The Best And Worst Of WWF Monday Night Raw 12/9/96: Brand Loyalty

Previously on the vintage Best and Worst of WWF Monday Night Raw: We’re on the Road to In Your House: It’s Time, and you know what that means! Wait, you don’t?

On last week’s show we got the Raw debut of Flash Funk, and the Raw return of Vince McMahon being really weird around black people. Shawn Michaels is still upset about Survivor Series, the Karate Fighters tournament rages on, and Bradshaw and Jesse James had match one in their legendary two-part series even Bradshaw and Jesse James have forgotten.

You can watch this week’s episode here, and check all the episodes you may’ve missed at the Best and Worst of WWF Monday Night Raw tag page. Follow along with the competition here.

And now, the Best and Worst of WWF Monday Night Raw for December 9, 1996.

Worst: It’s Time To Not Play The Game

This week, we open with one of the most 2016 Raw matches you’ll ever see: WWF Champion Sycho Sid facing Intercontinental Champion Hunter Hearst Helmsley. That should be a big deal, right? Champion vs. Champion? Especially with a pay-per-view coming up. You want to keep them both strong so the crowd will be invested in their matches, and buy into the drama. If they buy into the drama, they might pay you to watch the show.

Instead, it’s just Sid basically wrestling Triple H by standing still, and H bumping until he decides to take a purposeful count-out loss. It’s good to know they’ve had these problems for 20 years, I guess.

Seriously though, Sid is practically immobile. He’ll do a move and just stand there, and the crowd will respond so he’ll maybe look up at them and slowly walk toward a corner. I feel like if Sid ever had a sense of urgency and looked like he was trying to win matches, he’d have been the most unstoppable wrestler ever. He goes for a powerbomb and just stands there bent over, hugging you with your head in his crotch, like he’s gotta burp before he does it. It’s so weird.

Worst: Taping Cycles Messing Up Your Karate Fighters Tournament

Last week’s column explained the hilarious bait and switch of the Karate Fighters tournament, and this week we find out we aren’t gonna see the finals until next week because they want to do it live. They want to do a Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robot toy tournament finals that was rebooked on the fly live. SURE FINE LET’S DO IT, THIS WILL DEFINITELY BEAT NITRO.

Worst: Luchador Bart Gunn

If you look at the right of that image, you’ll see Bart Gunn going for a springboard crossbody. He tries to spring up to the top rope from the apron but can’t quite make it high enough or far enough over, so he ends up kneeling on the rope about half a foot from the turnbuckle. He adjusts himself, stands up and jumps backwards into a crossbody with the grace and hangtime of a shot duck. Goldust pins him.

If you look at the left of the image, that’s my reaction to everything Bart Gunn does.

Worst: Zeb Can Never Hang On To These Heel Protégés

Match #3 on the night is a handicap match: “The Real Double J” Jesse James, the only man who can be less interesting and believable than Jeff Jarrett, vs. the team of Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw and Uncle Zebekiah, who straight-up looks like my mom mated with one of the Oak Ridge Boys.

Things fall apart … well, the second the wrestling starts, but things actually fall apart when Bradshaw holds James and orders Zeb to hit him with a branding iron. What Happens Next Will Shock You! Zeb smashes Bradshaw in the face, Jesse James gets the win, and the legendary partnership of Cowboy JBL and Bearded Lady Crystal Gayle is through.

After the match, Bradshaw makes sure to brand Zeb just to drive home the point. This of course is the beginning of Bradshaw’s big singles push. Just kidding, he doesn’t do anything for the next two years.

Best: Bret Hart’s Bret Hart Jean Jacket

Look at that thing. It should be in a museum.

Bret cuts a short promo about his championship match with Sid at In Your House: Vader Was Supposed To Be Champion and explains that when Sid snaps, they call him “Sycho,” but when BRET snaps, they’ll call him WWF Champion. Longtime viewers know that Bret eventually snaps for real, and they call him … lots of things.

Best: 10 Minutes Of A Dude Putting His Hand In A Dead Guy’s Mouth

The best part of the show in a walk is the main event, a “no holds barred” match between Mankind and The Undertaker. They had a boiler room brawl before this, but Undertaker really wanted to use a chinlock and it was barred, so he gets to go balls-out here. Mankind finally gets to use those wristlocks he was prohibited from using inside a steel cage.

Mankind continues his understated, revolutionary run here where he breaks up the boring monotony of Raw with these bizarre character pieces and exciting brawls, and slowly but surely convinces WWF that they should make the shows interesting and fun to watch. Who knew?

The match is pretty fun, but sadly an excuse to promote the upcoming showdown between Taker and THE EXECUTIONER. They’re having an Armageddon Rules match, which sadly takes place in 1996 instead of 1998 and isn’t just two dudes sitting around talking about how much they love Ben Affleck action movies. Maybe that’s what Gorilla Monsoon meant when he said certain attacks where “Pearl Harbor.” Executioner shows up after Taker wins the match and debilitates him with the Asiatic Spike, and in theory you are so hype to see this Wizard of Id motherf*cker get his.

Next Week: It’s time (for something)!