Last week in our WABAC machine we visited 1996’s King of the Ring. This week, we travel through the month of June 1996 from RAW to RAW until we reach International Incident, where no doubt there will be an incident, and it will not be contained to our nation’s borders. And so we get into it with the King of the Ring Fallout RAW on June 24, 1996.
(Semi-serious question. What kind of pop do you think Ahmed Johnson would get for a surprise return? First ever African American singles-champion and all-around hard to understand guy perfectly molded at the time into what Vince McMahon loved.)
We open post-KotR with newly minted IC Champion Ahmed Johnson (above) taking on some guy named Hunter (what a dumb name) in a non-title match. The long haired Hunter Hearst Helmsley (gosh that’s a hard name to say, can’t see him having much success with a name like that) does the job and Ahmed looks strong. I kind of like the Pearl River Plunge, not the greatest finisher but still enjoyable. We then get a very confusing promo playing up Ahmed’s ethnicity. During the match we also got a Goldust promo about Undertaker, which is also weird. Production value improvements really help a lot.
Up next we get the um… Bobby Donnas? Body Donors? Body Adonis? Two big bleach blonde dudes in a tag team match named Skip and Zip (seriously) who apparently had a contest to become their manager after Sunny left them for the Gunns. Sunny and her plunging neckline are with Vince and Jerry on commentary. Meanwhile the Body Dawners have Kloudy who is clearly a dude dressed as a girl. They face off against the Brooklyn Brawler and someone (wiki tells me it’s Jerry Fox) and defeat them.
(The British know it to be true, men dressed as women= always funny)
We get another Jim Cornette on commentary (then off, then on again, then off again, etc.) match with Camp Cornette taking on a 3 man tag team of Aldo Montoya, Savio Vega and someone else (wiki again tells me its Barry Horowitz). It’s a match themed to set up with 3 on 3 tag team at International Incident, Camp Cornette vs Shawn Michaels, Ahmed Johnson and Ultimate Warrior. Needless to say, the Heels go over the jobbers. Our final match is a big one, Stone Cold vs the Undertaker. Kind of a slug fest for awhile, honestly had no idea how they were going to play this one out but in the end they go with interference. Taker wins via DQ when Goldust (on commentary) sprays something into Taker’s face to further their set up for the International Incident PPV.
(He was such a jobber, I'm not sure they even announced who he was.)
We move on to July and Shawn Michaels gets to kick some New Rockers. More play with Cornette in his upcoming battle against the Champions, pretty forgettable all around really. This RAW is easy to skip as the next match sees Mankind Mandible someone I don’t know if we’ll ever see again. Also, Goldust wins because women are doing stuff on the sideline. The real importance of this episode is that it really starts to get on my nerves to listen to Jerry Lawler. Seriously, the guy makes about a dozen "Jake Roberts is a drunk" jokes a night. And I know it’s part of the heel persona, but it’s the same sort of stuff we get now. He sets himself up and then repeats the punch line two or three times. I really feel like AJ Lee needs to buy a time machine and verbally castrate Lawler from 20 years in the future.
Onto week 3, we get the Ultimate Warrior again. Apparently he’s on Double Secret Probation for failing to show up to house shows. He can get back to wrestling once someone posts a bond for him. I don’t know what the difference between Kayfabe and reality was back then so I assume this is all part of the schtick. But it certainly casts doubt on his International Incident appearance. Warrior does get to open the show, winning via DQ when Camp Cornette interferes with his match against Owen Hart. The bad guys send Warrior out with a beat down.
(After defeating Ultimate Warrior, The Man They Call Vader decided to make Topanga cry.)
Up next we get a Savio Vega vs "Real American" Justin Bradshaw (w/ Zebakiah Coulter). For some reason Brian Pillman is there and he’s annoying but worthless, and for some other reason after the match we have a call with Mr. Perfect to talk about who is going to replace Ultimate Warrior. And we close out the show with the Cornette crew taking out the Godwinns in typical heely fashion. Then we get our big reveal for the Warrior’s replacement. It’s none other than Psycho Sid. Sid garbles something in a rant-y sort of fashion to close the show. Big muscle bound dude who can’t really talk well? Sounds like a great replacement for Warrior.
And now we reach our In Your House 9 Go Home Show- double the home-ness, double the fun. Actually, it’s a pretty uneventful RAW. Ahmed and Shawn Michaels both get wins (over the Gunns) and Marc Mero "Wild Man" that is he beat some guy. And for some reason, Goldust sent Sable a golden box. I have no idea why or if it has any real meaning. But it was a thing and it happened. Then Cornette threw something into Ahmed’s face after his match, leading to the heroes chasing the heels into the parking lot for a good old fashioned ambush followed by Psycho Sid save.
(Remember when WWF posters were really awesome and all about selling the PPV? Yeah neither does 1996.)
So, we have now reached WWF’s trip to my house. It’s a going to be a problem because my house isn’t that big. The first match is Savio Vega taking on Justin "Hawk" Bradshaw w/ Uncle big beard. Zeb and his cattle brand help Bradshaw get the win. Then after the match they put a beat down on Vega and –drape a don’t tread on me flag- brand him.
Our next match is the Smoking Gunns taking on the Booty Dramas. And apparently Sunny, as the manager of the Gunns, decided against making it a title match. Apparently Gorilla Monsoon is an even less effective General Manager then Hornswoggle under the ring, because this means there are no title matches on the card. Anyway, the Bad Guys get their comeuppance after Billy Gunn tries to cheat and help from outside the ring, and following the tried and true WWF/E method it means they’ll probably get a title shot later on down the road. Next up Mankind defeated one of the Godwinns and predictably wins. Because Mankind won, you need to go listen to "Ode to Freud." Really an awesome exit theme.
(Seriously, creepy right there.)
Stone Cold and Marc Mero put on another good back and forth match, I enjoyed the end specifically. Mero was up on Stone Cold, before Austin shook him off, sending him split-legged onto the ropes. Then Mero survives an attempted Stunner, turns it into a big hit himself, but Austin survives, takes out Mero’s leg and then jumps up into a stunner for the win. All around enjoyable finish. Up next Taker and Goldust have another good match. Taker hits the Tombstone, but as he goes for the pin up pops Mankind. Mankind emerges from one corner of the ring, ripping through the fabric and dragging Undertaker down. Undertaker pops up from the other end and the two fight their way out of the arena. What really makes this scene is that some little kid near the microphone absolutely loses it and starts bawling. At least, that’s what it sounds like.
And now we get to our Main Event. Well first actually someone from the audience puts a Burger King crown on Jerry Lawler, causing him to absolutely loses his mind about it. Shawn Michaels, Ahmed Johnson and Sid come out to take on Camp Cornette (TMTC Vader, British Bulldog and the other Hart). It’s a long match, and worthy of top billing. Each of the heroes gets their chance to show off, including Sid hitting a Choke Slam on Vader (and then Hart and Bulldog). The end is nice and mess like you expect. Ahmed is taken out by both Bulldog and Owen Hart. Sid rushes over to try and make the save while Jim Cornette distracts Michaels. Michaels turns the tables on Vader’s attempted tennis serve and nearly gets the three count. Cornette however saves Vader from the Sweet Chin Music, allowing the Big Van Man to get Michaels down for the Vader Splash and the win.
(TLR- Tables Ladders and Rackets)