May 20, 1996 - Monday Night Wars 33

Raw 160

  • It’s the go-home show before “In Your House: Beware of Dog” so this episode highlights several of the storylines that will be reaching their conclusion at that show. The first match is Wildman Marc Mero (with Sable) against Stone Cold Steve Austin. It’s a fine match, but the ending is pretty lame because Savio Vega runs out with a leather strap and hits Austin with it a few times, leading to a disqualification of Mero. I guess that’s one way to keep both Austin and Mero from having to do a job for the other one. Lawler mentions that “Austin’s never lost a Caribbean Strap Match!” Well, he’s never actually been in one either, so I guess he’s technically correct.

  • Savio Vega’s actually up next, facing another wrestler managed by Ted DiBiase, the 123 Kid. Savio ends up winning the match, but naturally Stone Cold runs out to stomp a mudhole in him, paying back Savio back from earlier and then some. The Kid joins in and together they hogtie Savio with his own leather strap.

But for real though, was the Kid always this ripped?!

But for real though, was the Kid always this ripped?!

  • We take a break from the action to learn that the Bodydonnas have dropped the tag team titles to the Godwinns on last week’s Superstars, letting us know definitively that the WWF does not care about their tag team division.

  • Jim Ross then interviews Paul Bearer in nearly pitch darkness (which seems like a bad choice). He stands next to a casket that the Undertaker is resting in. Taker begins to cut a promo on Goldust from inside the casket when suddenly Mankind runs up, slams the casket shut, and ties it closed with rope. He then beats on it with a length of steel pipe before pushing it completely over and running off backstage. I still don’t understand why Taker wasn’t just feuding with Mankind in the first place. Maybe it was to give Mankind a chance to get some more screen time so it didn’t feel rushed.

Nitro 36

  • I noticed that this episode of Nitro is nearly an hour and ten minutes long, which is about 25 minutes longer than the standard length of time that Raw and Nitro typically run. I wonder if this was a one-time thing or if this will be the new length for the show. If it’s the latter, this is a distinct advantage over Raw. Also, Mongo McMichael is missing from the broadcast booth because he’s training for his upcoming tag team match against Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. For the record, Mongo’s partner is Kevin Greene, an active (at the time) pro football player. I believe this match is happening because Flair keeps trying to schmooze Mongo’s wife whenever he comes down to the ring. So basically Flair’s just a piece of crap.

  • Tonight though, Flair’s taking on Eddie Guerrero in what will be a nearly 4-star match, according to Dave Meltzer. Eddie begins to get the upperhand in the beginning which sends Flair into a tantrum on the outside of the ring. When he finally re-enters, it’s to the sound of the crowd chanting Eddie’s name. I think this kid’s going places! Ultimately, Flair uses the ropes for leverage while applying the Figure-Four, but Eddie never actually taps out; he’s unable to lift his shoulders, resulting in a loss by pinfall.

  • Meanwhile, Randy Savage is still barred from entering the arena by law enforcement. As someone who can’t really stand him right now, this is the best decision the creative team could have made.

They have guns?! Wait, are these actual local cops?

They have guns?! Wait, are these actual local cops?

  • The final two matches are Brad Armstrong VS Diamond Dallas Page and Arn Anderson VS The Giant, but they’re both just matches for the sake of having matches, so nothing really to report for either of them. That being said, they’re both fine, just nothing out of the ordinary.

Verdict: Raw is the show that’s pushing storyline, but it’s still pretty sparse and the matches tend to feel like they drag. Nitro may be a bit of a mess if you’re trying to figure out what the stories actually are that they’re trying to tell, you can’t deny that their in-ring work typically blows Raw’s out of the water.

Winner this week: Nitro

Score to date: Nitro 23, Raw 10

(Television Ratings: Raw - 2.3; Nitro - 3.1)