Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Raw #124 - August 14th, 1995

This week's Raw opens with Vince McMahon hinting that Shawn Michaels is injured (after getting smashed into a ring post by Mabel) and vulnerable to losing his title at Summerslam. That also spells bad news for HBK tonight, as he faces Jerry Lawler. However, no mention is made of the title being on the line, which had been heavily implied ever since In Your House. Why would Lawler want to challenge new Intercontinental Champion Michaels specifically after he won the title and King called him a "marked man," only for it to be a non-title match? Non-title match or not, Lawler is replaced by Ted DiBiase on this night at the commentary table.
Doink the Clown makes his entrance, sans, for the second-to-last last Raw match of his career (aside from the occasional nostalgic appearance, and even then, it's usually Steve Lombardi under the paint). His opponent: Waylon Mercy. Oh boy. As the Prince of Pranks walks around ringside, a fan holds up a sign reading, "Don't accept imitations." Do you think that could be aimed at Ray Apollo, who has been filling in as Doink after the original clown, Matt Borne, left the company two years ago? Vince calls him "Anna Nicole Smith's favorite wrestler" in a desperate attempt at a pop culture reference. Waylon Mercy, suppoedly the heel, gets his fair share of applause, specifically frm a fan holding a "We Want Bull" sign. You've already got Doink in the ring and Mabel getting a title shot; how much more bull do you want?! Doink refuses to shake Mercy's hand, then wrestles him to the outside. While Mercy stalls outside, DiBiase insists that Henry Godwinn is not and never will be a member of his Corporation. Doink then charges at Mercy as the Southern gentleman stands on the apron, only for Waylon to pull the ropes apart and let Doink fall through for the first Maneuver of the night. He then holds the bottom rope up for Doink, only to snap it on his back as the clown crawls back into the ring, drawing a smattering of applause. Mercy then levels Doink with a clothesline as Ted continues to disparage Henry Godwinn. Mercy then slaps on the sleeperhold to considerable cheers and a loud chant of "Kill the Clown!" for a victory.

Next, we see the first appearance of the man whom Vince calls, "Gold Dust." Viewers at home promptly scratch their heads till they're raw and bloody after getting a look at the gold-clad transvestite. Goldy appears in front of an obvious green-screen scene of Hollywood, curiously, with a "Tiny Toon Adventures" logo visible in the background. There's also some creepy mood music playing, which has since been overdubbed by the classic Goldust theme in the WWF re-release. Dust lists off a name of "celluloid gods and goddesses" like James Dean, Humphrey Bogart, and Marilyn Monroe, but claims to better those famous stars by being born a star.
DiBiase expresses interest in Goldust (from a business point of view. Business) while calling Henry Godwinn, "Bacon Breath." H.O.G. then walks down to ringside, slop bucket in hand, to have an angry word with the Million Dollar Man. He then forces DiBiase to his knees and tells him to squeal like a pig. I hadn't seen "Deliverance" when I saw this episode live, so I wasn't as disturbed as other viewers. There would be Heidenreich-Cole shenanigans here, though, just Godwinn dumping the contents of his bucket on Ted. "I've heard of being slimed before," says Vince. "I've never heard of being slopped!" Note that this is exactly what he said a month ago when Adam Bomb got slopped.

With DiBiase gone from ringside after the break, Doc Rivers takes his place at the announce table. Doc Rivers!? I didn't write "Doc Rivers," I wrote, "Dok Hendrix." The Smoking Gunns take on a different mulleted team who don't get an intro. Bart executes a very poor hip toss on Phil Garrett, drawing boos from this surprisingly smark-y crowd. "Garrett weighs a ton," says Vince. He's right. Hendrix excitedly announces that the Gunns will face the Blu Twins at Summerslam. That ought to put butts in seats... provided they're the kind of seats you can crap in during a boring match at the arena. Speaking of butts, Cody Wade plays with his while showboating as he enters the ring. Billy Gunn is clearly impressed and would adopt that as his entire gimmick four years later. Wade gets hit with the Sidewinder, a Maneuver (#2) that ends the match, with Billy picking up the pin.
Dean Douglas then grades Bret "The Hitman" Hart, but not before defining, "execution." First definition: "The act or process of executing." Gee, thanks for the tip, Dean. He chastises Hart for  delivering a cowardly elbow smash to a prone opponent, then failing "to grapevine either of his opponent's legs," then arguing with the referee. Hart's grade? An F, for "Foundation of Failure," rather than the "Excellence of Execution." The sound of nails on a chalkboard ends the segment, prompting Vince to talk the noise, "the most gyrating sound." That's "grating," Vince. Maybe Dean needs to give you a report card.

Shawn Michaels gets interviewed in one of the first backstage segments on Raw to be aired live to the crowd via the video screen. Regarding the attack by King Mabel last week, Shawn says that "all the King's horses and all the King's men can't stop the Heartbreak Kid from gyrating again." Hear that, Vince? HBK knows what gyrating means.
Hunter Hearst Helmsley faces Jeff Hardy, who is wearing a hideous pair of tights that Vince and Hardy's future manager Michael Hayes mock. Hardy gets whipped to the buckle, but floats over Helmsley as he charges for a Nice Maneuver (#3). After a dropkick, he reverses an Irish whip into another Maneuver (#4 - elbow) before trying a High-Risk Maneuver (#5 - moonsault) that misses its mark. Helmsley then stomps angrily and even chokes Hardy, perhaps angry that the more talented youngster will upstage him. Hunter wins with a Pedigree that doesn't yet look like crap. Hunter for some reason at Summerslam wrestles Bob Holly, whom Vince calls, "The Speedster." I guess Trips just wrestled another "speedster" as a warm-up.

Todd Pettengill delivers the Summerslam Insider report, running down the pay-per-view card, including the newly-added Women's Title match between Alundra Blayze and Bertha Faye, who has wrestled once on Raw. Alundra seeks revenge on the plus-size villain for making her get a nose- and boob-job back in April. Plus, Gorilla Monsoon has added "these two incredible matches": Barry Horowitz vs Skip (in Horowitz's first PPV since he donned a mask as one of Shawn Michaels's knights at Survivor Series 1993) and Hakushi vs. The 123 Kid.
Henry Godwinn prepares to face Russ Greenburg, a mainstay on early Raws with several alternate spellings for his name. Meanwhile, Vince announces the return of Wrestlemania: The Special, which this time will air on Fox and not NBS (although Vince doesn't mention either network by name). An inopportune commercial break cuts off the start of the match. "Hank" hits a leg drop on the back of Greenburg's head with the jobber's neck draped over the bottom rope. He then hits Russ with the slop drop for the pinfall. Goddwinn then grabs his slop bucket, which is full again despite him having emptied it earlier tonight. Where does he find all this slop at sports arenas? Greenburg gets slopped off the ring apron as Henry shoots his second load of the night. Why didn't Mark Canterbury get the Val Venis gimmick?

"Let's take you from the hog farm, ladies and gentlemen, to the dentist's office," says Vince, perfectly summarizing the WWF in 1995. Yankem, who bears a striking resemblance to Corporate Kane, drills a hapless patient as Jerry Lawler threatens Bret Hart, Isaac Yankem's opponent at Summerslam.
Jerry Lawler's music warbles as he enters the ring as if playing on a tape-player with low batteries. Shawn Michaels makes his stripper entrance to the approval of Michael "Purely Sexy" Hayes. Michaels slides through King's legs to the outside in the early going for a Maneuver (#6) before tripping Lawler and prancing around the aisle for some high-fives from the fans. Vince praises Shawn for being so resilient, having been attacked by Mabel just one week prior. Yeah, HBK looks like he's somehow had four weeks to recover, and not just one. Lawler backs Michaels against the ropes and prepares to hit him with a right fist as fans chant, "Burger King." "Here's a  Whopper for ya," says King. Contrary to rumor, he never said that to that girl who filed charges against him in '93. Michaels dodges and hits King with a baaaaaack body drop. Lawler appears to counter another back body drop with a piledriver, but Michaels escapes and punches a seated Lawler in the face. Sid appears at ringside just before HBK gets whipped over the turnbuckles.

Lawler dominates during the break as Sid continues to look on, holding the Intercontinental belt. Hendrix speculates that Sid, Lawler, and possibly Razor Ramon are all in collusion to destroy Michaels. Lawler misses a top-rope fist-drop. Michaels then kips up and delivers a flurry of offense to the King. After a flying elbow, he flattens Lawler with a super kick, only for Sid to attempt an attack with the belt from behind. Shawn ducks and Irish whips Sid to the ropes, only for Sid to kick him after HBK telegraphs the back body drop (just like in a real fight). Sid chokeslams Shawn, but Razor Ramon storms the ring before he can powerbomb the champion. Michaels motions to superkick Sid, but Ramon pushes him out of the way and attempts a Razor's Edge on the big man. Lawler pulls Sid out of the move, and the two heels flee, leaving the two faces in the ring for a stand-off over the Intercontinental belt. After the commercial, Diesel steps in to break p the confrontation just as Raw goes off the air.

Final tally:

6 Maneuvers (Year total: 148)

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