Format Note: I’m going to break down the weekly RAW’s by section to try and make it a little easier to follow. Also let me apologize for the tardiness. I would like to say that I’ve been so busy reading about deep and meaningful things and working hard at my job, but that would be a lie. I’ve been goofing off and playing way too much Fifa.
Summerslam is in our rearview mirrors, and changes are a foot. Kevin Kelly, now of RoH, joins Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler on commentary. No Vince, that’s ok with me. I guess he got set up for the ride too often. And this brings us to the start of the Intercontinental Championship Tournament. I love a good tournament. It really adds a "real sports" feel to the event. And this one looks to be a good one, the card is pretty well stacked with talent. It should be an enjoyable run of matches. And our first one kicks off RAW after Summerslam.
The Bracket looks like this:
Off the bat I’d assume Sid walks away with it, he fits the Ahmed Johnson role pretty well and they just got it off a heel (Goldust, who is absent from the tournament) so I doubt they go back to it, especially since two of the heels are facing off round 1. In fact, they are facing off in match #1. Bulldog vs Owen Hart for the first match of the evening. They shake hands before the match and all is good. Decent back and forth, pretty enjoyable match. For some reason however Sunny comes out, a Sunny ex Machina if you will, and distracts Bulldog. She accuses Bulldog of making untoward comments or some such nonsense and in the end tosses a cup of water in his face, leading to his count-out loss and Owen Hart’s advancement. Really kind of a letdown.
(I mean, I guess I get why they, erm… she could be distracting)
The lights start to flicker in and out, its either the ghost of the Undertaker or West Virginia. Probably the latter, someone must have forgotten to feed the hamsters, or got hungry. We come back and Mark Henry’s out signing autographs, being all baby faced and what not. Meanwhile Vader demolishes Freddie Joe Floyd in a squash. Afterwards, Vader confronts Henry and flexes his arms and acts all heelish. Spoiler alert, so far this has gone nowhere so I really don’t get the point. We move quickly along to JR in the ring with Paul Bearer and Mankind. The rip on the Undertaker for a bit until the Druids show up with his body. Taker sits up, the crowd goes absolutely wild, and the badguys run away.
To close the show we get a battle royale to determine who takes Ahmed Johnson’s place in the Championship Friday Match against Shawn Michaels. The last four men in the previous bout get to take part, so we have Vega, Goldust, Sid and Austin. Its an enjoyable if brief match. Goldust attacks Sid before the lights even go on and they all team up to toss Sid out of the ring. Sid, being a Sycho, re-enters the ring and choke slams the lot of them. Savio Vega manages to pull the upset, at least in my eyes, and eliminates Stone Cold, only for Stone Cold to roll back in and attack Savio Vega, leaving him to be eliminated by Goldust. Something tells me Goldie will not be winning Shawn Michaels’ WWF Title on Friday.
(I try to relate wrestlers in my WABAC viewings to WWE guys today. Savio Vega was to 1996 as Kofi Kingston is to 2013)
September 6th 1996- Championship Friday!
Sycho Sid takes on Hunter Hearst "The Jobber" Helmsley. This guy is such a scrub he gets a jobber entrance to RAW. Rough. Anyway, Sid gets a huge pop and towers over the Connecticut Blue Blood, who proceeds to sell Sid like a hammer of the gods. Also, apparently there is a running story where Mr. Perfect walks in and takes the woman who accompanies Helmsley to the ring. He does so again while the Haitch man is getting power bombed. I smell rivalry! Also, I really want Curtis Axel to show up one night and escort Stephanie from ringside while Haitch is going on one of his tangential promos.
Up next, Marc Mero vs Stone Cold, with Brian Pillman on commentary. He hints that Bret Hart will be returning to the WWF. Meanwhile the Mero-Austin match is enjoyable. Shouldn’t be surprising, more of the same. Eventually Austin throws the ref into an oncoming attack from Mero, causing the ref to go down. Austin hits the stunner, but the ref doesn’t buy it and disqualifies Austin, advancing Mero in the tournament, the two battle it out for a bit before the refs come and pull everyone apart. Rinse, repeat.
(Luckily the WWF fixed this issue so a ref could never interfere in a match again)
After the break, my favorite Martian, Jerry Lawler, is in the ring. Mark Henry joins him, and Lawler praises Henry for a moment before dropping this line: "Do you know what the Olympics and Jake Robets have in common? They both got bombed"... You stay classy there Jerry. Anyway, they get at it and Mark Henry promises him a "Gold Medal butt kicking"
(Dare I say, a Gold Medal Wig Splitting?)
And now we get Mankind vs a nobody (Alex "the Pug" Pourteau) who eats a mandible claw (haha) and loses. More important, JR announces that Diesel and Razor Ramon (aka Kevin Nash and Scott Hall) will be returning to the WWF. This seems off to me because as I recall they end up doing something a bit more important over on WCW… anyway, also WWF officials are meeting with some guy named Angle. We come back after a break to Bob Backlund, standing in the center of the ring and talking about the importance of the, and I kid you not, "WWWF" title. And he is going to manage a new star. Then he introduces his new star’s trainer… the Iron Sheik! Because nothing says the 90’s like a bad Arab stereotype. They cut off Sheik mid-rant to go to commercial.
(Oh WWE… you really know how to be subtle with the who race/religion thing)
To finish up the episode we get Goldust with his leading lady against Shawn Michaels. Michaels gets dumped out of the ring, letting both of the heels to get their freak on, with Goldust doing a booty shake after kicking Michaels in the head. However, the match picks up quickly and Michaels gets the win after he counters a Curtain Call (does he still use that?) into a top rope splash. After the match, Mankind makes a run in but Michaels flees, all of it setting up a title match at In Your House #10: Mind Games… which kind of spoils the Goldust-Michaels bit.
September 9th, 1996
Savio Vega gets his first round opponent Farooq in the IC title. Hafez al-Assad’s long lost 3rd (and slightly darker) son gets to be a kicking back for a couple minutes for the athletic Vega, but Farooq gets the win with whatever his finisher is called. Enjoyable match, and Sunny joins us in the ring, calling out Sycho Sid, who Farooq has to face next. Sid comes out and he and Farooq do the meathead thing before the refs run in to separate them. Next; Jose Lethario (en español) and Shawn Michaels cut a generic anti-Cornette promo.
(It may be a new wrestler, or a bad 90’s drama)
The Stalker makes his re-debut- all in camo against some guy with a plunger. We get a Pillman with Owen Hart on the side cam doing a cut in during the match about Brett Hart. Owen and Brett have apparently reconciled. During the match JR is forced to read an apology for making the Ramon-Diesel announcement, because apparently his announcement caused a snag in contract talk. Stalker squashes the guy with a rather ugly looking Superplex. Following this is Crush crushing Freddie Joe Floyd. And a quick match between Undertaker and Salvatore Sincere who has apparently never been defeated. Obviously we know where this is going… chokeslam pin 1-2-3 deadman wins. The only thing of note is Sincere does a little strut before eating his Rest in Peace moment
September 16th 1996
Time to sell me on some Mind Games. We open RAW with Jake Roberts and Jerry Lawler. Yuck. Lawler flees and to take his place is the Iron Sheik, Bob Backlund and "The Sultan". The Sultan apparently is from the Middle East and had his tongue cut out. And now we’re doing WWE tours in Abu Dhabi, so progress in the stereotype department I guess. Jake goes down to the Camel Clutch, and after the match Stone Cold, Brian Pillman and Owen Hart come out and cut another Bret Hart promo.
And now we get the Smoking Gunn’s against Bob Holly and the Pug. During the match, Camp Cornette (Minus Vader) comes down to sit at ringside. Eventually they interfere causing the Tag Team Title holders to lose. After the match, Monsoon once again talks about Hall and Nash not showing up on RAW in a week because they are still under WCW contract. Then we see a workout session with Cornette and some guy who Vader intimidates. Kind of a weird series of bits there setting things up for the future I suppose.
The IC tournament continues, Owen Hart against Marc Mero. Again the cast on Hart’s arm plays a way too big role. Otherwise it’s a fun match. It ends when Hart uses the cast, but Mero kicks out, gets the cast off Hart and slams him in the chest with it. Now… I broke my wrist as a kid and had a cast. It was hard, but there’s no way it was harder than any of the other ridiculous things these guys do to each other. So, I’m ready to send this gimmick to the graveyard. Besides, how much can you really need a cast if you are wrestling this often?
We close out the episode with Farooq vs Sid for the final’s spot against Mero. Farooq hits an absolutely great Body slam, but Sid just jumps right up and does his crazy eyes. They go back and forth for a while, enjoyable, until Sid counters a finish attempt into a Chokeslam. Farooq rolls out of the ring, grabs a chair and wails on Sid while the ref is distracted by Sunny and her two friends. Sid however survives, counters and smashes Farooq with a chair just as the ref turns around, and gets a Disqualification for his troubles. That’s it then, Farooq vs Mero in the finals after In Your House 10: Mind Games.
(BAW GOD, HE BROKE THAT PANDA IN HALF)