April 11, 2007
Frank Koenen

WWF Monday Night Raw
December 16, 1996
LIVE from Tampa, Florida at the Ice Palace
Hosted by Jim Ross, Vince McMahon, and Jerry “The King” Lawler

- Bret Hart comes out immediately to start the show, and Jim Ross enters the ring to interview him. Some fans boo Bret when he says there is no good reason he’s not WWF World Champion. Some really dumb annoying bitch is screaming from the audience. He calls Shawn Michaels “a little prissy.” He continues complaining about this and that. I don’t know if the first seeds were being laid for a heel turn, or not. Bret enters himself into the Royal Rumble, and then joins the announcers at ringside.

1) Toughman Match: Vader (w/Jim Cornette) vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
This is the second “toughman” match they’ve done on a live Raw. Basically it’s heel vs. heel and the referee doesn’t enforce a lot of rules. Eventually, the WWF would stop bothering to explain why the referees didn’t enforce a lot of rules. They get in each others’ faces right away. Austin yells at Bret at ringside before the match. Vader pushes Austin back to the corner, but Austin sneaks out. Another lockup and again Austin snakes out from Vader’s grasp. Vader begins to unload left and right hands on Austin. Vader chokes Austin in the corner. Vader drives STIFF forearms into Austin then knocks him down with a clothesline that must have hurt. Vader poses to the crowd and they boo. Vader misses a couple of clotheslines and Austin hits a Lou Thesz press. Austin is unloading right hands, and Vader tumbles outside. Austin hits Vader with a double sledge from the apron and then we go to a break. Back from the break, Vader shoves Austin into the guard railing. Vader slugs at Austin and throws him into the audience. Vader tries to use a chair, but Austin kicks the big man and clotheslines him back into the ringside area. Austin for once actually hits Vader with a good punch. They go back in the ring, and are calling spots very loudly. Vader gets Austin in position for the Vader Bomb, but Austin gets back up and hits a low blow on Vader. Austin then hits Vader like a girl in the corner. Seriously good wrestler, likely the greatest draw of all-time, but the people who say it are right – Austin has terrible worked punches, almost as bad as Silly Sid’s. Vader then back body drops Austin over the top rope. Bret comes over and attacks Austin to some boos. The referee calls for the bell. Hart locks on a Sharpshooter, and officials come out to make him let go. The crowd has a mixed reaction to all of this. It was a stiff match, but it didn’t really get a chance to get started. Too bad they didn’t do a Austin-Vader program in 1998 when Austin was hot and could have drawn with a broomstick. **
WINNER: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin at 4:35

- We see footage from the previous night’s It’s Time PPV. Ahmed Johnson returned and announced he would face Faarooq at the Royal Rumble. Faarooq interrupted, and Johnson said he was going down.

2) Razor Ramon Not Gay II & Big Daddy Kane vs. The Godwinns
Before the match, the crowd chants “nWo” at the phonies. Razor gets a headlock, and PIG pushes off, and then PIG clotheslines Razor over the top rope. Another headlock spot, Razor pushes off, and PIG shoulder blocks Razor down. PIG slams Razor, and then HOG slams PIG on Razor. Armringer by HOG, is broken with a eye rake. Diesel is tagged in and lifts a knee to the midsection. Diesel works HOG in the corner. Diesel whips him across the ring and then clotheslines him. JR says he’s disappointed in Diesel/Razor since bringing them in. HOG catches Diesel coming off the ropes with an elbow to the face. Razor misses a shot on HOG, but it distracts him enough to be blindsided by Diesel. Razor is tagged and puts on an arm-bar. Diesel tagged back in hits HOG from behind with a forearm. Diesel hits HOG with a big boot. Diesel continues on HOG, but he catches Diesel off guard and clotheslines him. The race for the tag is on as both men crawl to their corners. Both men get the tag, and PIG knocks Razor down with an elbow to the face. PIG then slams Diesel. HOG clotheslines Diesel over the top. PIG telegraphs a move, and Razor tries the Razor’s Edge, but then HOG gives Razor a slop drop. The referee gets distracted, and it allows Diesel to jack knife (barely) PIG for the win. Glen Jacobs really had a problem with doing an effective powerbomb, and a couple of times with bigger guys nearly dropped them. It felt like amateur hour out there. DUD
WINNER: Razor Ramon Not Gay II & Big Daddy Kane at 6:22

- Silly Sid is interviewed backstage by Vince McMahon. The crowd chants “nWo” as Sid (I think) tries to sell the match, but coherence wasn’t his strong point.

- Vince McMahon interviews Shawn Michaels backstage. Shawn says he wants to win the title back. You know, someone should just say they’re going to lose a title match, just to be different. Shawn addresses Bret Hart saying he lives his life openly while others couldn’t.

3) Doug Furnas & Phil LaFon vs. Dr. X & TL Hopper
Match is joined in progress. Dr. X is Tom Pritchard in a generic mask gimmick, because I’m guessing they ran out of people to do jobs. LaFon chops Dr. X when we get to the match. Furnas gives Hopper a belly to belly. Furnas applies a Fujiwara arm-bar. The crowd begins to get tired and restless. Furnas takes TL Hopper to the match, and tries to pin him. LaFon chops Hopper into the corner, but Hopper slams him face first. Dr. X back in gets a powerbomb for a near-fall. Furnas reverses a suplex attempt by Dr. X. Furnas back in clotheslines X and Hopper then dropkicks both. He powerslams Hopper for a near-fall. LaFon back in tries a butterfly suplex, but X stops it. LaFon gets a belly to back suplex for the win. You would think a match with Doug Furnas, Dan Kroffat, Tom Pritchard, and Tony Anthony would be better, but the WWF seems to make good workers go bad. I’m guessing I didn’t see half of the match, but the crowd was bored with it by the time we started watching it, and I agree. DUD

- Backstage Billy Gunn is interviewed by Vince McMahon, and says he’s going to beat his brother.

- The THRILLING climax to the Milton Bradley Karate Fighters Holiday Tournament. We have the finals here with Jerry Lawler and Sable. Sable looks hot tonight! Marc Mero seconds Sable, and HHH seconds Lawler. Sable wins. That’s all I can say, and Lawler cries and acts humiliated. After the match, Mero gets in Lawler’s face so the heels jump him. Goldust runs down and helps Mero, knocking Sable down as he enters the ring. See last night, HHH hit on Marlena, making Goldust angry. Lawler tries to calm Goldust down. Lawler assumes that Goldust is “queer”, and Goldust knocks him down to a HUGE pop.

- We go to a choir singing about Silly Sid. They spell psycho “Sycho.”

4) Billy Gunn vs. Bart Gunn
The bulk of this match saw Billy SLOWLY beat down Bart, but the real story is at the end. Billy clotheslines Bart over the top rope to start. Bart unloads right hands on Billy and then sends him in the ring. Billy gets a big boot out of the corner as Bart charges. Bart clotheslines Billy to get a near-fall as we go to break. Back from the break, Billy gives Bart a right hand in the corner. Billy applies a sleeperhold. Billy then gives Bart a poke to the area above his eyes. Billy hits a neckbreaker. Billy knee drops Bart. Billy beats Bart in the corner. Billy applies a chinlock. Bart does a stun gun, and Billy sells it like he’s paralyzed. Billy and Bart’s wives, who JUST happened to be attendance, come down. Everyone acts all scared, and I use the word “act” loosely here. Billy’s wife yells at Bart for hurting his own brother, despite the fact they’re really not brothers. Some guy yells “Where’s the Undertaker?” Billy is being taken out on a stretcher. This is very shitty compared to the exact same angle they did with Shawn Michaels the previous year in November. With Michaels some it felt like something we should be watching and you felt concern for him, here you just want the bad acting and terrible segment to be over. More importantly they paid that off with Michaels’ title win at WrestleMania XII, Gunn just kind of returned a few months later and the brother feud was dropped. The whole match and post match shenanigans were a terrible waste of my time. -*½

Comments: Usually Raw has its best stuff on the live portions of the TV tapings, but if this is the best they had to offer, the upcoming weeks are going to suck to watch. It’s very easy to see why Nitro was murdering Raw. Only interesting part of the show was the Bret Hart interview and Austin-Vader match.

Raw vs. Nitro: Nitro

wordpress stats plugin