Welcome to the as we approach our third week of the WWF television shows from 1996, so far we’ve seen the arrival of Steve Austin in the WWF under the name of The Ringmaster and the management of Ted DiBiase, The Smoking Gunns won a competition called The Raw Bowl, Goldust has been tormenting Razor Ramon with flowers, (fake) tattoos and lewd pictures, Ahmed Johnson smashed Jeff Jarrett’s guitar, and the build for the Royal Rumble has meant the announcement of the debut of Vader in the match. How are we going to top that this week?
Just to re-iterate the reason I’ve chosen 1996 is because it’s the year that I first became interested in wrestling and I thought that going back and watching it again as the “smart” fan that I am now would allow me to see it again through a different mindset. 1996 was a difficult time for the WWF as the introduction of WCW Monday Nitro as direct television competition was giving their rivals a strong platform in what would be known as the Monday Night Wars. The WWF were watching the stars they created such as Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage draw in new fans and were attempting to counter-act the old roster of WCW with younger talent like Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Diesel, Razor Ramon and Ahmed Johnson. It allowed for a fresh product but the lesser-known main eventers needed time to become the legends they would be known as eventually.
WWF MONDAY NIGHT RAW
January 15th 1996
Let’s get things going with Raw from Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler NOT LIVE from the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, Delaware (the same place as last week) as we commemorate Martin Luther King Day with a pre-show video narrated by Vince. Tonight – Sunny has “influenced” Gorilla Monsoon, but how? Undertaker takes on Isaac Yankem! Vince McMahon will interview Goldust unless Razor Ramon gets to him first! Another Billionaire Ted skit! All this and more on Monday Night Raw. Why have they never used that as a tagline?
We’re starting off in the ring with the music of The Rockers playing, and I’m pretty sure it’s not Shawn Michaels..
OWEN HART vs. MARTY JANNETTY
Owen is accompanied by Jim Cornette as usual, Jannetty is accompanied by his mullet. Cornette was slopped by Henry Godwinn on Superstars but seems to have recovered now, mainly because this took place before the slopping. A very large lady vigorously boos Owen which draws an “Oh my goodness” from Vince. The two men trade arm wringers before Jannetty takes Owen down and then monkey flips him, an angry Owen shoves Jannetty when they get back up. Jannetty takes Owen down again and applies a front facelock, Owen carries Jannetty back to the corner and puts him on the top rope, but Jannetty jumps down and arm drags Owen. Jannetty lands some right hands but Owen avoids a powerslam, Jannetty stops a roll-up from Owen and clotheslines the Canadian for a two count. Jannetty applies a chinlock a whole 1:37 into the match but Owen fights out of it by sending Jannetty off the ropes, when Jannetty comes back Owen uses his momentum to deliver a belly-to-belly suplex but doesn’t cover him. Owen stomps Jannetty in the chest and delivers a backbreaker, he then tries to whip Jannetty into the corner but Jannetty climbs up the ropes and hits a crossbody for a close 2 count. Owen hits the devastating enziguri that nearly ended the career of Shawn Michaels but Jannetty kicks out at 1. WHAT?! Now its Owen going to the chinlock as Cornette argues with ringside fans to keep things entertaining, Jannetty gets himself out of the chinlock but misses an elbow, Owen then goes for the Sharpshooter but Jannetty kicks him away. Owen nails Jannetty with a dropkick to the jaw and delivers some shoulders and upper cuts in the corner, a rake to the eyes stops a brief Jannetty comeback and Owen then hits a gutwrench suplex for a two count as we go to an ad break.
Owen has Jannetty in an abdominal stretch when we come back but Jannetty gets out of it, Owen whips him into the corner but Jannetty catches him with a boot and lands something resembling a diamond dust. Jannetty sends Owen off the ropes and connects with a Powerslam, he then goes up to the top rope but Owen stumbles towards the ropes, so Jannetty clotheslines him out of the ring instead. Jannetty tries to suplex Owen back into the ring but Owen gets behind him and uses what can only be described as a WACKY LUCHA ROLL-UP to get the three count. It involved a very nice bridge but the way Jannetty ended up his back looked a bit contrived. Anyway, Owen wins and gives Cornette a hug,
Winner: Owen Hart via Pinfall
Time: 5:56 (Televised)
We join Todd Pettengill in the Slam Jam being his usual flamboyant self, he plugs the Royal Rumble event and also the first ever WWF Free-For-All, a 30 minute preview show that they ran for a couple of years that preludes the PPV events. A match gets announced for the Free-For-All with the winner getting #30 and the loser getting #1. The participants will be decided with who “draws” the blank numbers. We get some pre-Rumble promos, first Diesel who shouts very loudly about how Vader shouldn’t be considered the favourite because Diesel is. We then get a new Vader hype video where he makes lots of “HAAAA” and “HEEEE” noises whilst flexing and striking a punch bag. Pettingill also claims there will be three WWF Title matches on the card which seems unlikely. We cut backstage to Dok Hendrix who is waiting for Razor Ramon to arrive; more importantly in a vignette Sunny is playing pool in lingerie saying that she “likes it raw”. You wouldn’t hear that in a PG WWE. Soon we’re back ringside for the first televised WWF match of someone who would make a name for himself in the next few years, taking on someone who would also become a household name…
THE RINGMASTER vs. MATT HARDY
The Ringmaster is Steve Austin and is accompanied by Ted DiBiase, Matt Hardy is a nineteen year old version of the man who would find fame as “Matt Hardy”. Ringmaster is the Million Dollar Champion but I’m pretty sure the title isn’t on the line here. Ringmaster starts off by taking Matt down with a side headlock, but Matt gets out of it by stacking Ringmaster up for a pinfall. Ringmaster sends Matt off the ropes and Matt knocks him down with a shoulder block, Matt then comes off the ropes again but goes straight into the Lou Thesz press and knuckle. Ringmaster gets caught by a roll-up from Matt but kicks out at two, Ringmaster then sends Matt off the ropes once again and connects with a back body drop. Ringmaster sets Matt up in the corner and lands some chops, Matt retaliates with a right hand but that just makes Ringmaster angry and he unleashes a furious series of strikes. Ringmaster uses the ropes to drop a knee on Matt and chokes him with his knee afterwards, a snapmere sends Matt down and Ringmaster connects with what would become his trademark elbow drop. Ringmaster whips Matt into the ropes again but Matt is able to counter with some kicks, Matt sets up for a suplex but Ringmaster reverses it into a reverse suplex for a two count. Ringmaster chokes Matt on the middle rope but misses with a knee to the back, Matt comes off the ropes but Ringmaster catches him and delivers the “Stun Gun” which was his finisher in WCW. Ringmaster then picks Matt up again and locks in the Million Dollar Dream, a variation of the Cobra Clutch that DiBiase used during his career, and Matt falls unconscious to give Ringmaster the victory. You can catch The Ringmaster on an AOL chat after the show, but you may be at least 17 years late.
Winner: The Ringmaster via Technical Submission
We get a Shawn Michaels hype video as his mega-push continues, it details the real-life beat down he suffered at the hands of “9” marines (it’s been reported between 1-5 in reality) outside a nightclub that they worked into a concussion storyline, his collapsing following the enziguri from Owen Hart, and how he plans on having a fairytale comeback against doctors’ orders by winning the Royal Rumble. This whole thing is set to a piano version of “Wind Beneath My Wings” to make it the height of cheesiness. We go back to Dok Hendrix who is still waiting for Razor Ramon to arrive, it’s a bit weird seeing as Razor was in the arena for last week’s RAW but seemingly left and needs to arrive again.
All of a sudden we’re thrown into another match that we join in progress…
THE SMOKING GUNNS vs. THE SPIDERS
I’m guessing this is a non-title contest as well, as we pick it up one of the Spiders tries to roll Billy up but only gets a 1 count, Billy comes off the ropes and connects with the move that would eventually be called the Fameasser and tags in Bart. It’s left hands and dropkicks for everyone as Bart comes in, Bart tags Billy in who heads to the top rope to deliver their double team finisher The Sidewinder (also known as the Veg-O-Matic and the Death Sentence) for the win. This match only seemed to be on the show so that we could be told that the Smoking Gunns will be defending their titles against the Bodydonnas at the Royal Rumble.
Winners: The Smoking Gunns via Pinfall
Time: 1:06 (Televised)
From there we go to a new Billionaire Ted skit, this week he wants to know why he can’t buy the WWF and why they’re better than WCW. Fake executive Vince Russo tells him it’s because they’re stuck with disloyal, greedy has-beens from the 1980s which Nacho Man points out as incorrect; he and Huckster started in the 70s. Ted instructs his executives to go and “buy some of the new generation” from the WWF, and ironically that’s exactly what would happen in about three months time when Hall and Nash moved to WCW. The skit ends with Ted suggesting to Huckster that they nickname him “the boy toy” to play off Shawn Michaels’ popularity.
It’s time for more talking as Goldust walks to the ring to meet with Vince McMahon for an interview. Lawler hopes that Goldust might have some of his unique “presents” for Vince. Goldust seems to be making Vince a bit uncomfortable, meanwhile Vince asks him if he’s preying on the “homophobic fears of most men” which seems a bit of a sweeping statement. Goldust makes some double entendres about microphones whilst Vince does some nice over-acting, Goldust confirms he is only “interested” in Razor Ramon as quotes Tootsie saying he “wants him so bad, more than any man or woman could want a human being”. He tells us not to forget his name whilst fondling his chest before blowing us a kiss. Back to Dok Hendrix who tells us Razor Ramon has arrived but won’t enter the arena until after this commercial break. When we come back Razor asks where Goldust is and Hendrix says he’s in the locker room. No more on that for now, we have a wrestling match on our hands.
THE UNDERTAKER vs. ISAAC YANKEM DDS
THE BROTHERS OF DESTRUCTION COLLIDE! Except at this point the concept of Kane hadn’t been thought of yet and Glen Jacobs was stuck in the role of an evil dentist with very bad teeth. Undertaker has his whole entrance eat up some time, he’s wearing a face mask as he continues to recover from a broken cheekbone. Yankem heads outside to get some advice from Jerry Lawler as Undertaker’s entrance continues, bong to bell it takes 2 minutes and 17 seconds. Undertaker and Yankem stand face to face in a pre-cursor to when they would do the same thing inside the Hell In A Cell on Kane’s debut, Taker immediately takes control with some right hands, he then whips Yankem into the corner and follows with a clothesline. Paul Bearer is on the outside hugging the melted remains of the urn (Kama melted it into a necklace), Taker lands a scoop slam and chokes Yankem in the corner, Yankem then finally gets his first bit of offense in with a back elbow and a clothesline but Undertaker sits up. Undertaker ignores a kick to the chest and goes for a Tombstone, however Yankem manages to slide down behind him and on to the apron. The two men brawl on the outside as Undertaker does some more blatant choking, breaks the count, and then slowly walks around to deliver some right hands and sends Yankem into the ring post. Undertaker’s wrestling style sure was boring back in 1996. Lawler gets out of his commentary position to try and get the urn away from Bearer, but Undertaker catches him in the act and Lawler has to run away. This distraction allows Yankem to drive Undertaker into the ring post as we go to a commercial break.
Back from the break and we’re back in the ring with Yankem in control, Yankem gets him in a single leg crab which doesn’t look particularly painful. The Undertaker fans chant “rest in peace” to try and get Undertaker some motivation, Yankem then gets him in a bearhug as we are told that Goldust will face Bret Hart on next week’s show causing Vince to mention that Goldust does not represent the gay community. Undertaker fights back with a back suplex and ducks under a clothesline but Yankem catches him with a powerslam and drops a couple of elbows. Yankem lifts Undertaker up for a Tombstone (another unintentional glimpse of the future), Undertaker reverses it into a Tombstone of his own but something must go wrong as we randomly cut to Dok Hendrix backstage from earlier when the move would have landed. Undertaker drops an elbow and then scoops Yankem back up for what we assume is the second attempt at a Tombstone, this one lands as normal and Taker covers him for the three count and the victory. Undertaker salutes the urn but it’s TO THE BACK…
Winner: The Undertaker via Pinfall
Time: 6:34 (Televised)
… Where Goldust is talking to Dok Hendrix, Goldust cuts a promo on Bret Hart for next week’s match but Razor interrupts by throwing him into some ladders, then into a wall, hitting him with a plastic trash can and throwing him over a table. Goldust stops the onslaught with a low blow as we go to a commercial break. When we come back Sunny is in a bath tub, she says something but I was too distracted to listen. The Goldust/Razor saga still isn’t done, Goldust stupidly tries to leave right in front of Razor who catches up and throws him face first into an electrical box. The two men head outside and start brawling in the Delaware snow, both men slip and slide around until Razor gets thrown into a WWF truck, that gives Goldust the chance to drive away in what I assume is his car as Razor throws a trash can at it. And that’s the end of the show.
The last segment was my favourite part of the show, Razor and Goldust really went at it with Goldust taking a lot of hard bumps, the whole scenario came off very realistic and unscripted especially when they went outside, however I would question whether putting two top stars in a situation involving ice and snow is a wise decision. I say that as someone who has fallen over on ice far too many times. The rest of the show did a fairly decent job of hyping the Royal Rumble with every match involving some aspect of the card, however I was completely confused how Bret Hart and The Undertaker weren’t involved in any form of promo or angle to hype their WWF title match, in fact Bret hasn’t been on any of the 1996 shows so far aside from a 30 second promo on Superstars.
20th January 1996
Amazingly this show was actually filmed over a month prior to it airing on television, they’re still at the Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania from the 19th December 1995. Vince McMahon, Jim Ross and Mr. Perfect are still your hosts and have probably been sat in the same chairs for over three hours by this point.
1-2-3 KID & SYCHO SID vs. AVATAR & ALDO MONTOYA
Named the 1-2-3 Kid after his upset victory over Razor Ramon, Sean Waltman became a part of the Million Dollar Corporation when he accepted the money Ted DiBiase was offering. Sid had been a WWF title challenger against Diesel in 1995 but in between the taping and airing of this match he suffered a neck injury in a house show match with Bob Holly. Aldo Montoya is Justin Credible, Avatar is the first WWF gimmick of the man who would become Al Snow.
The match starts before the lights are back up and Avatar is able to get Sid out of the ring and then teams up with Montoya to deliver a double clothesline on Kid. Avatar grabs a headlock on Kid but gets sent off the ropes, Avatar then goes over the top of Kid, trips him and lands a wheelbarrow suplex for a 2 count. Montoya comes in for a whole two seconds before tagging in Avatar again, then Montoya gets tagged in, each tag coming with a top rope axe handle to the arm of Kid. Montoya whips Kid off the ropes and connects with a double chop, Avatar comes back in and lands a side kick to the jaw for a 2 count. Kid reverses a whip to the corner but Avatar slides to stop himself, however in getting back up he walks straight into a roundhouse kick. Kid stumbles towards his corner to try and tag Sid but Avatar rolls him up with a schoolboy for a close 2 count. Montoya gets tagged back in but Sid nails him from the apron, that gives Kid the opportunity to tag Sid in and he comes into the ring with several kicks to the ribs of Montoya. Sid sends Montoya off the ropes and goozles him when he comes back, Sid then connects with a one-handed Chokeslam. Sid lifts Montoya back up and delivers his trademark Powerbomb, he then goes over to tag Kid in who does some kind of crazy dance before covering Montoya for the three count, Sid clotheslining Avatar to prevent him from saving his partner.
Winner: 1-2-3 Kid & Sycho Sid via Pinfall
THE RINGMASTER vs. SCOTT TAYLOR
This match is on Austin’s “Stone Cold Truth” DVD as it’s against the man who would go on to be Scotty 2 Hotty in the future (and chronologically Austin’s first official WWF match), no worms here though. Ringmaster takes control of the lock up and easily gets Taylor to the ground for a rear chinlock, he then drags Taylor back to his feet and chokes him on the middle rope whilst gloating to the camera. Ringmaster uses a gutwrench suplex and stomps away whilst we get an inset promo where Ringmaster tells us we’re going to see him win the Royal Rumble match. Back in the ring the Ringmaster is still in control with a hard knee drop, Taylor gets thrown head first into the corner before Ringmaster unloads a series of chops to the chest. Ringmaster sends Taylor off the ropes and follows after him with a hard back elbow that gets a 2 count, Ringmaster then lands a grounded stomp to the gut before locking in the Million Dollar Dream without any further delay, referee Tim White checks Taylor’s arm three times but he’s out cold to give The Ringmaster the victory. Ringmaster holds his Million Dollar Title aloft before laying in a few extra stomps to Taylor for good measure.
Winner: The Ringmaster via Technical Submission
HAKUSHI vs. MATT HARDY
Hakushi’s entrance is interrupted by Dok Hendrix selling the official Royal Rumble t-shirt. IT’S ONLY $18!! That Hardy Boy is back again but still as a jobber. Hakushi takes control of a lock-up and knocks Matt down with a shoulder block, Hakushi forward rolls over Matt and then does a cartwheel for some reason before connecting with a spinning back kick to the gut. We get an inset promo from Barry Horowitz of all people, he says if it comes down to himself and Hakushi then it will be every man for himself. Yeah, that’s gonna happen. Hakushi whips Matt to the corner and does his handspring back elbow that Chyna would steal in later years, Hakushi scoop slams Hardy near the corner and hits a variation of the Vader Bomb which surprisingly gets the three count. He won’t be using that move after Vader debuts, that’s for sure.
Winner: Hakushi via Pinfall
We get taken to a very snowy graveyard where Paul Bearer is being his usual self along with The Undertaker and his mask. The sun will soon be setting on Bret Hart’s title reign we are told, and this Sunday night Bret is going to rest in peace. The best thing about this is the strong wind sound effect being added whilst the trees in the background stay perfectly still.
THE BODYDONNAS vs. GLEN RUTH & CHAZ WARRINGTON
This is Zip’s (Tom Prichard) televised WWF debut as the partner of Skip (Chris Candido) whilst the opposition are provided by Ruth and Warrington who would eventually be known as the Headbangers (Thrasher and Mosh respectively). We get a recap of Sunny‘s lingerie pool game on RAW as she continues to be turned into the WWF’s main sex symbol. Zip starts the match off against Chaz, they lock up but Zip easily takes him down, walks on his back, and starts doing star jumps. Another lock up leads to some brief chain wrestling before Zip sends Chaz off the ropes, Zip manages a leapfrog (literally only just clearing Chaz) which seems to throw Chaz off, he stops running the ropes so Zip punches him in the face. That looked awkward. Zip tags Skip in and Chaz tags in Ruth, he looks very different with hair. Ruth sends Skip off the ropes and does a couple of leapfrogs and drop downs, however he tries one leapfrog too many which Skip catches and delivers a very gentle Powerbomb. Skip tags Zip back in and he lifts Ruth up to connect with a sit out gutwrench Powerbomb but doesn’t go for a cover as he does some press-ups instead. Skip comes back in and they do some double-teaming on Ruth with some stops before Candido hits a snap suplex and a running leg drop. Skip sets Ruth up on the top rope and delivers a perfect frankensteiner, Zip got a blind tag in the process and he comes off the top with a sit-down splash which gets the three count. Vince exclaims “What a pair!” about the Bodydonnas when Sunny is on the screen, I can’t help thinking that wasn’t an accident.
Winner: The BodyDonnas via Pinfall
We get a recap of the Razor/Goldust angle from RAW, looking at it again I get the feeling it was so realistic because Razor wasn’t pulling his punches all that much.
YOKOZUNA vs. PHIL APOLLO
Yokozuna is accompanied by Mr. Fuji but not Jim Cornette, and bearing in mind he was legitimately over 600 pounds at this point I’m not expecting this to go very long. Yokozuna rakes the eyes to start and gives Apollo a big headbutt before landing some right hands and stomps to Apollo in the corner. We still get some Cornette as he’s standing with Owen Hart for an inset promo, Cornette promises that either Owen or Yokozuna will win. Owen says it will be him, but nobody mentions other Camp Cornette members British Bulldog and Vader. In the ring Yokozuna lands a back elbow and a leg drop, Apollo just lies on the ground while the exhausted Yokozuna just strolls around the ring. Eventually Yokozuna drags Apollo to the corner, climbs to the second rope and delivers the Banzai Drop for the win.
Winner: Yokozuna via Pinfall
We head to the Slam Jam with Dok Hendrix who calls Yokozuna a “heavy favourite” for the Royal Rumble match. Pun intended. We get a Royal Rumble promo from Hunter Hearst Helmsley who has apparently been refusing to wrestle on television because he wants to be in top physical condition for the Rumble match (and because his back got ripped up during the Hog Pen match). HHH’s posh accent is quite hilariously bad. Bret Hart spares us some time to tell Undertaker that Hart is the biggest test that the deadman has ever faced.
DIESEL vs. ISAAC YANKEM DDS
This is our fifth match of the night, although it’s not like any of them have gone very long. Fun note – Isaac Yankem would be playing the character of Fake Diesel in exactly a year’s time. Yankem also has Jerry Lawler in his corner. The two big men lock-up and Diesel forces Yankem into the corner with some hard elbows and knee lifts. Yankem has already lasted longer than King Mabel did on RAW a few weeks ago. Diesel lifts Yankem up to deliver a sidewalk slam, then whips him into the corner again but runs into a back elbow. Yankem lands some hard right hands with the third knocking Diesel down, some more right hands from Yankem put Diesel on the ropes before he clotheslines Big Daddy Cool over the top to the outside where Diesel hits the guard rail. Yankem follows Diesel outside and lands yet more right hands, however Diesel is able to ram Yankem’s head into the apron and sends the dentist back inside.
Lawler grabs Diesel’s leg as he gets back in to give Yankem back the advantage, and Yankem connects with a running back elbow smash. Yankem chokes Diesel on the bottom rope before Lawler gets in a cheap punch that gives Yankem a two count, Yankem then throws Diesel into the corner head first a couple of times. I think it’s fair to say that Yankem’s offense is a bit limited at the moment. Yankem gives Diesel a scoop slam and heads to the top rope, however Diesel avoids a leg drop and as Yankem struggles to his feet Diesel hits his running knee to the back choking Yankem on the ropes. Diesel uses his old Vinnie Vegas Snake Eyes move before whipping Yankem off the ropes and looking for his trademark big boot, however Yankem ducks it and connects with a clothesline. Yankem drops a leg which gets him a 2 count, he then sets up Diesel for the DDS but takes too long giving Diesel the chance to reverse it in to a rib breaker. Both men are down now but Diesel is able to get the advantage when they get back up with a boot to the gut, that allows him to set up and deliver the Jacknife Powerbomb which gets him the three count. Diesel points at Lawler who immediately runs to the back, Diesel then poses in the ring making the “I want the belt” motion.
Winner: Diesel via Pinfall
Once again I enjoyed Superstars more than RAW this week, the extra wrestling makes things a bit more interesting and I do have a soft spot for those twenty second inset promos. That said the build for the Royal Rumble was much stronger on RAW mainly thanks to the Razor/Goldust segment at the end of the show, I’m still baffled that Bret Hart hasn’t appeared on RAW at any point to build up the WWF Title match with all the long promos and the other matches have been given a lot more hype than the one involving the company’s major championship.
I’m going to start giving a Match of the Week award, the first recipient of this highly treasured honour is the match between Owen Hart and Marty Jannetty from RAW. It was a pretty even contest between Owen, who was great, and Jannetty, who was doing OK at this time. The finish stands out due to its wackiness, I thought it was a bit of an anti-climax personally but the athleticism required by Owen to pull it off successfully was impressive.
The debut of Isaac Yankem DDS…
That’s it for this time, I hope you enjoyed it and thanks very much for reading!