Raw kicks off immediately with the sound of glass breaking, signaling Stone Cold Steve Austin is coming down to the ring. I love seeing Stone Cold getting more and more traction with the company and the fans. Even after losing to Bret Hart at Survivor Series last night, the fans are still behind him, maybe even moreso. Unfortunately Mankind is also behind him, running up and sneak attacking him before Austin even makes it to the ring. They brawl for a few minutes before finally making it into the squared circle so the bell can ring and their match can officially start. Sensing that Austin may win, Paul Bearer runs and gets the Executioner who’s been lurking around with them recently to double team Stone Cold. Luckily for him, the Undertaker joins the fray as well, chasing off Mankind and the Executioner. Austin returns the favor by clotheslining the Dead Man out of the ring. The Undertaker lands on his feet however and stares down Austin who judiciously decides to leave the ring and return to the locker room area.
Afterwards, Farooq comes out to fight Savio Vega. As of yesterday’s pay per view, Farooq has ditched both his SubZero costume and his manager Sunny, opting instead for a Black Panther inspired outfit and attitude as well as Clarence Mason as his manager. He’s heralded by two rappers with the acronym NOD on their jackets, referring to the new name of the group: the Nation of Domination. When the ref’s back is turned during the match, the two rappers begin beating Savio with a two-by-four. Luckily he’s rescued by Ahmed Johnson who runs down from the crowd and chases everyone off. Looks like Ahmed’s done convalescing and is ready to jump back into his feud with Farooq.
The show ends with Sycho Sid cutting a promo on Bret Hart, the man he’ll soon be fighting. I have to say, going from Austin on the mic to Sid is a step down in quality to say the least. And since Sid won the World Heavyweight Championship last night, I guess it’s also fair to say he’s a step down from Shawn Michaels as well. Seems like a strange booking decision all around, but maybe it’ll pan out.
Today’s episode of Nitro starts in media res. Hall and Nash are standing tall over the unconscious bodies of no fewer than six men. They jump down from the ring and grab the mics from Larry Zbyszko and Tony Schiavone to trash talk the Faces of Fear. Afterwards as they head to the back, they’re jumped by the very people they just called out and the fight spills to the outside of the arena. As we cut back to the commentators, Tony is noticeably upset and takes it out on Larry before finally deciding he doesn’t need this stress in his life and walks out, leaving Larry to fend for himself until Mike Tenay shows up. Tensions are running high in WCW these days.
Later Hugh Morrus faces Lex Luger. This is basically just a warm-up match for the Total Package, who is interviewed by Mean Gene after the match to get his thoughts on the impending pay per view. He’s interrupted however by Sting who enters the ring with a baseball bat. He confronts his one-time friend and shoves him hard against the ropes before pressing the bat into Luger’s chest. But rather than hit him, Sting instead hands the bat over and then walks away. Which side Sting’s on is still anybody’s guess.
The show ends with Eric Bischoff in the ring. He says they’re still trying to get a hold of Rowdy Roddy Piper and he’ll update us all on his status with the company as soon as he can. He’s suddenly interrupted by bagpipes and Hot Rod himself comes out. He cuts a promo on Hogan while simultaneously bullying Bischoff for no particular reason that I can see. Naturally this is as good a time as any for the nWo to make their move, which is exactly what they do. They surround Roddy and beat him up. Hollywood Hogan then enters the ring and embraces Eric Bischoff. What’s this?! It turns out that Bischoff is now working for the nWo and orchestrated this whole thing to get Roddy in front of Hogan. This is crazy! Bischoff is the president of WCW and he just defected to the nWo. I have no idea what this means for the future of the company.
Verdict: Raw is definitely better than usual this week (helped assuredly by this being their monthly live episode), but it can’t hold a candle to the ever-developing nWo storyline. I imagine after seeing Bischoff jump ship, viewers in 1996 would just HAVE to see what will happen on the next episode. I don’t see myself saying the same thing about Raw very often.
Winner this week: Nitro
Score to date: Nitro 42, Raw 16
(Television Ratings: Raw - 2.4; Nitro - 3.2)