Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Raw #174 - Championship Friday - September 6th, 1996

Tonight’s Raw is a special “Championship Friday” edition, featuring Goldust vs. Shawn Michaels for the WWF title. The opening narration wonders whether Goldust’s mind games will be able to defeat HBK. I doubt it; if anyone in the WWF is secure with his sexuality, it’s the earring-and-chaps-wearing Boy Toy.
Sycho Sid faces Hunter Hearst Helmsley in the first round of the annual Intercontinental tournament. I say, “annual” because there will be one in 1997 and 1998, too. Jim Ross calls Helmsley a “very cerebral athlete,” but compares Sid to Hurricane Fran, which I’m sure sounded more intimidating in 1996. More brilliant JR commentary follows, as Sid dominates the early going with high kicks to the gut, prompting Ross to note that the big man won’t “reinvent the fireman’s carry.” HH Helmsley (as he’s called on the graphic) enjoys a short spurt of offense before getting chokeslammed, powerbombed, and pinned, the wrestling equivalent of a strikeout in the seventh inning of softball. Mr. Perfect strolls to ringside and leaves with Hunter’s escort.

In prerecorded comments, Ahmed Johnson says something unintelligible about returning to wrestling, while his doctor holds up what is either an octopus tentacle or a model of a kidney. Kevin Kelly says Ahmed could be back in the ring by year’s end, and Jim Ross promises to break perhaps the biggest story of his career.
Brian Pillman comes to ringside for commentary, but this time not on a live episode. Instead of making lewd comments about Sable Marlena, Pillman simply promises to bring Bret Hart back to the Federation at Mind Games. Tonight’s theme is “empty promises.” Marc Mero and Steve Austin face off for only the fifth time this year in another tournament match, the winner of which faces Owen Hart. Austin mocks Mero with a Batusi, but the Wildman punches him in the jaw and later scores a series of near-falls.

After the break, a handy graphic lets us know that the raspy voice we’re hearing is Brian Pillman’s (as if it could be anyone else’s). Mero has control until Austin pulls him through the ropes. Stone Cold then pulls the referee in front of him as Mero tries to thrust his shoulder into Austin’s gut. The official gets knocked down and disqualifies Austin, who does the stunner on Mero. Wildman quickly recovers and brawls with Stone Cold after the bell.
Mark Henry steps into the ring with Jerry Lawler, who JR says has respect for nobody except Elvis Presley’s memory. His cousin, Wayne Farris, doesn’t even have that! With Lawler off the commentary team this week, JR picks up the slack as far as cheap current events references go, promising more shocking revelations in this interview than in the Dick Morris scandal, alluding to the Clinton aid who was caught with a prostitute and later reinvented himself as a conservative pundit on Fox News. Lawler tells Henry that the 1996 Olympics and Jake Roberts have something in common: they both got bombed. Ah, the innocent days when one could tell an hilarious terrorism joke. He then accuses Henry of not knowing a wristlock from a wristwatch, demonstrating the King’s education at the Gorilla Monsoon School of Commentary (located in Suplex City, in the wrong part of town). Jerry challenges Henry to a match, which the Olympian declines for being unprepared, but then accepts after prodding by Lawler, promising the King “one gold-medal butt-kicking.”

Mankind enter the ring with Paul Bearer, who betrayed Taker at Summerslam’s Boiler Room Brawl. Due to injuries from that match, claims Ross, Undertaker had to be hospitalized recently, but he will be back to take on the “undefeated Salvatore Sincere” next week. Speaking of the “Kiss of Death Five,” Alex “The Pug” Porteau is Mankind’s opponent tonight. JR then breaks his shocking story, promising the return of Diesel and Razor Ramon to the WWF. With both men still wrestling for WCW, this is obviously untrue, but at least Ross waited until a Friday Raw to announce it so that fans couldn’t immediately switch to Nitro to make sure. Mankind dominates The Pug, who Kevin Kelly says is in dire straits. If anyone in the WWF is in Dire Straits, it’s Brian Pillman, who getting paid money for nothing. Mankind wins with the mandible claw.
Clips air from recent festivities in Toronto, where Sycho Sid challenged an elephant to a tug of war. Not just any elephant, either, but Angus, “the undefeated elephant.” Obviously, Sid was totally overpowered. What’s a matter, Sid? Can’t find your scissors? I said, “What’s a matter, Sid? Can’t find your scissors?” Fortunately, a group of Special Olympians stepped up and helped Sid win the rematch, pulling Angus over the line, knocking him down, and lopping off the beast’s tusks as a trophy. I might have made up those last two things. Later, Superstars would sign autographs, including the Bikertaker, before a WWF live event, which saw a special appearance by Roddy Piper. Roddy declared, “Piper for Prime Minister!”, which must be referring to the Prime Minister of the UK, as Piper is clearly Scottish and not Canadian. Two months later, Piper would be in WCW.

Bob Backlund is in the ring when the festival footage ends. He opens his speech by claiming to be “bringing back the man who’s going to win the WWWF champion in the near future.” He then introduces his new wrestler’s mentor, a man he has “a tremendous amount of abomination for” before urging fans to look it up in a dictionary. Although he has “abomination” (which Backlund still thinks is the opposite of “admiration”) for this man, he respects him, too. That man is the Iron Sheik! Backlund and Sheiky Baby in the same segment? If Youtube and stupid internet clichés like “win the internets” had been around in 1996, this promo would surely win the internets. “I thought the Iron Sheik was in a home somewhere,” says Ross. Sheik comes to the ring with an Iranian flag emblazoned with the Ayatollah’s face, having reaffirmed his allegiance to the old country after backing Iraq in the early 90s. Iron Sheik begins on the microphone: “Mr. Backlair, first of all, my prussure to I’ve come from ten thousand mile, oldest country in the world, Tehran, Iran…” Sheiky Baby continues to speak what sounds to be one continuous sentence, calling Backlund “a six-time WW-Yeh, WWF six-time champion,” finally being talked over by the announcers and cut off by the commercial break.
Shawn Michaels enters the ring to take on Goldust, but is mobbed by fans along the way. Ross calls him “bigger than a rockstar.” I don’t know about “bigger,” Jim. You must not have seen his Playgirl spread. Just kidding! You couldn’t see anything; his title belt was in the way. Speaking of which, Ross plugs — uh, promotes, Michaels’s non-nude pictorial and interview in that magazine, which Ross calls a controversial decision and “for adults only.” “Gay male adults,” he is probably thinking. And speaking of gay male adults, Goldust takes control of the match early on. Kevin Kelly calls the Bizarre One a master of getting inside his opponent’s head. Or some other body part, at least. Goldust drags Michaels to the outside, where Marlena blows the Heartbreak Kid… right in the face with cigar smoke. Goldust suplexes and covers Michaels for a two-count before the break.

Ross reiterates how reliable his sources are regarding the return of Razor and Diesel, while Mankind is seen somewhere in the arena, saying, “Sexy boy! Oh, sexy boy!” and promising a “surprise” for him. Michaels makes his comeback with a Santana-esque flying burrito, a kip-up, scoop slam, and flying body press, but Goldust rolls through the last move for a near-fall.
Michaels hits the flying elbow drop as we return from break, but Marlena distracts Michaels on the apron before HBK can hit the super kick. Goldust attempts the Curtain Call, but as we all know, Shawn is immune to the ill effects of curtain calls. Michaels flips out of the finisher, then moonsaults onto Goldust for the 1-2-3 like a certain kid now in WCW. Mankind then runs into the ring, where he and Goldust try to double-team the champion. Michaels slips out of the ring  in the nick of time.


  1. This was soooo well written and hilarious! I miss these good old WWF golden days! Screw WWE of today.. it's an alien world to me when I try to watch it every now and then.. it's lost the magic, which they try to compensate for with lots of flashy things these days. The ring is ugly, I miss the red, white, and blue ropes of the old days. I hate the new "action" camera shots where every slam on the mat, every chair shot, every angle has to be the camera zooming in and out and following the person getting slammed while zoomed in.. it's overdone to the max. I get they're trying to make it look more "real" and that the impacts are "ouch" but it really detracts from the action rather than add.. I don't know when they'll realize this. I'd be pissed as a wrestler because it basically means you suck at your craft and need a bit of extra help to make the slam or chair shot or punch or uppercut or rope throw, etc. look "more real." /end rant. Thanks again :D