The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 08.19.96
So it’s the night after Summerslam 96, and frankly we’ve rehashed that ground so many times that you can probably recite the Scott Sez in your sleep by now anyway. Shawn is a whiny baby, Paul Bearer turns heel, everything else is shit, you know the drill.
Live from Wheeling, WV
Your hosts are Kevin Kelly, Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler. Where the hell did THAT come from? Also, did you know Jim Ross did a boxing show a year ago and it’s on YouTube? Now you do.
Intercontinental title tournament quarterfinals: British Bulldog v. Owen Hart
They trade hiptosses and Owen dumps Bulldog, but Bulldog comes back with a chinlock and crazy press slam for two. Bulldog with a chinlock while the screen gets static interference and some fans in the front row chant “Nitro sucks”. I dunno, on average it’s been the better show for the past few months, I’d say. Bulldog with a powerslam for two and Sunny joins us as we take a break. Back with Owen working on the leg while Jim Cornette rants from backstage about everyone conspiring against him and stealing his talent. And indeed that is what happened with Owen & Bulldog. Owen with the Sharpshooter, but Bulldog makes the ropes and slugs away, so Owen backdrops him to the floor. They fight on the apron and Bulldog suplexes him from the apron to the floor in an insane bump for the time, and they fight until Owen beats the countout at 10:40 to advance. Sunny accidentally gets a drink spilled on her dress, prompting a rant against the Harts about how Bulldog is a pervert who was trying to feel her up, and Jim Cornette comes out and calls her a little slut. And this actually paid off with a match, so GREAT. ***
Mark Henry signs autographs at ringside for the two people who might care at that point. Speaking of questionable tryouts and signings, here’s Dave on some of the happenings at this taping:
“Rick Titan (Big Titan from WAR) got a try-out beating Frank Staletto. Titan didn't look good but Staletto looked good enough that they brought him back later for a try-out match. Flex Kavana got a second look (he's already under contract) beating David Haskins.”
And for those of you just joining us here in 1996, Rick Titan was the unfortunate goof who got stuck with the gig as Fake Razor Ramon a few weeks from here, and I don’t know what happened to that Flex Kavana guy. I suppose I could Google it, but why waste the effort of opening a new tab for someone who clearly disappeared from the business years ago? Maybe he retired from the business in 2004 due to a botched contract renewal and became a big movie star? We’ll never know! WHO ARE YOU, MYSTERIOUS FLEX KAVANA?
Vader v. Freddie Joe Floyd
We take an immediate break and return with Vader destroying poor Tracy with a pair of Vaderbombs at 1:30.
Mankind and new father figure Paul Bearer are out for words with Jim Ross, and now it is Mankind who controls the power of the urn, so SUCK IT, UNDERTAKER. Or words to that effect. Also, he’s getting the title shot next month and he’ll make Shawn Michaels into the ugliest boy toy. But then the screen gets all wacky again and his faithful druid army carries Undertaker to the ring, apparently having hauled this poor dude all the way from Cleveland by foot. Bearer clarifies that it’s just his decaying corpse being consumed by maggots and worms. That’s reassuring. This is finally Paul Bearer getting to cut loose in full Percy Pringle heel mode as a raving lunatic instead of the vaguely creepy stuff he used to spew. Unfortunately for him, Undertaker’s rotting corpse revives and sets off pyro in the corners. And then I bet someone backstage was like “Hmm, we should hang onto that ring gimmick in case we need it later.” Great segment.
Meanwhile, Barry Windham is the STALKER. Whatever you say, Duck Dynasty.
Final Four Battle Royale: Steve Austin v. Goldust v. Sid v. Savio Vega
Winner of this gets a title shot at Shawn Michaels on the US Open episode of RAW in two weeks, replacing Ahmed Johnson, whom you’ll recall was supposed to be getting the title shot on this very show. So this is the last four guys in the original battle royale, doing a redo. Sid is very quickly triple-teamed and eliminated, but he chokeslams everyone to get his revenge. We take a break and return with Austin blindsiding Goldust as JR discusses how Austin would REALLY like to wrestle Bret Hart at some point. Savio breaks them up and dumps Goldust, but he hangs on. Savio comes back on both guys and tosses Austin, but he pulls himself back in, so Savio catapults him out the other side. Austin lays Savio out on the way to the back, leaving Goldust in control. Savio comes back again, but Goldust reverses him out at 6:34 to win. Dave’s take on Steve Austin: “Austin seems to be getting over as a babyface.” Yes, perhaps Steve Austin might indeed have a future as a babyface.
Shawn Michaels v. Yokozuna
This is Yoko’s final appearance on WWF TV, not counting all the times that he was supposed to debut as the newest member of the Hart Foundation in 1997, and of course Hulk Hogan would spend the next two years trying to get him into WCW so he could get his win back. Yoko slugs away to start, but Shawn fights back and Yoko goes down. Jim Cornette joins us as we take a break. Back with Cornette beating up Jose Lothario, allowing Yoko to come back with the belly to belly on a distracted Shawn. Big splash misses and Shawn hits a flying splash of his own for two. Yoko counters the superkick with a samoan drop, but he misses the legdrop and Shawn finishes with the superkick at 6:12 of a surprisingly good match. ***
Hell of a show this week, although the tennis really messed with their momentum, especially because this show rebounded to a 2.9 rating after the previous week’s dismal 2.0. However, it was also an interesting sign in that Nitro also had a huge rating, which showed that in fact you didn’t have to split the audience for the shows and in fact could GROW the wrestling audience in general, something went against all the vitriol and propaganda spewed by the WWF when Nitro launched.