Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Monday Night Raw 3/6/95

*** 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 #101

March 6, 1995 (Taped February 20, 1995)
Macon Coliseum
Macon, GA
Announcers: Vince McMahon & Jim Cornette

*** We open with quick clips from last week’s WrestleMania Press Conference where it was made official that Lawrence Taylor and Bam Bam Bigelow would wrestle at WrestleMania XI. ***

1) Shawn Michaels defeats British Bulldog with the Superkick at 17:43

Fun Fact: As you will recall, Shawn and Bulldog were the final two in the ring at the Royal Rumble back in January, and of course it was British Bulldog who Shawn Michaels defeated on the final Saturday Night’s Main Event to win his first Intercontinental Championship in 1992.

Scott: Over two years after these two wrestled on the last Saturday Night’s Main Event, the Royal Rumble winner and the Royal Rumble runner-up face each other. I love how Vince McMahon says British Bulldog was the true Rumble winner, even though Shawn Michaels won fair and square. Once again, another chink in the WWF’s armor, where Michaels won the Rumble fair and square, but because he’s a heel we have to discredit it. It’s kind of hard to discredit it when it was pretty cut and dry. Bulldog’s “moment of glory” was stolen from him, so he should just win the Rumble, even though Shawn wasn’t technically eliminated. That kind of pitiful analysis works fine in 1995 but as time progresses fans will tire of the whole “babyfaces win everything” philosophy. Jim Cornette is scared of Sid as he stalks the ring while the match is going on. Shawn tries to work Bulldog’s arm but in a pretty badass test of strength, Bulldog lifts Shawn up with one arm and drops him. Shawn eventually gets control back and is trying to strike the heck out of Bulldog while Sid continues to stalk around ringside. Bulldog tries to get control with a sleeper but Shawn backs him into the turnbuckle to get control back. Cornette says this match is going too far as OH MY GOD closed fists are being thrown. I never realized how sugary this commentary was, even if it was insulting to the fans’ intelligence. Bulldog draped Shawn’s crotch over the top rope and was in full control, until Sid smashed him into the ring post when the referee wasn’t looking and the stunned Bulldog was hit with the Superkick and Michaels gets the big win. This was a great back and forth battle with solid commentary and two great workers. Grade: ***

JT: Welcome to another episode of Monday Night Raw! We are coming to you via some very stale videotape this week, once again in Macon, GA. Vince McMahon and Jim Cornette are still in the booth to help discuss the night’s activities and we open up with a pretty big match as Shawn Michaels battles the British Bulldog in a rematch of sorts from the Royal Rumble. Of course, we all know the shenanigans by now, Michaels barely hung on to win the bout, last eliminating Bulldog, who thought he had won. They also crossed paths in a battle royal on Superstars but now they go one-on-one to settle the score. Michaels has also been feeling the heat as a marked man heading to WrestleMania and thus has employed Psycho Sid as his bodyguard, so Bulldog does have the odds stacked on him here tonight. Vince thinks the Bulldog was robbed of glory and will be looking for revenge tonight. Sid had a great presence here and was a good fit to be aligned with Michaels. We open with a quick burst of offense from both men that ends with Bulldog using his power advantage to shoot Michaels hard into the corner and out to the floor. Michaels regroups and then is able to trip up Bulldog and take control of the bout. A moment later, Bulldog was able to dodge a charge and whip Michaels around with arm drags before clotheslining Shawn hard to the floor and into the arms of Sid. After some consoling, Michaels slid inside but Bulldog cranked on a side headlock and ground away at it. Michaels wriggled free and started to work the arm but after a break Bulldog powered up and hoisted Shawn up while still in the hold. Bulldog dropped back, rattling Michaels on the mat and then shooting him all over the ring again. Bulldog worked a surfboard submission and then went to a chinlock as Cornette talked about how Michaels really needs to stop absorbing so much punishment if he wants to survive here. Bulldog would back drop Michaels over the top but Sid caught him and placed him on the apron, allowing him to pop Bulldog in the face and get a slingshot splash for two.

Bulldog regained control and hoisted Michaels up into a big delayed vertical suplex for a close near fall but Michaels recovered and leveraged him to the floor to turn the tide. Back inside, Michaels went to work as Vince makes a crack about MLB using scab players due to the ongoing player strike. Michaels continued to lay in strikes and pick up near falls while mixing in a chinlock along the way. Michaels grabbed a near fall on a hard clothesline and then hammered away aggressively before going back to the chinlock, which eventually morphed into a sleeper. Sid got involved here, stopping Bulldog from breaking the hold via the ropes but after a break, Bulldog had worked free and started to make his comeback. Bulldog tried a sleeper but Michaels used the corner to bust that up and then levied some elbows and chokes. A moment later, Michaels whiffed on a charge and slammed into the post shoulder first. He turned around and walked into a series of clotheslines that nearly cost him the match. Bulldog stayed hot, pressing Michaels high into the air and then dropping him crotch first across the top rope. He followed up with a headbutt for a near fall but Michaels was able to shove him outside and then distract the official so Sid could ram Bulldog hard into the post. Bulldog slowly got up and rolled inside but Michaels grabbed him into a small package for two. A dazed Bulldog fought back up but Michaels cracked him with the superkick for the win. That was a really fun match and I liked that Sid played a key role in the finish to help show his effectiveness heading into Mania. Bulldog again gets hosed by Shawn but this was one of his best matches since his return. The only thing it was lacking to really get to that next level was a hotter comeback sequence into the finish as the way it played out felt a bit flat. Still, this was better than most stuff we have seen on Raw of late, which should be no surprise given the competitors involved. Grade: ***

*** Todd Pettengill is in the house to recap last Tuesday’s WrestleMania Press Conference at the Harley Davidson Cafe in an icy New York City. Hundreds of fans and media were on hand as we heard from Diesel, Shawn Michaels, Bam Bam Bigelow and Lawrence Taylor. Todd also discusses the following information about WrestleMania XI:

Diesel vs. Shawn Michaels – WWF Title
Lawrence Taylor vs. Bam Bam Bigelow

And on hand in Hartford will be the following celebrities as well: Pamela Anderson (accompanying Shawn Michaels), Nicholas Turturro, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Jenny McCarthy and Fishbone (National Anthem). ***

2) Bob Backlund defeats Buck Quartermain via submission with the Cross Face Chicken Wing at 5:50

Scott: Before the match we had highlights from the WrestleMania XI press conference last week, and LT officially accepted Bam Bam Bigelow’s challenge for April 2 in Hartford. Only that and the WWF Title match are on the card for now, which means much more is to follow in the next four weeks. Well never mind, as Vince just announced that Backlund will face Bret Hart in an “I Quit” match. So make that three matches. Then, Vince announced Undertaker will face King Kong Bundy. So, four matches. Jesus Vince, why not have a segment or a King’s Court to set these matches up instead of randomly just barking them out in the middle of a match? You have a few weeks to set them up. It doesn’t have to be Raw, you can do it on the syndies over the weekend or something. Backlund and Quartermain have a decent match, and Backlund wins with the Chicken Wing. Grade: 1/2*

JT: We head back to the ring as Bob Backlund is set to battle with Buck Quartermain. Jim Cornette is all worked up over the press conference and is not a fan of Lawrence Taylor in any way. Cornette also reveals some members of LT’s All Pro Team that will be on hand to offset the Million Dollar Corporation at ringside. As Cornette continues to rant, Backlund is working over Quartermain with ease, just messing with him as well. Vince now announces that Backlund will be at WrestleMania as well and he will be wrestling Bret Hart in an I Quit match. He and Cornette go over the rules for that grudge match, a rematch from Survivor Series. Vince notes that neither Backlund nor Hart have ever quit in a match. Cornette talks about the band Fishbone as Vince reveals another WrestleMania match that was announced on Action Zone: Undertaker vs. King Kong Bundy. Looks like the card is finally taking shape here. The crowd is all over Backlund as this match has been filled with antics and stalling in between some chain wrestling. Backlund eventually hooked in the CFCW and got the easy win, eventually forcing Quartermain to say he quits. Backlund looks primed and ready for what should be his final showdown with Bret Hart at WrestleMania. Grade: DUD

3) Duke Droese defeats Steven Dunn with a tilt-a-whirl slam at 3:55

Scott: It was just announced that Bret Hart and Jerry Lawler will meet next week on Raw, a feud that’s close to two years old. Jerry Lawler gets on the phone and slams Bret to pump up next week’s match while these two stiffs are fumbling around in the ring. Did anyone tell Well Dunn that their tights looked like Speedos? Terrible, utterly terrible. Duke wins. Grade: DUD

JT: And we are right back to ringside for our final match of the evening as Duke Droese marches out to battle the one and only Steven Dunn, a true main event anywhere in the country. As we get under way, Cornette plugs Duckman on USA, so check that out. Jerry Lawler then calls in for a chat about his big match with Bret Hart on next week’s show. He talks shit on the Hitman and again reiterates that Hart is a racist. Dunn gets some offense in after Wippleman runs interference as Lawler continues ranting with an assist from Cornette. Vince eventually has enough of the King’s comments and hangs up on him. Dunn meanders through some offense until Droese makes a comeback and grabs the win with the Trash Compactor. Dunn tries to attack Droese with the trash can after the bout but Droese tepidly fights him off. Duke then finds a $100 bill in the trash that fell out of the can. This was just a match that went nowhere between two dead in the water gimmick wrestlers. Grade: DUD

*** We check out a vignette of Nicholas Turturro interrogating Paul Bearer (in drag) and Mr. Fuji about an unsolved crime. After some Undertaker antics, Fuji ends up in the dress and gets arrested. ***

Final Analysis

Scott: This was a good episode with solid in-ring work and strong Mania advancement, although the show is starting to get a stale feel. The open isn’t snazzy anymore and the arena needs a better look. Raw needs a special feel and it just doesn’t have it right now. It looks like a Monday night syndie show and always feels like it (even when it’s live). However this particular episode had a solid Michaels/Bulldog match that solidified both guys as stud workers in the company. Plus, Bob Backlund made Buck Quartermain feel like, well not a million bucks, but better than crap. Jim Cornette was a great counter for Vince, and a change of pace from the rotating guests we have had. The WrestleMania build has been good, if not slightly scattered. However, the aesthetics of the show needs to get better. Final Grade: B-

JT: Well I guess this was a bit better than last week’s episode but things still feel bland overall. At least this episode had a pretty good match between Shawn Michaels and British Bulldog that ate up nearly half the show, so we get a bump there. All of the Mania stuff was pretty solid too, as we spent a good chance of time on the press conference and ensuing fallout. We also had Vince just blurt out a couple of other matches too so the card is rounding into shape a bit as we are less than a month away at this point. The roster management still feels way off across the board and the mid card is filled with guys going nowhere, but at the least the top of the card has had laser focus and will seemingly be asked to carry the show in Hartford. We are also loading up on celebrities to help mask the lack of depth as well. Until next week… Final Grade: B-