Monday Night Raw (02/06/95)

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

Royal Rumble ’94

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Arnold Furious: Desperate men do desperate things. That’s the motto behind Royal Rumble ’94. Vince McMahon had become so desperate in the midst of a personal crisis stemming from steroid allegations, that he started throwing all manner of crap onto TV. Rumble ’94 featured a bizarre solution to The Undertaker asking for time off. Plus “co-winners” of the Rumble event itself and finally pulling the trigger on an Owen Hart heel turn. The WWF were rumoured to be experimenting with all kinds of possibilities including, but not limited to, putting the WWF title on Ludvig Borga. That isn’t quite as ridiculous as Vince Russo’s suggestion that Tank Abbot become WCW champion, but it’s not far off. Vince did know he was desperately short on main event talent though and allotted time in this Rumble match that ensured a new one was born: Diesel.

 

We’re in Providence, Rhode Island. Hosts are Vince McMahon and Ted DiBiase. Bobby Heenan had left the company so Vince moved on to another former wrestler who’d recently retired to join commentary with him. It wasn’t until Jerry Lawler settled into the role that the WWF would truly replace Heenan. Heel colour guy is not an easy spot to slot into.

 

Survivor Series ’93

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Arnold Furious: 1993 was not a good year for the WWF. Business was down, talent was leaving for pastures new and Hulkamania was dead. Increasingly the WWF were relying on strong foreign markets and tours. The final nail in the WWF’s coffin, or so some thought, was Vince McMahon’s indictment on steroid distribution charges by the federal government, shortly before this show. To say his mind wasn’t on the product would be an understatement. If WCW had been as strong in 1993 as they were in the years to follow then maybe the WWF would have been run into the ground before 1994 came into view. Luckily for the WWF, 1994 is the year where the WWF shows signs of improvement, putting on one of its greatest WrestleManias.

 

Coming into this show alone, the company had a multitude of problems. Shawn Michaels had been taken off TV amid rumours of him testing positive for steroids, a major issue at the time, and was rumoured to have quit the company entirely to talk to WCW. Worried that one of their champions would show up in WCW with the belt, the WWF ran a hurried battle royal/final match, crowning Razor Ramon as the new IC champion. Things took a turn for the weird as Shawn returned to the fold to replace another problem in Jerry Lawler. The King of Memphis had been battling Bret Hart for months but was accused of statutory rape and removed from TV. Shawn returned to take Lawler’s place in the hopes that the fans wouldn’t notice. Booking on the fly isn’t easy. Given a long term solution, they worked towards a match between Michaels and Razor at WrestleMania. Another issue stemmed from Mr. Perfect’s sudden second retirement with back injuries. Randy Savage, himself feuding with the freshly turned Crush, was hurriedly inserted into the opening match in place of Hennig.

 

24th November 1993. We’re in Boston, Massachusetts. Hosts are Vince McMahon and a departing Bobby Heenan in his final WWF PPV.

SummerSlam ’93

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Arnold Furious: By August 1993, Vince McMahon was only months away from being indicted with allegations surrounding his distribution of steroids within the WWF. The company was suffering due to the negativity surrounding it, and had become creatively bankrupt. Vince couldn’t think of a way to move on from Hulkamania so just inserted a new superstar in the same gimmick and pushed him into the title picture; the former narcissist Lex Luger. The summer saw the WWF’s title picture dominated by reigning champion, and Hulk-buster, Yokozuna. The monster heel champion was something the WWF ended up doing off the back of a similar successful experiment in WCW, where Vader had earned rave reviews as heavyweight champion. The WWF rarely went with heel champions, let alone strong ones, so this was perhaps indicative of Vince’s lack of involvement at the time. He was seemingly willing to let other ideas be heard and for different angles to occur. The storyline this set up was quite simple; Yoko would dominate everyone until the right face came along to unseat him. It seemed a no-brainer that Luger would do just that, but the WWF had a swerve lined up for the fanbase…

 

30th August 1993. We’re at the Palace of Auburn Hills, Michigan. Take care crossing the street folks because the Lex Express is on the way! We know this because Vince McMahon screams “The Lex Express” at every available opportunity. Hosts are Vince “THE LEX EXPRESS HAS STOPPED IN AUBURN HILLS” McMahon and Bobby Heenan.

UK Rampage ’93

Arnold Furious: This is right after WrestleMania IX. Except half the roster didn’t go on the tour. So we’ve got Shawn Michaels, Mr. Perfect and Lex Luger but at no point are they wrestling each other. Hogan stayed home, no shocks there, but Bret Hart and the Steiners were both working in the US at the same time. So the already depleted roster is painfully thin for this card. In a bid to keep my sanity I have devised the “UK Rampage ’93 Drinking Game”.

 

DRINK

– Every time a match fails to make it to *.

– Every time JR talks about someone’s college education.

– Every time an ethnic stereotype appears.

– Every time someone in the crowd blows an air horn.

– For every 30 seconds Brooklyn Brawler applies a chinlock for.

 

For those keeping score at home I’ll be starting out swigging Chinese beer Tsingtao and when I run out I’ll be moving on to shots of Wild Turkey. God help us all if that happens.

 

We’re in Sheffield, England. Hosts are Jim Ross and Bobby Heenan, with Alfred Hayes on interviews. Air horn already. Bastards. DRINK. And again. DRINK. Put it down, mate, everybody hates an air horn.

Rampage Bercy ’93

Lee Maughan: Comme Daniel Bryan pourrait dire: Oui! Oui! Oui! La lutte professionnelle de la France! Très grande!

 

April 8th, 1993 – Bercy Stadium, Paris, France. So this show comes from the post-WrestleMania IX, European Rampage tour, and it takes place four days after WrestleMania and three before the UK Rampage show from Sheffield, both reviewed elsewhere in this book by Arnold Furious. It originally aired as a special on the Canal+ channel and was later released by Coliseum Video in France only, making it extremely hard to track down. Obviously, all of the commentary is in French, but there are a few promos scattered throughout the show from the wrestlers in English, the first of which sees Shawn Michaels relaxing by a golden statue and calling Bob Backlund an “All-American Loser.”