By Haydn Gleed
WWF Raw on the USA Network
Houston, Texas at the The Summit
Before I begin this Retro Raw, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of “Iron” Mike Sharpe, who died last week at his home. Growing up I was aware of Mike Sharpe, but only as an enhancement talent. By going back over the last two years of Monday Night Raw, I’ve had the opportunity to research and view other works by the enhancement talent that I didn’t get a chance to as a kid here in the UK, and Sharpe was someone after researching him who I came to respect for the work that he did outside of WWF a lot. My thoughts are with his friends and family at this terrible time.
So where were we when we last spoke about the period of wrestling which is spotty to be polite when we talk about its quality. WWF were heading towards Royal Rumble 1995, Owen Hart and Razor Ramon had had a fantastic match on the previous episode which was then overshadowed by the main event of Howard Finkle and Harvey Whippleman in a Tuxedo match *shudder*. So what delights have we got to look forward to on this show which was the go home show six days before The Royal Rumble…
Awful music and video, it’s Monday Night Raw ladies and gentleman. Vince McMahon welcomed us to the show and claimed that the eyes of America would be on the Royal Rumble later that week. Vince’s co-host was Shawn Michaels, and it appeared that they were in front of a green screen that was putting them at ringside, which looked really low-tech. Vince ran down the card, including the main match of the evening, Bret Hart against Jeff Jarrett with William Shatner in the corner of Bret. Shawn was pulling faces all through this piece to camera.
In the ring, The Heavenly Bodies were introduced before The 1-2-3 Kid and Bob Holly were introduced as their opponents. There were some really bad canned cheers pumped into the audio feed at this point…
1. The Heavenly Bodies vs. 1-2-3 Kid & Bob Holly. As the Kid was posing for the crowd, Jimmy Del Ray attacked him from behind to start the match. Del Ray clotheslined Kid over the top rope before starting a 2 on 1 attack on Holly in the ring. Vince reminded us that the team of Holly and Kid would be taking on Bam Bam Bigelow and Tatanka at the PPV to determine the new Tag Team Champions. He theorised that this is why the Bodies were angry as they thought it should be them.
The heels continued to tag in and out quickly and kept Holly isolated for several minutes, until Holly fired up in the corner and came out kicking and punching but was stopped in his tracks with a rake to the eyes. Pritchard executed a lovely gut wrench suplex. The heels continued to tag in and out quickly taking turns to beat on Bob Holly.
After three minutes into the match, Bam Bam Bigelow, Tatanka and the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase started walking down the aisle, but stopped halfway to observe the match. Holly finally got the hot tag to the Kid who came in with right hands and dropkicks. Pritchard managed to slow him down and the Bodies attempted a double suplex, but Holly channelled Roman Reigns from the future and hit a spear on Tom Pritchard, which allowed Kid to hit an arched suplex on Del Ray for the 1-2-3….
Bob Holly & 1-2-3 Kid beat The Heavenly Bodies in 4:52.
Retro Verdict: Expected and the correct result with the winners going onto the PPV to challenge for the tag title. It was a decent enough match, but at just under five minutes it’s not anything to write home about.
Vince said that Bret Hart and William Shatner are standing by backstage. Vince asked Bret is there any ring rust after his break? Bret said enthusiastically that there is none, he is 100% which Shatner nodded along to, yeah like he would know. Bret said he’s going to destroy, he’s got no rust in his blood. Shawn asked Shatner who is going to be watching his back. Shatner said he doesn’t need anyone, he took out Lawler last week by himself (did he?) and he’ll keep Roadie…..or Roadkill as he “hilariously” called him, out of Bret’s way.
Retro Verdict: That was so funny, I got one, because Roadie is so smelly, he’s got flees just like a dog so let’s call him Road Dogg….haha….oh hang on a second…..
They advertised the debut of Mantaur next, and I have no recollection of this man….
After the commercial, a moose noise sounded in the arena, and I’m not talking about the ROH wrestler Moose I mean a moose or cow. Mantaur came out looking nothing like his photo before the break and was being led by Jim Cornette. What in gods green earth is this?!…
2. Mantaur vs. Jason Arndt. I was hoping after the last shows antics, this one might be a bit more sane….looks like I was asking too much. Mantaur climbed in the ring and made some strange arm movements at the crowd. He charged like a bull at Jason Arndt twice into the corner. He broke out a wrestling belly to belly, before mooing at the crowd. I am not making this up.
Mantaur splashed Jason to the mat, moo’d before putting the enhancement talent away with a splash….
Mantaur beat Jason Arndt in 1:01.
Retro Verdict: What the cuss word was that?! I cannot believe that with a gimmick that bad I have no recollection of him. I did have to laugh that Vince and Shawn decided that this should be the match that they aggressively plugged the PPV during. Back then, I would have turned the channel after the 7th moo! A sentence I never thought I would say talking about a wrestling show.
Following another commercial break, Jeff Jarrett’s music was playing as he came to the ring accompanied by the Roadie. Once in the ring, Jarrett strutted as you do. Bret Hart’s music played and a real pop could be heard as he walked to the ring accompanied by William Shatner. This match should be out of this world….get it get it huh huh?
3. Bret Hart vs. Jeff Jarrett. After Bret gave his sunglasses to a wee lad at ringside, Bret climbed back in the ring and showed an aggressive side to himself as he stalked Jeff inside and outside the ring. Jeff climbed back in the ring and they locked up. Jeff gained the advantage and went for a punch but was blocked and Bret went on an aggressive attacked. Vince talked about Diesel claiming that Bret had changed. Jarrett was in the ropes and Bret raked the eyes, showing a different side to the hitman so they told the story well there.
Bret continued to be all over Jarrett and applied an armlock in the center of the ring. Bret loosened the hold and focused on the arm. Eventually Jeff got to his feet and used the hair to gain leverage, but Bret reversed an armdrag attempt into a pinning sequence. Bret went back to the arm and everytime Jeff tried to escape, Bret held onto the arm and rolled through any counter attempt. After a sequence against the ropes, Bret attempted to apply a sleeper, but Jeff broke the hold with a suplex. This led to a sustained period of offence for Jeff as we went into a commercial.
Back from the break, Jeff and Bret were exchange leverage pin attempts, until Jeff gained the advantage with a whip to the buckle with authority. Shatner started a go Bret go chant at ringside. In the ring, Jeff came off the middle rope with an axe handle. Jeff sat on the turnbuckle and showed off his muscle. He attempted to fly off the corner with a punch, but Bret caught him in the mid-section. This led to a Russian sidesweep and a suplex for a two count. Backbreaker, and Bret climbed to the middle rope and came down with an elbow for a close two count. The Roadie at ringside used the towel to wipe away the sweat. Bret tried to apply the Sharpshooter, but Jeff raked the eyes. Shawn said, “That was clever from Jeff, because once you are in the Sharpshooter you never get out…….funny for obvious reasons.
Bret had Jarrett tied up in the ropes and went for a crossbody but The Roadie freed Jeff who moved out of the way and Bret crashed and burned. Jeff was in complete control for the first time in the match. He went for the figure four in the centre of the ring and got the hold applied. After only 30 seconds in the hold, Bret got to the ropes with the help of Shatner which Shawn sounded furious with. Jeff went for a rollup, but Bret rolled through and got the three count. Shawn claimed that Bret had a handful of tights…
Bret Hart beat Jeff Jarrett in 12:14.
After the match, Roadie tried to attack Bret but Shatner cleared him from the ring. William checked on Bret, but Roadie jumped off the top turnbuckle for the sneak attack, but the Star Trek star just moved in time and The Roadie squashed against the canvas. Bret and Shatner celebrated mid-ring after Shatner attacked Roadie once again.
Retro Verdict: I’m kind of conflicted about this match. I did enjoy it, and it was obvious that they would and should make Bret look strong going into the Championship match at the Rumble, but at the same time Jarrett was going into an IC title match against Razor Ramon on the same show, and looked weak with the very limited offence he was given. The finish came out of nowhere but in a way protected Jeff somewhat. I did enjoy and get the story of the match with Bret being more aggressive, but again it did come from out of nowhere if you were only watching Raw at the time. So yeah, as I said, conflicted but an enjoyable ten minutes or so of action in a vacuum.
Following a commercial, the King’s Court was setup mid-ring and we saw the corporation (Bam Bam Bigelow, IRS, Tatanka, King Kong Bundy, Druid and Ted DiBiase) climbing into the ring to the entrance music of the Million Dollar Man. Jerry said it was an indeed an honour to have The Million Dollar Man in the ring with him, and that Ted would be the busiest man at the Royal Rumble with everybody he is representing.
He said on Sunday at the Rumble it will be the night of the corporation and the Million Dollar Man. He claimed that they will start with the Undertaker and that IRS will send him back to where he came from six feet under. He said they will then go on to the tag team title match where Bam Bam Bigelow and Tatanka would face Bob Holly and 1-2-3 Kid and that it will be a shoe in for his team. He made some disrespectful comments about Holly’s racing abilities. He said that next week they would defend their titles against The Smoking Gunns.
He said last but not least, the Royal Rumble and the winner will the Big Show impersonator….sorry I mean King Kong’s Bundy. He said that the grand prize is at WrestleMania 11 when he will face the World Wrestling Federation champion and the corporation will have all the titles and there will be no more Undertaker in the WWF. He said that the corporation is alive in 95.
Retro Verdict: Slight spoiler warning of sorts, if you are following along with my coverage and will be watching the Rumble in order, then ignore this paragraph, but the funny thing is none of those things happened, so although it was a nice promo, and it built up many parts of the Rumble (and the fact that IRS didn’t speak is always a positive), ultimately they wrote checks that they couldn’t cash and coming out of the Rumble the whole corporation thing was dead in the water. So in a way this was the last hurrah for them as a credible force.
Back from the break, Oscar was again telling us to put our hands in the air like we just don’t care and oops there it is. Seriously, I know I’m one of the uncoolest people known to man, but what exactly are they referring to when they say oops there it is? Are they farting and announcing it to everyone? Anyhoozle I digress. Oscar was leading out Mable who’s opponent, Lee Tobin was in the ring…
3. Mabel vs. Lee Tobin. You would think that this was a total squash, and to a degree it was, but Tobin did get some spirited shots in as well as a headlock, but the majority of the match Mabel who beat Tobin with a legdrop….
Mabel beat Lee Tobin in 2:23.
Retro Verdict: The match was pretty much there for Shawn to declare he was going to win the Rumble (which he did), but Vince was questioning how anyone could eliminate Mabel in the Rumble. I know I rag on the commentary teams from the past and now a lot, but they actually did a pretty good job here.
After the match, Mabel danced his way to ringside where Vince asked him the stupidest question you could ask someone entering a competition, who do you think is going to win Mabel? Mabel said that this Sunday, he’s the biggest he’s the baddest and he will win the Rumble. Shawn said hang on big man, what makes you think he is going to win. Before he could answer fully, King Kong Bundy came charging down to ringside and asked him what makes him think he’s the biggest and baddest son? You will be going over the top rope on Sunday. Mabel climbed in the ring and told him to get in the ring right now if he thinks he’s the baddest, but The Million Dollar Man held him back.
After a commercial, Vince said that next week’s show will be the night after the Rumble and re-announced that the winners of the tag title belts would face The Smoking Gunns live on Raw. He also said that the winner of the Rumble would be in the building. With that the show finished.
Retro Verdict: Not a bad show in all fairness. They built up the importance of every match on the Rumble card, except for the IC title match. I can honestly say that at the time I would have wanted to see the show and would have bought the pay per view based on this show and at the end of the day that’s all that matters.
Because I’m a week behind with the Retro Raw’s because of something out of my control last week, look out for the next Retro Raw later today that will be the night after The Royal Rumble 1995.
As always I would love to hear from you. Get in touch via twitter @haydngleed or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.