Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Monday Night Raw 9/11/95

*** 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 #126

September 11, 1995 (Taped August 28, 1995)
Canton Civic Center
Canton, OH
Announcers: Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler

Monday Night War Report: Last week (9/4), WCW debuted their new Monday Nitro program at the Mall of America in Minneapolis, MN. It ran unopposed with Raw being preempted due to the US Open tennis tournament. 1) Flyin’ Brian defeats Jushin Thunder Liger (6:52); 2) WCW United States Heavyweight Title Match – Sting (c) vs. Ric Flair (8:43) – No Contest; 3) WCW World Heavyweight Title Match – Hulk Hogan (w/Jimmy Hart) (c) defeats Big Bubba Rogers (7:08). Lex Luger made a surprise appearance during the Sting/Flair match and returned at the end of the Hogan/Bubba match to help clear the ring. Luger had been working in the WWF without a contract and made the move after Eric Bischoff contacted him as a favor to Sting. Nitro scored a surprising 2.9 rating in its first week.

This week is the first head-to-head confrontations between the two companies. Nitro this week is in the Knight Center in Miami, FL. Since Raw was recorded back in August, Eric Bischoff got the results and pulled the underhanded move of announcing the results of the Raw show at the beginning of Nitro. 1) Alex Wright defeats Sabu by DQ (3:58); 2) WCW United States Heavyweight Title Match – Sting defeats VK Wallstreet (4:13); 3) Randy Savage defeats Scott Norton (5:39); 4) WCW World Heavyweight Title Match – Hulk Hogan (c) defeats Lex Luger by DQ (5:28). Nitro would win the first head-to-head confrontation with Raw 2.5 to 2.2.

Head-to-Head Ratings Scorecard: Nitro 1 – Raw 0

Fun Fact: This episode of Raw is the first to be shown on Sky Sports in the United Kingdom.

Fun Fact II: On September 7, 1995, only days before the “season opener” and first head to head battle with Turner and on the heels of Lex Luger’s defection, the WWF attempted a very ambitious production: Raw on the Roof. The idea was to have a rooftop party where WWF superstars were battling on top of WWF headquarters in Stamford, CT. Prior to the shoot, a crane was used to lift the ring equipment from the ground to the roof. A helicopter was brought in to capture footage of the event while fans from the surrounding area were brought in as extras. The end result is one of the more iconic openings in Monday Night Raw history.

1) British Bulldog defeated Razor Ramon via disqualification at 7:10

Scott: Wow, what a difference three weeks makes! The new fall season of Raw looks completely fresh with a new opening and music welcoming us into the episode. The show really needed a fresh opening after over two and a half years. It’s also the first Raw on Sky Sports in the UK, so lots of new things. Of course, this is the second week of WCW’s new show, Monday Nitro. Maybe Raw will get a bit better with some competition. This is a fun opener between the Bad Guy and Jim Cornette’s shiny new heel toy. Bulldog look so much better with less bulk and all that hair cut. It was certainly an interesting cliffhanger on the last Raw with Bulldog’s heel turn. Diesel is still World Champion and Shawn Michaels is still IC Champ after a great ladder match at SummerSlam. Bulldog is working Razor over with body slams and suplexes. Vince & King are definitely not there as the green screen they were in front of in the open was pretty obvious and this was taped the night after SummerSlam. Hell, I’d have given the talent the next couple Mondays off. Razor tries to make the comeback, but Dean Douglas (who had issues with Razor at SummerSlam) came out to attack Razor while the referee was out. Dean then attacked the 1-2-3 Kid, who came to help but pretty much sucked at it. The Kid attacked Bulldog but apparently, the referee saw that and called for the bell. The Kid got beat down by the Bulldog and after the commercial, some tension has grown between Razor and Kid due to what happened during this match. Meanwhile, Bulldog is definitely getting pushed to the moon. Grade: *1/2

JT: Welcome back to Monday Night Raw! It has been a long three weeks, SummerSlam has come and gone and it is also the brand new fall season for the WWF! Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler have the call but first, we kick things off with brand new music and opening sequence, including some new faces, which was sorely needed to freshen the show up. With WCW coming on strong with their new Monday night show and Sky Sports picking Raw up, it was time to mix things up and give Raw a new look and feel. All that said, this is still a taped episode, and we see that evidenced by clips of what is to come later in the show taking us to breaks. We open things up with a pretty big match as Razor Ramon, fresh off a tough loss at SummerSlam, battles the suddenly red-hot heel British Bulldog. Bulldog’s new look is great with a short, cropped hair cut and full tights befitting his sudden serious push. Vince mentions that we will learn more about the next In Your House coming up later as the match gets underway. Ramon tries to work the arm a bit but the two end up trading some early blows until the Bad Guy clothesline Bulldog hard to the floor. Lawler is gushing over Bulldog’s resume as Ramon continues to work the arm and smack Davey Boy around. Bulldog eventually turned the tide and dropped Ramon with a nice delayed vertical suplex. Vince wonders if Ramon is healed from SummerSlam yet and Bulldog must be thinking the same because he starts to zero in on the lower back. Bulldog fended off a comeback with a clothesline and got a two count as Vince mentions the Bad Guy will battle Dean Douglas “later this month”. After a break, Bulldog was still using his strength to dominate but Ramon would block a powerslam attempt for a two count. Bulldog popped up and regained control until he got caught and slammed off the top rope. Ramon heated up and started working through his big offense and attempting pin covers as well. The ref eventually got wiped out but after Ramon dropped Bulldog with the Razor’s Edge, Dean Douglas ran in and hammered Razor in the head with a blow from the top rope. 1-2-3 Kid came out as well but Douglas murdered him as soon as he entered the ring. Bulldog would hit the powerslam but Kid tried to make the save but ended up splashing Ramon by accident. The ref so it and called for the DQ, giving the win to Davey Boy. After the bell, Bulldog worked over both men and then headed out. The match was fine enough and was kept short but the post-match was all sorts of interesting. We saw Dean Douglas in the arena for the first time and he made a strong impact right away, looking hard hitting and crisp and just eviscerating Kid. Bulldog also looked strong throughout the match and after too. Fine match, great post-match. Grade: *1/2

*** Vince McMahon heads to the ring to chat with Razor Ramon and 1-2-3 Kid. He reveals that Ramon will battle Dean Douglas at In Your House and then recaps what has happened here tonight, with Kid inadvertently costing Ramon the bout tonight, plus other issues with the Dean from this past weekend. Kid said he didn’t cost Ramon the match and adds that Razor always treats him like a little kid. He wasn’t taken seriously the first time he beat Ramon but if he beats him again next week maybe he will be. Kid officially challenges his buddy to a bout next week so he can gain his respect and Ramon then accepts. Ramon also addresses his issues with Dean Douglas as well. ***

2) The Smoking Gunns defeated Rad Radford & the Brooklyn Brawler at 2:46 when Billy Gunn pins Brawler with the Sidewinder

Scott: So maybe NOW the Smoking Gunns will get a Tag Title shot with Owen Hart & Yokozuna? I’m so confused as to why they just wrestle jobbers on all the WWF TV shows and they haven’t gotten a title match since IYH #1. They are truly the only babyface tag team in this company and we never see them really getting pushed. It’s so bizarre. It’s Tom Landry’s birthday, honor the hat. Dallas was the Super Bowl favorite going into the 1995 season (well, along with I the 49ers, since they were the defending champs). This was a squash, like all Gunns matches are. Grade: DUD

JT: We head back to the ring as the Smoking Gunns head out to battle Rad Radford and Brooklyn Brawler as Vince talks up the fan-friendly Gorilla Monsoon in his role as interim President. Lawler gives props to Dean Douglas for stirring the shit between Ramon and Kid as things get underway. Brawler and Radford started aggressively but their offense was short lived as the Gunns quickly rebounded and took over. We get some pop culture talk on commentary as Brawler gets a bit of offense in but again, it ends swiftly. Vince wishes Tom Landry a happy birthday as the Gunns quickly win it with the Sidewinder. Another squash, another win… but when will the Gunns be given something of substance? Grade: DUD

*** We head out to the Hollywood Hills, where Goldust stands amidst the darkness of night to call out the Undertaker and talk about his impending arrival in the WWF. ***

3) Isaac Yankem DDS pinned Scott Taylor at 2:14 with the DDS

Scott: The evil dentist wrestles his first RAW match in a squash against Scott Taylor. Yankem and Bret Hart worked a solid match at SummerSlam, again proving the Hitman can wrestle anybody and is the best worker in the company. Predictable squash here. Grade: DUD

JT: Back to the ring, we are joined by Isaac Yankem for his Raw debut. As he enters, we revisit SummerSlam where Yankem was disqualified against Bret Hart, thanks to an assist from the King. Lawler puts over his dentist as Yankem just overpowers Scott Taylor, pummeling him from bell to bell. This episode certainly has a fresh feel to it, from the look and presentation right to the refreshing of the roster. It sounds like Hart’s issues with Lawler and Yankem are slated to roll on. Grade: DUD

*** Todd Pettengill is in the house to talk about In Your House #3, which is just two weeks away. The show will come to us from Saginaw, MI and here are the matches discussed:

Diesel & Shawn Michaels vs. Yokozuna & Owen Hart – Triple Header Title Match
Razor Ramon vs. Dean Douglas

Bret Hart vs. Jean-Pierre Lafitte
Bam Bam Bigelow vs. British Bulldog
Savio Vega vs. Waylon Mercy

Order right now because time is ticking before the WWF is back in your house! ***

*** Barry Didinsky is in the aisle, promoting a Shawn Michaels leather cap and sunglasses package deal, available for purchase tonight! ***

4) WWF IC Champion Shawn Michaels pinned Sid at 9:00 after hitting three Superkicks

Scott: This match was originally slated for SummerSlam, but obviously the ladder match was going to make the card better so we have it here on the season premiere of Raw. Shawn Michaels will at least make Sid look somewhat decent, but let’s be honest about Sid, and for that matter the rest of the Corporation: what a pitiful collection of heels in that stable. Sid isn’t the cool NWA Sid that I love, nor is he even the WWF heel from 1991-92. After losing the lumberjack match in July, he’s been pretty much forgotten. The rest of the stable is full of bums who all lost at SummerSlam. And with Bulldog joining Owen Hart & Yokozuna in Camp Cornette, Jimmy C has taken over (in my opinion) as the top manager. Shawn started the match hopping around and dodging and weaving Sid, but eventually the big guy takes over with slow clubbing blows. He puts Shawn in a pretty sad bear hug and then a chokeslam. I thought at this point, that Sid may become the IC Champion and maybe let this feud keep going for a while. Then again with the IYH main event already announced that kind of killed the buzz for this match. Shawn avoids the powerbomb and starts hitting Sid with quick strikes. The last few minutes are pretty good as Sid starts taking all these big moves and is fighting the finishers but after three superkicks he succumbs and Shawn retains his title. This match started off slow but the last few minutes picked up and ended up being a fun one. Grade: **1/2

JT: It is time for our last match of the night as Sid stalks to the ring, looking to win the Intercontinental Title from Shawn Michaels, something he was robbed of the chance to do at SummerSlam. Michaels gets a big pop as always and Vince reminds us of the history between these two. Michaels gets off to a fast start, using his speed to frustrate Sid and keep him off balance, firing up the crowd along the way. Sid eventually tumbles out of the ring and consults with Ted DiBiase before slowly climbing back inside. Michaels maintains control, working a headlock and sending Sid bailing out yet again. Back inside, Sid eventually caught a leaping Michaels and spiked him hard to the mat to shift the momentum. The challenger started to unload his power offense, clobbering Michaels and chucking him down to the floor, where DiBiase met him with some boots. After a break, Sid had Michaels trapped in a bear hug, grinding away at the lower back. Michaels escaped the hold but Sid followed up with a hard chokeslam. The challenger loaded up the powerbomb but Michaels escaped and started to pepper in some shots and he worked through his comeback. Michaels was aggressive and quick paced in his assault and eventually finished Sid with a trio of superkicks to retain his gold. DiBiase looked forlorn at ringside, at a loss for words as his crown jewel loses yet another title match. Sid is pretty cooked at this point, clearly being shuffled down the card as Michaels emphatically and cleanly put this feud to bed. The match was OK but felt so… just obvious and paint by numbers, which is never a good sign for a Michaels match during this stretch. Grade: **

*** Diesel and Shawn Michaels celebrate backstage as Dok Hendrix asks them about the big Triple Header match at In Your House. ***

Final Analysis:

Scott: This was a fun Raw, mostly because 1) We have a fresh open and a new set, and 2) the presence of another wrestling show that’s now going up against it. WCW Monday Nitro could be a kick in the pants that the WWF needs to get this show going. The roster is still fairly average, particularly in the mid-card but perhaps this fresh British Bulldog heel turn will do some wonders for the show and the roster itself. Diesel vanquishes Mabel in another forgettable PPV title match and while the champ is still getting pops on Raw, his matches are getting progressively worse. Maybe he needs Bret Hart back in the mix, instead of Bret wrestling dentists and pirates. Shawn & Sid put on a solid TV match to finish things off. This was a fun episode and hopefully, with new aesthetics and some TV competition, we can turn a corner. Final Grade: B-

JT: After the summer malaise we experienced, getting some new life breathed into Raw was a very welcome sign. From the new open to the new presentation to some of the new faces and shaken on roster, it very much felt like the WWF was getting a bit defensive about its new competition. I do find it interesting how much they are now embracing being a taped show, as they air clips of matches to come both during the show and at the end when they preview next week’s episode. It is a curious touch for sure. Either way, they are continuing to try new stuff and the main event of IYH3 is a shrewd one that protects Diesel, ensures he gets a good reaction and  gets him away from the big, sluggish opponents he has been saddled with since WrestleMania. I am also glad Sid is being phased down as he is clearly checked out and it caused our main event to suffer. He has quickly become a non-entity. We will see if they can keep the momentum up going forward but for one night, anyway, things felt like they were looking up. Final Grade: C+

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