Monday Night Raw – April 29, 1996: Can Someone Help Warrior Find His Way?
Monday Night Raw
Date: April 29, 1996
Location: Civic Auditorium, Sioux City, Iowa
Commentators: Vince McMahon, Jerry Lawler
We’re passed In Your House and thankfully on a new taping cycle. Unthankfully though we’re now lacking Diesel and Razor Ramon, who will soon be off to the greener (as in dollars) pastures of WCW. That means WWF Champion Shawn Michaels needs a new challenger and I’m not sure how well that’s going to work. Let’s get to it.
We open with a clip from after last night’s show with British Bulldog accusing Shawn of trying to sleep with his wife. Bulldog went to the ring but was held back by security. So that’s your title feud.
Bart Gunn vs. Mankind
Bart elbows his way out of the corner to start but can’t get anywhere. Instead Mankind rips at his face and pulls out some hair for fun. His own hair of course, because pulling Bart’s out would be uncivilized. Bart goes after the arm and Mankind is bleeding from the cheek. The threat of the Mandible Claw sends Bart bailing to the floor as this is already going longer than it really needs to.
A camera angle shows a VERY large area of empty seats as Mankind misses an elbow back inside. To be fair, the regular angle is showing a nearly empty row of seats so it’s not that much better anyway. Mankind shrugs off a wristlock and stomps away as there is blood on the back of Bart’s jeans. Back from a break with Bart being sent to the floor, right in front of someone who looks like a cross between George Lucas and Santa Claus.
The only thing Vince can talk about here is Billy Gunn returning from his injury in a little over a week. Uh, yeah. Mankind beats on him in the corner and drops the leg on the apron as Lawler notices Mankind’s lack of ear. Bart comes back with some left hands and a missile dropkick as this just keeps going. A top rope elbow gets two and Bart punches on the mat, only to get pulled into the Mandible Claw to give Mankind the win.
Rating: D. What is there to say here? Bart Gunn should never get ten minutes on a television show of any kind and this was hardly entertaining. Mankind should be beating people up in less than half of that time and Bart is far from a big enough star to warrant this much time. Terribly uninteresting match and a really bad choice for an opener.
Post match JR asks Bart what that was like and was he really paralyzed by the hold. Bart says it was like nothing he’s ever felt but Mankind jumps him to put the hold on again.
Scott Taylor vs. Steve Austin
Well this would be very different just a few years from now. Savio Vega is on commentary and has a strap with him. As Austin comes to the ring, Vega issues a challenge for a Caribbean strap match at In Your House. Austin stomps away in the corner as Vega explains the idea of the match. We get a giant swing of all things to keep Taylor in trouble as Lawler makes the most standard Puerto Rico joke you can imagine. Austin chokes on the ropes and drops an elbow before putting on what was supposed to be an STF but was just a chinlock while their legs were touching. The Million Dollar Dream ends a bad squash.
Post match DiBiase and Austin turn down the challenge so Vega whips Austin with the strap.
Here are Bulldog and his wife Diana with Jim Cornette to address the Shawn issue. Shawn and Jose Lothario come out to do this in person as Jose continues to feel very unnecessary and out of place here. Before Bulldog can even say anything, Shawn talks about adapting to Bret Hart’s style to win the title and then he did it again with Diesel to keep the title. So yeah, Shawn thinks he’s great though to be fair, the Diesel match was excellent.
Cornette is tired of hearing about how great Shawn is and goes straight to Shawn trying to sleep with Diana. We see a clip from last night of Diana getting a message during the show, telling her that Cornette needed her in the back. It turns out that Shawn sent it with an indecent proposal. Cornette goes into a rant as only he can, asking how Shawn could dare to do something like this to a virtuous woman like Diana. He wants Shawn to look into the eyes of the woman he tried to deflower because Shawn is a FORNICATOR.
Diana knows Shawn wants him (that gets a groan from the crowd) but Shawn says with all due respect, don’t flatter yourself. That earns Shawn a slap so he says he knows who wears the pants in this family. The brawl is on and we take a quick break. Cornette’s ranting was great and it was a good angle, but Bulldog wasn’t the kind of top level challenger that you needed around this time.
New Rockers vs. Godwinns
For a future Tag Team Title shot. With nothing happening early on, we go to Sunny who doesn’t care who gets the shot at the titles. Marty drives Phineas into the corner to start and a grand total of nothing happens. A drop toehold takes Phineas to the mat and it’s off to a front facelock as the announcers talk about the Shawn situation. There’s a right hand to knock Henry off the apron as the Rockers are wrestling like faces here. Phineas gets all riled up and clears the Rockers out so they can stay in the aisle for a long time.
Back in the ring, Henry sends Phineas into the corner, presumably out of boredom. Cue Sunny to show off the belts as we take a break. Back with Phineas looking at Sunny, who happens to be the only person getting any attention from the crowd either. With Henry in trouble, Cassady knocks a distracted Phineas off the apron without much trouble. Marty dives into a boot and it’s off to Phineas to clean some house. Everything breaks down and Phineas and Marty fight to the floor. That means a Sunny distraction is enough to cause a double countout.
Rating: D. My goodness I forgot how horrible the tag division was at this point. The New Rockers were just lame (as Al Snow put it, if you want to ruin a team from the start, just put NEW in front of their name) and the Godwinns felt like they should have been around in the 1980s instead of just three months before the NWO. That’s a big part of why things didn’t work and Sunny isn’t enough to save the division.
JR goes into the boiler room to find Mankind. After a look back at the attack on Bart Gunn, Mankind offers to demonstrate the hold on JR. Mankind talks about learning every pressure point in the human body through various experiments as a child. The most sensitive of all of these are under the tongue, making it the most vulnerable point on the body. Mankind isn’t afraid of Undertaker and promises to destroy Undertaker if he doesn’t show guts.
Isaac Yankem vs. Ultimate Warrior
This is Warrior’s first ever Raw match. Lawler, with his headset still on, is managing Isaac at the same time. We hit the stall button to start as Vince talks about Warrior University (don’t ask). Warrior starts fast by sending Yankem into the corner for some running clotheslines before we take an early break. Back with Warrior hitting more running clotheslines and dropping the splash for the pin. Not enough shown to rate but it was a total squash.
Lawler wants to go fight Warrior but doesn’t have enough slack in his headset cable. Instead he and Vince preview next week to end the show.
Overall Rating: D. Cornette’s ranting during that segment helps this a lot but egads you could feel the lack of Razor and Diesel showing already. It was too early for Vader to be going after Shawn so Bullet was about as good as they could have gotten. The rest of the show is the usually miserable 1996 fare and shows you why you don’t hear much about this era. Oh and Mankind’s talking was great, but that kind of goes without saying.
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