The SmarK Rant for WWF Monday Night RAW – 07.15.96
Taped from Green Bay, WI, thankfully for the last show from this cycle.
Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler
Intercontinental title: Ahmed Johnson vs. Bart Gunn
Pretty long stall to start and Ahmed controls with hiptosses until Bart cheats to take over. Bart goes to work on the arm and man isn’t that thrilling. Ahmed fights out of the hammerlock and misses a charge, which gives Bart two. Aaaaaaaaand…Bart goes back to working on the arm again. Ahmed gets a powerslam for two and we take a break, returning with Bart back in control with a flying bulldog for two. However, Ahmed has had enough and finishes with the spinebuster and Pearl River Plunge at 13:40 just like that. Frankly I’m shocked they had enough “highlights” to put together a replay at the end. It was literally all Bart lying on the mat working on an armbar for 10 minutes. *
Marc Mero vs. TL Hopper
Yes, it’s the RAW debut of Tony Anthony, the wrestling plumber. Astonishingly, they actually have footage of Hopper going over Duke Droese, which must be the only win the poor guy ever had on record. As noted many times by smart-ass online fans at the time, a plumber would be making WAY more than a low-level WWF guy at the time would be making, so why would he care about being a wrestler? They trade headlocks and Hopper beats Mero down off a cheapshot and works him over to a dead silent crowd. Meanwhile Lawler and Vince make butt crack jokes like it’s the funniest thing ever. I know this character was never intended to get over, but this has to be an epic low even by 1996 RAW standards. We take a break and return with Hopper hitting a legdrop for two, but he misses a splash and Mero comes back with a flying headscissors and the KO punch for the pin at 10:25. This RAW crowd might be one of the worst ever. Nothing as a match, but Hopper was at least trying to do his best with a shitty gimmick. Pun intended. *1/2
And now, a special look at Undertaker, as they need to stretch this show out for another 5:00 to make up for the Ultimate Warrior bits edited out.
WWF World title: Shawn Michaels vs. Billy Gunn
Vince offers condolences to Bret Hart on the death of his nephew Matt, who died about the worst way that a human being can: Flesh eating bacteria. I would not wish that shit on my worst enemy. So obviously Bret had a lot of heavy stuff on his mind at this point. They trade headlocks to start as Billy really starts to develop the cocky heel persona that would get him over a year later, but Shawn dumps him and gets a sunset flip for two. Billy runs away from a superkick and Shawn chases Sunny around the ring, pretending to be a sex-craved pervert. Yeah, pretending, that’s the ticket. Shawn comes off the top rope and gets caught coming down, but Shawn takes Billy down and posts him. Slingshot clothesline and Shawn slugs away on the mat, but Billy clotheslines him to the floor to take over. We take a break and return with Shawn fighting out of a chinlock, but Billy elbows him down for two. Billy works the back while Vince tries to take another break but has to argue with Sunny and Lawler for a minute instead, and then we take our second break as Billy hits a bulldog. Back with Shawn making the comeback with his usual stuff and a flying elbow to set up the superkick. And indeed, that finishes at 15:24. The crowd at least got a little bit excited for Shawn at the end. **1/4
Meanwhile, they insert a new pre-taped segment in the back, with Camp Cornette attacking Shawn before Sid drives in to make the save. This was actually supposed to make us buy a PPV.
The Pulse Yes indeed, this was the go-home show for International Incident, which I believe set the new record low for PPV buys or close to it. Thankfully, more interesting things happen next week.