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.

Owen’s past accomplishments are highlighted during his entrance, including his 1994 King of the Ring coronation and his 1996 Slammy win. Lawler pays tribute to the 1994 KOTR pay-per-view by asking Vince how much Yokozuna weighs. Vince puts the sumo’s weight at 666 pounds, perhaps hinting at a new Satanic gimmick for the massive Samoan. Yoko tries an elbow drop, but telegraphs it about ten seconds in advance, allowing Owen to move out of the way. Owen hits Yokozuna with about ten punches to the face, but fails to knock him down as fans chant, “We want Bret!” The King of Harts finally fells Yoko with a spinning heel kick, the signature move of the mighty Savio Vega, who eliminated Yokozuna last year. Owen makes the mistake of headbutting Yokozuna, forgetting that the behemoth is in fact Samoan and therefore has an impossibly hard head, according to wrestling logic. Yokozuna then attempts the Banzai drop, but being punished for his rampant weight gain, he “loses his balance” and falls on his back, allowing Owen Hart to pin him, using the ropes for leverage. This is the first time Yokozuna has ever been pinned on free television.
Footage of Jake Roberts’s Action Zone interview are shown, where he talked about his past cocaine and pill abuse. Jake is at ringside for commentary as Marc Mero and Skip vie for the last spot in the King of the Ring quarterfinals. Backstage, JR interviews a a despondent Yokozuna, who says he can’t even concentrate after obsessing over getting revenge on Jim Cornette. The 666-pounder says he has to go away to find himself, which shouldn’t be too difficult. I mean, where could he possibly be hiding? Marc Mero steps out from behind the RAW sign, sans Sable. “Where’s Sable?” asks McMahon. At a recent writers’ meeting, it was decided that whenever Sable wasn’t on screen, Vince would ask, “Where’s Sable?” Or maybe I’m thinking of Poochie from The Simpsons. Anyway, Sable appears a few seconds later with her vinyl body suit and cat of nine tails. Vince plugs the “Got Milk?” campaign, then, on a completely unrelated note, starts talking about Sable again, who, he estimates, is “the most beautiful lady, ever, here in the World Wrestling Federation.” As the action starts, Mero backs Skip into a corner and is forced to break the hold, which Mero does very slowly in very unnerving fashion, staring at his opponent as if in some sort of trance. Wildman then executes several Japanese arm drags, which Vince still insists are called, “Mexican arm drags.” Mero then leaps over the top rope, but catches himself, landing on the apron, leading Vince to compare the agile Wildman to a “black panther.” Somewhere, Huey Newton is scouring his membership roll for Mero’s name. Back in the ring, Skip Gourd-busts Mero across the top rope, making viewers wonder how far Skip would have gone had he not debuted as a “Bodydonna.” Vince notes a recent “SNAFU” over the FBI’s investigation of people needing White House clearance, so Jerry makes reference to the FBI’s investigation of McMahon. After Mero dropkicks Skip while Skip executes a flying dropkick of his own, Lawler asks Jake Roberts about the last time he did a dropkick. Jake says he doesn’t leave his feet anymore, sounding very much like the “Huckster” caricature whom Vince trotted out at the beginning of the year to make fun of WCW’s aged, washed-up stars. Skip tries to huracanrana Mero off the top rope, but Wildman holds on, then executes a High-Risk Maneuver (#1 - leaping sunset flip) for a one-count. We then see a replay of Mero blocking Skip’s Maneuver (#2 - top-rope huracanrana) while in real time, Skip headbutts Mero’s, uh, lower abdomen.
Skip hits a gutwrench suplex for his first successful Maneuver (#3) of the match. Jake and Vince worry that the match will go the fifteen-minute time limit. Wildman catches a second wind, softening Skip up with punches, but makes a mistake by trying to body-press Skip backwards over the top rope, as so many people have been doing on Raw lately. Marc falls to the floor as a result of the High-Risk Maneuver that Backfired (#4). Skip then tries a plancha on Mero, who dodges. Lawler calls both of them, “Einstein.” Mero then successfully hits a somersault plancha, then throws him back into the ring and hits a slingshot splash for another Maneuver (#5), followed by a top-rope huracanrana for the victory. He and Sable do the Batusi in celebration. As Roberts leaves the commentary table, Lawler thanks him for adding so much to the show: “boredom.” At least Lawler goes the whole night without calling Jake a drunk.
Vince and Jerry are in the ring for an interview segment with the Ultimate Warrior, who rushes to the ring in classic Warrior fashion, except with a baseball cap and his hair tied back in a ponytail. Jerry has a lot to answer for, having gotten Warrior eliminated from the tournament (which he didn’t actually do). Jerry says he was doing him a favor, since it’s so hard to be a king. Lawler then offers a portrait of the Warrior as a peace offering. Warrior, who is not looking so dangerous right now in his ball cap, calls him a con-artist. He then recites some Warrior mumbo jumbo about being bonded by “the belief that at the King of the Ring, I’m gonna kick your ass!” See, this new Warrior is just like the old Warrior, but with more cursing! And at the next pay-per-view, he’s going to beat the King. The damn hell ass King! Lawler responds by hitting Warrior with his painting, cardboard backing-side first, sending broken glass away from Warrior’s head, which is why he put on the baseball cap in the first place. Warrior chases King to the back.

The British Bulldog and the Undertaker square off in tonight’s main event, with Shawn Michaels joining the broadcast via a split-screen. Jim Cornette gets on the headset and taunts Shawn and announces that Clarence Mason’s lawsuit against Gorilla Monsoon has been settled. Instead of paying damages, Monsoon has granted Mason and Jim Cornette their choice of special referee. Vince closes the interview with a “thank you,” talking over his own intro for the match, which should be impossible on a live broadcast (which, of course, this isn’t). Jim laughs that he won’t tell Vince who the referee will be. In this match, Vince says the British Bulldog must rely on his “assets” of strength and speed, marking the first time in months that “assets” has not referred to Sunny’s breasts or buttocks. Cornette calls Diana Smith a “budding flower of the South,” despite her being from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and says Monsoon had to accept Mason’s settlement or else he’d be in court “until he had a beard down to his crotch.” Bulldog hits his delayed vertical suplex on the Taker, who sits up, gets hit with a powerslam (not of the running variety) and sits up again.
Vince, after receiving confirmation during the break that Monsoon had granted Camp Cornette their choice of referee, suggests Cornette bring in the 82nd Airborne against Michaels, while he’s at it. No need for that type of military power to subdue Shawn — just bring in nine Marines (or two or three Marines, or one GI, depending on whom you ask). Undertaker escapes a long headlock by Bulldog with a belly-to-back suplex, a Devastating Maneuver (#6). Nonetheless, Bulldog attempts his running powerslam, but Taker escapes and delivers “devastating blows.”

On Option 6 of the WWF Superstar Line, JR wants you to know whether Brian Pillman has joined the WWF. Obviously, yes, or they wouldn’t be mentioning Pillman, who has never been in the Federation, by name (unlike, say, “Billionaire Ted”). This is certainly not a corporate raid, like WCW's signing of Hall and Nash, despite Pillman's verbal agreement to return to WCW. The Undertaker punishes Bulldog outside the ring, throwing him into the steps. He rolls Bulldog back into the ring, but then gets his leg pulled by Mankind — and I don’t mean Mick Foley played a joke on him (which he could easily do, by the way, now that he is a stand-up comedian). Undertaker gets counted out as Mankind beats up Taker with some help from the Bulldog. Mankind then piledrives Taker and signals for the mandible claw before Gerald Brisco, Tony Garea, and other officials separate them.

Final tally:

6 Maneuvers (Year total: 98)


  1. This was truly a terrible time but you could see the tide was turning. Austin, Pillman, Undertaker vs Mankind.

  2. I believe this was the final RAW the WWF won the ratings war with before Nitro's 84 week dominance.

  3. While Raw had become a very, very bad show that always did baffle me. Nitro was abominable.