WWF Through The Years 1996: Week 5

Welcome back to the world of 1996 with, we’re hot on the road to WrestleMania after the Royal Rumble where a new Intercontinental champion was crowned, a guitar was smashed, a valet took greater priority in a Tag Team Title match than the wrestlers, a mediocre Royal Rumble match gave us one half of our WrestleMania main event, and the WWF Title match ended in both controversy for the participants and frustration for the fans. We take our next step with the RAW and Superstars shows from the week after the Royal Rumble.

You all know how this works by now, so let’s get straight on with the shows!

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wwf-raw-logo

WWF MONDAY NIGHT RAW

January 22nd 1996

Hey look, Sunny‘s on the screen already. She’s playing pool in her underwear again, making possibly the easiest pot in pool history. Vince and Lawler narrate an opening video of Royal Rumble highlights with Vince roaring “IT WAS ABSOLUTELY OUTRAGEOUS!” Yes, it was quite bad. They obviously assumed lots of people didn’t buy the show as they go over the results of the three main matches. TONIGHT! It’s champion versus champion when Bret Hart takes on Goldust! Razor Ramon battles Hunter Hearst Helmsley! And a special interview with Shawn Michaels!

Your hosts are Vince McMahon and Jerry “The King” Lawler and for the first time this year we have a LIVE television show from Stockton, California, home of the vile Diaz brothers. Savio Vega is already in the ring but so is Jim Cornette who has a microphone. He apparently has the answer to the question; what time is it?

SAVIO VEGA vs. VADER

Vader made his WWF debut last night at the Royal Rumble and dominated proceedings before being eliminated by eventual winner Shawn Michaels, after his elimination he went nuts and eliminated everyone in the ring, but because he’d already been eliminated those wrestlers were allowed to continue.

These two lock up but the much stronger Vader pushes Savio back with ease, Vader backs Savio into the corner and hits some clubbing blows to the head and body before posing for the fans. See, the practice posing in that field for his hype video has paid off. More punches and kicks in the corner take Savio down to the mat, Vader then charges but Savio is able to move causing Vader to hit the turnbuckle, Savio nails the mastodon with some quick kicks before a superkick knocks Vader over the top rope. Savio follows Vader outside but gets met by a headbutt, Vader then drops Savio neck-first on the guard rail. Vader rolls Savio back in and very…. slowly… takes Savio over to the corner for some more punches, Vader sends Savio to the opposite corner and hits a splash. Vader lays Savio in the corner and hits a second rope splash, I’m pretty sure I saw Hakushi do that on the last Superstars, but this is a real Vader Bomb and it gets the three count in Vader’s WWF single match debut.

Winner: Vader

Time: 3:03

Vader’s not done yet though, a prone Savio is given a front slam and set up for a second Vader Bomb! The referee tries to stop him so Vader gives him some headbutts as well, more referees come into the ring so Vader starts assaulting them by giving Jack Doan a Powerbomb! Now Gorilla Monsoon is down to issue some presidential discipline, he goes nose to nose with Vader and calls for the ring announcer; the announcer says that Monsoon has indefinitely suspended Vader! An angry Vader shoves Cornette away and goes towards Monsoon… Vader taps Monsoon on the shoulder hard and gets a chop from Monsoon! And another! And a third! Cornette pleads with Vader to calm down but Vader charges and splashes Monsoon in the corner! Vader drops an elbow on Monsoon and drags him over to the corner for a Vader Bomb! Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon sprint out to chase Vader away but the damage has already been done, Vader starts arguing with Vince McMahon on his way past the announce desk as Cornette finally manages to get Vader away from the ringside area. Now that was a FIVE STAR angle.

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During the break Gorilla Monsoon was stretchered away from ringside and we get a full replay of the angle. Jim Cornette is standing by with Vader backstage, Vader is choking Cornette and cuts a promo declaring war on everyone in the World Wrestling Federation. “That includes you Mr. McMahon, and you, Mr…… DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!”.  Yeah, watch out Mr. DAAAAH. Vader starts assaulting various inanimate objects as we head back to the ring for our second match…

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HUNTER HEARST HELMSLEY vs. RAZOR RAMON

HHH starts off his new gimmick of bringing a new beautiful woman to the ring with him every week, I’m sure that was a tough gig for him. Razor enters with some still photos of his IC Title match, at least I assume they’re still photos, it was such a slow match it might as well be the video of it. Razor gets no pyro to add to his woes from the last 24 hours. We get an inset promo from 1-2-3 Kid and Ted DiBiase accusing Razor of being a cry-baby and hold up a milk bottle and a diaper. This is going to lead to a terrible gimmick match. HHH starts the match with an arm wringer but gets socked in the mouth by Razor, it’s then Razor who starts working HHH’s arm with some shoulder strikes before sending HHH in the corner. HHH ducks a right hand to land some of his own, but a whip to the opposite corner gets reversed and Razor follows up with an avalanche. HHH misses with a wild right hand allowing Razor to connect with an atomic drop and a big right hand, but when Razor charges at HHH by the ropes the Greenwich blue blood drops the top rope down sending Razor flying out of the ring as we head to a commercial break.

When we come back HHH is still in control and connects with a baseball slide to Razor on the outside, he then tries to suplex Razor into the ring, Razor partially blocks it but gets hung up on the top rope instead. Lawler interviews HHH’s hotty whilst HHH sends Razor into the turnbuckle hard on two occasions, on commentary Vince puts over how long HHH lasted in the Rumble match. HHH sends Razor into the corner face first then follows up with a knee which sends Razor into the ring post, HHH then nails a clothesline for a two count. HHH keeps the momentum with some kicks to the gut of Razor in the corner and some stinging right jabs before knocking him down with an uppercut. 1-2-3 Kid comes down to ringside and shoves the baby bottle into Razor’s mouth but that seems to invigorate Razor who blocks some HHH punches to respond with some big punches of his own, Razor starts chasing Kid around the ring and eventually gets himself counted out. Razor has a habit of getting himself counted out, at least it wasn’t to Jeff Hardy this time.

Winner: Hunter Hearst Helmsley via Count Out

Time: 6:01 (Televised)

Bad loser Razor Ramon gets back in the ring and tries to give HHH the Razor’s Edge, but HHH slips out behind, grabs his lady friend and heads to the back. Razor can’t do anything right it seems.

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Oh goodie, it’s Billionaire Ted‘s Wrasslin’ Warroom again, at least we’re told it’s the final episode. Ted wants some new ideas instead of just stealing from WWF, Huckster sleeps, Scheme Gene comes up with an idea but he’ll only tell you on his hotline. And that’s the end of it. For now.

Hey look, it’s Dok Hendrix and the RAW Band. “Go get ’em Dok!” says Vince. Wise words indeed.

Vince is in the ring and introduces the 1996 Royal Rumble winner Shawn Michaels to the crowd. Is he going to let us know which World Title he’s challenging for at WrestleMania? What do you mean there’s only one World Title? What kind of wrestling company only has one World championship? Vince congratulates Michaels on his Rumble victory, Michaels says he told us so and he’s back in the saddle again. He says he has a three step plan, winning the Rumble is the first step, winning at WrestleMania is the final step, and the second step is taking care of Owen Hart, the man who claims he took Michaels out. Shawn also says he’ll take out the “nine” chumps who attacked him in Syracuse in due time. That number seems to get higher every time. Jim Cornette comes out to answer the challenge for Owen, Cornette points out he’s already had a bad night. Cornette says Owen has proved his point and has no reason to face Michaels again and will always be known as the man who put Michaels on the shelf. Michaels offers money to Cornette, or anything he has to get his hands on Owen. Cornette asks him if he said “anything”… and says if Michaels wants to fight Owen he has to put his WrestleMania title shot on the line. Michaels asks the people (his Kliq) if he should put the shot on the line, they say yes, so he says yes. Michaels then throws Cornette over the top rope just like he did at the Rumble last night and starts stripping again.

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BRET HART vs. GOLDUST

It is indeed a champion vs. champion match, Bret the WWF Champion and Goldust is your NEW Intercontinental Champion. If this was 2013 the IC champion would be beaten clean in three minutes, let’s see what happens here. We have some pre-recorded comments from Goldust, he says last night was a masterpiece, an Oscar worthy performance and he’s glad to have more gold. He calls Bret “Calgary Cowboy” which may or may not be a reference to the gimmick Vince wanted Bret to have when he debuted in the WWF.

Bret comes out to a good ovation for his first television match of 1996, Bret apparently hurt his knee at the Royal Rumble when doing his second rope elbow drop. Goldust starts his chest fondling almost straight away, Marlena does the same on the outside which is a bit more fun to watch. They lock up and Bret gets Goldust into the corner, he breaks clean whilst Goldust fondles his chest again as we go to a break.

When we come back Bret has Goldust in a kimura (not called that obviously) but Goldust makes the ropes and lands a cheap shot. Goldust punches Bret into the corner and chokes him, Goldust goes behind with a hammerlock, and he then gets Bret to the ground with the hammerlock still applied. Bret manages to get back to his feet and runs towards the ropes, slides, and sends Goldust out of the ring. That spot makes so little sense. Apparently we’re going to another commercial break now, just minutes after the last one.

Back from the break and Goldust is now in control with a clubbing blow from the top rope, Goldust then wrings the arm of Bret but Bret responds with some right hands, Goldust gets backed into the corner where Bret elbows him in the head and rakes his eyes across the top rope. Goldust trips Bret with a double leg and tries to apply the Figure Four to finally work on the injured knee that was mentioned, but Bret kicks him out of the ring. Marlena decides she’s seen enough and begins to lead Goldust down the aisle to give up on the match, however as they reach the entrance way Razor Ramon appears (again) and knocks Goldust down with a right hand. This isn’t a disqualification. Razor throws Goldust back into the ring to the waiting Bret as we go to ANOTHER commercial break.

Bret is fully into his five moves of doom when we come back, a second rope clothesline connects followed by a side Russian leg sweep, Bret then gets the Sharpshooter locked in and Goldust wastes no time tapping out. I guess the Intercontinental Champion has to lose in 1996 as well. Vince questions why Goldust would tap out so quickly, but Lawler is the voice of reason to point out it was a non-title match and he didn’t want to take any unnecessary damage.

Winner: Bret Hart via Submission

Time: 5:13 (Televised)

Vince gets in the ring to interview Bret about his match last night and match against Diesel at the next PPV. Bret says it’s Diesel’s fault that the fans didn’t get the clear decision they deserve, and it’s Diesel’s fault that The Undertaker is angry. Bret says he’s fed up with Diesel and he can’t wait for the cage match against Diesel as the cage makes it impossible for Diesel to have any excuses. Bret says The Undertaker will get the re-match he deserves as well. Bret says he’s deadly in a cage and heads backstage, Lawler runs down next week’s show (MORE Billionaire Ted?!) and we get one last shot of Vader crushing Monsoon before the show ends.

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This was a much better RAW than the shows before the Royal Rumble, the main reason being the significant increase in competitive matches and some big angle developments. The Vader/Monsoon segment was superb, I remember being horrified it as a child back in 1996, but these days I can appreciate just how much of a monster it made Vader look. Nobody had ever attacked an official as high up the chain as the WWF president before and Vader came across as a dangerous, unpredictable mad man. The real reason for Vader’s suspension was a combination of him requiring shoulder surgery and the fact that he still had some contracted dates to work in Japan from between his WCW and WWF contracts. It’s also amazing how much Razor Ramon was featured on the show, he was in all the Rumble recap videos, he came out to chase away Vader, he had his match with HHH, and then he appeared at the end to send Goldust back into the ring. Overall this was probably my favourite show that I’ve covered from 1996 so far.

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SSTARS1996

WWF SUPERSTARS

27th January 1996

Your hosts are Vince McMahon, Mr. Perfect and Jim Ross and we are NOT LIVE from the Convention Center in San Jose, California where we will be for the next three WWF Superstars shows as well. Did you see the Royal Rumble? Did you see RAW? If you didn’t, we’ll show you everything that happened! Also, tonight’s main event is Shawn Michaels vs. Tatanka! PLAY THE AWESOME THEME MUSIC!

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DUKE ‘THE DUMPSTER’ DROESE vs. STEVE RIZZINIO

LET US TAKE YOU BACK to the Free For All when HHH defeated Duke Droese with the help of a “foreign object” only for the decision to overturned by the now incapacitated president Gorilla Monsoon. This earned Droese a whole 74 seconds in the Royal Rumble match.

These two lock up and Droese takes immediate control with a hammerlock slam, Droese sends Rizzinio off the ropes and nails him with a big boot. A snap suplex from Droese connects, he then sends Rizzinio into the corner hard enough to knock him down. Droese sets Rizzinio up in the corner, gives him a couple of chops and hip tosses him across the ring, Rizzinio off the ropes now and he runs straight into a clothesline. Droese lands a running knee drop, picks Rizzinio up again and delivers a big powerslam. It’s time to take out the trash says Droese, he sends Rizzinio off the ropes again and lands the Trash Compactor for a three count. That was the most one-sided match we’ve had thus far.

Winner: Duke ‘The Dumpster’ Droese

Time: 2:21

Droese decides to bring his trash can into the ring to celebrate, but here comes Hunter Hearst Helmsley! He slams the trash can over the head of Droese to knock him down, and then delivers the Pedigree on to the trash can lid. Helmsley takes a pair of scissors out of his pocket (that’s dangerous kids) and starts cutting Droese’s hair. He cuts off a lot of hair as well. Helmsley gives us a curtsey to celebrate his barber skills.

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We head to the Slam Jam with Dok Hendrix and a quite ridiculous jacket, he’s already hyping up the next PPV which is In Your House 6. Already signed is the WWF Title match between Bret Hart and Diesel in a steel cage match, and we see the promo that Diesel cut at the end of the Royal Rumble. We go over the previous Bret/Diesel match where Bret won the title at Survivor Series 1995, Bret’s successful gameplan was to take out the legs. and we see Bret’s promo from RAW.

When we’re back from the break we go back to the Royal Rumble to see still photos of the Razor/Goldust match again. Goldust then cuts a promo that is so quiet I can barely hear him. From what I can hear it’s just the same we heard on RAW about it being an Oscar worthy performance. Let us take you back to the RAW we just covered when 1-2-3 Kid shoved a baby bottle in Razor’s mouth to get him counted out.

Now we’re going over the Jarrett/Ahmed match. Apparently Johnson passed out backstage after the guitar shot and was taken to hospital with a feared concussion, but is already back in action. I bet he didn’t take the Impact test. Time for a match!

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JUSTIN ‘HAWK’ BRADSHAW vs. BOB ‘SPARK PLUG’ HOLLY

It’s a battle of two of the most controversial superstars for their perceived backstage bullying, but it’s also two men who would have long careers in the WWF/E with varying levels of success. You can add a third person to the mix as Bradshaw is accompanied to the ring by Uncle Zebekiah played by Dutch Mantell, now known as Zeb Colter the manager of Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro. This is Bradshaw’s WWF debut as well, his gimmick is that he’s a tough Texan from the 1950s, complete with lasso.

Bradshaw attacks Holly from behind to start and hits some clubbing blows to the back and head, Bradshaw hits a scoop slam then comes off the ropes with an elbow drop to the sternum. Bradshaw remains in control with a knee to the gut, however he sends Holly off the ropes and bends down too soon allowing Holly to score with a kick and some right hands. Bradshaw soon reclaims control with a big boot and some hard stomps, he then sets Holly up for a Pumphandle Slam and delivers it. Bradshaw drives Holly head first into the corner and then whips Holly into the opposite turnbuckle, more stomps, another whip into the corner and finally something different with a suplex that gets a 2 count. Bradshaw boots Holly hard in the side of the head and unloads some harder right hands, a side Russian legsweep looks good but is completely out of character for the brawler Bradshaw. Holly gets sent off the ropes but slides between Bradshaw’s legs, Holly connects with two clotheslines that don’t knock Bradshaw down, he comes off the ropes again, ducks a big boot and finally gets Bradshaw down with another clothesline. Bradshaw takes over again after another knee to the gut, Holly reverses a whip to the corner but Bradshaw moves when he arrives for an avalanche, Bradshaw then comes off the ropes and delivers the lariat that would eventually be called the Clothesline From Hell which gets him the three count. Bradshaw gives Holly a few extra stomps before Zebekiah manages to get in and restrain him.

Winner: Justin ‘Hawk’ Bradshaw

Time: 4:47

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Did you know the WWF Store is open 24 hours a day? And that today’s exclusive item is a 99% cotton jumper with either Undertaker, Razor Ramon, Bret Hart or Shawn Michaels on the front? Also, did you know that the WWF has a hat with the WWF logo stitched on it? ALL THIS FOR £34.95!

We get shown the whole Vader/Monsoon angle from RAW, if this were 1996 you would be able to send your get well wishes for Gorilla to a special PO box. A new WWF interim President is going to be announced on RAW to replace Gorilla until he’s physically able to return to duty.

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HUNTER HEARST HELMSLEY vs. TIM PATTERSON

A kid called Ryan Mitchell does the ring announcing. He’s better than a lot of “special guest” announcers from the past, remember when Candice Michelle tried it? HHH has a different lady on his arm on this show, this will lead up to something in the future, I promise. The commentators put over HHH’s performance at the Rumble, having had a match on the pre-show and then lasting 50 minutes in the match itself.

HHH starts with an arm drag as Vince confirms that Tim Patterson is no relation to Pat, HHH takes Patterson down with a snapmere, stomps on his face and lets him back up. HHH backs Patterson in to the corner and lands a couple of knees, HHH sends Patterson into the other opposite corner but meets a back elbow when he charges over. Patterson sends HHH off the ropes, HHH tries a sunset flip but Patterson punches him, HHH gets sent into the ropes again but Patterson’s dropkick misses when HHH holds on to the ropes. HHH is a bit angrier now and unleashes some chops into the corner, a suplex then leads to a knee drop. HHH’s lady friend looks a lot like Gina Carano. HHH sets Patterson up for the Pedigree and he stands there for a loooooooooooooong time, most likely because he’s waiting for Duke Droese to do his run-in, the Dumpster eventually gets there and swings his trash can at HHH, but Helmsley uses Patterson as a human shield to take the blow. Droese chases HHH out of the ring and backstage, and that’s the end of that. I don’t even know who wins the match in this scenario, Patterson is the one that got hit but Droese was aiming for Helmsley. Ah, who cares.

Winner: Either Hunter Hearst Helmsley or Tim Patterson via Disqualification

Time: 3:06

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SHAWN MICHAELS vs. TATANKA

Michaels is announced as the winner of the 1992 Royal Rumble by Vince which seems slightly inaccurate. Tatanka is currently under the management of the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, but wouldn’t be in the WWF for much longer after this.

Michaels mocks Tatanka’s Native American heritage to start whilst hiding behind the referee which seems like a very heelish thing to do. I can’t actually work out why the referee is stopping Tatanka attacking as the bell has sounded. They finally lock up and Tatanka drives a knee into the gut of Michaels, Tatanka then gets Michaels into the corner and unloads some hard right hands. Tatanka whips Michaels into the opposite corner but HBK leapfrogs back over him and takes him down with an arm drag, Michaels comes off the ropes and takes Tatanka down with a headscissors. Tatanka charges at Michaels but Michaels moves out of the way sending Tatanka over the top rope. Michaels sits down in the centre of the ring and is still mocking the Native American, Michaels uses the top rope to get Tatanka back into the ring and grabs a side headlock, Tatanka sends him off the ropes and Shawn tries to headscissor him again, however this time Tatanka drops him on the top rope neck-first and we go to a commercial break.

When we’re back Tatanka is now in complete control sending Michaels into the corner and landing some punches to the head and body, we’re shown that during the break Ted DiBiase put the Million Dollar Dream on Michaels while Tatanka distracted the referee. Tatanka stands on the throat of Michaels for a while, he then sends Michaels off the ropes to give him a back body drop for a 2 count. Tatanka whips Michaels into the ropes again but this time Shawn avoids a clothesline and fires back with a flying forearm, and as is standard practice after that move Michaels does a kip-up. Michaels nails Tatanka with some rights, sends him into the corner and hits another flying forearm, Michaels then sets up for the Sweet Chin Music but Tatanka slides out of the ring. Michaels follows him but goes after DiBiase, they end up back in the ring but Tatanka is able to attack him from behind, DiBiase grabs Michaels to hold him for Tatanka but as is normal the face gets out of the way, although Tatanka doesn’t actually hit DiBiase. As Tatanka turns around he gets nailed in the jaw by some Sweet Chin Music and Michaels has no problems covering him to get the three count. Michaels poses in his usual fashion as Superstars goes off the air!

Winner: Shawn Michaels via Pinfall

Time: 5:40 (Televised)

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Superstars delivered again this week with not only four decent matches but also some in-show angle development between HHH and Droese, I guess when it’s the first week of taping they could do angles but anything on future shows might not make sense. There was a lot of airtime devoted to recapping both the Royal Rumble and the big events from RAW, but that’s the kind of show Superstars was so it’s to be expected. And to be fair, the Vader angle is worth watching again.

Match of the week was a tough choice this time, Bret Hart/Goldust was the biggest but was spoiled by the THREE commercial breaks, HHH/Razor was also good but had a crappy finish, and Shawn Michaels/Tatanka was probably the most standard match of the week, but I got annoyed by Michaels’ borderline-racist taunting. So that leaves my favourite which was Savio Vega vs. Vader, the post-match angle partly bumps it up a bit, but I’m mainly picking it because watching Vader beat people up is always entertaining and Savio made his beating look great.

That’s it for this time, join us in the next article to see who will be the new interim president in the WWF! I’ll give you a clue; it’s not Tim Patterson. Thanks for reading!

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