January 22, 1996 - Monday Night Wars 19

Raw 144

  • We’re live from Stockton, CA and coming hot off the heels of the Royal Rumble where Goldust defeated Razor Ramon for the Intercontinental Championship (with some help from the 123 Kid), Shawn Michaels won the Rumble for the second year in a row earning him the number one contender’s spot for the World Heavyweight Championship, and Bret Hart retained his title against the Undertaker after Diesel interfered with the ref.

  • During the Rumble, we saw the debut of Vader, who is a hulking man with an even bigger attitude problem. Today he faces Savio Vega, the same man he focused much of his aggression on during the Rumble. Vader wins the match via Vader Bomb and then hits another one after the bell has rung. When the ref tries to stop him, Vader headbutts him. A second ref tries to step in, but he gets punched in the face and powerbombed. This is too much for WWF president Gorilla Monsoon who makes his way to the ring to put a stop to the madness. When Vader gets in his face, Monsoon announces that he’s suspending Vader indefinitely. Vader begins shouting at Monsoon again which earns him three big chops from the WWF President. It seems like maybe Vader will finally back down, but instead he hits Gorilla with a splash in the corner, drops an elbow on him, and then Vader Bombs him. Holy crap! Finally Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon, and several armed cops run out to the ring which is enough to finally get Vader to retreat to the locker room. I have to say, I wasn’t interested in Vader at all, but this has got to be the greatest debut of a wrestler on Raw yet. I honestly wonder if this is how Gorilla Monsoon retires from this role.

Gorilla is nearly 60 years old here.

  • After all of this, Vader declares war on everyone in the WWF, including the other wrestlers, the officials, Vince, everybody. This dude is not playing around.

  • Later, Shawn Michaels is interviewed by Vince and says that while he is focused on winning the World Championship, he still needs to take care of Owen Hart who’s been going around saying he’s the one that took out the Heartbreak Kid. Owen’s manager Jim Cornette comes down and tells Shawn that the only way he’ll sign off on that match is if Shawn hands over his title shot to Owen, which HBK decides is a fair trade. Book it!

  • The last match of the night is Goldust, the Intercontinental Champ, against Bret Hart, the World Champ, in a non-title match. I don’t know why it’s happening, but it’s cool to see both title holders in the ring together. After Bret wins via Sharpshooter, he’s interviewed by Vince. Clearly they’re taking a page out of WCW’s book by having these interview segments. It allows us to get a better idea of who these wrestlers are and helps drive story.

Nitro 21

  • Meanwhile on Monday Nitro, it’s the Hulk Hogan Show. Throughout the night, Hulk Hogan gets on the mic no fewer than THREE times, always with the Macho Man as well. Neither guy can cut a clear and concise promo either. They both meander around and never fully make their points while also never fully committing to being faces or heels. For example, in the main event of the night, Hogan faces the One Man Gang and rakes his eyes, pokes his eyes, and bites him. Those are the tactics of a “good guy”?! And when the Four Horsemen and the Dungeon of Doom come out to get him, he takes them each out with a single eye rake to each one. And while I’m at it, his Big Boot sucks.

 More like Big Booooooooo.

More like Big Booooooooo.

 

  • Anyway, the show starts off with Konnan, the Mexican Heavyweight Champion, interrupting the announcers to tell us that he’ll be fighting Psicosis at Clash of the Champions tomorrow and putting his title on the line for the first time. I’m not sure why there’s been so much emphasis on all these cross-promotional matches. I do like the running joke though of the announcers constantly being interrupted by so many different people.

  • The first match is Ric Flair VS Randy Savage who is accompanied to the ring by a bunch of beautiful women, one of whom apparently has history with Flair. What’s her name, you ask? Woman. Her name is Woman. Hey, they may be sexist, but at least they’re not homophobic. Woof. Anyway, Flair ends up dropping the title to Savage after Arn Anderson accidentally hits Flair in the face instead of Macho.

  • Speaking of belts changing hands as a direct result of outside interference involving punching someone with a foreign object, that’s the exact same thing that happens in the Harlem Heat match when they lose their tag team titles to Lex Luger and Sting with the outside help of Jimmy Hart. I guess the writers didn’t think we’d notice?

Verdict: Not only did Nitro slip pretty far this week, but Raw also stepped their game up in a big way. While Nitro is reusing plot and getting Hogan to fill time, Raw is putting the life of their president in the hands of a psychopath and getting Shawn Michaels back in the ring and on the mic.

Winner this week: Raw

Score to date: Nitro 17, Raw 2

(Television Ratings: Raw - 2.9; Nitro - 2.7)