By Haydn Gleed
WWF Raw on the USA Network
Palmetto, Florida at the Manatee Civic Center
The show opened with Vince McMahon in a horrible yellow blazer. He looked straight into the camera, and said on behalf of the World Wrestling Federation, he would like to offer an apology for the unprofessional conduct of Scott Bam Bam Bigelow towards Lawrence Taylor and his family. He said as a result of his actions, he has been suspended without pay. This led into the intro music and video….
Retro Verdict: Outstanding first 20 seconds of the show. If people hadn’t bought the PPV the night before, and they had tuned into Raw to see what happened and they saw this? Holly intrigued Batman would they have stuck around to find out exactly what Vince was talking about. An argument could be made that they had already pushed the outstanding performance of Shawn Michaels going through the entire Rumble and winning to the backburner, and at the time I would probably have been complaining, but in retrospect with Taylor against Bam Bam being the main event of the upcoming WrestleMania, it made perfect sense. Encouraging start to this show.
After the music video, Vince McMahon as we knew him in 1995 is back welcoming us to Monday Night Raw with his unique voice. Vince McMahon introduced his co-host for the evening, and the winner of the 1995 Royal Rumble Shawn Michaels. As The Heartbreak kid made his way to the ringside area, Vince reminded us that Shawn was the first entrant in the Royal Rumble and went all the way. After posing in the ring, Shawn joined Vince at ringside, and said he hates to say he told you so, but he told you so. After talking about giving Pamela Anderson the pleasure of leading him down to the ring at WrestleMania, the focus turned to the first match of the night, which was the previously advertised tag team title match between the challengers The Smoking Gunns, and the winners of the Tag Team Title Tournament from the Royal Runble, 1-2-3 Kid and Bob Holly…
1. 1-2-3 Kid & Bob Holly vs. The Smoking Gunns for the Tag Team Titles. After the introductions, with Vince giving a history as to why this match is happening, the referee held the title belts in the air and both team faced each other and shook hands. Bob Holly and Billy Gunn started the match and locked up mid-ring. Both men took turns gaining the upper hand, before facing off again. Billy Gunn eventually applied a wrist lock, and Bart tagged into the ring. Holly managed to escape and applied an armlock on Bart, and attempted to tag in the Kid, but Bart escaped. Bart and Kid locked up, and after some fast paced back and for, Bart missed with a dropkick and sold hurting his head. Kid applied an armlock and tagged in Bob, who went back to working on the arm.
Retro Verdict: The crowd were silent which could be four things, 1. They didn’t know who to cheer, 2. They didn’t care about either team 3. They were being respectful and waiting to see where this went or 4. All of the above. My pick would be the opposite of Montgomery Brewster’s (look it up kids).
Holly and Bart both missed with elbow drops, and again they locked up. Holly gained the advantage and laid in some right hands. Bart blind tagged Billy who came in with a bulldog for a close two count. Billy, showing some aggressive offence hit some quick elbow drops before tagging Bart back in. The Gunns performed a double team manoeuvre, but when going for a second, Bob Holly broke free and knocked Billy off the top rope so he was straddling the corner. Holly and Kid then hit a double superplex for a nearfall. This led to a sustained amount of offence for Holly and Kid.
Late in the match, Holly got the hot tag after a long beatdown of the Kid. Holly hit a big dropkick on Billy Gunn for a nearfall and then hit a powerslam. He went to the top rope, but eat a boot when Billy got his leg up. Bart tagged in and picked up Holly, and both men performed a backbreaker/neckbreaker combo, and we have new Tag Team Champions….
The Smoking Gunns defeated Bob Holly and 1-2-3 Kid for the Tag Team Titles.
After the match, The Gunns celebrated in the ring with about four ladies in the front row looking very excited they had just won the titles. Holly was still knocked out and Kid looked dejected mid-ring. After a break, Kid and Holly were at ringside, where Vince said that you guys definitely gave everything you had to give, but the toll from the night before from Bam Bam and Tatanka took effect. Kid said that you are right Vince, he is really disappointed. He said he’s not taking anything away from The Smoking Gunns but they only had 24 hours to prepare. Vince disagreed and said that they knew the winners of the Rumble match would face the Gunns on this show. He then said nevertheless it was a great performance by them and went to interview Holly. Bob said that they were the underdogs but Kid cut him off and asked The Gunns for a rematch next week.
Retro Verdict: Everything about this I loved. Apologies for the short review of the match, but for a tag team match, this was great action and I was enjoying the contest. The interview after the match was simple, but was great to show what the titles meant to the now former champions and promoted a rematch down the line. By doing something small like this, you give the whole contest a sports like real feel, especially when the guys being interview appear to be so distraught at losing. I have so far really dug the first 20 minutes of the show. Even if the rest of the show has the career highlights of Bastion Booger, you need to hunt the start of this show on the network.
Back from a break, Vince McMahon says that Bam Bam will be apologising later, with the crowd chanting Diesel around Shawn Michaels, who was not happy. Shawn said that he is looking for a bodyguard, someone he can really trust. Following another break, IRS comes to the ring along with the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase and the druids. IRS is carrying the Undertaker’s urn, which Vince told us was repossessed by IRS the previous night at the Royal Rumble. His opponent was already in the ring, and was Buck Quartermaine…
2. IRS vs. Buck Quartermaine. Buck got a few shots in early, but the majority of the match was IRS dominating.
During the match, Rowdy Roddy Piper joined the show via a phone link. Roddy waffled on to begin with before putting over the Rumble as one of the best he has ever seen. He kissed up to Vince by saying they both never age. Shawn Michaels demanded a congratulation which Roddy said he’ll get there, before talking about Bam Bam Bigelow. They then went into plug mode for the Rumble replay as IRS won with a lariat in the ring…
IRS beat Buck Quartermaine in 2:12.
Retro Verdict: Oh my lord, Roddy waffled on and on and didn’t make any points at all that I’m sure he was supposed to. IRS and the urn *yawn*.
After another break, we saw Jerry “The King” Lawler make his way down the aisle before we went to yet another commercial. When we came back, Jeff Jarrett was already in the ring, so I’m guessing they were short on time. Jerry introduced the new Intercontinental champion who was strutting around the ring. Jeff showed off his new belt while wearing a hideous outfit. Jeff said thank you very much for the introduction. He addressed Razor Ramon and reminded him that he told him he was coming to the Rumble to take his title and that he would humiliate him, and that’s exactly what he did. He told Razor that if you want a rematch come on, because you are now the challenger and I’m the champion.
Jerry asked Jeff what is next for double J. Jarrett said that he’s had time to think about it, and he realises there’s something missing and that’s the World Wrestling Federation belt. He addressed Diesel and called him out. He continued to talk as Vince talked over him. He said Diesel if you have the guts he will show the whole world that the winner of the match via submission will be the new World Wrestling Federation champion. As he was winding up his promo the lights came down which I guess is the wrestling equivalent of the band starting to play during an Oscar speech.
Retro Verdict: Hmmm conflicted about this one. Enjoyed the heel performance from Jeff in terms of completely going against the truth of how he won the belt, but at the same time just felt like a complete waste of time and didn’t accomplish anything.
Following yet another commercial, Shawn Michaels was giving Vince a hard time for calling The British Bulldog the winner of the Royal Rumble before the break……goes to show how much I listen to the commentary, I didn’t even notice. With that, the fireworks went off and Royal Britannia played in the arena, and out came The British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith. His opponent, The Black Phantom, was already in the ring…
3. The British Bulldog vs. The Black Phantom. As Bulldog made his entrance, Vince confirmed that next week would be a rematch for the tag team titles between The 1-2-3 Kid and Bob Holly against The Smoking Gunns. Once in the ring, The Bulldog looked blown up already. Before they could lockup, Davey Boy leant outside the ring and gestured towards Shawn Michaels and said that he ripped him off. Shawn mocked him by pretending to cry. With Davey Boy distracted, The Phantom attacked him from behind.
The Phantom had an early advantage and hit a nice looking DDT for a nearfall, but Bulldog eventually came back and hit a long vertical suplex. Vince and Shawn argued about the ending of the Royal Rumble, which although Shawn is the heel, was making perfect sense and Vince sounded bitter.
After further dominance, The Bulldog put away The Phantom with a running Powerslam…
The British Bulldog beat The Black Phantom in 3:04.
Retro Verdict: I liked the logic of Bulldog not being happy with Shawn instead of just ignoring that what happened the night before never happened, but I don’t particularly care for the fact that Vince and Bulldog were crying as if Shawn had done something wrong, because despite being a heel he had won with his brain as well as his body and it seemed to undermine that somewhat. That being said, with Michaels, he was so good verbally that he didn’t really lose anything by it.
Following the final commercial of the show, they showed a shot of Bam Bam Bigelow backstage looking smart in a black suit. As Vince was talking to him however, offering him the chance to make his apology, Bam Bam was walking around, checking his watch and generally looking like he wasn’t hearing anything. Vince apologised for the audio issues. Bam Bam continued to check his watch, so Vince went into hype mode for next week hyping Mabel against King Kong Bundy (which Shawn called the blubber boys) in a Royal Rumble style match, and the rematch for the tag team title rematch.
Retro Verdict: Liked the delaying of the “apology” until next week, it makes people want to tune in next week to find out what is going to happen, and despite the fact that Mabel and King Kong Bundy on the surface sounds like a dud of a match, the stipulation of it being an over the top rope match has actually got me quite intrigued.
This was a really good episode of Raw. The best part of the show was clearly the tag team title match, which was very good indeed and I’m looking forward to seeing the rematch from the week after. Everything else ranged from ok to good, and they planted some seeds for future storylines, but it was definitely the opening 20 minute match that took the show over the top.
As always, feel free to contact me on twitter @haydngleed or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.