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.
In one of the most Vince-like statements in Raw history, McMahon says that “both individuals [are] obviously from the street-area.” Austin hits Vega with an axe-handle for a Devastating Maneuver (#1). Vince notes the presence of Mark Henry, an Olympic hopeful in weightlifting while Lawler speculates that there won’t be much hair-pulling in this match

Austin sets up Savio for what looks like Shattered Dreams, a move which Goldust has not invented yet. Instead of a kick to the groin, though, Austin delivers punches and chops. Austin then executes a Nice Maneuver (#2) in the form of a drop toe-hold. Vince reminds us that Wrestlemania will be in “approximately less than three weeks” at the “Anaheim Pond,” the inadvertent nickname given the arena by people who don’t know it’s called the “Arrowhead Pond.” Savio delivers a highly Kwang-like spinning heel kick to Austin in the corner, leading both men to tumble over the ropes and get counted out. The two continue to brawl in and out of the ring after the bell.
We see footage from before the broadcast, where Jerry Lawler interviewed Mark Henry, who ended up press-slamming The King. We also get an update on Shallow Talent Pool Awareness Month, where a soon-to-be-suspended Razor Ramon teamed with Savio Vega to defeat the 123 Kid and Tatanka (filling in for Sid, who is faking an injury to avoid jobbing further to Bob Holly). In reality, the writing is on the wall for Ramon, who has been written off Wrestlemania and replaced with Roddy Piper, but his suspension couldn’t happen in kayfabe until after his tournament match from Superstars aired. Next weekend, the Bodydonnas take on the Bushwhackers, who are remarkably still on the roster.

Goldust comes to the ring instead of the scheduled Piper, but before there is any confrontation Dok Hendrix pitches us “beautiful denim jackets” (a contradiction in terms) for “three easy payments of $22.95. A very ticked-off Roddy Piper stomps to the ring, where Vince McMahon and Goldust are waiting. Goldust, says Jerry, has just seen his favorite movie, The Birdcage (‘cuz he’s gay! Get it?). Piper calls Goldy a transvestite, getting a big pop from the crowd. Roddy says that he’s never seen Goldust on any movie set, except maybe in a dark alley, where he implies he was performing fellatio for quarters (Goldust, not Roddy). Roddy tells Goldust, “You are what you are’ me, I’m a lesbian” before Vince can butt in with this disclaimer: “I don’t think anyone’s sexual proclivity has anything to do with this.” Piper scolds Goldust for trying to get attention instead of carrying the Intercontinental Title with pride. Dust gets on his knees and suggestively tells Piper to come to his “backlot.” Piper puts his foot down when Goldust tries to peek under his kilt. The two exchange blows (the hitting kind) before Piper shoves Goldust to the ground, accept his challenge to a fight, then vows to “make a man” out of him.
The Henry Godwinns are in the ring next, taking on Alex Porteau (who has not yet debut as “The Pug”) and Jerry Meade. Henry Godwinn #2 (named Phineas) goes temporarily nuts before a freaked out Porteau returns to the ring. Henry #1 tags back in and fells Porteau with the Slop Drop for the three count. Lawler jokes that when it’s 9 o’clock in New York, it’s 1952 in Bitters, Arkansas. I think this is a reference to Jim Crow, but I can’t be sure.

Jim Ross narrates a video on Shawn Michaels’s training for the Iron Man match. It opens with a map of North America. It’s the Mercator projection, a notably skewed representation of the globe in two dimensions; for one thing, Greenland appears three times as large as Mexico. For another Texas is as big as all of North America and is crushing most of the U.S. and Canada. Shawn introduces the world to his trainer, “Supersock” Jose Lothario, a man from whom the HB Kid has learned everything he knows (including how to come up with a stupid nickname).
Bret Hart, on the other hand, is training in Alberta, where Bret says that Shawn’s training is influenced by lucha libre with lots of acrobatics, but doesn’t instill toughness. Hart dismisses Shawn Michaels’s “Kliq” as bandwagon-jumpers and that Shawn can’t even lace his boots (as opposed to Tony Atlas, who could lace Bret’s boots but probably shouldn’t).

We see the first-ever Slam of the Week on Raw, a double-decker Banzai Drop. Vince announces that it will be Hunter Hearst Helmsley, who is in action next, facing The Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania. His escort for tonight is Michelle Snickler, but his opponent is Vin Greer. Hunter drops his patented phantom knee-drop on Greer, whose presence as a jobber on this card during the Monday Night Wars suggests that Vince is over-confident and unaware that his ratings victory last week against Nitro was a result of WCW’s show being pre-empted.
Scheme Gene presents a report from the Geriatric Control Center, where he announces that the Geriatric Match is now being presented for free on the Preview Channel’s WWF Free-For-All, which makes much more sense than a pay-per-view clot. If fans don’t want to watch Vince’s grudge against Ted Turner play out on free TV, why would they pay to see it? We see footage of the Huckster’s training, which has taken such a toll on him that he looks like he’s being played by a completely different actor. I’m afraid that Hogan isn’t that replaceable; just ask Lex Luger. Nacho Man, on the other hand, has spray-painted his scalp black to appear less bald. Scheme Gene promises us an update on Ted Turner’s troubles with the FTC next week on Raw, which should spell ratings gold. Or, more appropriately, lead, given how far viewership ought to sink.

Former rivals Undertaker and Yokozuna team up, despite their history, where Yoko killed Undertaker, who then stuffed him into a casket four dozen times on house shows. Tonight, they take on British Bulldog and Owen Hart. Diesel watches from backstage and, when speaking of his upcoming tag team matches with Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart and Taker, he says he hopes “the rumors” about HBK aren’t true. They’re not; just ask Sunny. Jerry Lawler is surprised to see Undertaker here tonight, given that George Burns’s funeral is tomorrow. How’s that for shoehorning topical references into commentary Pretty poor, as always, actually. Taker and Yoko have a staredown and tease a confrontation, but then strike down Camp Cornette. All four men are in the ring for the first few moments, with Davey Boy taking a Yokozuna legdrop. Diesel angrily saunters down to ringside and clotheslines Paul Bearer, whom he punches a few times for good measure before wandering off. Undertaker tends to Paul Bearer before the pudgy manager tells him to go after Diesel. this is fortunate, because I can’t imagine The Dead Man showing his sensitive side and nursing Bearer back to health.
After the break, it’s just Owen and Davey against Yokozuna, who has been beached in the ring. Vader comes to the ring to make it a triple-team, but Ahmed Johnson comes to the rescue. Jake Roberts then evens up the numbers. Both sides get their licks in, but are separated by officials. Vader, who is still scheduled to face Yokozuna one-on-one at Mania, takes a chair and smashes it against the ring posts while his stablemates retreat. Jake Roberts’s theme music plays to close the show, despite him not even being in the match or even doing that much in the fight besides sustaining verticality and maintaining a pulse (both of which are huge accomplishments for Jake). Okay, fine, let him celebrate.

Final tally:

2 Maneuvers (Year total: 43)

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