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Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Jose Lothario Has Scrapes to Prove, Proves it Was He Who Fell

Jose Lothario/Shawn Michaels vs. Jim Cornette/Vader WWE Raw 9/23/96 - GREAT

ER: You knew this was going to mostly be a Vader/Michaels match, but it's a pretty fascinating anomaly that they would even put Lothario in the ring. This was before they were frequently using AARP members in the main events of shows, so seeing an old guy main eventing Raw was more odd in 1996. The show isn't even in San Antonio, it's in Pennsylvania, so it's odd they'd choose this show to have Lothario in a match at all, but the crowd is hot throughout. Cornette knows what he's doing and comes out in a Vader red lycra top and is great on the apron throughout, while Vader is mugging Michaels. Vader was great in this, squishing Michaels with avalanches and throwing big headbutts and does a couple of fun almost lucha teases, setting up Michaels for the Vader Bomb and teasing crowd reaction by acting as if he's thinking about going to the top rope and then waving them off. Michaels' offense still looks below Vader, but it's alarming how much better it actually looks than the Michaels offense we grew accustomed to a decade later. It helps that '96 Michaels moved fast, so at minimum was running into Vader with some speed and force, and we got a big moment where he went for a fast crossbody with Vader ducking out of the way, sending Michaels into a big bump over the top to the floor. We also got a great moment where Vader ducked the superkick and just leveled him with an awesome left arm clothesline for a convincing nearfall. The Lothario hot tag was short but sweet, with Cornette tagging in first with the advantage, but squandering that advantage by shadowboxing with Vader. Michaels gets to Lothario and the crowd reacts big, and Cornette reacts big. Lothario drops Cornette with a couple punches, then Lothario smacks him downward over his nose and Cornette takes a big comical back bump. I was going to type how it was great seeing an old non-wrestler like Cornette bumping big for Lothario, but then I realized that Cornette in this match was younger than I am now, and it just made me melancholy. Also, annoyingly, Lothario just completely disappears after his hot tag. Not just that he isn't in the match again, but I don't think the camera even showed him again. Vader got the win and then Sid ran in, and by this point Lothario may as well have been backstage. But this whole thing was good. And kind of weird. It was good and kind of weird that they did this.

PAS: I would have liked to see more of the Cornette vs. Lothario stuff, even though this had a bunch of big Vader vs. Micheals main event exchanges, I enjoyed the sideshow stuff the most. Cornette coming in and working the mitts with Vader was a great bit of heel horseshit (although Vader could have moved the mitts a bit, let Jimmy work on his combos), as was Cornette swinging for Michaels' legs with the racket, only for Shawn to jump over it like Super Mario. The brief Lothario in ring stuff was fun, he still had a great punch and Cornette bumped like Jim Cornette, I will have to check out their singles match for sure. Vader looked like Vader in this, wailing on Shawn in the corner, beheading him with a clothesline and smashing him and pinning him clean. Michaels takes some bumps and flies around the ring well, but I have a hard time buying him denting Vader at all. Still this was exciting television wrestling.


COMPLETE AND ACCURATE JOSE LOTHARIO

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