Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Raw #186 - November 25th, 1996

Bret Hart wrestles on Raw for the first time in months to face Owen Hart, who is accompanied by the man he will beat out for the Best Bow Tie Slammy, Clarence Mason. Owen still has the “King of Harts” playing card lighting during his entrance. Those transparencies they put over the lights can’t come cheat, so you’re darn right they’re gonna get their money’s worth.
Owen and Bret chain-wrestle, with Owen taking down the Hitman with a Nice Maneuver (drop toe-hold), but Bret rolls through and slaps a hammerlock on. A brief slapping match erupts before the brothers return to exchanging holds. British Bulldog is seen watching the match backstage as JR explains Bret’s busy schedule over the next week, including appearances in the UK and the United Arab Emirates. Owen works over Bret’s “back-area,” even applying The Sultan’s patented Camel Clutch. Owen hits a Beautiful Maneuver (#2 - belly to back suplex) that he parlays into a “pinning combination” that consists of Owen leaning across Bret’s chest. Maybe it’s a little simplistic to merit the term, “combination.”

After the break, Bret is in control as the announcers remark about Sid’s popularity. Vince says that “many individuals” feel it’s the dawning of a new era. As JR complains about the other announcers’ lack of attention to the match, Bret starts on the Five Moves of Doom, hitting Owen with a Russian leg sweep, a backbreaker, an elbow smash, and a headbutt to the abdomen after teasing the Sharpshooter. You may have noticed that that is only four moves; in the nearly three years of Raws I’ve watched, I have still yet to see a complete “Five Moves of Doom” out of Bret. Owen rolls up Bret but gets kicked out of the ring, then attempts a sunset flip that Bret rolls through for the Sharpshooter. Immediately after applying the hold, Steve Austin enters and hits Bret with a chair drawing a disqualification. Stone Cold stomps Hart, then uses the chair to attempt to Pillmanize the Hitman. Bulldog strolls down to the ring and removes the chair, twice, as he argues with Owen. Stone Cold whacks Bulldog in the back, which Vince finds, and I quote, unbelievable, not to mention, and I quote, unbelievable. Yeah, he said it twice. Owen gives Steve a harsh talking-to, and Austin walks off.
Todd Pettengill announces dates for the WWF’s Heartbreak Express Tour, which was perhaps named before they realized Michaels would be dropping the title amidst a fan backlash against the Sexy Boy. Live events include a date at the Catholic Youth Center in Scranton, PA, which sounds like the kind of two-bit show Michael Scott would put together. The tour ends in Syracuse, where hopefully those nine thugs will not be in attendance.
The Executioner comes to the ring for a match with Bowlegs, Oklahoma’s Freddie Joe Floyd, whom Paul Bearer threatens may be “no legs” after this match. The Executioner faces The Undertaker in one of Taker’s patented cryptic stipulation matches (such as the Rest in Peace match and the Final Curtain match), this time an Armageddon Rules match. Executioner works Floyd over with clotheslines in the corner, finishing him off with an “Asian spike,” an Unusual Maneuver (#3) that sees Terry Gordy jam his thumb into his opponent’s neck.
We join Shawn Michaels and José Lothario “LIVE” from his home, which implies (correctly) that the rest of the show is not live. Supersock has a portrait of himself hanging in his living room. That is, the portrait is hanging, not the image of Lothario in the portrait. Shawn admits that he lost his edge over the past eight months, a line that was misremembered for years by 1wrestling.com, which used to insist that Shawn’s original “lost my smile” speech took place here and not in the ring a few months later. Shawn expresses his anger at Sid for assaulting his mentor, his voice raising to a comedic pitch like Jerry Seinfeld when he tries to sound angry. He vows to be more like the “old Shawn Michaels,” taking a lot more risks and being a lot more flamboyant, marking the only time in recorded history that someone has threatened to be “more flamboyant” in an attempt to inspire fear. Rocky Maivia is seen in his Saba Simba starter gear on the split screen as Shawn ends his rant.
Sunny strolls to the ring for commentary as Vince says that the hot young superstar is “warming up and ready for action” (referring to Maivia). Vince stands up and dances with Sunny before Lawler reprimands him and tells him to watch his hands. Vince raises both his hands up like he’s been caught in the act (by a cop, that is) and takes us to another Karate Fighters segment.
At long last, Sable and Sunny go head to head… at Karate Fighters. Jerry Lawler looks a little too excited for this match, considering that he has spent the last eight months talking about how ugly Sable is. Sunny wins the bout, but the decision is reversed when the referee discovers she has used chewing gum to secure Cyberfist’s foot to the pedestal. Sable wins and advances to the finals. Rather than starting a catfight with the referee, Sunny punches the referee. Jerry and todd make gum jokes about the loss being “hard to swallow.” Who would have thought that a segment featuring Sunny, Sable, and the terms, “swallow” and “cyberfist” would be so lame?

Back in the ring, Salvatore Sincere is cutting a very insincere promo about loving everybody. Sunny, however, loves Rocky Maivia. Could she be eyeing the third-generation star as her next client? No, because that would involve putting Sunny into a meaningful TV role, which the WWF has inexplicably decided against in the past few months. Lou Albano and Don Muraco deliver pre-recorded endorsements of Maivia, which Jerry finds less-than-genuine. There’s nothing less-than-genuine about Sunny, though (except her breasts), as the guest commentator does her best “Sexy Vince McMahon” impression (a great Halloween idea, by the way) by lustily calling Rocky “one young, impressive individual.” Rocky tumbles through the ropes, then gets kicked with a baseball slide into the “retaining barriuh,” as Vince calls it. On his way back into the ring, Maivia grabs the top rope and slingshots Sincere, pulling him out of the ring the hard way for Rocky’s first-ever Maneuver (#4). Lawler calls him a “pineapple-head,” harking back to Doink the evil clown’s feud with Crush. Lawler gets jealous over Sunny’s continuing innuendo about The Rock, saying that “Sable is starting to look a little better,” as is the soon-to-be-divorced Pamela Anderson, as King mentions in his obligatory topical reference of the evening. Rocky sidesteps Salvatore as he charges at him in the corner, sending the Sicilian crashing into the ring post for a Devastating Maneuver (#5). Rocky, who Sunny says is the kind of person to build an entire organization around, signals for his finisher, the shoulder-breaker, by stomping his feet, squatting, and extending his right arm. How does that not catch on, but the People’s Eyebrow does? Rocky picks up the victory, and Sunny is reluctant to take off her headset and leave ringside. Meanwhile, a fan has created an Austin 3:16 parody sign reading, “John 3:16.” John must be a friend of his or something.
Marc Mero and Sable arrive, prompting Vince to wonder, “Are we gonna see the Wild Thing right here tonight? I bet we do!” By that, he means Mero’s shooting star press finisher. Before Mero can take on Billy Gunn, Dok Hendrix tries to sell us on the Superstar Line’s Option 6, where we can find out where Mr. Perfect is. If you guessed, “on a plane to Atlanta,” you’re probably closer to the truth than whatever JR says, though Hennig won’t show up in WCW until the summer.

Dok is back at it after the commercial break, filling us in on the backstage shenanigans that supposedly happened between Owen and Davey Boy. Imagine the time Raw could save nowadays if they just had Michael Hayes recap backstage segments while standing in front of the Raw logo rather than actually filming them. Hunter Hearst Helmsley is at the announcers’ table, nearly coming to blows with Mero, who faces HHH’s future DX buddy Billy Gunn. Mero hits a Maneuver (#6 - Merosault) that Vince tells us to look at. Hunter is speaking with something resembling his normal voice, but still slightly affecting a Connecticut blue blood accent. Vince accuses Hunter of using everybody in his life to advance his career, whether it be his former valet, Sable, his former cohort Mr. Perfect, or his future wife Stephanie McMahon (I’m embellishing slightly). Hunter says that using people is what we’re on this Earth to do. Billy Gunn attempts a series of pins that Mero kicks out of easily, then hits the Wildman with a Triple-H-style knee drop that actually connects. Billy then lands another Maneuver (#7 - neckbreaker) that Vince tells us to look at. The future Mr. Ass then taunts Sable with a Batusi before climbing the ropes for a High-Risk Maneuver (#8) that Mero counters by running the ropes and crotching the cowboy.
Mero hits a top-rope huracanrana on Billy Gunn for a two-count before Hunter steps away from the announce table to harass Sable. Mero hits one last Maneuver (#9 - Samoan drop) that Vince yet again tells us to look at. Mero steps out of the ring to confront Hunter, slugging the blue blood outside of the ring before being blindsided by Gunn. As the future degenerates double-team Mero, the referee calls for the bell and Jake Roberts thinks this is some of his business, so he rushes to ringside to even the sides. Reportedly, this match and its finish had to be taped twice, so it’s a good thing the WWF still tapes four weeks’ worth of TV in one night rather than running live every night.

Final tally:

9 Maneuvers (Year total: 181)
2 Unbelievables
2 Individuals
6 Oh My Goodnesses
1 Notwithstanding

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