Monday Night Raw – July 15, 1996: I Need Some Nitro

Monday Night Raw
Date: July 15, 1996
Location: Brown County Expo, Green Bay, Wisconsin
Attendance: 4,660
Commentators: Vince McMahon, Jerry Lawler

It’s FINALLY time to wrap up this horrible cycle as it’s the go home show for the dreadful In Your House IX. The big story coming out of last week is Sid joining forces with Shawn Michaels and Ahmed Johnson in their fight against Camp Cornette, leading to a main event that serves no purpose other than to set up Summerslam. Let’s get to it.

Sunday’s main event participants almost got in a fight earlier today but were cut off by an opening sequence. You never know when one of those things might save you.

Intercontinental Title: Bart Gunn vs. Ahmed Johnson

It’s going to be a very long night. Ahmed is defending because he was talented enough to get a singles title. Bart is half of the Tag Team Champions and has Sunny as a cowgirl so I’m thinking advantage Gunn. Ahmed starts with the power by throwing Bart over off a hiptoss. A clothesline drops Ahmed and it’s time to stomp a lot. Bart starts working on the arm with some slow cranking and a wrap around the post.

We hit an armbar on the mat before Bart puts on a hammerlock with his feet. The referee finally catches Sunny cheating but Ahmed charges shoulder first into the post. That means a cross armbreaker as Vince goes into a mini tirade about Warrior walking out and not being above the rest of the roster. The arm goes into the buckle and we take a break. Geez Vince we’re already watching this horrible show. What more do you need? Back with Ahmed crotching Bart on top and Ahmed knocking him off the ropes for a big crash. A spinebuster and the Pearl River Plunge retain the title.

Rating: F. You could hear the crowd more and more every time Bart worked on the arm. This was WAY too long and boring with Bart Gunn being as uninteresting of a challenger that they could find. It was a horrible idea all around and I can’t imagine anyone actually thought this would work.

Shawn Michaels says he’ll win tonight and again on Sunday.

Marc Mero vs. T.L. Hopper

So last week we got rid of the wrestling garbageman but tonight we have the wrestling plumber. On the way to the ring, Goldust’s usher runs out and gives Sable a gold package but she throws it down. To celebrate the passing of the torch, we get a look at Hopper pinning Droese over the weekend. Oh and plumbing videos. Why would those be recorded?

Mero takes him down and works on a headlock, followed by a dropkick that made no contact, even with the camera cutting away. We go to a split screen with Camp Cornette celebrating something we can’t hear because the audio doesn’t work. Hopper takes him down for a headscissors on the mat as the crowd is just GONE.

Can you blame them after the last few weeks of this show? I’m sure the empty seats are just a coincidence. There are long stretches of this match going on and there’s just nothing to talk about. They’re just slowly punching each other as Lawler and Vince make every stupid plumber joke you can imagine.

We take a break and the silence when we come back is eerie. Steve Austin joins us and I really don’t care what he says (he’s ready for Mero on Sunday in case you’re wondering) because it’s instantly more interesting than whatever these two are doing in the ring. Lawler starts turning into a sexist as there are even more empty seats. Mero hits a running knee lift and FINALLY finishes him with the big left hand.

Rating: F-. Earlier today I was reading Chris Jericho’s first book and he talked about being offered a chance to join the WWF in one of these roster filling spots with the stupid gimmicks. If Jericho has ever made a better career move I’d love to hear what it was because these things are absolutely death for these people’s careers and it’s no wonder you never hear from them again. I don’t remember being this bored in a match for a long time and that includes Gunn vs. Johnson, which I didn’t think would be topped for years.

Camp Cornette says they’ll win.

Here’s a three minute Undertaker video. Do they just want everyone to switch over to Nitro? I’d be glad to at this point. You know what? That’s not a bad idea. Here’s a match from the same week’s Nitro for the sake of keeping you awake.

Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero

Think this will be good? Benoit is a Horseman and Eddie is starting to get a pretty solid push which would result in a US Title reign by the end of the year. Even Heenan knows this is going to be a great match. This is one of those combinations that is going to be awesome due to them knowing each other so well. Those are always fun as they don’t have to waste time figuring each other out.

Benoit jumps him to start and pounds Eddie down in the corner. Hard whip into the corner and Benoit goes into Wolverine mode. And let’s talk about Hogan now. Eddie gets draped over the top as Benoit keeps the advantage. Off to the chinlock rather quickly and thankfully it ends quickly. Reverse suplex is countered by Eddie and he sends Benoit to the floor with an armdrag. Big dive off the top takes both guys down.

Back inside Eddie busts out the hilo but doesn’t cover. Tilt-a-whirl backbreaker puts Benoit down again. Eddie vs. Flair at the PPV is announced. Benoit gets a shot in and let’s look at the NWO sign again because the Outsiders are gone. Benoit shows off those steroid muscles with a gorilla press. There’s a camel clutch despite Eddie not really resembling a camel at all. They show the crowd again and this time I can live with it because we’re in a hold. There’s nothing to see here so it’s not as stupid of a move here.

Eddie gets up and fires off a belly to back suplex to break Benoit’s momentum. Benoit is like screw that and hits a hard chop and the snap suplex gets two. Eric loves talking about the fact that he’s taking a motorcycle to Sturgis for the PPV. Liontamer goes on before Jericho had copyrighted it. BIG powerbomb plants Eddie but a delay in the cover lets Eddie get out of it. Benoit works on the back with a backbreaker and then holds Eddie over the knee for a bit to add in some more pain. The guy knew how to hurt people.

Back to the chinlock which I can understand now as they’ve been out there for a bit and probably need some air. Benoit puts him down again and goes up but Guerrero pops up and nails a superplex to put Chris down. Solid stuff so far. Benoit gets up first as both guys were down for a bit. Eddie fires away in the corner and they slug it out. Apparently every big name is in Japan tonight.

Benoit wins the chop fest but Eddie knocks him down in the corner. Eddie tries a hurricanrana which Benoit mostly blocks as he walks to the rope. The hurricanrana hits anyway and it takes both guys over the top to the floor. Malenko pops up for no apparent reason as does Jimmy Hart. Malenko sends Benoit’s head into the post and Eddie just barely beats the count back in. This led to a thirty minute or so war between Malenko and Benoit at the PPV.

Rating: B. This was your typical great match between the two but I’m not huge on the ending. It did however set up a match at the PPV which is all you can ask for. Also you don’t want Benoit losing clean nor do you want Eddie losing before they get to a PPV title match. The decision was really all that they could do and thankfully we got a very good match until that point.

By the time I went into my flash drive, found that show and pulled up the review, this Undertaker video is STILL GOING.

WWF World Title: Billy Gunn vs. Shawn Michaels

Shawn is defending as we complete the Smoking Gunns two step. Billy headlocks him to start and a shoulder puts the champ (the WWF World Champ that is) down. We go to a chat with Ahmed who guarantees victory on Sunday. Billy is sent outside so Shawn kisses Sunny and sunset flips Billy for two. The yet to be named Fameasser (minus the jump) gets two on Shawn so he crotches Billy against the post. Sunny offers a distraction so Billy can slam Shawn off the top to take over.

We take a break with Vince shouting “WHAT DOES SEX HAVE TO DO WITH THE WWF CHAMPIONSHIP???” I’ll leave the context out for the sake of preventing boredom. Back with Billy putting on a chinlock and the slow beating continues. Lawler freaks out as Sunny leans over and brags about Billy winning the title. We see Camp Cornette leaving and it’s time for another break. Back again with Shawn nipping up, dropping the elbow and hitting Sweet Chin Music to retain.

Rating: D. Somehow that’s the best thing of the night and I assure you it has nothing to do with Sunny running all over the place. Shawn was much better than anyone else on this show but that’s hardly a great accomplishment. I still don’t know what anyone saw in Billy as a singles run but at least he was better than Bart.

Cornette throws coffee at Shawn to lure he and Ahmed into a beatdown. Sid drives up seconds later, nearly crashes his car, and runs over towards the brawl to end the show.

Overall Rating: Agoobwa. This might be the worst episode of Monday Night Raw that I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen every episode in the show’s history. It’s very clear that they were out of gas at this point and there was no one wanting to put in any effort before we get to the worthless pay per view this weekend. Just a miserable show here which felt like it would never end, as was the case way too often around this time.

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