WWF Monday Night Raw – July 15, 1996

WWF Monday Night Raw – July 15, 1996
Green Bay, WI (taped 6/24/96)

Commentators: Vince McMahon and Jerry “The King” Lawler

Earlier tonight, WWF Intercontinental Champion Ahmed Johnson and WWF Champion Shawn Michaels were greeted by a welcoming committee that included WWF President Gorilla Monsoon, and, all the members of Camp Cornette. There’ll be fireworks on RAW!

WWF Intercontinental Championship:
Bart Gunn [WWF Tag-Team Champion] (w/ Sunny) vs. Ahmed Johnson (c)

Result/Analysis: Johnson via pinfall (11:30 shown) following the Pearl River Plunge. A non-title match would have sufficed since there was no way Bart Gunn was winning the Intercontinental Title. The booking was either Ahmed going over clean, as he did, or Camp Cornette interfering and Ahmed still winnning by disqualification. Pretty stupid. Why not Owen Hart as Ahmed’s opponent here? Owen is a legitimate threat to winning the belt and you’d have had heat for the match, plus it would have furthered the IYH Six-Man Tag-Team Main Event. Bart works on Ahmed’s shoulder, which is nice, but him doing so is the bulk of the match. Ahmed pinning Owen with the Pearl River Plunge sans outside interference would have been the match of my choice. Instead, an OK match with the completely obvious result is what is given to us loyal WWF fans. Ho hum.
Rating: **

Michaels gives his customary promo for having a target on his back as the reigning WWF Champion. Furthermore, HBK feels he can trust Sycho Sid at International Incident in what will be gang warfare against Camp Cornette. The WWF wouldn’t book it this way, but Sycho Sid needed to double-cross Michaels and turn heel. Michaels versus Sid at SummerSlam could have been hot! Vader’s monster push had stalled out and it needed to be jumpstarted again with Vader wreaking havoc on the WWF until Survivor Series in November when he and Shawn should have matched up for the WWF Championship at Madison Square Garden. Sid could have joined Camp Cornette and that stable could have been feared. The history between Shawn and Sid, with Sid acting as Shawn’s bodyguard up thru the day following WrestleMania XI in April 1995 was still fresh enough in fans minds to return back to. All in all, while logical to me, the WWF brain trust, really Vinnie-Mac, couldn’t see the Sycho Sid/Shawn Michaels match as an immediate draw. Pfft.

“Wildman” Marc Mero (w/ Sable) vs. TL Hopper

Result/Analysis: Mero via pinfall (8:30 shown) following a KO punch. Hopper brought his tested plunger to the ring named “Betsy” and proceeded to clear Mero’s drains. Hopper’s pants were purposely loose meaning they kept needing to be yanked up or his ass crack would be clearly visible. Lawler makes the obligatory PSA that Hopper is advocating no drug use because watching him wrestle has you going “say no to crack.” This was the fourth RAW taping of the night in Green Bay, WI and the live crowd is dead silent throughout. Hopper works in too much offense in order to fill time for this taped episode, otherwise, Mero does his thing: firemans carry slams, flying headscissors and the usual punching. Mero is wrestling “Stone Cold” Steve Austin again at IYH even though Goldust and Marlena had started a three-way love triangle thing with Sable. It was initially supposed to be a lesbian angle with Marlena going after Sable until Vince got cold feet and switched it to Goldust being the one with lustful intent and where the gifts to Sable came from. TL Hopper was shortlived though he had defeated Duke “The Dumpster” Droese in a “Home Improvement Match” around this time on WWF SuperStars. July 1996 was the lowest of low points.
Rating: *1/2

Jim Cornette, surrounded by his charges, does more to promote the six-man tag at IYH more than anyone could. He frames International Incident as the two warring factions fought between two countries. Vader was American, though, and Bulldog was from the U.K. so Cornette was stretching the truth. Cornette notes that they took out The Ultimate Warrior to level the first shot. Michaels and Johnson answered by bringing back Sycho Sid from whatever asylum he’d been held up in. At IYH, Camp Cornette will fire the last shot. I already gave you what should have happened …

Following Camp Cornette, and to kill further time, a lengthy Undertaker video package of all his career highlights is shown. Just think, in 1996 he’d been around for six years, yet 24 more awaited.
As for this time period, The Undertaker and Goldust were set to do battle once more at IYH.

WWF Championship:
Billy Gunn [WWF Tag-Team Champion] (w/ Sunny)
vs. “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels (c) (w/ José Lothario)

Result/Analysis: Michaels via pinfall (11:31 shown) following Sweet Chin Music. Shawn engages in foreplay with Sunny to entertain the crowd. Little did anyone know, however, there was foreplay and a whole lot more going on between those two off-camera. Ahem. Billy Gunn received his first true singles match and unlike Bart, who had zero personality, Billy showcases some potential. He’s more Rockabilly here than Mr. Ass of his D-X days, but at least he was someone to do something with before The Smoking Gunns tag-team ran its course. Shawn controls most of the match with Billy’s lone highlight being that he broke out the fame-ass-er here which Vince calls the Rocker Dropper. Shawn does his usual moveset and defeats Billy without even the hint of losing the match.
Rating: **1/2

Afterward, as Shawn and Ahmed are set to do an interview backstage, Cornette instead baits them into a chase which leads them running outside the building into an overdubbed bit where Sycho Sid drives his car in to chase off Camp Cornette from a three-on-two beatdown. Given that Sid couldn’t have been at the initial taping on June 24 in Green Bay since The Ultimate Warrior hadn’t yet been suspended, the WWF no doubt taped this bit at a recent house show. RAW goes off the air with this unfolding drama and as a fan, we’re supposed to buy IYH to see the match. Laughable.

The Verdict: The Main Event booking had become Camp Cornette trying to vanquish Shawn Michaels. Only Vader represented a real threat to the WWF Championship and Shawn made sure to squash those prospects with Vince by ass-kissing. In Your House: International Incident at least builds to SummerSlam one month later, though, no one was excited about the WWF product or watching their shows too closely given the ongoings at WCW with the n.W.o.

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