What the World Was Watching: WWF Monday Night Raw – January 15, 1996

Monday Night Raw

-Vince McMahon discusses Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.

-They use my favorite stock music to hype the Undertaker-Isaac Yankem D.D.S. main event and Goldust’s interview. Also, we get some nice shots of Sunny so this is great.

-They change up the Raw intro, which gives the product an edgier feel. I’ll miss seeing the superstars brawl on top of Titan Towers, though.

-Opening Contest: Marty Jannetty vs. Owen Hart (w/Jim Cornette):

Both men show off their technical wrestling skills at the beginning of the match and Jannetty catches Owen with a clothesline for two. Chinlock time (at 1:20?), but Owen gets out and delivers a belly-to-belly suplex. Owen pounds away, but Jannetty gets a reverse body press off the second rope for two. Owen comes back with an enziguri for two and it’s chinlock time again. Jannetty escapes, but can’t go on the offensive. Owen delivers a gutwrench suplex for two and we go to a commercial break.

When we return, Owen puts his head down too early and Jannetty drives it into the canvas. Jannetty makes the comeback and clotheslines Owen over the top rope. Jannetty tries to suplex Owen back in, but Owen floats over and traps Jannetty in a half nelson bridge cradle for the pin at 5:10. I liked the clean finish. A good TV match between these two, but I’d expect nothing less. Grade: C

-Todd Pettengill hypes this Sunday’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view and the new Free For All show that will air on the Preview Channel prior to the event. On the Free For All, the two wrestlers who draw blanks when they draw for numbers in the Royal Rumble will face each other with the loser getting #1 and the winner getting #30. I’m surprised they haven’t brought back this concept because it was a good one.

-Sunny plays pool and says she and everyone else likes it Raw.

-The Ringmaster (w/Ted DiBiase) vs. Matt Hardy:

This is Steve Austin’s first Raw match and I’m not going to type “Ringmaster” because my subconscious won’t allow me to do it. Matt gets a near-fall from a headlock sequence, but Austin catches him with a Lou Thesz press and unloads. Austin argues with the referee and Matt gets a fluke sunset flip for two. Austin pounds away for a while and a knee drop gets two. Austin puts his head down too early and Matt unloads, but falls victim to an inverted suplex. Austin picks him up after two and chokes away. Austin crotches himself on the second rope when he tries to jump on Matt, but Matt runs into a hot shot and a Million Dollar Dream gets the win at 4:13. This match got off to a good start, but went downhill really fast. Four minute squash matches are always a bad idea.

-A video package the Shawn Michaels concussion saga. Shawn says he is going to win the most anti-climatic Royal Rumble in history….well maybe second most. 1998 might have this one beat.

-Dok Hendrix says that Razor Ramon is nearby and might make it in time for Goldust’s interview tonight.

-Non-Title Match: The Smoking Gunns (WWF Tag Team Champions) vs. The Spiders:

We join the match in progress with Billy small packaging Spider #1 for two. Spider #2 gets the tag, but puts his head down too early and Billy nails him with a Rocker Dropper. Bart receives the momentum swinging tag and takes out the Spiders and a Sidewinder on Spider #1 gets the win in 58 seconds shown. Considering some of the Gunns squashes, it was probably a good idea this match was cut down.

-Billionaire Ted tells his war room that he’s mad that he can’t buy the WWF. Vince Russo, playing the role of an advisor, tells Billionaire Ted that their wrestling isn’t good because they are relying on old guys so Ted tells him to go buy some WWF superstars. Ted says maybe they should call the Huckster the Boy Toy.

-McMahon interviews Goldust and McMahon isn’t very happy when Goldust starts touching him. Goldust asks McMahon if he has an extra microphone in his pants and says that he is selective when choosing men who will give him the worst time. This is where McMahon’s fantastic facial expressions come in handy. Goldust concludes by saying that he wants Razor Ramon really bad. This was downright creepy and was the edgiest thing that the WWF had put on television prior to this point. With interviews like this it is no wonder the Goldust character got over like it did.

-Hendrix says that Ramon has just arrived at the arena.

-Isaac Yankem, D.D.S. vs. The Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer):

Lawler accuses McMahon of being homophobic as Yankem and the Undertaker make their entrances. If you don’t like watching these two wrestle then too bad because they are still main eventing pay-per-views to this day. After getting a pep talk from Lawler, Yankem enters the ring and tries to stare the Undertaker down, but the Undertaker unloads and chokes away. The Undertaker doesn’t sell Yankem’s offense and goes for the Tombstone, but Yankem escapes by falling to the floor. Outside, the Undertaker stays on the offensive so Lawler leaves the booth and tries to take the golden urn on a chain away from Bearer. The Undertaker prevents that from happening and Lawler flees to the dressing room. The distraction gives Yankem a breather, though, and he rams the Undertaker’s back into the ring post as we go to a commercial break.

When we return Yankem pounds away and puts the Undertaker in a half Boston crab. Yankem goes to work on the back and Hendrix appears in the split screen and says that at the conclusion of the match Goldust will talk about his match with Bret Hart next week. The Undertaker suplexes out of a bearhug as McMahon reminds viewers that Goldust does not represent the gay community. I doubt that is going to satisfy GLAAD. Yankem hits the Undertaker with a powerslam, but the Undertaker escapes Yankem’s Tombstone piledriver attempt and hits him with one of his own for the win at 6:46 shown. There just wasn’t a lot here. Grade: D-

-Hendrix interviews Goldust backstage, but the interview gets interrupted by Razor Ramon, who absolutely destroys Goldust. Goldust uses a low blow to escape.

-Sunny is in a bathtub and says that we’ve been here for a whole hour and that’s Raw. Now you know why people like 1996 more than 1995?

-McMahon and Lawler give a quick rundown of the Royal Rumble card.

-Goldust tries to flee with his things, but Ramon attacks him again and they go out of the arena and into the snow. The lighting is pretty poor, but Goldust eventually manages to slam Ramon’s head into a production truck and drive off before Ramon can inflict any further damage. THIS is what a beat down is all about.

-Tune in next week to see Bret Hart square off against Goldust in a non-title match!

The Final Report Card: This show was slaughtered by Nitro in the ratings and Nitro’s 1.1 margin of victory was the widest in the Monday Night Wars to this point. When looking at this show the reason is obvious: the main event was an extended squash and fans wanted something more exciting. Aside from Owen-Jannetty, the ring action is completely forgettable, but the Goldust-Ramon stuff saves the show in a big way. It’s interesting that they promoted the Intercontinental title match more than the WWF title match for the Rumble, but I suppose it was easier for the booking team to build up a traditional face-heel match than effectively book two faces against each other. It’s just too bad that Ramon and Goldust’s big match would be terrible at the Rumble.

Monday Night War Rating: 2.4 (vs. 3.5 for Nitro)

Show Grade: D+

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