This Week in 90’s Wrestling: January 1st – 3rd

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Place to Be Nation is extremely excited to present This Week in 90’s Wrestling, courtesy of our good friend Charles from Pro Wrestling Only. We’ll highlight the best of professional wrestling in the 90s – WWF, WCW, Memphis, USWA, All-Japan, and more – for each day of the year! You can find the complete archive of this series here.

JANUARY 1

1994
WWF Superstars featured an interview with Razor Ramon to address Irwin R. Schyster, who recently stole his trademark gold chains to set up a challenge for the WWF Intercontinental Title at the Royal Rumble coming up on January 22. One could surmise that Vince McMahon was on a Libertarian kick at the time, as the IRS repossessing assets from a cocaine dealer — remember, Razor Ramon was modeled after Tony Montana — cast the drug dealer as the babyface who was wronged and is out for revenge.

WCW Saturday Night aired, which was taped on December 7 at Center Stage Theatre in Atlanta, GA. The main event of the show was “Stunning” Steve Austin, who won the WCW U.S. Heavyweight Title five days earlier from Dustin Rhodes at Starrcade, taking on Sting in a very good ***1/4 match. At the time the match was taped, Austin was not yet the champion, but by the time the match aired, Austin was the U.S. champ and was referred to as such on commentary. The future “Stone Cold” showed potential to work like a headliner here, as the match was structured very much like the first half of a typical World Title match. Unfortunately, Austin was not yet pushed at that level, so his matches, while good, often felt like missed opportunities to be really special because of the limitations of undercard booking. The show drew a 1.9 rating, nearly double the rating of the Christmas show the week before.

1996
WCW Monday Nitro aired live from The Omni in Atlanta, GA, the arena most associated with WCW, in front of 6,000 fans. The show was headlined by Ric Flair, who won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship five days earlier at Starrcade, defending the title against Hulk Hogan, who was returning from a laughable storyline two-week “suspension” which merely gave him some time off during the holiday season. The match went 7:54 and was disappointing for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which that the crowd appeared to be more on Flair’s side than Hogan’s, something which was becoming all too common. From an in-ring standpoint, the highlight of the show was a Chris Benoit vs Steven Regal match, which only went a little over five minutes, but was really stiff and mat-based, making it quite different from the usual WCW fare. Storyline development included Brian Pillman debuting his “Loose Cannon” persona by yelling at fellow Four Horsemen Benoit and Arn Anderson, who lost to Randy Savage in the opening match of the show, for losing their matches, and even picking a fight with Kevin Sullivan and the Dungeon of Doom. Early tensions were teased between the Four Horsemen and Dungeon of Doom for the first time during the segment, but Arn was able to diffuse the situation for now. The show drew a 2.5 rating, and you can watch it on the WWE Network.

The WWF aired an episode of Monday Night RAW which was taped on December 18, in Newark, DE. The show began with the “RAW Bowl”, which was a four-way elimination tag match involving WWF World Tag Team Champions The Smoking Gunns, Psycho Sid & 1-2-3 Kid, Owen Hart & Yokozuna and Razor Ramon & Savio Vega. The participants wore football jerseys and wrestled on a green mat while Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler rolled out every football pun imaginable behind the booth, to the point that suggesting the match was constructed just for the purpose of delivering the puns is not too farfetched of an idea. Also, Vader’s name was mentioned on WWF television for the first time and he was announced as an entrant in the upcoming Royal Rumble, and the first of many Billionaire Ted skits aired. In this particular skit, the Huckster, the Nacho Man and Scheme Gene sat around a boardroom table while Billionaire Ted asked his top “rasslers” to copy the finishing moves of Diesel, Razor Ramon and Ahmed Johnson, which was funny because all three of those wrestlers were simply doing some version of a power bomb. While WCW was never mentioned by name, this was the first time that the WWF had ever acknowledged their competition on television, which in itself was a victory of sorts for WCW. The skit closed with a voiceover saying the WWF was “on top of the hill, not over it”, insulting Hogan and Savage for being old and past their prime. Vince Russo made what may have been his first appearance on WWF television in the skit, playing one of the nameless suits in the meeting. The show drew a 2.6 rating, narrowly edging out Nitro for the night.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnPx5tgkA9A

In The “To Watch” Queue:
El Ninja, El Dandy & Tigre Canadiense vs Negro Navarro, El Signo & Black Power (Monterrey 01/01/92)
Steven Regal vs Terry Taylor (WCW Saturday Night 01/01/94) (Part 1) (Part 2)

Author: Charles Williams

Charles is just a wrestling fan who likes talking about wrestling with other fans. He is the owner and admin of ProWrestlingOnly.com and posts there under the name Loss. You can register for an account there by sending an email to pwomembership@gmail.com, and you can also follow him on Twitter at @prowresonly.