Monday Night Raw – October 21, 1996: The Changes Start Here

Monday Night Raw
Date: October 21, 1996
Location: War Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, Indiana
Commentators: Vince McMahon, Jerry Lawler

Buried Alive has come and gone and now we can get on to the serious stuff with Survivor Series coming up in just a few weeks. Sid is the new #1 contender to Shawn Michaels’ WWF World Title while Mankind was buried alive in a not that great brawl. Tonight is about change though as last week’s rating was such a disaster that something had to be done. Let’s get to it.

The opening video talks about Bret Hart and Mr. Perfect returning tonight.

Sycho Sid vs. Owen Hart

Owen is one half of the Tag Team Champions. Sid starts fast and knocks Owen to the floor but Hart clotheslines him over the top and out to the floor for a crash. Cue the British Bulldog for a few cheap shots, allowing Owen to hit Sid in the leg as we take a break. Back with Sid still being beaten down and having his leg worked on. I mean he’s barely selling it but it is being worked on.

Sid keeps trying to fight back but Owen kicks the leg out to stay in control. A quick comeback (with no injury in sight) ends with Sid missing a legdrop so Owen can hit the knee even more. This is the same thing that happened to Benoit when Sid wouldn’t sell the knee against him in 1999. A leglock goes nowhere so Sid hits a chokeslam to draw in Bulldog for the DQ.

Rating: D-. That’s all on Sid as Owen was doing the logical play of going after the big man’s knee but there’s not much he can do when Sid just won’t sell the stupid thing. That was a standard from Sid and it got old in a hurry but that’s what you had to expect from him. Owen can only do what he can and the rest is up to Sid. You can’t blame Owen for Sid being a schnook.

Shawn Michaels comes in for the save which Sid doesn’t seem to appreciate.

Stills of the Buried Alive match which Undertaker won, only to be buried alive himself thanks to a masked executioner and a bunch of other villains. Undertaker’s hand came through the dirt to end the show. This would be better if the Smoking Gunns’ music wasn’t playing over the end of the package.

Smoking Gunns vs. The Godwinns

JR comes out to do commentary and make sure the show is dragged down as a result. The bell rings and we’re finally ready to go after nearly a minute thanks to Hillbilly Jim (Godwinns’ manager in a perfect fit) doing his clapping stomps. Bart and Phineas slowly get things going with Bart working on the arm before we take an early break.

Back with Bart coming in again as we start talking about Bret instead of this boring match. Billy misses a charge into the corner and the hot (I think?) tag brings in Henry to clean house. It wasn’t that dirty in the first place but there has to be something to spice this match up. The Slop Drop ends Bart in a hurry.

Rating: D. Can we just get Bret and Perfect out here already? These boring acts are getting harder and harder to sit through as the wrestling is horrible and the stories aren’t the most interesting in the world either. The Gunns splitting could spice things up a bit but Bart just isn’t going to be worth watching no matter what.

Pat Patterson Hall of Fame video.

Mr. Perfect is warming up when Helmsley jumps him from behind. Perfect comes up holding his knee and I think you know what’s coming.

Clip from Livewire (which apparently was a much bigger deal than you would think) of Austin saying he wants to take out Bret.

Here’s Bret for his big return speech. He gets right to the point: a rival wrestling promotion (not named but I doubt it’s ECW) has been in negotiations with him but he’s not sure what to do. He’s not here for money because all he wants is respect. Everything he has is due to his fans and he’s sticking with the WWF forever. Apparently Vince had no idea what Bret was going to say so his applause is very genuine. We see the roster watching in the back and only Austin seems upset at the news.

Now it’s time to get to the real story here though and that’s what happened after Wrestlemania XII. There are people who might think Shawn Michaels is a little bit better than him or even a little bit cuter. That might be true but Shawn will never be as tough or as smart as Bret. Bret is the best wrestler in the WWF today and at Survivor Series he’ll prove that when he faces Steve Austin. We go back to the locker room where Pillman is WAY too excited over that news, earning himself a glare from Austin.

So why is Bret back? There was a fan in Canada that got very sick in a hurry and there was a chance that he wasn’t going to make it through the night. Bret promised the kid that if he could make it through the night, he started feeling better, only to pass away soon thereafter. That was Bret’s nephew but he was going to come back anyway because he had made a promise. All that matters is that he’s back and he’s back for good. Really good stuff here and that nephew part was awesome.

And now, a Karate Fighters tournament.

Mr. Perfect vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley

Actually no as Perfect’s knee is too banged up and Gorilla Monsoon says this can’t happen. Instead Marc Mero is here and is willing to put the Intercontinental Title on the line against Helmsley RIGHT NOW.

Intercontinental Title: Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Marc Mero

Mero is defending and Perfect is on commentary. Marc grabs an armbar to start before dropkicking Helmsley out to the floor. Helmsley pulls Mero’s manager Sable into the way of a dive before the champ can die to really show how evil he can be at times. Back in and Helmsley takes over with a quick tilt-a-whirl backbreaker before the knee drop misses by a good six inches. Mero gets in a clothesline and we take a break.

Back with Marc hitting a slingshot legdrop and getting two off a top rope moonsault press. The referee gets bumped though and it’s time for a chair. Perfect goes in as well and takes it away, only to knock Mero cold instead, giving Helmsley the pin and the title in a big old swerve.

Rating: C+. The match wasn’t great but the angle was sweet and that’s all that mattered here. All of a sudden Helmsley looks like a brilliant heel and a much bigger deal instead of just some blue blooded snob with potential but nothing worth getting excited over. That’s what a good veteran heel rub can give you, but for some reason it almost never works.

Overall Rating: B. This is a show where you could feel the whole thing changing at around the halfway point. The first two matches were horrible and major wastes of time but after that the show jumps up about five levels in quality in a matter of seconds. You can feel things changing and that’s the best news the company could have heard at this point.

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