Live from Knoxville, TN

Airdate: December 30, 1996

Attendance: 4,021

Hosted by Tony Schiavone, Larry Zbyszko, Bobby ‘The Brain” Heenan, and “Iron” Mike Tenay

Post-Starrcade madness or Pre-Royal Rumble attitude? What’s your pleasure? Read on!

Outside the arena, a pair of black limousines stops outside the arena as the nWo emerges feeling like they’re “stronger than ever.” Notwithstanding, Giant informs Hogan that not only is his name still on the World title belt but also since he won World War III he earned a title shot. A listless Hogan describes Giant’s win as a “bye” and tells him not to “drop the ball again.”

Opening montage.

Tony and Larry discuss/oversell the stills from the Luger-Giant match at Starrcade.

Match 1: Public Enemy versus the Amazing French Canadians (w/ Colonel Parker)


Rating: DUD

Summary: This gets nothing and likes it. Hopefully in 1997, Nitro neither contains Public Enemy or Amazing French Canadians matches.

Prior to the next match, we get stills from the Mysterio-Liger and the Ultimo Dragon-Malenko matches.

Match 2 for the WCW Cruiserweight title: Ultimo Dragon (champion w/ Sonny Onoo) versus Jushin “Thunder” Liger


Rating: ***

Summary: Surprisingly, the Knoxville faithful were asleep during this cruiserweight high-flying exhibition. Those ingrates!

Match 3 (strap): Konnan versus Big Bubba Rogers Michael Wallstreet


Rating: DUD

Summary: Worst strap match EVER. This show has had a frenetic pace, and the quality of the wrestling is being tremendously sacrificed. Hopefully, the quality improves going forward.

Hogan and Bischoff then make their way to the ring and lie about beating Piper last night. Scratch what I said about quality improvement. This ain’t it.

Match 4: Kensuke Sasaki (w/ Sonny Onoo) versus Hugh Morrus


Rating: *

Summary: Despite the moonsault, this match was G-A-R-B-A-G-E.

After the match, Morrus tries to grab Onoo, but the latter escapes.

Next, stills from the Hogan-Piper match are shown.

On WCW Saturday Night, US champion Eddie Guerrero faces Dean Malenko. Also, Lord Steven Regal defends the World TV title against Ice Train. Tune into the muthaship! It’s gotta be better than this dreck.

Match 5: Harlem Heat (w/ Sister Sherri) versus Faces of Fear


Rating: *

Summary: I bet there’s a match between the Canadians and Harlem Heat next week due to these shenanigans. I will NOT be looking forward to that.

Valvoline sponsors the replay.

At the entrance, “Mean” Gene Okerlund interviews DDP. When Okerlund questions him about getting screwed by the nWo last night, DDP shrugs it off, but payback should be forthcoming.


We then revisit Hogan’s edict to Giant and the Hogan/Bischoff segment. According to Tony, Piper is here TONIGHT. I’m so excited!

Match 6: Disco Inferno versus Glacier


Rating: DUD

Summary: Even the Disco Inferno can’t make this guy interesting.


Buy the shirt! Send it to Rock Star Gary. Make it an XL.


After a commercial break, stills from last night’s Jarrett-Benoit match are shown.

Match 7: The “Crippler” Chris Benoit (w/ Woman) versus “Lionheart” Chris Jericho


Rating: **

Summary: Fast-paced match with a lot of offense, but NOTHING will wake up this sluggish crowd.

At the entrance, Okerlund interviews Ric Flair, Mongo & Debra McMichael, Benoit, and Woman. Where’s Arn? When Debra talks to Woman, the latter puts her in her place. Mongo takes exception by calling Woman a “skirt.” As Flair restores order, Jeff Jarrett comes out to join the party. Flair then answers the question about Arn by stating that “he’s over at the Hyatt with a Miller Lite...” As Benoit tells Jarrett that he “proved (he) can be anything but a Horseman,” Debra throws a potshot at Woman as Flair dances with her. That shoulder injury can’t heal fast enough.

Lee Marshall then delivers the 1-800-COLLECT road report from “Monroe, LA.” Hopefully, he finds a good swamp so he can stop doing these.

Partido 8 (enano): Octagoncito y Mascarita Sagrada contra Jerito Estrada y Piratita Morgan


Rating: ½*

Summary: Lucha libre exhibition by the dwarfs probably gave the slumbering Knoxville faithful nightmares.

Hopefully, Freddy, you were not involved. Thanks for making an appearance though.

Match 9: Rey Mysterio, Jr. versus Dean Malenko


Rating: ***

Summary: With each wrestler coming off a loss at the PPV, a draw neither hurt nor helped them.

Match 10: The “Total Package” Lex Luger versus Greg “The Hammer” Valentine


Rating: DUD

Summary: Showcase match for Luger.

After a commercial break, Piper comes out, and the Knoxville faithful finally wakes up with a “Rod-dy” chant. He then declares himself “the ICON.” While he states that Starrcade was his last match, Hogan and Bischoff storm the ring. Hogan then brings up Piper’s family causing Piper to want to “do it one more time.”

Suddenly, Hall, Nash, and Syxx hit the ring to nail Piper. As Giant traipses toward the ring, the nWo gives Piper a shoulder breaker on Norton’s knee. With litter all over the ring, Hogan WALLOPS Piper’s hip with a chair followed by telling Giant to chokeslam Piper.

When Giant refuses and releases Piper, Hogan tells him that he “dropped the ball again.” As the EMTs bring out a stretcher for Piper, Hogan slaps Giant who responds by prepping Hogan for a chokeslam while holding off the rest of the nWo. While Piper speaks in gibberish on the stretcher on his way backstage, Giant coerces Hogan to get his World title shot. Ultimately, Hogan acquiesces and shakes Giant’s hand.

As Hogan leaves the ring, he tells the rest of the nWo to “get him.” Bagwell leaps from the top rope, but Giant shrugs him off. After Vincent tries but fails miserably, nWo Sting attempts a dropkick but gets swatted away. Giant then chokeslams him, but the nWo overpowers him. As Hogan returns to the ring, he nails Giant with the World title belt. He then taunts and slaps Giant while Piper leaves the arena in an ambulance.

Conclusion: So WCW puts great wrestling on PPV but sacrifices it dearly on Nitro. This show was more skippable than the Skipper himself. What’s on RAW?

TV Rating: 3.50

WWF Monday Night RAW

Live from Albany, NY

Airdate: December 30, 1996

Attendance: 6,855

Hosted by Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and Jerry “The King” Lawler

Bret mentions Michaels’ excuses as Michaels refers to himself as a degenerate. They will trade banter face-to-face TONIGHT! I smell something…

Opening montage.

Prior to the first match, we revisit Superstars as Jason Ahmdt and Eddie Jackie receive medical assistance after being pummeled by Austin. Earlier on the show, they defeated Austin in a handicap match.

Match 1: Stone Cold Steve Austin & Faarooq (w/ Clarence Mason & PG-13) versus Savio Vega & Jesse James


Rating: *1/2

Summary: This was meant as a teaser to have both Bret and Austin in the same match without much contact.

After the match, the Nation of Domination along with Austin destroy Bret and Vega until Ahmed Johnson runs in with a 2x4. Instead of at the Royal Rumble, Johnson wants Faarooq NOW. He then gets the Albany faithful to chant “you’re going down.” That was more thrilling than the match.

Promo airs for Royal Rumble…3 weeks away.

Prior to the next match, Helmsley cuts a promo on Funk from backstage and threatens to show Marlena what a “real man” is like after the Royal Rumble. He’s going to introduce her to this guy?

RAW is sponsored by RAW Magazine.

Match 2 (non-title): WWF Intercontinental champion Hunter Hearst Helmsley versus Flash Funk


Rating: **

Summary: Because the Albany crowd was bored with the match, Lawler woke them up going after Goldust. Anything for ratings, right?

After the match, Goldust comes to ringside as Lawler backs away. When Helmsley saunters after Goldust, Funk catches him, tosses him back in the ring, gives him a cross-corner whip, and delivers an avalanche. After a slam, Funk mounts the top turnbuckle and hits the 450° splash.

Promo for WWF Shotgun Saturday Night aired.

A plug for the WWF Holiday Hell Tour then aired:

  1. 1/3 in San Diego, CA
  2. 1/4 in Stockton, CA
  3. 1/5 in Los Angeles, CA
  4. 1/6 in Fresno, CA
  5. 1/10 in San Jose, CA
  6. 1/11 in Anaheim, CA
  7. 1/12 in Las Vegas, NV
  8. 1/13 in El Paso, TX

In the ring, Jim Ross interviews the “Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels and Bret “Hitman” Hart. When Ross mentions that Bret will face Vader next week on RAW, Michaels swears that he won’t interfere. Bret then calls out Michaels for his attitude and disrespect and claims he was “screwed” out of the WWF title last year at WrestleMania XII. As Bret mentioned Michaels’ pictorial in Playgirl Magazine, he doesn’t believe that “girls buy that magazine.” He then states that sometime in the future when the two go face-to-face, he “will kick (Michaels’) ass.”

Michaels responds by stating that Bret is no role model on the road. Well, Bret did back that up in his book. Regardless, WWF Champion Sycho Sid comes to the ring and wants “real competition.” Suddenly, Undertaker’s gong rings as he makes his way to the ring. Vader then ambushes Undertaker from behind. After Undertaker puts Vader down, he stands face-to-face with Sid. Afterward, Michaels crotches Bret in the ropes and leaps at Sid. They then brawl in the aisle until officials separate them.

Promo for Royal Rumble live on PPV on 1/19.

The Starburst Fruit Twists Rewind is the Ahmed Johnson run-in with the 2x4 scattering the Nation of Domination from the ring.

Match 3: Goldust (w/ Marlena) versus Jerry “The King” Lawler


Rating: 1/2*

Summary: More angle than match as the WWF stirs the pot between Goldust and Helmsley.

After the match, Helmsley finishes with Goldust and clocks Mero as Marlena writhes in pain in the aisle.

Conclusion: While very angle-driven, RAW did a great job selling both the Royal Rumble PPV and its matches. Also, the “attitude” is starting to make its way onto the program in small doses. Can that contribute to a ratings victory?

TV Rating: 1.60 (Astonishing)

Who won? Hell no! Despite Nitro stinking up TNT for 2 hours, it destroyed RAW by almost 2 points. While Nitro has nothing scheduled for next week, Bret faces Vader on RAW. Can WCW’s streak continue?

Stay tuned for Monday Night War week 68!

Comments? Suggestions? Send them to me at rsg@rockstargary.com and follow me on Twitter (@rockstargary202).

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