The Best And Worst Of WWF Monday Night Raw 7/22/96: Cake Wars

Pre-show notes:

Click here to watch this week’s episode on WWE Network, and here to watch the pay-per-view before it.

– You can read about previous episodes on the Best and Worst of WWF Monday Night Raw tag page. As a reminder, we coordinate these columns with the Best and Worst of Nitro.

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Up first, let’s get incidental … international style!

Before We Begin

Here’s what you need to know about In Your House: International Incident. They put about as much effort into the pay-per-view as they did the logo.

The Bodydonnas Realized They Didn’t Need A Large, Tattooed Man Dressed Like Sunny To Be A Successful Tag Team

To recap, the Bodydonnas don’t make any goddamn sense.

At first, the WWF was like, “you know who’d make great heels? A pair of identical twin brothers with similar sounding names who look absolutely nothing alike, but referees can’t tell them apart, and they’re fitness enthusiasts who aren’t in that good of shape. We should give them a gorgeous, charismatic blonde as a manager. People will hate them.” Then, whoops, everybody loved the gorgeous, charismatic blonde and ignored the sh*t out of the tag team. She ditches them to follow the tag titles and becomes the sexy cowboy valet for … uh, two cowboy brothers with similar sounding names who look absolutely nothing alike. She also briefly managed the Godwinns, same joke.

Anyway, left with no manager AND no heat, the Bodydonnas decide they’re fan favorites and organize a letter-writing campaign to give fans a chance to become their new manager. They get thousands of entries, so they choose a large, tattooed man dressed like their old manager, give him a parody name — “Kloudi” — and have him psychosexually threaten Sunny all the time.

At International Incident, the Donnas make an important announcement: they realize now that they don’t NEED a manager, just the love of the fans. Kloudi is sent to the Memory Dump with Friar Ferguson and Mantaur, and the Bodydonnas ring entrance is so quiet you can hear babies dreaming. They win, but it’s non-title on pay-per-view, and after being 1/4 of a match at SummerSlam they’re gone forever. Good life decisions, guys.

Jake The Snake Didn’t Show Up, But The Alcoholism Jokes Sure Did

Mankind attacked Jake The Snake a few weeks back to set up this match between Mankind and … uh, Henry O. Godwinn.

Jake no-showed International Incident and his absence is written off as an “injury” the next night, but Lawler goes nuclear with the YOU’RE A DRUG-ADDLED ALCOHOLIC material. Here’s the thing, though … the story was supposed to be that Jake had left that life behind, cleaned up and found Jesus. Lawler was calling him a fraud, because he’s a terrible person who can’t let Jake be happy. The only problem is that Lawler was totally and completely right: Jake WAS still drinking and doing drugs while claiming to be clean and sober. The religion thing WAS a front, and here’s this heel going F*CK YOU YOU’RE TERRIBLE 24/7 with no positive payoff. It’s impossibly mean-spirited, even for WWE.

It even continues into 1997 ECW, wherein Jake attacks Lawler and cuts a promo about how God doesn’t have balls. It … wasn’t a good time.

TFW Dok Hendrix Is The Best Dressed Guy In The Room

Too bad you left your glittery Confederate flag cape in the car!

Undertaker’s Using The Subway

This is one of those attacks that makes less sense the more you think about it. Undertaker wrestles Goldust, right? See that fabric in front of Mankind? Mankind came up through a hole in the ring and dragged the Undertaker down into it, ending the match. Mankind climbed back out, and suddenly that hole began to SMOKE. That smoke causes the lights to flicker and the Undertaker’s theme to play a few times, and Mankind just kinda stands and looks down into the hole like an idiot for several minutes until Taker comes up through the ring behind him, from a different hole.

So yeah, Taker gets dragged under the ring, dissipates into mystical smoke, then comes up through the ring in a different spot instead of, I don’t know, rolling two feet to his left or right and using all that space between the ring and the floor. You guys know ring apron skirts aren’t made of iron, right? This is all to set up a Boiler Room Brawl at SummerSlam, and not the Ring Holes Match I was remembering.

Shawn Michaels Actually Lost A Match

As you know if you’ve been reading the column, The Ultimate Warrior was supposed to team with Shawn Michaels and Ahmed Johnson in the show’s main event, but left the company over house show no-shows and fussy arguments about grief and merchandising rights. His replacement was Sid, who is a lot like The Ultimate Warrior if he’d had his DNA spliced with Don Sutton’s.

The main event is the only good part of the show, and features Shawn Michaels actually losing a match and being pinned by Vader. Sure, Vader needed interference from Jim Cornette to make it happen, but Shawn took the 3, and Vince McMahon cried and cried until like 8 PM on Monday. This sets up Shawn vs. Vader for SummerSlam, which was supposed to feature Vader pinning him again, but turns into an overbooked pile of garbage nonsense so Shawn can have his way.

Reminder: everything I just typed was a pay-per-view. Holy sh*t.

And now, the Best and Worst of WWF Monday Night Raw.

Worst: Shawn’s Reward For Losing A Match

Raw opens with Sunny wheeling out a birthday cake. Vince claims that “there’s only one person in this arena celebrating a birthday today” and it’s SHAWN MICHAELS, which makes me wonder if Vince personally checked everyone’s birthday before the show began and kicked out anyone else who was celebrating. Like, he stood in the ring with a microphone and was all, “RAISE YOUR HAND IF TODAY’S YOUR BIRTHDAY. THERE, THERE’S ONE, SECURITY!” Gotta make sure Precious Baby Shawn is protected.

Anyway, Sunny wheels out a birthday cake, and if you don’t know what happens next, congratulations on being a newborn. The Smoking Gunns are scheduled to take on Shawn and Ahmed Johnson, but a melee breaks out and Shawn superkicks Billy, knocking him out. That delays the match until later in the night, and they fill time by smashing a full-sized cake in Sunny’s face and trying to kiss her while she sells it. If you ever want confirmation that Cornette was 100% correct on his “Shawn propositioned Diana Hart and made her feel uncomfortable at events” accusations, watch Shawn try multiple times to jam his tongue down Sunny’s throat while she’s covered in cake.

Vince loves it, of course, because he loves Shawn and thinks Sunny is an embarrassing, awful human who should probably just be Sable.

Best, But Honestly Worst: THE GOON

Speaking of Sable, our new first match of the week is Wildman Marc Mero vs. THE GOON. It’s hard to type his name without hitting the caps lock. The Goon is former NWA journeyman and Super Destroyer “Wild” Bill Irwin in a logo-free New Jersey Devils sweater and wrestling boots made to look like ice skates. I guess they’re doing a Happy Gilmore thing where he’s a former hockey player who’s been “kicked out of every league he ever participated in,” so now he’s a wrestler but can’t let the hockey sh*t go. They’re telling the truth, though, as The Goon’s only around for a few months before getting kicked out of WWE.

The best part of the match is Stone Cold Steve Austin on commentary, because in 1996 this motherf*cker is Star Lord on the damn planet Morag. Jake Roberts calls in to explain his no-show, so Austin and Lawler go in on him. Vince cuts Austin off, so Austin threatens to “backhand those stupid glasses” off his face and (thankfully) transitions into a rant about how Vince is an idiot who needs to push him. Well, he’s not lying. He brings up the Lex Express — a “school bus” they painted red, white and blue so Lex Luger could ride around “kissing babies” — and says Vince should re-do it for him, only instead of kissing babies, he’ll ride around the country whipping peoples’ asses. I’m glad WWF history worked out like it did, because I don’t want to live in a world where a guy was this good in such a bog of worthlessness and the company went, “yeah, no, we shouldn’t build everything around him.”

The Goon loses, because he’s a f*cking hockey player and not a wrestler. It’s all in the hips.

Best: Horrible Jobber Gimmick #2

Match two is Mankind squashing “Freddie Joe Floyd,” a 34-year old Tracy Smothers trying to do some bad, 1987 NWA “high flying” and get it over in front of a 1996 crowd. Lots of awkward slingshotting and jumping into nothing. Don’t get me wrong, though, Tracy Smothers is the sh*t, just maybe not as Freddie Joe.

If you’re wondering about his gimmick, it’s a rib on the Brisco Brothers. Jack Brisco’s real name is “Fred Joe Brisco” and Gerald’s real first name is Floyd, so Freddie Joe Floyd. He’s also announced from “Bowlegs, Oklahoma,” their hometown. Yes, this is an actual character they gave Tracy Smothers. The high point of the character is when he goes to ECW, and the crowd chants “Freddie Joe” at him to piss him off.

Best: The Most Forgotten Things From The ’90s Want To Send You To SummerSlam

Stridex wants to send you to SummerSlam, and all you have to do to enter is visit your local PHAR-MOR or log on to WWF’s America Online channel. The cast of Wild & Crazy Kids could’ve ran in doing The Urkel Dance and this wouldn’t have been more ’90s.

Man, look at that AOL screen. It’s like staring at hieroglyphics.

Worst: Brian Pillman On Commentary Represents His Entire WWF Career

Brian Pillman joins the commentary team for Goldust vs. Barry Horowitz, and it’s the perfect encapsulation of his WWF character. He’s like, “oh man, I might say the SEVEN WORDS YOU CAN’T SAY ON TELEVISION, you’re gonna be in A LOT OF TROUBLE IF I DO!!” And then he doesn’t. He does manage to drop a reference to Marlena and Sable going after each other’s “carpets,” says he wants to get them in a “three-way” and mentions that he can’t say anything about Barry Horowitz for fear that it’ll be viewed as anti-semitism. The match ends in about 2 minutes on a show where even the most lopsided jobber squashes go 10, presumably so Vince doesn’t sh*t his pants waiting for Pillman to burp “cooter” into the microphone.


And finally, Ahmed Johnson and Shawn Michaels vs. The Smoking Gunns. It’s the most formulaic thing you’ve ever seen, but it works, mostly because Shawn is on a different level as a performer from the rest of the roster, and has to sit up on Mars being a pissy Dr. Manhattan until Bret returns and Austin’s ready. It’s pretty good, and has the novelty of being Ahmed Johnson’s last passable wrestling match.

Why, you may ask? Because the post-match involves the debuting Ron Simmons running down to ringside and beating Ahmed’s ass so thoroughly that it legitimately sidelines him, derails the proposed build for Ahmed vs. Ron at SummerSlam and ultimately causes Ahmed to forfeit the Intercontinental Championship. That belt’s been cursed for longer than we thought, guys.

Of course, Ron Simmons isn’t “Ron Simmons,” even though Lawler says it “looks like Ron Simmons, but bigger!” It’s FAAROOQ ASAAD, back when he had his full name and all the vowels, as an … outer space gladiator? His outfight makes no sense, he’s wearing one of those helmets you give kids when their heads are too soft and he’s clearly gained like 50 pounds. It’s not muscle, either. So you’ve got overweight, space gladiator Ron Simmons legit wrecking your second biggest babyface during a run-in, and a still cake-ravaged Sunny celebrating it. Makes sense?