WWF Monday Night Raw – January 22, 1996
Stockton, CA (Live!)
Sunny promotes Raw while shooting pool in her lingerie. Viewer discretion is advised!
Royal Rumble recap
Tonight, Bret Hart goes one-on-one with Goldust, Razor Ramon squares off with Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Shawn Michaels will conduct an interview off his victory in the Royal Rumble Match.
Commentators: Vince McMahon and Jerry “The King” Lawler
Match #1: Savio Vega vs. Vader w/ Jim Cornette
Result/Analysis: Vader via pinfall (3:00) following a Vaderbomb. The crowd is apeshit over Vader. The savvy fans knew a monster/unstoppable heel when they saw one. Vega is destroyed and eats a second Vaderbomb after the bell. Vader then beats up referee Jim Cordereas and powerbombs a second referee, Jack Doan, in a viscious spot. WWF President Gorilla Monsoon enters the ring and jaws with Vader. If one guy had the stature to stand up to Vader it was Gorilla. Monsoon, in fact, has Vader suspended indefinitely on the spot. In response, an irate Vader beats up Gorilla, with a Vaderbomb to boot, to effectively write both off television for the forseeable future. Vader jaws with McMahon at ringside after Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels come out to chase him from the ring. Damn! This Raw moment still feels epic all of these years later.
Rating: * (SQUASH – and rightfully so)
During the commercial, Monsoon is stretchered out as Vader’s destructive actions are recapped.
We’re back live and Vader is throwing trash cans around backstage in a fit of anger as he declares war on everyone in the WWF, including McMahon! Cornette was ducking the flying tin here. Ha!
Match #2: Hunter Hearst Helmsley w/ Shae Marks vs. “The Bad Guy” Razor Ramon
Result/Analysis: Helmsley via countout (6:01 shown) with the 1-2-3 Kid coming out to bait Ramon into a game of chase. What a lame ending to a match with potential. The Kid came to ringside to shove a baby bottle in Ramon’s mouth which played up their upcoming “Crybaby Match” at In Your House 6: Rage in the Cage. That, of course, was a low point in both men’s careers to that point. Helmsley, meanwhile, brought a skank to the ring named Shae Marks, which became his schtick, and that led up to the introduction of Sable, and later on Marc Mero. Ramon was checked out here – who can blame him? – while Helmsley was bumping all over the place to earn locker room cred.
Billionaire Ted’s “Wrasslin’ Warroom”
Back in the ring, McMahon all but wets himself introducing Michaels for an interview as he unflatteringly moves about as HBK dances his way out. Vince calls Michaels the most flamboyant SuperStar in the world. Naw, Michaels just had his lips so far up the boss’ ass! Anyway … HBK brags about winning the Rumble … “I told you so” and “back in the saddle again” are the catchphrases used all while Vince blushes uncontrollably and Bret Hart probably vomits backstage. Michaels says he’s on the way to completing his three-step program. Rumble = done. WrestleMania = will be done. In between, well, there’s Owen Hart he has to deal with as Owen is going around running his mouth that he put HBK out, when in fact, the nine thugs in Syracuse, N.Y. deserve that credit. I love shoot comments. With that, Cornette comes out on behalf of Owen. Cornette could talk with the best. That’s been long since forgotten. Cornette says no to the match on behalf of Owen because there’s nothing left for him to prove. HBK, however, says he wants Owen in the ring so bad, as does his Kliq as he pauses to poll the live crowd, so he’s willing to put up anything to get Owen in a match. Cornette asks Michaels’ for his WWF Championship Match at WrestleMania be at stake. Michaels, with the Kliq’s approval, agrees. Cocky MF! Cornette is then ceremoniously thrown out of the ring by HBK to end the segment as Vince returns to gushing. Damn those Syracuse hooligans!
Next week on Raw, “Big Daddy Cool” Diesel battles “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith and Michaels goes one-on-one with Yokozuna. The days when you knew matches one week in advance did juice a fan up. WCW was doing this also. The “Monday Night Wars” were ongoing …
Match #3: Non-Title/Champion vs. Champion
Goldust w/ Marlena (WWF Intercontinental Champion) vs. Bret “Hit Man” Hart (WWF Champion)
Result/Analysis: Hart via submission (5:13 shown) with the sharpshooter. There are three commercial breaks during this Main Event. That’s idiotic. Pay your advertisers another way. Thus, with what little of the match seen, it’s hard to judge it. The surprising thing is the clean job by Goldust after he won the Intercontinental Title but building up Bret’s resume never hurt.
Rating: 3/4* (half the match isn’t shown)
After the match, McMahon gets comments from Hart, who reiterates how he’s fed up with Diesel and that inside the steel cage, where he’s deadly, on February 18th, his excuses stop once and for all. As for The Undertaker, Bret promises “The Deadman” he’ll get another shot as the fans were robbed of a clean finish at The Royal Rumble. There’s no mention of Michaels.
Next week, Billionaire Ted will have a press conference to reveal why he wants to put the WWF out of business! These skits completely backfired on McMahon and drove Nitro’s ratings up for WCW.
The Verdict: The Vader angle with Monsoon was this show and in 1996, it felt like a big deal. Intially, Vader WAS booked as an unstoppable monster. Don’t ask me how the WWF blew it. Anyhow, In Your House immediately took shape as Bret Hart and Diesel were signed for a Steel Cage Match, Shawn Michaels wanted Owen Hart so he gets him with his WrestleMania title shot at stake, and oh, there’s that “crybaby” storyline between Razor Ramon and The 1-2-3 Kid that’s riveting! Good Raw.