Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Monday Night Raw 7/24/95

*** 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 #121

July 24, 1995
Louisville Gardens
Louisville, KY
Announcers: Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler

1) Shawn Michaels defeats Jimmy Del Ray with the Superkick at 5:23 in a non-title match

Scott: We open Raw, complete with a new set that has the big RAW letters at the back of the aisle, with our NEW Intercontinental Champion. Shawn Michaels beat Jeff Jarrett last night at IYH to once again be Intercontinental Champion. Shawn opens the show with a match against half of a tag team that used to be pretty cool but have fallen on hard times and are simply fodder for other teams. Shawn is off to a hot start but the Gigolo starts to take control and work Shawn over but eventually the champ makes the hot comeback and hits SCM for the victory. Shawn winning the IC Title has definitely jacked the energy of the show up, After the win… he starts stripping out of his tights? Ok, that’s unusual. He wins the match, but we have no idea what he’s doing in the ring. Grade: *

JT: Hey! We are finally back live here on Monday Night Raw, less than 24 hours removed from In Your House and coming at you from Louisville, KY. Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler are in the booth and we waste no time at all before we are graced with an appearance from the brand new Intercontinental Champion, Shawn Michaels. We also now have a brand new set as the big RAW letters have been positioned near the entranceway. Michaels is defending against Jimmy Del Ray here as the Gigolo is accompanied by Tom Prichard and Jim Cornette, naturally. Vince is pretty fired up here tonight and is gushing over IYH, a stark turn from his apology over King of the Ring a month ago. We get some feeling out to start as Vince and King talk about Michaels now being a target as champion. Del Ray gets a bit fancy by walking the top rope and trying to spring through an arm bar but Shawn just shrugs it off and clotheslines him to the floor. Michaels pops him with a baseball slide dropkick and then comes out and rattles both Bodies together. Back inside, Del Ray turns the tide and starts to lay in some strikes and getting an assist from Dr. Tom from the floor. Michaels came back with a sunset flip for two but Del Ray mowed him down with a kick to the face to maintain control. Del Ray nabbed a couple near falls and then went to a chinlock as King talks about Apollo 13. Michaels powers out of the hold but Del Ray slams him down and then heads up top but whiffs on a big splash. Michaels unloads with a flurry and fends off Dr. Tom and then finishes the challenger off with the Superkick to retain his newfound gold. This was nothing special but Michaels is clearly on another level at this point and it was smart to push him even harder than they had in the past. Grade: *

*** We revisit footage from last night where Jeff Jarrett sung “With My Baby Tonight” live in his hometown. Vince McMahon says there are rumors that Jarrett was lip synching and tells us that he was booed by his hometown fans. Jarrett’s tough night continued as he lost his Intercontinental Title to Shawn Michaels and then blamed the Roadie for the loss. Later in the night, Dok Hendrix was trying to sort out what was going on and overheard Roadie admit to singing the song, not Jarrett. McMahon says rumor has it that Jarrett will never sing again. ***

*** We revisit the ongoing feud between Bret Hart and Hakushi. ***

2) Smoking Gunns defeat John Faulkner & Rick Stockhauser when Billy pins Faulkner with the Sidewinder at 1:45

Scott: It’s starting to be about time for the Smoking Gunns to get back in the Tag Team Title picture and receive a shot against Owen Hart & Yokozuna. Vince announces that the WWF and America Online teamed up to have online interviews. Interesting how Vince works with AOL now, and six years later AOL would indirectly help Vince in another way. We’ll get to that down the line. Anyway, we really haven’t seen much of the Gunns since losing at IYH #1 to Owen & Yoko. Speaking of the champions, they successfully defended the titles against the Allied Powers last night in Nashville. Even though their finisher is sloppy, but the Gunns win this one easily and perhaps they get their rematch at SummerSlam. Grade: DUD

JT: We head back to the ring as the Smoking Gunns jog out to battle John Faulkner and Rick Stockhauser. What unique jobber names. The Gunns have been aimless since the spring, always filling the ranks as stalwarts but only elevated when needed. Vince talks about the WWF’s new partnership with AOL, which is crazy to think about. It was definitely a big deal at the time and a shrewd move to get in directly with the company dominating the internet. Vince mentions the Blu Twins and then talks about the Gunns looking forward to a title match in the near future. Lawler butchers the names of the jobbers but that is about as interesting as this one gets. The Gunns pick up the easy win and based on the commentary it seems as if they are headed for a showdown with the Blus. Grade: DUD

*** Vince McMahon is with Barry Didinsky, who is pimping a Jeff Jarrett shirt and “With My Baby Tonight” cassette combo deal, available for you tonight. Get on this killer deal right now! ***

*** We get a brief vignette for the impending arrival of Goldust, featuring golden glitter and Howard Finkel’s voice only. That is followed with a visit to San Francisco, where Fatu takes us though his old neighborhood and talks about growing up in a tough situation. ***

3) Waylon Mercy defeats Gary Scott via submission with the sleeper hold at 2:01

Scott: It’s a shame, because Waylon Mercy is a pretty cool character, but I think the crowd is completely perplexed on what to do with him or how to react to him. Even Vince & King really don’t know what to do or how to analyze his matches. It’s fascinating. He wins this match easily but the crowd doesn’t really boo him, they kind of just stand there. It’s almost a neutral response. Grade: DUD

JT: As we head back to ringside, the bizarre Waylon Mercy glad-hands his way to the ring, smirking the whole way out. Vince calls him a con man and says he doesn’t care about any rules or regulations despite greeting the referee. He also shakes Gary Scott’s hands and then kicks him in the gut. Mercy is vicious in his attack as Vince reminds that he is undefeated thus far. He then plugs the Arnold Schwarzenegger marathon coming up on USA this Thursday and Friday evening. Mercy makes quick work of Scott, knocking him out with the sleeper to notch another win. Mercy rolls on and I am looking forward to him getting into some sort of feud or storyline to further develop his character. Grade: DUD

*** We visit with Todd Pettengill, who filed an In Your House report live from Nashville last night. He also plugs SummerSlam, coming to us live from Pittsburgh on August 27. We also hear from King Mabel, who issues a challenge to Diesel. ***

4) Bret Hart defeats Hakushi via submission with the Sharpshooter at 9:21

Fun Fact: This is a rematch of their battle at In Your House #1 on 5/14. Neither wrestler competed at the In Your House #2 event the night before this Raw, allowing them to go all-out.

Scott: Well this is a rematch we have long awaited since their gem back in May at IYH. Earlier I talked about needing new tag teams for title matches? Well next week on Raw Owen & Yoko will defend the titles, against Razor Ramon & Savio Vega! Another team of two singles guys. That’s not what we need right now. Other than the Smoking Gunns & Allied Powers, there’s no other babyface teams. A debate for another day. Meanwhile we have this awesome rematch, which includes Hakushi carrying around a Bret Hart mannequin head in a bag. Kind of bizarre, but that’s Hakushi. The match is a fun back and forth battle as neither guy gets more than a few minutes of advantage. During the match Vince announces (or half alludes) to Diesel defending the WWF Title against Mabel at SummerSlam August 27 in Pittsburgh. It wasn’t really announced but Mabel cut a promo on Diesel earlier in the show. Hakushi keeps up the pace with a steady diet of strikes, while Bret throws his body all over the place to take out Hakushi and Shinja. Hakushi tries to pull off the old Yoko nerve pinch but Bret elbows out of it but gets tossed to the floor. Hakushi planchas on Bret on the outside but Bret recovers and noggin knocks he and Shinja. Bret throws Hakushi back in the ring and works him over with his usual move set, but Hakushi recovers with a suplex but misses a top rope splash. Bret puts Hakushi to the top rope and hits a superplex. Bret ratchets the Sharpshooter and that finishes it. For good measure Bret piledrives Shinja to end the feud. That was a fun match that was slightly shorter than their IYH match but equally as good. As Bret celebrates, Jean-Pierre Lafitte just swiped the bag that had the fake Bret head in it. Very weird. Grade: ***

JT: We head to the ring for our final match of the evening as Bret Hart is set to battle with Hakushi in a hot rematch from IYH #1. Hart won that match but the feud continued when the White Angel got mixed up in both of the Hitman’s recent bouts with Jerry Lawler. As stated above, neither of these guys competed on PPV last night, so in some ways this is like a free PPV quality bonus match for us. Hakushi and Shinja are toting a bag around with a severed Bret Hart mannequin head, which makes quite the statement for sure. Hart seems unfazed as he chugs to the ring with his usual laser focus. Shinja runs some interference early, allowing Hakushi to jump the Hitman on the floor and running him into the railing. Back inside, Hakushi laid in some kicks but ate Bret’s knees as he tried an inverted splash off the middle rope. Hart popped up and hit an atomic drop and clothesline as he started to rev up. Lawler threatened to get involved as Hart worked over his nemesis in the ring. We get some discussion around Isaac Yankem and Vince wonders if we could see the evil dentist’s in ring debut at SummerSlam against the Hitman. Hakushi shoots Hart hard across the ring and the Hitman slides side first into the poll. After a break, Hakushi had full control, burying a handspring elbow into the chest of Hart. Lawler mocked some fans and the 1-2-3 Kid AND works in a Lonesome Dove joke as Hakushi barreled into Hart with a seated splash in the corner. Hart comes back with a Russian leg sweep but Hakushi kicks him back down and then wipes him out with a gut wrench backbreaker for two. Hakushi keeps focus on the back and lands a diving heabutt off the ropes for two as Vince tells us that Bret has never submitted in his entire career. Hakushi goes to a nerve hold but Bret fought free before Hakushi knocked him to the floor. After another break, Hakushi flew over the top with a beautiful leaping moonsault onto the Hitman on the floor. Bret fought him off out there and then climbed on the apron for a springboard splash onto both Hakushi and Shinja. Back inside, Bret went through his usual array of moves and picks up some near falls while also wiping out Shinja. Hakushi fought off Bret and went to the top rope but came up empty on a big splash. Bret popped up, hoisted Hakushi to the top rope and took him over with a nice superplex. A moment later, the Hitman hooked in the Sharpshooter and picked up the hard fought win. After the bell, Hart put a bow on things by burying Shinja with a nice piledriver. This was a really fun match as these two have tremendous chemistry and work so fluidly together. It is definitely one of the best Raw matches we have seen so far this year, and maybe since the show’s inception. Hart has definitely been utilized in a weird way so far in 1995 but at least we get matches like this to enjoy. Hakushi deserves more too, as he has looked great when given the chance to shine. Grade: ***1/2

*** After the match, Jean-Pierre Lafitte shows up and nabs the sack with the Bret Hart mannequin head in it. He saunters off as Hart celebrates. ***

*** We head to a makeshift classroom where Dean Douglas is on the scene and talks about how he will teach all in the WWF fraternity how to be great. He also mocks viewers that plagiarize and cheat and says he will be grading all of the WWF superstars because he has the knowledge to do it accurately. ***

*** Shawn Michaels joins us from backstage and talks about being the Intercontinental Champion while also trading jabs with Jerry Lawler. ***

Final Analysis

Scott: Our post-PPV Raw is undoubtedly one of the freshest episodes in recent memory. We have a brand new set with the big RAW letters as well as a new IC Champion and some really great in-ring action. I love that they did a great Hart/Hakushi rematch. The piledriver to Shinja was a great touch. Overall the roster is still a bit of a mess but the results from last night could be a step in the right direction. The Diesel/Sid match was a shit show and we have a Diesel/Mabel match that could be a complete pile of shit. We will see. This, however, is one of the best episodes of Raw in a while. Final Grade: B+

JT: Well, things are certainly changing here in the WWF. Shawn Michaels has the rocket strapped on him, but it isn’t fully engaged as he still has Diesel blocking the path in front of him. Old faces are slowly being phased down or out altogether as a new batch of talent is entering the company. Some of that talent is already here while others are being teased to arrive soon. There is a good deal of talent on this roster but it is still being mismanaged in many ways. King Mabel is seemingly the next man up for Diesel to vanquish, but after a lackluster series with the lumbering Sid, did that make sense? Why not let him face someone a bit faster or more unique first to mix things up before going back to a hoss challenger? Meanwhile, Bret Hart is marginalized into the mid card, the Undertaker is barely scene and the Allied Powers laid down in a poor showing the night before in Nashville. That is a lot of quality talent doing a whole bunch of nothing. The tag division is barren and needs teams made up of singles stars to stay competitive. Again, the pieces are there, they just weren’t arranged well at all. That said, these shows definitely hum along and are paced well and everything seems to have meaning and direction, even if that meaning and direction is ill advised most of the time. This was a good episode and felt fresh indicative of that change I mentioned earlier. Hopefully it continues. Until next time… Final Grade: B

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