Razor Ramon on the live show two weeks ago, and now they’re crafting this Goldust-Piper feud out of nothing via pre-taped bits like this and inset phone interviews.

Ultimate Warrior will return at Wrestlemania!

Hakushi v. Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw

And here’s another notable RAW debut for a guy you wouldn’t have suspected would still be around two decades later. Young Mr. Layfield is in fact almost a dead ringer for Chris Hero here. Body-wise as well. Bradshaw pounds away and no-sells Hakushi’s comeback attempt while doing his best Stan Hansen impression. He pounds away in the corner and cuts off Hakushi with a big boot, then powerslams him on the floor as he just brutally squashes the poor schmuck. Back in, the Clothesline from Hell finishes at 4:00. I’d like to say Bradshaw got better, but really he didn’t. Future WWE champion, ladies and gentlemen. * Speaking of Stan Hansen, your funny story from this week in history sees Johnny Ace sending Titan a tape of a match involving himself and Hansen and Misawa, looking for a job as a Texas Ranger character, and getting turned down cold. Maybe he should have stuck with the Dynamic Dudes footage.

Speaking of future WWE champions, Mankind wants us all to have a nice day, even though it appears he himself is not having one.

Bret Hart v. Hunter Hearst Helmsley

Hunter’s arm candy seems particularly vacuous and oh-so-thrilled to be there. Hunter attacks in the corner and slugs away, but Bret clotheslines him out of the corner and goes to a top wristlock. Shawn comes to ringside and has a seat as we take a break. Back with Bret working on the arm as I suspect they didn’t actually edit anything out of the match. Hunter tosses Bret, who has words with Shawn, and Vince suspects that Shawn and Hunter might be in cahoots together. WHAT? No way. Puh-leaze. As if. Hunter whips Bret into the corner to take over, and he USES THE KNEE for two. And we take a break, returning with Hunter on top before landing on Bret’s foot. Bret comes back with the atomic drop and bulldog, and middle rope elbow for two. Hunter with a rollup for two, but Bret dumps him and they brawl on the floor. Back in, Hunter stupidly dives into a Sharpshooter and submits at 12:20. I’d give the match a 4/10, but it was a pretty good one. *** And wasn’t Hunter supposed to be undefeated going against Warrior at Wrestlemania?

Tee Vee Trivia with Billionaire Ted. And we’re back to the mean-spirited Ted Turner stuff, as they take out of context quotes from him and make him sound like a racist. This does have the home run gag, however, as they question where the Huckster is and we cut to him in an abandoned arena, still handcuffed from that episode of Nitro! Now THAT’S comedy.

The Pulse

Much better show this week, to say the least. Two good matches and the historic debut of JBL as Stan Hansen’s Mini Me.

Comments

  1. NXT is the only reason I even came back to this shit. I had already given up on WWE after the Summer of Punk flopped.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Another main eventer not laying down for HHH.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Stranger in the AlpsMarch 19, 2015 at 12:27 AM

    I just read the new Shawn Michaels book, and he briefly talks about the Jose Lothario pairing. Vince wanted to use Lothario to build toward Wrestlemania XII, and Shawn was not comfortable with it. He wasn't sure how to utilize Lothario and felt that he didn't incorporate Jose enough. He also said that the chemistry wasn't there, and their real life relationship didn't come through.

    ReplyDelete
  4. NXT is on Hulu as well.

    ReplyDelete
  5. That's weird, I didn't know HHH lost before Mania either. Maybe they were being very specific in saying that Hunter had never been pinned before

    ReplyDelete
  6. Battle Kat LitterMarch 19, 2015 at 2:24 AM

    I'm hugely offended at being called a sucker! So offended that in protest I will continue to visit the blog every day

    ReplyDelete
  7. As well as commercials up the wazoo.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I really have to wonder how a goof like Laurinaitis ever ended up with any kind of position with WWE. The only reason I can think of is that they were really that desperate to get the Talent Relations gig away from JR.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'd rather watch commercials than waste money on WWE right now.


    Spending money on the Network sends them the wrong message (since they don't seem to distinguish between people watching the Network for NXT and the archives, and those watching for the current product). I don't want them to think their current shitty booking is worth my $10 a month.

    ReplyDelete
  10. They really murdered Shawn;s babyface run between the Owen incident and Summerslam with this kind of thing. Jose Lothario (while a nice story) was a bad idea from the get go and he really should have only be mentioned once or twice in the lead up to Mania itself. The biggest thing though was the character Shawn was playing was just so far removed from real life Shawn (and everyone knew it) that it became quite unpalatable.

    The strangest thing is that Shawn of all people didn't argue against this. His face character in 95 was great (because he still basically played the same guy) and the Mankind match really got him back on track by finding his edge again but by then it was way too late.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hunter's undefeated streak was wasted on Duke Droese of all people at the Rumble Free-For-All. I know the decision ended via a DQ, but announcers stopped billing Hunter as undefeated after that match.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hunter being undefeated going into WM12 would have been a good angle, but announcers decided to ignore the whole undefeated gimmick after the Rumble.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'm pretty sure Shawn hated it, but his book wasn't a good book in telling us how he really felt.

    ReplyDelete
  14. As much as Bret hated the buildup to the WM12 match, this episode did build the main event match rather nicely.

    ReplyDelete
  15. It's a shame we didn't get more years of 1997 Shawn because that was his best character. If only there was a way to have it without him also partaking in self-destructive behaviors.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I must've missed something. Isn't the network barely a year old?

    ReplyDelete
  17. It's amazing they did the exact same thing with Diesel the year before, and had seemingly learned from it when Diesel did his "fuck this smiling shit" promo on Raw, then just went right back to the failed strategy.

    ReplyDelete
  18. as mentioned yesterday: in retrospect it works out because if they didn't have Michaels and Diesel as example of failures, who knows if they wouldn't have tried to tinker with Steve Austin after he got over and in the process turned him into a more family-friendly version (and in a way they even did that, only to a lot lesser extent. he was a much more clear "face" in the summer of 1998 than he was in the summer of 1997).

    ReplyDelete
  19. Yeah, that's true. They even parodied themselves after Mania 14 with Vince trying to have Austin wear a suit and be a good smiling corporate champ.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Shawn's best two characters where his 97/98 character and his post 2002 character because they were the closest to who he was and the fans like that.

    97/98 - Arrogant dickhead degenerate who knew he was the best in the world
    2002 - Generally good guy at peace with himself who wants to just have great matches but every so often can't help but let his old self come out.

    ReplyDelete
  21. 4/10 is two stars, damnit!

    ReplyDelete
  22. The only two babyface champions to escape Vince's formula for a top guy are Bret and Austin. Everyone else has just been a variation of Hogan.

    ReplyDelete
  23. And The Rock. And Goldberg.

    ReplyDelete
  24. What bothers me is that in 98 they KNEW what sucked and why and today they make the same BS they did in 95/96...

    ReplyDelete
  25. The hair was a bad choice

    http://capricorncity.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Goldberg-Wig.jpg

    ReplyDelete
  26. I was going to throw Rock in there as well but I felt like he also lost an edge when he turned babyface. I won't really argue if you want to include him tho.


    On the other hand, no idea where you're coming from with the Goldberg thing.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hopefully Hunter's longstanding dislike for the Hulkster will end that in the future

    ReplyDelete
  28. He definitely lost an edge as a babyface. When face met face between 2000-2002, Rock was the guy who always got booed. I know that was mainly down to the Hollywood thing, but the character was a part of it too I think.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Because they can get away with it. There is zero chance Roman Reigns is main eventing 31 right now if there was a Nitro.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I hear Bret use to rank matches out of 5 like the rest of us, but after his match with Davey Boy, Bret decided that ***** wasn't enough and he had to rate things out of 10 from then on.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I always call that the "Weekend at Bernie's" match.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Goldberg was AFAIK face and world champion in 2003 and they didn't try to make him a new Hogan.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I'm talking about guys they wanted to build the company around. And plus, they fucked with Goldberg's character a lot, which is way he never drew there like he did in WCW.

    ReplyDelete
  34. This "build the company around" thing is maybe the worst thing ever, because they are so determined to find someone who is so perfect, that there is nobody, who can fit the role.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Year and a month-ish.

    ReplyDelete
  36. I don't really agree with your first point. Sports teams all go out of their way to get a superstar level talent.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Even as a face, Rock was still an asshole, for the most part. I'm specifically referring to his turn in '99 up through about KOTR 2000 when he won the belt in a 6-man tag match.

    ReplyDelete
  38. That would have put Austin in a wig because nobody's going to cheer for a bald guy.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Rock was insanely over in 2000. 2001 was kinda tough because of the invasion. Definitely agree with 02

    ReplyDelete
  40. I don't think they're striving for perfection, per se. They just don't want to build a star that ends up being bigger than the brand. See: Hogan, Austin, Rock, Lesnar.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Stupid fucking strategy. That's like saying we want 3.0 ratings but not 4.0 ratings.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Hunter had already lost by countout to Duke "The Dumpster" Droese at this point in a match that determined numbers one and thirty in the Royal Rumble.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Why does this not have 73 upvotes?

    ReplyDelete
  44. AverageJoeEverymanMarch 19, 2015 at 7:39 AM

    "Davey had been out partying all month before this match, never sleeping once, by the time we got to Wembley he was dead. Luckily a voodoo priest had cast a spell on him so that he would reanimate just enough when in my presence so I was able to lead a zombified Bulldog to his best match ever. Sadly the priest was not able to reanimate his tear ducts."

    ReplyDelete
  45. Be a star John.

    ReplyDelete
  46. If a sport team had a player that was performing really well, and so they benched him every game or played him out of position to reduce his effectiveness, just in case another team came in for him, and lost a ton of games as a result, that'd be dumb. Let him win you as many games as possible, and if he eventually decides he's too big for your team and wants to go off to Miami Heat or Real Madrid, them's the breaks.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Reverse decision DQ. This was definitely his first televised pinfall/submission loss.

    ReplyDelete
  48. They need to maintain those numbers for the next couple of years to break even on it.

    ReplyDelete
  49. I saw a johnny ace match a couple of months ago against Kobashi. It was pretty good actually.

    ReplyDelete
  50. But what about Starrcade '94? Oh yeah, he was that Jean-Paul Levesque guy. Whoever he was.

    ReplyDelete
  51. I watched this one last week. Bradshaw just squashed Hakushi start to finish, I felt bad for him. He even hits a cross body to the floor that Bradshaw just shrugs off and gets back to beating on him.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Johnny Ace: Texas Ranger?


    Chuck Norris should Roundhouse him into orbit for THINKING about it.

    ReplyDelete
  53. I don't get his beef it. It wasn't the most exciting build up but it didn't make him look bad. They put him over as the best ever, he got just as many wins as Shawn did and they ended Raw with his little music video. Pretty blah build up but not as heavily skewed towards Shawn as he remembers it.

    ReplyDelete
  54. I agree. I am a bigger fan of the whole thing than most, so I am a bit biased, but I like the buildup, especially in retrospect. It fits in well with the structure of the match, and I think gave both guys distinct "face" personalities.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Theberzerker, #1 HUSS CHOMPIONMarch 19, 2015 at 8:33 AM

    Near as I can figure, from interviews with Barrios and whatnot, that new longform content like RAW/Nitro eps and their WrestleMania Rewind & Rivalries shows will suddenly stop whenever they see evidence that people are watching the shortform stuff. Now there's a new Countdown episode and like 14 Quick Cuts & Youtube clips every week. They seem to upload via whatever the current viewing trend is...which does suck for me, b/c I like the longform stuff, and really want them to have ALL the RAWs & Nitros up since for me, the Network is mostly a living show repository.

    ReplyDelete
  56. I think they shouldn't be afraid that one of the wrestlers gets too successful and leaves, because when he goes away he can help if he comes back in the future (like The Rock) and he also makes room for NEW talents that can take his place. We never would have gotten Stone Cold and The Rock (and HBK and Bret Hart) if Vince would have held on Macho Man and Hogan as the top players.

    ReplyDelete
  57. Aye. Hulk would always have sold the most merchandise, just as Cena does today, doesn't mean it was best for business in the long run to keep him around.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Just watched JBL's Superstars debut against Bob Holly-pretty much the same deal with Bradshaw completely decimating his opponent. Pretty stiff shots from Bradshaw, too, and according to Holly's book Bradshaw was the stiffest guy he ever worked with. He then relates a good story about how during a TV taping, Holly was supposed to give Bradshaw a medium-level chairshot, and instead he let him have it as hard as he could. Interesting how he relates Bradshaw as a guy who would be like "he got me back, no big deal," considering all of the bullying stuff we've heard about before.

    ReplyDelete
  59. I think it's never good to have only "one" face top star. If you want him away and still around, just turn him heel.

    ReplyDelete
  60. I don't like bullying - but if I'm either Bob Holly or John Layfield - we are just going to play like manly men.

    ReplyDelete
  61. He don't hate hate hate him. He is just jealous - he didn't think of the stuff hogan got away with.

    ReplyDelete
  62. The thing this war between the promotions show is how much they paid attention to each others product. Even if Vince himself wasn't watching, someone at Titan was.

    ReplyDelete
  63. Didn't Russo write all the Billionaire Ted skits?

    ReplyDelete
  64. Yeah, I think they could've done more to establish some real tension between the guys, but overall it was a solid "real sports build" (tm ROH) and had me excited for the match.

    ReplyDelete
  65. If Austin's there, Rock should be too.


    Frankly, I think Austin's character changed more post-turn than Rock's did. Austin started the pandering "Hell yeah" promos and was booked like Superman.

    ReplyDelete
  66. 1995 Shawn Michaels was my third favorite wrestler in the world (behind only Bret and Sting). I LOVED him.


    1996 Shawn is probably one of my 5 or 10 least favorite characters ever. Awful.

    ReplyDelete
  67. The jokes about Hogan/Savage seem Russo-like. The attempt to have a say in the Time Warner merger has Vince written all over it.

    ReplyDelete
  68. I liked Shawn in 1996 because he was always my favourite anyway, but when I go back and watch now I cringe and how lame he was.

    ReplyDelete
  69. "I really have to wonder how a goof like Laurinaitis ever ended up with any kind of position with WWE."


    The answer? People power!

    ReplyDelete
  70. No rerant of Rage in the Cage?

    ReplyDelete
  71. That was last Hakushi's last WWF tv match. Announcers claimed that Hakushi left because he felt ashamed of being branded.

    ReplyDelete
  72. Undertaker pinned him at Survivor Series '95

    ReplyDelete
  73. The difference was that while Bret and Shawn were basically booked the same as two equals around this time, Shawn was being booked a lot stronger like at IYH6 Shawn cleanly beat Owen with his finisher whereas on the same night Bret barely squeaked out a win against Diesel.

    ReplyDelete
  74. I think Bret's issues with how he was treated during the time period are due to what happened between December and February. After that great match with Bulldog at IYH 5, he was set up for a match with Taker (their first PPV singles match) at the Rumble, and yet it received little promotion going into it, for such a big match. I don't think he even appeared on a Raw during that month between IYH 5 and the Rumble, outside of a replay of the Bulldog match (which although a great match, did have the effect of looking backwards). And then he looked weak after the endings of both that match and the IYH 6 match in February. By the time they got around to the WM 12 build-up, he probably felt that it was too little, too late.

    ReplyDelete
  75. Here, here! I've abandoned WWE and am spending my (YEN)999 a month on NJPW World instead...haven't regretted it one bit.

    ReplyDelete
  76. This is fair to point out. Bret was not put over Taker, and sort of wasn't against Diesel. It cost him a little momentum. He should've had a decisive win over Diesel.

    ReplyDelete
  77. Stephanie thought he looked cute in a suit.

    ReplyDelete
  78. With tears in his eyes, Bret quietly hummed a conga song

    ReplyDelete
  79. I cringe watching 1988-2010 Shawn.

    ReplyDelete
  80. I remember thinking Bradshaw was AWESOME in his debut- just this big fucker who wouldn't stop moving- he kept walking all over the ring like he had so much ass-kicking energy to him. I think I was a fan of his straight up until the APA gimmick got tired... which of course is when they changed course and randomly decided that he was going to be the Champion of SmackDown.

    ReplyDelete
  81. Kobashi was so good that *I* could have a decent match with him. Though apparently AJPW Ace was quite good. Naturally, "he's good in Japan" internet-bias may come into effect.

    ReplyDelete
  82. He thought it was goofy that he was lightly-jogging in Calgary like a doofus (because it was slippery outside) and swimming ("I swim about as well as The Giant Gonzalez used to wrestle", while Shawn was doing this state-of-the-art acrobatic training.

    ReplyDelete
  83. Well, I think it only REALLY counts as a loss when the guy pins you or makes you submit.

    ReplyDelete
  84. because all the bret tears jokes were played out 6 months ago.

    ReplyDelete
  85. I liked shawn in 96 because he had a 4 star match almost every time he was on tv. I can look past the lame character tweaks because he was performing at an all time level

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment