WWF Monday Night Raw – March 18, 1996
San Antonio, TX (taped 3/11/96)
Commentators: Vince McMahon and Jerry “The King” Lawler
Over the weekend at Madison Square Garden, “Big Daddy Cool” Diesel lost his cool attacking The Undertaker, Bret Hart and surprisingly, Shawn Michaels, all with a steel chair at the conclusion of a tag-team match in which he partnered with HBK. Tonight, both Diesel and The Undertaker are present, with Diesel in action. Bret Hart will face Tatanka. Plus, Billionaire Ted’s FTC hearings.
Match 1: “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith w/ Jim Cornette vs. Jake “The Snake Roberts
Result/Analysis: Bulldog via count-out (4:53). Eh. Jake hits the DDT on his third or fourth attempt, I lost count, but Cornette pulls him off Davey Boy on the pin which leads to a chase around the ring with Jake taking his snake out of the bag for the pursuit. This was nothing more than added feul to the six-man tag match at WrestleMania which Camp Cornette had yet to respond to and accept.
Shawn Michaels training montage. José Lothario and his world class expertise was leading HBK, aka “The Boy Toy” toward achieving his boyhood dream. As for Bret Hart, in a special inside look with “The Hitman” preparing for WrestleMania, he feels he’s a better role model than Michaels. To summarize, the focus with Michaels was completing a lifelong goal. Hart, yeah he was concerned with the perception people had of him. That’s reality intertwined with the script. Uncommon.
Match 2: Fatu vs. Goldust [Intercontinental Champion] w/ Marlena
Result/Analysis: Goldust via pinfall (2:38 shown) following the curtain call. Goldust wrestled in a kilt to futher irk Piper. Speaking of Piper, he calls in during the match so McMahon and King can hype the Hollywood Back Lot Brawl at WrestleMania. Fatu was working the short-lived “Making A Difference” version of himself. That went nowhere. As for Goldust, did he EVER defend the IC Title?
Video highlights of The Ultimate Warrior throughout the years
Camp Cornette joins McMahon in the ring. They’re here to accept the challenge laid out for a six-man tag at WrestleMania versus Yokozuna, Ahmed Johnson and Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Let’s face it, a Vader/Yokozuna match wouldn’t be pretty. In the old days, with four hours to kill and without a one hour Main Event, there could have been three matches: Owen/Jake, Bulldog/Johnson and Vader/Yokozuna. The faces appear on the video wall for a pre-recorded message for Cornette. If they win – – – read the fine print on that contract you know – – – Yokozuna will get five minutes alone in the ring with Cornette. Now that’s a draw for a stipulation. Ha!
Michaels/Hart Iron Man Match/WrestleMania XII promo. Milk it, Vince. Milk it!
McMahon recaps Diesel turning on Michaels at MSG just yesterday (in reality). HBK wasn’t a happy camper. After WrestleMania, and in Diesel’s departure feud, he and Michaels would reconvene leading to their match at IYH 7: Good Friends, Better Enemies.
Match 3: Barry Horowitz vs. “Big Daddy Cool” Diesel
Result/Analysis: Diesel via pinfall (2:05) following a punch to the head. Horowitz was the lamb led to slaughter. Diesel was distracted by a casket placed at ringside by Paul Bearer. That explains the non-descript finish. Diesel opens the casket to see himself lying in repose: an homage from The Undertaker of his future in the WWF come WrestleMania. Diesel plays up the sobering reality well.
Next week on Raw, Michaels has his final WrestleMania tune-up match versus Leif Cassidy of The New Rockers. Owen Hart battles Ahmed Johnson. HBK and Al Snow in the Main Event? Really?!?
Match 4: Tatanka w/ “The Million-Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart [WWF Champion]
Result/Analysis: Hart via pinfall (6:58 shown) with a roll-up. The 1-2-3 Kid interferes but that backfires and Bret school boys Tatanka for the weak finish. Bret was setting up for the sharpshooter but I guess Tatanka tapping out was not in his contract? Tatanka was pudgy at this point and his stamina tanked after five minutes. I’d have taken this match in 1993 three years earlier with Tatanka also a babyface and there would have been **** potential with it. Here it’s the motivated versus the unmotivated and that combination never works.
Federal “Turner” Commission Hearings: Yet more incessant whining by the WWF power brokers – Vince – over Billionaire Ted monopolizing the TV industry by merging AOL and Time Warner. Billionaire Ted is made to look anything but omnipotent here as he goes all Jack Nicholson from A Few Good Men” on the committee when he’s asked about targeting the WWF saying, “You can’t handle the truth!!!” The words hostile takeover and predatory practices he continues are demeaning when the world is run by a handful of billionaires who control everything. Finally, after being pressed on the question repeatedly, Billionaire Ted admits he’s trying to put the WWF out of business. The broadcast ends asking people concerned about the proposed merger to write to the FTC. At some point soon, after Billionaire Ted, The Huckster and The Nacho Man die of heart attacks in the Geriatric Match at WrestleMania, these elaboate skits cease and the WWF focuses on their own product and how to compete with their newfound competion the old-fashioned way.
The Verdict: Who let the dogs out? Moreso, why did the dogs crap on everyone’s lawn? The WrestleMania build stalls. Billionaire Ted is front-and-center. Vince McMahon needs a reality check. So your product sucks? Fix it! Storytell. Build new stars. Find an attitude (oh, that came a year+ later). More importantly … wrestle! If you watch this Raw and were told WrestleMania was under two weeks away you’d have been left bewildered. Seeing Diesel in a casket is a chilling takeaway, though, and is subliminal messaging since his WWF career is an hourglass that’s running out time.