Monday, December 29, 2014

Raw #190 - December 23rd, 1996

The last Raw before Christmas kicks off with an Intercontinental Title match between Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Wildman Marc Mero. This is possibly Mero’s last title shot against the Blue Blood, but the stipulations state that if Hunter is DQ’ed or counted out, he will lose the title. Lex Luger should have gotten Mero’s lawyer back at Summerslam ’93. Also arriving on the scene are Goldust and Marlena, who sit down among the fans after, as Vince put it, walking through the “thongs.” I think he means, “throngs.” Goldust faces the winner at the Royal Rumble.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Raw #189 - December 16th, 1996

It’s the night after In Your House and, for what I believe is the first time in history, Raw opens with an in-ring interview rather than an actual match. Vince acts as if this wasn’t written in the program, but JR acts like he’s known about it all along and steps into the ring with a microphone. Hart complains that things have changed in the WWF, that he can’t tell his enemies from his friends, and that there are no rules in the WWF anymore. He says he’s not going to follow the rules anymore, either and puts Sid, Steve Austin, and Shawn Michaels on notice, calling HBK, “you little prissy.” It’s not the Attitude Era just yet, so he’ll have to settle with “prissy” for now. Bret announces that he will enter the Royal Rumble, then comes to the announcers’ desk for commentary.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Raw #188 - December 9th, 1996

Warning: the following blog post contains action of a graphic nature. Reader discretion is advised. But not really. Tonight’s bloodless, taped episode of Raw opens with an unnecessary warning in hopes of luring fans away from Nitro on TNT. Sid, whom Vince touts as leading the WWF into a new era and who JR agrees will be a major force in the WWF for a long time (rather than leaving before next summer’s end) faces fellow champion Hunter Hearst Helmsley, whom he beats up in the aisle.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Raw #187 - December 2nd, 1996

Raw opens with no intro for the second week in a row, perhaps in an effort to keep viewers from flipping to Nitro during the theme music. But who needs the Raw theme when Flash Funk’s funky entrance music, funky back-up dancers, and funky Vince McMahon are here to provide us with infinitely more entertainment? “Come on King, shake that thang!” urges Vince. “Come on king, shake the booty!” McMahon is in such a groove that he won’t even let Jerry Lawler’s insults faze him, remarking that were he to knock his toupee off, it indeed “would be funky.”

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Raw #186 - November 25th, 1996

Bret Hart wrestles on Raw for the first time in months to face Owen Hart, who is accompanied by the man he will beat out for the Best Bow Tie Slammy, Clarence Mason. Owen still has the “King of Harts” playing card lighting during his entrance. Those transparencies they put over the lights can’t come cheat, so you’re darn right they’re gonna get their money’s worth.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Raw #185 - November 18th, 1996

Steve Austin arrives on Raw to face Mankind in a “tough man contest.” Originally, Vader was pencilled in as Stone Cold’s opponent, but he was injured by the 700-pound (“I would suggest,” says McMahon) Yokozuna the night before at Survivor Series with a uranage. The shoulder injury is said to only sideline Vader for a few days, but that’s enough time to keep him off television all month thanks to the compact taping schedule.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Raw #184 - November 11th, 1996

The last Raw before Survivor Series kicks off with Bulldog and Owen Hart defending their tag team titles against Sid and Shawn Michaels. Last year at Survivor Series, Michaels, Sid, and Bulldog were all on the same team in the Wild Card match, with Owen on the opposing side. Vince recaps the problems brewing between Sid and Michaels, as well as their feud with the tag team champions, while managing to say, “melee” once and “from there” three times.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Raw #183 - November 4th, 1996

Kevin Kelly is at Brian Pillman’s home live. We know it’s live because it says, “LIVE!” on screen. Another way to tell it’s live? Well, you’ll just have to listen to Pillman. Tonight’s episode is the first RAW at the new 7:57 starting time, and what better way to thank USA for rearranging its broadcast schedule than with gun violence and the F-word?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Raw #182 - October 28th, 1996

Tonight’s Raw opens with the return of Double J (by which I mean The Roadie), who enters to “With My Baby Tonight,” perhaps the most inappropriate wrestling entrance theme until X-Factor’s theme by Uncle Kracker. His opponent is Salvatore Sincere. And, this episode was taped a week ago. Take that, Nitro!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Raw #181 - October 21st, 1996

Sid opens the show to take on Owen Hart, who is still one half of the tag team champions. Sid, who earned a title shot last night by defeating Vader, looks to get his mitts on the Slammy Award-winner on this month’s live episode of Raw. More important, however, is the return of Vince McMahon to the RAW commentary desk. How many times will he say, “maneuver”? It’s hard to say, but he’s already said, “individual” twice in the first five minutes.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Raw #180 - October 14th, 1996

Tonight, the vicious Stone Cold Steve Austin warms up for his match with Savio Vega by taking on the WWF champion in a non-title match. Austin tells Shawn that it’s not the good book, it’s Austin 3:16, and tonight he’s going to whip his ass. That would be a lot more effective a taunt if Shawn Michaels were a bible-thumper, so I guess this promo is a decade before its time. By the way, since Shawn hasn’t defended his title since Mind Games on September 22nd, isn’t he coming up on 30 days without a title defense? Hopefully, Gorilla Monsoon won’t be as strict as Jack Tunney.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Raw # 179 - October 7th, 1996

Tonight, Todd Pettengill says, Vader is here. His message is clear. He’s queer. Get used to it. Okay, I might have embellished a bit on those last two sentences. Also in the opening video package is Marlena, who is such a Hollywood aficionado that she appears to be wearing the molded nipples from  Joel Schumacher’s Batman films. All that, plus the fake Razor, the fake Diesel, and the Real Double J!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Raw #178 - September 30th, 1996

Raw opens with clips from last week’s shocking heel turn for Jim Ross. The month where one wrestler is scheduled to murder another wrestler on pay-per-view, JR is being pushed as the #1 heel in the main story line. Stone Cold Steve Austin faces Jake Roberts in a rematch from King of the Ring. Last time they wrestled, Austin cut his immortal “Austin 3:16” promo and the WWF has capitalized by putting out zero merchandise of it. Jerry Lawler, however, has brought something along for the occasion: a bottle of Jim Bean. Again. Every time The King calls it Jake the Snake’s tag team partner tonight, take a swig of a beverage containing a particular ingredient whose name eludes me. Water, maybe?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Raw #177 - September 23rd, 1996

Tonight’s show opens with a still photo from last night’s In Your House pay-per-view showing “Razor” and “Diesel” attacking Savio Vega. This no doubt intrigues any fans who don’t have access to the TNT network and can’t check out Nitro to see that Kevin Nash and Scott Hall are live on WCW TV and definitely aren’t going to be on this episode of Raw. Kevin Kelly says what a great night Mind Games was and says this Raw will be even better (meaning anyone who paid for last night’s event probably wasted their money).

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Raw #176 - September 16th, 1996

Jake Roberts opens this taped broadcast by chasing Jerry Lawler out of the broadcast position. If Lawler still had his headset, he’d be making a Jake the Snake joke about “chasers” right about now. His opponent is the debuting Sultan, who enters to the Iron Sheik’s old music along with Sheiky Baby himself and Bob Backlund.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Raw #175 - September 9th, 1996

The Intercontinental tournament’s first round wraps up this week as Faarooq takes on Savio Vega. We open the broadcast with Jerry Lawler freaking out over Sunny’s entrance. “What a pair!” says Lawler, supposedly referring to the “pair” of Faarooq and Sunny. JR calls Sunny a “Jezebel” who needs a “trip to the woodshed.” It’s only the second Raw to feature both JR and Jerry Lawler on commentary, and they are in complete agreement, both wanting to see Sunny get spanked.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Raw #174 - Championship Friday - September 6th, 1996

Tonight’s Raw is a special “Championship Friday” edition, featuring Goldust vs. Shawn Michaels for the WWF title. The opening narration wonders whether Goldust’s mind games will be able to defeat HBK. I doubt it; if anyone in the WWF is secure with his sexuality, it’s the earring-and-chaps-wearing Boy Toy.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Raw #173 - August 19th, 1996

Raw is live the night after Summerslam, with Kevin Kelly making his Raw announcing debut. Another guest at the announcers’ table is Jim Ross, as it takes two announcers to replace Vince McMahon. It looks like no maneuvers tonight. The British Bulldog faces his own Camp Cornette partner Owen Hart in the first round of the Intercontinental Title tournament.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Raw #172 - August 12th, 1996

Tonight’s Raw begins with the winning combination of a Vince McMahon voiceover and — AHHHH! Surgery footage! McMahon explains that Ahmed’s original kidney injury suffered at the hands (or feet) of Faarooq was aggravated during the battle royal in which he was somehow allowed to compete, then again by Faarooq in his post-match attack on Johnson, despite Assad not hitting Ahmed in the kidney that time. The surgery, supposedly performed last week some time after the battle royal, stopped the bleeding, but should the bleeding return, Ahmed might need to have his kidney removed.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Raw #171 - August 5th, 1996

Raw opens with the announcement that Olympic powerlifter Mark Henry has signed a ten-year multi-million “dolla” deal with the World Wrestling Federation, guaranteeing a career in the WWF until the far-off year of 2006. Imagine how many titles he’ll win in that time! The intro starts off with a series of headlines about Henry, but the first when says, “Ow, Henry!” Apparently, the best way to present Mark to the world is with a joke about him getting injured.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Raw #170 - July 29th, 1996

Vince announces in the intro to tonight’s show that the “intruder” last week has “temporarily sidelined” Ahmed Johnson with a ruptured kidney. How temporary is “temporarily”? Two weeks in kayfabe time, but about four months in real time, as Ahmed had already wrestled a match scheduled for next week before finding out his kidney had been ruptured.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Raw #169 - July 22nd, 1996

Raw emanates from the hometown of Rad Radford, Seattle, Washington. Sunny opens Raw by bringing out a birthday cake. Whom could it be for? Bob Dole? Fabulous Moolah? Or one half of the challengers for her Smoking Gunns’ tag team titles, WWF champion Shawn Michaels? What a mystery!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Raw #168 - July 15th, 1996

Shawn and Ahmed nearly had a scuffle earlier tonight with Camp Cornette, but fortunately, Tony Garea and Rene Goulet were there to break up the proceedings before the fists and fanny packs could fly. Tonight, both babyfaces defend their respective titles against Billy and Bart Gunn.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Raw #167 - July 8th, 1996

Tonight’s top story: The Ultimate Warrior has been suspended! After no-showing multiple live events, Gorilla Monsoon has suspended Warrior indefinitely until he posts a bond. However, Warrior will be wrestling tonight as advertised because Monsoon is such a fan-friendly President. And also because his match was filmed two weeks ago.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Raw #166 - July 1st, 1996

Shawn Michaels, “the greatest sports-entertainer in the world today,” opens tonight’s Raw, walking down the aisle with his “Kliq Cam.” How is the view from the Kliq Cam being shown in real time if this is a live broadcast? Maybe I just answered my own question. Speaking of questions, tonight, HBK faces former Rockers partner Marty Jannetty to determine which one was the “Marty Jannetty” of their team.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Raw #165 - June 24th, 1996

It’s the night after King of the Ring, and the new king Hunter Hearst Helmsley is in action in the opening contest! Just kidding. Steve Austin won the crown, but Hunter is facing Ahmed Johnson, who last night overcame multiple acts of sexual molestation by Goldust to win the Intercontinental Title, becoming the first black singles champion in WWF history.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Raw #164 - June 17th, 1996

Vince opens tonight’s Raw with a suggestion to the viewer to “expect the unexpected.” The opening match is Steve Austin vs. Savio Vega, wrestling on television for the fifth time in three months, not including Beware of Dog 1. Very unexpected indeed.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Raw #163 - June 10th, 1996

Yokozuna wrestles his third-to-last televised match, facing former tag team partner Owen Hart in a King of the Ring match-up. Last year, Yoko fell victim to the awesome power of Savio Vega to be eliminated from the tournament. How will he fare against Owen? Jerry Lawler also shows off the portrait of the Ultimate Warrior he painted to patch things up with the man from the Parts Unknown. The picture is impressive, especially since he must have painted it in less than two hours at the announce table, since that’s how long ago in real time that he and Warrior’s feud started.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Raw #162 - June 3rd, 1996

Bob Holly is in the ring when Raw begins. The likes of Holly and Aldo Montoya have really benefitted from the Monday Night War; now that Raw has eliminated non-contracted jobbers from its matches for the sake of competitiveness, the lowest tier “Superstars” get a chance to shine and count the lights every Monday night. Vince McMahon announces that Ahmed Johnson will be challenging Goldust for the Intercontinental Title at King of the Ring after last week’s “mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.”

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Raw #161 - May 27th, 1996

Goldust is in the ring at the outset of the show, and Vince speculates that the arena will “shake, rattle, and roll” when “The Man They Call The Ultimate Warrior” enters. Vince has just confused Warrior with both the Honky Tonk Man and Vader. Warrior does enter to pyro, but no hip-shaking. Goldust stays out of the ring, afraid of the Warrior, so Warrior slowly stalks him.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Raw #160 - May 20th, 1996

Last night was an eventful house show at Madison Square Garden. The big news on Raw is that the Bodydonnas lost the tag team titles to the Godwinns. The bigger news, not mentioned on Raw, is that four members of the Clique gave a public farewell at the end of the show, leading to Hunter Hearst Helmsley’s burial over the next few months.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Raw #159 - May 13th, 1996

The WWF has just finished its tour of the Middle East, and Ahmed Johnson made history just yesterday as the winner of the first-ever Kuwait Cup, or, as Sgt. Slaughter would call it, the 19th Province of Iraq Cup. How will Ahmed deal with the jet-lag of crossing 9 time zones on a 21+ hour flight from Kuwait City to Sioux City? Just kidding! This episode was taped two weeks earlier, before the Kuwait Cup tournament even took place. As an amusing side note, i just discovered that the initials for Sioux City’s airport are SUX. After a brief and barely intelligible promo where he appears to say “Jeff Jarrett’s retarded” (actually, he says, “Jeff Jarrett’s guitar didn’t stop me”), Ahmed is interrupted by an obviously dubbed-in Jerry Lawler. Sunny then helps him prep for the match by rubbing oil on his chest, but Ahmed rebuffs her advances, saying that he was taught to take the trash out, not in. “He dissed her, McMahon!” says an outraged King. Ahmed takes on Zip of Sunny’s Bodydonnas.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Raw #158 - May 6th, 1996

Tonight’s episode opens with a memorial for Ray “Crippler” Stevens, Pat Patterson’s long-time partner (of the tag team variety). As for the other kid of partner, an anonymous woman claiming to have been seduced by Shawn Michaels will speak out tonight.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Raw #157 - April 29th, 1996

Tonight’s Raw is all about SEX! Whom did Shawn Michaels proposition last night? Sable? Marlena? Sunny (once again)? Nope, try Diana Smith! Shawn certainly did. Mankind has his third match on Raw, this time against Bart Gunn, who is in the midst of the Smoking Gunns Awareness campaign to remind everyone that they still exist despite brother Billy’s horseback injury.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Raw #156 - April 22nd, 1996

This week’s Raw opens with a rematch between Savio Vega and Goldust for the vacant Intercontinental title. Vince comments that Goldust has “lost weight” as of late, referring to his loss of the IC belt and not to his infamous weight fluctuations over the next two decades. Vince compares Gorilla Monsoon’s decision last week to those of King Solomon, saying “you can’t split the baby in two” (which is not a reference to Terri Runnels’s kayfabe miscarriage in 1999). Jerry Lawler mentions that Sunny has “two huge surprises” for the Godwinns tonight. My guess is her breasts. Anyone else guessing, “breasts”?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Raw #155 - April 15th, 1996

It's the WWF's first Tax Day in years without IRS! Tonight’s undercard has a “one half of tag teams” theme, with Bart Gunn of the Smoking Gunns taking on Steve Austin, and Leif Cassidy of the New Rockers facing Marc Mero. The Wildman enters with new valet Sable, who is decked out in leather. Mero celebrates by doing the Batusi. “Hunter Hearst Helmsley, eat your heart out!” says McMahon. HHH would have the last laugh, marrying Vince’s daughter and thus gaining control of the whole company. “I never thought she was that hot-looking to begin with,” says Lawler of Sable, two years before going nuts over her body-paint “bikini.”

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Raw #154 - April 8th, 1996

With Jerry Lawler facing Shawn Michaels in tonight’s main event, the King has been replaced on commentary. You could say that tonight’s announcing will be “perfect.” You’d be wrong, though, as Vince is still at the announce table. Our opening contest is Vader vs. Yokozuna, the match that was originally scheduled for Wrestlemania.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Raw #153 - April 1st, 1996

It’s the night after the Wrestlemania XII, and all through the house, not a creature is stirring, except to flip back and forth between Raw, Nitro, and the NCAA basketball finals. And what better way to kick things off than Bob “Spark Plugg” Holly, whose music plays at the beginning of the show! A new wrestler named, “Mankind” enters the ring to ominous music. Vince is taking a chance by letting Mick Foley debut under this name, rather than “Mason the Mutilator.”

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Raw #152 - March 25th, 1996

Shawn Michaels kicks off Raw by augmenting his male stripper gimmick with a Japanese tourist gimmick, coming to the ring with a camcorder to film everything in sight. After Shawn puts away the “Kliq Cam,” he introduces his hometown San Antonio crowd to Supersock José Lothario. Considering Michaels is the “Sexy Boy,” shouldn’t Lothario be “Supersoxy?” Or is the name “Lothario” sexual enough?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Raw #151 - March 18th, 1996

Vince’s opening narration announces Diesel’s heel turn, which occurred at last night’s house show at Madison Square Garden. We are also promised another Billionaire Ted segment, this time involving the FTC. Oh boy!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Raw #150 - March 11th, 1996

It’s the hundred-fiftieth episode of Raw, and it kicks off with history in the making. Yes, that’s right, Savio Vega is in action! But that’s not the historic part, of course. The historic part is that it is the Ringmaster’s first night as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, although Vince is still reluctant to give up calling him “Ringmaster” altogether. Still, the transition to his now iconic moniker is a sort of mea culpa for the lame nickname he got saddled with in his first few months.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Raw #149 - March 4th, 1996

Tonight, the build-up to Wrestlemania XII gets weird. The fate of the Ultimate Warrior is revealed (sort of), Goldust hits on Roddy Piper, and the upcoming Geriatric Match gets a boost from a mock-trivia show about Ted Turner’s “obnoxious, sexist, racist remarks” that have nothing to do with wrestling or WCW. In more conventional booking, both men in the Mania main event wrestle singles matches.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Raw # 148 - February 26th, 1996

Sunny warns us of the (porno)graphic nature of tonight’s Raw. These pre-show vignettes by Tammy Sytch really do make Raw look filthier than it is. I do like the resulting thumbnails it creates for my blog posts, though.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Raw #147 - February 19th, 1996

Sunny advises viewer discretion tonight for material too hot for some. Vince recaps the previous night’s pay-per-view which featured an “eerie” ending. Not “eary” like Mankind, however. And what does the Ultimate Warrior have to do with tonight’s Raw? We’ll find out on tonight’s episode, which opens with Razor Ramon challenging for Goldust’s Intercontinental title. All this, plus another Billionaire Ted skit.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Raw #146 - February 5th, 1996

Vince speculates that this Raw could be “one for the books,” perhaps because it’s already been taped and he’s seen the whole thing. Or maybe it’s because he booked the whole thing. Either way, Two Dudes with Attitudes take on Yokozuna and the British Bulldog in a rematch of the Triple Header match, except no one has a title anymore. Vince plays up the dissension-in-the-ranks angle for Camp Cornette by showing footage from last week, while a fan holds up a steamy poster of Shawn Michaels to show how much he loves dudes. With attitudes.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Raw #145 - January 29th, 1996

Raw does not get off to an auspicious start, as Vince announces a match between Yokozuna and the “incredulous” Shawn Michaels. HBK is incredulous, I tell you! He won’t believe anything. In addition, Diesel takes on the British Bulldog, who is at least not labeled “bizarre.” The WWF will also bravely air another of its increasingly hypocritical “Billionaire Ted” skits, “despite the threat of legal action.”

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Raw #144 - January 22nd, 1996

This post-Rumble Raw opens with Sunny, who warns us that tonight’s program contains “action of a graphic nature.” I’d like to have action of a graphic nature with her! Sex, I mean.