Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Raw #188 - December 9th, 1996

Warning: the following blog post contains action of a graphic nature. Reader discretion is advised. But not really. Tonight’s bloodless, taped episode of Raw opens with an unnecessary warning in hopes of luring fans away from Nitro on TNT. Sid, whom Vince touts as leading the WWF into a new era and who JR agrees will be a major force in the WWF for a long time (rather than leaving before next summer’s end) faces fellow champion Hunter Hearst Helmsley, whom he beats up in the aisle.

“I thought the no-holds match was going to be later,” says Lawler in a Freudian slip referring to the Mankind-Undertaker match coming up later tonight. As Sid dominates Hunter, Vince notes that Shawn Michaels has not only earned a title shot at Royal Rumble (“earned” by losing the title last month), but he will also be on commentary during the Bret-Sid title match next Sunday. Considering that Shawn has also stated that he wants to face Sid at the Rumble, ya think Shawn might get involved? Sid hits his powerbomb, a Devastating Maneuver, but Helmsley crawls out of the ring before he can be pinned. Helmsley loses by countout, as the WWF was still shy about letting their title-holders get pinned on television. After this throwaway match, Vince hypes up tonight’s main event by showing clips from the Undertaker-Mankind boiler room brawl, claiming that we have never seen the two men “go at it no holds barred.” This comment comes as Undertaker tips Mankind off a ladder into a pile of aluminum pipes. Also not included under the banner of “no holds barred” is the Buried Alive match.
Goldust faces Bart Gunn, who on Superstars yesterday morning (taped the night after this match) nearly beat Hunter Hearst Helmsley for the Intercontinental title, thwarted only by his brother Billy Gunn’s blatant interference. The announcers have already forgotten that Billy said they weren’t actually real brothers on Livewire. Goldust gets the upper hand at the outset by throwing gold dust into the cowboy’s face. With Bart on the arena floor, Marlena blows smoke into his face. Goldy suplexes Bart back into the ring, but Gunn soon scores a near-fall with a roll-up. Ross says that Goldust may be a little “freakish”, but he’s a great athlete, to which Jerry replies that it’s the pot calling the kettle black. “What do you mean by that?” asks JR. “What do you mean ‘pot’?” asks McMahon. Goldust goes back on the offense as Billy Gunn speaks from backstage. Jim Ross thinks Billy is still trying to impress Sunny, “that little Jezebel,” to which Vince replies, “Let’s be nice.”

Bart Gunn finally gets in some more offense with a cross-body block, then a bulldog, each time for a two-count. Bart attempts a High-Risk Maneuver (#2 - flying body press) off the top rope, but Goldust dodges. The Bizarre One chop-blocks the back of Bart’s knee and pins him. Billy Gunn then comes to the ring and grabs the mic to berate his brother but gets punched by Bart, causing him to retreat. Before the handicap match between Jesse Jammes and the team of Brashaw and Zeb, Zebekiah takes the opportunity to disparage Double J’s service in Desert Storm, bragging that he served in Vietnam for eleven months, twenty-seven days and has had head colds that lasted longer than the Persian Gulf War. Bradshaw says that Double J will scream like a cow that’s hand a branding iron stuck to “its booty.”
At last, it’s time for the finals of the Karate Fighters tournament… or is it? No, tonight’s segment is a recap of the entire tournament dubbed, “The Road to Karate Fighter Monday.” Maybe King and Sable’s toy battle will take place live next week so that Eric Bischoff can’t leak the results ahead of time on Nitro.

Jesse Jammes is dead-set on getting revenge on Bradshaw and Zeb, but not enough to forgo singing a country-pop tune on the way to the ring. “I can’t wait to be alone with — you and Zebekiah!” Yes, he actually says this, rushing into the ring to take the Texans by surprise. Do you think Jesse has really been singing about Bradshaw all along? Jammes takes down Justin with a Nice Maneuver (#3 - Japanese arm drag, but the numbers game catches up with him, as the heels soon dominate the match. Jerry Lawler can’t understand what everybody sees in Double J, since he too is a singer-songwriter, as well. King doesn’t bring up “Wrestling with Girls,” though. Bradshaw scores a two-count with what Vince calls a “pinning combination” consisting of leaning on his opponent’s chest and hooking his leg. Double J fends off a superplex attempt to hit a High-Risk Maneuver (#4), a “clothesline” off the top rope that barely connects. Bradshaw slaps a full nelson on Double J, but the country singer escapes to allow Zebekiah to accidentally strike his protege with the branding iron. Double J picks up the win. After the match, Bradshaw punches Zebekiah with “a hard right hand.” “Why would he do that?” asks Vince, stunned. “What kind of a human being is Justin Hawk Bradshaw?” Seventeen years later, The Big Show will punch out Zebekiah for fun, and he’ll be the good guy. Also, Bradshaw will admonish Big Show on commentary for doing so. As for Bradshaw in 1996, fans aren’t sure how to react, but judging by Vince’s commentary, they’re supposed to be booing.
A promo video for the Bret-Sid match claims that Hart has won “seven world titles,” apparently counting the tag team and Intercontinental titles as “world titles.” Hart, who is wearing a snappy denim jacket with his face on it, enters the ring for an interview with Jim Ross, who takes us back to two weeks ago when Austin and Owen Hart tried to “Pillmanize” Bret’s ankle. Well, that term caught on quickly. He also narrates in post-production over top of clips of the incident with Sid on the UK tour, which has not happened yet. Cut back to footage from the arena, where Bret Hart starts talking about Sid without mentioning the fact that he chokeslammed him (because, again, that hasn’t happened yet). He vows that Sid will get “excellently executed” at In Your House.

Mankind, who enters the ring to take on The Undertaker in a no-holds-barred match, is seen in the desert of the United Arab Emirates rubbing sand over himself and crying that he wants to go home. Speaking of strange segments, we then go to another clip of superfans George and Adam, who roam the locker rooms at the Alamo Dome and do their best Tony Atlas impression by marveling over a boot. Speaking of sexual abnormalities, JR remarks that Mankind “would rather fight a man than make love to a woman.” Undertaker arrives in a leather robe that has replaced his Batman cape from last week. Undertaker leads off the match with a flying clothesline, followed up with a Patented Undertaker Maneuver (#5) known to modern fans as “Old School.” Taker chokeslams Mankind, then sets up for a Tombstone before being interrupted by The Executioner.
Mankind is in control when Raw returns, but Taker soon makes a comeback with a “hard right hand,” then stomping on Mankind’s claw and smashing it with the steps. Mankind comes back with a chop block, which was enough to put Bart Gunn away earlier tonight. The announcers explain, very poorly, the rules to the “Armageddon Rules” match this Sunday between Undertaker and Executioner. Fans chant that Mankind is hardcore after he whips Taker into the steps. Undertaker, says McMahon, has withstood a lot of punishment, marking the first time Vnce has acknowledged “withstanding” rather than “notwithstanding.” Mankind runs off the apron and crashes down on Taker with an elbow drop. Undertaker responds by bodyslamming Mankind onto the Spanish announce table.

Todd Pettengill announces the upcoming WWF dates, revealing that for the first time this year, two live Raws in a row will take place within three weeks. Back in the arena, Mankind leaps off the top rope for a High-Risk Maneuver (#6) but is caught by the throat by The Undertaker. Mankind counters with a drop toe hold. Jerry notes that this is the first hold we have seen in this match, to which Vince paradoxically replies, “What do you expect? It’s no-holds-barred.” Mankind grabs a chair but gets it punched back into his face by Mankind. Taker tries the tombstone, but Mankind counters with a mandible claw. Taker, who is apparently too dazed to realize he could just bite down on Mankind’s fingers, appears helpless, but with the help of the creatures of the night, he regains consciousness and breaks the hold. Taker hits the tombstone for the victory. The Executioner then rushes into the ring and jams the Asiatic spike into Undertaker’s throat as Raw signs off.

Final tally:

6 Maneuvers
6 Oh My Goodnesses
6 Individuals
2 Notwithstandings
2 Unbelievables

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