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.
Sunny, whose hair is still suffering the effects of that caking from three Raws ago, accompanies Faarooq Assad for his debut match. Jerry Lawler is mesmerized (by Sunny, though Ron Simmons appears to have quite the badonkadonk in that costume). Faarooq, whom Vince describes as a “thug” (apparently not even bothering to sell us on his “gladiator” gimmick), controls Skip in the earlier going. Skip surprises Assad with a small package, but Maximus kicks out at two. Vince promises to get Jake Roberts on the phone, leading Lawler to wonder how he managed that. Did he pretend to be a bartender, asks Jerry. A better question would be, do bartenders typically call their customers at home? Lawler’s jokes have been getting more strained every week. As the announcers wonder what will happen to the Intercontinental Title, Skip pulls off a Nice Maneuver (#1), sliding between the gladiator’s legs, but he is quickly put down with the powerslam, Ron’s old finisher, then his new finisher, the Maneuver (#2) later known as the dominator, as the audience gasps. Faarooq scores an “impressive” win, while Lawler says Sunny will be even more “impressive” when she gives us the “naked truth” about her swimsuit for the Bikini Beach Blast-Off (which will also feature Sable, Marlena, and, as we learned in last week’s main event, Steve Austin. Stone Cold in a bikini? Talk about opening up a can!).

We then see footage from last week in which Lawler executed his Patented Maneuver (#3 - piledriver) on Aldo Montoya and forced whiskey down his throat. Montoya suffered not from “battle fatigue,” but from “bottle fatigue,” according to Lawler, who has apparently taken to mocking PTSD in addition to alcoholism. Jake The Snake gets on the phone, and Lawler gets cut off by the commercial break in the middle of a joke about Roberts having “one fifth” of something or another. Clarence Mason brings out his “new man,” whom the announcers instantly recognize as Crush, but whom Vince points out does not resemble the “Crush of old” in any way. So how did he recognize him so quickly? He certainly didn’t have a chain hanging off a nose ring when he was “Chaka Bra.” Clarence Mason comes to the announcers’ table, and Jerry Lawler requests his business card. “What do you need his services for?” asks McMahon, worrying that he’ll have to pull him off the pay-per-view card and replacing him with Shawn Michaels again like in 1993. Vince is disgusted that Crush is allowed to compete in the WWF, but Lawler points out his hypocrisy. “You of all people should know about the judicial system!” Crush picks up Savio Vega and rams his shoulder into the ring post for a Devastating Maneuver (#4), about which Clarence notes that he can’t be charged with battery for what he does in a wrestling match. “It’s all consensual!” laughs Mason, while Jerry Lawler gleefully approves, “Yes! Yes!” And yes, that last exchange actually happened as described. Savio dodges a fist drop from the big man from Kona, Hawaii, but still falls victim to a head vise. Vega escapes and scores a two-count with a roll-up on Crush as Lawler, who has seemingly forgotten his own embarrassing legal history, asks Vince if he has ever been fingerprinted or indicted.
Crush has his future Nation of Domination partner in a camel clutch as McMahon prods Mason for answers as to his intentions with Crush and how he can manage him professionally while representing Camp Cornette legally. Drinking jokes give way to legal jokes, as Lawler threatens to find Vince to be in contempt. Savio Vega misses a heel kick, then falls prey to Crush’s full nelson, which results in a submission in nineteen-freaking-ninety-six. Clarence Mason flails around wildly to celebrate the victory. Vince McMahon then recaps last week’s “mee-lay” between Undertaker and Mankind, a “mee-lay” that spilled out of the ring and then back into it.

Jim Ross wants you to find out what Federation superstar has been offered an early release from his contract. He always wants children under the age of eighteen to get their parents’ permission before calling, “but whatever you do, call now.” Talk about a mixed message. Sunny tries on bikinis behind a screen before we see a recap of Ahmed’s injury, which erroneously dated the initial attack to “2 weeks ago,” when it was actually three weeks ago (or about two and a half hours ago in real time). Ahmed sits down with Kevin Kelly while in a Barry White-style bath robe. It would be even more reminiscent of Barry White if this were the year 2000 and Ahmed were 350 pounds. Ahmed is uncertain about his future but is certain about what happened in the past, such as when Faarooq kicked him three weeks ago and “somewhat burst” his kidney, a wound that was “made a little wider” during the battle royal. Oh, what a tangled web we weave when we tape four weeks of television in a single night.
TL Hopper comes to the ring with his plunger, Betsy, and his tag team partner. Who is at ringside? No, Who is in the ring as Hopper’s tag team partner. Bob Backlund is the one at ringside, prompting the King to suggest that he, and not former football player Jack Kemp, should have been selected as Bob Dole’s running mate. Backlund sits at the announcers’ table as the Godwinns, who will next year be managed by TL Hopper (as Uncle Cletus), make their entrance. Lawler promises to vote for Mr. Backlund twice, saying he’s done it before. This man would later run for mayor of Memphis. Political consequences aside, Backlund’s presence at the announce table means that we will be treated to Bob on the mic, which will certainly boon this broadcast. Mr. Backlund says it’s a pleasure to be out there with the plebeians. The Godwinns start in firm control of Who, the former Jim Neidhart, whose ring gear make his the most embarrassing gimmick in a match where he teams with a plumber against two hillbillies. Backlund wishes to benefit the plebeians by bringing in a new wrestler to take the title away from the champion Shawn Michaels, who is having a bad influence on society. Backlund also complains that teachers aren’t allowed to teach that thou shalt not steal or kill, but will teach children how to avoid contracting AIDS “by applying a condominium.” He gets so worked up that he loses his headset and leaves the table. Vince says that TL Hopper and Who have been able to “do a pretty good job of cheating,” which I will have to take Vince’s word for, since neither I nor the announcers have been paying any attention to the actual action until now. Gorilla Monsoon speaks to Vince (who has been wondering aloud all night about the “disposition” — his choice of words — of the IC title) via split-screen and declares the Intercontinental title to be vacant (for the third time in two years). Lawler asks why Monsoon won’t just award the title to Ahmed’s opponent like he did when Shawn Michaels got put out of action last year, but Gorilla refuses to reward Faarooq for causing the injury. Instead, there will be a tournament to decide the new champion. Henry hits Who with the slop drop for the victory.

Mr. Perfect speaks to Bret Hart on the “Wrestle Vessel,” which appears to be some sort of cruise ship, and judging by its name, it mixes wrestling with more traditional cruise fare, such as diarrhea. Bret Hart says that in a few months, he’s going decide whether to come back, to definitively say, “A, I’m coming back, or I’m not.” Or maybe he says, “Eh, I’m coming back, or I’m not.” It’s hard to tell with the man from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. If he does come back, however, he’s going to have a shovel. Does that mean that he’s going to don a mask as “The Executioner” in a few months at Buried Alive?
Jerry Lawler wonders whether the thing Owen Hart is wearing on his wrist is a “condominium” as the Slammy Award winner prepares to take on Shawn Michaels in a non-title match. Clips are shown of this Friday’s event at Madison Square Garden, where Hunter Hearst Helmsley, instead of beating Razor Ramon like the last show at the Garden, gets tossed around by Mark Henry, the WWF’s new golden boy. Also featured is behind-the-scenes footage of Shawn Michaels on the set of the Baywatch. Speaking of beaches, Jerry Lawler fantasizes about Sunny at the Bikini Beach Blast-Off, while Vince notes that Sable is “looking mighty fine these days.” Jerry then threatens to throw Sable in the pool (without even dumping ice cubes in there beforehand). The match between HBK and Owen starts off with each man pushing the other to the mat, and the other man kipping up. Owen kicks Shawn, but gets his foot caught. Before he can hit an enziguiri (the move he used before HBK collapsed), Shawn sweeps Hart’s leg for a Beautiful Maneuver (#5). Michaels then performs a standing switch and runs Hart to the ropes, but Owen ducks, a Maneuver (#6) that sends Shawn over the top rope, which he grabs onto to skin the cat and head-scissor Owen to the outside before executing a plancha. Owen gets back into the ring by flipping over Michaels for a Maneuver (#7). After Owen misses a hell kick, Michaels works over Hart with restholds as Vince questions the wisdom in accepting a match with Owen so soon before taking on Vader, whom he constantly refers to as a “mastodon.” Michaels reverses an Irish whip for a Nice Maneuver (#8) that sends Owen into the turnbuckle sternum-first like his brother. Owen soon recovers, executing a belly-to-belly suplex for another Maneuver (#9).
Michaels is in a camel clutch when Raw returns from break, which bodes poorly for HBK’s chances against Vader, who is a mastodon. Shawn escapes but soon gets put into a chin lock. Michaels scores a two-count with a jackknife pin, but Owen soon reasserts control. Owen then mount the top rope and knocks Shawn down with a dropkick as Raw takes another break.
Owen Hart imitates HBK’s set-up for Sweet Chin Music, then attempts the enziguiri, only for Michaels to duck and get a second wind. Shawn hits a powerslam and a flying elbow before signalling for Sweet Chin Music himself. Vader, “that big mastodon,” runs to the ring, but Michaels disposes of him with the tenth Maneuver (#10 - dropkick) of the night. He then hits the superkick to the “chest area” of Owen, then again to the chin, putting down the Slammy Award-winner for the 1-2-3. As Vader steps onto the apron with a chair, Shawn rips off Owen’s cast for use as a weapon. Cornette tosses in a tennis racket to Owen, but HBK swipes it from Hart and whacks it with him. Regardless, Vader clotheslines Michaels and Vader-bombs him twice, tossing referees around in the process. Vader goes to the very top rope for a moonsault as Raw goes off the air.

Final tally:

10 Maneuvers (Year total: 151)

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