WWF Monday Night Raw – January 15, 1996
Newark, Delaware (taped 12/18/95)
Commentators: Vince McMahon and Jerry “The King” Lawler
Match #1: Marty Jannetty vs. “The King of Hearts” Owen Hart w/ Jim Cornette
Result/Analysis: Hart via pinfall (5:42 – shown) with a reverse cradle. The wrestling is fine. Jannetty apparently thinks it’s still the late 1980’s with his Rockers attire in blinding neon colors, etc. McMahon and Lawler hype the 30-man Royal Rumble match throughout even though the winner was quite obvious given the participants and the overall roster was filled with mid card “talent” and has-beens. Owen wins with a nifty reverse cradle but the match belonged on a Saturday morning edition of WWF SuperStars if that show was even still a thing in 1996?
Todd Pettengill with The Royal Rumble report. Pettengill is a bit overhyped for the Free-For-All prior to the pay-per-view extravaganza. I swear he took “happy pills.” Diesel and Vader get promo time.
Dok Hendrix alerts us that Razor Ramon is on his way to the arena to confront Goldust. Stay tuned.
Match #2: The Ringmaster w/ “The Million-Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase vs. Matt Hardy
Result/Analysis: The Ringmaster via submission (4:36) with the million-dollar dream. This match is where it ALL started for Steve Austin, positioned in a gimmick that quickly flamed out. What’s funny also, is that Matt Hardy, as a jobber, became Austin’s first WWF opponent and Hardy went on to have a lengthy career himself. This match is a good trivia question! Jobber Hardy works in some offense but Austin picks up the easy win. The only thing lacking was Jim Ross wasn’t the lead announcer yet. JR would have been all over Austin’s use of the Lou Thesz press.
Shawn Michaels narrates his comeback story. It is quite nauseating if I’m being honest.
Dok Hendrix updates the whereabouts of Razor Ramon. “The Bad Guy” is only a few miles away from the arena and should he make it in time for the Goldust interview then all hell will break loose.
Following a commercial, a tag-team match between The Smoking Gunns and The Spiders is joined in progress. Now that’s porous. The Gunns, the reigning tag-team champions, finish off The Spiders in short oder with their sidewinder finishing move. The Spiders were later on The Headbangers. The Smoking Gunns would defend the tag-team titles at The Royal Rumble against The Bodydonnas.
Billionaire Ted’s Wrasslin’ Warroom: Vince Russo makes a cameo appearance. Billionaire Ted wants to buy the WWF, but can only get their “disloyal has-beens from the 80’s.” Especially Randy Savage, who was banished to the commentary desk and didn’t have any loyalty shown to him. Things would only get more mean-spirited from here.
Goldust is interviewed by Vince McMahon. He says Vince either has another microphone in his pants or is just excited to see him? Goldust creepily goes into detail about how he selected Razor Ramon as someone that could give him “the worst absolute time.” That, Goldust says, is when he makes his move. He references “Tootsie” from 1982 as a comparison. Intentional or unintentional, the Goldust character blurred the line of homophobia and that would never get off the ground in today’s “woke” cancel culture society.
Dok Hendrix updates us that Razor Ramon has just arrived and he’ll try to get some words with him.
Ramon enters the building and storms past Hendrix looking for Goldust. Nice work, Dok.
Match #4: Isaac Yankem D.D.S. vs. The Undertaker w/ Paul Bearer
Result/Analysis: The Undertaker via pinfall (7:33 – shown) following a tombstone piledriver. Yankem, of course, was Lawler’s personal dentist before later becoming The Undertaker’s “brother” Kane in October 1997 at In Your House: Bad Blood. The Undertaker was wearing his “Phantom of The Opera” gray face mask / guard at this point. I always hated that look. The match here is OK but it’s a yawn really as the end result was a 100-percent certainty. The urn was no more as Kama had stolen it at WrestleMania XI the prior year and had it melted into a large gold necklace, to which, The Undertaker had gained possession of. That was another lame storyline.
Goldust is interviewed by Hendrix about facing Bret Hart next week on Raw, but Ramon attacks him for a pretty wild brawl, including outside of the arena in the snow. That feud had fans invested. Little else of the overall WWF product did.
McMahon and Lawler run down the card for The Royal Rumble to end the show.
The Verdict: Goldust and Razor Ramon had a heated feud going. Shawn Michaels was bound to win the Royal Rumble Match because, quite frankly, he was the only choice the WWF had. Bret Hart as the reigning WWF Champion was already a backstory. It was hard to get amped up for a “Big Five” pay-per-view with so much obvious booking and a lot of middling mid card talent being pushed. But it’s the 1996 Royal Rumble that is upon us.