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What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw - December 2, 1996

by Logan Scisco

-Vince McMahon and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are continuing the taping in New Haven, Connecticut.

-Opening Contest:  Flash Funk (w/The Funkettes) pins The Goon after a Tumbleweed variation at 5:31 shown:

2 Cold Scorpio was one of those guys that didn’t need to be repackaged during this era because around this time the WWF was already adopting a grittier feel.  Then again, the WWF wants to put its stamp on things, so that’s probably what ushered in the pimp gimmick.  This is a standard TV match, with the Goon controlling a lot of the offense and Funk getting a few high spots like a moonsault and a leg drop off the second rope.  There’s not really any psychology, but the point is to build momentum for Funk and let Bill Irwin collect checks for putting over the stars of the New Generation.  Rating:  *½

-Steve Austin rants about people getting involved in his business in London, England.

-The Fake Diesel defeats Phineas Godwinn (w/Hillbilly Jim) with a Jackknife at 3:43:

Jim Ross joins the commentary team since he’s the quasi management partner for these fake characters.  As the match starts, McMahon takes the time to reflect upon the recent death of Tiny Tim and they show clips of Lawler breaking his ukulele back in 1993.  This is a match that you think Phineas might win, but then you realize that the Fake Razor and Diesel have a tag team title match at the next In Your House so you are quickly relieved of that notion.  Diesel still needs outside interfere from the Fake Razor to avoid a Slop Drop, though, and he nearly kills Phineas with the finisher.  This wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be, but that’s not saying a whole lot.  Rating:  ½*

-Shawn Michaels talks to Vince McMahon from a WWF studio somewhere.  He says he doesn’t mind that Sid used a video camera on him at Survivor Series, but that he takes exception for when it was used on Jose Lothario.  He says that he’s a man’s man, which is an angle the WWF is really trying to sell right now for Michaels character.  All of this hype about Shawn being a “man’s man” is coming off really forced.

-Call 1-900-737-4WWF to hear who won big and who lost big on the recent Middle East tour!

-Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw (w/Uncle Zebekiah) beat “The Real Double J” Jesse James with a lariat after Zebekiah grabs James’ foot when he runs the ropes at 5:55

If you didn’t get enough of “With My Baby Tonight” in June and July 1995 you can hear more of it when watching some Jesse James matches in 1996 and 1997.  This starts as a very sloppy midcard match, with James botching a body press and Bradshaw not doing a blind charge in the corner when he’s supposed to.  It builds from there into a decent encounter, but the WWF doesn’t seem to be abandoning the Bradshaw experiment, despite not knowing what to do with him.  This marked for the fans that James character had hit a ceiling and he was going to be permanently relegated to the midcard.  I’m not complaining about that, though, because there’s only so far you can go with a gimmick like that.  Rating:  *½

-In the Karate Fighters Holiday Tournament we have a scheduled semi-final between Sid and Mr. Perfect.  However, Sid has left the tournament after becoming WWF Champion and Mr. Perfect isn’t in the company anymore because Hunter Hearst-Helmsley got the better of him, so Lawler and Pettengill are going to replace them.  Lawler beats Pettengill and gets a spot in the finals next week.

-Steve Austin’s attack on Bret Hart on last week’s show, which was interrupted by the British Bulldog, is shown.  A subsequent confrontation between the Bulldog and Austin in London is shown along with Bret saving the Bulldog from a Sid powerbomb at the same show.  Austin, the Bulldog, Bret Hart, and Sid cut promos against each other, which explain why they don’t like each other.

-Leif Cassidy’s moonsault on Scott Taylor on WWF Superstars is the Footaction Slam of the Week.

-“Wildman” Marc Mero & Jake “the Snake” Roberts (w/Sable) defeat Hunter Hearst-Helmsley (Intercontinental Champion) & Billy Gunn after Mero pins Helmsley following a Wild Thing at 12:09 shown:

This match is a result of the end of last week’s match between Mero and Gunn, but its purpose is to continue to build the Mero-Helmsley issue.  Helmsley spends a great deal of the match avoiding Mero and the heels make Roberts take most of the punishment.  Mero gets to come to the rescue after the hot tag and scores another pinfall on Helmsley in a tag match, continuing a pattern that began at the Survivor Series a couple of weeks ago.  Roberts just can’t go anymore by this point and it made the match tough to get into until Mero made the hot tag.  Rating:  *

-Tune in next week for a no holds barred match between the Undertaker and Mankind!  Also, Sid faces Hunter Hearst-Helmsley in a champion vs. champion match, Jesse James faces Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw and Uncle Zebekiah in a handicap match, and Goldust collides with Bart Gunn!  That’s a pretty loaded card for a 1996 edition of Raw.

The Final Report Card:  This was the failed characters of 1996 episode of Raw as the Goon, Flash Funk, the Fake Diesel, and the “Real Double J” Jesse James saw action.  The tag team main event also wasn’t anything to write home about, but it’s really tough to criticize the guys involved because they were at a four show TV taping and had other matches to wrestle on the card.

Monday Night War Rating:  2.3 (vs. 3.4 for Nitro)

Show Grade:  Thumbs Down