Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Raw #142 - January 8th, 1996

On tonight’s Raw, Shawn Michaels makes a “stunning” announcement at a press conference. What could it possibly be about? I have no idea, but that is a very nice Royal Rumble logo hung up right behind the Heartbreak Kid. Raw debuts its new opening video, using its original theme song and an updated roster that doesn’t include Dean Douglas.
Hakushi is in the ring to take on Jeff Jarrett, who is about halfway through the cup of coffee he drank during his second WWF run. The only kid in the world with a Double J t-shirt gets some airtime during Jarrett’s entrance. It says, “Not!” on the back, but the joke’s on the kid. Jarrett still gets the merchandising royalties, and the kid is stuck with a $19.95 relic of the 90s. Jarrett has taken to bringing a guitar to the ring, supposedly given to him by Garth Brooks. The action gets started as Hakushi whips Double J to the corner, but Jarrett counters with a Clever Maneuver, floating over the Modern-Day Kamikaze as he charges after him. Jarrett later tries to kick Hakushi, but gets his leg caught, getting tripped for a Nice Maneuver (#2). Jarrett feigns leaving the match, then trips Hakushi from the outside for another Clever Maneuver (#3). The country star hits Hakushi with his middle-rope crotch splash as we go to commercial break.

Back from break, Hakushi hiptosses his way out of Double J’s abdominal stretch, which Lawler calls “illegal procedure” and a “personal foul” before Vince reminds him that the Raw Bowl was last week. Jarrett hits a swinging neckbreaker for a Maneuver (#4), shortly before Hakushi hits a Nice Maneuver (#5) of his own in the form of a spinning back kick. Jerry Lawler wishes a happy birthday to David Bowie, whom he claims is Goldust’s favorite singer (I assume because of his bisexuality and androgynous Ziggy Stardust persona). In fact, according to an old copy of Sports Review Wrestling I own, David Bowie is also the favorite singer of “Stunning” Steve Austin (but more on him later on in this episode). Hakushi slides through Jarrett’s legs for another Nice Maneuver (#6) and follows it up with a springboard elbow for a two-count. A plancha into the ring off the apron gets countered by Double J’s knees, allowing the Nature Boy wannabe to slap the figure four on for a submission victory.
Jim Ross delivers the “Slam Jam,” as Dok Hendrix is snowed in by the blizzard of ’96. Doug Gilbert, master of the shoot promo, will be in this year’s Rumble, along with his future target Jerry Lawler. Jake “The Snake” Roberts will be making his return to the Federation, while Vader, as announced last week, will be making his debut. In a vignette, Vader gives himself the nickname “The Prince of Power,” a nickname that doesn’t catch on, much like the nickname he would give himself at Over The Edge ’98. “Scheme” Gene of the Billionaire Ted skits, offers us a scoop that he can’t tell us about now. This is a different actor than the “Scheme” Gene from the skits.

Ahmed Johnson takes on Jeff Bretler in a battle of ridiculous ring attire. Ahmed has his infamous wedgie trunks, while the jobber is wearing what appears to be an ankle-length skirt made of drapes. While Bretler’s name is reminiscent of Gone With the Wind’s Rhett Butler, his clothes are more akin to the curtain-dress of Scarlett O’Hara. Ahmed hits a ridiculously reckless T-bone suplex, sending his opponent flipping into the stratosphere. Johnson hits an axe kick and a bicycle kick to further punish the human curtain rod. Johnson finishes off Bretler with the Pearl River Plunge. Jeff Jarrett rushes to ringside and tries to hit Ahmed with his guitar, but the Pearl River Powerhouse ducks. Johnson then picks up the damaged guitar and smashes it over the top of the ring post.
Ted DiBiase is in the ring with Brother Love, talking about his search for a new Million Dollar Champion. He introduces him as The Ringmaster, whom we all know is Steve Austin. Without identifying him by name, Vince says his skills are “very well-known.” Ringmaster does a televangelist impersonation (which, with Brother Love in the ring, ups the total number of televangelists on-screen to two), holding up his hand to the camera and asking the viewers at home to touch their screen. Austin uses the word “man” a lot in his promo. He vows to win the Royal Rumble and win the title at Wrestlemania. Nice try, Austin, but you’ll never win the Rumble, except 1997, 1998, 2001, and almost in 1999. Over the next few weeks, Ringmaster’s character would become less vocal and more “stone cold;” not like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, but like a serial killer.

Goldust, who at Wrestlemania would wrestle with lingerie underneath his body suit, takes on Aldo Montoya, who tonight, as always, will wrestle in a jock strap. Vince wonders aloud whether Goldust’s supposed feelings for Razor Ramon are simply mind games. Yes, that’s a good dodge for all the accusations of homophobia being leveled against the WWF right now. Goldust takes down Montoya with a High-Impact Maneuver (#7 - belly-to-back suplex). Goldust puts Aldo down to the mat with his own unique crotch-attack, the one where he sets up his opponent like a piledriver or powerbomb, but then just jumps up and stomps. Goldust finishes Aldo off with a Maneuver (#8) that Vince urges us to look at because it’s a Devastating Maneuver (#9 - Curtain Call).
Earlier today, Shawn Michaels held a press conference in Fresno, California, site of the 1996 Royal Rumble, while standing in front of a giant Royal Rumble logo. To the surprise of everyone, he announces that he is entering the Royal Rumble. Scheme Gene then interrupts Jim Ross, saying that he has a scoop too hot for TV, but then relents and gives up the “scoop”: Vader will be in the Rumble!
To kill time at the end of the episode, we see a replay of last month’s In Your House main event, Bret Hart vs. The British Bulldog. Aren’t you glad you didn’t bother paying for it a few weeks ago? Vince insists that, unlike last month’s event, the Royal Rumble matches will only be shown on pay-per-view. Honest!
Back in the Wrasslin’ Warroom, the suits in Turner’s office brainstorm ideas for new slogans, finally settling on “This is where the big boys play” after passing up “Unbelievable,” “Not believable,” and “This is where the old boys play.” Nacho Man and Huckster express relief at not having to take tests for steroids, which is rich, considering that the WWF’s brief testing policy would end within a few years. A PSA for a “WWF Drug Program Advisory” comes on screen for the last few seconds.

Final tally:

9 Maneuvers (Year total: 12)

1 comment:

  1. They really shouldn't have retired that Royal Rumble logo behind Shawn Michaels. Way better looking than any of the logos they've come up with since.