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The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW–04.01.96

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 04.01.96

It’s the post-Wrestlemania edition of RAW, as requested! From 1996, sure, but it’s the thought that counts.

Live from San Bernadino, CA, as the Shawn Michaels era has begun!

Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler

Mankind v. Bob Holly

And so Mrs. Foley’s baby boy debuts on RAW. Mankind attacks in the corner and beats Holly down, but Bob fights back with a dropkick. Mankind dumps him and follows with a hotshot into the apron. Back in, Holly gets hung in the Tree of Woe and dropkicked, and Mankind finishes with the MANDIBLE CLAW at 4:00. This was a case where everyone was dismissive of the character beforehand (“Oh, it’s just Cactus Jack in the WWF, big deal”) and then Mick Foley came in and hit the character out of the park in his first shot, using a new finisher (lifted from the real life doctor that The Fugitive was based on) and playing a totally different kind of psychopath. Also, Bob Holly chewing an Alka Seltzer to foam at the mouth and really sell the move was badass. ** Meltzer just COMPLETELY undersold this one in the Observer at the time. His summation: “They opened with Mankind, who got no reaction except for a half-dozen ECW fans in the front row chanting "he's hardcore," beating Bob Holly with the finishing move of sticking his fingers down Holly's throat.” Come on, 1996 Dave, be cool. This was the debut of one of the most successful characters in wrestling history!

Isaac Yankem v. “Wildman” Marc Mero

So this gives us the RAW debuts of Marc Mero, as well as Sable at ringside. Mero quickly dropkicks Yankem to the floor and follows with a dive, and a slingshot legdrop gets two. Flying headscissors and a double axehandle gets two. This brings Hunter Hearst Helmsley out to harass Sable, and Mero is distracted enough for Yankem to take over with a backdrop suplex. It’s an Authority conspiracy! Mero comes back with a crucifix for two and a reverse rollup for two. The knockout punch puts Yankem down and a flying sunset flip finishes at 4:55. **

The Bodydonnas v. Barry Horowitz & Aldo Montoya

The Donnas the new tag team champions, having defeated the Godwinns in the tournament final at Wrestlemania…in the pre-game show no less. If you had said even a year before that Chris Candido and Tom Pritchard would be tag team champions, you probably couldn’t have imagined a dumber way for them to end up in that spot. And of course it would get worse. So I should note at this point the combination of a shitty internet connection and Network problems combine to make the show unwatchable, so we are now picking things up a day later after I shut it off in frustration and played Path of the Warrior DLC on WWE 2K15 instead. That was pretty rad, I will say. Even as shitty at the game as I am thus far, I still managed to make it all the way through to Macho King before getting my ass irrevocably kicked. I’m sure Honky Tonk Man is flattered that you literally only have to do two Quicktime events to unlock him. The Hogan match is also really, really fun. Anyway, back to this match, as this kicks off the epic “Sunny as tag title whore” storyline which culminated in the Smoking Gunns’ heel turn. Aldo dominates with his high flying Portuguese martial arts and headlocks and shit, as Vince has trouble telling Skip and Zip apart. As a hint, if Ahmed Johnson is banging his girlfriend in exchange for coke, it’s probably Skip. The Bodydonnas double-team Aldo to take over, much like the double-teaming that occurred when…never mind, let’s just leave it alone. Aldo gets beat up in the corner, but comes back with a sick suplex on Skip from the apron to the floor, and he follows with a dive on both heels. Didn’t he get the note that TV jobbers didn’t need to give a shit? Barry Horowitz gets the hot tag and runs wild with a rollup on Skip for two, but that train has sailed. Aldo comes in and gets caught with a german suplex for two and Skip powerbombs him, then follows with a top rope rana into a Zip cannonball for the pin at 5:31. This was like a real match and everything. **1/2 After the break, we get a big ol’ RSPW sign on camera. How about that.

Shawn Michaels joins us as the WWF champion for the first time, and he’s going to have to wrestle Jerry Lawler next week and then Diesel at the next PPV. Shawn’s use of “the Kliq” for his fanbase is about as forced and obnoxious as “WWE Universe” today and about as effective. This was kind of a bland, bad start for Shawn as champion.

Undertaker v. Justin Hawk Bradshaw

Baby JBL attacks and beats on his future cult leader, into a powerslam for two. Taker immediately sits up, so Bradshaw drops him with a lariat and puts him on the floor as we take a break. Back with UT making the comeback until a sideslam gets two for Bradshaw. Bradshaw goes aerial with a shoulderblock for two. Another try is reversed into a powerslam for two, but Bradshaw just levels him with another lariat. If he didn’t have the body of Chris Hero at this point he probably would have been World champion by Summerslam. A third lariat misses and Taker puts him away with the chokeslam and tombstone at 6:20, as Mankind runs in and attacks Undertaker. Fun, hard-hitting match. **1/2 And then Mankind just completely destroys him, dropping the Cactus elbow off the apron and putting him out with the Mandible Claw. This was pretty big for Undertaker, as the feud really humanized him and finally gave him something to do that wasn’t just “goofy heel steals the urn and something something magic powers” over and over.

The Pulse

This was a pretty awesome and historic post-WM show. Hopefully it doesn’t turn to dogshit again for a while.

Comments

  1. I do miss nice-looking wrestling belts. Outside of the IC title, does WWE have a nice belt?

    Excuse me. Outside of the IC championship, does WWE have a nice championship?

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  2. Charismatic eNegro Jef VinsonApril 1, 2015 at 8:51 PM

    No.

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  3. James M. FabianoApril 1, 2015 at 8:56 PM

    And just in time for the Wildman's (he's WILD, in case you don't know) induction in Wrestlecrap.

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  4. Didn't Mr. Perfect briefly get a tag belt when he won the tournament for the IC title post Wrestlemania 6? I seem to remember that...am I crazy?

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  5. Yup! Funny enough they shot that one right on camera and in photographs of the event too.

    Pretty sure that was a case of the belt not arriving at the arena for the title change.

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  6. Thank you! One of those random things from 25 years ago floating around in my brain.

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  7. Fat, Ugly Inner-City SweathogApril 1, 2015 at 9:00 PM

    Shawn was problematic as champion. No dude wanted to cheer for the gay stripper OR the "boyhood dream". He wasn't badass enough to get over as a tough guy and he wasn't particularly "cool" until DX. Amazing performer and show-stealer most nights, but with Shawn I think it was more interesting to watch the chase than to see him as the champion. If he would have been willing to play ball, Michaels could have out-Sting/Vadered the Sting-Vader series.

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  8. Jbl and taker would headline a ppv 8 short years later.. Wrestling it's bizarre to say the least

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  9. Here is a shot even:

    http://i124.photobucket.com/albums/p32/RobRob1_2006/Perfect0000_zpssqur1jkz.png

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  10. Unbelievable. Thanks for finding that.

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  11. The Mankind feud completely transformed the Undertaker from a one-dimensional character.

    When Taker finally goes in the Hall of Fame, Foley really should do the introduction.

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  12. And rocky maivia vs hunter Hearst Helmsley would headline wrestlemania 4 years after they were 2 nobodies

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  13. Flair had the real BGB with him during the Funeral Parlor segment with Hogan and Undertaker that was taped on 10/21/1991 and aired on 11/16. At the taping on 11/13 where he wrestled Bret Hart in a Coliseum Video match, he had the knockoff version, and at Survivor Series on 11/27, he had a new belt that looked like (but wasn't) the WWF Tag Team title belt.
    I'm not sure if the real belt was censored when the FP segment actually aired on Superstars, but it was when the footage was replayed during Survivor Series.

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  14. Vader didn't deserve the shit treatment that Michaels gave him. He totally put Vader on a shelf and he never recovered.

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  15. I can't really remember the last time wwe debuted a brand new guy and just had him dominate one of the top 3 guys in the company.

    It would be like if kevin Owens debuted on raw this week and completely destroyed bryan or cena.

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  16. I like how Sable started with Triple H and ended with Lesnar.

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  17. Yeah, you're right, I think everyone assumed it was the tag belt because of the official WWF emblems on the top and sides, but it's actually a totally different belt -- you can tell here:

    http://i124.photobucket.com/albums/p32/RobRob1_2006/Flair_zpsvgukqc2h.png

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  18. He was an ass and selfish in the ring...would go out of his way to make the roster look bad in the ring

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  19. Fat, Ugly Inner-City SweathogApril 1, 2015 at 9:18 PM

    Yeah. They could have really had a great series by just following the Vader-Sting template. Instead, Shawn had to ruin him right away. He didn't seem to realize that a strong heel would make him look even stronger.

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  20. Fat, Ugly Inner-City SweathogApril 1, 2015 at 9:19 PM

    Is Sable in the Hall of Fame?

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  21. Fat, Ugly Inner-City SweathogApril 1, 2015 at 9:19 PM

    Yeah, even Bray Wyatt and Rusev, who debuted pretty strong, weren't beating up Cena, Punk, or Bryan their first nights.

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  22. Fat, Ugly Inner-City SweathogApril 1, 2015 at 9:21 PM

    Vader and the Legion of Doom should have been a murderous mini-stable.

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  23. Fat, Ugly Inner-City SweathogApril 1, 2015 at 9:22 PM

    You know how they pretended to try and get Curtis Axel over by immediately feuding with HHH upon his debut? I would be OK with that kind of thing happening with Finn Balor or Kevin Owens when they make their Raw debut....but only if Hunter does the right thing.

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  24. And on the other channel was Hollywood Hogan; perhaps the biggest gap between "amazing character" and "terrible performer" in wrestling history.

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  25. Mankind actually beating UT at KOTR'96 was huge at the time

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  26. What about the fact that the guy who had to job to Marc Mero in his first match is still wrestling today and has been in WWE for 20 years? And Mero (who Vince thought was going to be a huge star) was out of the business just a few years after this show.

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  27. the "boyhood dream" was brutal... and Shawn acting like a tough guy telling off Vader in the middle of their SummerSlam match is one of the weakest moments in the wrestling

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  28. http://25.media.tumblr.com/853a8093c284689b4ed60c7c03ecb211/tumblr_mumkduO1zW1ql0k28o1_r2_1280.png

    http://24.media.tumblr.com/353059694966d7a7b7913e0e0c6afb41/tumblr_mumkduO1zW1ql0k28o2_r1_1280.png

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  29. The only guy in recent memory who debuted strong was lord tensai when he beat cena clean on raw in his first few weeks.

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  30. It's crazy to think that they debuted Foley and thought so highly of him that they bumped him up straight to Undertaker. It's one of those ideas that's kind of unthinkable today, where you can count on maybe one hand the guys that they would allow to skip the "paying your dues" bs.

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  31. "Dominate" is the right word, because the Nexus guys debuted in the main event, but they did anything but dominate.

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  32. He definitely used a tag belt somewhere along the line.

    http://i243.photobucket.com/albums/ff131/King_Of_Kayfabe/FlairWWFtagstyle2.jpg

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  33. Bryan is hardly a top guy anymore and Cena loses way too often to be considered serious threat. Only relevant guy in the roster is BARAK LESNAR

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  34. He would've in his second run for sure, but pill blitzed Michaels was very short sighted

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  35. As dificult as it was to root for bland smiling hbk, at least it wasn't Bret.

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  36. I'm oddly happy this was brought up! I remember watching this on a Coliseum Video, maybe Battle of the Superstars off the top of my head.

    What's funny is, Mr. Perfect clearly tries to hide the fact that it's a tag belt by the way he holds it (as seen in the picture above) but Bobby then grabs it from him and unabashedly holds it high for all too clearly see.

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  37. I guess they just gave him any old belt laying around. The SS belt is definitely flatter on the bottom than the tag belt.

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  38. Doing it again at Summer Slam and Bearer turning on Taker. Mankind as set for life after that.

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  39. Yup, the pictures in the WWF magazine are even more obvious.

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  40. Have to agree with Dave there. Holly sucked and was a total jobber at this point and the mandible claw sucks as a move. Mankind didn't become a cool character until the undertaker totally out him over that summer.

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  41. I've seen a up close picture of the Flair belt, and it is a specially designed belt that has the tag title's exact design but the words "tag team" were not on it.

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  42. When the shield debuted, they were undefeated for months against top guys (hell no, ryback, cena, orton, show, Sheamus). One reason they worked so well together is because they acted like a team of equals.

    However they were a group and not an individual and they weren't main eventing ppvs as individuals until after they broke up.

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  43. Oh yeah? Never really saw them, I don't think.

    PS: you've been around here forever right? I seem to recall you from like....2008. Maybe even earlier.

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  44. Just about to say the same, and look at how well that's remembered =)

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  45. I liked the mandible claw because it was different and extremely simple but would totally hurt.

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  46. They more or less brought The Shield and Bray Wyatt in close to the top

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  47. Hunter would lay down for Owens in a heartbeat, because Owens is 'his' project and he could thus take the credit for helping him get over.

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  48. I get that but so would jabbing someone in the eye or just punching their nose repeatedly. But his assessment isn't wrong - he just sticks his fingers in someone's mouth. Not sure why he didn't just do a von Erich claw

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  49. That was huge because no one got back to back ppv wins and made Taker look vulnerable like that

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  50. I'll have to see if I can find some, I don't know if they were in the original shots or perhaps in some "History of the IC TItle" piece.

    Oh yeah, at least! Been around since the rec.sport.pro-wrestling Usenet newsgroup days even. Too long haha.

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  51. As a kid, I never knew why this older guy was carrying around a belt, much less was considered to be great. I never watched anything but wwf. Wwf never went out of it's way to explain why he was the real worlds champion.. Did anyone else feel that way?

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  52. Oh yeah, zbinks posted it below. How strange. Looks like a different belt on in the SS 91 pic, but maybe just the angle/flash.

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  53. "this was the debut of one of the most successful characters in wrestling history" NOT TRUE. This was not a legit draw until mankind became a comedian in Fall 98 -- two years after Mcmahon stop scripting it

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  54. AverageJoeEverymanApril 1, 2015 at 10:24 PM

    Because he would have committed suicide then.

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  55. It was still his debut. Who cares when the character finally took off? It all started here.

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  56. Shawn worked as a character after the 92 heel turn and even in 95 at first. Then all his cool points went out the window when he started hanging with Jose and became a super babyface that acts like a stripper.

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  57. Haha. I bet u a million dollars on that

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  58. Worktable means nothing. I agree

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  59. THAT'S GOTTA BE KANE

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  60. This was the debut of "ONE OF THE MOST ELECTRIFYING SUPERSTARS IN THE HISTORY OF SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT. THE WWE UNIVERSE WILL NEVER, EVER BE THE SAME!!"

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  61. Agree although he had lots of credibility during his heel run through buried alive ppv

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  62. Not really a coincidence that the best '96 Shawn matches are the Diesel and Mankind bouts, followed by the Vader match. Why? Because Shawn actually DID look like a tough guy in those, a guy who would take enormous punishment but would also dish it right back.

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  63. In fairness, they also spent most of the spring jobbing Vader out to the Warrior left and right at house shows, which shows that they never really did have a clue how to use him.

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  64. Didn't tensai best cena and cm punk after destroying jobbers?

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  65. Raw makes a pretty noticeable improvement after WrestleMania 12.

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  66. I'd basically been watching WCW only since the June 1991 COTC, so I basically became a WCW fan just in time for them to start hyping up the Great American Bash and what a legend Flair was, plus I rented WrestleWar 1989 and Great American Bash 1989... so I was pretty excited to see him arrive in the WWF.

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  67. I first caught WCW in 1990 and heard of Flair before that in magazines so I knew it was a big deal but didn't see him as being on Hulk's level

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  68. That is some 80s hair on that ho.

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  69. She is not.


    Should she be in the HoF? Debatable point.

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  70. But he was a smiling babyface world champion. It should have worked! Sufferin succotash, son!

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  71. If kids google Sable, they can see her Playboy pics so she shouldn't be in the HoF incase it warps their fragile little minds.

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  72. I remember watching this as a kid thinking "Holy shit, this guy just beat Undertaker's ass." This was a pretty memorable debut I'd say. Still remember it like yesterday.

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  73. I don't understand people's revisionist history regarding the Mankind character. Undertaker's feuds always started this way with the big heel coming out and destroying Undertaker. Even Gonzales got to destroy Taker at the 93 Rumble.

    Also feuding with Undertaker seemed like the deathblow to the Mankind character because at that point no-one came out looking good after feuding with the Undertaker. In fact feuding with the Undertaker normally resulted in guys leaving the company a few months later. Even a made guy like Diesel couldn't escape the Undertaker's curse. Fans only started taking Foley seriously when Mankind beat him at the KOTR because no-one had ever done that before.

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  74. Sadly I think WWE revisionist history has mostly forgotten the Mankind/Undertaker feud. When Taker gets inducted, it'd probably be HHH, HBK or Kane doing the honors.

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  75. Kane was his biggest rival. I think he should do it.

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  76. Maybe I was just a dumb mark, but I actually liked Bradshaw during this period and wished WWF would have given him a bigger push. I think he could have gotten over as a uppermidcarder badass heel type of guy.

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  77. Didn't so much set him for life because the introduction of the Executioner pretty much turned Mankind into a higher end JTTS guy.

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  78. I'm pretty sure Vince has a video of that in his private collection somewhere.

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  79. KOTR did change a lot of things, but I'm mostly referring to Mankind's debut on this show. People are acting like it was the biggest debut angle of all time, but at the time it was basically just another Undertaker instafeud.


    The fact Foley came to be a big star later on makes people put on their rose tinted glasses when watching this show, but if Mankind ended up leaving the company 6 months later (like all Undertaker's opponents did) then this wouldn't be remembered fondly at all.

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  80. HHH put over "his" project Shamus by beating him cleanly at WM, but then letting Shamus hit him with a pipe later in the show... what a rub

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  81. I just learned alot reading this thread. Never realized there were that many big gold versions in WWE. Hmmmph

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  82. HBK is fine. That's the one guy besides Kane Taker was significantly associated with in both halves of his career, and unlike Kane, Shawn's actually on Taker's level from a star power perspective.

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  83. I think that given HHH's position with regard to NXT, and the stuff that Meltzer has been saying about how much he loves the compliments he gets from it, I would be willing to bet he'd lay down for Owens just to continue to satiate his own ego. I don't want to start anything, but HHH has been doing the right thing a lot more over the last few years. Bryan, the Shield - before Sting, he hadn't really gone over anyone he shouldn't have since he fucked Punk over at Summerslam a few years ago.

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  84. He didn't do Axel any favors, and he definitely shouldn't have gone over Brock when he did. Hell, even Awesome Truth.

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  85. Agreed on the first, but I may be the only one who doesn't find the Brock thing THAT egregious. No, he shouldn't have gone over, but he tapped out clean in the first match, and only won a second gimmick match using the steel steps, and lost the third match. I don't think that's the worst thing in the world.

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  86. Dude, Kane's a big star. He's been all over the main event in recent months and the Network has over 1.3 million subscribers. Hardly a coincidence, I think.

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  87. If Koko B Ware gets in...

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  88. Gordy was around for what, three weeks? That hardly killed Mankind as a character

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  89. "Ween" Dean AndrewsApril 2, 2015 at 3:25 AM

    Razor Ramon and Chris Jericho's themes sound awfully similar, don't they?

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  90. That wasn't clean by any means.

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  91. Wow, that's crazy.. Never saw that before. Such a weird choice for a belt design to give him. Thanks for the info!

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  92. Funny how JBL was protected even THEN. I think Vince must have been a huge fan of the guy right from the very beginning, as I recall very few Bradshaw jobs. Even with the APA, Faarooq nearly ALWAYS ate the fall, and Bradshaw usually ended things with the Clothesline if their Tag Finisher didn't end it.

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  93. Steve Austin's is basically a faster, metal version of Ramon's theme.

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  94. I was the same way. I had no idea why some old man thought he was so great.

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  95. "Ween" Dean AndrewsApril 2, 2015 at 4:17 AM

    So it is!


    And Mankind's shares the crashing car sound.

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  96. Macho Man's theme sounds just like what they played at my graduation.

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  97. You want MORE Kane on TV?

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  98. It'll be Michaels or Hunter of course.

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  99. Post Mania 11 Raw was better. Probably one of the greatest hours WWF ever did.

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  100. "Ween" Dean AndrewsApril 2, 2015 at 6:14 AM

    It sounds like the noises your mom was making last night

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  101. Razors theme is also stolen from an Eagles song

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  102. Quite frankly that's a great point.

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  103. But that didn't happen and we all lived happily ever after

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  104. They wanted to call him the Mastodon, he came from WCW, he was stiff and they wanted him to lose weight. He had some thinks going against him before Summerslam.

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  105. It was such a waste of Vader, one of the most dominant champions and brightest stars in WCW.


    I just realized why it didn't work...

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  106. He was probably more protected because he was tight with the Undertaker. Wasn't he part of his BSK group?

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  107. He's just trolling. It's...not very good.

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  108. He's fine as long as he isn't in a match.

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  109. Eh, being a WCW guy didn't hurt Sid much back then. The difference was that Sid and Michaels got along backstage, whereas Michaels had no use for Vader.

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  110. Ah, hell, totally forgot Sid could be considered a WCW guy, too. Good point.

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  111. Probably, plus Undertaker did give Bradshaw a good amount of offense in this match so it seemed Taker liked the guy enough to do that for him.

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  112. True, but in wrestling (and especially in WWF/E) "amazing character" trumps "amazing performer" any day. Yeah, it's best to have a balance, but a top level performer like Daniel Bryan would've never gotten a chance if he didn't find the right character first.

    Nobody will ever think of Hogan or Rock as top-tier in-ring performers, but there's a reason why they are two of the biggest WWE stars of all time.

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  113. Same. I don't think I knew who Flair was at that time.

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  114. That design looks amazing. I'm sure it's partly due to the subdued colors and lighting, but it looks awesome.

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  115. I remember reading in an old Observer that the injunction WCW was granted covered not only the actual BGB but a "reasonable facsimile," i.e...a knockoff replica. That's why they went to the distortion and the tag belt. That suit also did set a legal precedent that championship belts were intellectual property and that figured into the Madusa thing (WCW got sued) and why Bischoff has said over and over that he was never going to have Bret trash the WWF Title on Nitro because he didn't want to get sued again.

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  116. I knew who Flair was and why it was such a big deal for him to be in the WWF because of the Apter mags. I'd never actually SEEN any NWA / WCW wrestling at that point, but I'd certainly read about it.
    I suspect that there were a lot of WWF fans who reacted rather similarly to yourself at that time though. Ric Flair was a massive deal in the South and the territories where Crockett ran regularly, but the general WWF audience were probably barely aware of who he was.
    Ultimately, that may have been what raised the red flags and prompted the WWF to ditch their plans to run with Hogan / Flair at WMVIII.
    Flair did look like quite an anomaly in the WWF in 1991. It was full of steroid monsters and wrestlers dressed up in weird outfits, then here comes this relatively normal sized, slightly older looking guy without a muscle bound physique, dressed only in black underpants. He looked like one of those preliminary jobbers they used to have on the Wrestling Superstars TV show.

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