Arnold Furious: June 18, 2017. We’re in St Louis, Missouri. Hosts are Tom Phillips, his airline erection, JBL and Byron Saxton.
Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch vs. Tamina vs. Carmella vs. Natalya Some solid advice from one of the fans; “Climb Faster”. Carmella has a distinct advantage as she’s got James Ellsworth at ringside. She is the only one with help. The match is billed as a ‘historic first ever’ women’s MITB match. Which would mean a lot more if the belt they’re looking for a shot at was so unestablished. It didn’t exist at the start of last year. Part of what makes the Money in the Bank concept so important is that it virtually guarantees you a world title. Which is tough to attain in the business. The structuring is always going to be tough because none of these women have been in anything like this before. The result is a lot of awkwardness, nasty looking bumps and overselling. Oh and glacially slow climbing. The do pander to the fans with traditional ladder spots, which somehow feel fresh because it’s women that are taking them. There are some gutsy bumps in there. Nobody phones the bumps in. Tamina and Carmella don’t take good bumps but they don’t phone them in. The match has definite car crash appeal. Charlotte and Becky are the stand-outs. Both in terms of the bumps they take and the spots they execute. The finish is so bad it’s untrue. James Ellsworth climbs the ladder and drops the briefcase down to Carmella. What? How must Carmella feel about that? It screams ‘we don’t trust you to climb up a ladder’. Worse still is this historic first ever women’s MITB match was won by a man. You couldn’t make this up. Do WWE not realise that goes against everything the Women’s Revolution was about? Final Rating: **1/4
Video Control takes us backstage where Lana is interviewed regarding her title shot. Which makes the last match a laughing stock (which is already was) as Lana has virtually no wrestling experience and already has a title shot.
James Dixon: After all the ballyhoo surrounding the 1000th episode of Raw, it may come as a surprise to modern fans that the 100th went without so much as a passing mention. Then again, this isn’t even considered the 100th episode by the WWF, as they played fast and loose with which of the pre-WrestleMania and pre-SummerSlam Raws they actually counted as part of the show’s cannon.
To be honest, the WWF didn’t celebrate milestones like that back in the 90s really anyway, (except for WrestleMania X) because it was too busy creating history rather than paying homage to it. Plus, 100 shows is nothing really. I mean, the likes of Velocity and Jakked reached that comfortably. No, we will not be doing guide books for those… Probably. What this does mean is that we are around a 1/10th of the way through. When put into that perspective, suddenly this task is more daunting! Vince and Jim Cornette remain on commentary, as this was taped alongside last week’s show.
Lex Luger vs. Tatanka Suddenly this EPISODE is more daunting, because we open with this. Attentive readers of the series will be well aware that I was not a fan of the rivalry between these two and in Volume #3 I actually chose it in my awards as worst feud. When you consider that some absolute stinkers like Undertaker vs. Kama finished behind it, it should give the uninitiated an idea as to just how bad it was. The horrid nature of it all was summed up in a match I covered for Wham Bam Bodyslam from two months prior to this, which was one of the most turgid piles of mouseshit I have ever had to suffer through. So yes, with all of that in mind, you can imagine my sheer joy when I discover that this is how we are starting the “centenary” show. I hope you all appreciate the hell we are going through to bring you these books, so you don’t have to suffer them yourselves. Pre-match, Luger cuts a “passionate” promo recapping the feud. His delivery is so monotone and cheesy that it is actually funny. “You stooped to an all-time low depth” says Lex. That doesn’t even make sense you inflated goon. Tatanka gets in on the act in the ring, telling Luger he is going to teach him the “Native American way”. Does that mean he is going to teach him how to work a boring, slow, rest-hold filled match? Because he already knows how to do that! To make matters worse, Luger is accompanied to the ring by the fat and old fake Injun Chief Jay Strongbow. Based on the stories and hearsay I have heard about Strongbow as a road agent, I have little time for him. By all accounts he was an aloof, arrogant blowhard. Tatanka brings the thrills right away by bailing as soon as Luger gets any offence in, as the crowd chant “USA” to support… well, both guys I guess. They both have “American” gimmicks, just in different ways. Wrestling fans can be real dumb sometimes. Luger and Tatanka try and bring some passion and hatred to proceedings, bless them, but their movesets are so limited that it is hard to give a damn. It is just clubbing and stalling, followed by clubbing and resting, interspersed with shots of Strongbow’s beer gut and surly, unimpressed face. “Not too much has changed” says Vince as we return from commercial. No shit pal, nothing ever changes in the matches these two have. We have fallen firmly into the usual territory that all Tatanka-Luger matches end up in, with Tatanka slowly working Lex over, and Luger just taking it and offering little in return. The crowd, who were fairly hot at first, gets more subdued as the monotony kicks in. Ah, hello bearhug, I wondered when you would show up. One positive that has sprung to mind is that by this time next year both guys will be gone, and we will never have to cover Luger on Raw again. Roll on September when he leaves! Luger makes a comeback and puts on Strongbow’s sleeper hold, which is just a riveting choice. Tatanka confronts Strongbow over it, because he never taught him it when under his tutelage, or something. What, Tatanka couldn’t learn how to do a sleeper himself!? How completely useless is he? Oh. Tatanka throws off Strongbow’s headdress and gets chopped by the veteran in return. A brawl on the outside ensues and back in the ring Luger throws some clotheslines, leading Tatanka to try and bail. Luger manages to get to him before the count out, but a slam leads to yet another Tatanka escape. Luger catches him again and hits a lazy suplex (he doesn’t even bump it) as Vince starts getting impassioned. Luger’s subsequent offence is so shoddy that even Vince comments on the lack of technical skills on display. Tatanka bails AGAIN, this time giving Luger the count out win. Yet another shallow victory for everyone’s favourite choker. Not as awful as their Wham Bam Bodyslam match by any stretch, but still really long and boring with an unsatisfying finish. Final Rating: ½*
Video Control shows us highlights from a battle royal on Superstars with the focus being the ongoing reboot of the Lawler-Hart feud. In this instance, Lawler was trying to be clever and avoid elimination by hopping around the ring, so Bret trod on his foot. Hang on, isn’t Bret working Backlund at WrestleMania? Why are the WWF building to Bret-Lawler and just completely ignoring Mr. Bob? Their booking in 1995 was the pits.
Owen Hart vs. Larry Santo Santo looks like either a much taller but far less talented Dynamite Kid or a much skinner and more talented Nikolai Volkoff. Take your pick. Cornette claims he is the son of El Santo, bona fide Mexican legend, but he most certainly is not. Owen does his level best to piss Santo off by slapping him, then uses the hot-headed response to school him. After a pretty muted performance compared to his usual, Hart polishes Santo off with the Sharpshooter. Final Rating: ½*
Vince talks gleefully about the publicity generated from the Lawrence Taylor angle, which was of course the whole point and purpose behind using him. Taylor joins us via satellite, like The Rock, and mocks Bigelow for “losing to a 13-year old” at Royal Rumble, referring to 1-2-3 Kid. Taylor is not a good promo guy, but then he wouldn’t be, because he is a footballer. Taylor says he is weighing up his options about how to best deal with the situation. Oh come on, even the markiest mark knows by now that he is going to wrestle him. Bam Bam joins the conversation via a different satellite, and cuts a promo that sounds like the nonsense a drunk would come out with after an evening with the Rockers. Eventually he gets his act together and puts over Kid and the New Generation, before reissuing his challenge. Taylor has heard enough, and walks off. Decent and effective build actually, even if the delivery from both was less than stellar.
Doink the Clown vs. Bob Cook Dink is of course with Doink and he comes in and shakes his ass in front of Cook while he is locked in a hold, making me wish he was dead. Then he comes in and starts pissing around, standing on Cook and rolling on him. Why does the referee allow that little twerp to do that? Come on Tim White, get it together. The officiating has been a shambles these last few weeks. Christ, Cook looks a lot like Typhoon, which makes me hate this match even more. Doink spends the vast majority just standing or sitting in arm holds; he is IRS levels of bad. The Whoopie Cushion finishes things. This Raw is not going well. Final Rating: DUD
Fast out-of-place rock music plays over the top of a highlight video going over the Michaels-Bulldog issues they have had since Royal Rumble. They will face each other next week, which is of course March, and means yet again Furious gets a good match. This is getting beyond a joke now.
Kama vs. Ken Raper I’m sorry, his name is what!? Ken RAPER!? What exactly are the WWF playing at here? I am actually surprised they didn’t turn that into a gimmick. I guess they were confused as to whether he was the raper of Ken, or Ken the Raper. This is my first time with Kama, lucky me. Cornette discusses the potential of a Mantaur-Kama match, which makes me throw up in my mouth. Kama tells the camera that he wants more competition over and over, but he has taken 5 minutes just to beat Ken the Raper, which he does with an STF. Horrible. Final Rating: ¼ *
Another satellite interview closes the show, this time with the British Bulldog. He says he wants to bite Shawn Michaels. There may have been more to it than that…
THE RAW RECAP:
Most Entertaining: Jim Cornette. Great behind the announce desk, and entertained me with his comments.
Least Entertaining: Kama. I’m glad he went on last, because I am about to fall asleep after watching him.
Quote of the Night: “You have won the prize” (Vince) “What did I win?” (Cornette) “Erm, weight watchers, or something” (Vince) “Hey, I’m not overweight, I’m under tall” (Cornette). An amusing exchange, but one that highlights what a bastard Vince can be, even when he is trying to be a babyface straight guy.
Match of the Night: I refuse to give one.
Summary: Back to form we go, as 1995 continues to be a bumpy ride. This was horrific in the ring, with nothing breaking a single star. The only good thing on the entire show was the Bigelow-LT confrontation, and that had numerous flaws. I swear, April had best be a lot better. Verdict: 14
James Dixon: We are live in Macon, Georgia, as Raw returns from its dog show induced hiatus. Or high anus, if you are Randy Savage. Tonight it is champion versus champions as Diesel takes on Jeff Jarrett. In the pre recorded hype comments, Jarrett claims Roadie has an “extra shoulder” for the WWF title belt, and Diesel says the WWF will be unplugged tonight. What does that even mean? Are they going to run the show without any lights and music? How will anyone be able to see?
Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Gary Sabough This is the return of Bigelow after a “thirty day suspension” following his assault on Lawrence Taylor at the Royal Rumble. We spend the first few moments of the match in split screen, as we see comments from LT’s lawyers, basically pussying out of Bigelow’s challenge. Oh hey, Jim Cornette is sharing commentary duty with Vince tonight! Awesome! In a strange alternate reality twist, Vince shares some facts about Sabough’s past amateur career, while Cornette throws in a strange snippet of information about Sabough being able to eat a pound of spaghetti in 30 seconds without using his hands. Ok then! The match is ignored, naturally, as Vince and Jim focus on the LT situation. Cornette tries three times to get in some relevant storyline points, but Vince rudely talks over him, getting overly excited about the match when in reality nothing is really happening. After Bigelow gets the inevitable win, he cuts a promo on Taylor and calls him a punk and a wimp, and says he will take him on any time and any place. Cornette smells a lawsuit! Final Rating: ½*
Adam Bomb vs. Rip Rogers Bomb has reverted to his red and yellow garb following a stint in blue. Interestingly, Bomb claims that he was promised the WWF Intercontinental championship and a sustained push, but that it was quashed from above and he got annoyed, which is why he wound up leaving later in the year. I hear a lot of this kind of thing from wrestlers, which leads me to ascertain that they are either all liars, or that they were all promised various riches in order to keep them sweet, meaning all the road agents and bookers were liars. Either way, someone is fibbing. Rip Rogers was in WCW a few years prior to this, and even competed for them on the BattleBowl ‘93 pay-per-view, teaming with Roadwarrior Hawk to defeat Davey Boy Smith and Stevie ‘Kole’ Ray. He is now a trainer in OVW, so as far as enhancement guys go his résumé is pretty solid. He is also incredibly flamboyant, with pink boots and a glittery jacket. He looks like a Freebird. Of course, he doesn’t fare particularly well against Bomb, and after some Mike Sharpe-esque loud selling he falls victim to the flying clothesline. The crowd actually pops, which surprises me, because I don’t remember Bomb ever being over. Final Rating: *
Video Control gives us highlights from Superstars of Bret Hart receiving an award, and he cuts his “memories outweigh your dreams” promo that he has done a few times.
Tangent: I like that the WWF has changed the Raw logo slightly, and that it is now blue. Sadly this doesn’t last long, but there is a definite different feel to things in 1995 than there was last year, and the same between 1994 and 1993. Unfortunately, modern Raw has become so over-produced and homogenized that you cannot differentiate between 2009 and 2013. Everything looks the same and has done for years. Even the arenas are the same, at least in the way they are set up. For example, WWE did a show recently in Boston Gardens which had me excited, because I love the uniqueness of that venue. However, they managed to destroy all of that and just make it look like any and every other show. Blame Kevin Dunn folks.
The King’s Court Oh my god. Anyone who has read last year’s edition of this series will be well aware of my feelings towards this interminable and endless talk show segment. For those unfamiliar, let me reiterate: I HATE it. I cannot stand Jerry Lawler as an active performer in the WWF and I find his promos and matches to be beyond boring. It wouldn’t be so bad, but this talk show gets unreasonable amounts of airtime every single week. It is overexposed on John Cena levels. At least tonight’s show should be interesting, because Shawn Michaels is out to reveal his new bodyguard, so at there is a point to this whole shebang for once. Lawler manages to get a few words before Michaels comes out, and rips on Bret Hart for his award and makes wild accusations that he is a racist. This is all there to kick start the horrid feud the two had back in 1993, and the matches this time are even worse. Michaels comes out and rambles on for a while about being a marked man, before bringing out Sid. Jim Cornette loses his mind, before putting him over well. I love Sid; he just drips with charisma and intensity. He cuts one of his usual maniacal wild-eyed promos and says that he and Michaels will rule the world together.
The Blu Brothers vs. Leroy Howard & Mark Starr This is the Raw debut for the Harris brothers, who are portraying “mountain men” in yet another of the WWF’s horrible 1995 gimmicks. The people running this company are so completely stuck in the land of simplistic stereotypes that it is embarrassing. So far this year we have seen Mantaur, Man Mountain Rock and now these, and over the course of the year it doesn’t get much better, believe me. The Blu Brothers are managed by Uncle Zebekiah, otherwise known in proper wrestling companies as Dutch Mantel. I am a fan, though not under this guise. However, I did enjoy his controversial yet entertaining portrayal of one Zeb Colter on WWE programming in 2013. The guy was a riot alongside Jack Swagger and he helped breathe life into a career that seemed dead and buried. Here he is just another generic southern yokel and this run achieved nothing of note. The Harris brothers are hard work to watch, be it in this gimmick or any other (they were also Skull & 8-Ball in the late 90s). Vince can’t be bothered with this either and cuts to The Toad in the studio, as we get split screen for the second time this evening. Todd tells us that Lawrence Taylor will be on Raw next week to respond to Bigelow, and he marks out like a goofball: “Isn’t this amazing!?” he squeaks. There is a match going on too. Well, it loosely resembles one. Vince gets excited at the prospect of cartoon gimmicks colliding if the Blu Brothers were to meet the Smoking Gunns. Wow, that sounds like a piss-break match if I ever heard one. Final Rating: ¼*
WWF Championship Diesel (c) vs. Jeff Jarrett Diesel doesn’t get the opportunity to “do a Warrior” here, because only his title is on the line. I am hoping that Jarrett will bring a little more enthusiasm and motivation to this than he does in the majority of TV matches I have seen him in. Diesel is the aggressor in the early going, and overmatches Jarrett with his size and power, but gets caught out logically by Jarrett’s speed. Jarrett gets his brief momentum curtailed by an over-enthusiastic referee pulling him down from a ten punch, and wouldn’t you just know it, it is Earl Hebner. You know, Hebner is often praised as one of the best referees ever, but he frequently went outside of his remit and did things that he had no right to do, be it changing the rules of how titles can change hands of putting his hands on wrestlers. While Jarrett is remonstrating, Roadie gets on the apron, but is drilled into the post by Diesel and sells it like a trooper. Diesel throws Jarrett over the top to the outside onto Roadie, as he continues to dominate what has been a very energetic match. Roadie tries to hold on to Jarrett and prevent Diesel bringing him back in the ring, and Hebner goes beyond his job description again by kicking Roadie in the stomach to get him off! What the hell does he think he is playing at!? I am outraged by his insubordination. Jarrett finally gets a period of control after some Roadie shenanigans, and Diesel bumps around for him, probably more than you might expect. Jarrett gets a near fall after a top rope crossbody and this serves to rile Diesel, who catches a sidewalk slam and goes into his comeback. Snake eyes is followed by the big boot, and Hogan, sorry Diesel, completes his routine with the Jacknife for the win. Pretty good show from both guys, but fairly formulaic and nothing out of the ordinary. Perfectly acceptable for a TV match though. Shawn Michaels and Sid turn up ominously in the aisle, but Diesel is not especially concerned. Final Rating: **½
Michaels and Sid hang around in the aisle after the commercial break, yet Diesel somehow manages (off camera) to leave the ring and walk past them without a confrontation. Cornette, who is frightened, is forced by an amused Vince to interview Michaels. He rambles on as we go off the air.
THE RAW RECAP:
Most Entertaining: Diesel. He showed plenty of energy and fire and clearly being WWF champion has him enthused about his job. This is the Kevin Nash I like to watch.
Least Entertaining: The Blu Brothers are a chore.
Quote of the Night: “What has Shawn Michaels done” – Vince McMahon. Not a particularly memorable quote, but the way Vince delivers the line after Michaels introduces Sid, does a great job in getting him over as an unpredictable monster. It is the wrestling equivalent of pressing the nuke button to solve your problems.
Match of the Night: Diesel vs. Jeff Jarrett. The marquee usually wins this by default anyway, and this week it was a fun watch and worthy of the accolade.
Summary: Well thank God this week didn’t continue on from the last show, which was an all-time stinker. A lack of Million Dollar Corporation slugs (other than Bigelow, who is not a slug) combined with the welcome return of Sid and a decent marquee match, made this a breezy, if unspectacular, watch. A marked improvement. Verdict: 33
James Dixon: Hosted by Vince McMahon and Shawn Michaels, who have quite obviously been superimposed over a shot of the crowd in an attempt to make the show seem live. What’s worse than that, is that I can hear Oscar attempting to rap in the background. Oh hell, what a way to start.
Men on a Mission & Lex Luger vs. Tatanka, IRS & King Kong Bundy After recovering from the seizure the flashing lights in MOM’s entrance gave me, I open my eyes to the sight of THIS match. Ok, this has got to be some sick joke, because I saw Furious chuckling away at his desk while covering January, where he seemed to get decent to good matches and segments every other week. What do I get to start February? A collection of all my least favourite wrestlers in one match! Tatanka reminds me why I wanted to set him on fire in 1994, by doing the least intimidating “pissed off tough guy” stare I have ever seen. Seriously, he looks like a complete idiot. Mabel and Bundy start things out, continuing their horrible TV feud. The action is indescribable, and a Mabel enzuigiri blows my mind, but not in a good way. Mo comes in and tries to slam Bundy, because he is a tool, and Michaels mocks him for it. Rightfully so! IRS comes in, and I look away, continuing my boycott from 1994 of anything involving IRS. I am tempted to add Tatanka to that list, because he makes me feel violent when I watch him. He and Mabel run a bad sequence with some incredibly blatant telegraphing of moves, and then the corporate Injun bails when Luger finally tags in. Thank god for that; I cannot tolerate seeing anymore matches between those two. Of course, the alternatives are equally awful, but at least IRS coming in gives me the chance to sip my coffee. The one positive I can say for this is that at least the resting spots one would associate with all of them, have been limited due to the sheer number of participants. Six-man tag matches are hard to make boring, and while I detest five of these guys (my favourite of the lot is Mabel!), they are tagging in and out frequently enough to keep this on the cusp of acceptable. Well, not acceptable, tolerable. Mo takes the heat because he is by far the most expendable, as things slow to a crawl with Bundy back in. There is not a huge difference in size between Bundy and Mo, though Bundy is bigger, yet the difference in the way they carry themselves and impose themselves is huge. As I said in 1994, Mo moves, sells and works like a much smaller guy. I don’t mean that as a compliment as I would if I were describing Bam Bam Bigelow, but more that he manages to make himself appear smaller and thus less intimidating than he actually is. Bundy does the opposite, and while he is horrid to watch at least he works like the big fat bastard he is. You would never have seen Mo challenging Hulk Hogan for the title in the 80s, that’s for sure. Luger gets the hot tag as Vince lies that “this will be most interesting”. Luger slams Bundy and that brings in Tatanka, as a pier sixer breaks out. Tatanka hits a DDT on Luger in the melee, which Vince seems to think is out of order, despite Mabel being in there as well, and Bundy pins him for the win. That was no-where near as bad as I feared, but some of the action was almost laughable in places. Final Rating: ¾*
Man Mountain Rock, he of backstage documentary (that has never been made) fame, gets an MTV Behind the Music style promo vignette and it is actually pretty good! The character wasn’t dreadful, I mean he was a rock star, but he pissed a lot of guys off with his video camera, and thus had no chance of getting pushed, especially with the Kliq ruling the roost.
Lawrence Taylor’s lawyer says he doesn’t want to be a pro wrestler but that he respects the industry. Swell.
Man Mountain Rock vs. Charlie Hunter This is the debut of Rock, and Michaels actually does a good job putting him over on commentary before things start. Rock’s attire can be politely described as “gaudy”. He is wearing wild tie-dye trousers and shirt, with dreadlocked red hair. He screams “dirty hippy” more than rock star. His WWF logo shaped guitar was one of the coolest props of all time, though he doesn’t have it here yet. Michaels puts Rock over again, saying how well he moves for a big guy, but rightfully buries his gear. If memory serves, it does get better. Vince, clearly on a quest to get Rock’s name in as many witty puns as possible, describes him as a “mountain of a man” and after his inevitable victory, says he “rocked the house”. He is such a cad. Final Rating: ½*
Video Control gives us footage from “yesterday’s” Action Zone! show, as Diesel beats Owen Hart with the Jacknife in a fun little *** match. Shawn Michaels gets involved as their WrestleMania build rumbles on, and Vince interviews Diesel in the studio. Diesel puts over the skills of both Owen and Bret, and then discusses his dodgy knee and the nine operations he has had on it. Way to give your opponents the inside scoop there pal! He dismisses the challenge of Jeff Jarrett in two weeks time and says there is no way he will lose.
Tangent: You know, sometimes we are a little hard on Kevin Nash, and even a little dismissive of his ability. For example, if he is involved in a good or great match, praise always goes to the other guy. I am just as guilty of doing this as my writing partners. I am going to attempt to change my way of thinking when it comes to Nash, because he was involved in many good to great matches in 1994-95, and it is foolish and plain ignorant to think he was carried in every one of them. He was limited, absolutely, but I can’t think of another guy his size even close to as talented. Nash was lazy by the time he went to WCW, no doubt about it, but he deserves a lot more credit than he gets for his WWF run as Big Daddy Cool.
Mantaur vs. Leroy Howard Is it fat bastard night on Raw? Managing Mantaur has to be considered a career lowlight for Jim Cornette. Were they ribbing him? Actually the way Jim tells it, he didn’t even know he was going to be managing him. Having noticed this big strange guy walking around with a moose head on, he wondered what the hell was going on, and was told “you’re going out with him”. Apparently it was so last minute that he didn’t even question it and just went with the flow. Mantaur is one of the dumbest gimmicks of all time (for those who don’t know, he was basically supposed to be a Minotaur, half-human and half-animal) and it made no sense at all for his character to be paired with Cornette’s character. The two were not compatible. Mantaur suffers from what I am now labelling Mo-syndrome, which I touched upon earlier, in that he is a fat guy but fairly short. The problem is he wrestles like a fat guy who is fairly short and is not imposing at all. Howard looks far better than him and Mantaur takes an age to get the job done. He has absolutely no structure or pacing to him whatsoever, everything he does is just randomly thrown in and his offence is primarily stomps. What a colossal pile of shit. Final Rating: DUD
Razor Ramon vs. Frankie Lancaster Finally, a real wrestler! Razor is sporting a rather fetching all-yellow number this evening, and he looks good in it. He should have worn it more. Razor schools Lancaster in the early going, but being the generous in-ring worker that he is, he lets Lancaster get a few shots in. Of course, the jobber makes the mistake of taking liberties by chopping Razor, and the receipt is fittingly vicious. Razor runs through the rest of his usual TV squash repertoire, but the top rope back suplex is fairly pleasant tonight. The Razor’s Edge finishes it, and if you have seen one Razor squash, you have seen this. Final Rating: *
Henry Godwinn vs. Billy Weaver The fat pig farmer completes the set of awful talent I have had to endure tonight, and frankly, I am losing my cool. I think I have done fairly well tonight to keep calm and rational in the face of the parade of tripe I have been forced to endure. Scufflin’ hillbillies are my least favourite gimmick in wrestling, and it seems the only person who wants to see them is Vince. He sure loves his “big ol’ hog farmers”. The crowd is completely silent as Godwinn wins with the Slop Drop. It’s embarrassing. Final Rating: ¼*
Raw next week is cancelled because of the dog show. My wife overheard this and couldn’t fathom why they didn’t just move it to a different day, or indeed, why Raw would ever be cancelled for a dog show anyway. She has a point. It was a different time…
THE RAW RECAP:
Most Entertaining: Shawn Michaels. He is usually pretty bad behind the announce desk, but here he entertained me, certainly more than the wrestling did. He is no Randy Savage, but hey, you take what you can get. I would much prefer to have seen him actually WRESTLE mind. This show needed him in the ring.
Least Entertaining: Oh there is a veritable smorgasbord of options this week. I will go with Mantaur, because the gimmick is just so fucking dumb and his performance was abhorrent.
Quote of the Night: “Easy with the head-banging McMahon, you might throw that rug off” – Shawn Michaels. So that is where the rumours started! Maybe.
Match of the Night: Not to discredit Scott Hall, but his routine squash match and fetching shade of yellow, is not enough to warrant MOTN honours. Yet it wins by default because nothing else even broke *. The roster should all be ashamed of themselves.
Summary: It is the worst episode of Raw I have ever seen, with nothing redeeming about it whatsoever. Usually there is a semi-decent promo or a passable bout, something to drag things above the gaping jaws of wrestling hell. Not this show. No, what we get is terrible gimmicks, a marquee match full of the worst main roster talent they had and nothing else. What is there to recommend? I thought 1994 was bad, but if 1995 continues like this (for me at least) it will be even worse. Holy shit that was a bad show. Verdict: 10
Lee Maughan: And with the whole Shotgun concept dead in the water, the WWF was unable to locate an actual nightclub for its final edition, instead setting up stall in Penn Station of all places, a public venue that resulted in the promotion being unable to make any cash back through ticket sales. Hey, maybe TNA could look into running here sometime?
Crush & Faarooq vs. The Godwinns What an absolute armpit of an opener this promises to be. Still, if this truly is a celebration of all things Shotgun, one big final blowout, who better than these two cornerstones of the program? One can only hope Savio Vega is still to come. And yes, the fans are soon chanting “bWo! bWo!” as if just for old times sake. And how about a new one? “Nation sucks dick!” As all this is going down, the camera cuts to a split screen where Todd Pettengill can be found making fun of a bloke without any teeth. Really. What a jerk. And indeed, (drumroll please), Savio is here! Yay! An Irish whip and a double clothesline set up the hot tag and Phineas runs wild on both guys until Savio trips him from the outside. Phineas goes after Savio which sets him up for a charge from Crush, but he moves just in time and Crush decks Savio instead, so Phineas looks to follow with a Slop Drop but alas, Faarooq rips his head off with a clothesline to give Crush the three. Not bad given what I was expecting. Final Rating: *½
WWF Intercontinental Title: Hunter Hearst Helmsley (c) vs. The Undertaker A title match! On Shotgun! This really IS a big final blowout! Helmsley arrives in a stretch limo, and Undertaker makes his way out through the crowd after showing up at the building in Ozzy Osbourne’s ‘Crazy Train’. Time of course for a commercial break just as the match begins, but back from that comes a full replay of Helmsley jumping Undertaker to start, but Undertaker no-selling it and destroying Helmsley in the corner instead. A whip into the corner sees the referee get bumped in just the spot Shotgun has been crying out for all these weeks, and Helmsley bashes Undertaker with the belt as we take another commercial break! Already?!
Back again with Helmsley going to work with choking, a snapmare, a face buster and series of stomps in the corner, but Undertaker gets the best of a slugfest. Helmsley comes back off an Irish whip with a swinging neckbreaker for two, and brings the belt back into play but misses on a big swing. Undertaker grabs the belt and uses it himself for (you guessed it) the disqualification. After the match, the crowd chant for a Tombstone but Undertaker gives them a chokeslam instead. Helmsley then tries to make a dash for it but Undertaker catches him on the way up the stairs and gives him a Tombstone onto an escalator, which an unconscious Helmsley rides all the way back to the ring in the closest thing to an iconic image this wretched show ever got. Fun, energetic stuff here. Final Rating: **½
Savio Vega vs. Aldo Montoya You know, if you asked me for my dream line-up before this show, as in “How do we go out with a bang on the last ever live edition of Shotgun?” I’d have hoped against hope that you’d book the guy with two “Least Entertaining” awards to his name against the bloke debuting on the show, with a yellow jockstrap on his head.
Savio runs through his usual, though thankfully forgoes the nerve pinching, and Aldo keeps it rolling with a hiptoss, two dropkicks to the outside and a plancha. Back in he gets two off a flying body press off the top but Savio takes control with knees to the midsection and some wicked chops. He works in his spinning heel kick in the corner and adds a delayed suplex, but soon enough he resorts to choking. In the meantime, roving reporter Pettengill has found a man named Terry who’s carrying an LJN Vince McMahon action figure in his pocket. “You still have the same jacket? 1985, you were like 40 then, right?” The rapture is upon us – Shotgun is coming to an end, and Todd Pettengill cracked a decent joke!
Back from a commercial, Savio is firmly in control as the crowd chants “We want 2 Cold!” I do too, but Flash Funk is the best you WWF fans are going to get I’m afraid. And NOW it’s time for the nerve pinch! Vince uses the dead spot to promote an upcoming Hector Camacho fight on pay-per-view, and before you know it, the Nation are brawling with the Godwinns at ringside. And you know what that means? Six-man tag team match, playa! Final Rating: *½
The Nation of Domination vs. Aldo Montoya & The Godwinns Back from the final mid-match commercial of the Shotgun era, and the Nation are busy getting heat on Aldo as Pettengill finds a woman in the crowd who wants to beat up another woman for stealing her man! “We already have midget wrestling!” decrees Todd. Back in the ring, Aldo catches Faarooq with a swinging neckbreaker after having eaten a backbreaker from Crush, and he goes for the hot tag but Savio cuts him off as the NYC crowd finally win me back over with a hearty chant of “Boring!” that even Vince himself can’t ignore. Aldo actually gets a false tag, so I guess we’re going all-in on this one, and the Nation give him another shit-kicking in the corner. He catches Savio with a missile dropkick off the top and it suddenly all breaks down, with Savio scoring the pin on Aldo amidst the chaos with a spinning wheel kick. The Godwinns did absolutely sod all in this, which was probably for the best. Final Rating: *½
Back from one last commercial, and the actual purpose of the Godwinns’ presence is made clear – Phineas chases the still unidentified D’Lo Brown backstage and wildly throws his slop bucket all over Pat Patterson, stationed at the Gorilla position. Given the state of his Bill Cosby-style sweater, I’d say he deserved it. He threatens to come down to ringside and make out with Sunny since she thinks its so funny.
– And finally, Pettengill catches up with Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels who sends out a threat to the Nation. That would equal Faarooq vs. Ray Traylor in some other far off nightmare.
THE SHOTGUN RECAP:
Most Entertaining: It’s a toss-up between the Undertaker and Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Undertaker dished out the ass-kicking, but Helmsley took the ride down the escalator, so take your own pick there.
Least Entertaining: I didn’t really want to single any one person out tonight, but Savio Vega did use that fucking nerve pinch of his again…
Quote of the Night: “Welcome to Amtrak’s night train to hell! Ha ha ha!” – The Undertaker works in some corporate sponsorship in his own inimitable style.
Match of the Night: Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. The Undertaker.
Summary: And so to its chilling conclusion comes the WWF’s month-and-a-half experiment with producing a mildly risqué yet ultimately directionless live broadcast from a dingy New York dive. In actuality, the show continued on for several more years, though under a much different make-up. The next week’s show was simply a “greatest hits” from previous episodes (that’s right folks, it’s six sensational weeks of the Shotgun Saturday Night show!), while week eight saw content entirely regurgitated from the final Superstars taping. With RAW then switching to a two-hour weekly format and the cessation of all other WWF TV tapings, Shotgun was soon being recorded before (and occasionally after) RAW, a taping method that would continue with the addition of programming such as Los Super Astros, Sunday Night HeAT, Metal, Jakked, Velocity, Main Event, NXT and the revived Superstars. Verdict: 35
Lee Maughan: “Back to where it all began!” barks Vince McMahon, as if the previous four weeks have been some sort of epic journey. Out in the streets, Paul Bearer and Vader are looking through the trash for Mankind, who almost gets himself run over in the streets amidst his excitement for nightclub sex.
Ahmed Johnson vs. Vader Vader actually ended Ahmed’s undefeated streak last summer if you’ll recall. Naturally, that isn’t referenced here, which is a shame because it might add some colour to an otherwise bland, pointless affair. It’s not bad, it’s just not particularly interesting. Typical WWF big man stuff with punches, clotheslines, shoulderblocks, you know the drill. Ahmed gets a mighty spinebuster that sends Vader packing, but back from the commercial break we find Vader in control (what a surprise) with elbows and punches. Vader charges with an avalanche in the corner but hesitates on the Vaderbomb, allowing Ahmed to punt him in the gooch and land a spinning heel kick. He goes for the Pearl River Plunge but Mankind jumps in with a steel chair for the disqualification (hell, what would Shotgun be without a DQ to really get the party rocking?) Mankind and Vader tease accidentally nailing each other with the chair a couple of times (Mankind had belted Vader with a chair by accident on RAW this past week) before Ahmed takes it and runs both guys off. Average power stuff with no real point to it. Final Rating: **
– Back in the green room, the Headbangers are busy pouring hot wax all over themselves because “this club sucks!”
Mankind vs. The British Bulldog “Oh, what a body!” Sunny declares of Davey Boy. A pure coincidence then that Shawn Michaels has been removed from the source tape’s opening credits this week, yes? Davey is playing a total babyface here as part of his ongoing angle with Owen Hart that was to see the duo split before Bret Hart’s heel turn caused a cataclysmic shift in the WWF’s overall direction, resulting in the formation of his new Hart Foundation stable. Mankind is still at ringside after the previous match and isn’t actually prepared to wrestle, nominating Aldo Montoya as a substitute for him since he’s just here to party. You can tell that from his clobber, bedecked as he is in a raggedy old coat, sweatpants and white sneakers. Oh, Mick.
Bulldog starts tearing those party clothes to shreds and kicks Mankind’s ass for a while, with Mankind vainly attempting to return to the broadcast booth the whole time in a funny bit. Bulldog follows him out and backdrops him up on the stage, drawing an “ECW!” chant from the crowd. Hey, at least it’s not “bWo!” again. Mankind takes a nasty leg-first spill on the stage so Bulldog goes after it. Mankind fights back and Davey really gets into the swing of things, over-selling a charging knee to the face much to my eternal delight. Mankind drops a leg across the back of Davey’s head as Vader returns just in time for another commercial break.
Action resumes with Bulldog countering a piledriver into a backdrop up on the stage for another round of “ECW!” chants, but Mankind uses Davey Boy’s tights for leverage to pull him into the path of Vader, who drops him across the security railing a couple of times before sending him back inside, where Mankind picks up an easy pin. Vader and Mankind then double-team Davey after the match, setting up their WrestleMania 13 crack at Davey and Owen’s tag titles, before Ahmed Johnson rushes the ring with a 2×4. Where the hell did he find that in a nightclub? Davey, not quite a babyface yet despite fist bumping a bunch of dudes in the front row during his entrance, takes umbrage at the presence of Ahmed, and the two get into a shoving match to set up a match that never happens. This was fun while it lasted though, and an interesting clash of styles that really mixed well to boot. Final Rating: **½
Savio Vega vs. Jesse Jammes Phineas Godwinn joins the broadcast team for this one, mainly just so he and Sunny can banter back-and-forth. I know Dennis Knight comes in for some serious stick from the scribes here at History of Wrestling, but credit where it’s due – he is perfectly acceptable as the dopey bumpkin here. Savio breaks out a few more interesting moves here than he did last week, like a crescent kick and a spinning heel kick, but he’s still finding his feet as a heel and has a seeming over reliance on nerve pinches, chinlocks and chokes. Jammes does what he can to make it interesting, using a jaw buster that he actually sells himself, and rallying with mounted punches, clotheslines and a back drop. Savio manages to counter a pump handle slam attempt with a hiptoss, and finishes with another spinning heel kick. Jesse showed a lot of fire when he was on offence and Savio tried really hard to get his new heel persona across, but the majority of his offensive arsenal was a one-way ticket to snoozeville. Final Rating: *¼
– Pettengill tries to get another interview with the Headbangers back in the green room, but Mosh gets sick and vomits all over Thrasher’s face… before the ‘Bangers wipe the puke up and eat it all. The WWF, ladies and germs. Lowbrow comedy at its low-browiest.
The Headbangers vs. The Godwinns Yes, we’ve actually come full circle. And what a second half-hour this has been, huh? The crowd are now dead for this, but then if you will insist on booking pig farmers as babyfaces in New York nightclubs, you deserve everything you get. The Godwinns decide to work the arm as Vince decides to amuse himself by claiming Hillbilly Jim has gone duck hunting in Central Park. Back from commercial and nothing much is going on in the ring, though Vince does seem to get a zinger in on Sunny – “Well it is the flu season… and you should know!” Is that a reference to the fact she was knocking off Shawn Michaels, who had worked the Royal Rumble show despite being sick as a dog? Henry gets a supposed hot tag but nobody reacts to it, then all four guys spill to the floor and brawl into the crowd as the bell rings for a double DQ or a double count-out or a double something. It’s never adequately explained what the actual finish is, as the show goes immediately off the air, but I guess that’s better than just saying you’re out of time and promising to air the finish next week despite having no intention of ever doing so. Final Rating: *½
THE SHOTGUN RECAP:
Most Entertaining: Mankind scoops the award for the second week running as his humour really shone through in his opening skit, his comedy and his match with Davey Boy Smith.
Least Entertaining: Savio Vega becomes another two-time award winner here, and on a 60-minute show with the Godwinns too! Shameful.
Quote of the Night: “I like how this headphone feels against my missing ear!” – Mankind joins Vince and Sunny for commentary during “The Man I Call My Friend” Vader’s match.
Match of the Night: Mankind also takes another consecutive award here for his match with Davey Boy Smith.
Summary: Remember when Ahmed Johnson powerbombed D’Lo Brown on the hood of a car? Remember when Marlena got her norks out and gave the Sultan a thrill? Remember when Terry Funk went on a profanity-laced tirade at the expense of WCW and everyone in sight? In less than a month’s time we’ve gone from that to lengthy, heatless matches with ring wizards like Savio Vega and the Godwinns, and the disturbing sight of the Headbangers blowing chunks into each other’s mouths. True enough, Davey Boy was working hard and Mankind provided some wacky fun, but this show has already jumped the shark. Hell, Todd Pettengill doesn’t even look like he’s having much fun out there any more, and Vince McMahon has clearly given up, having already dumped his casual WWF letterman jacket in favour of a much more conservative formal suit. The end is nigh. Verdict: 21
Bret Hart vs. Mankind Owen Hart joins Vince McMahon and Sunny at the announce table for this one, tights and all even though he’s not actually wrestling tonight. He and Bob Holly did lose to the Godwinns earlier in the day however. Mankind starts by crawling after a pair of go-go dancers in assless chaps until Bret makes the save and gives Mankind a pounding. Another dancer swinging around on a rope prompts Sunny to declare the scene “not for my virgin eye!”
They brawl around ringside for a while in uninspired fashion, though admittedly the guardrails are so close to the ring that it’s practically impossible to do anything out there, so they head inside where Bret breaks out a snap suplex and a leg drop. Mankind’s in the mood for a fight however, so they brawl up to the commentary position where Bret hits a suplex on the stage. Mankind quickly takes over and gets a legdrop for two, but Bret evades a charge and Mankind hits the deck again as we head to a commercial.
Back from that, Bret crotches Mankind on the guardrail before the annoying New York fans start chanting “HBK!” just to piss Bret off, and then wouldn’t you just know it? The now-standard “bWo! bWo!” chants break out, lead by Lenny the Superfan, a/k/a Faith No More Guy, who you might recognise from many WWF and ECW front rows of the late 90s. And yes, Vladimir is stationed next to him, just as he was in Texas last week. Bret clotheslines Mankind and sends him into the steel steps, just in time to cutaway to Todd Pettengill who’s found a woman in a fuzzy bra, which in his mind somehow makes her “Princess Leia.” Ugh. Mankind gets a crappy double arm DDT which Bret just basically forward rolls through, then misses another charge in the corner as Bret goes into the big finishing sequence: Side-Russian legsweep, bulldog headlock, spinning neckbreaker, side backbreaker, clothesline, Sharpshooter. And then Owen jumps in for the lousy DQ finish, the plague of Shotgun Saturday Night. Pretty average match if all be told. Final Rating: **¼
Savio Vega vs. Rocky Maivia Earlier today in Madison Square Garden, Savio turned his back on tag team partner Ahmed Johnson and apparently sided with the Nation of Domination. Savio apologises for his actions, claims to really like Rocky, and promises a good, clean match. The crowd immediately start on the “Rocky sucks!” chants, and one guy has the temerity to shout “Boring!” less than a minute into it. What a tail end. And then the “bWo!” chants break out again! Who knew the Blue Meanie was such a clubhead? Faarooq and Crush arrive at ringside in time for a round of “Die Rocky, Die!” chants, and then the crowd decides it wants the Legion of Doom back. Give it a month, lads. Rocky shows the same fire he has the previous couple of weeks, but Savio keeps dragging things down with a series of trapezius holds and armbars. In fairness to the guy, he’s already wrestled once today, but it’s a real comedown after his energetic performance two weeks ago. Savio throws Rocky over the top to the floor and Rocky injures his knee for the count-out (the kind of finish you might expect them to run before the Royal Rumble, not after it) to cap off a truly crappy match. Savio joins Faarooq and Crush in destroying Rocky after the match, then throws up his fist in support of the Nation. Bleh. Final Rating: ½*
– Elsewhere, Jake Roberts makes out with Revelations. I know this is late-night but do we really need bestiality on the show?
This is not for my virgin eye!
Jake Roberts vs. Salvatore Sincere Hunter Hearst Helmsley (whose friends call him “Bob” according to his comical on-screen graphic) joins the commentary team to mock Jake’s demons (and why would you book an alcoholic in a nightclub anyway?), and throw out a series of snappy lines. “This is the World Wrestling Federation, where the big boys don’t have time to play!” he declares in a pot-shot at WCW. “Hey McMahon, that Rocky Johnson had a real good match earlier on! Good play-by-play too.” Vince apologises for messing Rocky’s name up before an odd discussion on New York sexuality arises – “Around here, straight’s not the way to go… from what I hear.” Responds McMahon, “Yes, there are some luminaries around here.” Luminaries?! The crowd starts chanting “bWo” yet again, which has long since grown tiresome, and Jake finishes a routine squash with the DDT in what would actually prove to be his final televised match in the WWF. Final Rating: SQUASH (Not rated)
– During the break, Helmsley gives poor Sal a Pedigree after declaring himself “second best”, owing to his status as Intercontinental Champion. Quite the night for old Bob.
Crush vs. Sycho Sid This might have held some intrigue if it had been 1992. Sadly it’s 1997, so Sid just kicks his ass for a while until it’s time for a commercial break. Well of course it is, what with time running so low yet again. Back from the break and the Nation have found their way out to ringside, giving Crush the advantage. He goes for the heart punch but Sid goozles him instead for a chokeslam. He follows that with a powerbomb but the Nation get involved, leaving Sid to grab a chair which he absolutely belts Crush with, causing the DQ. Way too long for what it was, even with time running out and the adverts eating up a good three minutes of it. Final Rating: ½*
THE SHOTGUN RECAP:
Most Entertaining: Mankind. His match with Bret was nothing to write home about but he was still willing to get bumped around on wooden stages and steel guardrails for my viewing pleasure, plus he provided amusement with his pre and post-match pursuit of a couple of strippers.
Least Entertaining: Savio Vega by a country mile. His shifting personality work was fine, but man alive were those rest holds ever tedious.
Quote of the Night: “I know you would do anything keep Bret Hart in the World Wrestling Federation!” – Sunny adds fuel to the fire of conspiracy theorists everywhere as she address Vince McMahon after Bret “quit” the WWF last Monday on RAW.
Match of the Night: Bret Hart vs. Mankind. Outside of a few house show matches in England and Germany and a handful of six-man tags on RAW and at live events, this is actually the only high-profile in-ring meeting between Bret Hart and Mick Foley caught on film, giving it a curiosity value above its actual quality.
Summary: Not a good show this week as everyone looked to be on autopilot after pulling double duty at MSG earlier in the day, and that Savio Vega match was interminable. Verdict: 22
Lee Maughan: Three weeks in and there’s already a change to the format, as we’re out of New York and into San Antonio, with everyone in town for tomorrow’s Royal Rumble. In another change, Sunny has been replaced with Jim Ross, so she’s off line dancing with Dok Hendrix and Todd Pettengill. Line dancing? Oh, did I forget to mention Denim & Diamonds was a country and western grill? Brace yourselves for a rootin’, tootin’ hour folks!
Rocky Maivia vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley Hunter arrogantly declares this a tune-up match before his meeting with Goldust tomorrow, and basically promises to f*ck Marlena once he’s done. Believe it or not, this is actually the very first HHH-Rock singles match on record (hey, they had to start somewhere), and it’s really rather good. Rocky has so much poise for a guy with so little experience at this point, and the only other guy I can think of in recent memory who managed to get just as good in a similarly short span of time is probably Kurt Angle. Credit to Hunter too, who takes a typically solid ass-kicking while leading the match. Rocky runs through his basics until Helmsley hits an inverted atomic drop, and suddenly there’s a python in the ring! And in true Saturday Night’s Main Event fashion, a mid-match incident means it’s time for a commercial break!
The action picks up with Jake Roberts at the announce desk, doing a wonderful job of selling the Royal Rumble match tomorrow. In the ring, Hunter is back in firm control, but Rocky continues to fight back with a high cross body. Helmsley fires back with a knee crusher for two, but Rocky lands a powerslam as Marlena makes her way out to ringside. A dropkick of course sends Helmsley to the floor when Goldust suddenly steps out of the shadows, and Hunter opts to flee rather than fight, giving Rocky a count-out win. Very fun stuff as it was all action-meets-angle, meaning Helmsley had no time to work in his usual chinlockery and/or other assorted tedium. Very enjoyable stuff, especially with a red hot crowd that was completely into everything here. Final Rating: ***
– Elsewhere, Dok, Todd and Sunny run through a country-fied version of ‘The Macarena’. As if the song itself wasn’t bad enough, try to imagine it drenched in backwater fiddles.
– Meanwhile, the Honky Tonk Man cheats a couple of luchadores out of their pesos over at the blackjack table.
– Back in New York, Mr. Backlund is losing his mind over morality.
Histeria & Mini Mankind vs. Venum & Mascarita Sagrada This is actually a mixed match as Sagrada and Mankind are minis, but Venum and Histeria are full-sized luchadores. Venum is probably best known as Venum Black, having previously worked under a mask as Power Raider Rojo. Histeria you’ll likely know better as Super Crazy. It’s the regular luchas who start, popping the crowd with a back-and-forth sequence that concludes with Venum sending Histeria to the outside with a pair of head scissors and following with a springboard plancha. The minis follow with a sequence of their own, Sagrada landing a flying crossbody to the floor on Mini Mankind, and that’s the cue for Steve Austin to hit the announce booth, which is both a blessing and a curse. He’s wildly entertaining of course, rambling on about people trying to censor him because of his foul language and promising a Royal Rumble victory tomorrow night, but the whole thing results in a split-screen that takes the focus off the actual match. It’s like someone in the production truck didn’t realise that you could still hear Austin without the need for a close-up of his mug (or more likely, figured most people would somehow find high-flying, mask-emblazoned superhero wrestlers too dull to pay attention. Kevin Dunn, I’m looking at you). At this point, they seem to start running through some of the same spots, as often seems to happen in lucha matches owing to the wildly different psychology down Mexico way, but it’s kind of hard to tell when the action is all squished into a little box at the side of the screen. Venum misses a corkscrew moonsault and Histeria lands a sitout powerbomb for the win. More good stuff here. Final Rating: **¾
– Meanwhile, George and Adam are already at the Alamodome.
– And now for something completely different as in a total surprise, Pettengill brings out Texas legend Terry Funk, who’s determined to get himself over kicking and screaming with an incredible, out-of-control promo:
“Yeah! I’m home! This is my state! This is my town! I’m in the heart of Texas, where I wanna be Pettengill! This is where I wanna be and everyone out here knows I’m a windmilling, piledriving, neck-breaking, back-breaking, bear-hugging, wrist-locking, knee-dropping, toe-holding son of a son of a gun, meaner than a rattlesnake, tougher than shoe leather, and more dangerous than a hollow-eyed scorpion, and I am ready to rumble!
Now, I wanna know what number I’m going to be in that ring. What number am I going to be? Am I going to be number 1 or am I going to be 29? To hell with number 15, I wanna walk out there with that first man. George Bush and the representatives of Texas designated me as their Texas member. I wanna start the Rumble, and I wanna end the Rumble, and I wanna start that Rumble not tomorrow night, how ‘bout a one-sided rumble with you right now Pettengill? How about a rumble with you?
Well is there somebody else out there? I am looking for anybody! Where’s a person that wants to rumble with me? There’s not a person in the WWF that wants to rumble with me! Not a person in the WCW, those bunch of snake-sucking scumbags, they don’t have an athlete enough for me! I’m looking around here, where’s Vince McMahon? That Yankee BASTARD!
I realise this is live! Hey Pettengill! Give me the microphone! How about rumbling with you? Your mother’s a whore! If you don’t like that, why don’t you rumble a little bit? You wanna rumble Pettengill? No! No you don’t! Is there anybody here? Where are you Jim Ross? Where are you, you Oakie asshole! Where are you?!
Oh. Oh. Come on ‘Stone Cold!’ ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin! Do you wanna rumble? Do you have the guts to get in the ring? How about you? This is live! How about you? I’ll lay here on the ground for you Austin! Come on! Yes! Nobody’s got the guts! I’m staying out here for the rest of the show! Come on! Where’s your guts Austin? I want a rumble! I wanna rumble!”
Austin finally responds to the challenge with a brief brawl into the commercial break. This was exactly the kind of segment Shotgun was crying out for, not that goofy karaoke shit with Pettengill the last couple of weeks.
Faarooq vs. Jesse Jammes I guess I spoke too soon, as Pettengill joins Jammes for his latest rendition of ‘With My Baby Tonight’, joy of joys. Hilariously, as well as this might play out in an actual country and western bar, Jammes’ mic isn’t working so nobody can hear it anyway. Brilliant. And then the WWF further endears themselves to the hometown crowd by having Faarooq squash Jammes with a spinebuster and the Dominator in around two minutes after some token offence from Jammes. I know why you’d put Faarooq over with his Royal Rumble showdown against Ahmed Johnson just a day away, but why would you have the country bumpkin be the one to do the honours in a hillbilly bar when so many other perfectly sacrificial guys were in town? Final Rating: SQUASH (Not rated)
Steve Austin vs. Goldust Goldust’s on-screen graphic comes complete with the caption “What does his daddy think?” Chuckle. Once again, timing issues with the show mean this main event will only have about four minutes before going off the air, which exactly doesn’t bode well after last week. And speaking of last week, we never did see the finish to Doug Furnas & Phil LaFon vs. the Headbangers (Furnas & LaFon won), and what happened to Goldust’s pregnancy anyway? Not that I particularly wanted to see such a thing, but that’s such a blatant bait and switch. JR does at least address it by calling the rumours “off the mark”, and Vince calls it “an attempt at a little humour.” Yes, very little humour.
Austin starts by stomping his usual mudhole before Goldust fires back with a clothesline and takes over, but astonishingly, there’s still a commercial break that needs to be shoehorned in. Back from that, Terry Funk returns and attacks Austin, causing the disqualification, then Faarooq, the Headbangers and the Godwinns all dive into the ring for a mini Rumble. Hunter Hearst Helmsley soon slithers out and chokes out Goldust with a pool cue, as Austin backdrops Funk into a Bud Light beer tub.
THE SHOTGUN RECAP:
Most Entertaining: How could it be anybody but Terry Funk?
Least Entertaining: Not an easy award to give out this time, but we’ll go with Jesse Jammes for his microphone problems. A blessing to many no doubt, but he had his target audience right here, only for his equipment to crap out just in time for him to get his head caved in by Faarooq. Good going, Jesse!
Quote of the Night: Terry Funk’s promo, as transcribed in its entirety above.
Match of the Night: Rocky Maivia vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley.
Summary: Good wrestling, wild brawling and crazy promos made this by far the best episode of Shotgun yet, and in truth, I can’t imagine that status ever changing once things move back to NYC. Verdict: 73
Lee Maughan: And we’ve got bad news right from the off this week as the Sisters of Love were arrested for soliciting outside the Disney store earlier today, so they’re already history after debuting just last week. Bang goes that dream Flying Nuns vs. Flying Elvises match then.
Diesel vs. Marc Mero Just to reiterate for those not paying close enough attention, this would be the second incarnation of Diesel, with Glenn Jacobs under the leather. Before the action even gets underway the differences between last week and this are obvious, as the Café, a sports bar, comes across like a somewhat more upmarket venue (as in, it’s actually lit), but since the walls are curved and there’s a big structural plinth in the middle of the room, the ring is very awkwardly positioned off to one side with a floating camera on a jib. Diesel goes after Sable on the outside so she shoves a cake in his face for a lame “he really takes the cake!” joke, like they basically blew their wad with last week’s high calibre gag quotient. Razor Ramon soon shows up and goes after Mero, but Rocky Maivia arrives to make the save.
Back from a break, Diesel goes to work with a vertical suplex and a top rope flying clothesline. Far be it from me to underline yet again the reasons for the failure of the revived Diesel and Razor Ramon personas, but when did Kevin Nash ever vertical suplex anyone, or fly off the top rope? Obviously there were much greater problems with the gimmick than the move set, but sometimes it’s the little things that need the most attention. The Nash-originated spinning sidewalk slam does however make an appearance before Mero makes a comeback with a flying head scissors and a leaping lariat. Which would be fine if not for the fact he showed absolutely no fire whatsoever before that and just took his ass-kicking. Again, it’s the little things. Mero hits a tasty moonsault press but gets distracted when he spots the Honky Tonk Man of all people pursuing Sable on the outside. Diesel wallops Mero from behind with a double axehandle, and the Jackknife gives him something of a surprise win. Although, he would also go on to place highly in next week’s Royal Rumble, so the WWF clearly had some kind of plan for the guy. Final Rating: *½
Post match, Mero berates Sable for the loss and bails out, leaving her crying in the ring. Honky of course figures now is the best time to hit on her, so Rocky returns for his second save of the day, but that brings out Mero for a heated shoving match. “Let them go!” demand the New York crowd. I concur.
Faarooq vs. Savio Vega Hinting at problems to come, we get the entire rap introduction of the Nation of Domination from JC Ice and Wolfie D here, but join the match in progress after commercials. Faarooq dominates (har har) in the early going until he decides to work in his electric chair bump that he always loved taking. That’s pretty business-exposing if you think about it, since nobody in the promotion was doing that move unless they were specifically against Faarooq, and how dumb do you have to be to allow yourself to wind up in a position where that keeps happening to you, time and time again? I suppose the same could be said of Ric Flair’s big slam off the top, but I always put that down to his own arrogance and determination to actually hit the damn thing, psychologically speaking.
Savio runs through some of his more exciting offense (back body drop, side-Russian legsweep, spinning heel kick) that would vanish following his impending heel turn (throughout the local New York feed of these shows, promos were airing for an upcoming card at Madison Square Garden that would see Savio turn on his partner that night, Ahmed Johnson, and actually side with the Nation, although there’s no hint of Savio’s dark side here). PG-13 soon get involved on this night of outside interference, and Faarooq takes over with a snap suplex for two. Savio comes back with a chinbreaker but misses a charge into the corner and eats a spinebuster for the three. Pretty good back-and-forth stuff actually. Final Rating: **½
– And now, in response to her disgruntlement with Marlena’s breasts last week, it’s the world premiere of Sunny’s home sex tape! And if you’ve ever wondered about the coitus techniques of Chris Candido, Shawn Michaels or Davey Boy Smith, well, you won’t find your answer here I’m afraid. No, her secret lover is none other than… Fondle Me Elmo, which is basically some guy dressed like the hottest pre-schooler’s toy of 1996, Tickle Me Elmo, complete with a thong and an irritating laugh. Because what’s funnier than sexualizing a Sesame Street Muppet aimed at infants?
– Meanwhile, Todd Pettengill is up on the stage to belt another one out in week two of his apparently ongoing series of karaoke klassics. At least it isn’t another parody effort this time as he instead has the Honky Tonk Man with him for a very lengthy run-through of ‘Honky Tonk Man’, a brand new song that Honky has trouble keeping pace with. They should have done ‘Hunka Hunka Hunka Honky Love’ and just made do. You know, I never thought I’d say this, but where are the Bushwhackers when you actually need ‘em? Thankfully, Rocky Maivia arrives to end the misery.
Rocky Maivia vs. Razor Ramon And another thing; why would you knowingly book your Diesel and Razor imposters in front of an intimate, smart-ass New York crowd anyway? I mean, I say smart, they again start chanting “bWo! bWo!” just like last week, for reasons I remain unable to fathom. Back from a quick commercial, Razor dominates with some rest holds (come on man, you’re doing a six minute TV match in a rowdy nightclub, ramp it up!) but Rocky fires up with dropkicks and a crossbody. Out on the floor, Honky Tonk gets a few licks in as payback for Rocky’s earlier intervention on Honky’s apparent attempts to make a sex tape of his own with Sable (and if you’ve ever been subjected to Honky’s shoot interview alongside New Jack and the Iron Sheik in which all three drop their pants, bend over and pull their arse cheeks wide apart, you’ll know that is something that should never ever see the light of day), and Razor goes for the Razor’s Edge, escaped by Rocky and countered with a match-winning shoulderbreaker. Final Rating: *
– Out on Times Square, Pettengill cracks a few jokes at the expense of a poor homeless man who’s fallen on such hard times that he’s taken to living in a cardboard box. “Look at that hobo!” he may as well have shouted. “Come on! Let’s kick him to death!” Okay, Toad’s lines might not have been quite as mean-spirited as that, drifting as they did more along the lines of “Hey, he’s even got a box room for when the mother-in-law comes to stay!” And then out from the pile emerges Nikolai Volkoff! Ha! I believe Virgil moved into a plush beer crate/tarpaulin combo crib next door to Nikolai not long after this.
– Back in the club, Vince produces a copy of Vanity Fair and announces that Goldust is pregnant and scheduled to give birth on next week’s show. Why yes, this is the Attitude Era we’re in.
Doug Furnas & Phil LaFon vs. The Headbangers Time is running short now (thank goodness for all those silly skits, eh?) so this is joined in progress with a jawbreaker to Mosh from LaFon, and Thrasher crashing into Doug Furnas with a flying clothesline, but it’s already time for a commercial break so you can kiss goodbye to what little flow this match has going for it. Things pick up with a snap suplex and a standing senton from LaFon to Thrasher, then all four guys get in the ring for a brawl as things completely break down… and that’s it. TV time is up, and Vince promises the conclusion next week. Impossible to rate under the circumstances.
THE SHOTGUN RECAP:
Most Entertaining: Marc Mero. His psychology was as spotty as the moves he delivered, but at least those moves were exciting, and his proto-’Marvellous’ face/face showdown with Rocky Maivia showed a lot of potential. A shame he blew his knee out a few weeks later, only to return a shell of his former self.
Least Entertaining: Fondle Me Elmo. An atrocious skit that just felt like it would never end.
Quote of the Night: I did consider giving it to Sunny for bamboozling Vince McMahon with her recounting of Doug Furnas’ and Phil LaFon’s multiple All-Asia tag team title reigns in All Japan Pro Wrestling, but I’ve instead gone for: “Honky Tonk man was looking at Razor Ramon… I don’t think he’s going to be looking at him after this match…” – Vince’s apparent shoot admission that he’d finally cottoned on to what everybody else already knew – that Rick Bognar was a terrible pro wrestler.
Match of the Night: Faarooq vs. Savio Vega.
Summary: Another largely rotten episode that still managed to fly past and leave you wanting more. The wrestling overall was pretty bad but it was short enough to never outstay its welcome, and the skits were brutally bad, albeit like a car crash you can’t tear yourself away from. Yes, the New York crowd was its typically irritating self, but the different look and feel to these shows offers such a different vibe from anything else going on in wrestling in early 1997, except perhaps for ECW at the Arena, that no matter how bad the shows are, they’re still masochistically entertaining. Verdict: 33
Lee Maughan: 1996 has morphed into 1997 and WCW are winning the war with Monday Nitro, a New World Order-powered juggernaut on wrestling’s televisual landscape. ECW are continuing to make a big noise in bingo halls across the east coast, punching above their weight with a provocative product aimed squarely at an adult audience. And the WWF? They’re in deep trouble. Attendance has dropped, numbers have plummeted and things are about to get edgy.
Welcome to the Attitude Era.
Reminiscent of the first RAW back in January 1993, the show kicks off on the streets of New York City. Back then, an edgy New York vibe meant gentile corporate shill Sean Mooney exposing Bobby Heenan’s Les Dawson ‘Cissie and Ada’ tribute act. Times have changed. Here, Mary Whitehouse… sorry, I mean Bob Backlund, is protesting the perceived vulgarity on offer tonight – “There’s decadence going on in there, ladies and gentlemen! There’s sexual activities going on in there! There’s violence! There’s crime! What is this?! What is this television?! Shotgun Saturday Night, who’s that good for?! That’s a disgrace! Shotgun Saturday Night, should be banned! It should be banned! New York City should be banned! Matter of fact, Saturday night should be banned!” If they did ban Saturday night, Gary Lineker would cease to exist as a worthwhile entity, left to float aimlessly through the ethers of time with nothing but a replica FA Cup and a gigantic bag of Walkers crisps.
The Flying Nuns vs. The Godwinns Quite the auspicious way to kick-start the new show, no? The Nuns are Sister Angelica and Mother Smucker, better known to you and I as Mosh and Thrasher, the Headbangers. The gimmick was all part of an elaborate angle to introduce the ‘Bangers to WWF audiences, but it was dropped after this initial outing, largely owing to how touchy some Christians have a tendency to be about these things. Not that it was any great loss to professional wrestling, mind you.
Instantly the show has the feel of a underground Indy group, albeit one with million dollar production. The small but rowdy crowd are packed onto the nightclub stage, checking out the action in what looks to be about a 14×14 ring, if that, with police tape-yellow ropes, much like those that would adorn NXT rings in years to come. Now, you might be wondering why a show as edgy and as northern as one set in a New York nightclub would book a couple of hillbilly pig farmers as babyfaces here, but Todd Pettengill (yes, he’s still here) rears his ugly mug to accuse them, and by association everyone from Kentucky, as inbred. And as if this show wasn’t already subversive enough, who should show up at ringside but Brother Love, in his first appearance since late 1995. And wouldn’t you just know it? The fans start chanting “ECW! ECW! ECW!” at all of this, which just makes no sense whatsoever.
Vince McMahon (doing commentary with Sunny) calls this match “gruelling”, which it certainly is, though perhaps not quite in the way he meant it. Sister Angelica misses a legdrop off the top and Phineas begins his comeback to a resounding chorus of boos. Ah, New York. The big gag revolves around Phineas refusing to grab the Nuns’ crotches on bodyslam attempts, and then Brother Love smashes him in the face with a Bible, giving Angelica the pin. Post match, Love cuts a promo full of masturbatory references and redubs the Nuns ‘The Sisters of Love’. I can see why the Christians would complain about this. And not for religious reasons, either. Final Rating: *
– Over in the VIP lounge, Backlund rails against Marlena’s tits, while Vince makes sure to stress the fact that Backlund used the word “cleavage.” Edgy!
Goldust vs. The Sultan Neither guy gets an entrance in the traditional sense here, but they do get to stand around while a laser light show breaks out to the pulsating beat of some techno tripe. And after the transsexual tag team in the opening act, Vince now makes sure that everyone remembers Goldust’s coming “in” the closet after Jerry Lawler previously demanded to know if he was a “queer”. Remember when the WWF was a delightfully mom ‘n’ pop, family-friendly pro ‘rasslin promotion full of strongmen and superheroes? Vince wonders aloud if Backlund is a “pervert” and Backlund claims he can’t hear anything because he doesn’t have his glasses on. The Sultan slaps on a chinlock and the crowd decides to amuse itself by chanting for the “bWo”. Oddly enough, they’d get them just a few weeks later. They then decide to prove how “smart” they all are by chanting “Fatu sucks!” and “We want Raven!” The Fatu chants I get, but what does ECW have to do with any of this? The referee takes a steel chair off the Sultan (edgy!) then Marlena jumps up on the ring apron mid-Camel Clutch, and whips out a couple of handfuls. For some reason, that’s enough to give Goldust the win. Not that I’m complaining, but did Lou Thesz ever suffer those sort of consequences? “How did you lose, Lou? DQ? Count-out? Honkers?” Final Rating: *
Ahmed Johnson vs. Crush As a white supremacist biker throws up his right fist in a salute of black power, I suddenly consider if the WWF could have possibly booked a worse singles match at this point and how I wish Backlund had gotten his way at the start of the show. The tag match earlier in the night may have contained twelve of the longest minutes you’ll ever see, and the previous bout suffered from a despicably long rest hold that killed any flow it may have had, but they were at least competent. This is strictly amateur hour stuff, and to make matters worse, they top it off with a lousy disqualification finish when an unnamed member of the Nation of Domination (who you’d most likely recognise as D’Lo Brown) jumps in for a beat-down of Ahmed. Crush finishes the job with a disturbingly stiff chair shot to the head before Goldust and the Godwinns make the save, which allows Ahmed to stop selling, chase the Nation out of the arena, and give D’Lo a Pearl River Plunge on the hood of a car. Final Rating: ½*
– To the Port Authority bus terminal next, where Jim Cornette collects an already-dressed Mini Vader, fresh from Mexico City and in serious need of a piss. The big gag was supposed to be that the urinals were too high for him with Cornette lifting him by the armpits, but the porcelain was already so low to the floor that the visual didn’t work in the slightest, ruining the joke. The solution? They cut away from the shot just after they’d gone into the bathroom, and just had Vince explain the joke instead!
– And now things take a turn for the worse (that’s right), as Todd Pettengill jumps in the ring to belt out that karaoke classic, ‘The Macarena’, complete with his own set of parody lyrics. ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic he ain’t.
Mascarita Sagrada vs. Mini Vader Or “Mascarada Sagrita” as Vince calls him. This would be the shortest match of the night (oh, har har) which is a shame, because it’s the one with the most action. For anyone who’s seen more than two matches with the luchador minis, you’ll know that action is mostly made up of dives, huracanranas and head scissor takeovers. One of those takeovers comes from a leap off the top rope, which gets a big reaction from the crowd (who for some reason don’t chant Rey Misterio, Jr.’s name, despite how wacky and “inside” they fancy themselves as tonight), and Mini Vader breaks out a brutal powerbomb just to mix things up. There’s not much story going on though, just a natty exhibition of moves, and then Sagrada finishes it with a missile dropkick off the top. Final Rating: **
Post-match, Cornette challenges Sagrada to a fist fight and berates Mini Vader for being such a “knucklehead”, so Vader and Sagrada trip him up and strip him down to his boxers. That was so corny. In more ways than one.
THE SHOTGUN RECAP:
Most Entertaining: Mascarita Sagrada. He may have travelled all the way from Mexico, but he was just about the only guy on this show who actually brought his working boots.
Least Entertaining: Amazingly, despite this sub-60 minute show only “boasting” four matches and a crew of guys that included Phineas Godwinn, Ahmed Johnson and Crush, none of that unholy trinity scoop the award! No, the dubious honour instead goes to the Sultan for his interminably tedious chinlock on Goldust. Edgy? That hold wasn’t even edgy in the 70s, never mind the 90s!
Quote of the Night: “They’re virginal! Their bodies have never been touched by human hands… other than their own, of course!” – Brother Love on the Flying Nuns.
Match of the Night: Mascarita Sagrada vs. Mini Vader.
Summary: It is terrible. The WWF’s misguided “we just can’t help being a complete cartoon show” version of down n’ dirty, cutting-edge wrestling for the 18-30 crowd of the 90s. But damn, did it ever feel fresh. It was grimey, it was dingy, it was small… and it was so refreshingly different to anything the promotion had done before, or indeed, has done since. Especially when you think about WWE in the John Cena years where every single show looks the same, the same set-up, the same arenas, the same camera angles. Here was something unlike anything else you could find on TV, all wrapped up in an easily digestible hour, no matter how crappy the matches may have been. Verdict: 24