Monday Night Raw – February 26, 1996: There’s Wrestlemania

Monday Night Raw
Date: February 26, 1996
Location: Cincinnati Gardens, Cincinnati, Ohio
Attendance: 8,500
Commentators: Vince McMahon, Jerry Lawler

Hopefully things pick up a bit this week as there’s going to be a showdown between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart with a little over a month to go before their WWF World Title match at Wrestlemania XII. Other than that we get another Larry Fling Live skit because we’re just that lucky. Let’s get to it.

We open with a recap of Diesel and Undertaker playing mind games with each other. That’s an underrated feud and it’s cool to see it again.

Opening sequence.

Isaac Yankem D.D.S. vs. Jake Roberts

This is actually Jake’s in ring Raw debut. Jake shoves him around to start and it’s so weird to see Kane just in pants and with that curly hair. Isaac gets in a clothesline and drives some fists to the face, only to get caught in the DDT for the quick pin.

Rating: D. That DDT was Jake’s only major offense in the entire (short) match. This was around the time when Jake was just a disaster in the ring and it was getting harder and harder to watch him out there. Yankem was long past his expiration date and would return as Fake Diesel a few months after this character finally died.

The Ultimate Warrior is coming back due to fan requests.

Bob Holly vs. Diesel

This is a match that Eric Bischoff actually talked about live on Nitro, spoiling it for the audience. You know, because this match needed to be spoiled. Bob’s early offense lasts as long as you would expect it to but Diesel keeps looking around for Undertaker to pop up through the ring. Holly makes a comeback and we actually take a break, only to come back to see the Jackknife ending this.

Rating: D-. That’s for the break because the post commercial stuff was all of ten seconds long. I can’t stand it when they’re clearly just stretching a match out for the sake of stretching it out and it happened way too often at this point. To be fair it happens today too and it’s every bit as annoying.

Diesel goes to leave and the gong sounds. The lights go out and Undertaker is in the ring but he disappears when Diesel comes close. Coward. They go out again and Undertaker is on the video screen, saying he can play mind games too.

Ahmed Johnson vs. Shinobi

Al Snow as a ninja. Ahmed throws him outside like the jobber with a stupid gimmick that he is and we get a phone call from Goldust, who has a poem for Roddy Piper. As we hear about Goldust wanting to play Piper’s bag, Shinobi botches a springboard with Johnson just staring at him. The spinebuster and Pearl River Plunge wrap this up quick.

Mankind talks about playing the piano for his mommy and her friends.

Vince brings out Shawn and Bret for a big interview. Shawn says he has more respect for Bret than anyone in this building and Bret may be the best there was and ever will be, but right now there might be someone better. Bret knows that there’s been a lot of time put into this title and he’s shown how great he is. His job is to be champion but Shawn has one night to beat him.

They get into a debate about who is in the best condition so here’s Roddy Piper with something to say. At Wrestlemania, Piper doesn’t want to hear about any tights pulling or a DQ. Oh and he doesn’t want to see Shawn’s abs because they don’t mean anything. Piper finally gets to the point and introduces the idea of the Iron Man match with the ONE HOUR time limit being the big sticking point.

British Bulldog/Owen Hart vs. Yokozuna

Vince actually says Yokozuna is facing his ex stablemates. Yokozuna elbows and slams Owen to start before doing the same to Bulldog. Double teaming works a bit better and we take a break because this show hasn’t gone on long enough yet. Back with Owen missing an elbow drop but Vader comes out for the DQ.

Rating: D-. To be fair it had been a long time since we had a bad match. Yokozuna was just way beyond saving at this point and was little more than a freak show. Vader beating him up would have been fine at Wrestlemania but they were probably better off changing things up for the sake of the fans having to watch those two have a match on their own.

Ahmed Johnson and Jake Roberts come out for the save, albeit with Ahmed doing all the work and Jake walking in slow motion before bringing out the yellow snake. I’ve heard of worse Plan B’s.

We wrap it up with Larry Fling Live with special guests Huckster and Nacho Man. They immediately start with the jokes about Hogan being injured by Woman’s shoe. Both of them seem to be involved with Liz and that doesn’t go well. Oh and they’re both too old to wrestle for the WWF, which is why Hogan would be champion in six years. Billionaire Ted calls in and Hogan freaks out, hitting everyone with horrible chair shots (ala SuperBrawl VI) while Larry holds a woman’s shoe. See, this was actually funny and making fun of WCW for doing stupid stuff, not for whatever Vince’s latest issue was.

Overall Rating: F. Other than announcing Wrestlemania’s main event gimmick, this was the most worthless show I can remember in a long time. There was nothing worth seeing throughout the show and the Hogan stuff at the end might have been the most entertaining part. On the other show, we had the Alliance to End Hulkamania. In other words, it was a horrible time to be a wrestling fan and it was only going to get worse.

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