Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Raw #196b - February 13th, 1997

Tonight’s episode is one of the most infamous in Raw history, in which Shawn Michaels will forfeit his WWF title live in the ring and give an incredibly confusing farewell speech. I guess they didn’t have enough footage from the last four or five times he forfeited a title to cobble together a video package explaining it all. This comes one episode after the announcers guaranteed that Shawn vs. Sid would take place and that Shawn doesn’t make promises he can’t keep. You’ve got to wonder what they were thinking, since it’s pretty easy to rattle off a list of promises Shawn hasn’t kept, like staying within the allotted time for his Wrestlemania X ladder match or wrestling Sid at Summerslam ’95 or dropping the title to Vader.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley, who is scheduled to defend his Intercontinental Title in three days (tonight being Thursday Raw Thursday Live) against Ahmed Johnson, defends his title against Rocky Maivia in tonight’s first match. The In Your House match will be Ahmed’s first opportunity to regain the title he never lost, but the announcers haven’t pointed out this fact. Not at ringside is Helmsley’s “butler” Curtis Hughes, who is, of course, “conspicuous by his absence.” Maybe HHH fired him for having made it to the King of the Ring before. Vince speculates that Rocky Johnson is watching tonight, as Maivia is the son of Johnson, as well as the grandson of Peter Maivia. “Where’s he watching from?” jabs Lawler. “Alright, let’s be nice,” says Vince. Randy Orton, being a teenager at this time, is not available to answer, “He’s down there, in hell!” In an historic moment, Jim Ross first describes Triple H as “cerebral,” which Vince laughs off. The “cerebral” description isn’t very funny, but what is funny is that JR’s exact words were, “the most cerebral Intercontinental Champion since the Honky Tonk Man.” Rocky knocks Hunter out of the ring with a dropkick a few notches below the Bob Holly level, but blows his momentum by running into the ring post. “That could happen to anyone,” says the King, “but it happens to the stupidest first.” Vince describes Hunter as a veteran (of five years) and, taking a page out of Gorilla Monsoon’s playbook, Rocky Maivia as a “youngster.”
After the break, Helmsley is still in firm control of the match, wailing on Rocky in the corner. The Honky Tonk Man walks to ringside, distracting Hunter temporarily. Honky tells the announcers that Hunter is a good champion, but he’s not on the Honky Tonk Man’s level. This remark goes unchallenged by the announce team, which for months has been pretending that Honky is some kind of legend. Triple H knocks down a running Maivia with a knee lift, a Maneuver (#1) that impresses Vince, but not Honky Tonk Man. He’s not impressed by Rocky, either, nor is Jerry Lawler. Maivia hits a punch on Triple H, making a bunch of stupid arm movements beforehand to add power, then hits a flying body press that Hunter rolls through. Rocky kicks out of a piledriver, then a superplex. Hunter sets up for the Pedigree, but Rocky is too dazed to even stand up for that. Apparently, the best counter to the pedigree is to just not cooperate. Who knew? Rocky then surprises Hunter with a small package for the victory and the Intercontinental Title, which changes hands (officially) for the third time in Raw history. Rocky then gives a very un-Rock-like (but very Rocky Maivia-like) promo promising to always give the best he can.

Sunny is back on Raw for the first time in nearly two months. She used to be on practically every week, but that was back when she was managing three wrestlers instead of zero. Sunny reaches down her dress to retrieve a card with her lines on it, leading to an abrupt commercial break. When Raw returns, Sunny is introducing the wrestlers for the next match. In Aldo’s biggest career highlight to date, Sunny says that his is the sexiest Portuguese accent she has ever heard. His partner Bob “Spark Plugg” Holly could make her heart race, she adds. Too bad we’ve already missed her intro for Mosh and Thrasher, though. Who knows what innuendo she could have cooked up for a team with “Head” and “Banger” in their name. Mosh, who within four years will be managed by recent WWF signing Tiger Ali Singh, starts off the match with Holly. Vince McMahon praises Shawn Michaels as someone you must respect, whether you like long hair or earrings or “what he has in his belly button or doesn’t have in his belly button.” That’s the most touching tribute I’ve ever heard that included the words, “belly button” (twice). Shawn’s injury is a long time coming, says Vince, and he will get knee surgery (which he won’t). Jerry blames Vince and JR for hyping up HBK and driving him so hard, while Vince feels responsible for Shawn having such a tough schedule. But what would Vince have to do with scheduling matches? Mosh misses a moonsault on Aldo, an Attempted Maneuver (#2) that Vince claims nearly makes the Headbanger vomit. Still, the future Chaz maintains his composure long enough to double-team Aldo with a combination powerbomb/flying leg drop for the victory. Sunny credits the victory erroneously to Mosh and “Thrash.” Can you blame her? Her note card is clearly still jammed down the front of her dress.
Speaking of which, now it’s time for Shawn Michaels to make a complete boob of himself. The Heartbreak Kid will hopefully keep us abreast of his recent injury. Vince, who holds the mic in the ring, says this injury comes as a shock, although maybe it shouldn’t (it shouldn’t). Shawn, who sounds pretty well hammered, stammers through a long and confusing speech, first saying that his injury’s “a lot more serious than it was last time,” referring to his surrendering of the IC title in October 1995 due to a concussion. Yes, according to Michaels, this knee injury is much more grave a threat to his career than the severe concussion that supposedly caused him to collapse in the ring and made even one more blow to the head, in the words of his doctor, “life-threatening.” Still, give Shawn props for going the whole year of 1996 without forfeiting a title. Don’t worry, though; he’ll make up the difference this year. Shawn continues slurring his way through his farewell address, talking over the ever-louder “We Want Sid” chants and saying that he’s glad that they chant people’s names and enjoy themselves before putting his arm around the audience’s shoulders and tell them they’re the greatest guy in the world. Maybe I’m exaggerating a little. Regardless, the fans really start laying into Shawn with the booze. I mean, boos. “I don’t know where I’m at right now,” says Shawn in his first honest statement of the whole night. He says, in effect, that since he accomplished all of his goals in one title reign, there is no need for a second, clearly having watched that Simpsons episode with George HW Bush. HIs exact words are, “It was the single most greatest year of my life.” Also, he doesn’t have any toughness in him, despite saying for months that he would be as bad as he needed to be. “So I guess,” says Shawn, “ya know, here ya go, here’s your belt,” handing off his title to Gorilla Monsoon like a snotty Kleenex. If I had to guess one thing that made Vince ban all references to the championship title as a “belt,” I’d swear it’s this right here. And of course, I’ll be remiss if I don’t Shawn announcing that he has lost his smile; for weeks, Shawn walked around on his bad knee stapling MISSING fliers on every telephone pole in San Antonio. Vince hugs Shawn, giving a look to the camera that suggests even he, Shawn’s #1 fan, isn’t buying this. JR declares that in his 25 years in the business, he’s never had such a pain in his gut; he must have indigestion or something. Michaels takes one final lap around the ring to say goodbye to the fans, and on his way up the aisle, he remembers that he has a knee injury and starts limping.

"The Heartbreak Kid is a fountain of misinformation. He got out of dropping the title in a hurry!"

Back at the announce table, Vince McMahon tries to give a somber speech about Shawn’s possible retirement, which is “nothing short of tragic,” but a bunch of teenagers run into the frame and mug for the cameras. Savio Vega arrives with the Nation of Domination to take on his fellow Bone Street Krew member The Undertaker. Despite his heel turn, Savio still wears his bright red shirt to the ring. Unlike the fan-favorite version of Savio (okay, “favorite” is a strong word), the new heel Vega is not above cheating, giving Taker a mule kick to the groin. Savio takes control of the match, proving that he could have beaten The Undertaker in the 1995 King of the Ring finals had the Dead Man not lost to Mabel in the first round. Savio dominates for a good five minutes (as suggested by the name of his faction) until The Undertaker counters a back drop attempt with a sort of famouser that folds Savio up like an accordion. If Vega hasn’t already been incapacitated by a torn hamstring from that move, he gets taken out with a chokeslam and pinned by Taker. The rest of the Nation runs in, including Faarooq and Crush, but Ahmed Johnson arrives to make the save. Then it’s Taker’s turn to make the save for Faarooq, punching out the Nation members ganging up on Johnson.
Backstage, Gorilla Monsoon tells Dok Hendrix that Sid will get his promised title shot in four nights on Raw, the night after In Your House, against whoever wins the Final Four match. Tonight, though, his opponent is Steve Austin, who attacks him from behind. However, Sid quickly recovers and delivers his famed ridiculously telegraphed punches. Austin escapes a chokeslam attempt with a low blow that the referee somehow doesn’t see. The two brawl on the outside as Austin gets cheered by name, with Sid ending up colliding with the ring post. Inside the ring, Austin puts Sid in an abdominal stretch, although Sid is far too tall for Stone Cold to put it on right. If only Gorilla Monsoon were still on commentary to lecture us on the finer points of abdominal stretches. Austin has to let go after the ref catches him using the ropes. Sid goes back on the offense, but Bret Hart runs in to rough up Austin himself, causing a disqualification. That means that Sid loses, making him a phenomenally pissed psycho, to use alliteration. Sid and Bret get into a punching argument that takes two Hebners and a Brisco to break up. Backstage, Vader recalls his recent victories over all three of his In Your House opponents.
Jerry Lawler writes up a Western Union money order to his mother for Valentine’s Day. He says it’s so she can buy him presents with the money, because he won’t admit his Oedipus complex. I’d have one, too if she were my mom. Remember when she showed up at the first In Your House? Yowza. Western Union, coincidentally, sponsors this Sunday’s In Your House pay-per-view. Vince shows us a replay of Shawn’s promo, specifically the part where he talks about losing his smile. Vince calls it “one of the classiest moments in the history of the World Wrestling Federation.” Between Sable and the smile-less Shawn Michaels, I’m pretty sure Vince doesn’t know what “classy” means.
Crush and Faarooq challenge for fellow Clarence Mason clients Bulldog & Owen’s tag team titles. Vince laments Shawn Michaels’s “devastating knee injury,” and JR takes the opportunity to kiss HBK’s butt some more, saying that he can’t remember the last time an athlete thanked the fans. Well, I’m pretty sure Bret Hart did when he came back to the WWF. Ahmed, too. And Marc Mero. And Tiger Ali Singh thanked the fans just last week. So, yeah, pretty much every time babyface is given time on the mic. Crush tosses Owen Hart around out of frustration at how little his career has advanced since 1993 as compared to The Rocket. Bulldog tags in right before the break.

Brian Adams delivers his patented bad piledriver, this time a one-handed variation that is more dangerous than ugly. Faarooq tags in but telegraphs a back body drop, allowing Bulldog to counter by smashing his former WCW tag team buddy’s face into the mat for a Maneuver (#3). Bret Hart looks on backstage and comments on Shawn Michaels’s possible retirement, saying that he believes Shawn will be back again, possibly to win the title again. Possibly in Montreal. Crush and Faarooq cut Davey Boy off from his partner. “The British Bulldog in a body scissors,” says Vince. “Talk about body scissors, how would you like to be body-scissored by La Femme Nikita!” Just kidding! What Vince actually says is, “Talk about body scissors, how would you like to be body-scissored by La Femme Nikita!” Oh. Well, damn. Bulldog escapes a particularly homo-erotic bear hug from Faarooq, but Crush prevents him from tagging out, then double-teams (with wrestling moves) Davey Boy with his partner as Owen inadvertently distracts the referee. Bulldog hits Crush with an enziguiri, allowing him the hot tag. Owen cleans house with spinning heel kicks, then hits Crush with a High-Risk Maneuver (#4 - flying dropkick). Crush sidesteps a running attack from Hart, tossing Owen to the outside, where he appears to injure his knee, then gets counted out as the Nation beats up his partner.
Bret Hart arrives to take on Vader, first giving his sunglasses to “one happy young man.” “One happy young little gal,” says Vince, correcting himself. Nice, Vince. Usually it’s Jerry who says those kinds of mean things. The Undertaker’s bell tolls, and the Dead Man cuts a Dangerfield-esque promo about not getting any respect. Vader attacks Bret from behind and tosses him outside. As Raw goes to commercial, Stone Cold is seen for a split second about to put the boots to Hart.

The ring is fills with fog left over from Vader’s entrance. Vader leaps off the top rope, but Bret counters with a powerslam, catching the big man in mid-air and slamming him. Bret then body slams Vader but is unable to put the Sharpshooter on. Vader charges at Hart in the corner, but Hart ducks and crouches behind Vader’s legs to trip him, schoolyard-style. Bret slaps on the Sharpshooter, but Vader grabs the ropes. Hitman breaks after a count of four, but Steve Austin appears on the balcony, distracting Hart, who gets punched out by Vader. The big man then sets up for a Vader Bomb, then changes his mind and executes a moonsault, which Hart avoids. Hart pins the stunned Vader. Austin tries to jump over the balcony’s guard rail to get to Bret, forgetting about the arena’s stairways and the laws of gravity, but Pat Patterson and two referees are there to hold him back.

Final tally:

4 Maneuvers (Year total: 24)

No comments:

Post a Comment