WWF Monday Night Raw – April 1, 1996
San Bernardino, CA
Commentators: Vince McMahon and Jerry “The King” Lawler
A WrestleMania XII rewind sets the scene. The Shawn Michaels era begins tonight!
Vince welcomes us to San Bernardino and you’d think Raw was LIVE from Madison Square Garden with his exuberance. But no, it’s the NEW WWF Champion Shawn Michaels that has old Vinnie Mac gushing. The man could hardly contain his crush. LOL.
Bob “Spark Plug” Holly vs. Mankind
Result/Analysis: Mankind via submission (3:22) with the mandible claw. Mick Foley’s long-awaited WWF debut comes off the heels of WrestleMania XII. Cactus Jack was repackaged from the hardcore/risk-taking psychopath that wrestled in matches with barbed wire and tables to that of a schizophrenic who’s a deranged and forgotten soul. Right away, Foley sells the gimmick by ripping his own hair out, making strange grunting sounds and debuting a new finisher. The mandible claw was designed for opponents to choke on their own vomit, which Holly sort of does here to sell the move. The match is too short to critique but Foley nails his new gimmick on night one. Perfecto!
Vince and Lawler discuss the WrestleMania appearance of “Wildman” Marc Mero, who was then jumped by Hunter Hearst Helmsley after he lost quickly to The Ultimate Warrior. As for Sable, who accompanied Helmsley to the ring, she’s bought a ticket for tonight and sits at ringside. Sable, Rena Mero at the time, was married to Marc in real life.
More WrestleMania highlights are shown with fan comments from those in attendance. The encore presentation is being hyped.
Isaac Yankem D.D.S. vs. “Wildman” Marc Mero
Result/Analysis: Mero via pinfall (4:26) following a flying sunset flip. There’s some vintage Johnny B. Badd here as Yankem doesn’t do too much. Helmsley comes to ringside to sit next to Sable and convince her that he’s deserving of a second shot, moreso over Mero whom she’s eyeing like a cat. That’s the storyline but Mero mixes in a sommersault dive, slingshot legdrop and a flying headscissors to show himself off. Helmsley being a distraction does allow Yankem an opening to work some offense, which Lawler, on commentary, uses to ask for Mero’s bicuspid’s as an extraction. LOL. Mero instead nearly ends the match off a crucifix – – – without much help from Yankem – – – and a reverse roll-up, before his golden gloves boxing acumen delivers a hard knockout punch. The woozy Yankem falls prey to the aforementioned sunset flip. Mero needs a finisher right off. After the bell, Mero confronts Helmsley over him badgering Sable. He pushes him aside and Sable hops the railing into Mero’s arms. The WWF had itself a new power couple. It’s a decent debut for “Wildman.”
The Ultimate Warrior will appear on Raw next week. That will be a first for him.
Non-Title Tag-Team Match:
Barry Horowitz & “The Portuguese Man ‘O War” Aldo Montoya
vs. The Bodydonnas [Skip & Zip] – WWF Tag-Team Champions (w/ Sunny)
Result/Analysis: The Bodydonnas via pinfall (5:32) when Skip pins Montoya off a top-rope cannonball. Decent match. Sunny was the attraction and not just backstage with the entire locker room! Sure, The Bodydonnas were given a run with the tag-team titles, but it was Sunny who followed the belts wherever they went. That parodied her lifestyle if you followed along. And for a jobber tag-team, Horowitz and Montoya get a little run here but it’s really all fluff to allow the cameras to focus on Sunny’s cleavage for the entire five minutes. As for The Godwinns, the team whom The Bodydonnas defeated to win the vacated titles prior to WrestleMania, Vince announces there will be a re-match for the titles at In Your House VII on April 28th. Yippee Skippee. I can’t wait.
WrestleMania XII highlight package to pump the ENCORE airing once more.
Mr. Bob Backlund is spotted in the crowd campaigning for his Presidential bid.
More overkill on WrestleMania with yet more fan reaction.
Vince introduces Shawn Michaels as “the leader of the New Generation.” That had to piss off Bret Hart even more back in Calgary! Vince gushes with Michaels standing next to him with the WWF Title belt draped over his shoulder. He even gives a half-hearted shout out to Bret. Cheap. Michaels’ clapping is more irritating on the subject, however. Shawn says WrestleMania was the greatest night of his life and he has The Kliq to thank for it. Yeah, the gullible ass kisser wannabees. Shawn says there were times he didn’t think he could get back up. Because of his Kliq, he found the extra strength. This is nauseating. Vince tells Shawn his hunt to become the WWF Champion is now over and that he’s now the hunted … starting next week versus “The King.” Ha! As for “Big Daddy Cool” Diesel? Yeah, he’s after that. Shawn puckers up to Bret saying he’s been made a believer after WrestleMania as to how good “The Hitman” is after years of Bret saying so repeatedly to everyone. Just stop! Shawn promises the WWF fans, Bret and Bret’s family, that he’ll wear the WWF Title with the honor, dignity and class that Bret did in the past. Except Shawn, you didn’t. Vince turns back to Shawn versus Lawler next week. The crowd chants “Burger King,” of course. Shawn informs Lawler he’ll be sending him back to his white castle. WTH? As for Diesel, Shawn admits they were once Skipper and Gilligan, but not anymore. He casually coins the tagline for IYH calling them “Good Friends (but) Better Enemies” and promises “Big Daddy Cool” will be eating sweet chin music when they tango. And that’s a wrap as Shawn primps and dances for The Kliq. Lawler, on commentary, spouts off about next week. Couldn’t they have fed Shawn, you know, Marty Jannetty first instead?
But wait, there’s more as Shawn Michaels will personally autograph a limited edition 4,800 to be exact WrestleMania XII plaque that showcases him realizing his dream of becoming the WWF Champion in the greatest match of all-time. How Bret EVER returned with all of this pre-planned ceremonious Michaels bestowment as “their guy” I just can’t fathom. In case you’re wondering, one of those rare puppies just sold for $400 on eBay! I SHIT you not!!
Next week on Raw, in addition to Michaels versus Lawler, there’ll be an arm wrestling challenge between Ahmed Johnson and The British Bulldog plus Yokozuna goes one-on-one with Vader.
Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw (w/ Zebekiah) vs. The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer)
Result/Analysis: The Undertaker via DQ (4:27 shown) due to outside interference from Mankind. Bradshaw was great here, wrestling a brute Texas redneck roughhouse style taking no prisoners with high impact offense. Taker, “weakened” off his WrestleMania match with Diesel takes the ass-kicking before he mounts his comeback. A flying clothesline, chokeslam and tombstone piledriver seemingly end the match but wasting no time making an impact is Mankind! Taker is laid out quickly as Foley delivers his flying elbow coming off the ring apron. He applies the mandible claw from there shrieking all the while as The Undertaker passes out drowned in his own saliva. Mankind keeps coming back on the attack as various officials try to keep him at bay. And just like that, on his debut night as Mankind, Foley is immediately engaged in a feud with the alpha dog.
The Verdict: Shawn Michaels begins his era as WWF Champion with pompous arrogance and hollow rhetoric (about Bret) to which no one in the know believed. The story on this night, however, was Mankind. Foley sold the gimmick immediately and became the natural next enemy for The Undertaker as the WWF wasted no time jumpstarting their feud. Mero had himself a nice in-ring debut and adding Sable helped to get him over. The entire feel of the product changed in a 24-hour period. There finally was an anticipation of what would come next after two solid years of expecting nothing special. Harnessing the fresh talent influx took time but it eventually paid off.