– We’re back! Sorry for the recent delays on the column. We tried to set them up for Mondays, and then WWE did four live specials in five weeks and beat me to death. We tried moving them to Fridays, and then whoops, Dusty Rhodes died. So now that everybody’s okay and the next live special isn’t until July 4, welcome back to the vintage Best and Worst of a show from 1996.
– Here are your pertinent show links on the Network:
Click here to watch this week’s episode on WWE Network. You can read about previous episodes on the Best and Worst of WWF Monday Night Raw tag page. As a reminder, we’ve jumped ahead three years to coordinate these columns with the Best and Worst of Nitro.
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWF Monday Night RAW for May 27 and June 3, 1996.
Before We Begin
Here’s everything you need to know about In Your House: Beware Of Dog, a slightly better show than In Your House: Baby On Board, but nowhere near as good as In Your House: Keep Honking, I’m Reloading.
God Hated This Show
You may know In Your House: Beware Of Dog as “the one where the lights went out.” A severe thunderstorm knocked out power in the arena, took out the WWF satellite TV trucks and cut the pay-per-view feed, so fans had to watch a bunch of matches in pitch blackness and the show had to be aired twice. The second time was two days later — a day after the 5/27 Raw, so it goes “pay-per-view, Raw, pay-per-view” — and was re-edited to be half live and half pre-taped. It was a massive clusterf*ck in every direction, and to date WWE’s never brought a pay-per-view event back to South Carolina. Because that’s where the anti-wrestling super villain with the doomsday weather machine lives, I guess.
The worst part of it all is that the edited, second version is the one on WWE Network, and it doesn’t include the Free For All pre-show so we miss out on the only good part of the show:
Sunny Pulled A Farmer’s Daughter Swerve On The Godwinns
And now, the continuing Sexual Misadventures Of Sunny, one of the 10 most beautiful women in the world (1996) and a woman willing to dress up like whatever and have sex with someone else who’s dressed up as a similar whatever to be associated with the tag team championships. When she showed up in WWF as part of the Bodydonnas we thought it was because she was a vaguely-defined Fitness Lady, but nope, she was just color-coordinating with Skip and Zip to get the tag titles.
WWF doesn’t really know how to tell her story, so she just Manipulation F*cks in every direction. Remember when she was rubbing baby oil on Ahmed Johnson for no reason? Recently she’s been trying and failing to seduce a pig farmer whose initials are “pig”, so at In Your House: My Other Ride Is A Tardis she ups the sexual ante: she is now the FARMER’S DAUGHTER VALET OF THE GODWINNS. The part of my southern brain that allowed me to find G.L.O.W.’s Farmer’s Daughter characters attractive despite them clearly being 47-year old cocktail waitresses begins to explode at the reality of the character done by someone young and even more beautiful than Teri Hatcher.
Of course, Sunny The Farmer’s Daughter would only last a night. The Godwinns defend the titles against The Smoking Gunns — cowboy guys, if you aren’t up on your occupational WWF history — so Sunny adjusts her sexual ruse. Previously she’d tried to directly mack on Phineas but it backfired, so this time she makes out with Billy Gunn. Phineas is all, “hey, that’s my SISTER,” gets rolled up by Bart and loses the match. The Gunns become the new World Tag Team Champions, and Sunny spends the evening switching out her farm essentials for a cowboy hat and finger guns.
Being WWF Champion Means You’re Allowed To Break The Law
And now, the continuing Sexual Misadventures Of Shawn Michaels, WWF Champion, Playgirl centerfold and alleged sexual harasser of dowdy Canadian moms. The British Bulldog (and Jim Cornette, and Clarence Mason, and a Benetton ad of other NPCs) has been accusing Shawn of confronting and propositioning his wife backstage at a WWF event. Shawn denied the claims, so Diana Hart (Bulldog’s wife) took out a restraining order against him. WWF was like, “Shawn Michaels is more important than you” and made her leave the arena so he could do color commentary. Now she’s subpoenaing him for a court appearance to settle the matter once and for all. His response? Tear up the paperwork while everyone cheers. Keep in mind that Shawn is co-founding D-Generation X about a year from now, so there’s a 1000% chance he (kayfabe) tried to stick Diana and got away with it by being a detached, entitled Manbaby.
Anyway, the finish of their championship match is the kind of decisive finish you’d expect from pro wrestling in 1996: The referee gets knocked out, Shawn German suplexes Davey Boy, a second ref hustles out and Shawn and gets the three. BUT WAIT, the previous referee had come to and was watching the pin from the apron, and saw Shawn’s shoulders down. Bulldog thinks he’s won (and he has), Shawn thinks HE’S won (and he also has), and Diana just kinda grabs the WWF Championship and poses with it on the ramp.
Heads up, this might be the greatest screencap of all time:
Can we PLEASE go back in time and rewrite this story so that Diana Hart is WWF Champion? She can never figure out that the belt’s upside down. Also, she can defend against VADER. That’s your new, retconned King Of The Ring main-event, you guys, Diana Hart defending the f*cking Winged Eagle against Big Van Vader.
So now let’s-
aw come on
WWF Monday Night Raw 5/27/96
Worst: Don’t Put Ultimate Warrior Into Tournaments
WAHLCOME EVERYONE TO MON DAY NAH RAHHHH
It’s time for the 1996 King of the Ring tournament. It ends biblically and begins the launch of arguably the most popular and profitable WWE Superstar of all time, but begins with a bunch of throwaway Raw matches featuring guys you can’t even book into finishes. The first of these is Goldust vs. The Ultimate Warrior, which should be nostalgic and fun but is irreparably damaged by the fact that Warrior can’t even sell basic match damage for fear of ruining his mystique.
They have a longer-than-you’d-expect match that goes pretty well until it’s time for Warrior to win. Warrior just starts bouncing off the ropes independent of his opponent — so independent that the announce team starts asking, “what’s he doing?” — and Goldust bails. He tries to take a count-out loss, but Warrior follows him out and they both get counted out. Neither man advances in the tournament, and we are forever deprived of that Warrior/Vader match that should’ve happened in round two. Vader would have to win to keep him strong heading into his big showdown with Diana Hart, so I guess we’d have been f*cked either way.
But yeah, Warrior has to keep his heat, so we do a weird thing where Lawler’s afraid Warrior’s going to hurt Marlena and chases after him with her director’s chair. Warrior sees him, the chase goes the other way, and Warrior eventually rolls into the ring and breaks Marlena’s chair to cheers. I wonder if one fan went home like, “who cares if Warrior lost the match, did you see him break that lady’s chair?”
Worst: The nWo Is About To Get A Benefactor
Despite the fact that the Caribbean strap match between Savio Vega and Stone Cold Steve Austin already happened — in the dark where nobody could see it, but it happened — they’re doing it again at BEWARE OF DOG 2, the night after Raw. To make things a little more interesting this time around, Ted DiBiase puts his WWF career on the line. If Austin can’t win, the Million Dollar Man is gone.
Spoiler alert: WWF isn’t going to change the match finish to compensate for lighting failure, so everything that happened in the dark happens again the next night. Isn’t it sad that this is the end of the Million Dollar Man’s storied WWF career? “Hello everybody, I’m The Million Dollar Man. I’m one of the most popular, identifiable bad guys from the WWF’s 1980s glory days. I have to go now because a guy I was managing lost a match in the dark, and I had to come up with a way to make people watch us do it again. I put my guy in a Caribbean strap match against a Caribbean guy. Twice. I was playing the odds! Ugh, where’s my man-servant.”
Best: Sunny Ray Vaughan
In non-tournament action, The Smoking Gunns defend their newly-won Tag Team Championships against The Bodydonnas. As you know if you read the previous page, Sunny jumped from the Bodydonnas to the Godwinns to the Gunns to follow the tag belts, and now dresses like the sexy Halloween version of Stevie Ray Vaughan. It’s all uphill until she’s managing the Road Warriors in a flaming bra, so enjoy it while it lasts.
The weird thing is that Sunny’s a face now, I guess, and instead of cheating she just slaps the apron a bunch to get people to cheer the Gunns. That’s a Marvel Comics face turn, I think, where you’re a heel but people love you, so you start teaming up with the faces and stop doing anything that made people love you. Bart Gunn gets the win for his team with the slowest momentum reversal in physics history, basically doing a headstand in slow motion to counter a superplex. Thank God he was trying that on a Bodydonna. Pretty sure my cat and couch could team up and pin the Bodydonnas.
Best: “Cowboy” Owen Hart
If you need further confirmation that Owen Hart was the greatest, here he is in a cast and COWBOY BOOTS, flying off the top rope to incapacitate Ahmed Johnson and help Vader move on in the tournament. The WWF version of Vader can’t beat anybody because he’s a fat piece of shit, so it’s good he’s got the scientific opposite of that in his corner.
Honestly though, I’m kinda mad that the first round matches didn’t go the other way. Don’t you want to see The Ultimate Warrior vs. Ahmed Johnson in 1996? It’s the immovable object meeting the immovable object. Just two big f*cking objects standing 10 feet away from each other and not moving.
Oh, and an important note: Owen I guess hits Ahmed so hard in the back of the head that he’s knocked into a deep, deep sleep, and only a kiss from a handsome prince can awaken him.
Worst: The Handsome Prince
In one of the more memorable and retroactively concerning moments of 1996, Goldust finds Ahmed Johnson strapped to a stretcher backstage and gives him “mouth to mouth” while Vince McMahon screams and screams and screams about how it’s “the most revolting thing I’ve ever seen in my life.” And I mean yeah, Goldie is straight-up sexually assaulting Ahmed, but you get the impression that Vince is talking less about the assault and more about the kissing.
Ahmed is awoken from his coma by the kiss and FREAKS THE HELL OUT, destroying doors as his body adjusts to the reality that it’s GAY now. I don’t know how that works. The only wrestling columnist I read is Mike Huckabee. The feud is on: Ahmed Johnson wants the Intercontinental Championship, and Goldust is all, “you can have it but I already rubbed my dick on it a bunch, so…”
WWF Monday Night Raw 6/3/96
See, I wasn’t lying about the dick-rubbing.
Worst: Two-Sport Athletes
This is Nick Cave. He has a band called The Bad Seeds, and he competed in the WWF as Thurman “Sparky” Plugg.
But no, say hi to Bob Holly, everybody. He’s a great example of a thing I’ve never understood about pro wrestling: the wrestler whose gimmick is that he has a non-wrestling job. Duke Droese was a wrestling garbage man, Repo Man was a wrestling repossession agent, The Goon was a wrestling hockey player, Abe “Knuckleball” Schwartz was a wrestling baseball player, Phantasio was a wrestling magician, and on and on. They weren’t just wrestlers who liked other things, they were those things, and also wrestlers. Even Dusty Rhodes was fixing toilets as a side job. WWF was OBSESSED with occupational gimmicks in the mid-90s, and all I could think is, “do wrestlers not get paid a lot? Why do they have to have second jobs?” Most of the occupational gimmicks failed miserably — IRS was successful, and the Honky Tonk Man if you consider him a Wrestling Elvis Impersonator and not just a guy who did that by accident — so maybe it was a long story arc about how you have to be dedicated to pro wrestling to make it. You can’t train to wrestle on some days and be a dentist on others.
Sparky Plugg, wrestling race car driver, faces a non-descript guy in black trunks and black boots in round one of the King of the Ring Tournament. He loses, and his opponent goes on to win the tournament and help revolutionize the wrestling business. Sparky would win a few races, and like 10 years later he’d try to sandbag Brock Lesnar and get dumped on his head. That guy was always kicking against the pricks.
Best: King Comics
To continue his passive-aggressive non-feud with the Ultimate Warrior, Jerry Lawler says he should’ve been the artist for Warrior’s comic book and shows off the cover for King Comics #1. The best part is that the art is way, way better than the art in the Warrior comic, and King’s right. He makes himself look a little too much like Andre the Giant, but at least he didn’t crosshatch himself to death and make his arms and legs look like lengths of rope like the hacky Liefeld approxmiator who got the job.
Best: Pre-Crisis Mankind
“Of all the things I’ve lost in life, I think I miss my mind the most.”
As much as I love heartwarming everyman Mick Foley, I don’t think the brown bodysuit, legit crazy version of Mankind gets enough love. Even when WWE goes back and replays the King of the Ring ’98 footage of him flying off the Hell in a Cell, they talk about “Mrs. Foley’s Baby Boy,” and not the shrieking, shoot terrifying version of him he was actually going for. WWE never played up that match as the Undertaker battling a deranged monster that couldn’t be destroyed … the story became that Foley was a regular joe who could take an insane amount of punishment, and that we should cheer him for it. That’s the right way to go if you want people casting him in Chef Boyardee commercials, but I kinda love going back and seeing him in 1996 as the under-the-radar, perfected version of Bray Wyatt.
He squashes Barry Horowitz, a man whose name is synonymous with jobbing. The guy’s gimmick was that he’d pat himself on the back for a job well done. GET IT? After that they realized he was Jewish, so his gimmick became “Jewish.” He got a Star of David on his trunks and ‘Hava Nagila’ as an entrance theme. It was … subtle. Mankind jaw-fingers him and wins the match, then cuts a short but effective promo where he threatens the Undertaker and starts shrieking like a stuck pig. Sometimes I like this a lot more than “I’m a cool dad who’s nice to my kids and I’m good at falling off stuff.”
Best: Sunny On Commentary
I like Sunny, have you figured that out yet?
She’s on commentary for the Godwinns vs. Tekno Team 2000 match. The Godwinns win with a Slop Drop, but all I can think is how much I wish they’d continued Sunny’s tag team championship cosplay gimmick by giving Tekno Team 2000 a run with the belts and dressing her up like Angelina Jolie’s character from Hackers. Tell me you wouldn’t mark out for Sunny showing up in sparkly pleather leggings with Blade Runner makeup and a Dragon Ball scouter eyepiece. Erik Watts wrestling a horrible match and Sunny off in the background somewhere doing The Robot. Tell me it isn’t a perfect dream.
Best: That Time Jake The Snake Tried To Get His Snake To Bite Off Triple H’s Junk
This week’s main-event is a first round King of the Ring tournament match between Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts. Jake’s gotta make it to the finals so Austin can use his religious leanings to get sacrilegious and blow up, so Jake wins.
The important stuff comes after the match, when Jake tries to stuff a snake down Triple H’s pants. This is a thing that actually happens. Usually he just knocks a guy out and lies a snake on their chest, which … I guess humiliates them, because … well, I’ve never understood it. People freak out and are like AW NO A SNAKE, but it’s not the kind of snake that bites you. It’s a f*cking pet snake. It’s like beating someone and putting a hamster on their chest. AW NO IT’S REVOLTING GET THAT HAMSTER OUTTA HERE, AUGH NO. But yeah, usually he just snakes their chest and that’s it. Here, Triple H’s blueblood valet lady is on commentary screaming NO, NO as Jake pulls up the front of H’s pants and examines his dick for snaking. It’s so weird. “I’m gonna put a snake on your dick” is simultaneously maybe the most threatening and non-threatening thing I’ve ever heard.
I can’t wait to finish up round one. Who’s ready for Marc Mero vs. Skip??