What the World Was Watching: WWF Monday Night Raw – January 29, 1996

Reviews, Shows, TV Shows

Monday Night Raw

-Vince McMahon and Jerry “the King” Lawler narrate a video package about tonight’s big matches and Vader’s assault on Gorilla Monsoon.

-McMahon and Lawler are in the booth as Dok Hendrix gets down with the live band. They’re still in Stockton, California.

-Opening Contest: The British Bulldog (w/Jim Cornette) vs. Diesel:

It’s the rematch from In Your House 4 that you were just dying to see. Diesel clotheslines the Bulldog over the top rope, so the Bulldog stalls to lull Diesel to sleep and then trips him and rams his knee into the ring post. Back in, the Bulldog works the knee and Yokozuna wanders out as we go to a commercial break.

When we return, the Bulldog has a half Boston crab applied, but Diesel eventually gets in the ropes. Yoko gets in a token shot behind the referee and he talks with Cornette about the buffet selection in the back or why he’s even out here in the first place. The Bulldog takes off the turnbuckle pad and tries to take Diesel to the exposed steel, but Diesel blocks it and the Bulldog eats it instead. Diesel forgets about the knee and gives the Bulldog Snake Eyes on the steel, but Cornette hops on the apron and distracts the referee. Yoko lumbers into the ring and tries to leg drop Diesel, but Diesel moves and the Bulldog gets squashed. Diesel covers for the pin at 5:38 shown. After the match, Cornette yells at Yoko for his mistake. This was building to something with the knee, but they completely abandoned it with that finish. Rating: *½

-Hendrix hypes In Your House 6. Bret Hart, toting a black eye, complains about Diesel. Hendrix discusses how a Turner Broadcasting official is threatening the WWF with legal action over the Billionaire Ted skits, but Hendrix says the WWF believes in its right to free speech and will continue airing them. See, the whole Stand Up for WWE movement started back in 1996!

-The latest Billionaire Ted skit takes place at a press conference. Ted says he doesn’t wear cheap suits and he isn’t a hillbilly. The Nacho Man and the Huckster do some posing as Ted answers questions from reporters who chide him for having the audacity to run Nitro against Raw. Evidently such competition is bad for business and bad for the fans. This is like Vince taking the argument Verne Gagne would’ve used in the territory days and making it his own. The Huckster and Nacho start fighting after the Huckster says that he’ll win their match at WrestleMania because it is in his contract that he never loses.

-The Bodydonnas (w/Sunny) vs. The Godwinns (w/Hillbilly Jim):

And this ladies and gentleman was our major WWF tag team feud of 1996. Before the match, Zip takes out Henry’s knee when he tries to gorilla press slam Skip, but the Bodydonnas miss a Rocket launcher. Phineas gets the quick momentum swinging tag and all hell breaks loose. Henry pulls Skip to the floor and Phineas gives Zip a Slop Drop for the win at 2:06. After the match, the Godwinns and Jim do a quick dosey doe with a reluctant Sunny. There wasn’t much here, but what was here was fine. Rating: *

-McMahon talks about Vader’s rampage at the Royal Rumble and last week on Raw. Clarence Mason says that Gorilla Monsoon had no right to attack Vader last week and that his attack was a perfect case of self defense. He says that he will soon be filing a motion to lift Vader’s indefinite suspension.

-Get your WrestleMania XII tickets now!

-McMahon introduces “Rowdy” Roddy Piper as the interim WWF president. President Piper runs down his career accomplishments and he puts over the New Generation. In his coked out promo style he promises no government shutdown and no Newt Gingrich kids on his watch. He says everyone pays the Piper eventually and gives McMahon an airplane spin. This could’ve been shorter.

-Call 1-800-TITAN-91 to get your Razor Ramon, Shawn Michaels, or Bret Hart t-shirt for $34.95 (plus shipping and handling)!

-Mankind vignette focuses on his severed ear. The rest of his face isn’t visible.

-Yokozuna (w/Jim Cornette) vs. “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels:

If this were TEW, it might tell us that we’ve seen too much of Cornette tonight. Yoko shows off his power, but Michaels goes underneath him off the ropes and knocks him to the floor. Cornette calls for reinforcements so Owen Hart comes out. To Michaels credit, he keeps the crowd involved by high fiving people around the ring during the stalling. This takes us to a commercial break.

When we return, a Yoko blind charge eats buckle and Michaels gives him a top rope axe handle and a moonsault for two. However, Yoko reverses a whip into the corner and Michaels Flair flips to the floor. As Cornette distracts the referee, Owen pounds away and McMahon sells the “can he overcome the odds” angle. Michaels takes a while to get back into the ring and when he does Yoko puts him in a nerve hold. Michaels escapes, but Yoko nails him with an elbow and we go to another break.

When we get back, Yoko misses a leg drop, but Michaels misses a top rope splash to give us a double KO. Michaels makes the comeback, but Yoko catches him when he tries a dive off the top rope and rams him into the corner. As Cornette distracts the referee, Yoko holds Michaels in place for an Owen spinning heel kick, but heel miscommunication happens. Sweet Chin Music finishes at 7:05 shown. A nice finishing sequence, but the commercial breaks ruined the continuity of the match. Rating: *¾

-After the match, Owen and Yoko argue and the British Bulldog comes out to play peacemaker. All three heels eventually turn their attention on Michaels, but Diesel hits the ring and the heels decide that they’ll live to fight another day. Cornette tells McMahon that there isn’t any dissension in Camp Cornette and challenges Diesel and Shawn to a tag match against Yoko and the Bulldog next week. After discussing it, Diesel and Shawn accept.

-Tune in next week to see Bret Hart and the Undertaker collide in a Royal Rumble rematch for the WWF title!

The Final Report Card: Raw was experimenting with a new formula of having two marquee matches on the same show, but since they were still on the one hour format it was very difficult to give a proper build to those matches. For example, McMahon tried to sell the destruction of Shawn Michaels as Yokozuna’s primary goal since that would help Owen at In Your House, but it was tough to sell that storyline without a proper build. Also, with all of the focus on the main talent it was hard letting guys in the midcard stand out. This was a middle of the road show and it demonstrates why the WWF needed to continue tweaking the format during this period.

Monday Night War Rating: 2.4 (vs. 2.8 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation: Neutral

Logan Scisco has been writing wrestling reviews for Inside Pulse since 2005. He considers himself a pro wrestling traditionalist and reviews content from the 1980s-early 2000s. Most of his recaps center on wrestling television shows prior to 2001. His work is featured on his website (www.wrestlewatch.com) and he has written three books, available on Amazon.com.