Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Monday Night Raw 1/2/95

*** Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh reviews are a chronological look back at WWE PPV and TV 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! ***

Monday Night Raw #93

January 2, 1995 (Taped December 12, 1994)
Liberty Central High School
Liberty, NY
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon & Shawn Michaels

*** We open the show with Jeff Jarrett announcing that he will be singing live for us here tonight and that many big music industry representatives will be in the house to witness the show. ***

1) Lex Luger & British Bulldog wrestle Tatanka & Bam Bam Bigelow to a double count out at 8:43

Fun Fact: Last week on Raw, the British Bulldog and Tatanka battled to a double DQ thanks to interference from Lex Luger and Bam Bam Bigelow. The foursome comes together this week in a tag team battle.

Scott: We open 1995 with a hot tag team match involving a team primed to be Tag Team Champions and two big time babyfaces. The Corporate team is in the semifinals of the Tag Team Tournament to fill the vacant tag belts. Shawn Michaels and Gorilla Monsoon have interesting chemistry here. Gorilla treats all these shows like a house show or a taped syndie show and doesn’t have that style of promoting upcoming shows or big matches. Gorilla does say that there’s a big bonus for anybody who first brings gold to the Corporation. It could be this tag team, since pretty much there’s nobody else substantial in the group right now. It’s weird that Vince McMahon is not here, since this is part of the taping in Liberty, and he was there for the other episodes. It’s been all Corporation so far as they jumped Luger early on and are still working him over. Gorilla finally starts mentioning things like the tag team tournament and how the Corporation will be facing the Headshrinkers in two weeks on Superstars. The Bulldog had come in late since Luger was jumped before the introductions and they really haven’t been in it until now when Luger hit Tatanka with a power slam. We finally get double hot tags and Bulldog really tears into Tatanka and even hits his PUWER SLUM but Bigelow pulls him out of the ring. We get a huge brawl outside with all four guys and it ends in a double countout for everybody. No shock there, since no one should have jobbed. The crowd is a bit gassed, but the match was fun enough. BUT, we may not have seen the last of these four men. Grade: **

JT: 1995 has officially arrived and we celebrate the new year with a… very stale taped episode that keeps us in tiny old Liberty Central High School for at least one more week. Shawn Michaels is still hanging out with us in the color commentary role but Vince McMahon is absent this week and filling in for him to open the new year is the legendary Gorilla Monsoon. Of course, Gorilla also spotted McMahon back in the summer of 1994 but we haven’t seen him on Monday nights since. With this being taped, perhaps Vince was ill or couldn’t be available for the post production work because he would have clearly been in the building that night. The show kicks off with a big tag team bout that was set up a week ago when British Bulldog and Tatanka wrestled to a double disqualification thanks to interference from Lex Luger and Bam Bam Bigelow. Luger is still at war with Ted DiBiase’s gang and while Tatanka is fending his former pal off, he is also teaming with Bigelow as the chase down the vacant Tag Team Titles. As everyone makes their entrances, Michaels talks about how 1994 saw DiBiase build the Corporation but 1995 will be his time to show results. Luger enters first for his team and gets assaulted by Bigelow and Tatanka as he slides in the ring. Bulldog charged down the aisle a moment later to even the sides and help clean house. Things settled down to Bigelow working over Bulldog with some power strikes as Gorilla and Michaels talk about everything that brought us to tonight. Michaels also chuckles as he says Luger’s new year’s resolution is to not be as dumb as last year. Lex tags in and clotheslines Bammer off the middle rope and that is followed by a Bulldog clothesline for a near fall. Luger went to work on the arm as Gorilla notes the recent dissension the ranks with Bigelow and the Corporation. Things turn when Tatanka smashed Luger from the apron as Shawn wonders what Lex would do for offense if he didn’t know the clothesline. Tatanka comes in and works over Lex as Gorilla comments that there is a big bonus on the line for whoever brings gold to the Corporation first. Tatanka grabs a near fall on an elbow drop and keeps Luger away from tagging out as we head to break. When we return, Tatanka nails Lex with a chop off the top rope for a two count. Bulldog did his best to rally the crowd as Gorilla tells us that Tatanka and Bigelow will be facing the Headshrinkers in the semifinals of the tag team tournament in two weeks time on Superstars. Tatanka hooked in one of the laziest bear hugs you will ever see but Lex punched his way free and then kicked Tatanka away on a charge. Lex fired up from there but Tatanka was able to tag in Bigelow, who dropped a falling headbutt on Luger. Bigelow gets a bit cocky and takes his time before moves, allowing Lex to gain some steam and land a powerslam before tagging in Bulldog. Davey met Tatanka in the ring and hammered away and then planted him with the running powerslam but DiBiase yanked his charge out of the ring. Everything broke down and all four men brawled, leading to a double count out. This was pretty boring and Luger again looks like a job boy as he got jumped to start and then worked over by some lazy Tatanka offense for nearly all of the match. This was just boring more than anything else and that bear hug tells you all you need to know. Grade: *1/2

*** Todd Pettengill is in the house with this week’s Royal Rumble Report. The big show in Tampa is just three weeks away and the card is nearly rounded into shape. Todd says he is sick of football and that the 49ers should just be crowned champions now and save everyone some time. He also reminds us that Pamela Anderson will be hosting the show. Here are the matches discussed:

Diesel vs. Bret Hart – WWF Title
Razor Ramon vs. Jeff Jarrett – Intercontinental Title

Undertaker vs. IRS
TBD vs. TBD – WWF Tag Team Titles

Royal Rumble Match: Lex Luger, Doink, Bob Backlund, King Kong Bundy, Dick Murdoch, Aldo Montoya, Duke Droese, Kwang, Adam Bomb, Henry Godwinn, British Bulldog, Shawn Michaels, Mabel, Mo, 1-2-3 Kid, Bob Holly, Butch, Luke

And remember, this year’s Rumble match will feature new entrants hitting the ring every sixty seconds. The Rumble will be here before you know it so call your cable company today! ***

*** The Roadie comes down to ringside to test out Jeff Jarrett’s equipment at ringside. ***

2) Duke Droese defeats Mike Bell with the Trash Compactor at 1:34

Scott: The Roadie is setting up equipment for Jeff Jarrett to sing later tonight as our next match is starting up. The Duke is in the Royal Rumble in 20 days, along with myriad other guys. Also announced is that Jarrett will get an Intercontinental Title shot against Razor Ramon. Gorilla mentions that there will be only 1:00 intervals between wrestlers. The Duke wins easily. Grade: DUD

JT: Up next we have Duke Droese taking on good old Mike Bell. The Dumpster will be in the Rumble match this year and Shawn informs us that Pamela Anderson will be escorting the Rumble winner into the WWF Title match at WrestleMania. We get some chatter about the Rumble, including the new interval durations, and Michaels then regales us with this week’s USA plug: the all new series Tek War, starring William Shatner and airing Saturday night at 7pm. Gorilla then tells us Shatner will be on Raw next week to help celebrate the second anniversary of the show. Duke wins the match easily with the Trash Compactor. Grade: DUD

*** We check out a vignette promoting the soon-to-be-debuting Supreme Fighting Machine Kama. ***

*** Gorilla Monsoon delivers our update on the Tag Team Title tournament. Bam Bam Bigelow and Tatanka have advanced and will battle the Headshrinkers, who just knocked off Owen Hart and Jim Neidhart by disqualification this past weekend. Well Dunn and the Smoking Gunns will battle this weekend with the winner battling the Heavenly Bodies in the semifinals. ***

*** Jerry Lawler heads to the ring for this week’s King’s Court. As usual, he mocks the fans and then brings out his guest, Owen Hart. Lawler asks Owen if he has a royal new year’s proclamation and he just says “Happy New Year” and moves on. They discuss Owen’s acting performance at Survivor Series and Owen says it was all part of his master plan to close out a great 1994. Over the course of the year he defeated Bret Hart at WrestleMania, won King of the Ring and then cost his brother the WWF Title in San Antonio. Owen then reveals a big, important scoop: he will be Tag Team, Intercontinental and WWF Champion all at the same time and won’t lose the titles or quit like his brother. He will retire as champion. He guarantees he will be the winner of the Royal Rumble, officially entering himself into the match, and doesn’t expect his brother to be WWF Champion after the show. ***

3) Jeff Jarrett defeats Buck Quartermaine via submission with the figure four at 2:51

Scott: We are about to hear Jeff Jarrett sing for the very first time, but first we have to see him take care of some stiff with a great name. We find out that our tag team opener will be restarted after the match, as Jarrett wins with the figure four. Grade: DUD

JT: We head back to the ring where Jeff Jarrett and the Roadie are strutting down to the ring for our next match. Double J is set to battle Buck Quartermaine and then finally sing live for us after the match. Gorilla reveals that Bret Hart will be in the house on Raw next week. Michaels talks about how Jarrett walked away from Nashville and has been embraced by Las Vegas as Gorilla puts over his wrestling ability. Gorilla also reminds us that the tag match that opened the show will reconvene after this bout per the request of the competitors. He then claims Jarrett stole his strut from “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers, who also invented the figure four. Jarrett mops up Quartermaine with ease and finishes him with the figure four. Grade: DUD

*** During the break, Roadie set up the singing equipment in the ring and when we return, Jeff Jarrett has his guitar and is conducting microphone checks. Jarrett and Roadie stumble around and knock over the microphone stand and then demand a spotlight and mood lighting. Jarrett gets some feedback as he bitches at the techs and Gorilla Monsoon asks where Kevin Dunn is when you need him. Jarrett finally has enough and leaves the ring. ***

*** Super Dave Osborne joins us to talk about his brand new show on USA, “Super Dave’s Vegas Spectacular”, which debuts this Saturday night. We then see clips from the premier episode where Super Dave gets into an argument with a local critic and then messes up his big stunt. ***

4) Lex Luger & British Bulldog defeat Tatanka & Bam Bam Bigelow when Smith pins Tatanka after a collision with Bigelow at 11:13

Scott: This match was requested to continue by Lex & Bulldog, which tells you this is the last show of the evening’s taping and they kind of threw in the towel and instead of doing something fresh, they throw the same guys out for the ending as well. They’re really promoting Bigelow & Tatanka as the big heel team, while Shawn throws some shade at Lex for being the least talented guy in the promotion. That’s funny, if not somewhat true. Bigelow is looking good, drilling Luger with headbutts. Bulldog definitely looks like the better guy in this match as Luger played face in peril very well and Bulldog was getting all the hot tags. Then we get some heel miscommunication as Tatanka is Irish whipped into Bigelow on the apron, and Bulldog gets the pinfall for the victory. After the match Bigelow gets laid into by DiBiase for the miscommunication, and that’s how we are out! Grade: *

JT: When we return from break, our opening tag match has already resumed and yet again, Lex Luger is getting his shit kicked in by Bam Bam Bigelow. Michaels makes a crack about Luger getting pummeled again and I can’t blame him at this point. Luger looks like a goof. Tatanka comes in and keeps on the offensive as the crowd tries to rally Luger the best they can. Bigelow comes back and drops three hard falling headbutts to Lex for a near fall. He follows that up with a leg drop for two as Gorilla asks Shawn if he knows of “Hooked on Phonics” but Shawn says he is “hooked on chicks”. After a break, Luger is still getting smacked around as Gorilla says a loss here so close to the Tag Team Title tournament semifinal could rattle Tatanka and Bigelow. Luger finally gets a break thanks to some miscommunication and he is able to tag in Bulldog, who cleans house yet again. Bulldog gets a near fall on Tatanka but Bigelow makes the save, leading to Luger clotheslining Bammer to the floor. A moment later, Bulldog whipped Tatanka into Bigelow, who was standing on the apron, and then covered the Native American for the win. After the match, DiBiase and Tatanka berate Bigelow at ringside. This was somehow even more boring than the match that opened the show. Lex Luger is going nowhere fast and you could argue the Bulldog was hurt by being linked to him right now. Bigelow was trying out there but that was about it. Grade: *

Final Analysis

Scott: Our first Raw of the new year is solid enough, although needing the same match twice is a bit much I think. As I’ve mentioned 1995 will be a enigmatic year in WWF history, similar to 1984 was. The only problem is that back then the roster was filling up with stars from other territories that were already established. This time the unproven WWF Champion is surrounded by a finite number of proven commodities and a lot of, well, let’s say fluff. Having low mid card guys dressed as clowns and bulls is not a long term solution to balance. I like Diesel, and the crowd seems to be into him as well, and his first big PPV match needs to be against a proven guy like Bret Hart. However, Raws with the same boring match twice isn’t going to fly. I’ll grade this better than it probably needs to be because I’m an optimist. Final Grade: C+

JT: This was not the best start to 1995. However, like the year before, the second episode of the new year seems to be the one to focus on as it is always going to be the anniversary episode. This one was canned and very, very stale and there was nothing in the ring to save it. The big anchor match (or matches in this case) was not good at all, especially when you consider all the time it took up. Those guys all seemed to just be burnt out. Gorilla Monsoon was fine even though he feels so out of place and a bit more forced than he used to be. He hits his lines so fast and hard that it really feels completely scripted instead of free flowing. And honestly, Shawn Michaels has been the true highlight of this last month’s worth of Raws. He is funny with ease and also keep the show on track, not just putting himself over but also doing a nice job focusing on the storylines that he needs to get over. He has been refreshing and the best part of the show. The King’s Court was fine too but didn’t really accomplish much of anything. We thankfully are getting the fuck out of Liberty and hopefully a live anniversary episode next week will get us back on track. Final Grade: C-