May 27, 1996 - Monday Night Wars 34

Raw 161

  • Pack it in, folks. We’re done here. Raw is dead, and they don’t even know it. Let me just run down the card as a formality and then move on to the big boys.

  • King of the Ring is coming up, so we’re going through the preliminary rounds on Raw. The first match is Goldust VS Ultimate Warrior and it ends in a double countout. That’s a terrible way to kick off both the show and the tournament.

  • The other match for King of the Ring is Ahmed Johnson VS Vader. Owen Hart sneak attacks Johnson when the ref is distracted and Vader gets the win that way. So far, this tournament is looking pretty janky.

  • Oh, and I should mention that Ahmed gets knocked unconscious by Owen and has to be carted out on a stretcher. Backstage, Goldust gives him “mouth to mouth”, causing Ahmed to fly into a violent rage when he wakes up. Cool, so while Raw is sandbagging their own tournament and espousing homophobia, what’s Nitro got for us?

 This is the best that WWF creative could come up with.

This is the best that WWF creative could come up with.

Nitro 37

  • How about two hours of programming? While Raw is stuck in the dark ages with one hour pre-taped shows, Nitro is bringing the heat with live two hour spectacles, the first hour of which is hosted by Larry Zbyszko and Tony Schiavone, while the second hour is hosted by Bobby Heenan and Eric Bischoff. Steve “Mongo” McMichael is off training for his upcoming match with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson at “Great American Bash”. I can’t say I miss him much.

  • Speaking of Flair and Anderson, they’re in the first match against American Males. After the Horsemen win, they give Gene Okerlund an interview. Mean Gene asks Arn what he’s expecting when he gets in the ring with Mongo. Arn tells him that “there ain’t never been a football player that I couldn’t walk over the top of to get to a better fight.” Arn is the man, let’s just leave it at that.

  • Next is a match with two dudes I’ve never heard of: Steve Doll VS The Mauler. It doesn’t matter though because out of the crowd comes the Bad Guy himself, Razor Ramon. He grabs a mic and interrupts the match like a badass. Check it out:

After nearly a year, Nitro has officially started the Monday Night Wars.

  • Okay, the game’s been changed, but we have to keep going. Diamond Dallas Page is getting a push recently and he’s looking great. He wrestles well, has a good look, and isn’t afraid to look stupid.

 DDP went to the Chevy Chase School of Acting.

DDP went to the Chevy Chase School of Acting.

  • After all this, we’re shown a video package of Hulk Hogan that basically tells us how cool we should think he is. I don’t care about Hogan and these last couple months without him or Savage have been refreshing. Stay away!

  • As we start the second hour, Bischoff let’s us know that he’s not even going to dignify the earlier interruption (by Razor Ramon) with a response. He says if wants to talk face to face, he’ll have to wait until the end of the show. Nitro knows how to get ratings.

  • The first match in the second half is Shark VS the Giant. It seems like Shark was kicked out of the Dungeon of Doom, so a lot is riding on this match for him. But of course, the Giant wins. And to add insult to injury, Big Bubba Rogers runs down while Shark is out cold and shaves off half his hair. Where’s Brutus the Barber when you need him?

  • We then get a cruiserweight match between Brad Armstrong and newcomer Hardwork Bobby Walker, who despite his hard work, is still pretty botchy.

This is just one of them. Watch the rest of the match for more top rope botches.

  • Following that is Lord Steven Regal against Alex Wright who I think I’ve seen win approximately zero times. Like DDP, Regal has been growing on me with his combination of in-ring ability, mic skills, and a dash of comedic sensibility. After the match, he cuts an awesome promo on basically everybody.

This man is the REAL Savage.

  • Finally, we get a singles match between Scott Steiner and Sting. I’d like to point out that Scott Steiner uses Ahmed Johnson’s finisher, the Pearl River Plunge, as just another move in his repertoire. Scott Steiner does not play around. Unfortunately, just when the match is reaching its fever pitch, Lex Luger jumps in, which causes Rick Steiner to jump in and the whole thing ends in a schmoz as the locker room tries to break it all up.

  • As Eric Bischoff and the Brain draw the program to a close, Razor Ramon finally shows back up and challenges WCW to bring their best three guys to fight, ostensibly, the three best guys from WWF. What’s so cool about this angle is that on the surface it seems like the two shows are at war with each other, when in reality, it’s all WCW. It’s genius, really.

Verdict: Unless something serious happens fast, Raw is dead in the water. Nitro is live every week and now has double the show as Raw. They can afford to take more chances and put more guys on the mic and develop lots of different angles. And if that weren’t enough, they’ve got Razor Ramon now with a (kayfabe) WWF/WCW feud angle. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Winner this week: Nitro

Score to date: Nitro 24, Raw 10

(Television Ratings: Raw - 2.3; Nitro - 2.8)