Shotgun Saturday Night (02/01/97)

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:

– 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:

 

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

In Your House 9: International Incident

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Arnold Furious: The WWF released In Your House 9: International Incident as Tour de Force ‘96 in the USA, after SummerSlam ‘96, which it preceded. I don’t know either. Just go with it. Nothing makes sense from this era thanks to Coliseum’s insane renaming of the PPV events. If I had to hazard an educated guess it’d be due to the poor buy-rates of the PPV’s and attempting to con Johnny Punchclock into buying the shows on tape without knowing what they were. Living in the UK, the In Your House shows were just released under their PPV names, due to their limited availability when aired live. There was a market for the shows as the audience had never seen them.

 

We’re in Vancouver, British Columbia. Hosts are Vince McMahon, Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler. The three man team was established at this point. JR was too good not to be on the shows, but Vince wanted to be there to keep his control over commentary.

 

The following is from the pre-show Free For All:

 

Survivor Series ’95

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Arnold Furious: This kicks off a run of shows that I really like. The booking was getting more intelligent, moving forward from show to show and giving people genuine reasons to care about the talent. Coherent booking (or writing, whatever you want to call it) is key to enjoying the WWF’s product. Not every company has problems with incoherent booking as they can generally cover for uneven angles with great matches. Although it’d be fair to say that, in general, the best matches are combined with a good storyline. This PPV is littered with sprouts of recovery. It’s the hope that makes the difference. By this point the WWF was becoming aware of how badly it’d been sucking. It’d take time to adapt to the modern audience and transition into the Attitude era but at least they can’t re-do King of the Ring ’95. That monstrosity is in the books.

We’re in Landover, Maryland. Hosts are Vince McMahon, Jim Ross and a returning Mr. Perfect. He’s been out of the WWF, and wrestling in general, since mid ’94 with his back injury. Hennig won’t compete during this WWF run, but he would become a handy extra member of the commentary team, thus denying Dok Hendrix the opportunity to ruin any more PPV’s.