What the World Was Watching: WWF Monday Night Raw – March 18th & 25th, 1996

WWF Monday Night Raw

I’m going to do a double feature because my copy of the the show on the 25th cuts out halfway through and the next show after that is WrestleMania XII.

March 18th

-Vince McMahon narrates footage of Diesel turning on Shawn Michaels after their tag team match against the Undertaker and Bret Hart at Madison Square Garden.

-McMahon and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they in San Antonio, Texas.

-Opening Contest: The British Bulldog (w/Jim Cornette) vs. Jake “the Snake” Roberts:

The Bulldog avoids a DDT and bails several times to ruin Roberts momentum. The tactic works and the Bulldog pounds away, but he misses an elbow drop and Roberts makes the comeback. Roberts gets momentarily distracted by Cornette, but floats over the Bulldog and hits the DDT. Cornette pulls Roberts out of the ring to break up the pinfall, so Roberts grabs Revelation and chases Cornette back to the locker room to get counted out at 4:52. This match almost put me to sleep. Rating: ½*

-Jim Ross narrates another series of training videos for the WrestleMania XII Ironman match. Shawn talks about his work ethic and Bret talks about how he’s chastised for being a fighting champion while Shawn got a pass after the beating he received at the hands of some marines…pardon me, “thugs”… in Syracuse.

-Non-Title Match: Goldust (Intercontinental Champion w/Marlena) vs. “Making a Difference” Fatu:

Goldust wears a kilt to the ring to continue his mind games with Piper. Fatu gets impatient with Goldust’s long entrance so he takes it to him. Goldust gets an uppercut off the ropes, but fails to use his butt as a weapon and Fatu spanks away. That’ll probably be the only time I type that. We go to a commercial break as Piper calls into the show and does the usual hype job.

When we return, Fatu hits a Diamond Cutter, but his top rope splash misses. A Curtain Call finishes at 2:36 shown. These two could have put on a good, competitive match, but since Fatu was so far down the ladder at this point that wasn’t feasible. Rating: *

-The Ultimate Warrior is coming back at WrestleMania XII!

-Last week’s show ending six way brawl between Ahmed Johnson, Yokozuna, Jake Roberts and Camp Cornette and Jake Roberts challenge on Superstars for a six man tag match at WrestleMania is shown. Why is Yoko not issuing this challenge? We established at In Your House 6 that he can speak English.

-McMahon interviews Camp Cornette. Cornette says he’s got the greatest assemblage of talent the WWF has ever seen and his group will gladly accept Roberts challenge. Owen says he carried Yoko to the tag titles, the Bulldog says he’s stronger than Ahmed Johnson, and Cornette says he took Yoko to the top and that Vader will be twice the champion Yoko could ever hope to be. The faces pop up on the video wall and Roberts say that if they win at WrestleMania that Yokozuna gets five minutes with Cornette. Yoko Banzai drops a dummy to reinforce the point. The dummy they use is a combination of a pillow and a balloon. I guess budgets were tight at Titan Towers. This was the usual good segment from Camp Cornette.

-McMahon talks about Diesel’s turn on Shawn Michaels at Madison Square Garden.

-Call the WWF Superstar line at 1-900-737-4WWF to find out why Bret Hart did not come to Shawn Michaels aid at Madison Square Garden yesterday!

-Diesel’s attack on Paul Bearer on last week’s Raw is shown.

-Barry Horowitz vs. Diesel:

Diesel destroys Horowitz in the corner and hits a sidewalk slam as Paul Bearer wheels a casket down to the ring. The casket distracts Diesel so Horowitz makes a mini-comeback, but Diesel hits a big boot…for two. I thought that would be the finish. Diesel doesn’t take kindly to that so he hits Horowitz in the face and pins him at 2:08. Was Horowitz not supposed to kick out of the big boot? That was one of the weirdest finishes I’ve ever seen.

-After the match, Diesel gets a wrench and opens the casket, but instead of the Undertaker being in the casket it’s a dummy that has his bears his likeness. Ah, so that’s why they couldn’t afford a decent dummy for the six man tag segment. Freaked out, Diesel shuts the casket and walks to the locker room.

-Ted DiBiase tells the cameras to leave he, Tatanka, and the 1-2-3 Kid alone.

-Mark Henry’s gorilla press slam of Lawler on last week’s show is the Karate Fighters Slam of the Week.

-Non-Title Match: Bret “the Hitman” Hart (WWF Champion) vs. Tatanka (w/Ted DiBiase):

With the Million Dollar Corporation’s decline into obscurity, it’s easy to forget that Tatanka was still on the roster in 1996. They should’ve just made this for the title, just so I could hear the announcers speculate that on how Tatanka would fare in an Ironman match with Shawn at WrestleMania. They’d actually have a back story if you recall WrestleMania IX, or maybe you don’t want to. Tatanka, sensing that he’s going to get released soon, desperately pounds away, but a blind charge eats boot and Bret gets a body press off the ropes for two. The 1-2-3 Kid comes down to ringside, but after being put in a diaper at In Your House 6 I don’t think that anyone buys him as a threat. Tatanka works the back and a sidewalk slam gets two. Tatanka puts his head down too early and Bret gets a fluke small package for two as we go to a commercial break.

When we get back from the break Tatanka goes for a top rope axe handle, but Bret nails him in the gut on the way down and makes the comeback. Bret hits the second rope elbow drop that never gets a three count and goes for the Sharpshooter, but DiBiase hops up on the apron. As the referee is tied up with DiBiase, the Kid gets on the apron and holds Bret in place, but heel miscommunication results and Bret schoolboys Tatanka for the win at 6:56 shown. Your typical TV main event. Rating: **

-The Federal Turner Communications Commission interviews Billionaire Ted. Ted gives a horrible rip off of Jack Nicholson’s speech in A Few Good Men. When pressed on whether he’s trying to put the WWF out of business, Ted says that he is. The WWF reminds its fans that Ted Turner is supposed to speak to the Federal Trade Commission about the merger of Turner Broadcasting and Time-Warner and that it should write to Chairman Robert Pitofsky about its concerns immediately. I wonder how many people did that.

-Tune in next week to see Shawn Michaels face off with Leif Cassidy! Also, Ahmed Johnson faces Owen Hart.

The Final Report Card: This isn’t a very memorable show, but it’s a better outing than what we got last week. The build for the WrestleMania XII matches was good and the main event is probably Tatanka’s last good match in the WWF.

Monday Night War Rating: 2.9 (vs. 3.6 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation: Thumbs Up

March 25th

-Vince McMahon and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are in San Antonio, Texas.

-Opening Contest: “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels (w/Jose Lothario) vs. Leif Cassidy:

Michaels has the “Klique Cam” with him and he gets some shots of the audience on his way to the ring. Cassidy gets the jobber entrance. Michaels introduces Lothario to the crowd before the opening bell. Lothario gets on the mic and says that Michaels will in the title at WrestleMania XII. Cassidy enthusiastically shakes Michaels hand and WWF Champion Bret Hart wanders down to ringside to do commentary. Michaels and Cassidy go through a good wrestling sequence, which Michaels wins and gets a body press off the ropes for two. Cassidy comes back with a spine bomb as Marty Jannetty comes to ringside as we go to a commercial break. Did guys show up late or something?

When we get back from the break, Michaels fights out of a chinlock, but Cassidy dangerously botches what was supposed to be a powerbomb-into-a-hot shot maneuver. Cassidy hits a superduperplex for a brief double KO and he eventually covers for two. Cassidy goes for another superplex, but Michaels suplexes him down to the mat and hits a flying clothesline for double KO #2. Michaels kips up and makes the comeback, showing anger after Cassidy causes him to botch an inverted atomic drop. Jannetty trips Michaels when he runs the ropes and holds his tights in the corner, but Bret comes over and forces Jannetty to walk away. Now freed, Michaels blasts Cassidy with Sweet Chin Music and gets the pin at 8:50. Despite the botches, this was a good opening match. Rating: **½

-After the match, Michaels goes to interrogate Jannetty, but ends up in a confrontation with Bret. Bret gets on the house mic with McMahon and says that while he respects Shawn, he’s going to destroy him at WrestleMania.

-“The Portuguese Man O’ War” Aldo Montoya vs. Hunter Hearst-Helmsley (w/Random Woman):

Helmsley makes sure to kiss the blonde woman he’s brought to the ring with him this week and Montoya decides to be nice and help the lady out of the ring, but gets ambushed for it. See, nice guys do finish last. Montoya quickly rallies, but a splash eats knees. Helmsley hits a high knee and pounds away and then my copy of this show completely cuts out. I’m sure Helmsley wins, though.

The Final Report Card: I can’t really give an evaluation of this show since it cuts out halfway through, the Michaels-Cassidy match was better than things that I’ve watched from the last couple of episodes. It got the show off to a good start, so that would be good enough for a preliminary thumbs up from me.

Monday Night War Rating: 2.8 (vs. 3.1 for Nitro)

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