*** Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh reviews are a chronological look back at WWE PPV history that began with a review of WrestleMania I. The PICs have revisited these events and refreshed all of their fun facts that provide insight into the match, competitors and state of the company as well as their overviews of the match action and opinions and thoughts on the outcomes. In addition, Jeff Jarvis assists in compiling historical information and the Fun Facts in each of the reviews. Also, be sure to leave feedback on the reviews at our Facebook page. Enjoy! ***
Survivor Series 1995: A Breath of Fresh Air
November 19, 1995
US Air Arena
Commentators: Vince McMahon, Jim Ross and Mr. Perfect
Fun Fact: This is the first Survivor Series to take place on a Sunday night instead of Thanksgiving eve or Thanksgiving night.
Fun Fact II: This is the last time the original Survivor Series logo would be used.
Fun Fact III: Curt Hennig, aka Mr. Perfect, was last seen in the WWF in the spring of 1994. After WrestleMania X, there were plans for a feud with Lex Luger, but Mr. Perfect’s back problems ended that idea. Perfect took off a year to heal his back and collected on a large Lloyd’s of London insurance policy due to the injury. This kept Perfect out of the ring, but led to him being brought back here in the role of a commentator.
The Smoking Gunns defeated the Public Enemy
Pay Per View
1) The Body Donnas: Skip, Rad Radford, Tom Pritchard & 1-2-3 Kid defeat The Underdogs: Marty Jannetty, Hakushi, Barry Horowitz & Bob Holly
Bob Holly pins Tom Pritchard with a body press in 5:39
Skip pins Bob Holly with a roll-up in 5:43
Rad Radford pins Hakushi after a kick from Kid at 8:31
Barry Horowitz pins Rad Radford with a inside cradle at 11:47
1-2-3 Kid pins Barry Horowitz after a Snap Legdrop in 12:46
Marty Jannetty pins Skip with a Top Rope Powerbomb at 15:23
1-2-3 Kid pins Marty Jannetty after Sid interferes at 19:06
Fun Fact: 1-2-3 Kid turned heel on Razor and joined the Million Dollar Corporation on Raw the week before this show. As special referee for a Ramon/Sid match on that show, he would help Sid win the match (by reversing the Razor’s Edge and executing a fast count). Kid was added to this match a day or two before the show, replacing Jean-Pierre Lafitte. It was referenced as DiBiase having purchased Lafitte’s slot.
Fun Fact II: Rad Radford was the “Body Donna in training” at this point, but because he kept losing, was not made an official part of the team. Radford would do a quick face turn, but would be gone by early 1996. After leaving the WWF, he headed to Philadelphia and ECW where was able to make a mark and build up his name and resume. He would eventually make his way to WCW where he would see his biggest mainstream wrestling success. Unfortunately, just as he was starting to get hot as a lackey to the NWO, Louie was founded dead on February 15, 1998. The death was officially ruled an overdose and would be right at the start of a run of well known wrestlers dying due to drug abuse.
Scott: The main showpiece of this match is the freshly turned heel 1-2-3 Kid. After months on posturing and false turns, the Kid saw the light (and the money) and joined the Corporation. He turned his back on Razor Ramon and went where the grass was greener. The turn was needed for Kid to freshen up and give Razor a fresh rivalry. As for the rest of the match, Skip and Sunny need to be rebooted a bit after a shaky last few months, losing multiple times to Barry Horowitz and being lost in the shuffle. Captaining this team may give Chris Candido a new start. That new start may include one of his partners in this match: Dr. Tom Pritchard of the Heavenly Bodies. More on that in future reviews. Rad Radford, harmless mid-card heel and Bodydonna in training works hard early in this match and battles Bob Holly back and forth early on. It’s awesome to see Mr. Perfect working with Vince and Jim Ross on this night, his return after being off for almost a year and a half. We haven’t seen Perfect since costing Lex Luger the World Title at WrestleMania X. Watching this match I am so depressed about what happened to Hakushi. He could have been a revolutionary worker for Vince and opened up his audience to a whole new sliver of the wrestling world. Let this guy work with a myriad of different workers and maybe some of the workrate snobs that ditched the WWF in the mid-90s could have come back and perhaps given the company a different dynamic. Alas he is pinned by Rad Radford and we really never see him in anything substantial again. Radford is doing lousy push-ups per Skip’s orders, then gets rolled up by Horowitz. I thought that feud wasn’t percolating anymore but the announcers are hard selling it anyway. Kid eventually pins Horowitz and the former Rocker Marty Jannetty is the last of the Underdogs. In the move of the night, Jannetty and Skip are brawling on the outside, and Marty hits a sweet top rope powerbomb for the victory. Down to Marty and the Kid, you knew where this was going. Marty battles, but Kid gets the final pin and is the sole survivor, with some help of Sid on the outside. Sid is a fellow Corporation member, as the bookers are trying to rebuild this failing heel faction. A bold booking move to make Kid look this strong, but he will need a legit Razor Ramon victory to really make the switch stick. The match is fun, with a lot of good psychology and Marty’s top rope powerbomb was a fun shocker. Grade: **1/2
JT: As we move along towards the end of another calendar year, it is once again time for Survivor Series. It has been a very interesting twelve months since Bret Hart lost the WWF Title to Bob Backlund, with turbulence up and down the card. We open the show with a nice surprise in the form of the returning Mr. Perfect. He hops into the commentary booth to add a fresh voice to the mix, which was certainly welcome. Our opener is an interesting mix of younger stars, new faces and wily veterans. It was certainly a unique blend of talent and I liked seeing a lot of these lower mid carders get to show off their stuff here. On the face side we have the recently returned Marty Jannetty, the surprisingly pushed Barry Horowitz, the freshly turned Hakushi and the ever present Bob Holly. Holly has had a nice little year in 1995, popping in and out on PPV and picking up a brief tag team title reign. Opposite the ring are Bodydonna Skip, Bodydonna in Training Rad Radford, former Heavenly Body Tom Prichard and the newly minted heel 1-2-3 Kid. Kid had finally turned on his pal Razor Ramon after months of tension and hooked up with Ted DiBiase along the way. I think it would have been a shrewd time to change up his look and maybe even his name to legitimize him as more of a threat, but it doesn’t happen by this show. Still, it was a good choice and needed as he had run his course as a face in that incarnation. Seeing Holly and Horowitz almost bowl over Hakushi as they charged through the entrance was pretty funny. Perfect claims the Kid is smart for selling out to DiBiase but based on Ted’s managerial resume, you have to question the decision a bit. Before the match starts, Ramon tries to bully his way to the ring but officials push him back to the locker room.
We get a hot start with Jannetty cleaning house to a big pop, again showing that he had a great connection with the fans. If only he could stay clean. Rad Radford was an interesting character. He was a career jobber that certainly had talent and was worth pushing, but the name was awful and the Bodydonna in Training gimmick was never really going to work, especially since Skip has basically been set up as a loser after jobbing to Horowitz a few times. Hakushi is still great as he floats around the ring and shows off some good selling that we haven’t gotten to see a lot of. After eating a nice spinebuster from Radford, Hakushi kicked out of a Kid pin cover after a big splash off the top. I enjoyed seeing Prichard get a chance to shine here as well. With Jimmy Del Ray gone, he was on his own and it was good to see him not get lost in the shuffle immediately. His outing here is very brief, though, as Holly eliminates him with a body press. And poor Holly didn’t even get to celebrate as Skip rolls him right up for the elimination to even things up. Perfect already is bringing in some solid analysis, a welcome treat to the ears. Hakushi and Skip had some solid chemistry, putting on a smooth back and forth clinic. Skip’s stooging act did grow old quickly though. Made him seem minor league at times and was counter productive when he would do it after a strong work sequence. Kid was aggressive every time he hit the ring and you could tell he was working to make the best of this opportunity. Hakushi made a strong comeback on the Kid and the crowd was all fired up during this SummerSlam rematch. As the Angel missed a top rope splash, we saw an angry Ramon watching the match in the back. Kid would trip up Hakushi from the apron, allowing Radford to cover and sadly eliminate him. Such wasted potential, he has deserved so much more than he has gotten here in 1995. Horowitz checked in next and the crowd was chanting his name, but Kid and Radford doubled up on him and immediately had him on the mat. Horowitz was still positioned as a lucky underdog, and I wonder how far he could have gotten if they started pushing him as a legit contender in some way. He had the skill and the crowds liked him a lot. The pounding continued and eventually Radford had him beat, but Skip kept telling his protege to pick him up and punish him some more. Skip really has been booked like an idiot. And just as Radford got too cocky, Horowitz rolled him up and eliminated him. For shame, Rad. Stop listening to Skip.
The Bodydonna hopped in the ring and tussled with his arch nemesis as we were down to two on two. Barry’s good feelings came to quick close when Kid cracked him with a snap legdrop and eliminated him. The great DC crowd rallied hard behind Jannetty as he stepped in with Skip to kick off what was now a handicap match. Marty stayed hot, slamming Skip down with the Rocker Dropper, leading to the first great line of the night from Perfect when he said “that’ll break your neck.” Rough dig there. Skip would tangle with Marty up top, setting up for his hurricanrana, but Jannetty blocked it and spiked him with a powerbomb off the top to draw the sides even. That was a great spot. Kid immediately crashed into the ring and cut a great pace, taking the fight right to Jannetty with crisp offense. This heel turn has really lit a fire for him. The former tag team champions traded offense, with Kid whiffing on a top rope senton and Marty grabbed a near fall before Sid sauntered out to the ring to back up his new stablemate. Jannetty kept pouring it on, hitting the Rocker Dropper but was unable to put the Kid away. Dibbles would hop on the apron to distract the ref, allowing Sid to grab Jannetty and snap him across the top rope, handing Kid the victory. As Kid and Sid celebrated, we cut backstage to see Ramon tearing apart the locker room. I really enjoyed that match. The pacing was fantastic and non stop and we got to see a different mix of talent going at it. Kid as a heel was revelation and he looked great out there. Jannetty looked really good too and Skip had a nice showing when he wasn’t doing stupid things. The rest of the field filled things out nicely with only Hakushi really having a disappointing outing, one that had nothing to do with him. Kid grabs the win as he continues along his renewed push. Grade: ***1/2
2) Bertha Faye, Aja Kong, Tomoko Watanabe & Lioness Azuka defeat Alundra Blayze, Sakie Hasegawa, Kyoko Inoue & Chaparrita Asari
Alundra Blayze beat Lioness Azuka with a German Suplex at 1:42
Aja Kong beat Sakie Hasegawa with a Backdrop Suplex at 3:58
Aja Kong beat Chaparrita Asari with a Slam at 4:25
Aja Kong beat Kyoko Inoue with a Butt Drop at 5:02
Alundra Blayze beat Tomoko Watanabe with a Piledriver at 6:30
Alundra Blayze beat Bertha Faye with a Suplex at 7:11
Aja Kong beats Alundra Blayze with a Uraken at 10:01
Fun Fact: Alundra Blayze defeated Bertha Faye on the 10/23 Raw to regain her WWF Women’s Title.
Fun Fact II: Aja Kong was set to be the next heel contender to Blayze’s title, as, according to WWF Magazine, they were scheduled to face off at the Royal Rumble.
Fun Fact III: Due to WWF financial problems in late 1995, Alundra Blayze was released from her contract in December. However, Blayze was still the Women’s champion and still had the physical belt when she was released. She was quickly signed on by WCW and brought back in under her old character name, Madusa. When she told Eric Bischoff she still had the belt, he insisted that she bring it to Nitro on her first night. Against her better judgment, on December 18 she made her Nitro debut and dropped the title in a garbage can. The WWF would vacate the title and would suspend the women’s division until 1998. Blayze was also blackballed from the WWE for nearly 20 years due to her involvement in the incident. Just recently, she was brought back into the WWE family and inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2015.
Scott: This match is bonkers from the get-go, as girls from both teams just start throwing their bodies all over the place. Chaparita Asari throws out a Sky Twister Press and what’s funny is the crowd really doesn’t know what to think of it. Later in the match Blayze hits a splash from the top rope to the floor on one of her opponents. Earlier in the review I talked about Vince not opening up to guys like Hakushi spreading his wings and gaining a new audience. He did do that with the women’s division as this match is loaded. They bounced around like pinballs, except for the two powerhouses on the heel side. Former Women’s Champion Bertha Faye, and the current Women’s Champion Blayze’s new rival: Aja Kong. Kong is similar to Bull Nakano except without the crazy hair. She’s bigger than everyone in the ring except for Faye, but easily more skilled. Like the first match, the showcase face is alone against multiple heels but Blayze battles back to eliminate two heels (including Bertha), leaving the two big guns with Blayze and Kong. They go back and forth with some fun countermaneuvers, but in a shocking twist, Kong won the match. Perhaps the WWF was thinking about a title switch in this feud but as we see that doesn’t happen. We don’t see Blayze on WWF TV again until 2015 because of future events. This was one of the most entertaining Survivor matches in history because all the participants did everything possible to make it memorable. The Women’s division goes on hiatus for a couple of years from here. Grade: **1/2
JT: Up next we harken back to the inaugural Survivor Series as we have our first women’s elimination match since the surprisingly fun bout back in 1987. Here, Alundra Blayze and Bertha Faye captain teams of ladies imported from All Japan Women that were brought stateside to help flesh out the division a bit. And it was a really wise move. WCW had been starting to utilize worldwide talent, but building up a legitimate women’s division was something WWF could do to set themselves apart a bit. And they really went about it the right way by bringing in some of the best competitors the world had to offer. Right away Ross was pushing Aja Kong and it was clear that she was the one of the bunch that they had some plans for. Azuka and Asari opened things up and we already got some unique action as Azuka spun her around with an giant swing, leading to a nice bridge out of the pin by Asari. Asari upped the ante right away with a great sky twister press, but Azuka stayed alive until Alundra snapped her over with a German suplex into a bridge for the elimination. Watanabe came in next but got tossed to the floor and Blayze followed with a dive off the buckles. Back inside, Hasegawa chucked Watanabe around with a series of double underhook suplexes. As the hot pace continued, Perfect got all sorts of sexist, pondering what happened to the All American woman that would cook for their husbands. Aja Kong finally made her entrance and smacked Hasegawa around until she got caught with a stiff back suplex. Hasegawa tried to come off the top but Kong kicked her in the gut on the way down and then finished her with a backdrop suplex. The young Asari came back in and Kong beat her around, squashing her with a splash off the middle rope for another elimination. Ross notes that Kong is a spokeswoman for orange juice in Japan as Inoue came in for the first time and took the fight right to the monster. Her stay was very brief as she tried a sunset flip but Kong slammed down hard on her chest to give her team a 3-on-1 advantage. Alundra showed off her strength by hoisting Watanabe up and spiking her with a piledriver to draw the odds closer. Bertha finally made her first entrance as Ross basically said she has gotten fatter by making a buffet joke. After some miscommunication, Blayze took Bertha over with a German into a bridge to even up the match at one-on-one. Blayze and Kong went back and forth and you could tell they were positioning this as their next big feud. As Kong gloated, Vince noted that she “is not the most handsome woman”. That made me chuckle. Kong took control of the match and then smashed Alundra in the face with her Uraken to win the bout and establish herself as the top contender to Blayze’s title. This was another really good match that hooked the crowd in thanks to the pacing and strong work. Blayze looked good hanging with the All Japan women and I liked the finish too. Sadly, the division ends here and we never get to see what this new direction could have brought us. Kong and Blayze were set to face off at the Royal Rumble but as we all know, we never get there. Grade: ***
*** Todd Pettengil interviews a Bill Clinton impersonator. When Bam Bam Bigelow’s pyro goes off, the secret service pounces and covers the President. ***
3) Goldust defeats Bam Bam Bigelow with a bulldog at 8:18
Fun Fact: This is the last match of Bam Bam Bigelow’s WWF career, and his overall record 7-12. He was 1-3 at the Rumble, 1-2 at WrestleMania, 1-1 at In Your Houses, 2-2 at King of the Ring, 1-1 at SummerSlam and 1-3 at Survivor Series. Bigelow would bounce around ECW, where he would experience a career rebirth, and then he would wrestle in WCW until WCW’s demise in 2001. One of his memorable feuds after this was with Taz in ECW in 1998, which included two matches where they fell through the ring and the entrance ramp. Bigelow’s life would tragically end on January 19, 2007 when his body was found in his Florida home. An autopsy showed that his death was caused by toxic levels of cocaine & benzodiazepine, which is an anti-anxiety drug.
Fun Fact II: On the November 4 episode of Superstars, Bam Bam interrupted an interview of Goldust, setting up the match here.
Scott: After his win at IYH against Marty Jannetty, the mysterious Goldust takes on someone with a little more credibility as a singles worker. Although if you told me Bigelow would be glorified enhancement back in March, I’d think you were crazy. He main events WrestleMania and loses a stiff brawl to Lawrence Taylor, then turns babyface and could be set for a big time run. As we see that never happens and Bigelow is shunted lower down the card to forgettable. Goldust, weird getup as it may be, still wrestles like Dustin Rhodes, with lots of strikes and kicks and power moves. That psychology changes as Vince tries to experiment with the character further, which you notice as he continually calls Goldust “androgynous”. That’s a word probably 20% of the WWF fanbase doesn’t even know but they will understand it over the coming months. The match was solid as both guys got their power shots in, with Bigelow selling a shot so much he flew uncontrollably over the top rope to the floor. Goldust doesn’t hit is finisher here, probably because Bigelow is so big, so he hits his WCW standby: the bulldog for the victory. I really dug the hard hitting back and forth and kudos to Bigelow for doing the right thing and putting the new talent over. Like a few people on this show, Bigelow is gone from the WWF shortly after this show and we never see him on WWF TV again. He surfaces in ECW and his career re-blossoms again. Unfortunately he never was able to grab the brass ring here. Grade: **
JT: Our next matchup is a bittersweet one as it is the final WWF outing for Bam Bam Bigelow. Since his return in late 1992, Bigelow has been a solid mainstay on these PPVs and his matches always were on the higher end of the cards. He busted his ass and delivered some really fun bouts with a variety of opponents. After his big WrestleMania main event, he seemed set up for a really strong year but it just never materialized for him. Despite that, he remained quite over with the fans and always kept working hard regardless of his position. Here, he is tasked with putting over Goldust, who has already banked one PPV win over an established veteran in Marty Jannetty. The Golden One has continued to baffle fans with his bizarre persona and look and that trend occurs here during his entrance as well. And his entrance is a long one, very draw out and really built up as a bit of an event. As Goldust hammered away at Bammer, Ross mentions America OnLine, which I think is uttered for the first time on WWF PPV. A new era has arrived! Bigelow knocks Goldust to the floor, leading to some stalling as slowly makes his way back inside. Ross notes how Goldust always stays calm and collected and right on cue he cracks Bigelow with a boot to block a charge. However, Bigelow landed a dropkick to knock the enigma to the floor. This time, Goldust yanked him out and slugged away, but Bigelow sidestepped him and he punched the post. Goldust reset his control by clotheslining Bigelow out to the floor and regrouping a bit before Bammer crawled back inside. Goldust alternated a front facelock with some strikes until Bigelow cut him off with a back suplex to a pop from the crowd. However, Bigelow missed a headbutt, leading to Goldust to hook on a neck vice while Ross criticized Bigelow for being a step off. Goldust landed a big clothesline and went to a chinlock which Bigelow quickly powered out of with another back suplex. Bigelow would try for a charge but Goldust side stepped him and chucked him into the corner before hitting a bulldog for the win. Well, that was better than I remembered. If it wasn’t for the multiple rest hold trips, I think this would have checked in even a tick higher. Bigelow’s selling was pretty good and he worked hard to put the new guy over. Goldust also worked at a better pace than he did back in October. There was less meandering and more aggression and the bulldog finish was a good one. Goldust is working his way up the ladder and the unique character was a welcome addition for sure. We bid farewell to Bigelow as he will certainly be missed. Grade: *1/2
*** Bob Backlund shows up in the Presidential box and rants at Bill Clinton. ***
4) The Dead Men: Savio Vega, Henry Godwinn, Fatu & Undertaker beat The Royals: Jerry Lawler, Hunter-Hearst Helmsley, Isaac Yankem & King Mabel
Undertaker beats Jerry Lawler with a Tombstone in 12:17
Undertaker beats Isaac Yankem with a Tombstone at 12:48
Undertaker beats Hunter-Hearst Helmsley with a Chokeslam at 13:33
Mabel is counted out at 14:24
Fun Fact: Undertaker is making his return after having his face destroyed by Mabel and Yokozuna on the 10/9 Raw. He is wearing a face mask that resembles the Phantom of the Opera.
Fun Fact II: This is the third time a full team has survived in Survivor Series history. The Visionaries survived in tact in 1990 and the team of Jim Duggan, Sgt. Slaughter, El Matador & Texas Tornado pulled it off in 1991.
Scott: This match looks like it has a myriad of mid-card stiffs on it, but it was kind of meant to be. After Mabel crushed Undertaker’s face a few weeks prior, Taker needed to recuperate a broken orbital bone, and to take advantage of that Taker comes back in a gothic and creepy “Phantom of the Opera”-type gray face mask. He’s looking even more ominous than normal. This also gives him a chance to be on PPV while the rest of his team does all the heavy lifting. Across the ring, one also looks unusual but not for the right reasons. Jerry Lawler’s mullet never looked worse here, more like a dead squirrel on his head. His gold tights are dreadfully tacky also. His team has a better cache of heels but they will simply be fodder for later in the match. Hunter Hearst-Helmsley continues to climb the ladder, in fact Mr. Perfect gives him a nickname during this match: Triple H. Hmmm, I think that nickname could stick. What do I know. Lawler showed off more of his wrestling skills in this match than in any of his previous PPV matches, mostly because he was working with mid-card guys that he could work over. Helmsley also worked a lot in this match to show off his skills further. Once the Deadman makes the tag, everything changes. Lawler is left in the ring, as his partners won’t tag in, and one piledriver later the King is gone. Next in comes Isaac Yankem, someone Taker would be very familiar with over time. For now he’s fodder and another tombstone, another elimination. Helmsley tries to run away but stuck with Henry Godwinn’s slop bucket in front of him he’s trapped. Taker grabs him, chokeslams him and he’s gone. King Mabel is all that’s left and after he hits the suplex and leg drop that crushed Taker’s face originally, the Deadman sits up and the other King on the team runs off. That feud has one leg left then the Deadman needs to move on. Enough of Undertaker slogging through mid-card hell. Time to bring him back up to the main events and challenge the big guys instead of toiling with the stiffs. The match wasn’t much except a great storyline advancer to show the Deadman is back and ready to kick ass. Grade: *1/2
JT: We continue to roll along with our next Survivor Series matchup. This entry sees the Undertaker make his return to the ring to lead his mishmashed team of midcarders as they battle King Mabel’s royal court. Taker had been out of action since October when Mabel busted up his orbital bone on Raw. The Deadman is looking for payback from that attack as well as Mabel’s win back at King of the Ring. The King is joined by another king, Jerry Lawler, continuing his active year on PPV. They are flanked by Isaac Yankem and Hunter Hearst-Helmsley. The rear camera view as Mabel was carried to the ring was pretty neat and imposing. Across the ring, the returning Deadman employed the services of the midcard, teaming with Savio Vega, Henry Godwinn and Fatu. In a nice touch, they were all wearing Undertaker t-shirts. In fact, there was a lot of black trim on everyone’s gear and it made the match pop a bit. Taker’s entrance was really cool here, with some added wind and effects escorting him out. He also has a Phantom of the Opera style mask on to protect his rehabbed orbital bone. Mabel’s enormous mohawk was certainly a sight as well. Fatu and Hunter hooked back up in a rematch from October to kick the match off and Fatu got the upper hand to start. Godwinn would come in next and whip Hunter around until he tagged in Yankem. The two hosses traded blows as well as Perfect made fun of Jim Ross in a funny bit. Perfect also made history here, noting that Hunter prefers to be called “Triple H”. The blueblood worked over Godwinn with precision but eventually made a mistake and got press slammed hard to the mat. A moment later, Lawler made his first entrance into the ring, looking to tussle with Savio. King’s tights are abhorrent here. Fatu would tag in and thanks to a cheap shot from Yankem, he fell into a beating from the Royals. Mabel came in just as Fatu made the tag to Savio, giving us the King of the Ring rematch that nobody was clamoring for. Mabel would hit a nice overhead suplex and despite his sagging push, he still seemed to be working hard in there. I do like his baggy gold outfit, so that’s something. Savio got worked over by the quick tagging Royals, even taking a piledriver from the King. Lawler hesitated before covering, allowing Vega to kick out. Hunter gave him the opening to land a shot and make the tag, but he couldn’t get to the corner. Lawler came in again and hit another piledriver, but Savio bounced off the mat and desperately tagged in the Deadman to a monster pop. Lawler tried to tag out, but nobody was interested, leading to Taker destroying the King and eliminating him with a Tombstone. That was a great little sequence. Yankem came in next, but he too met the same fate. Helmsley gave it a go, but Taker wasn’t interested in his act at all. The blueblood tried to escape, but Godwinn chased him back on to the apron, where Taker grabbed him and planted him with a chokeslam for the elimination. All on his own, Mabel charged into the ring and hit a belly-to-belly and legdrop, slowing the Deadman up. However, that was only momentary, as Mabel danced, Taker sat right up and freighted the King, who stumbled out of the ring and ran to the back. As Mabel was counted out, Taker chokeslammed Mo and then celebrated with his buddies. That was pure domination and perfect booking. There wasn’t much action to write home about, but once Taker entered the ring, the crowd went bananas and the match was really fun. Taker is back with a vengeance but hasn’t gotten to completely close the book on Mabel just yet. Grade: **
5) British Bulldog, Sid, Ahmed Johnson & Shawn Michaels defeat Owen Hart, Yokozuna, Dean Douglas & Razor Ramon
Shawn Michaels beats Dean Douglas with a roll-up at 7:29
Razor Ramon pins Sid after HBK’s Superkick at 16:17
Ahmed Johnson pins Owen Hart after a Tiger Bomb at 21:47
British Bulldog pins Razor Ramon after a Powerslam at 24:06
Ahmed Johnson pins Yokozuna after Michaels’ Superkick at 27:22
Fun Fact: Shawn Michaels was making his triumphant return after being injured at the hands of some Marines a month earlier. However, he would be put on the shelf again the very next night when he collapsed after an Owen Hart Enziguri, playing off the concussion he received in the bar fight. It was a very good sell-job, and from what’s been said, Michaels actually spent the night in the hospital to sell the injury. Michaels would stay out of action for another two months and make another triumphant return at the Royal Rumble.
Fun Fact II: Anthony Norris played football at the University of Tennessee and was later drafted by and played for the Dallas Cowboys during the early 90s. Following football, Norris started training to be a professional wrestler under Skandor Akbar, Scott Casey and Ivan Putski. He bounced around the independent circuit before joining on with the Global Wrestling Federation in 1993 as Moadib. Vince scooped him up and rebranded him as Ahmed Johnson.
Scott: WWF President Gorilla Monsoon invented a concept where in essence faces mix with heels in a Survivor Series match. In 1995 that’s actually a revolutionary concept. Oh sure they’ll be very kayfabe and not trust each other and stuff like that but in reality this could be fun seeing heels and faces working together to win the match. They should have done something like add a money prize to it so Monsoon forces these guys to work together. Shawn Michaels has clearly moved up to real main event status and is probably in line for a huge push in 1996, captaining one of these teams. His partner is a newcomer, powerhouse Ahmed Johnson. You can tell from his in-ring work he’s quite limited in his ability but a power guy like that probably will be protected in some aspects to showcase quick hit power and back to the apron. There has been some fun dynamics like Bulldog and Owen in the ring and Razor and Shawn in the ring. Incidentally I’m glad Perfect stayed on commentary here and Lawler with his bad hair didn’t replace him. Perfect has been on a roll all night. Michaels is all over this ring, being both face in peril and face in comeback. The crowd (which has been hot for most of the night) is into all the tags and weird combinations. At one point Michaels tags in Sid and he and Razor have a unique looking exchange of power moves and strikes. There was a weird moment where Sid was holding Razor for Shawn to superkick him, but Shawn hits Sid instead. Then when Razor goes for the pin, Bulldog misses Razor and legdrops Sid. Whether it was an accident or intentional isn’t clear but Sid gets pinned. He then powerbombs Michaels, his own partner mind you, before leaving. We get a middle part of the match where Shawn takes a pretty good beating until the hot tag to Ahmed Johnson. Ahmed pins Owen, then battles Razor, where we get an awkward moment where Razor goes to the second rope, but Ahmed sells a punch and walks around the ring aimlessly and Razor has to hop down and hit an impromptu bulldog. That wasn’t planned, which tells you how green Ahmed is in the ring. Razor gets eliminated via the expected 1-2-3 Kid interference. Razor decks Kid but the distraction is enough for Bulldog to hit his power slam and eliminate him. Yokozuna is alone with Michaels, Ahmed and Bulldog but Shawn gets bludgeoned for a little bit until the hot tag to Ahmed, who slams Yoko. That was such a big deal two years ago but nobody really cares now. Michaels and Ahmed blow through their heel partner, then takes out Yokozuna to win the match. This is somewhat expected for Shawn’s continued elevation and for Ahmed to make a big splash on the WWF scene. The match had some unique moments that made it special that in the WWF canon it’s one of those matches you sometimes forget about but really is one that stands the test of time because of its uniqueness at the time. Grade: ***
JT: Up next is our special Wild Card match, a bout Gorilla Monsoon put together as a treat for fans. The face/heel divide was non existent here and the gimmick was that the teams were chosen at random. On one side, we had Razor Ramon teaming with his nemesis Dean Douglas and the former tag team champions,Yokozuna and Owen Hart. On the other side was Shawn Michaels and his heated rival Sid, joined by British Bulldog and newcomer Ahmed Johnson. Johnson was hyped in the weeks leading up and him being tossed into the mix with the other upper mid carders was a sign of where on the card they viewed him slotting in. Outside of Taker, Bet and Diesel, this grouping really was the top guys just under that main event line, so tossing them into the mix in one match was a nice touch. Before the match, we got a little shit stirring by Todd Pettengil, hinting that Jim Cornette was playing both sides. However, Cornette vowed his allegiance to the Bulldog and he does accompany him here. It was a shrewd decision as it was already announced that the Bulldog would face the WWF Champion at the next IYH. Ahmed had a hell of a look and intensity to match and you can see why they liked him and saw dollar signs as soon as he marched out to the ring. In the least surprising moment of the night, Michaels gets a monster pop and screams “superstar” as he dances to the ring, much to the bitter anger of his old nemesis Mr. Perfect. Of course, this was Shawn’s first match back since the Syracuse incident, so the crowd was extra hot for him. Michaels would open the bout, going at it with Owen Hart in what was a dream match on paper. The two would spill outside, where Michaels swatted Cornette with his tennis racket before chucking Owen back inside. Hart would hit a belly-to-belly and tag in Douglas, giving us the match we were robbed of in Winnipeg. In a good bit of psychology, Douglas targeted the head of Michaels, playing off the concussion. Michaels came back with a moonsault before tagging in Johnson for his in ring debut. He was on fire early, mowing through Douglas and Hart before failing to slam Yoko, leading to him falling into trouble. It was neat seeing Ramon get to heel it up a bit, landing shots in on Johnson from the apron. Ahmed would catch the Dean with a powerslam and tag Michaels back in, giving his team the advantage back. However, things got salty when Ramon and Douglas’ bad blood seeped through and Ramon slugged him in the face, allowing Michaels to roll him up and eliminate him. Another weak showing for Douglas as he limps towards the end of his run.
Bulldog and Owen would reset things, putting on a fun few moments until Michaels and Ramon were both tagged in, setting up a SummerSlam rematch. They would trade some bombs with Michaels mainly controlling, but Ramon would catch him and drop him hard with the Edge, with Michaels only saved by Ahmed diving in the ring. I love that they had Razor struggle with the hold but still land it early on in the match like that. Made the stakes feel heavier. Michaels was rocked but still able to tag in Sid, who took his time laying some boots into Ramon, picking up where he left off on Raw. Ramon is getting a lot of ring time in the middle of this match and it enhanced things to allow for some heat to be built up. Sid looked pretty good here too, crunching Ramon with a one handed chokeslam. This may be the best he has looked in this whole run. In a funny spot, Michaels came in and accidentally superkicked Sid and then shrugged and walked off. Then, when Razor was covering, Bulldog ran in and tried to break up the cover with a legdrop, but Razor tucked his head and he drilled Sid instead. Then the ref counted again and Sid was eliminated. Odd sequence but it was entertaining. An angry Sid stuck around after the bell and powerbombed Michaels before stalking off. Owen sprinted in and picked apart Shawn, targeting the now injured back, thanks to Ramon and Sid. Yoko assisted as well, locking in his nerve hold, a move that somehow looks even lazier than it used to. Michaels would dodge a flying headbutt from Owen and tag in Ahmed, who cleaned house before planting Owen with a tigerbomb for the elimination. As Michaels tried to recover on the floor, Bulldog busted up a cover by Ramon after he hit Ahmed with the Edge. There have been some sloppy transitions in this match, including that one. As Ramon took Bulldog over with a fallaway slam, Kid, Sid and DiBiase marched down the aisle and parked at ringside. Kid would hook Ramon’s leg as he hit the ropes and that momentary distraction allowed Bulldog to hit a powerslam for the pinfall, leaving Yoko all alone.
Michaels would end up back in the ring, but Yoko mauled him, dropping a big leg and then dragging him to the corner. Things went awry quickly when Shawn dodged the Banzai Drop and tagged in Ahmed, who promptly slammed Yoko. Bulldog would turn on his team and save Yoko, but after Ahmed and Shawn clotheslined him out of the ring, Yoko ate some sweet chin music. Ahmed then crashed onto the giant with a wild big splash, giving his team the win. And in a funny spot, Bulldog came back and celebrated the victory. This was a pretty fun match with lots of unique spots and a neat flow due to the mixing of sides. However, there was also some sloppy moments and transitions that made things awkward at times. There were also some slow spots, something that is unacceptable considering the multitude of talent available. I thought Razor actually looked the strongest and also enjoyed all the work on Michaels’ back, who sold like a champ as always. All in all this was fun, but nothing long lasting or memorable, outside of Johnson’s debut. Grade: ***
6) Bret Hart defeats Diesel to win WWF World Title with a small package at 24:49
Fun Fact: This match features the first broken table spot in WWF PPV history.
Fun Fact II: One month earlier at In Your House 4, Bret was a guest commentator during Diesel’s match with the British Bulldog. Bret interfered at the end of the match, attacking Bulldog and causing Diesel to be disqualified. This pissed Diesel off, leading to an argument with Hart and eventually the two brawling with each other. On the October 30 episode of RAW, Gorilla Monsoon made the match official between the two for Survivor Series. Also, the British Bulldog had already been slated to face the winner of this at In Your House 5 in December.
Scott: One of the most anticipated matches in the second half of 1995. Their first two encounters (1994 King of the Ring; 1995 Royal Rumble) had different dynamics than now. The Rumble in January was a “mutual respect” thing, and that ended in an epic schmozz where about 50 guys ran in to end it in a no contest. Now with the No DQ stipulation attached to it, it opens up a myriad of booking possibilities. First no crap finish, either Diesel retains or Bret wins his third WWF Championship. But the path to getting there could be a lot of fun. Now looking back at Diesel’s title run, this match encapsulates the strengths and weaknesses. The strengths are this: Diesel, even as a babyface can work a smaller guy over with his limited but impressive looking power offense. It’s hard to bounce around guys like Sid and Mabel when they’re just too big to easily dominate. Plus you can’t have Diesel be a face in peril for 80% of the match, then recovers hits the jackknife and we go home. A guy like Bret Hart can be the one dictating the pace as a babyface by working the moves and body parts that slow a big man like Diesel down. Working on the legs and knees and keeping Big Daddy Cool grounded. British Bulldog tried that at IYH #4 but instead of selling it Diesel looked like he was taking a nap. Here he’s actually selling the wear down moves and putting Bret’s offense over. With the No DQ stipulation there, Bret starts getting very inventive at working the leg, such as taking a mic cord and tying it to the post, then tying Diesel’s leg with it. Diesel fights Bret off but can’t move, and Bret hits a nice elbow off the second rope with Diesel tied to the post. Bret’s not acting like a heel either; he’s just working with the rules. He then brings a chair in the ring which is of questionable babyface character. But with the World Title on the line, you take no chances. Diesel stops him at first but Bret eventually uses the chair on Diesel’s back and the tied down ankle. Diesel definitely is selling the leg injury better than he ever did in the previous matches. Not to stir the pot, but on the Kliq blu-ray Kevin Nash said that they wanted Bret to join the Kliq. So clearly there was respect there for him even though he wasn’t in their crew. It’s funny how much Vince wants Bret to quit after every big move that Diesel hits him with. Jim Ross says this is Bret’s 41st WWF PPV. I didn’t think there were that many PPVs to that point. There’s a great sequence where Diesel, limping on the bad leg, methodically punishing Bret with one power spot after another, but doing it so deliberately and not in a lazy way. He just looked different in this match, maybe better than the match with Shawn in Hartford back in April. Bret makes a comeback but when he goes for a plancha Diesel ducks and Bret splats on the floor. Then a moment that will stand the test of time, and change the way no DQ matches (or any match) will be booked. Bret’s on the apron, but when Diesel tries to slingshot him back into the ring, instead of going into the ring Bret goes back and smashes into the Spanish announcers table. Never in WWF PPV history had a table been smashed outside the ring. Now it’s commonplace, but back then that was bonkers. Bret’s in the ring, limp and practically gone. Diesel, taking his time wanting to jackknife him and finish him off, takes too long. Bret Hart, ever the best at playing opossum, rolls Diesel up into a small package and steals the WWF Championship in what some call an upset. Bret wins the WWF Title for the third time but then Diesel just snaps and plows through Bret and two officials before leaving in a scowl of anger. Diesel ends up becoming more entertaining and revolutionary with his character. As for Bret, he’s brought in to save the day, but for how long? This match for me is just as much a MOTY candidate as the title match as WrestleMania is. Grade: *****
JT: It has been a long, interesting year for both of these men. A year ago, Bret Hart shockingly lost his beloved WWF Title to Bob Backlund and began a twelve month stretch of frustrating aimlessness. During a time where the company badly needed draws and stars, he languished in the midcard. A year ago, Diesel was peaking, his popularity off the charts as he turned face and finally severed ties with Shawn Michaels. Days later, he defeated Backlund and kicked off a year long title run that some highs and many lows. Finally looking to have some of that long last swagger back, he ambled to the ring here to face the former champ in a very long awaited rematch from January’s Royal Rumble. Adding to the intensity was the fact that this would be No Holds Barred. Setting the tone right away, Hart and Diesel both yanked off turnbuckle covers before eventually locking up. Hart went to the legs immediately but Diesel landed some big blows to the midsection to block him. Things spilled to the floor, where Diesel dropped Hart throat first on the guard rail. Where has this anger and aggression been? I feel like we last saw it back at the Rumble before Diesel’s character shifted direction. The champ continued to slug away and dominate the Hitman, whipping him hard into the steel steps and taking his time in wearing him down. He then upped the ante by smashing Hart with a chair. In a nice callback, Ross reminded us that Hart used a chair on the champ back in Tampa. I don’t mention it enough, but since Ross was added to the booth in the fall, the commentary has improved greatly. Back inside, Diesel manhandled the challenger, cracking him with a clothesline and taunting the fans. Hart finally got a little dirty himself as he started a comeback, going to the eyes of the big man before locking in a sleeperhold. Hart followed by attacking the legs again, looking to chop the champ down and eventually locking in the figure four. Ross again jumps in and notes Hart hooked this on three times back in January but could never keep Diesel in the center of the ring with it. Diesel would force the break and then avoid the sharpshooter by kicking Hart back into the exposed corner. That was well executed and set up so well early on.
Hart recovered quickly and wrapped Diesel’s leg around the post, continuing to execute his gameplan. Bret then got a little shady as he tied Diesel’s leg to the ring post with a camera cable. With the champ tethered and unable to escape, Hart smashed him with a forearm off the middle rope. Hart again went to the chair and after Diesel fended him off briefly, the Hitman struck, jamming it hard into the knee. Hart is laser focused on his title and doing whatever he can to hammer on Diesel and put him down for good. Diesel would catch Hart on the top rope and slam him off, giving him the chance to unhook the cord. He followed with a big sidewalk slam and by shooting Hart into the exposed corner again, but his injured knee prevented him from fully taking advantage. Perfect and Ross brought the stats here as Perfect notes that Hart has been in every Survivor Series and Ross informs us that this is his 41st PPV. Great stuff. Diesel would hit a snake eyes but his leg wouldn’t allow him to hit a second one on the exposed buckle. Hart landed a big clothesline and followed with a bulldog, picking up near falls as Vince noted that this was a pure fight. It sure is. Diesel would get knocked to the floor but dodged a Bret dive over the top, which Ross lauds as great scouting. As Hart pulled himself on to the apron, Diesel walked over and shoved him off, sending him crashing through the Spanish announce table in a great, historical bump. The crowd loved that one. As Hart slowly made his way up, Diesel started to show some hesitation and frustration, Perfect thought it was sympathy from the champ, who limped his way back into the ring. As he stood over Hart, he really took his time, showing a little compassion and wasting some time as Perfect called him out. He finally reached down and pulled Hart up, but this time the Hitman cradled him to grab the three count and win the title. The reign is over! New champion! Diesel was pissed at himself and the world and let all his frustrations out by dropping Hart with two powerbombs and destroying a few officials. As he sneered towards the crowd, the now former champ tossed the title onto Hart and walked off. That was an instant classic. A true war and a hell of a way for Diesel’s reign to come to a close. There were some slow spots here and there, but Diesel’s selling was on point throughout and I loved Bret’s assault of the leg. The final stretch was well done, especially the table bump into the finish. The Hitman is back on top of the mountain and even though the year is still ongoing, the idea of “1995” suddenly feels very far in the rear view mirror. Grade: ****1/2
Scott: After a stretch of mediocre PPVs, this show seems so refreshing. The matches all have something different about them that the past few shows were sorely lacking. The main event may be the MOTY, as it shows Diesel snapping out of his slump on a night where his run ends as champion. Is it better than him against Shawn at Mania, or Shawn/Razor at SummerSlam? Maybe watch all three in a row and decide for yourself. The Wild Card match was a fun combination of matchups and weird face/face and heel/heel combos. Goldust’s character continues to rise, but hasn’t totally hit his ceiling. When he actually engages into a new feud he really brings the psychology. This is the moment where you start to see the evolution of the roster. Nitro is a couple of months old and already a threat, meaning it was time for Vince to make some changes. One more PPV and the ups and downs year of 1995 is over. This was a fun show and one you might want to throw in to remember. It’s maybe the biggest example of having to cherry pick within a year many just blanket as terrible. Final Grade: B
JT: Hey now! This is what we have been missing for most of 1995. After months full of milquetoast offerings and a mixed up roster of misplaced stars, we are finally looking to be back on track. The midcard is looking more robust, the lower card has a nice cache of workers and the main event scene is kicked into another gear with Bret Hart back in control of the World Title. Diesel did all he could, but his time was up. And despite how rough his title run was at times, without it, we wouldn’t have had this moment. Suffering through those matches with Sid, Tatanka, Mabel and Bulldog let the frustration build and spill over to this, where Hart winning felt like he had saved the entire company. It was a great payoff. The rest of the card was really fun too, with only Goldust/Bigelow sagging things down. The survivor matches were all well worked and had storylines flowing throughout them. The crowd was really good too, as was the commentary. Mr. Perfect was a welcome addition to the team and Jim Ross has been on fire. Having the two of them on point allows Vince to go into hype mode but not be completely overbearing. The air feels much fresher and we seem to be headed in the right direction. Will it continue, though? Or is it simply a blip on the radar of a sinking ship? Time will tell. For now, we celebrate. The champ is dead. Long live the champ. Final Grade: B+