Monday, December 29, 2014

Raw #190 - December 23rd, 1996

The last Raw before Christmas kicks off with an Intercontinental Title match between Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Wildman Marc Mero. This is possibly Mero’s last title shot against the Blue Blood, but the stipulations state that if Hunter is DQ’ed or counted out, he will lose the title. Lex Luger should have gotten Mero’s lawyer back at Summerslam ’93. Also arriving on the scene are Goldust and Marlena, who sit down among the fans after, as Vince put it, walking through the “thongs.” I think he means, “throngs.” Goldust faces the winner at the Royal Rumble.

Mero gets off to a good start, taking down Hunter with a pair of Japanese arm drags, which Vince resists the urge to call “Mexican arm drags” as he is wont to do. Mero chases off Jerry Lawler for being a sore loser at last week’s Karate Fighters title fight, allowing Helmsley an opportunity to hit the Wildman with a chair. However, with the title able to change hands on a DQ, Hunter changes his mind. Back in the ring, Helmsley pulls Mero to the floor through the ropes with a Clever Maneuver. Jim Ross mentions that The Honky Tonk Man for some unfathomable reason is going to join the announce team later in the show. Wildman hits a sunset flip, which HHH escapes with “a kickout of sorts.”
Hunter drops his knee somewhere in the vicinity of Mero’s head after taunting Goldust, who sits among the G-strings — uh, thongs — uh, throngs of fans. Mero hits a Maneuver (#2) in the form of a flying head scissors, then kicks Helmsley in the “chest-area” before hitting a High-Risk Maneuver (#3 - front dropkick off the top rope). A Batusi later, and Mero attempts a Merosault from the top rope but misses, allowing Helmsley to hit the Pedigree for the win. “Nobody gets up from the Pedigree,” says Ross, ignoring the time Freddie Joe Floyd did just that a few months prior. “You make one mistake against a great athlete like Helmsley and you get Pedigreed right out of your boots!” One has to wonder what other athletes will Pedigree you out of your boots aside from Helmsley. A distraught Mero has to be separated from Helmsley by officials, leading Vince to assure the audience that the Wildman will get another title shot one day, nullifying much of the hype behind this match, just as he did when he claimed that Lex Luger would get a rematch against Yokozuna right after he blew his one and only title shot at Summerslam 1993. Helmsley grabs the mic and addresses Goldust, saying that at the Rumble, he’ll show Goldust “what it’s like to be a real man.” I shudder to think what he means by that, but he goes on to tell Marlena that he’ll show her “what it’s like to *be* with a real man.” See, he was putting the emphasis on “be;” he should hit “with” more. “To be *with* a real man!” Goldust ditches his wig and tries to chase Hunter, who flees backstage.

We see a replay of Billy’s kayfabe injury from last week. Supposedly, Billy Gunn is still temporarily paralyzed with no use of his legs. You’d think they would have gone for the “paraplegic” angle after Sionne nearly Tombstoned him right on his head on an episode of Superstars the previous year.
Sunny struts to the ring in a Santa cap, yielding four separate, “Oh my goodnesses” from Vince McMahon. Rocky Maivia, about whom Sunny has been figuratively gushing for weeks, is in action against Salvatore Sincere. But first, another Christmas carol from the WWF’s choir! And it’s about Sycho Sid again! These guys should sing his theme song. We also see behind-the-scenes clips of Sunny filling in for Jenny McCarthy and hosting MTV’s “Singled Out.” Sunny’s hit some rough patches as of late in the 2010s, but at least she isn’t partly responsible for a resurgence of measles, mumps, and rubella in the United States. Bob Backlund is there too for some reason. Maivia, who is “quite the formidable individual,” is slated to enter the Royal Rumble. No word on whether he will appear on the new Shotgun Saturday Night program airing late night next weekend. Rocky leapfrogs Sincere with a Nice Maneuver (#4) and later hits a tomahawk chop off the top rope before Salvatore executes his own Clever Maneuver (#5) by floating over Maivia in the corner and then hits a sort of clothesline/Zig-Zag, a Nice Maneuver (#6) that Vince calls a “reverse bulldog.” Vince, having read the Monsoon Commentary Manual, then notes the “look of concern on the kisser of Jim Cornette.” Rocky regains his momentum and “decks” Sincere, not with boughs of holly, but with a punch after a series of stupid arm waves he feels he needs in order to get over as a babyface. Rocky wins with a shoulderbreaker.

Superfans Adam and George are still in the Alamo Dome, this time finding themselves in the men’s room.
Sycho Sid comes to the ring for an interview with Vince, bumping fists with fans along the way. Sid gets a loud but mixed reaction, like the star player of a visiting softball team. Vince speaks a lot about “attitude,” which all of the top contenders for the title have. Sid cuts a Sid promo, whispering and shouting about being the master and the ruler of the world while his music plays in the background. Sid notes that he is 6’9” and 300 pounds, and he will be 6’9” and 300 pounds tomorrow and the day after and the day after. His point is, I suppose, that he is watching his weight.

A promo airs for Shotgun Saturday Night, which the narrator describes as a “smokin’, sexy, rockin’ good time.” That narrator, however, is Todd Pettengill, so take his idea of “smokin’,” “sexy,” and “rockin’” with a grain of salt. At least the Federation found another use for all that footage from the short-lived new intro of Raw from last year.
Pierroth and Cibernético step into the ring to 1) compete with WCW’s cruiserweight division, and 2) introduce the fans to the hordes of ringers the Federation will be padding out the Royal Rumble with next month. Those ringers include 55-year-old Mil Máscaras who does commentary at ringside. Pierroth attempts to leapfrog his opponent, Leif Cassidy, who doesn’t duck far enough and ends up headbutting the luchador in the groin. Cibernético and Marty Jannetty tag in, prompting the announcers to note that neither team is popular among their respective audiences. Vince notes that Pierroth and Cibernético are not “high-fliers,” unlike many other Mexican wrestlers. Like, say, the ones in WCW. Maybe Vince booked these guys against the New Rockers thinking that they were, and now a week removed from seeing them wrestle at the Raw taping, he has learned the error of his ways.

After the break, Pierroth powerbombs Jannetty, then leaps, or rather drops, from the top rope with a splash for the victory. The New Rockers argue with each other after the bell. Mil Máscaras, wearing one of his thousand masks (this one apparently based on Racer X from the Speed Racer cartoon), speaks with Jim Ross. We then see a number of entrants into the Royal Rumble, including Undertaker, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, and Ahmed Johnson, all of whom will be in singles matches earlier on the card.
Honky Tonk Man inexplicably returns to the WWF and takes a seat at the announcers’ table. Bret Hart wrestles a Razor Ramon impersonator while an Elvis impersonator does commentary. Geez, and you thought 1995 was bad when the Hitman was battling dentists and pirates. Bret will appear this Thursday at the Rosemont Horizon, site of this year’s “Russellmania,” the WWF’s annual celebration of basketball legend Bill Russell. The Honky Tonk Man explains that he is in the WWF to find the next great superstar like himself who can wrestle, sing, and play guitar. Too bad he’s not looking for a tag team; Jesse  James and Man Mountain Rock could do the trick under those criteria. Bret aggressively punches Razor in the corner, leading Vince to say he wouldn’t be surprised if the Hitman were “not disqualified.” As always, McMahon means to say that he wouldn’t be surprised if Hitman *were* disqualified. Vince references Bret’s new bad attitude, in contrast to Shawn Michaels, who refuses to make excuses. This is the same Shawn Michaels who will forfeit the title in less than two months after “losing his smile” and suffering a phantom knee injury. Bret brawls with Razor on the outside as Raw goes to break.

Bret hits the bulldog on Razor as Raw returns, then hits an elbow smash and clamps on the sharpshooter, completing the Five Moves of Doom (except for the first two). Hart picks up the one-sided victory. Backstage, an annoyed Michaels speaks with Vince over the headset. Michaels lectures us some more about not giving any excuses and says he’s going to win at the Royal Rumble.

Final tally:

6 Maneuvers
13 Oh My Goodnesses

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