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What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw - December 9, 1996

by Logan Scisco

-A video package recaps the Undertaker-Mankind feud.

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

-Opening Non-Title Contest:  Sid (WWF Champion) defeats Hunter Hearst-Helmsley (Intercontinental Champion) via count out at 2:56:

These champion vs. champion matches were always interesting and they did a nice job establishing an internal pecking order in the promotion.  That said, I don’t agree with the booking here as Helmsley gets beaten from pillar to post, is powerbombed, and crawls to the locker room to fight another day.  It makes Sid look strong, but does little for the Intercontinental title or those fighting for it.  Helmsley continues a RAW jobbing streak, since Marc Mero has pinned him in several tag contests and he was destroyed against one of the more popular stars on the roster in this bout.

-Footage of Mankind and the Undertaker’s boiler room brawl at SummerSlam is shown.

-Goldust (w/Marlena) defeats Bart Gunn with a chop block at 6:01 shown:

Bart was getting a small singles push during this period, as he came close to beating Hunter Hearst Helmsley for the Intercontinental title on WWF Superstars prior to this show (see my comment about Helmsley above).  This is a paint by numbers television match, with Goldust seizing the initial advantage and Bart making a comeback after the break.  Bart hits his finisher, which was a bulldog at this point, but Goldust kicks out of it and finishes shortly thereafter to keep himself in the middle of the midcard.  The finish is really strange, but I like random finishers every once and a while because they condition crowds to react to the little stuff.  After the bout, Billy comes out and runs down Bart on the house mic until Bart comes to his senses and runs him off, thereby continuing that feud.  Rating:  *½

-Highlights of the Undertaker’s match with Mankind at In Your House:  Buried Alive are shown.

-Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw and Zebekiah say that “The Real Double J” Jesse James is making a mistake by agreeing to face them in a handicap match tonight.

-In the Karate Fighters Holiday Tournament get a quick video package recaps the action.  Yes, back in 1996 a KARATE FIGHTERS TOURNAMENT got a video package.

-Handicap Match:  “The Real Double J” Jesse James defeats Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw & Zebekiah after pinning Bradshaw after a heel miscommunication spot at 5:50:

This is the blowoff to the short feud on TV between these two.  The heels use their numbers to gradually wear James down and cheat, but when Zebekiah tries to hit James with his branding iron, in plain view of the referee, James moves and Bradshaw takes the blow to create the finish.  After the match, Bradshaw attacks Zebekiah, gives him a lariat, and brands him to send him back to the USWA, where he would be the last Unified champion of the promotion before it shut its doors in 1997.  The crowd was not into this contest at all.  After this bout, Bradshaw would be taken off of TV for a while and repackaged as part of the New Blackjacks with Barry Windham, who was ditching his Stalker gimmick.  Rating:  *½

-Ross interviews Bret “the Hitman” Hart about his title match with Sid this Sunday at In Your House.  Bret says things are getting crazy in the WWF and that he wants the WWF title

-Flash Funk’s Tumbleweed variation on the Goon on last week’s Raw is the Acclaim Slam of the Week.

-The ending of the Mankind-Undertaker match at SummerSlam is shown.

-No Holds Barred Match:  The Undertaker pins Mankind (w/Paul Bearer) with a Tombstone at 9:47 shown:

After these two have fought in boiler rooms and buried alive matches on pay-per-view, the WWF decided to throw a bone to the fans and let them see these two fight it out for free.  There is some nice continuity in the match as the Undertaker anticipates Mankind’s Pearl Harbor job when he gets into the ring and seizes the offensive.  However, this is a shorter version of their Survivor Series bout and honestly, I’m starting to tire of this feud.  Mankind is not looking nearly as strong as he did three months ago, as the Undertaker has dismantled him on three consecutive occasions at this point (Buried Alive, Survivor Series, and here).  Foley really wouldn’t find a new direction for the character until the summer of 1997 when he turned face and feuded with Hunter Hearst Helmsley.  After the finish, the Executioner attacks the Undertaker and applies the Asian spike in an attempt to make us buy the In Your House pay-per-view to see the Armageddon Match between them.  I feel bad for any fan that did that.  Rating:  **

-Tune in next week to see the Smoking Gunns explode!

The Final Report Card:  The Undertaker-Mankind match probably brought in more viewers than last week’s show, but it wasn’t a pay-per-view caliber match and came off as underwhelming for such an intense feud.  It also didn’t help that the Undertaker beat Mankind clean at the Survivor Series, so he’d already gotten revenge in storyline terms.  I still can’t believe that they jobbed Helmsley so quickly to Sid.  I understand making Sid look strong heading into the In Your House pay-per-view, but they didn’t need to make Helmsley look like such a paper champion either.

Monday Night War Rating:  N/A (vs. 3.3 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Neutral


  1. I still have WWE Classics on demand.  And watching the qaulity of these RAW shows from the 90's in comparison to Nitro, in terms of picture quality, is amazing.  The Nitro shows from 1996 still look great from a visual standpoint.  Raw, on the other hand, looks old and and the quality of the picture has not aged well.

  2. That's an interesting observation and one of the the subjects I really like to nerd out over haha.  I've noticed that that Nitro stuff looks way better on DVDs and WWE Classics now than the TNT feed I got here in the late 1990s, where RAW looks pretty much the same.  Our particular feed of TNT made Nitro look pretty flat and de-saturated, where RAW really seemed to 'pop' off the screen once you got to late 1997 or so, with the saturation and contrast jacked way up.  Nitro's blacks looked pretty gray back to me back then, but appear jet black on the original master tapes.  It seemed to get worse here on the switchover from analog to digital cable, I wonder if other people experienced the same phenomena

  3. Editing Nazi: Sid PINS Hunter
    Hearst-Helmsley via count out

  4. I didn't hvae that experience, but the contrast between watching WWE and WCW can be summed up like this. WCW put on a wrestling show, but the WWE puts on a televsion show that involves wrestling. The show part makes all the difference. WWE sent fans home happy most of the time. WCW would end Nitro with heels going over with no payback quite often.

    The #1 beef I had with WCW in this regard was killing Ric Flair's heat at Fall Brawl in Flair country. If they had done that in Milwaukee it would have been different.

  5. Yikes, can't believe that happened.

  6. Well that pretty much sums up the differences in the philosophies of both organizations going back into the 1970s and 1980s, although I don't necessarily think one ideal is necessarily better or worse than the other.  I think you'll find satisfied and annoyed fans in both sides of the coin there.

    It had historical precedence in WCW though, as I know there was a lot of resentment (among hardcore fans at least) against the NWA/WCW for putting the title on Sting in July 1990, because it was seen as them copying the WWFs "send the fans home happy" formula and putting the title on a guy that (at the time) was perceived as an untalented "superhero" musclehead type. 

    It's funny looking back now, over the whole run of WCW, the only time they ever really went with an extended, long-time face champion was during Hogan's first WCW run in 1994 - 1995.


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