We open RAW on 9/23/96 with a still of the allegedly Hall and Nash attacking Savio Vega backstage at mind games. Then we’re immediately into Marc Mero vs Farooq for the Intercontinental championship. It’s a good match and our first big spot comes when Farooq hits a Samoan Drop from the 2nd rope, really impressively. Pat Patterson our special ref, is really slow… like painfully slow on his counts. Like I’m afraid he may have broken something.
Sunny gets quickly ejected, but later returns when both men are down and gets into a fight with Sable- because that’s what she does. Patterson rolls out of the ring to deal with it allowing Farooq to grab Sunny’s purse and try and go after Mero, but Mero reverses and takes Farooq down with a smack from the purse? Ok... Mero hits the splash from the top rope and wins 1-2-3. Sunny retrieves her purse and reveals a brick that was in it. Now bear with me on a logic question here. If you can get DQ’ed for swinging a purse at someone, or you can get DQ’ed for swinging a brick at someone, why bother hiding the brick?
Anyway, Mero wins! They totally sell the title like it’s a real thing- which is totally refreshing and I enjoy it a great deal. Mero thanks God (who would later go on to tag team with Shawn Michaels) and the fans and Sable. After the break all the faces are celebrating with Mero backstage.
(Bigger Heel Turn: Hogan at Bash or God at Noah’s Ark?)
Now we get a bit of a flash back. Apparently Jeff Jarrett lost the Intercontinental title to Shawn Michaels some time earlier in Memphis. And a few years ago he had a match against Michaels, before the match he apparently song some sort of country rock song. But it is revealed that in fact someone else sang his hit song "With my baby tonight". I could not care less. Like seriously, wtf kind of angle is this? Anytime anyone complains about something in the current WWE I’m going to point to this.
Up next we get the Body Donnas vs Hart and Bulldog w/ Clarence Mason who apparently tricked Cornette into signing over Hart and Bulldog to him after Cornette went down to Jose Lotharia. During the start of the match we get some more ECW chants- and then Taz shows up ringside with a sign. I’m not sure it was planned because Bulldog starts yelling at him and the screen goes black for a while. When we cut back in the heels dominate with the faces putting up a good fight. The faces make a comeback, but a knee to the back of Z/Sk/ip from Bulldog puts the faces in a bind and lets Hart hit a kick followed up by a sharpshooter for the win.
Up next we get a Undertaker promo about the upcoming PPV- Its going to feature a buried alive match against Mankind . We also get the Playstation sponsored smash of the week- featuring Crash Bandicoot! Up next is Stone Cold on commentary jawing with Lawler about Bret Hart. Austin makes a "his parents should have used a condom" joke.
(Or his Hawaiian Heel persona- Crush Bandicoot… with added Face Tatoo (DLC) )
Hunter Hearst Helmsley comes out against "The Stalker", Mr. Aitch is squashed for while, but eventually puts together a comeback attempt. But then Curtis Axel Sr. shows up and escorts the Connecticut Blue Blood’s debutante out of the arena. When Helmsley tries to get out to stop Mr. Perfect, the Stalker recovers and gets the win. I guess this is going to be a thing as well. Just weird angles all around tonight.
And to close the show, Good Ole’ JR take center ring and shoots on Vince for a while. You’ve heard it I’m sure, but if you haven’t just re-read Keith Harris’ excellent review of his career (at least read the pre-1996 parts) here.
This is all a set up for a Razor Ramon/Diesel interview. To summarize: JR left Atlanta to become the primary Play by Play man in the WWF, the crowd cheers. JR is pissed about the Toga at WM9. He then rips into Vince and tells the story about his Bell Palsy and the indictment. JR Takes credit for the return of WCW stars. But apparently it’s a fake Razor Ramon and Savio Vega attacks him. That’s right, he’s not the real Razor Ramon… now you’d think that Savio Vega, his ally, would be able to recognize that it was a fake Ramon. But I suppose guys from the Eastern Shore of Maryland all look alike to him.
(That 90’s chest hair, gets you every time)
Up next…September 30th, 1996
Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Jake Roberts opens the show, but all the talk is about JR. Jake dominates Austin. But then goes after Lawler who is on commentary, letting Austin have time to recover. The match continues with JR bitching about his job. Austin survives a DDT from Roberts by getting to the rope, Lawler meanwhile spits a bottle of booze onto Roberts. This allows Stone Cold to recover, hit the Stunner and win. Afterwards Savio Vega makes the save for Roberts from an attempted Lawler assault. I’m not really sure why Savio Vega is Mr. Run In, but it’s good work for an immigrant so I’m sure he’s happy to take it.
We comeback after commercial, Helmsley is out there talking about his Fustration with Mr. Perfect. He calls Curtis Axel Sr. out for a fight. We get the introduction of the Grimm twins, Jared and Jason with Helmsley on commentary. The Grimms take on the Godwinns. It’s a quick and meaningless match that the Godwinns win, Mr. Perfect accepts Helmsley’s challenge. After the match it is revealed that the real singer of Jeff Ja-double r-e- double t’s song was none other than the Roadie… Jessie James. I guess this is the thing.
Out next, Fake Razor Ramon against Savio Vega with Gorilla Monsoon on the commentary desk. The two of them put on an average match while Monsoon and JR go back and forth. Then out comes Diesel… ish… ok Fake Diesel, but gosh he looks kind of familiar. I’m not sure where I’ve seen him before. Anyway they team up and get DQ’ed but then lay out Vega after the match.
And then we get more manager stuff. Michaels and Jose Lothario vs Vader and Cornette- Vader is strong to start, but Michaels turns it and pulls Vader’s legs splayed straight into the ring post but doesn’t get DQ’ed… because reasons? I swear I don’t understand DQ rules anymore. Vader recovers and crushes Michaels- tags in Cornette for the free pin, but Michaels makes the tag to Lothario. Lothario beats up on Cornette, but Cornette escapes and Vader comes in. Lothario escapes and tags Michaels in. Michaels counters a Vader Bomb with a knee to the gut, sets up the Sweet Chin Music, but Vader counters by catching the kick eventually getting into a Vader Power Bomb which he transitions into the Vader (splash-y) Bomb in the corner and a Vader pin for the win. Vader goes for the attack but Sycho Sid makes the run in (poor Savio Vega). Then for reasons unknown Goldust runs in to attack Sid, Michaels recovers and the show ends with the heroes attacking the heels and driving them from the ring.
(Will Make Face Run-Ins for food)
October 7th, 1996
We get to start with Marc Mero again, this time vs Fake Deisel w/Jim Ross as his pseudo manager- it’s a forgettable match. Diesel sure has a familiar looking move set, like I think I’m beginning to figure out where I’ve seen this guy before... JR refers to him as a 7 foot Monster. Aha, I’ve got it. He is a seven foot Monster, or maybe he’s the devil’s favorite demon? Razor Ramon comes out during the match and Mero leaves to attacks Ramon. Ramon and Diesel then turn on Mero and lay him out. I guess this is a what they’re going to be doing all the time. Such a disorderly bunch, kind of like that book about that teen gang by S. E. Hinton. Anyone remember what that book was called?
(Such a rad group of Wrestlers)
Up next, the Smoking Gunns vs the New Rockers. Billy Gunn loses it as the audience starts chanting Sunny’s name. It’s another So-so match, not really engaging because they nevre really get going. The Gunns win via the Sidewinder. Then we get another thing about this Jeff Jarrett song issue. Jesse James is hanging out in a sound room with Jim Johnston, WWF/E super creater, on guitar. And then we get a JR interview with Cornette and Vader- apparently the Vader vs. Sid match will determine the #1 contender for the WWF Championship.
Bob Backlund, the Iron Sheik and the Sultan come out. Sultan is taking on Aldo Montoya. Its your standard fast guy vs big guy match. Bob Backlund goes ape-shit on commentary for some reason because Bob is Bob. Then we get Goldust vs Sycho Sid as a follow up from the Goldust run in against Sid earlier. Sid is down for a bit, but then he hits a comes back and crushes Goldust with Cornette on commentary. Afterwards Vader assaults Sid, but Sid stands back up with crazy eyes and drives Vader out with a choke slam.
(They didn’t call him Sycho for nothing)
October 14th, 1996
We open up with Vader vs Phineas Godwinn it is a predictable squash for Vader. Then Mr. Perfect gets interviewed by JR in the ring about his upcoming match with Helmsley, nothing really new comes out in this discussion. Then we get King on the mic in the center of the ring while JR complains about Vince McMahon. Jake comes out, he looks like a drunkard- all disheveled with a bottle in his hand. But then Jake reveals to Monsoon that he’s sober, and Lawler doesn’t realize it. This kind of ruins the swerve, but whatever. So Jake DDT’s him in a heartbeat for the pin and the win. Then Jake pours whiskey all over Lawler and drops the snake on him to cause Lawler to flee.
(Where’s PETA when you need it?)
Up next we get Helmsley vs Freddie Joe Floyd. Helmsley handcufss his girl to the ring post to keep her from leaving with Mr. Perfect. H-Man starts to get beat up on by Floyd, Perfect shows up, produces a key to the handcuffs and leaves with the lady. He then gives the key to a security guard and walks out. Helmsley hits the pedigree on Floyd, but doesn’t get the three count because he wants to chase down Perfect, who slugs him and causes the Blue Blooded one to lose via count-out.
We end the show with two more matches, first its Farooq vs a jobber. During the match I learn that heel JR is not an enjoyable JR. He’s really annoying and I am reminded of modern day JBL or pre-heart attack Michael Cole. Anyway, Farooq squashes jobber. Then we close with Stone Cold vs HBK. It’s a really enjoyable wrestling match. Eventually HBK starts to take over, but Vader enters the ring and attacks the Kid... Savio Vega runs in for the save but eats a Stunner from Austin, then Sid enters and Vader retreats to close out the show. Off to Bury someone alive!