WWF Monday Night Raw – January 1, 1996
Newark, Delaware (taped 12/18/95)
Commentators: Vince McMahon and Jerry “The King” Lawler
It’s the first-ever (and it twas also the last) “Raw Bowl.”
The Smoking Gunns [Billy & Bart] – Tag-Team Champions vs. Yokozuna & Owen Hart w/ Jim Cornette & Mr. Fuji vs. “The Bad Guy” Razor Ramon – IC Champion & Savio Vega vs. The 1-2-3 Kid & Sycho Sid
w/ “The Million-Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase
* One time-out per team can be used at any time *
** A team is eliminated when a teammate is pinned, disqualified, counted out or submits **
*** Any “player” may be tagged in at any time ***
**** Once tagged, physical contact must be made with opponent before tagging out ****
Result/Analysis: 1-2-3 Kid pins Razor Ramon (9:45) to eliminate Ramon and Savio Vega; Billy Gunn pins Owen Hart (13:53) following an inadvertent banzai drop by Yokozuna to eliminate Hart and Yokozuna; Bart Gunn pins Sycho Sid (17:23) following interference from Ramon. The Smoking Gunns win “The RAW Bowl.” There’s some decent wrestling here but the football terminology within the commentary is very distracting and frankly unbearable. On WCW Monday Nitro, Eric Bischoff more aptly called this match “The Toilet Bowl.” The WWF was circling the drain at the onset of 1996 and this novelty idea is a forgotten piece of the garbage they tried.
To make it worse, Vinnie Mac “hands off” the broadcast to handsome Dok Hendrix for the “Wrigley’s” half-time report. Hendrix previews “Big Daddy Cool” Diesel vs. King Mabel and tosses over to “Jumbo” Jim Ross for words from Diesel, which JR has none from. Poor JR wants nothing to do with this show, it’s obvious. Back to Hendrix now and the upcoming Royal Rumble pay-per-view card is discussed with more football lingo thrown in.
Match#2 Arkansas Hog Pen Match:
*Special Guest Referee: Hillbilly Jim*
Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Henry O. Godwinn
Result/Analysis: Helmsley wins as he back drops Godwinn into the Hog Pen filled with pigs and slop. The entire match thankfully wasn’t shown with commercials thrown in. Even in 1996 as a mid card afterthought you could see Helmsley’s potential. He bumped all over to make Godwinn’s offense sell. This was a gimmick match for its time with the right guy put over. Godwinn gets Helmsley in the hog pen with him and does his power moves as the pigs circle around. Classic!
Match#3: King Mabel w/ Sir Mo vs. “Big Daddy Cool” Diesel
Result/Analysis: Diesel (:10) with a big boot. Yes, a 10 second “Main Event.” Diesel was such a bad ass you see and still angry 24/7 over losing the WWF Championship to Bret Hart at Survivor Series.
In the locker room, we have “The Lombardi Trophy” presentation to the Smoking Gunns which is Steve Lombardi, aka The Brooklyn Brawler, handing out a miniature trophy with his face on it. The Gunns smash the trophy and then pour a cooler filled with iced tea on a fallen Lombardi.
The Royal Rumble Match participants are revealed, highlighted by the announcement of Vader entering. This could have been a big deal …
Billionaire Ted’s Wrasslin War Room with The Huckster and The Nacho Man closes the show.
The Verdict: A crummy Monday Night Raw to begin the year. The show had a :10 Main Event, a gimmick match that dragged with unbearable commentary plus a replay of a match from ppv. If there was a creative plan in place, you couldn’t tell. The WWF/Vince McMahon was winging it.