Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Raw #184 - November 11th, 1996

The last Raw before Survivor Series kicks off with Bulldog and Owen Hart defending their tag team titles against Sid and Shawn Michaels. Last year at Survivor Series, Michaels, Sid, and Bulldog were all on the same team in the Wild Card match, with Owen on the opposing side. Vince recaps the problems brewing between Sid and Michaels, as well as their feud with the tag team champions, while managing to say, “melee” once and “from there” three times.
Stone Cold gets on the split screen and refuses to apologize for breaking into Brian Pillman’s house last week before Owen Hart attacks Sid from behind. Sid no-sells the offense and puts the hurt on Owen until Hart executes a Nice Maneuver (#1), floating over in the corner. Sid regains control and tags Shawn in as Vince predicts a title win for the two babyfaces and Survivor Series opponents. Shawn clotheslines Owen over the ropes and skins the cat as Raw goes to break.

A commercial for the new In Your House video game airs, showing off its graphics (inferior to its predecessor, Wrestlemania: the Arcade Game) while a female lounge singer provides the soundtrack. Shawn is in the ring with Bulldog as Raw returns but then tags in Sid, who gets suplexed by Davey Boy. Sid dodges a leg drop, then tags Shawn back, who gets kneed in the back by Owen as he runs the ropes. Owen works over Shawn as King makes some topical jokes about the Boston College football betting scandal, then accuses Sid of deliberately letting Michaels get beaten up. Shawn nearly pins Owen with a Maneuver (#2 - roll-up), only to continue being isolated by the heels. Vince wonders whether Sid distracting the referee while the heels double-team Michaels is intentional, even though every babyface team has done the same stupid thing. Michaels rolls through a flying body press to score a two-count on Owen with a Maneuver (#3), only to get hit by Bulldog, who tags in yet again.
Owen hits a spinning heel kick for a near-fall as Michaels continues to be isolated from his partner. Bulldog tags in and delivers an “unbelievable low blow” to Michaels, which the referee doesn’t catch. Vince wonders whether Sid is intentionally letting Michaels take punishment, or whether it can be attributed to Sid being “on the cusp of tag team competition.” Vince doesn’t know what “on the cusp” means. Finally, Shawn makes the hot tag to Sid, who chokeslams Bulldog. Owen charges Sid as he sets up Bulldog for the powerbomb, but Sid delivers a Maneuver (#4 - back body drop). Bulldog then back-drops Sid, then evades a Super Kick which connects with the big man’s chin. Davey Boy pins Sid and Owen lays out Shawn, leaving the two Survivor Series opponents in the ring.

Vince recaps the mayhem from the previous segment in an apparent attempt to use as many McMahonisms as humanly possible, stating that Owen delivered a kick to Michaels, “knocking both individuals out. A big melee intervened, and then from there, they all went back to locker-room-area.” Dok Hendrix presents a final Survivor Series report, acknowledging “the big three singles matches” but going on to talk about the “traditional” Survivor Series elimination matches. Whenever an announcer calls an elimination match “traditional,” he really means, “obligatory” and “an afterthought only included on the show for sake of differentiating this pay-per-view from the one last month and the one next month.” And to think, it all starts here in 1996, where in addition to the primary afterthought match pitting Mero’s team against Helmsley’s, we will also be subjected to two more thrown-together bouts (not to mention the Free-For-All eight-man tag airing on the Prevue Channel). Mark Henry is still advertised, although he will be replaced with Jake Roberts at the last minute. In a match announced for the first time tonight, The Fake Razor and Diesel team up with Faarooq and former title-contender Vader to take on Savio Vega (who missed this set of tapings), the embarrassing Yokozuna (who has not been seen in three months), the debuting Flash Funk, and a mystery partner who Dok promises will make MSG go nuts. It will end up being 53-year-old Jimmy Snuka. In other words, none of the babyfaces have been seen on TV to build up the match. Another match will see the tag team champions and the New Rockers take on the Godwinns and the new team of Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon. And for those fans unfamiliar with Furnas and LaFon (as in, 99% of the Raw audience), the WWF has provided a low-quality picture of them for the match graphics. Kevin Kelly, meanwhile, waits for a word with Sid outside his locker room.
Mankind, “a most unusual individual, indeed,” approaches the ring with Paul Bearer and The Executioner. His opponent is Freddie Joe Floyd, the wild-eyed Southern boy from Bowlegs, Oklahoma who will soon be moonlighting in USWA as “Shaquille Ali” of the Nation of Domination. Floyd hits a back kick to the back of Mankind’s head, a Sensational Maneuver (#5), before accidentally falling over the top rope and then falling victim to a Maneuver (#6) of Mankind’s a running knee in the corner. A replay then airs on the AWF-style corner-cam, but it of course is too high off the ground to actually show Mankind’s knee striking Floyd’s head. McMahon calls Mankind a “most unusual individual” once again before Mankind hits a piledriver and the mandible claw for the victory. Undertaker’s music then hits and the lights go out as the same effigy of Paul Bearer in a shark cage from last week descends from the rafters. Taker’s voice vows to begin a “new age of darkness” (which will involve cosplaying as Batman). Mankind tries ramming himself into the cage to no avail. As Mick Foley rips out his hair, Vince remarks that “he’s not destined for the Hall of Fame, that’s for sure!” In fact, Foley would be inducted in 2013 along with Bob Backlund and Bruno Sammartino.

But who *is* destined for the Hall of Fame? Killer Kowalksi and the Valiant Brothers, all of whom have held the WWWF tag team titles, which is really funny to hear spoken out loud. Not mentioned are legends of the squared circle Baron Mikel Scicluna and jobber extraordinaire Johnny Rodz, who will also inexplicably be inducted this year. We then get a look at Rocky Maivia training in the Titan Tower gym. He interviewed by Kevin Kelly, whom in a few years Rock will be calling “Hermie” and force to pick his nose (Kelly’s nose, not Rocky’s). The Rock is so excited about being at Survivor Series that in his humble dead-pan voice he says, and I quote, “it’s a feeling of elation right now, I’m so jacked right now, I mean, I could do it right now.” His promos would improve slightly over the years. Advertised as the first third-generation superstar ever (ignoring Chavo Guerrero, Jr.), Rocky says that in five years, he hopes to have given 110% into whatever he accomplished and to have gotten by on his “unique wrestling style.” We’ll see how that works out for him. Hey, remind me in five years, when I’m reviewing Raws from the year 2001, to check up on what Maivia is doing.
Sid is pacing outside his locker room before Dok Hendrix hypes up Survivor Series, which will air “l-l-live” this Sunday. Sid then speaks, or rather, yells, with Kevin Kelly, complaining about all of the “mistakes” Shawn has made in the past month to mess him up. Stone Cold appears in a different backstage area to cut a promo on Bret Hart and Bob Holly, whom he faces tonight. He speaks mostly about Bret Hart for some strange reason, rather than about Sparky Plugg.
Before Austin’s match, though, we first see the much-anticipated Dok Hendrix/Sable Karate Fighters match, which Pettengill dubs, “Beauty and the Beast.” Lawler calls Sable, “a beast.” In pre-recorded comments, Dok is stumbling over himself about Sable (although he refrains from any jokes about wanting to “Cyberfist” her), while Wildman’s valet is allowed to speak for the first time, calling Tiger Ninja her “wildman” when it comes to Karate Fighters. As Jim Cornette would later say, “I don’t know what they got for putting a live microphone in front of Sable’s mouth, but it should have been three to five years.” Sable beats Dok easily, and Hendrix slobbers a lot and wonders if he could have a rematch (in bed).
On Regis & Kathy Lee this morning, Shawn gets sensitive with the hosts, claiming that his heart was broken by the last girl he dated (which was Sunny). Now, Shawn is in a towel with Kevin Kelly (who is in a suit). Shawn says in a very constipated voice that mistake or not, his super kick knocked him out tonight. He then makes fun of the size of Sid’s chin and says he could hit Sweet Chin Music from anyway.

Austin enters to his new, classic theme music (which debuted at last month’s In Your House). “Austin 3:16” signs are seen throughout the arena, but no t-shirts. Jim Ross joins the broadcast to try to extend his unpopular heel run another week. Bret Hart watches from a backstage monitor as Bob Holly counters the headlock with a Maneuver (#7 - hammerlock). Just once, I want someone to be watching the actual cable television broadcast backstage, and once the camera is put on them, the TV screen is filled with a shot of the back of their head watching the TV screen in an infinite regression. Vince crams in another rapid-fire series of McMahonisms as he says, “I would suggest that, notwithstanding Bret Hart thinking that Stone Cold is the best wrestler, many individuals think that Stone Cold is the toughest man in the World Wrestling Federation.” On that note, Jim Ross says that next week on Raw, there will be a “Tough Man Contest” between Stone Cold and Vader. Bret drinks something from a paper cup, and Lawler accuses him of drinking liquor like Jake Roberts. Again with the alcoholism jokes. Ross assures us it’s decaf coffee, so King says Hart won’t sleep a wink tonight before remembering that Ross said, “decaf.” Ross advertises a Bret Hart appearance on Thursday, which he calls a “doin’s.” Austin gets his knees up, countering a Holly splash with a Maneuver (#8).
Ross continues deriding Vince’s lack of wrestling knowledge, such as when Bob Holly hits a Beautiful Maneuver (#9) that Ross points out is called a huracanrana. “That’s called a right hand,” jokes Vince as Holly punches Austin. “Or what-a-maneuver,” quips Ross. Austin hits the stunner, which Vince talks right over, for the pinfall victory. “I think even the Hitman was impressed with that Maneuver [#10],” says Vince as a fan holds up the sign, “Austin 3:16 says thou is a loser.” Jeez, if you’re going to try to speak fake Middle English, at least go all the way and say, “thou art.” Steve walks up the aisle as the backstage camera gets uncomfortably close up to Bret’s face, zooming in on his eye for some unfathomable reason. Austin walks up to Hitman’s locker room but stops at the door, insisting that he’s not going to fight Hitman for free.

Final tally:

10 Maneuvers (Year total: 168)
4 From Theres
2 Melees
4 Notwithstandings
7 Individuals

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