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What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw - November 25, 1996

by Logan Scisco

-Vince McMahon, Jerry “the King” Lawler, and Jim Ross are in the booth and are in New Haven, Connecticut.

-Opening Contest:  Bret “the Hitman” Hart defeats Owen Hart (w/Clarence Mason) via disqualification after Steve Austin interferes at 9:25 shown:

You can’t opt for a better opener than this, but there’s nothing that stands out about this one being any better than average.  They work in some basic wrestling before the commercial break and Bret eventually gets Owen ready for the Sharpshooter before Steve Austin interferes.  Austin tries to Pillmanize Bret’s ankle, but the British Bulldog runs out and makes the shocking save.  Owen isn’t happy about this, but puts those feelings aside when Austin whacks the Bulldog with the chair.  This sowed the seeds of dissension between Owen and the Bulldog, which led to some nice comedic moments in early 1997, and also defined Austin’s character as someone who just didn’t care about anyone but himself.  Rating:  **

-McMahon recaps the end of the Owen-Bret match that we just saw.

-The Executioner (w/Paul Bearer & Mankind) defeats Freddie Joe Floyd via submission with the Asian spike at 3:02:

We’re treated to a rare Executioner singles match here, which is meant to build him up for the Undertaker at the next In Your House pay-per-view.  The Executioner is facing the Undertaker in an Armageddon match, but we don’t get any clarification about what the rules are going to be for that.  Floyd actually manages to score a near-fall in this match, but he’s quickly finished off with the Asian spike.  Gordy needed a better finisher than that, but the WWF was not going to let him use the powerbomb when Sid was already doing it.

-McMahon interviews Shawn Michaels and Jose Lothario, who are in Lothario’s home in San Antonio, Texas.  Lothario says he feels guilty for costing Michaels the WWF title at the Survivor Series and that he’s going to have a procedure done on his heart.  Michaels says that he’s lost his edge since he won the WWF title and he lays into Sid for attacking Lothario at the Survivor Series.  A pretty intense interview, but it went on too long.

-Sunny comes out to do guest commentary and McMahon dances with her as we cut to a commercial break.  1990s McMahon would really get a kick out of Brodus Clay.

-In the Karate Fighters Holiday Tournament we have semi-final action between Sable and Sunny.  So did these two brawl before or after they filmed this segment?  Sunny wins, which makes me happy, but the referee discovers that Sunny put gum on the foot of her Karate Fighter and reverses the decision.  In response, Sunny punches out the referee, which gets an accompanying side effect.

-Rocky Maivia pins Salvatore Sincere with a shoulderbreaker at 4:27:

Sunny says she has her eyes on Maivia, showing that she does indeed have an eye for talent.  Tom Brandi holds the distinction of being Maivia’s first major opponent in the WWF, as these two had a small feud on WWF TV through the rest of 1996.  Maivia’s offense is very basic and doesn’t show a lot of flavor, which is why the crowds began to turn on him.  Maivia gets the victory after Sincere’s blind charge sends him shoulder-first into the ring post.  This could’ve been a good match on the house show circuit, but they needed to speed it up for TV.  Rating:  *½

-Marc Mero tells Vince McMahon that he isn’t worried that Hunter Hearst Helmsley sitting at ringside for his match with Billy Gunn tonight.  Sable is sporting a more realistic look here, as she isn’t wearing as much makeup and has straightened her hair.

-Call 1-888-WWF-SHOP to get a piece of the 1996 Survivor Series ring for $59 (plus $8 shipping and handling)!

-Call 1-900-737-4WWF to find out where Mr. Perfect is.  That’s a ripoff because they can just tune into Nitro to find that out!

-Hendrix says that he heard the British Bulldog tell Owen Hart that he wants a piece of Steve Austin.

-Flash Funk’s 450 splash on a jobber is the Acclaim Slam of the Week.

-“Wildman” Marc Mero (w/Sable) defeats Billy Gunn via disqualification when Hunter Hearst Helmsley, who is doing guest commentary, interferes at 7:58 shown:

This is a decent contest that serves as filler for the larger Mero-Helmsley feud.  They make Billy look strong, as he is able to kick out of some of Mero’s trademark moves like the slingshot leg drop from the ring apron.  However, the crowd doesn’t buy Billy as a threat or even on Mero’s level and quite frankly I don’t either after watching WWF television for the entire year of 1996.  It would’ve helped Billy’s case to have a better gimmick and to squash some jobbers for a month.  The WWF had conditioned fans to accept the fact that tag team wrestlers were well below their singles counterparts, so tossing Smoking Gunn Billy into the mix and expecting the crowd to respond to him in matches like this is ludicrous.  Helmsley ruins the finish, with Mero ready to hit the Wild Thing, and this prompts Jake Roberts to come out and come to Mero’s aid, thereby setting up a possible tag team match next week.  Rating:  **

The Final Report Card:  Another acceptable wrestling episode of Raw, so no real complaints.  The WWF was having some decent ring work carry the shows, but the problem during this period was that outside of a handful of guys, the crowd didn’t care about the roster.  For example, there was a dead crowd for the Mero-Billy match that ended the show and that’s a reminder that you can put on great wrestling, but if the fans don’t feel any connection to the talent then they aren’t going to tune in and watch.

Monday Night War Rating:  2.1 (vs. 3.1 for Nitro)

Show Grade:  Neutral