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Attitude Era Raw Review: Bring on the Ringmaster

Come take a trip through time as we kick off looking back at the Raws of the Attitude Era with the January 8, 1996 episode that sees the debut one of wrestling's most trans-formative figures, Bret bleeding all over the place, and a sprinkling of Goldust.

Moses Robinson/Getty Images

With the New Year upon us, I feel it is time to take a closer look on one of the most influential eras of all time- the Attitude Era.

The Attitude Era is arguably the most beloved time in wrestling’s history.  We will kick off our trip back in time with the first Raw of 1996.  A very vital Raw to the Attitude Era as it sees the debut of the era's most important figure- Stone Cold Steve Austin.  Although we don't get him in the form we all know and love, part of the fun of this trip down memory lane will be the exploration of his evolution alongside that of the promotion.

Jeff Jarrett vs Hakushi
  • Of course we have to start things off with Jeff Jarrett and boy does he look ridiculous.  He appears to be a country western flying squirrel.  It doesn’t get much better when he takes off the jacket and has some weird ribboned suspenders.
  • Background here is Jeff Jarrett was gunning for a Royal Rumble spot, but since he attacked Ahmed Johnson with a guitar and a chair (with the help of Lawler) they will square off one on one at the Rumble.
  • The match is a relatively quick affair that sees a lot of back and forth before Jarrett ends things with a figure four leg lock to secure the victory. Hakushi was bringing it on his end of things, it’s just a shame that he was opposite of Double J. Hakushi was really wasted during his time with the company.
  • Segment Grade: C
It's Vader Time (soon)
  • With the Rumble just a couple of weeks away JR hypes up the entrants- mostly pedestrian with the exception of one man.
  • That’s right Vader Time is coming, complete with crazed training montage and 90’s graphics all over the place.  I’m a mark for old school training montages so…
  • Segment Grade: A

Ahmed Johnson vs Jeff Bettler
  • Johnson squashes a jobber who is rocking curtain pants.  Nothing to see here.
  • After the match, Jarrett tries to attack Johnson with his guitar (that Lawler keeps pointing out was given to him by Garth Brooks) and fails as Johnson dodges the attack.  Jarrett quickly bails after his failed attack, so Johnson proceeds to bust up the guitar.  This feud is certainly thrilling.
  • Segment Grade: F
The Crowning of the Million Dollar Champion
  • Ted DiBiase is out with Brother Love to announce the crowning of the new Million Dollar Champion- The Ringmaster aka Steve Austin.
  • The Ringmaster then gets the chance to cut himself a  This promo demonstrates flashes of the genius that is to come once Austin becomes Stone Cold, but also doesn't do him any favors to the opinions at the time that he was just a great worker thanks to his gratuitous use of the word man in this promo.
  • Segment Grade: C
Goldust vs Aldo Montoya
  • Well we are in for another squash here folks as Goldust is on his way to an Intercontinental Championship shot against Razor Ramon.  Oddly enough they let Goldust just beat on Montoya until the last 30 seconds.  Not sure I quite get why the gave Montoya that last bit of offense.  Never the less, Goldust made this mildly amusing.
  • Segment Grade: D
HBK has an announcement
  • Things now cut to an HBK press conference where he is looking quite down and out.  With tearful eyes he informs us that the doctors are advising him that he shouldn't be wrestling and despite their advice he is entering the Royal Rumble.  The ladies in the crowd go nuts for the announcement.
  • Really fun bit that almost made me forget what time frame this is and actually got me thinking that this was his retirement.  Well done.
  • Segment Grade: A
Bret Hart vs the British Bulldog
  • Well our main event for this Raw will be the main event from the most recent ppv In Your House: Season Beatings. Sorry if you bought the ppv a couple of weeks before this, lucky for those that didn't because this a damn fine- if inconsistent, match.
  • Things kick off with a very uneven and largely pedestrian match, but once it kicks into gear it really takes off. Bret ups the intensity when he blades on the outside and just leaves blood all over the place for the rest of the match.
  • Unfortunately once they have really built things up, they end on a lame note with the finish being Bret getting the boot up on a charging Bulldog in the corner and then hitting a roll up for the pinfall.  Overall though its still a four star match so....
  • Segment Grade A
Billionaire Ted takes ideas
  • To end the show we get Billionaire Ted taking advice from his lackeys, Hulkster, and Nacho Man on ideas for a new slogan.  After debating the various slogans and taking their shots about stealing WWF's slogans, Nacho Man brings up that they don't have to take a legitimate drug test since they aren't in WWF anymore.  Oh that is just so rich....
  • Segment Grade: F
Well that was certainly an up and down show to start things.  A lot of nothing matches, the debut of a trans-formative figure and one four star match that wasn't even originally designated for Raw.  The good mostly outweighed the bad though when it came to the amount taken up on the show thanks to a quality ppv match.

Overall Grade: B

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