Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW–08.19.96

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. ***

The Pulse

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.

115 comments:

  1. Actually, Scott, hate to nitpick but Yoko had that one final appearance at Survivor Series in MSG. But I think this was the last one before that.

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  2. Best Yokozuna match of all time?

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  3. Bret at WM9.

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  4. "not counting all the times that he was supposed to debut as the newest member of the Hart Foundation in 1997"

    I miss SCOOPS.

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  5. Lol @ the immediate threadjacker.

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  6. What was the plan for Ahmed here? Was someone turning heel or where they going to do the old midcarder gets over by *almost* beating the champion bit? Because Ahmed was over as fuck a this point, maybe even moreso than Shawn.

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  7. Hate to break it to ya Scott, but you are late to the party. The JR story broke on your last review. Better late than never, I guess.

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  8. 1996 WWF gets a bad rap but I liked it as a 14 year old and I enjoy it now. It's very hit & miss, and I think the Fake Diesel/Razor stuff overshadows everything. But Mind Games & Survivor Series are 2 really, really good PPVs and they had a lot of talent putting on some good matches.


    It would be interesting in an alternate universe to see what would have happen if they had abandoned the four-week taping cycles earlier, because that's what killed the product in 1996.

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  9. LOL at the shot at fg.

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  10. 96 to 97 Austin is the greatest of all time. Everything he did was spectacular. He was still awesome in 98, but once he won the title and he didn't get to let loose as much with the Austin/McMahon stuff and he kind of went over the top with the vehicles...etc..etc...

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  11. Bait and switch is my guess... or Faarooq causes a DQ.

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  12. I hope Frank Staletto played the heel in his match

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  13. That comment was bowling shoe-ugly

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  14. I think I remember hearing that after this match, Yoko was supposed to turn on Shawn and get the next PPV title shot. There was a clip on Superstars at the end of the match about Yoko being pissed but giving Shawn a high-five. Maybe this was supposed to result in a heel turn the next week or so.

    But the Yoko match turned into Mankind challenging for the title at....Mind Games? I think that was the PPV...

    Also, am I off but did WCW often talk glowingly when Lex Luger was wrestling about how he had taken down "the mighty Yokozuna"?

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  15. It was new and exciting and DIFFERENT. Then heel Bret in 97 was DIFFERENT. And Shawn in late 97 was DIFFERENT. And Rock in 98 was DIFFERENT. These were new and exciting character developments never before seen.

    Nowadays, everyone keeps the same character forever or debuts with instant derivative blandness with a few exceptions like Kevin Owens who, as cocky, heel family man, is pretty unique.

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  16. Stranger In The AlpsJune 30, 2015 at 7:31 AM

    I admit that I had to look up that Flex Kavana guy. Now where do I turn in my smark card for doing this?

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  17. Back in 2010 or before July 31, 2011 - I would place that in my trophy case, along with my episode of Wrestlecrap Radio with RD Reynolds. Or even the Scott Keith parody I did in 2000 under a different name back when my dad was alive. Back about four years ago, I would bask in the glory of the fifteen seconds of fame. Now I'm just shocked it got mentioned at all since it was over w year old and such.

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  18. Yoko did a interview in 1999 and you should tell he didn't want anything to do with WCW in any form or fashion and he was too big to ever return to the WWF.

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  19. I knew who Flex Karvana was. He even lost a loser leaves town match to Jerry Lawler. If you smell what the Flex is cooking.

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  20. If only he break the news on the Mr. America DVD set that is supposed to come out soon - according to a video posted in 2010.

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  21. Take your smark card, shine it up real nice.....you know where this going.

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  22. This begs a second question then, would Ahmed have retained the IC title at Summerslam? I mean, Ahmed had just won the thing so it seems stupid to end his reign so quickly (unless they wanted him at the main event level already). But Farooq just debuted so giving him a loss so quickly seems counterproductive, especially given that he was managed by Sunny whose storyline at the time was that her guys always got the gold.

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  23. They had already announced Mankind vs. Shawn during the Mankind/Bearer interview.

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  24. His cage matches with Bret were really good.

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  25. "botched contract renewal"



    Wait.......what?!!?

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  26. Knuckleberry PinnJune 30, 2015 at 8:25 AM

    My sentiments exactly

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  27. Knuckleberry PinnJune 30, 2015 at 8:26 AM

    Wasn't Yoko at Survivor Series 96?

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  28. There was a rumor during this time that Undertaker was leaving the company and SummerSlam would be his last show. John Petrie addressed the rumor in his recap of this episode, and you said in your original SummerSlam review fresh outta '96 that this was the end of his run. Was it an rspw thing, or something the Observer was chirping about?

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  29. Rock's contract expired in 2004. He left his schedule open for negotiations with WWE but Johnny Ace didn't offer Rock a new contract until after the old one expired. When Rock did get a new offer it was a lowball offer. The whole situation pissed Rock off that he left and didn't return until the Cena feud.

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  30. Yes, Scott is mistaken

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  31. Really? Where is that from? I find it hard to believe Rock would have signed another deal with WWE.

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  32. I thought they just let his contract expire without even talking to him. Rock's agents congratulated him on being done with WWE and he was blindsided.

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  34. Bret at WM9, Savage on RAW, Luger at Summerslam...I thought the Hogan match at KotR was good too. 1993 Yoko was a 2.5-3 star worker.

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  35. Yes Ross did a Boxing card on Fox Sports 1 for Golden Boy Promotions and it was good. He plugged it on his podcast for about 10 weeks straight. The guy could pretty much call anything and make it work.

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  36. http://www.cagesideseats.com/2010/8/4/1605559/was-dwayne-the-rock-johnson-the

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  37. MaffewOfBotchamaniaJune 30, 2015 at 8:49 AM

    ''not counting all the times that he was supposed to debut as the newest member of the Hart Foundation in 1997''

    Sorry to kill the mood, but was this real? I know Owen teamed with Yokozuna but I never heard this before.

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  38. "Hulk Hogan would spend the next two years trying to get him into WCW so he could get his win back."

    I think people think of this too much as "Hogan needs to win to placate his ego" and not "Hogan thinks it would be a money angle to have a guy who beat him in WWF come and challenge him in WCW."

    I mean, stuff like the WCW Warrior feud did placate his ego, but I'm sure Hogan was probably more motivated by the idea of Hogan vs. Warrior II being a potentially huge PPV draw.

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  39. Owen/Bulldog. Shawn must have been having a meltdown trying to figure out which one he wanted to use his political power to have lose. I guess he just decided to have them be the opening match instead of the main event where they rightfully should have been.

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  40. It was one of those internet rumors, like Demolition and Papa Shango are coming back.

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  41. Butch reed to Nod too

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  42. That was never ever reported

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  43. That is actually the correct version

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  44. What happened to Vader was disgraceful. You could already see a certain subsection of the audience cheering him at Summerslam. There was no reason not to make him champion and run with him until Wrestlemania 13 other than Shawn Michaels was a dick and didn't want his spot threatened.

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  45. Your argument for him being champ is that he was being cheered as a heel?

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  46. Poor Stranger. His videotape reviews will be a lot snarkier after this.

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  47. Or that they lost the tag team titles. #RSPW

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  48. Nowhere as big a star as Joe Gomez, that's for sure.

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  49. Brian Pillman faked his death and will be the Higher Power (yes, really a rumor...)

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  50. Except the other thing...it would force Vince to admit that someone who was a big star in WCW and relatively unchanged in the WWF was good enough to hang with his "big boys."

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  51. Looking back, it's kind of shocking that a WCW creation got so decent of a push.

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  52. Yeah kinda like that Austin guy was.

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  53. He's really not a WCW creation though. He got his start in Japan. Its kind of like saying WWE created Finn Balor.

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  54. So you're arguing that Vader should've started wearing vests?

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  55. I'd say Faarooq gets the belt by cheating. Whatever Sunny wants, Sunny gets. So they hype the match with Shawn as a redemption thing, but Faarooq gets involved in that too. Faarooq gets a couple goons for Ahmed to destroy for a month, he gets the belt back by Survivor Series, and they end up putting the belt on him at WM13.

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  56. Yes it would've been a stylish look for him.

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  57. If Hulk really wanted to make money he would have let Vader beat him in their first match so Vader continues to look like a monster, and Hulk could come back later and get his revenge in a money drawing feud. Hulk has always shown that he's only into placating his own ego first and drawing money second.

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  58. Sure Japan created the template for the character, but noone really watched his Japan stuff outside of the diehard fans. It was WCW where he gained the most fame to the North American fans and an organization he's better associated with.

    Same with Samoa Joe. He was booked liked a monster in ROH, but no-one really saw it. He came to TNA, got a similar push and most people associate Joe with TNA than ROH because of it.

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  59. That would have been awesome though.

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  60. Except Papa Shango coming back wasn't a rumor. They actually were going to run with that until the Kane angle started up and they decided to go in a more 'human' direction with Undertaker. I had a 1997 WWF Trivia card game with Papa Shango inexplicably included with the active roster. It was damn real.

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  61. Despite Bulldog being a Hart, I always thought him and Shawn got along. Bulldog was there when the Syracuse thing happened. I think things only turned ugly for them later on when the Bret/Shawn was boiling over and Bulldog had to take a side.

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  62. I actually remember a rumor from this time that Shawn was the one leaving, and he would be dropping the title to Vader (who would presumably transition the strap to Ahmed) on his way out.

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  63. On another note, Undertaker debuting as the fifth man in the nWo (instead of The Giant turning) would have been INSANE and probably changed the course of the business, at least on the WWF/E side of things.

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  64. In his prime sure, Yoko could work, but at 800lbs, this was Yoko's greatest match ever.

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  65. It was a bit misleading, you have to admit.

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  66. I thought Yoko was face by this point. When did he turn heel again?

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  67. It was indeed a rumor, also Yoko was rumored to be coming back in 2000 to get involved in the Rock/Rikishi angle, but couldn't pass the physical. I think WWE/Vince always liked Yoko and was willing to take him back at any point, but his health always got in the way.

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  68. It was a face-face match-up I'm pretty sure. Late 1996 WWF was starting to experiment more with face-face and heel-heel matches on RAW. I remember an Austin-Mankind match and I believe also an Austin-Vader match that were billed as "toughman contests."

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  69. He didn't turn, it was just the writers being really lazy.

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  70. Yoko was managed by Cornette, which would have made him a heel in this match.

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  71. "and that's the bottom line, because...IT'S...VADER...TIME"

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  72. I don't recall Shawn having an issue with Owen either, or vice versa. Owen was pretty much universally liked, and I know Razor and Kid have told stories in shoots about palling around with Owen back in the day. So there was no Kliq issue there. I think the Shawn-Bret issue was pretty self-contained until the second half of 1997 when Shawn really starting turning up his inner-dickhead.

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  73. I think the Undertaker/WWE relationship was strained at this point where Undertaker sort of wanted to leave between Summerslam 96 and WM13 and Vince only talked Taker out of it by promising him the title.

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  74. Yoko and Cornette parted ways in early 96. That's what led to the Team Yoko vs. Camp Cornette 6-man tag at Mania 12 and the subsequent Yoko/Vader program.

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  75. Was anybody else clueless about Flex? I imagine fans who didn't grow up watching the product at the time would have been. I only knew who Flex was because I use to read PWI back in the day.

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  76. Somewhat off topic, but what was going on with Jake Roberts at this point? I remember he was off TV a lot in the summer, no showed IYH: International Incident in particular, comes back for Summerslam, and is basically off TV again until Survivor Series. Then he vanishes again, Rumble appearance, and he's turfed. Common logic says the drug issues were flaring up again, but why were they even using him at all if that was the case?

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  77. I can't imagine this was the case as Yoko's credibility was beyond damaged at this point.

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  78. Austin playing the heel in 96-97 was awesome stuff. After he turned face, he was still pretty awesome, but obvious he toned it down a notch.

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  79. The PPV shows tended to be good because the wrestlers (more specifically Shawn) brought their working boots with them, but the tv shows around this time was death where it seemed no-one gave a crap.

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  80. Never reported, although I remember Hall mentioning earlier this year that in the early stages of the NWO they made a play for UT but he turned them down.

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  81. How was Vince able to promise Taker the title when the end game was HBK/Hart at WM13 with a rumored Vader reign in there somewhere as a transition guy? I mean I know Vince has a history of BSing guys about promised title runs, but this one barely seems plausible. Taker only got the strap in the chaos of HBK losing his smile and Hart/Austin taking off.

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  82. Did WWF ever announce Ahmed vs Faarooq for Summerslam? Because the WWF magazine actually announced Ahmed vs Owen for the card. It seemed that the whole Faarooq deal was a last minute thing.

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  83. I get what you're saying and its true WCW was first to give him American exposure but I was just saying its not quite like Sting or Goldberg that were pure WCW creations.

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  84. Yeah, I thought Scott's shot was a bit out of place and didn't make tons of sense. Even the initial reaction to the comment in the first place was off and (IMO) a bit over-reactive.. Maybe Scott bears a grudge for something we don't know about.

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  85. Weird announce team, too. Why was Vince off TV? I seem to recall a few episodes where he was strangely absent. Were they looking to move him away from the announce table a year early?

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  86. A lot of plans changed for WM13, HBK/Hart II was never intended to be for the title and I remember when Shawn couldn't do the show, WWF initially wanted to do Bret v Undertaker for WM13, but then Undertaker threatened to walk, so WWF decided to do Undertaker v Sid so Taker could win the title.

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  87. I know Razor/Owen were good friends, and while I haven't heard anything on the Shawn/Owen deal, I don't think they were friends, or enemies either. I think those two probably kept a distance away from each other because I imagine it could have gotten ugly. I mean, can you imagine Owen pulling a prank on Shawn while Shawn was high? Shawn would have no doubt had a hissy fit on the whole thing and demand Owen to be fired or buried.

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  88. Wasn't Sting a UWF creation? I think the whole argument boils down to that there's no new creations in the wrestling business because wrestling has always used the same template to give to certain guys and wrestlers are only known to be a creation from that promotion either due to having a lot of fame there or due to some revisionist history.

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  89. Cornette managed Yoko in his match with Shawn as a one time deal.

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  90. I was at Summerslam live in 96 and the program I had listed Ahmed vs. Farooq.

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  91. It's Vince. He always pushes talents to go harder, hence why Jamie Noble was on this week's Raw when it was obvious the guy was in a lot of pain.

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  92. God that was uncomfortable to watch. Like, would the world have collapsed if Jamie Noble took off for a few weeks? With all respect due to the guy, of course.

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  93. I remember this Raw. Cornette announced Yokozuna was back in his camp but nothing came from it.

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  94. Also, I'm sure the seemingly never-ending "Jake Roberts is a washed up drunk" angle they were running with Jerry Lawler around this time did wonders to help the situation.

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  95. Aside from him being stiff and not getting into shape when requested. But I'm sure Shawn was the one slipping him the cheeseburgers because he didn't want his spot threatened.

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  96. All I ever heard was what Shawn said in his book. That he always liked Owen and they got along fine, and after Montreal Owen approached him and said Shawn/Bret's problems were between them. Shawn was a party guy and Owen wasn't so I doubt they were ever close friends but they didn't seem to have problems either.

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  97. It was just lazy writing. If they wanted to do Shawn v Yoko then they should have set it up, like say on this week's Raw do a tag match with Shawn/Yoko vs Vader/Bulldog, have Yoko turn on Shawn during the match to get back in Camp Cornette then a week later you do Shawn v Yoko and after Yoko loses have Cornette fire Yoko again for being such a loser.


    Instead we get this where nothing makes sense and seems to have been booked in someone's EWR game.

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  98. Well, you never know, he could have been. I wouldn't put anything past Shawn during this period.

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  99. Actually this sounds petty enough to potentially be true. They know Rock is going to be a mainstream star, so they let his contract lapse and then give him a lowball offer to say "we didn't really want him anyway". They get to look like they were the ones that were "too good" for Rock vs the rejection the other way around.

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  100. I don't watch the current product but could it be that nothing is different anymore because we've all been watching for so long that different is a whole lot harder than it used to be? What has "never been before seen" to us? Many people here have likely been watching for 25+ years when back in 1997, I bet it was 10-12 years max.

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  101. PPVs are on TV

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  102. Hogan did exactly what you're saying for about 10 years in WWF -- lose to the big fat monster via DQ or countout, come back and win the decisive victory. It drew millions and packed houses coast to coast.

    Not sure why that formula got tweaked in WCW (RE: Vader, Flair), but you are correct -- it was a bad decision. But let's not act like Hogan never looked weak. His MO was getting beat up by a monster heel for years.

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  103. I feel like Taker to WCW as part of the nWo would be lose-lose for both WCW and WWF unless WCW tapped into Bikertaker early.

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  104. Yeah Taker going to WCW would have killed his credibility the same way it killed Bret's.

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  105. It doesn't hafta be different from anything we've ever seen, just different.

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  106. Interesting. The panic rebooking of WM13 is fascinating. It's gotta be up there with WM22 in terms of sheer chaos.

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  107. Yeah without UT actually *being* UT I can't see how it would've worked either. Plus if you look at how WCW (mis)handled everyone in retrospect it would have had very limited chances of success. Probably would've really hurt both companies in the long run.

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  108. Beat up yet never losing the title or the feud. Not that he SHOULD have lost the title back then, but he never FINISHED looking weak.

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  109. Losing Taker in 96 actually might have been the end for WWF though, in all honesty. He was one of two draws at that point barely keeping the company afloat (the other being HBK). Whether or not "Mean" Mark in the nWo takes off, the damage to WWF from losing the Undertaker could have been fatal.

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  110. Big talent jump from Nitro to Raw here, as Elizabeth and Woman had been using Staletto as a foreign object for months

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  111. I think the WWF without Taker in 1996 dies, honestly. I realize Taker was never a top draw, but he and HBK were literally the only two attractions left in 1996. If Taker also leaves, that might have been enough to put Titan down for good.

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  112. Can't imagine WWE wouldn't have wanted Rock still around, even if it's on a "one match per year at Wrestlemania" type of deal. It could be that Johnny Ace was just incompetent.

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  113. Was Vader really any fatter than he was in WCW? He kinda looked the same to me and was still awesome.

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