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.

When the two do get into the ring, Warrior dominates at the outset, so Goldust flees the ring again. Vince apologizes for the previous night’s power outage during In Your House and announces that the encore presentation the next night would feature the remaining, unaired matches live. The Warrior and Goldust stall some more, just as they did at last month’s In Your House, until Goldust gets in and ambushes Warrior as he enters. Goldust flees again, a heat-generating tactic that is only effective when you have a captive audience. When viewers have a remote control and another wrestling program airing simultaneously, it’s not such a good move, especially when it’s the night that Scott Hall shows up on Nitro to start the biggest storyline in wrestling history. Warrior gets a two-count on Goldust, but is too winded to put up much of a fight as Goldust puts him in a rear chinlock. I can’t imagine Warrior putting up with Goldust attempting a “rear” anything on him. As Vince defends Warrior’s intelligence by extolling the virtues of Destrucity laid out in his comic book, the man from Parts Unknown escapes the hold via an electric chair drop. Goldust flees yet again, but is stopped at Gorilla position by Ahmed Johnson, who lifts Goldust over his shoulder and hauls him back in.
After the break, Goldust is still stalling on the outside of the ring, hoping perhaps to get a fifteen-minute match out of the blown-up Warrior. Goldust,, whose IC title is not on the line tonight, will defend the title against The Undertaker in a rematch of last night’s casket match tomorrow night on the make-up PPV. Of course, Goldust will be filmed with the Intercontinental Title all throughout the next month’s worth of shows taped tonight, so that should served as a spoiler for the fans in attendance. Back in the ring, Goldust distracts the referee so he can give a low blow… excuse me, punch Warrior in the groin. Vince comments on the poor officiating in the WWF as of late, a problem that will eventually be solved by Harvey Wippleman. Vince thanks last night’s crowd in Florence, South Carolina for their patience waiting for the lights to come back on, but he does not mention the unannounced (literal) dark match that took place between Jake Roberts and Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw that snapped the Texan’s undefeated streak, all for the sake of stalling for time. Warrior starts to hulk up, so to speak, convulsing and hitting a series of clotheslines. Goldust leaves the ring yet again, so Warrior pursues him. Both men get counted out, resulting in neither man advancing in the tournament they worked so hard to qualify for. Jerry says Warrior is going after Marlena, so he picks up Marlena’s director’s chair, only for Warrior to turn around. Ultimate Warrior takes out his frustrations on the chair, closing perhaps the worst match in Raw history up to this point, and the perfect way to start off Raw for WCW, who, again, are about to kick off the nWo angle, no doubt with a larger-than-expected audience during the NBA Playoffs thanks to this objectively piss-poor offering. Meanwhile, backstage, Steve Austin and Ted DiBiase discuss something backstage.

Clips air from last night’s Free For All (where the Gunns defeated the Godwinns with new manager Sunny to gain the tag team titles), followed by stills from the portions of the pay-per-view that did air before the satellite and power went out. The lights went out during Savio Vega’s entrance to the outrage of all the WWF fans who have expected four Savio Vega matches per pay-per-view ever since last year’s King of the Ring. Compelling footage of complete darkness airs as three sets of wrestlers experience the absolute futility of wrestling matches that no one will see — sort of like TNA. A local newspaper headline declares, “Wrasslin’ in the dark,” probably receiving an angry phone call from Vince clarifying that he’s not in the wrasslin’ business, but the entertainment business. Vince then explains that the three matches that took place in the dark will be held again tomorrow night and that you should contact your cable company for details.
Ted DiBiase is livid that Savio Vega was declared the victor last night in the strap match, despite the fact that the lights were out. DiBiase is so confident that Austin will win tomorrow night, that he vows to leave the WWF should Austin lose.

The Smoking Gunns’ music plays, and they are led to the ring by none other than Sunny, who has now managed a record-setting three consecutive championship teams (and will have slept with a member of each of the next two after this). Footage of Sunny’s music video plays on the video wall. The Bodydonnas are none too pleased that Sunny has abandoned them (which she had already done the night before with the Godwinns). Hillbilly Jim, whose Godwinns will get a rematch against the Gunns, is on commentary. Jim says Phineas Godwinn is naïve about Sunny, and I’d feel bad for the younger Godwinn if I didn’t know that he would proudly admit to sex with farm animals just three years later. As Skip obscenely thrusts at Sunny during a wide shot, drawing boos, Jim says Sunny double-crossed them and “The Body the Donnas, too.” Vince wonders whether the Bodydonnas will be distracted by “the presence of Sunny.” That’s “presence,” not “presents,” which would have probably been another strained reference to her breasts. Harvey Wippleman takes notes fro the aisle. The fans are unsure of whom to cheer for. On the one hand, the Smoking Gunns now have the heel Sunny on their side. On the other hand, the Bodydonnas were heels last week and haven’t done anything to merit the fans’ support. On the other hand, the Gunns were faces last night and haven’t really turned heel. On the other hand, fans already cheer for Sunny despite her heel alignment. That’s four hands, if you’ve been counting; for the sake of analogy, just pretend it’s Goro who is weighing these considerations. An evenly-matched Billy Gunn and Zip trade reversal after reversal, prompting Hillbilly Jim to bring up the possibility of a title change tonight, before being reminded that it’s a non-title match. A disillusioned Skip confronts Sunny over her betrayal; not the Shawn Michaels thing, but the Smoking Gunns thing.
After the break, Bart runs the ropes and tumbles to the outside thanks to Zip pulling down the top rope for the first Maneuver (#1) of the broadcast. “What do you mean, ‘What a maneuver,’” asks an indignant Lawler, cluing in the viewers as to who the faces and heels are. “That was a cheat!” Vince and Hillbilly Jim rationalize the rule-breaking. While a replay of the first maneuver airs, Skip executes another Maneuver (#2), leaping off the top rope for a body press to Bart on the arena floor. It’s like the Inception of maneuvers. Skip then re-enters the ring and directs the same obscene gesture at Sunny, drawing heavy boos from the crowd. As Zip chokes Bart on the outside, Vince expresses sympathy for the Bodydonnas, who are supposed to be the babyfaces. Vince also explains that Sunny had tricked Phineas into signing her as the Godwinns’ manager before their match at MSG, which is why she had that piece of paper in her hand (you don’t forget a thing like that) and why she came out with the Godwinns last night. Jim talks about the bad feelings in Bitters, Arkansas and Mudlick, Kentucky (the hillbilly equivalent of coast-to-coast) due to the Godwinns’ loss. Jerry Lawler tells Hillbilly Jim to learn how to manage and to scout Sunny; that’s what King’s clearly been doing for months. Bart Gunn hits a German suplex, the Very Same Maneuver (#3) that Vince says cost Shawn Michaels the “tag team” title. Fortunately, he is interrupted by Phineas Godwinn’s arrival at ringside, sparing him from having to finish and correct his factual error. Sunny wants nothing to do with Phineas, whom Hillbilly Jim and Henry Godwinn try to calm down, and who is an admitted animal rapist. The Bodydonnas double-team Bart as Vince further justifies their heel tactics. Skip hits a Maneuver (#4 - flying cross body) that Bart rolls through for a pinfall victory. Jerry complains that Skip is not the legal man until Bart gets the pin and he changes his mind. Sunny, whom I never would have pegged for a cowgirl (but rather, just the opposite. I think that’s called a “reverse cowgirl”) celebrates with her new team. Vince figures that Billy’s kiss with Sunny last night was pre-planned to distract Phineas and deliver the titles to the Gunns.
Vince and Jerry narrate stills from last night’s main event, trying to explain the contrived double-pin finish.
And if you thought the finish was shocking, just look who came out of the pay-per-view the WWF champion! Yes, cashing in her Money in the Bank briefcase was Diana Smith, making history as — oh, sorry. That’s just Diana holding the title she felt belonged to her husband, the British Bulldog, before Gorilla Monsoon confiscated it and returned it to Michaels. The two men will face off again at King of the Ring.

Vader faces Ahmed Johnson in the next match, another King of the Ring bout, with the Slammy Award-winning Owen Hart on commentary. Owen has his arm in a cast and resents Vince questioning the legitimacy of his injury. Both Ahmed and Vader are undefeated on television, despite Vader losing to Yokozuna in the dark last night and at house shows against Warrior. Ahmed stares down the man whose physique he will emulate in his WCW stint. Vader spits at Ahmed, leading Johnson to go nuts on the big man, pounding him in the corner and getting a huge pop. The reigning Kuwaiti champion then grabs Vader by the neck, reminiscent of how Vader will treat that TV host during next year’s tour of Kuwait. Vader then thumbs Ahmed in the eye, but gets clotheslined by Ahmed when he tries to take advantage. Ahmed then does that same cross-body-over-the-top-rope spot that everybody has been doing the past month or so on Raw. Jim Cornette hits Ahmed, now sporting his trademark wedgie, with a tennis racket, then runs away as Johnson approaches.
After the break, Vader downs Ahmed with a knee to the gut as Vince explains that, due to the double-countout that opened the show, the winner of this match gets a bye to the semi-finals. Vader works over Ahmed and executes several corner splashes. “the next time we hear Ahmed talk,” says Jerry about the pounding Johnson has taken, “he’ll sound like Muhammad Ali!” Vince distances himself from the tasteless remark. “Oh, you’re a riot. Such a kind human being. too benevolent.” He then calls Vader a “mastodon,” as he is wont to do. Vader tries to suplex Ahmed, but the Pearl River Powerhouse resists and delivers his own vertical suplex to the 400+ pounder. Still, Vader recovers and attempts a moonsault, which Ahmed evades. Jim Cornette then returns to ringside and distracts the referee after Ahmed powerslams Vader. Johnson flips Cornette into the ring with the old pull-on-the-top-rope trick. With the referee occupied with Cornette, Owen leaps off the top rope and hits Ahmed in the back of the head with his cast, letting Vader get the pinfall and causing Ahmed his first loss.
Still unconscious, Ahmed is stretchered out to the backstage area. Fortunately, Goldust is on the scene to deliver mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Ahmed awakens to discover gold glitter on his lips, then gets off the gurney and turns it over. In his daze, Ahmed chokes Bob holly and lifts him high into the air, demanding to know where Goldust is. He is so disoriented that not only does he ignore Bob Holly’s status as a babyface, but he doesn’t even notice the wedgie he is sporting. Wildman Marc Mero points Ahmed toward Goldust’s locker room, but he finds it empty and punches out the cameraman as he walks off in a rage, right butt cheek hanging out. A classic segment to end a show with a terrible beginning.

Final tally:

4 Maneuvers (Year total: 87)
1 Ahmed Johnson wedgie

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