Sunday, September 28, 2014

Raw #177 - September 23rd, 1996

Tonight’s show opens with a still photo from last night’s In Your House pay-per-view showing “Razor” and “Diesel” attacking Savio Vega. This no doubt intrigues any fans who don’t have access to the TNT network and can’t check out Nitro to see that Kevin Nash and Scott Hall are live on WCW TV and definitely aren’t going to be on this episode of Raw. Kevin Kelly says what a great night Mind Games was and says this Raw will be even better (meaning anyone who paid for last night’s event probably wasted their money).

Mr. Perfect makes a special entrance to do commentary for the IC title tournament final, while Pat Patterson, the only referee guaranteed not to be distracted by Sable and Sunny at ringside, officiates the contest. Faarooq and Sunny enter down the aisle, having to sidestep the tombstone reading “Buried Alive” that has been mounted in the entranceway. Kevin Kelly casually mentions that the next pay-per-view will be called “Buried Alive,” glossing over the fact that the main event won’t end until one wrestler is murdered. Mr. Perfect says that he has given Marc Mero some advice for winning tonight’s match. Mero opens the match with various pin attempts and even hits a somersault plancha to the outside. King remarks that Faarooq is lucky he has that headgear to protect him. Mero mounts the top rope, then does a 180 and moonsaults onto Faarooq, a move JR knows to call the “Merosault,” despite Wildman never having used it before. JR advises that Mero be “quicker than a hiccup” if he wants to win the title. Faarooq tosses Mero out of the ring and goes on the offensive as Kevin Kelly gets Ahmed on the phone for what promises to be a very productive interview. Ahmed repeatedly calls Kevin, “baby,” and vows that “it’s gonna be a cold day in hell” as soon as he gets back. I don’t think he understands the expression, “a cold day in hell,” as he has just implied that he will never return to the WWF. He then calls Jerry Lawler, “boy,” which is a lot better than if the roles were reversed. Lawler takes the opportunity to tell the exact same Jake Roberts kidney transplant joke that he told last week and the week before. Ahmed angrily and redundantly promises “when I get back” to take the King and his crown “when I get back” (which, I remind you, will be a cold day in hell). After the interview ends, Faarooq delivers a Samoan drop on Mero off the second rope, but Pat Patterson counts the subsequent pin attempt at an absurdly slow pace that takes even Kevin Kelly aback. Sunny chokes Marc Mero on the bottom rope, leading Pat to eject her from ringside, drawing boos. Two commercial then air for the WWF’s new entrance theme CD, “Full Metal,” which Freddie Blassie says makes him want to mosh. I guess the “New Generation slogan” is dead — and not just because fully half of the twelve entrance themes on the disc are for “New Generation” superstars no longer in the company (Diesel, Razor, 123 Kid, Jeff Jarrett, Mabel, and Hakushi).
After the break, Mero and Faarooq exchange pins, yielding slightly faster counts by Patterson. JR reminds us of “Razor” and “Diesel” returning tonight, then says that tonight the WWF will “expose Double J Jeff Jarrett,” who, I remind you, is about to sign with WCW. Tonight’s motif is, “Boy, we wish it were still last year.” Faarooq climbs the ropes for some reason and gets crotched by Mero, who topples him with a huracanrana, which Kelly says was “applied perfectly.” Mr. Perfect surprisingly does not jump in and say that only he is perfect. Sunny comes back down to the ring with a purse in hand, leading Ross to comment that either Sunny wasn’t thrown out of the building or she has a twin sister. My brother and I thought that that was a hint that Sunny did indeed have a twin sister who was now in the WWF, but you can’t really blame us for that one, since Jim Ross had been BS’ing the audience for weeks. Sunny gets into an argument with Sable, who for the first time in her career is actually doing something, anything. A small, tame catfight breaks out, which Patterson exits the ring to break up (purely for officiating purposes, I assure you). This allows Faarooq to grab Sunny’s purse, which he swings at Mero and misses. Mero hits Faarooq with the purse, then very slowly drags the heavier Faarooq to the corner of the ring for the Wild Thing. Mero pins Faarooq for the win and the title. Sunny then empties her purse, revealing a brick. Mero is awarded the title in the ring as a fan holds up a sign reading, “fumar,” which is Spanish for “to smoke.” This is in ECW country, so it may be RVD holding the sign. Mero thanks Jesus Christ for his victory, which is the second time JC’s name has been mentioned on Raw this year. The first was when the announcers were badmouthing Ted Turner for comparing himself to him, and the next will probably be something Steve Austin says. He also thanks his fans, as well as his “inspiration,” “motivation,” “best friend,” and “partner in and out of the ring, my lovely Sable.” He might be talking about his car, here. Finally, he thanks Mr. Perfect for his advice. JR chimes in, “What about me?” “Jim, you’re a great guy!” says Marc. As we go to commercial, we see the door to “Razor” and “Diesel’s” locker room, which is adorned with some veritable masterpieces from the props department. The least they could do is put the actual “Razor Ramon” and “Diesel” logos to add at least a bit of authenticity. Speaking of living in the past, we next see a clip from Jeff Jarrett’s match with Shawn Michaels from July 1995. Jerry Lawler continues to defend Jarrett, despite the country musician no longer being under WWF contract. I guess the bond between heels runs deep — either that or nepotism, what with Jeff being Jerry Jarrett’s son.

A graphic announces the WWF’s “new fall season,” featuring Raw, Superstars, Livewire, and something called “Blast Off” Saturday mornings on WGN and “Challenge” weekends on local stations. Apparently, “Blast Off” was basically a repackaged WWF Mania. “Challenge” appears to be the legacy of “Wrestling Challenge” and apparently featured Dok Hendrix showing highlights from other shows. The “Challenge,” I imagine, was trying to get the show to break a 0.1 Nielsen rating. Tonight’s Raw is sponsored by Sony Playstation, which features the slogan, “Killer of Hopes, Smasher of Egos.” With such a pessimistic motto, it’s a wonder the Playstation has carried on for the past twenty years. At least if the slogan said, “smasher of eggs,” you could use the thing to make omelets (and the fact that the machine overheated after an hour of play could certainly have helped Sony market it as a cooking appliance). Kevin Kelly then sends us backstage to the babyface locker room where Marc Mero’s celebration is under way. Dok Hendrix concurs, “Yes, the celebration is under the way [sic].” He really should have waited till the Wildman got backstage to crack open those champagne bottles. Sable is with the Wildman, who is flanked by a race car driver, a hog farmer, and a guy from Oklahoma named, “Freddie Joe Floyd,” all in an apparent attempt by Vince to siphon off some of the key “redneck” demographic that has been watching Nitro as of late.
Vince McMahon, who was at last night’s pay-per-view but has been AWOL on Raw since Summerslam, narrates the special “exposé” segment on Jeff Jarrett, taking us back to “July twenty-three” of last year, where we get to revisit Jarrett’s performance of “With My Baby Tonight.” I guess that now that Jarrett is out of the WWF, Vince is cutting his losses and getting at least a few miles out of the whole “lip-syncing” angle left over from 1995. It’s either that or wait till Double J returns in ’97 to run the angle. We are promised the “The Real Double J” next week, when we will meet the man who was really singing the song and who is going to feud with Jarrett in absentia for the next year. King, ever faithful, claims that Jarrett only lip-synched because he had throat problems that night.

The Bodydonnas are in the ring, greeted with a lukewarm reception, to face the new tag team champions, The Bulldog and Owen Hart (no longer sporting the cast, but still carrying his Slammy). Last night, Clarence Mason tricked Jim Cornette into signing away Bulldog and Owen while knocked loopy after his match with José Lothario. Mason denies the charges and threatens Kevin Kelly with a slander lawsuit. An “ECW” chant breaks out as JR dismisses the “local Philadelphia wrestling outfit” that wrestles “in a bingo hall.” Taz hops the barrier and holds up a sign reading, “Sabu fears Taz” as Raw unceremoniously goes to break. Talk about bush league! I agree with JR, who later tonight will debut two impostors in a shameless attempt to cling to two top stars who no longer work for the company.
After the worked shoot, Raw returns to air while a “We Want Taz” chant is in progress. Clarence Mason says that “like All-State,” the tag team champions are “in good hands.” For a man so concerned with lawsuits, he should be a little more careful about copyright infringement. On the split screen is Jim Cornette, and he is hopping mad. He calls Mason a “peanut-headed schyster,” which astoundingly does not lead to an IRS knockoff called, “Peanut-Headed Schyster.” He says that Mason “hornswoggled” him, but that next week he will get revenge on José Lothario when he and Vader team up against HBK and Super Sock — in a pre-taped match, no less. Plus, “Razor Ramon” will wrestle Savio Vega. Vince really knows how to tilt the ratings war back in his favor, doesn’t he? Owen Hart wins with a sharpshooter, the move popularized by Bret Hart, who was definitely “not” advertised *wink wink* for In Your House and therefore didn’t show. Thus ends Skip’s WWF career.

We see stills from last night’s pay-per-view, which saw Shawn Michaels beat Mankind by DQ in a finish that would have been panned a lot more had Michaels not already been champion. Although, it makes you wonder what the point of the champion winning by DQ was when he was clearly about to beat Mankind anyway. The ensuing brouhaha involving Sid & Vader and  Undertaker & Mankind has led to two matches at the next pay-per-view, including the first-ever “non-sanctioned” match in WWF history. This “Buried Alive” match is so non-sanctioned that the WWF is plugging it on television, prepared special graphics for it, naming the entire pay-per-view after it, advertising said match with a headstone stuck right in the entrance aisle, getting Sony Playstation to sponsor it, and selling tickets for it with TicketMaster’s phone number based on the prospect of seeing a cemetery in the Market Square Arena. Taker cuts a promo in a grave yard, where he says he has condemned Mankind to “eternal damnation.” Can he say that word on television? Dok Hendrix tries to get a word with Razor Ramon who, seen only from behind, slams the door on Dok.
Back on Raw, Steve Austin is at the announcers’ table, where Jerry Lawler brags about being a better artist than Bret Hart, showing off the cover illustration he drew for Comedy Magazine. Steve Austin says that the censors won’t allow him to use the word he wants, but that he’ll use a word that rhymes with it, declaring that he spits on Bret Hart, his career, and his family. So, he sits on Bret Hart? He also says he wishes Stu and Helen had practiced safe sex back in the day. No kidding. I hear they both had raging cases of chlamydia. Jerry says that Stu and Helen produced more tragedies than Shakespeare, which would become significantly less funny about mid-way through 1999.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley takes on The Stalker, who arrives seemingly in blackface. Also, his mustache makes him look like a walrus. A racist walrus. Austin notes the number of “Austin 3:16” signs in the arena, although it will still be months before anyone thought to put the slogan on a t-shirt. Jim Ross, like many of the fans, hopes that this match ends early, although in JR’s case, it’s so he’ll have more time to talk to Razor and Diesel. Kevin Kelly gives a very stilted and long-winded explanation of the Razor-Diesel interview situation, prompting Austin to remark, “Jesus, you’re killing me.” Wow, JC gets mentioned again even sooner than I thought eight paragraphs ago. Mr. Perfect comes down to ringside. Meanwhile, on the Superstar Line, Dok Hendrix is trying to con people into plunking down $1.49 a minute to find out why Razor and Diesel attacked Savio last night. He urges fans to call now, but he holds back laughter as he says it, knowing that once fans see the fake Razor and Diesel at the end of the show, they’ll know they got screwed out of their money.
JR complains that the match is running too long, and that he doesn’t want to run out of time to introduce Razor and Diesel. Stalker counters a sleeper hold with a jawbreaker, but not a seated three-quarters facelock jawbreaker, Wikipedia’s term for the Stone Cold Stunner. Austin wonders why Barry Windham wears facepaint when everybody knows who he is. He might as well ask why Ron Simmons wears a stupid helmet and calls himself, “Faarooq Assad.” While the match trudges along, Mr. Perfect makes off with Hunter’s escort, garnering by far the biggest fan reaction of the match. Triple H tries to stop Mr. Perfect by slowly crawling to the top rope; even an extensive private education can’t cure stupididty, apparently. Staker wins the match after slamming Hunter off the top, but JR is more excited than Windham, rushing to the ring to get on the mic.

JR keeps getting interrupted, first by a Mankind promo, then by a commercial, which is making him very angry. He still promises to bring out Razor and Diesel, but only after he rants against Vince McMahon. He starts off by saying that he has no loyalty, leading to a mild pop from the WCW and ECW fans in the audience. He complains about being put in a toga for his WWF pay-per-view debut and having to carry the broadcast at the first King of the Ring. He then outs Vince McMahon as the owner of the WWF, leading to some worked shoot remarks by Kevin and Jerry wondering why he’s doing this. He then brings up his Bells palsy and claims that he got fired over it. Actually, he says that his ass got fired. Next up on the worked shoot laundry list is Vince’s indictment. Finally, he claims that he is the one responsible for all the people leaving WWF as of late. At long last, he brings back “The Bad Guy Razor Ramon,” but the man who walks through the curtain is greeted with confusion from the fans and announcers, as it is an obvious fake. Fake Razor cuts a short promo with Razor’s catchphrases before being interrupted by Savio Vega. The two brawl as Raw goes off the air. I guess JR was right. He didn’t have enough time to bring out both Razor and Diesel.

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