Sunday, October 12, 2014

Raw # 179 - October 7th, 1996

Tonight, Todd Pettengill says, Vader is here. His message is clear. He’s queer. Get used to it. Okay, I might have embellished a bit on those last two sentences. Also in the opening video package is Marlena, who is such a Hollywood aficionado that she appears to be wearing the molded nipples from  Joel Schumacher’s Batman films. All that, plus the fake Razor, the fake Diesel, and the Real Double J!
As Marc Mero, Sable’s breasts, and Sable enter, Jim Ross is conspicuous by his absence. And whenever you hear the phrase, “conspicuous by his absence,” it can mean only one thing: Vince McMahon is back on commentary. He’s back! He’s back! No, he isn’t. So very close. No, instead, Jerry Lawler and Kevin Kelly are handling the commentary duties themselves. Tonight, Intercontinental Champion Marc Mero takes on Diesel, who is hoping to become a two-time IC champion. Sort of. “Diesel” comes out to the ring, accompanied by none other than Good Old JR, who returns to the announcers’ desk. Ross apologizes for his tardiness, while King reminds him that they’re already on the air now. Actually, they’re not, as this Raw is taped just like almost every episode. We learn that this contest is in fact a non-title bout, meaning that Diesel can’t regain the title he lost to Razor Ramon. Mero topples Diesel with a plancha over the top rope, but Diesel soon takes control with a big boot and a hair flip, two of Diesel’s signature moves. Backstage, “Razor Ramon” tells the announcers that he’s coming for a closer look, mang. At least Rick Bognar’s Razor impersonation is spot-on.
Mero nearly pins Diesel after the break with a rather sloppy roll up. Sable is nearly in tears as Diesel beats on Mero, prompting Ross to wonder whether Sable is really helping Mero. Aside from the fact that she does absolutely nothing to help him win, I don’t know what Ross is talking about. “Razor” finally makes his way to ringside for a “closer look,” which is either a sneaky way for the WWF to portray the arena as way bigger than it actually is (if it takes three minutes to get from backstage to the ring) or just thoughtless planning. Mero takes out the fake Razor with a somersault plancha, but soon falls victim to both impostors, drawing a disqualification. Diesel hits the fake jackknife after the bell. Meanwhile, The Undertaker is back at the same grave he’s been digging for the past two weeks. It’s a wonder how he ever made a living as an undertaker with this kind of slow pacing. Also, doesn’t he realize that this grave, dug in an actual graveyard, is not the same burial plot that will be at the Market Square Arena for the pay-per-view?
A long video package airs of Mr. Perfect with no commentary, featuring highlights of his sporting feats, Helmsley lady-stealing, and in-ring career, including a dropkick delivered to a young man later known as Rad Radford. Jim Ross can’t wait to see Perfect return to action any more than The Roadie can wait to be alone with his baby tonight. The New Rockers take on the Smoking Gunns, who are now Sunny-less because the WWF has decided to put Sunny on Saturday mornings and to kill the Gunns’ careers. Sunny is on the phone, claiming that both the Smoking Gunns are in love with her (which will complicate things when we find out both the Gunns are married) and that she’ll consider managing the Gunns again should they win the titles back at Buried Alive. Also, fans can fax her or email her at “” No, that’s not a misprint. Marty Jannetty scores a number of near-falls on Bart, who then tags in Billy, whom Ross thinks is obsessed with Sunny. Jerry Lawler speaks about his match next week with Jake the Snake, who Lawler claims has fallen off the wagon. No way. this is Jake Roberts we’re talking about, right? “Has Jake pulled a Kelsey Grammar?” wonders Ross, instead of commenting that Kelsey Grammar has pulled a Jake Roberts. Billy Gunn sneaks a kick to the back on Marty Jannetty, drawing heat for the heel team. The cowboy heel team, that is. The Gunns hit the “Waltz Across Texas,” which is like the Hardy Boyz’ Poetry in Motion but with a clothesline. They then hit the Sidewinder on Leif Cassidy.
The Real Double J sings along to the guitar-strumming of Jim Johnston, who doesn’t seem to be playing the exact right chords, which is odd considering that he wrote the song. I guess he hasn’t played it in 15 months. Jesse James recaps the events of July 23rd, 1995 to refresh the memories of fans who have forgotten or stopped caring. James then offers Jeff Jarrett a job carrying his bags and driving his car as his “road dog.” Goldust then cuts a promo on Sid by quoting the Hitchcock film, “Sycho.” Excuse me, “Psycho.”
Jim Ross introduces, “The Man They Call Vaaaderrrr” with about as much enthusiasm as Raw Guest Host Johnny Damon. Ross informs everyone that the Vader-Sid match at Buried Alive will face Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series. Cornette is livid that Vader has to earn another title shot, considering how many times he’s beaten Shawn already. Cornette claims Vader is being held back because the WWF doesn’t want him as champion and ruining their merchandise sales. For instance, Vader wouldn’t appear in Playgirl. The announcers shudder as they consider that mental image. Cornette also claims that Sid stole the powerbomb from Vader, rather than, say, Judy Martin, who was the first wrestler to execute the move in North America. It’s weird to see Vader still treated like a serious title contender, considering that hindsight shows that Vader would never come close again to becoming champion.
Bob Backlund, whose presidential aspirations have been abandoned, joins the commentary team as The Sultan enters the ring. Backlund scolds a fan at ringside for talking to him when he’s trying to talk to the plebeians. The Sultan takes on fellow embarrassing masked wrestler, Aldo Montoya, who hasn’t been seen here since those couple of weeks when he was Jake Roberts’s friend. Backlund claims that The Sultan will procure the title from Shawn Michaels and that he can’t see without his glasses. A subsequent camera shot reveals that he is wearing sunglasses. Lawler says that Bob’s future is so bright, he’s got to wear sunglasses at night. Not only is Lawler mixing up the titles of two different 80’s pop songs, but in the following 18 years, he wouldn’t learn from his mistakes, using the same mangled figure of speech on Raw in 2014 when talking about The Miz. Backlund claims that the WWF demands that he cover his eyes so he can’t look the fans in the eyes. Back in the ring, The Sultan whips Aldo hard into the corner, prompting Ross to exclaim, “Wow! What a turnbuckle!” Yes, that is quite a fine turnbuckle, Jim. The throw that sent Montoya crashing into it was pretty impressive, too. Sultan makes Aldo submit to the Camel Clutch. Meanwhile, Ross takes credit for bringing at least a dozen wrestlers to the WWF, with more to come in the following weeks.
Back in the cemetery, Mankind falls into the grave he has been digging literally by hand, then tells Paul Bearer with concern that it’s too short for The Undertaker. See, at least Mankind has a valid excuse for taking so long. Undertaker has a shovel and does this kind of work professionally.
As Goldust enters the ring, Razor Ramon looks on from backstage, perhaps hoping to reignite his feud with the Bizarre One. Does this version of Razor Ramon want his kids watching this kind of stuff on TV? Sid makes his entrance to the adoration of the fans, including one who holds up a sign that appears to declare “sod” to be the master of the world. He must be a big lawn nut. Sid attempts a powerbomb early on, sticking Goldust’s head right between his legs, but, in an out-of-character move, The Bizarre One wants no part of the action and bails out. Later, Marlena blows Sid… in the face with cigar smoke. Shawn Michaels calls in over the phone and is asked why he would sign for a match with Stone Cold for next week. HBK says he never claimed to be a brain surgeon (although the New Diesel did once claim to be a dentist).
After the break, Sid hits the chokeslam and the powerbomb for the victory, only to be ambushed by Vader, who finally gets to face Sid one-on-one at Buried Alive after their Starrcade ’93 match got cancelled due to Sid and Arn Anderson scissoring each other. Uh, yeah. Vader splashes Sid from the second rope, but Sid immediately recovers and gets to his feet to wag his finger in Vaders face and deliver a series of punches. So I guess Jim Ross is re-branding Sid as the “New Hulk Hogan”?

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