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What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw - December 23, 1996

by Logan Scisco

-Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and Jerry Lawler are in the booth and they are still from somewhere that is undisclosed.

-Footage of the aftermath of last week’s Karate Fighters Holiday Tournament is shown.

-Opening Intercontinental Championship Contest:  Hunter Hearst Helmsley (Champion) defeats “Wildman” Marc Mero (w/Sable) with a Pedigree at 6:11 shown:

Helmsley can lose the belt here if he gets counted out or disqualified.  Right before the bell rings, Goldust’s theme plays and he and Marlena take seats in the crowd because Goldust will face the winner at the Royal Rumble.  They play to the stipulations, as Helmsley opts not to use a chair so he doesn’t lose the title and they have a very competitive match.  There is also some good continuity with the finish, as Helmsley avoids a Merosault, which got him pinned at the Survivor Series in November, and he hits the dazed Mero with the Pedigree.  This is a bit of an upset, considering how many victories over Helmsley in non-title matches Mero had accumulated up to this point and it was a sign that the WWF was putting more stock into Helmsley for the future.  This would also constitute the official end of the Helmsley-Mero feud, as Helmsley now moves on to feud with Goldust and Mero moves on to a knee injury in a couple of months, which will destroy his career.  Rating:  **½

-After the match, Helmsley gets on the house mic and tells Goldust that at the Royal Rumble he’s going to show him how to be a man and then says that he’s going to let Marlena feel what it’s like to be with a real man.  Goldust charges to the ring, but Helmsley flees before anything happens.

-McMahon and Ross discuss the ending of the Bart Gunn-Billy Gunn match on last week’s show.  Bart’s comments about how the incident was an accident on Livewire are also played.

-Sunny comes down to the ring to do commentary for our next match.  Her appearance on MTV’s “Singled Out” is also discussed.

-Rocky Maivia pins Salvatore Sincere (w/Jim Cornette) with a shoulderbreaker at 5:49:

We get another match between these two, with Sincere having won none of the matches in this series.  He wasn’t even able to get a single leg up on Maivia in this small feud.  Sunny fawns over Maivia as this match follows the Randy Savage template:  Maivia gets destroyed until making a comeback out of nowhere and finishing Sincere off once and for all.  Rating:  *½

-McMahon interviews WWF Champion Sid.  Sid says that in thirty days he’s defeated Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart, two of the best technical wrestlers on the planet, and that proves that power is the best skill that he has in his arsenal.  He runs down his height and weight and says that isn’t changing.  A really bland interview, but it made its point.

-Pierroth & Cibernetico defeat The New Rockers when Pierroth pins Marty Jannetty with a top rope splash at 3:51 shown:

Pierroth and Cibernetico were guest participants in the Royal Rumble when the WWF had a working relationship with AAA in Mexico.  Mil Mascaras is shown doing guest commentary at the Spanish announce table because he will be in the Royal Rumble match.  The crowd doesn’t care about the New Rockers and they don’t know what to make of the Mexican team, so they just choose to sit on their hands until Cibernetico blasts Cassidy with a suicide dive in the finishing sequence.  Pierroth and Cibernetico didn’t look that good in this match, as they had trouble executing basic maneuvers like a leapfrog and a sunset flip.  Rating:  *

-Ross interviews Mil Mascaras and Mascaras quickly discusses the honor of getting to compete in the Royal Rumble.

-McMahon announces that Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Flash Funk, the British Bulldog, Ahmed Johnson, and the Undertaker will be in the Royal Rumble match.  For the wrestling trivia buffs out there, the 1997 Royal Rumble was the first time since 1993 that the Undertaker was participating in the Rumble match.

-The Honky Tonk Man comes down to ringside to do guest commentary.  He’s on a search to find someone to carry on his legacy because he can’t be as active in the ring as he used to.

-Bret “the Hitman” Hart defeats The Fake Razor Ramon via submission with the Sharpshooter at 5:58 shown:

Bret’s always lauded for pulling off miracles in the ring against opponents who couldn’t carry their weight, but this match proves that you can’t work miracles all the time.  The problem is that Ramon dominates three quarters of the match with every type of striking and choking move you can imagine.  The highlight of the match is when Bret whips Ramon into the steps, but Ramon stops himself before hitting them and lightly taps them with his rear end.  McMahon also praises Bret after his victory for showing a mean streak, but that’s really tough to sell when he gets dominated by a midcarder.  Altogether, this is one of the worst Bret matches that I’ve ever seen.  Rating:  ½*

-McMahon asks Shawn Michaels, who is in the locker room, what he thinks of Bret Hart and Sid and Shawn just acts like McMahon is asking dumb questions.  He says he’ll be ready for the Royal Rumble.

-Tune in next week to see Goldust face Jerry Lawler!

The Final Report Card:  They really should’ve just scrapped Bret Hart-Razor Ramon main event and given the Helmsley-Mero match more time.  For a blowoff to their feud, both guys deserved more time to tell a story than what they were given on this show.  Aside from those two matches, you have a Sincere-Maivia part 15, which was one of the more poorly developed feuds of the year, and a squash for Pierroth and Cibernetico, where both guys looked terrible.  Overall, just a bad show that’s not worth looking for because the one match you may want to see, Helmsley-Mero, underperforms.

Monday Night War Rating:  N/A (vs. 3.1 for Nitro)

Show Grade:  Thumbs Down


  1. As Scott said, when Bret could go he could go, but if he decided to dog it, he could dog it with the best of them. The only times Bret put effort into his matches was when he was working in high profile matches or if he was facing a talented midcarder that could carry their fair share of the match.

    1. It's been years since I saw it last I admit, but his Tuesday In Texas match on Supertape. 92 - IRS carries him through it. As I recall.

  2. I'm sure we can all forgive Bret Hart for not giving his absolute best against FAKE FUCKING RAZOR RAMON.

  3. While I would partly agree with you, as there were times when Bret would say "Ah, fuck it", I would say there was a bit more at play with a lot of TV matches. He has written how he had problems with the concept of shorter TV matches, and was never at ease with them.

    Considering how he developed in Stampede, where Stu's TV approach was to simply tape the last 7 or 8 minutes of, say, a 25 minute match, it's not surprising Bret would have had trouble adjusting to the 6 minute specials that dominated WWF TV. It's a big difference mapping out short and long matches (and Bret was noted for designing most of his matches). I noticed back in the day how he was much better at long matches, and his inability to adjust to the more explosive short match probably discouraged him somewhat. Hence, the tendency to phone it during matches like this.

  4. Yeah, I wouldn't be too motivated under these conditions either.

  5. These were some of the lowest rated episodes of Raw ever. "What the world wasn't watching" would be a more appropriate title. Did I miss the epic Billy v Bart showdown and Lawler asking Goldust if he was a "queer?"

  6. Has anyone else ever considered what an odd experiment that Smoking Gunns angle was? They were pretending Billy was really hurt by having his real wife come out (even though he'd been romantically linked to Sunny in character) and chastising his kayfabe brother for carelessly injuring him, during which she played along with the sibling act. So they used an inconspicuous move to prompt and injury, giving the illusion of reality (because any self respecting injury "angle" would have at least used a piledriver) and furthered this illusion by ignoring an onscreen relationship (if Billy's wife was one who attended shows, the Sunny thing ostensibly would have been a problem for her had it been more than an act), but she was still clearly following a script when she was yelling things like "He's your brother," to Bart, who most fans new was not actually a blood relation to Billy.

  7. Then the whole thing was never mentioned again after this anyway. I always found it very strange. I suppose it was just a total flop--maybe Mrs. Gunn messed it up--and they decided to try again with wrestlers that everyone actually cared about, so they just quickly buried it and hoped it would work better on the second try--which it did when they repeated the angle much more effectively with Shawn Michaels and Owen Hart a short while later.

  8. Actually, Owen-Shawn happened before the Gunn angle. That was in 1995.

  9. Yeah, that was on the previous week's episode. I still can't believe they did the Goldust face turn as part of an angle with the KARATE FIGHTERS HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT.

  10. Oh yeah, you're right. I was thinking the Shawn thing was used to explain him dropping the heavyweight title not long after this, but now I remember that it was the IC title. Wow, now I have no idea why they did the Gunns thing. I guess it was just Vince being Russo.

  11. Oh yeah, never realised the whole Sunny thing at the time, but you're right. I guess a more effective angle would be to introduce a new female character as the sister of the Gunn brothers as she would basically beg the brothers to stop fighting each other during the build up, then at the end, they could do a Russo type swerve with the sister finally turning on Bart and siding with Billy and becoming his new valet.

  12. Sounds like the perfect opportunity for Vince to finally realize that incest angle that he's always dreamed about. And if Billy was willing to sink low enough to be The Assman, maybe he would have actually gone for it.

  13. Yeah, I think it was a desperate attempt to grab ratings. Problem is, no one cared about the Gunns feud or what happened with Billy Gunn.


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