1996 was supposed to be a great, refreshing, new year to the World Wrestling Federation. After such a terrible year in 1995, where business began to plummet, Diesel became famously known as the worst drawing champion for house show gates of all time, and WCW picking up momentum with their own primtime weekly show on TNT going head to head with Monday Night Raw, it was time for the WWF to do something different. That doesn't always mean a good thing, either. You could take a crap in your pants while you have Jell-O in your trousers and while it's horrible and disgusting, it is different. That metaphor most definitely describes what the WWF attempted to do here.
Special Note: The original broadcast featured the majority of Henry Godwinn vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley in a Hogpen Match, pulled from the most recent In Your House PPV. If anyone really wants to know my opinion about it, the highlight of the match is the return of Hillbilly Jim and Hunter being dropped in a steaming pile of pig shit. These two brief moments wrap about 15-minutes of boring, tedious gimmicky nonsense.
- It's time for first annual Lipton Brisk Iced Tea WWF Raw Bowl! We've got the band playing, the cheerleaders cheering, Freddie Blassie giving inspirational speeches one more time before the "Game", Dok Hendrix is hanging around, Jimbo Jim Ross is also hanging around, the Raw Bowl Queen has been crowned! We've got four tag teams ready to go at it! We've got Diesel! We've got King Mabel! Goldust is here! The Nacho Man is here (who?) The Huckster is here (the what!?), Scheme Gene is here (I've got a bone to pick with him), and even Billionaire Ted is here! Yes, the Billionaire Ted skits kickoff on this episode of Raw.
- Vin McMahon and Jerry Musburgerking (har har...) are holding down the fort known as the broadcast position. What clever names. The King is wearing a Cleveland Browns uniform (#95 with his name on it), for no other reason other than he loves the Cleveland Browns. What a concept. We continue to hype the RAWL BOWL!
- We cut backstage during introductions to BROTHER LOVE, rambling nonsense. My God, was Vince McMahon that desperate he brought Brother Love back for a while?
Let me beg to question something... why point out that last rule, and why make it such a big deal when you KNOW, in an elimination match, it's not going to amount to anything. This isn't like when Road Dogg pinned Billy Gunn to retain the titles in a three-way tag, with one fall to the finish, making it incredibly smart to pin your partner. This is an elimination match, and attempting to fight your own partner is just stupid.
Owen Hart and Bart Gunn start. They do a football style face off, won by Bart Gunn with a drop toe hold, and Bart takes Owen down with a pair of arrm drags. Owen tags out to Billy Gunn, and they've wasted the big showdown in the opening seconds. Lockup, and a criss-cross sequence. They do a hip toss spot, but it's a fake out, and they simultaniously tag out to Owen and Yokozuna. Owen is reluctant, but Yokozuna is ready to go. Hebner threatens to throw the flag (lame) but Owen comes in and runs into a shoulder tackle (what a sack!). Owen tags out to Savio Vega, and we get an epic rematch from the King of the Ring. Savio hammers away with rights, but runs into an elbow. Yokozuna misses an elbow drop, but plants Savio with a slam. There's a non-stop spewing of football terms, making this match seem incredibly scripted on the commentary. Savio ducks a heel kick and connects with a clothesline on the Kid for a two count, then hits his own heel kick for another two count. Owen tags in and runs into an arm drag. Savio with clotheslines, but Owen hits a heel kick for a two count. Ramon tags in as we cut to Lawler sitting at ringside with the Rawl Bowl Girl, Ashley Allen (sp?). Owen tags a whooping and tags out to Bart Gunn. Ramon grabs a headlock, then comes off the ropes with a shoulder block for a two count. Sid tags in as Lawler makes a reference about Savio and Razor learning football at Penn State, or to correct himself, State Pen. Sid hammers away and chokes Bart across the top rope. Irish whip and Bart comes back with a clothesline for a two count. I love how Sid's legs are stiffly stuck up in the air the whole time. Bart with a delay vertical suplex, ripping off Bulldog, for a two count. Bart misses an elbow, and Sid punts him in the face. Great, now I'm doing it, too. Savio tags in as Vince makes reference to the Huckster and Nacho Man. Sid pounds away, but Savio goes for a slam, and collapses under the weight. Zuh!? Owen tags back in and pounds away, then connects with an enziguri for a two count. Yokozuna tags in as we go to a commercial break.
We return to action, with Savio kicking off a sharpshooter attempt. The Kid tags in and connects with a heel kick. Yokozuna tags back in, and it's back to Brother Love rambling more nonsense. Whip to the corner, but the Kid misses some sort of stupid move, a spot he would use forever, and never make any sense for what he's attempting. Sid tags in for a few seconds, then back to the Kid. Ramon tags in and gets a showdown with the Kid. Irish whip, and Ramon with his fall-away slam. The Kid calls timeout, and the action is paused. Ramon ignores it and goes for the Razor's Edge, and plants the Kid. Ted Dibiase jumps on the apron and Hebner throws the flag. GWAH!? Play resumes, Sid clotheslines Ramon from behind, and the Kid covers for three at 9:53, all while Savio was attempting to call time. Sadly, the nonsense MUST CONTINUE! We go to the Magistrator, Lawler's on-screen doodle-pad, replaying through the previous fall.
The Kid and Bart Gunn lockup into the corner. Sid tags in and starts hammering on Bart, then works a wristlock. Owen Hart tags in and works over Bart in the corner, then takes him over with a suplex for a two count. Lawler brings up they're all fighting for the Lombardi trophy. Not that Lombardi. Irish whip, and Bart surprises Owen with a school boy for a two count. Owen with a scoop slam, then heads to the top rope, missing a splash. Billy gets the hot tag and hammers away on everything walking, then knocks Cornette off the apron. The Kid with a sucker kick from the apron, and Owen with a swinging neck breaker. Yokozuna goes for the Banzai Drop, and in an absurd spot, Owen gets tripped, put into Billy's place, and Yokozuna drops ass on his own partner. Bart dropkicks Yokozuna out of the ring, and Billy covers for three at 3:01, all while Yokozuna was signalling for a timeout. What is wrong with this official? Can't he see or hear the timeout's being called?!
We're down to the Smoking Gunns and Sid and the 1-2-3 Kid. Sid attacks Billy immediately following the fall, so we don't get a break in the action. Sid stomps away on the future Mr. Ass, then the Kid adds insult to injury. Whip to the corner, and the Kid connects with a running dropkick, and Sid follows with a clothesline, complete with over-sell, but it only gets a two count. Sid slaps on one of his usual lazy chinlocks. Vince somehow makes reference to Jerry Jones while talking about the Gunns. Sid with a big boot, followed by a super-sized leg drop for a two count. Billy with a surprise cradle for a two count of his own. Sid winds up and clobbers Billy with a series of rights. Billy starts fighting back, but gets caught with a chokeslam. Sid poses, and opts not to go for a cover. Sid boots Bart off the apron, just for the hell of it, and holds Billy for a cheap shot by the Kid, but Razor comes back to toss the Kid into Sid, and Billy rolls up Sid for the final three count at 4:17, making the Smoking Gunns the first and only winners of the WWF Raw Bowl.
- It's time for the Wrigley's Halftime Report, sponsered by Wrigley's Winterfresh gum. What a sponser! Dok Hendrix is only here for a whopping two minutes. We still have Diesel taking on the 568 lb. King Mabel. Jim Ross is standing by outside the "Men's Locker Room", and says Diesel was going to "kick the King's can." Which king's can is Diesel reffering to kicking?
The Royal Rumble is coming up, in Fresno, CA. Bret Hart defends the title against the Undertaker. Also, Ahmed Johnson takes on Double J, Jeff Jarrett. We get a clip of Jarrett bopping Ahmed with his gold record for "With My Baby Tonight." Then we've got the Royal Rumble Match. We know the rules of it by now. Participants already announced: No one. Well, so much for that tease. We throw it to "The Nacho Man", who attempts to snap into a Slim Jim, but can't seem to get it right.
- Backstage we go, for the Lombardi trophy Presentation. Ahmed Johnson, Savio Vega, Hakushi, and Marty Jannetty are congratulating the SMoking Gunns. Suddenly the Brooklyn Brawler comes in to present the Gunns with the Lombardi Trophy. The STEVE Lombardi trophy, that is. They quickly manhandle him, and dump a cooler of Lipton Brisk Iced Tea on him for no good reasons.
- Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler are back to announce the confirmed participants for the Royal Rumble Match, including a SPECIAL surprise. Diesel, Owen Hart, The British Bulldog, Dory Funk Jr., Savio Vega, King Mabel, Bam Bam Bigelow (!?), Barry Horowitz, Yokozuna, Tatanka, and... the man they call Vader! We just watch Vader working out and beating on a punching bag. Next week, we get Hakushi vs. Double J, footage from a Shawn Michaels Press Conference, and a replay of Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog from In Your House.
And that's how the Rawl Bowl ends. With THAT.
Final Thoughts: Well, that was roughly 37-minutes of wasted time. The concept of a special show seemes neet in theory, but the execution was just terrible. The tag match was mostly disjointed nonsense with no rhythm, going on about 5-minutes too long for what it was attempting to accomplish, the irritating football references from everyone from the second the show started until the second it ended makes my head hurt, one of the two advertised matches lasted a mere 10-seconds, stupid garbage with washed up names like Brother Love and Brooklyn Brawler, the latter pulling an inside joke about his real name, as if fans at the time remembered his name was Steve Lombardi back when he was jobbing in the mid 80's before having a gimmick, and then the Billionaire Ted sketch. You know, I can understand poking fun at Ted Turner, and at Hulk Hogan, but why Gene Okerlund and Randy Savage? That's the part I never got. I'll admit, I do enjoy the Scheme Gene character, but it seems rather mean spirited to pick on someone who didn't really do anything to them, unless he was bashing the WWF on the WCW Hotline, and the only way they could've known is if a WWF employee called it themselves, or read about it in dirt sheets, or something. Oh, in case that paragraph long diatribe about how putrid this show was, in a nut-shell, don't waste your time watching this unless you are a horrible person that finds great humor in tearing apart terrible wrestling shows like this.