The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 09.23.96
There are few times where you can point to one segment as the nadir of an entire wrestling promotion, but this one is truly the bottom of the barrel. Watching this one, I was really worried that the WWF wasn’t going to be around for much longer.
Live from Hershey, PA
Your hosts are Kevin Kelly, Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler
Intercontinental title tournament final: Wildman Marc Mero v. Faarooq
This was originally booked for the PPV and then pulled to ensure a good rating for the show. It didn’t work. Pat Patterson is the special referee here, as his role with the company starts to expand again. Too bad he wasn’t booking. Faarooq attacks and pounds away, but misses a blind charge and Mero clotheslines him to the floor. He follows with a Merosault for two as Faarooq completely blows the catch, but Faarooq tosses him out. Back in, Faarooq with a powerslam for two. A month after the dreadful taping with the first two rounds of the tournament, Faarooq is looking much better now, more toned and faster moving. Faarooq takes him to the middle rope with a samoan drop for two. Sable and Sunny tease a catfight and Patterson is like “Wrestling is no place for women!” and sends Sunny to the back as we take a break. Back with Mero countering the Dominator into a backslide for two, but Faarooq puts him down for two and hits the chinlock. Sunset flip gets two for Mero, but Faarooq goes back to the chinlock. Kudos to Pat Patterson for his counts, by the way. Most guest referees look like Bronco Lubich out there but Pat is just bang-bang with the counts. Mero fights out and they head to the top, where Mero brings him down with a rana for two. Sunny returns and leaves her presumably loaded purse for Faarooq, but Mero steals it, knocks him out and finishes with the Shooting Star Press to win his only Intercontinental title at 13:00. This was good for Faarooq. *** Mero gives all glory to Jesus Christ and Mr. Perfect, in that order, for helping him win the title. This was of course kicking off a pretty big angle for him.
Meanwhile, Mero celebrates with the other midcard geek babyfaces in the dressing room.
Meanwhile, Vince McMahon EXPOSES the lies and hypocrisy of Jeff Jarrett’s singing career, not coincidentally a couple of weeks before he was scheduled to debut on Nitro. So next week, we meet the REAL Double J: Jesse Jammes! Wow, what a ratings hook.
Owen Hart & British Bulldog v. The Bodydonnas
Owen pounds on Zip while the crowd suddenly bursts into an ECW chant due to Fonzie running around with a “Sabu Fears Taz” sign at ringside, and they hastily cut to a commercial break. Back with Zip rolling up Bulldog for two, but the champs take over via Owen’s belly to belly suplex. The Bodydonnas quickly get the hot tag and clean house, and Zip gets a Doctor Bomb into a Rocket Launcher for two. Bulldog nails Skip from the outside, Owen puts him down with a leg lariat, and he finishes with the Sharpshooter at 7:00. Fun little match. **1/2
Meanwhile, Undertaker is probably going to buy Mankind alive at the next PPV, to the tune of about 50,000 buys if I remember correctly.
The Stalker v. Hunter Hearst Helmsley
Steve Austin, on commentary, lets us know that he wants to shit on the life of Bret Hart and wishes that his parents would have practiced safe sex to spare us Bret ever being born. Now that’s a heel. This would pretty much have to be the career low for HHH, just before the light at the end of the tunnel started to show. Stalker works the arm, but Hunter tosses him and they have a lethargic brawl outside as Mr. Perfect joins us to continue scouting HHH. We take a break and return with Hunter pounding away in the corner while JR bitches about how long this match is running, thus cutting into his Razor & Diesel time. Austin: “Why the hell does Barry Windham have all that stupid paint on his face? Everyone knows who he is!” Stalker continues slugging away on Hunter and gets a legdrop for two. Kelly: “It’s over!” Austin: “No it ain’t, he’s tougher than that, you damn fool.” Finally Perfect makes his move and steals Hunter’s woman, allowing Stalker to finish a distracted Hunter with the superplex at 10:00. This was terrible, Austin’s commentary aside. ½*
Jim Ross then attempts to salvage one of the stupidest angles in history by going off on an epic rant against the company. He runs down his history with the WWF, starting with his jump in 93 and subsequent firing for his palsy attack, outs Vince McMahon as the owner of the company, and is actually in the process of turning himself babyface with this crazed heel promo. And then he insinuates that he’s been letting guys jump to WCW as an act of sabotage, and introduces Razor Ramon…which kills the crowd. I mean, you could actually hear the last vestiges of hope getting sucked out of the fanbase. Savio Vega runs in to attack “Razor” and we’re off the air without even introducing “Diesel”. So they not only delivered a bait-and-switch on Hall & Nash, but then didn’t deliver the fake people they were promising to deliver!
After weeks of desperate buildup and false promises, their big “fall premiere” angle delivered a pathetic 2.0 rating. And the rest of the shows in this taping would only get worse for them.