Monday Night Raw – July 29, 1996: And Then There Was Summerslam

Monday Night Raw
Date: July 29, 1996
Location: Key Arena, Seattle, Washington
Attendance: 6,755
Commentators: Vince McMahon, Jerry Lawler

It’s time to wrap up the month and that can’t come soon enough, despite the marginally better show last week. Summerslam is still a few weeks away and above all else we’ve got a big time main event with Vader vs. Shawn, which has the potential to be something special. I’m sure we’ll get something to go with it soon enough though and that’s where things get better. Let’s get to it.

We open with a recap of Faarooq debuting to end last week’s show, putting Ahmed on the shelf with a kidney injury.

Opening sequence.

Sycho Sid vs. Justin Hawk Bradshaw

Sid gets an awesome face reaction. They slug it out to start and a chokeslam plants Bradshaw so fast that they’re already plugging the other matches instead of paying attention. Bradshaw hits him with the cowbell and we’re done in about a minute.

Sid fights off a post match beating and powerbombs Bradshaw. So why in the world did they do the DQ if Bradshaw is going to be left laying anyway? It’s not like he’s doing anything so just do the pin and give the crowd the pop they want.

Sunny officially introduces Faarooq Asad (first time the name is officially used), who thinks Ahmed is disrespectful to women. Faarooq talks about the streets and wants a shot at the Intercontinental Title at Summerslam. Simple and effective, as I often like it.

Vader vs. Marc Mero

Vader isn’t quite the Goon or T.L. Hopper but I’ll take it. Sable is looking great tonight too. Cornette sits in on commentary as an extra bonus. Vader powers him into the corner to start and spits in Mero’s eyes. Some clotheslines actually stagger Vader and something like a running Cannonball puts him down. A crucifix doesn’t quite work on someone Vader’s size but Mero gets two anyway. Vader comes right back with a wheelbarrow slam and wins a slugout, which is something of an upset when you remember Mero’s Golden Gloves success.

Things slow down a bit with Vader headbutting him down and then just punching Mero in the face over and over. Mero gets right back up and hits a cross body before knocking Vader to the floor for a flip dive. A top rope sunset flip doesn’t work as Mero WAY overshoots him and Vader has to walk backwards. Thankfully he tries to sit down, only to crash onto the mat. Mero heads up top again but dives into a powerslam for the pin.

Rating: B-. This was a heck of a match with Mero being game against the unstoppable monster. People forget how great Vader was at selling as this straight out of the great Dustin Rhodes vs. Vader match at Clash of the Champions XXIX with the non-monster doing everything he could and Vader making him look like a million bucks. It’s a formula that always works and this was no exception. Really fun match.

More from the Crush (not yet named or identified) litigation from last week.

Shawn’s mentor Jose Lothario comes out for a face to face showdown with Cornette. After asking Jose to not pull out his switchblade, Cornette goes into a bit of history with a story of Shawn looking up to Jose and seeing him as a father figure. We see Shawn watching in the back, basically guaranteeing that this gets physical.

The ranting (as only Cornette can do) continues with Cornette going on about Lothario sitting on a back porch in San Antonio until Shawn wanted his help at Wrestlemania XII. After Vader gets done with Shawn, Jose will be right back on that porch. Jose punches Cornette out and we see Shawn in Mankind’s Mandible Claw. That’s quite the random attack.

We recap Aldo Montoya (Justin Credible as a Portuguese wrestler) beating Jerry Lawler on Superstars in a big upset, which is a bigger deal since Aldo is suddenly Jake Roberts’ protege. Montoya (with that thick Portuguese/Connecticut accent) accepts a rematch for next week.

British Bulldog vs. Henry Godwinn

Owen Hart is on commentary and doesn’t want his Slammy anywhere near the bucket of slop. The guys in the ring trade power shots as we get a crawl across the bottom of the screen advertising Sunny in an AOL chat. A wheelbarrow slam (popular move tonight) plants Bulldog and Henry hammers away with some big forearms to the back. Bulldog sends him outside as Owen snaps after Vince asks him about Bret one too many times.

We hit the chinlock as Owen keeps going, likely due to all that time around Cornette. As for Owen’s broken wrist, he’s still a few months away from being healthy. Vince doesn’t buy it but Lawler and Owen will have none of his naysaying. Henry muscles Bulldog up into a suplex and we take a break. Back with Owen suggesting that Austin vs. Bret would be a great match. The Slop Drop looks to finish Bulldog but Owen turns over the slop bucket (he dropped the slop you might say) for a distraction to set up the powerslam to put Henry away.

Rating: C. I’m a sucker for two power guys beating the heck out of each other and that’s what we had here, plus Owen cracking me up with his angry rants on commentary. Henry was just a big old strong guy who could hit you really hard and there’s always going to be a place for that. Bulldog was the same way but with a bit more finesse and that’s why he was a much bigger star. Well that and he wasn’t a hog farmer.

Some guy named Mark Henry is really strong.

We get a quick interview from In Your House IX with Mankind in the boiler room with Goldust and Marlena. Mankind rants about an incident when he was a kid and says destruction can be beautiful. Vince mentions the Boiler Room Brawl at Summerslam and my goodness that would change a lot of things.

Undertaker vs. Steve Austin

Two years from here, this would be the biggest Summerslam main event of all time. Wrestling is funny that way. Speaking of weird, it’s still odd seeing Austin with anything on his trunks. Austin breaks out of a chokeslam attempt and wrenches the wrist, only to annoy Undertaker in the process. A right hand sends Austin into the corner so he tries one of his own and IMMEDIATELY backs away when Undertaker gives him a death stare.

Old School is broken up and Austin kicks him low, causing Vince to scream about how that should be a DQ. He’s right but that’s never stopped a referee before. Austin drives some shoulders into the ribs so Undertaker ties him up in the ropes for a running boot to the face. That’s a bit better than shoulders to the ribs. Austin slugs him in the jaw and goes back to the shoulders as we take a break.

Back with Austin cranking on a chinlock until Undertaker rakes his eyes. You don’t often see that from a face but it still works. Some more right hands stagger Austin even more but he comes back with a quick piledriver, only to get crotched on top. A chokeslam brings him back down but here’s Mankind for a distraction, leading to Undertaker get counted out.

Rating: C+. You could see the fire in Austin and all he needed was a big opponent to make him. Say, a Canadian who wore pink and black in Madison Square Garden. Undertaker vs. Mankind on the other hand is already a great feud and by far the best thing Undertaker had done to this point. They just worked well against each other and you can’t teach something like that.

Undertaker Tombstones Austin post match and promises to make Mankind rest in peace to end the show.

Overall Rating: B-. You could feel the energy here and the star power helped that a lot. Austin vs. Undertaker is always worth seeing and it’s cool to see a bunch of matches that actually affect some storylines. Things are, at least for now, starting to look a little bit better though they’re far from turning things around. This was better though and that’s a really good thing after all these dreadful shows.

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