WWF Monday Night Raw – April 22, 1996

WWF Monday Night Raw – April 22, 1996
San Bernardino, CA (taped 4/1/96)

Commentators: Vince McMahon and Jerry “The King” Lawler

Return Match for the vacant WWF Intercontinental Championship:
Goldust (w/ Marlena) vs. Savio Vega

Result/Analysis: Goldust via pinfall (11:06 shown) after “Stone Cold” Steve Austin wails Vega with the million-dollar belt as Marlena distracts the referee. So let me understand this. WWF President Gorilla Monsoon stripped Goldust of the title “last week” due to the use of the belt, which led to Vega’s “win,” but when the match concludes in the same fashion the “next week,” only for an outside party, the result stands? That’s terrible booking. Also, the WWF literally taped FOUR weeks of RAW shows the night after WrestleMania – – – I’m sure the roster loved that – – – so this crowd in San Bernardino technically sat through TWO Vega/Goldust matches in the span of let’s say 90 minutes? Mind numbing. The highlight here has nothing to do with the match but in the “director’s chair” where Marlena was clearly nipping out. I mention because the video cameras kept going back to the same shot! Those perverted cameramen! The Goldust/Vega match in Act I (last week) wasn’t too bad. Act II can put you to sleep. Vega gets some near falls to pop the mostly dead crowd but Goldust mostly controls the match, which is fought at a snail’s pace. Goldust regains the IC Title for a defense against The Ultimate Warrior at In Your House. You’d have thought Vega and Austin would also make the card against each other but they only wrestle a “dark match” following the PPV for those in attendance in Omaha. The IYH events were two-hour PPV’s at a “cheaper” price, I think.
Rating: *1/2

IYH Promo Package highlighting Shawn Michaels/Diesel “No Holds Barred.”

Vader (w/ Jim Cornette) vs. Fatu

Result/Analysis: Vader via pinfall (1:57 shown) following a top rope moonsault. Squash. The match was JIP (joined in progress) so there’s not much to dissect. Fatu hit a couple of moves to little effect. Vader is set up to squash the returning from suspension Razor Ramon at IYH, but moreso as it’s Ramon’s last televised match in the WWF before departing for WCW in May. The match had no build just an announcement the previous week coupled with a Cornette rant. Otherwise, the pairing could have worked a halfway decent match or two. Vader remained the best heel going.
Rating: 1/2*

Meanwhile, on the WWF’s live tour in Germany, The British Bulldog jumps Jake “The Snake” Roberts in his match with Owen Hart to set up a tussle at IYH. Jake fights back and places his snake on Bulldog. This taped footage lasted longer than the Vader/Fatu match. I believe, however, Ahmed Johnson teams with Roberts at the PPV and Bulldog tags with Owen. The advertised matches didn’t always stay as advertised. The WWF always had that fine print on their ticket stubs.

The Godwinns [Henry O. & Phineas I.] (w/Hillbilly Jim) vs. Yoshihiro Tajiri & Tim Patterson

Result/Analysis: The Godwinns via pinfall (3:36) when Henry pins Patterson following the slop drop. Terrible jobber squash. Sunny came out flaunting the tag-team titles but she gets chased off by Hillybilly Jim and the mut dog. The pay-off comes following the match as The Bodydonnas jump The Godwinns and feed Phineas the slop bucket. Yes!!! The Tag-Team Titles are up for grabs at IYH.
Rating: DUD

“The Portuguese Man O’ War” Aldo Montoya vs. Mankind

Result/Analysis: Mankind via submission (3:32) with the mandible claw. This was Mankind starring in his own horror film as, of course, a paranoid schizophrenic. Montoya was metely the sacrificial lamb being led to slaughter. Mankind pulls his own hair out, doing so twice, once leaving the strand on the turnbuckle bad, as he grunts his way through the match. Mankind became The Undertaker’s most significant feud in his 5 1/2 WWF career to that point, unless you count Yokozuna considering they had a thing. Montoya, aka Justin Credible, languished on as jobber fodder for another 1 1/2 years before experiencing a career revival in ECW under Paul Heyman. The Undertaker/Mankind feud was in its infant stages and initially lasted the duration of 1996 before being revived several more times in 1997, and notably in 1998. It would beome one of the most pivotal feuds to bridge the “New Generation” and “Attitude Era” time periods. As for this match, it’s what you get when establishing a fresh talent, and at the tail end of a four week RAW taping night in one location. When your company is fighting against budget constraints, and for its survival, this is what you do. Mankind and The Undertaker would have a “Dark Match” following IYH. No need too rush.
Rating: *1/2

RAW concludes with a lengthy recap of Shawn Michaels and Diesel’s two year odyssey. Diesel debuted as Michaels’ henchman. He then branched out and became Intercontinental Champion, and Tag-Team Champion with Michaels. They were dubbed “Two Dudes With Attitudes” and stayed “Good Friends” while forging separate paths. Diesel became the WWF Champion in November 1994, and even defeated Michaels at WrestleMania XI after Michaels had won the Royal Rumble. As Diesel’s reign as WWF Champion continued on throughout 1995, Michaels regained the IC Title and he and Diesel again became the Tag-Team Champs. But, Diesel showed a mean streak after losing the WWF Championship to Bret Hart at Survivor Series and then lost out to Michaels in January’s Royal Rumble Match. Michaels went on to win the WWF Championship at WrestleMania XII and now, a jealous Diesel, is gunning for Michaels and the belt at IYH. The match will be “No Holds Barred” and once “Good Friends” will become “Better Enemies.” The match was so easy to put together as the history was already in place. Bret Hart was back in Calgary pouting and with Diesel (Kevin Nash) on his way out of the WWF, the blow-off match was a must. Did it deliver???
Diesel has the last word, pre-taped from Germany. He doesn’t care about the belt; He wants to destroy Michaels. Diesel shoots on McMahon, also, to insinuate a personal beef on his way out. Oy!

The Verdict: If EVER there was a one match draw for a PPV event it was IYH 7: Good Friends, Better Enemies. The entire card, what there is of it, was constructed at this single four week RAW taping in San Bernardino, CA. WrestleMania XII must have been the budget for the first half of 1996, at least. Michaels and Diesel better deliver. This RAW stunk making it two weeks in a row. The larger issue in booking was there wasn’t an immediate plan sans Diesel, Ramon, Bret Hart etc. for a while longer. WCW would capitalize on that malpractice and BIG TIME!!!

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