The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 08.12.96
Taped from Seattle, WA. God, even if they would have switched to a 2-week cycle at this point it would have made these shows so much more bearable and gave them more leeway to deal with stuff like Ahmed blowing out a kidney and basically ending his push.
Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler.
For those keeping track of the downward spiral, this was one of the lowest rated episodes of RAW in history and Vince pretty much went nuts over it. I think at 2.0, it might have been THE lowest up until that point, although the Germany show eventually beat it out.
Faarooq Asaad v. Skip
So this is Faarooq’s wrestling debut in the WWF, and he just totally no-sells everything from Skip and beats on him in very laid-back manner. The headpiece just looks completely ridiculous for someone who was supposed to be a serious threat. Faarooq with a powerslam and he cuts off a brief Skip comeback with another powerslam, and then finishes with the Dominator at 4:35, which had no name at that point. Just a total squash of poor Candido. I’d say the writing was on the wall at that point, if his girlfriend being higher on the totem pole wasn’t enough of a clue for him. DUD
Savio Vega v. Crush
Our future Nation of Domination theme continues as Crush debuts his jailbird look, many years before ripping off Sons of Anarchy probably would have made him a star with that look. New look aside, this is the same old Brian Adams. He beats on Savio and tosses him outside the ring for a slam into the stairs. Back in, he goes to a lengthy neck vice and we take a break to cool off this crazy train of action. Back with more restholds from Crush as Clarence Mason has a ridiculously inane conversation with Vince on commentary about legal matters and you can practically see the crowd leaving for the bathroom by the dozens. Savio misses his leg lariat and Crush finishes with a full nelson at 7:50. Who the fuck would give this guy a job after that match? -**
Meanwhile, we get a silhouette of Sunny behind a screen, which was hyped up all show long as “The naked truth” as though they were going to have full nudity on the show or something.
Meanwhile, new guy Kevin Kelly has a sitdown interview with Ahmed Johnson at his home following kidney surgery. Now there’s a job I wouldn’t envy. You could literally edit this however you wanted and Ahmed’s responses would probably all sound the same anyway.
The Godwinns v. TL Hopper & Who
2.0 rating, ladies and gentlemen. Bob Backlund joins us on commentary to really ramp up the trainwreck factor here from “mildly offensive” to “coal car full of dynamite running into a fireworks factory and the earth caving in from the explosion.” Just to recap, we have Backlund running for President while Lawler makes jokes about Jake Roberts and Vince does the “Who” routine. When the guy who carries a plunger to the ring is the dignified one, you’re watching some bullshit. Who and Hopper double-team Phineas while Backlund rants about whatever the fuck he’s going on about this week. The highlight is people stopping AIDS with condominiums and even Vince gives up trying to rein him in. The camera just totally ignores the match and watches Backlund yelling at Vince instead. The upshot of this, by the way, is that Backlund is bringing someone into the WWF, which ended up being Fatu repackaged as The Sultan. And then Gorilla pops in to vacate the IC title as everyone just totally pays no attention to the match going on. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. Someone finishes someone else with a Slop Drop at 5:40, if anyone gives a fuck. DUD
Meanwhile, Bret Hart chats with Mr. Perfect on the WRESTLE VESSEL, and his career might be over. Or not. Give him a couple of months to make up his mind. I mean, maybe if Vince offered him a 20 year contract or something…
Shawn Michaels v. Owen Hart
By this point the crowd is noticeably emptying out on the wide shots and the canned heat is ridiculously overdubbed. Shawn dominates with his wacky babyface offense to start and works a headlock, as I check the Observer and find this week’s notable newsbite: “There’s nothing at all to the rumors of negotiations with Too Cold Scorpio. Simply a story that had no truth to it, not that it couldn’t happen someday.” Didn’t he debut as Flash Funk like two or three weeks after this? It was pretty soon because he was at Survivor Series. Shawn controls with an armbar while Vince stresses that Vader is a MASTODON so many times that I wonder why he didn’t just change the name like he wanted to. Shawn reverses Owen into the turnbuckles, but walks into a belly to belly and Owen takes over as we take a break. Back with Owen working on the back and hitting the leg lariat for two. We take another break and return with Shawn making his comeback with the flying elbow before Vader runs in, at which point Shawn pins Owen with two superkicks anyway at 13:41. The overdubbed cheering for the messed up finish is just ludicrous and sounds so fake. Usual Shawn TV match. **1/2 I have to say, if Shawn was going over at Summerslam on Sunday anyway and getting beat up by Vader after this match, why not just have him do a job to Owen? I mean, I KNOW why, but no wonder fans were turning on Shawn in droves at this point.
Well, next week the IC title tournament starts, and you know how I feel about tournaments. Unfortunately we’re getting close to some dark, DARK times for this promotion. This show was a completely throwaway hour of junk.