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What the World Was Watching: The Action Zone – March 12, 1995

Men on a Mission say that they are excited to fight for the tag team titles on today’s show.  The Smoking Gunns do a lot of smiling and say that they will make Men on a Mission yell “Whoop, there they go!”

Jim Ross and Todd Pettengill are in the booth and they are broadcasting from a new taping location in North Charleston, West Virginia.  The tapings were done on February 22.

Opening Contest for the WWF Tag Team Championship:  The Smoking Gunns (Champions) (3-0-1) defeated Men on a Mission (w/Oscar) (4-0) when Billy pins Mo after rolling through a flying body press at 8:13 shown:

There are so few good heel teams to face the Gunns that they have had to defend their titles against babyface challengers and Men on a Mission are no exception.  Ross even draws attention to their prior tag title reign in 1994 when they briefly won the titles from the Quebecers, which reportedly was not supposed to even happen, and did because Pierre could not kick out from underneath a larger Mabel, during a tour of Europe.  The match features a false finish when the referee incorrectly counts a pinfall after Mabel squashes Bart with a Bossman slam and goes at a furious pace, with both teams exchanging double team maneuvers.  Mabel is the real MVP here, acting like a more agile Yokozuna, and selling his bumps as big moments.  The crowd seems to be more partisan for MOM, but the men in gold and purple fall short in their effort to win the titles when Mo’s high risk maneuver backfires.  The rating for this might be too high but this was eight minutes of chaos, and I loved how both teams managed to stay in babyface mode through the entire contest.  Rating:  ***½

After the bout, a frustrated Men on a Mission attack the Smoking Gunns, squashing both of them, and they ignore Oscar’s pleas to stop.  Ray Rougeau demands answers when they leave the ring and Mo just says that he needs to get out of their way.  As always, Ross sold this beating on commentary as a big event and it helped to make the turn memorable.

Call 1-900-737-4WWF to hear which two wrestlers would love to be part of the WWF and you can find out Lex Luger’s plans for WrestleMania XI!  You do not get charged until you pick your option!

Lex Luger (5-0-1) beats Mark Starr via submission to the Rebel Rack at 2:49:

As Luger fights his way through Starr, Ross gives hints that Luger is probably going to face Tatanka in a steel cage match later.  All roads appear to lead to WrestleMania if one reads the dirt sheets at this time but no official word has been given from the company.  Ross warns Tatanka that he may find himself in the Rebel Rack sooner rather than later.

A video package about Lawrence Taylor is played.

Bam Bam Bigelow (w/The Million Dollar Corporation) (3-0) pins Bill Payne after a flying headbutt at 3:11:

The Million Dollar Corporation continues to accompany Bigelow to matches to get some experience being at ringside for WrestleMania.  Bigelow struggles a bit with Payne, which the company could sell as Bigelow trying to shake off some rust from his suspension but they do not, and Payne actually sells his offensive flurry well as if he has no idea what to do and just goes nuts.  Bigelow spikes him, though, when Payne dives off the ropes and gets some significant hang time on the finish, which looks fantastic for television.

After the match, Bigelow says that Lawrence Taylor needs to worry a lot about WrestleMania.

Remarks from the WrestleMania XI press conference are shown, with Taylor putting over the athletic abilities of the WWF talent and denying the fact that he is lowering himself by competing in the ring.

The 1-2-3 Kid (1-1) defeats The Black Phantom with a guillotine leg drop at 3:04:

Ross cracks me up by speculating that the Phantom might be the “mayor of Parts Unknown.”  Since the Kid is the smallest man on the roster he tends to take more punishment in his squashes and this is no exception as the Phantom, who Ross keeps referring to as “The Masked Man,” gets in more than a minute of offense.  The Kid amazes the crowd with a somersault plancha and a guillotine leg drop and that is enough for a victory on today’s show.

Ross and Pettengill hype the WrestleMania XI card.  We get another segment of Pamela Anderson being disinterested in Shawn Michaels constant gloating about himself and a Bret Hart promo of how is going to avenge the Survivor Series in his “I Quit” match with Bob Backlund.  Oh, and did you know there is going to be a fan festival too?

Henry Godwinn (6-1) pins Leroy Howard after a Slop Drop at 2:29:

Illustrating the fact that there are only so many jobbers to go around, Howard gets to lay down for Godwinn for the second time in eight days on WWF television.  This time, Howard fares a little better by lasting eleven more seconds than his previous outing on Superstars and getting in a few punches but the outcome remains the same.

The Bushwhackers (2-0) beat Sonny Pruitt & Bobby Baker when Butch pins Baker after a double stomachbreaker at 2:51:

It must have been in the Bushwhackers contract that they had to close out The Action Zone every few weeks.  Baker was an enhancement talent that worked for WCW in 1993, being used to put over wrestlers like Vader, Paul Orndorff, and Van Hammer.  He passed away in 2011.  Pettengill plays the modern day JBL role on commentary in this match, yelling the Bushwhackers slogans and screaming about how fun they are.  Pruitt and Baker bump awkwardly for the Bushwhackers, who finish them with ease.  This would be Pruitt’s last appearance in the company.

Footage of the Men on a Mission beatdown of the Smoking Gunns plays us out.

Tune in next week to see Bam Bam Bigelow face his old rival Doink!

There was one additional match that was taped and aired on Wrestling Challenge the same day:

*King Kong Bundy (10-0) defeated Tyrone Knox after an Avalanche

The company also ran a big house show at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California which would be the site of the next year’s WrestleMania show (courtesy of historyofwwe.com):

Anaheim, California – Arrowhead Pond – March 12, 1995 (7,000):  Kwang pinned Gary Key with a spinning heel kick at 4:18…Hakushi pinned the 1-2-3 Kid after a running senton splash (the Kid suffered a concussion in the match)…WWF Women’s Champion Bull Nakano beat Alundra Blayze with a powerbomb and utilizing the Flair Pin.  Bob Holly came out to complain about the outcome of the match but his protests went nowhere…Bob Backlund defeated Bob Holly via submission to the crossface chicken wing at 8:43.  The finishing hold was applied after Holly thought he had scored the winning pin…Diesel & Razor Ramon defeated Shawn Michaels & Jeff Jarrett via disqualification when Sid interfered and attacked Diesel at 14:19.  The match saw Ramon and Jarrett knocked out via worked injuries so it devolved into a singles match.  When Michaels and Sid beat up Diesel after the bout, the Undertaker came to Diesel’s aid…The Blu Brothers defeated the New Headshrinkers when Fatu was clotheslined by the illegal Blu Brother entering the ring at 8:08…The Undertaker beat Bam Bam Bigelow via disqualification at 11:08 when Bob Backlund interfered and applied the crossface chicken wing to the Undertaker.  Backlund was quickly thrown to the floor…Bret Hart defeated Owen Hart in a No Holds Barred match via submission to the Sharpshooter at 5:47.  After the bell Bret refused to relinquish the hold for a while.

And here were some news and notes about the company for this week:

*The pay-per-views that the WWF appears to be adding to its lineup now have a name and will be called In Your House.  The first show will take place on May 14 in Syracuse, New York and wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer, who in The Wrestling Observer called them “In Your Home,” says that the show will run a week before WCW’s Slamboree pay-per-view.  In Your House will only cost $14.95, which is $10 cheaper than the asking price for Slamboree.  Meltzer argues that this will be okay because the company is charging $34.95 for WrestleMania, which was a record at the time, and he expects that these minor shows will advance storylines but will not blow any of them off.  (It should be noted that Meltzer would later have to correct his report that the company was looking to do ten pay-per-views in 1996 as the company eventually decided to do twelve, one for each month of the year).

*The Action Zone episode from 3/12 pulled a 2.3 rating and that rating is the highest in the history of the show (I guess this clearly shows that people love the Smoking Gunns and Men on a Mission!).

*The company has cancelled a show in San Jose, where television tapings were going to occur, presumably for Superstars and The Action Zone because of poor ticket sales.  This continues a disappointing string of sales across the West Coast during the month of March.

The Last Word:  Although a lot of people did not know it at the time this show would have a big impact in 1995 as Men on a Mission turned and significantly altered the singles and tag team picture.  The company appeared poised to push Mabel since they had him wrestle in the previous year’s King of the Ring and SummerSlam pay-per-views and the MOM heel turn would give the company a better opportunity to do so because there were so few credible heels to rely on at this time.  Aside from the feature match this was a fun show, with good squash matches and very effective commentating by Ross, who was really starting to make a mark even though The Action Zone was low on the company totem pole.

Up Next (on Friday):  Monday Night RAW from March 13, 1995!