By Haydn Gleed
WWF Raw on the USA Network
Live from Liberty, New York at Liberty Central
So after one of the worst year of wrestling I’ve ever watched in the 1994 Raw’s, how did WWF start 1995 on their flagship show? Would it be the same rubbish that we were subjected to especially in December 1994? Or would the quality of the shows be a fresh start to a fresh new year? So many questions, let’s find out together…
Raw opened with a shot of Double J Jeff Jarrett and The Roadie (the future Road Dogg) backstage. With the country and western music playing, Jeff Jarrett promoted that tonight we would hear Jeff Jarrett sing for the first time which led into the usual music and video…
Retro Verdict: Interesting start, and although I was never into the whole Double J will he won’t he sing gimmick back then or now, at least it was a hook to get people to stick around and watch the show.
Following the video, Gorilla Monsoon welcomed us to Monday Night Raw and announced that he was filling in for Vince McMahon who was under the weather. He introduced his co-annoucer Shawn Michaels and they both ran down what would be happening tonight on the show. Over the loud speakers Money Money Money was playing, and out came Bam Bam Bigelow and Tatanka led by The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase. Following an obviously canned USA chant, Lex Luger made his entrance. He stepped into the ring and the heels attacked him before The British Bulldog could come out…
1. Bam Bam Bigelow & Tatanka vs. Lex Luger & The British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith. Within seconds Davey ran to the ring and attacked Tatanka. Lex gained the advantage on Bam Bam and then cleared Tatanka from the ring. Following some back and for, Bam Bam gained the advantage but then stupidly, whipped The Bulldog from his own corner to the corner where Lex Luger was standing. Lex tagged in and flew off the top rope with a clothesline.
Lex applied an armbar on Bam Bam to wear the big man down. He held this for a very short time before Bam Bam fought out of it, but missed with a splash in the corner, so Lex reapplied the armbar to Bam Bam. Again, after a very small amount of time Bam Bam fought out of the armbar and again missed the splash. Lex went to run the ropes, but with the referee distracted by Ted DiBiase, Tatanka attacked him from behind. This led to Tatanka tagging in and hitting guess what? if you said chops, you win a biscuit.
Following a sustained amount of offence which included many many chops and an elbow drop, Shawn said it looks like Tatanka has bulked up. I was thinking the same thing, but I thought it was more fat than muscle. After a very short commercial break, Tatanka was still in full control and climbed to the top rope. Lex got to his feet and got hit by a…..wait for it…..a chop.
Tatanka continued on the offence and had Lex Luger in a bear hug which didn’t look realistic in the slightest, and in fact Gorilla pointed that out himself. Lex eventually fought out of the bear hug and hit a number of right hands and caught a charging Tatanka with two kicks to the face. Tatanka however regained the advantage, tagged in Bam Bam who hit a diving headbutt and jawed at the crowd. Bigelow charged at Luger who caught him with a powerslam. Luger crawled over to Davey Boy and eventually hit the hot tag as Tatanka was also tagged in. Bulldog unloaded on Tatanka and quickly scooped up Tatanka for the running slam. He covered Tatanka but Ted DiBiase pulled the Native American out of the ring.
Luger, despite being out on his knees a minute ago came charging around and attacked Bam Bam while trying to get to DiBiase. Bulldog left the ring to help his buddy so all four men were at ringside. Earl continued to count in the ring until he reached ten and called for the bell…
Both teams fought to a double countout in 8:32.
After the bell rang, tens of referee’s and officials ran down to the ringside area and tried to break everybody up…..and then we went to a commercial and came back to see The Roadie setting up the microphone for Double J later in the night….
Retro Verdict: The match was ok, however there are only so many chops I can take. The finish was just lazy and again another non-clean finish to your only main roster guy match on the show. The fight was intense and I liked the way they were building up the hatred between the teams but they completely blew it by not having an instant follow up after the break. People at home at the time, if they were invested in the feud would have been going oh my gosh what is going on during the break, and just seeing Roadie out there when they came back took the wind out of the sails. Not a great start to 1995.
After another commercial, the garbage truck reverse warning sound was blaring and out came Duke “The Dumpster” Droese who was heading to the ring where his opponent Mike Bell was waiting…
2. Duke “The Dumpster” Droese vs. Mike Bell. Complete and total squash with Duke in total control. Gorilla announced that The Royal Rumble would be the quickest ever, with only a minute between competitors entering the match. He also announced that William Shatner would be live on Raw the following the week.
Duke won easily with the Trash Compactor…
Duke “The Dumpster” Droese beat Mike Bell in 1:25.
Retro Verdict: Gorilla also slipped in very quickly before the break that the Bam Bam/Tatanka vs. Luger/Bulldog match would continue later in the show, but was said so quickly if you blinked (if you can blink with your ears) you would have missed it. Looking forward to seeing William Shatner on Raw on the next show. I’d forgotten that 1995 was the year that the Royal Rumble was put to one minute between competitors and I really didn’t enjoy it. It always seemed to me as a kid that the longer you stayed in the Rumble, the tougher you were, and because of the shorter time people would be in there, it just took the magic away somewhat. I’m glad it wasn’t a long lasting experiment, and I’m glad they came to the realisations that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
We came back from a commercial and Jerry Lawler was in the ring for The King’s Court. Again, the announcers talked over Jerry Lawler as he was talking *sigh*. Owen came down the aisle and did a King’s wave. He climbed in the ring, and Jerry Lawler and Owen both did the royal wave. King said let’s talk about Owen Hart, and about what happened at Survivor Series. He listed some big Hollywood stars, and said that Owen’s performance was the greatest thing he ever seen. He made a joke about Stu and Helen Hart putting Bret up for adoption because they were so disappointed in him. Owen laughed and said at WrestleMania 10 he beat Bret and he also won The King Of The Ring, and to top off 1994, his brother Bret lost his title because of him. He recapped what he did and held up the towel he was carrying and said this symbolises his brother losing the title.
Jerry said that he knew Owen wanted to make a big bombshell announcement, what is it? Owen said it was a very important scoop. He said that his brother was the tag team champion, the Intercontinental champion and the Heavyweight Champion, but unlike him he will be all three champions and unlike his brother he won’t lose the belts because he will win and retire with the belt. Gorilla questioned was that the scoop?! I hear you brother.
Retro Verdict: On one hand this was a complete waste of time, but at least it did build some heat on Owen for being so cocky that you just want to see someone shut him up. Also, Owen was just so comfortable at this point in his character and was entertaining to go along with it, so this segment was watcahable.
Following a break, they promoted that the following week was the two year anniversary of Monday Night Raw and they would have a match between Owen Hart and Scott Hall and Harvey Whippleman against Howard Finkel in a tuxedo match….
Retro Verdict: Oh dear lord…
Following yet another commercial break, Jeff Jarrett’s music played and out he came to face his opponent Buck Quartermaine…
3. Jeff Jarrett vs. Buck Quartermaine. As you would imagine considering Jarrett was supposed to “perform” later , this was a complete and total squash.
Jeff finished with a figure four leglock….
Jeff Jarrett beat Buck Quartermain in 3:01.
After the match we had another commercial, but were promised that Jarrett would be singing next. After the commercial, all the equipment was setup in the ring, and Jeff had a guitar. Jarrett did a mic test with Shawn Michaels making a bad joke about who is Mike and why is he not checking when asked? After a minute of stalling they brought the lights down but feedback played over the speakers. Gorilla asked, “Where’s Kevin Dunn when you want him?”, way to sail over the head of 99% of the fans at the time Monsoon. Jarrett frustrated threw his guitar at The Roadie and walked out. We were then treated to someone called Super Dave who plugged his show. They showed a clip of the show, and it looked awful!!!!
Anyway, after yet another commercial, Moonson was too busy plugging this annoying Dave guy to again plug the tag match that was supposed to be the main angle of the show…
Retro Verdict: Ok, for my sins I actually got a kick out of the Jeff Jarrett segment. Yes it was silly and yes it was predictable, but it was fun and classic cheesy wrestling angle. I think what made it so fun for me was the fact you felt that everybody believed their characters and played them as if they were real, and for me when that happens it can negate some silliness. I’m so frustrated though with the way they tried to make a hot angle at the start of the show with the four men in the tag match and then completely ignored it for the rest of the show.
We came back from the commercial, and the action had already started in the ring with Bam Bam in control of Lex Luger…
4. Bam Bam Bigelow & Tatanka vs. Lex Luger & The British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith…uh…Part 2 I guess? Bam Bam picked up Lex for a big suplex and gained a close two count. Lex tried to get to his corner, but Bam Bam grabbed his leg and tagged in Tatanka. The Native American then shocked everyone by hitting a chop. The crowd is completely and utterly silent, I have a theory for that, see my verdict below.
After another substantial amount of offence from the heels, and when I say substantial we are talking four minutes, Lex ducked a double clothesline attempt and managed to get the tag to Davey Boy Smith. Bulldog came in and hit two beautiful dropkicks on the heels and then hit two powerslams. He covered Tatanka, but Bam Bam broke up the pin. Lex clotheslined Bam Bam out of the ring, and when he tried to get back on the apron, Davey Boy whipped Tatanka into the ropes knocking down the beast from the east. This somehow led to Tatanka being pinned 1-2-3…
Lex Luger & The British Bulldog beat Bam Bam Bigelow & Tatanka in 5:05.
Following the match, the heels argued at ringside while Gorilla pimped the following weeks show and the babyfaces posed with their perfectly natural bodies in the ring…
Retro Verdict: Excuse the expression but what a f’ing mess. That was horrible all round. My guess is, based on the fact that the competitors were sweating heavily was they re-did the match originally because they screwed up the original finish, and when they came to the edit the show they decided to try and cobble it together to make it look like it was two different matches. This would also explain the lousy job the commentators did promoting the follow up match. That would also explain why the crowd seemed flat because they had seen a finish, and either they knew the finish had been blown or were confused so were just silent. The finish of the match was just stupid, are we really going to believe that a fresh Tatanka after taking no beating at all in the five minutes of the match was hurt sufficiently to be covered for a three count after just simply bumping into his tag partner? Come on please.
This was a very strange show. Aside from the Jeff Jarrett segment, nothing really served a purpose, and it felt to me like they had recorded loads of television and this was all they had left. Kind of like when you have a cup of tea and at the bottom of the cup after you finish there are still some dregs left, this is how I would describe this show, the dregs of the tapings. With that being said, I am looking forward to the two year anniversary show, as I’ve been told by one of you lovely readers that it’s a pretty good one, even though I am shuddering at re-living the tuxedo match between Harvey Whippleman and Howard Finkel *shudder down the spine*.
As always, feel free to get in touch either through twitter @haydngleed or via email firstname.lastname@example.org