(Originally written March 2015. Nitro was of course pre-empted for The Civil War, which is the documentary and not the real thing that pre-empts wrestling shows in 2021, so RAW is flying solo this time.)
The Smark Rant for Monday Night RAW – 03.04.96
I am normally a big fan of the original content on the network. The wrestlemania rewind and rivalries especially. But it seems like they haven’t had any new content outside of the occasional old raw or nitro. With the current product so bad you would think they would want to keep pumping out new episodes of those types of shows.
Any reason for this outside of no one knows what they are doing?
Calling the upload schedule for old RAW and Nitro shows “occasional” is being rather liberal with the term, I think. I’d lean towards “few and far between”. But hey, they’ve managed to slash costs to almost nothing while getting almost the number of subscribers they need to break even over the course of two years, so I guess we’re the ones who don’t know what we’re doing, right? Besides, as I’ve said many times, my $10 a month is justified many, many times over by NXT, pumping out old TV show reviews as content for the blog for you suckers (I watch shitty TV shows for an hour each night and MAKE MONEY OFF IT!), and any PPV that isn’t total garbage, so I’m way ahead on the deal even $120 into this thing.
Speaking of which…
Taped from Cincinnati, OH
Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler
Shawn Michaels v. The 1-2-3 Kid
Sadly, we enter the last hurrah for the Clique, as Kevin Nash gives notice the day after this show airs and signs with that stinky Billionaire Ted. Kid works a headlock and puts Shawn down with a spinkick for two, but stops to mock him and Shawn rolls him up for two. Shawn with a PRESS SLAM and he puts Kid on the floor with a clothesline. Shawn with the headlock and a powerslam for two as the Xbone gets so unwatchable that I actually have to stop the match and switch to the Roku, which thankfully plays without incident. Kid with another spinkick and he puts Shawn out with a dropkick, then follows with a springboard bodyblock, and even Ted Dibiase gets involved with some cheapshots! Man, he typically doesn’t make any physical contact around this point in his career. Shawn heads back in and goes to the corner, so Kid dropkicks him into the turnbuckle for two and we take a break. Back with Kid in control with the chinlock, and he puts Shawn down with another spinkick for two. Vince notes that there’s no such thing as waltzing through a match on RAW. Fandango of course being the exception. Collision and both guys are out, but Shawn makes the comeback with a moonsault press and the flying forearm. Flying elbow sets up the superkick as you can really see Shawn establishing his rhythm that he would maintain for the next 20 years. Kid ducks the superkick and goes up for the flying legdrop, but that misses and the superkick finishes at 12:43. Good finish. ***1/2 Shawn dancing with a little girl in the ring afterwards is just the kind of pandering crap that killed his babyface run, though. Well, that and Jose Lothario.
Piper’s Pit, starring Goldust, as he and Marlena take over the old set and this feud gets increasingly weird. Not just because the initial challenge was thrown down by Razor Ramon on the live show two weeks ago, and now they’re crafting this Goldust-Piper feud out of nothing via pre-taped bits like this and inset phone interviews.
Ultimate Warrior will return at Wrestlemania!
Hakushi v. Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw
And here’s another notable RAW debut for a guy you wouldn’t have suspected would still be around two decades later. Young Mr. Layfield is in fact almost a dead ringer for Chris Hero here. Body-wise as well. Bradshaw pounds away and no-sells Hakushi’s comeback attempt while doing his best Stan Hansen impression. He pounds away in the corner and cuts off Hakushi with a big boot, then powerslams him on the floor as he just brutally squashes the poor schmuck. Back in, the Clothesline from Hell finishes at 4:00. I’d like to say Bradshaw got better, but really he didn’t. Future WWE champion, ladies and gentlemen. * Speaking of Stan Hansen, your funny story from this week in history sees Johnny Ace sending Titan a tape of a match involving himself and Hansen and Misawa, looking for a job as a Texas Ranger character, and getting turned down cold. Maybe he should have stuck with the Dynamic Dudes footage.
Speaking of future WWE champions, Mankind wants us all to have a nice day, even though it appears he himself is not having one.
Bret Hart v. Hunter Hearst Helmsley
Hunter’s arm candy seems particularly vacuous and oh-so-thrilled to be there. Hunter attacks in the corner and slugs away, but Bret clotheslines him out of the corner and goes to a top wristlock. Shawn comes to ringside and has a seat as we take a break. Back with Bret working on the arm as I suspect they didn’t actually edit anything out of the match. Hunter tosses Bret, who has words with Shawn, and Vince suspects that Shawn and Hunter might be in cahoots together. WHAT? No way. Puh-leaze. As if. Hunter whips Bret into the corner to take over, and he USES THE KNEE for two. And we take a break, returning with Hunter on top before landing on Bret’s foot. Bret comes back with the atomic drop and bulldog, and middle rope elbow for two. Hunter with a rollup for two, but Bret dumps him and they brawl on the floor. Back in, Hunter stupidly dives into a Sharpshooter and submits at 12:20. I’d give the match a 4/10, but it was a pretty good one. *** And wasn’t Hunter supposed to be undefeated going against Warrior at Wrestlemania?
Tee Vee Trivia with Billionaire Ted. And we’re back to the mean-spirited Ted Turner stuff, as they take out of context quotes from him and make him sound like a racist. This does have the home run gag, however, as they question where the Huckster is and we cut to him in an abandoned arena, still handcuffed from that episode of Nitro! Now THAT’S comedy.
Much better show this week, to say the least. Two good matches and the historic debut of JBL as Stan Hansen’s Mini Me.