What the World Was Watching: WWF Superstars – December 23, 1995 (Last of the series)

A replay of Xanta Claus attacking Savio Vega at In Your House 5 is shown.

Vince McMahon, Mr. Perfect, and Jim Ross are doing commentary and they are kicking off some new tapings in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  According to thehistoryofwwe.com, only 1,500 fans attended because there was a blizzard during the show.  This was also the taping where Bradshaw made his debut in a dark match, losing to Savio Vega.  Also, this is the last Superstars of 1995 because next week’s episode is a “year in review” show.

Opening Contest for the WWF Tag Team Championship:  The Smoking Gunns (27-3-1) beat Skip & Rad Radford (w/Sunny) (0-2) when Billy pins Radford after Bart tosses Skip into Radford at 5:00:

McMahon and Ross acknowledge that Skip and Radford got a title shot a month ago on Superstars but say that they are receiving a second one because they took the Gunns to the limit.  Tensions between the heels grow throughout the match as Skip knocks Radford off the apron and he is chewed out by Sunny, who McMahon says is “bossy” while Ross compares her to Hillary Clinton.  Predictably, this factors into the finish as Bart tosses Skip off the top rope and onto Radford and the Gunns retain in a perfectly acceptable television bout.  The Gunns end 1995 on an amazing fourteen match winning streak.  Rating:  **

After the bell, an irate Sunny blames Radford for the loss and kicks him out of the Bodydonnas.  She follows up by slapping Radford and Skip attacks his tag team partner from behind before fleeing to the locker room.

Dok Hendrix hypes the Nassau Coliseum card.  Razor Ramon recaps his problems with Sid and the 1-2-3 Kid and puts over how Diesel is going to help him resolve his problems with the Million Dollar Corporation.  Ahmed Johnson also gives a promo about how he is not impressed with the British Bulldog.

Xanta Claus (w/Ted DiBiase) defeats Scott Taylor via submission after a camel clutch at 1:28:

As noted in the review of In Your House 5, Xanta Claus is the future Balls Mahoney that would gain notoriety in Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW).  Prior to this, Mahoney worked in Smoky Mountain Wrestling (SMW) under the name of Boo Bradley, Jr., where he feuded with Chris Candido, and he had previously worked as an enhancement talent for the WWF under his real name of Jonathan Rechner.  In the split screen, DiBiase says that he is soon going to unveil a new million dollar champion.  Xanta tosses Taylor around with ease before winning by submission.  As one can imagine, this gimmick had no legs because what do you do with a character that is Christmas based when the seasons change?

Footage of Jeff Jarrett returning at In Your House and attacking Ahmed Johnson is shown.  The announcers talk about the kind of impact Jarrett might make to the WWF now that he has returned.

Call 1-900-737-4WWF to hear a replay of the interviews that superstars gave after their respective matches at In Your House!

Buddy Landel (1-1) beats Matt Hardy after a corkscrew elbow drop at 2:35:

Ross announces that Landel will be in the Royal Rumble as he methodically beats on Matt, avoids a springboard moonsault, and wins his second straight match after a corkscrew elbow.

Footage of Diesel and the Undertaker having a staredown at the end of In Your House is played.

Henry Godwinn (26-7-3) pins the Brooklyn Brawler after a Slop Drop at 1:59:

Godwinn is now using Hillbilly Jim’s old theme of “Don’t Go Messin’ With a Country Boy” because Jim reportedly gave it to him as a Christmas present.  Godwinn talks about how he wants a spot in the Royal Rumble in the split screen as Ross talks gives more conservative commentary about how Godwinn would be someone that Arkansas residents could be proud of.

McMahon recaps some of the mind games that Goldust has been playing with Razor Ramon.

The British Bulldog (w/Jim Cornette) (17-6-1) beats Marty Jannetty (5-2-1) after a running powerslam at 8:07 shown:

Like their encounter on RAW last month, the Bulldog spams the chinlock a great deal and that slows down the flow of the match.  Jannetty appears headed for a victory when he goes up for a flying fist drop but Cornette pulls the Bulldog out of the ring and when the action heads back in, Jannetty makes the ill-advised decision to jump at the Bulldog and eats a powerslam to lose.  Clearly, the Bulldog singles push is still going even though he keeps coming up short in title matches.  Rating:  **

Hendrix discusses the Madison Square Garden card at the end of next month.  Bret Hart says that he executed his game plan at Survivor Series so his win there was no fluke.  He goes on to say that Diesel will be a “rat in a cage” at MSG.

The announcers discuss the future of Shawn Michaels and fans see a replay of the “Tell Me a Lie” music video.

The Last Word:  The Rad Radford turn at the beginning of the show paved the way for Skip to find a new tag team partner, revealed later to be his twin Zip, who was played by Dr. Tom Prichard of the Heavenly Bodies.  That team would have far more success than the Skip-Radford pairing.  The rest of the show was fine, with nothing terrible littering the card, although the broadcast would benefit from a top tier angle every now and then.  Due to the Monday Night Wars, though, RAW has clearly become the “A” show and that is where the company is focusing its energy.

Here are some results from the house show circuit to end 1995, as the WWF did not tour right before Christmas but began its daily grind of shows immediately afterward (courtesy of thehistoryofwwe.com):

Anaheim, California – Arrowhead Pond – December 26, 1995 (6,500):  Isaac Yankem beat Marty Jannetty…Goldust beat Bob Holly…Henry Godwinn defeated the Brooklyn Brawler…Savio Vega defeated Hunter-Hearst Helmsley via disqualification…Ahmed Johnson beat Rad Radford…Fatu & Barry Horowitz defeated Skip & Bob Backlund…Intercontinental Champion Razor Ramon beat the 1-2-3 Kid…WWF Tag Team Champions the Smoking Gunns beat Owen Hart & the British Bulldog…The Undertaker defeated Yokozuna…WWF Champion Bret Hart beat Diesel in a steel cage match via climb out.

San Bernadino, California – December 29, 1995 (1,800):  Savio Vega & Fatu beat Bob Backlund & Bob Holly when Fatu pinned Backlund…Marty Jannetty beat the 1-2-3 Kid…WWF Tag Team Champions the Smoking Gunns defeated Skip & Rad Radford when Skip was pinned…Hunter-Hearst Helmsley beat Henry Godwinn in a slop bucket match…Diesel defeated Goldust via count out…Ahmed Johnson pinned the Brooklyn Brawler…Intercontinental Champion Razor Ramon beat Owen Hart…The Undertaker defeated Isaac Yankem…WWF Champion Bret Hart beat Yokozuna.

And here are some final news and notes to conclude 1995 for the WWF (courtesy of The Wrestling Observer for December 26, 1995 and January 2, 1996):

*Steve Austin made his debut at the RAW tapings in Newark, Delaware and will indeed be Ted DiBiase’s Million Dollar Champion.  Austin’s name will the Ringmaster.

*Vince McMahon was taken aback by news that Alundra Blayze dumped the WWF Women’s Championship in the trash on Nitro.  McMahon was informed of the incident during the live RAW telecast after In Your House and seemed distracted on commentary.

*Buddy Landel injured his knee leaving the WWF tapings in Bethlehem after slipping on some ice.  This will likely keep him out of the Royal Rumble and future appearances beyond the recent taping cycle, where he wrestled WWF Champion Bret Hart.  Landel was being rewarded with a spot on the roster for helping the company get out of a jam when Dean Douglas refused to work through his back injury at In Your House against Ahmed Johnson.

*The WWF is reportedly contacting Dan Severn, Jake Roberts, the Ultimate Warrior, Vader, and Rick Martel to make appearances at the Royal Rumble.  It is unclear whether the company wants these talents for one show or the long-term, but there is clearly a desire to reverse the trend of sinking buyrates that has been happening over the course of 1995.

*Aside from giving a tryout to Justin Hawk (later known as Bradshaw), the company also gave a tryout ot the Sons of Samoa, composed of former Headshrinker Samu and Tahitian Warrior, who wrestled previously on WWF television as Lloyd Lanui.  The Samoans were managed by Lou Albano.

*There is talk of Sunny being involved in an angle reminiscent of Anna Nicole Smith where she has a ninety-one-year-old husband that dies, leaves her a lot of money, and she purchases the services of a top heel.

*Vince McMahon told fans in an American Online chat on December 18 that ECW and UFC are more violent alternatives to the WWF, that World Championship Wrestling (WCW) won its bidding war for Public Enemy but will not know how to market the team, and that WCW was tasteless for saying that the Giant was Andre the Giant’s son.

And as we end 1995, here were the final standings for WWF wins and losses, showing those that were under contract by the end of the year.  In order to show all talent, I have included everyone regardless of a record qualifier in the “top” lists.

Top Thirty Overall Records:

1—Ahmed Johnson (8-0)

2—Goldust (6-0)

3—Bushwhacker Luke (4-0)

4—Bushwhacker Butch (4-0)

T5—Avatar (1-0)

T5—Xanta Claus (1-0)

7—Hunter-Hearst Helmsley (25-1-1)

8—Kama (27-1-2)

9—Bart Gunn (29-3-1)

10—Jean-Pierre LaFitte (20-2-1)

11—Billy Gunn (28-3-1)

12—The Undertaker (15-2)

13—Bret Hart (21-3-2)

14—Shawn Michaels (21-4-1)

15—The British Bulldog (38-8-1)

16—Mabel (32-8-1)

17—Duke Droese (15-4)

18—Owen Hart (28-8-2)

19—Mo (18-6)

20—Yokozuna (19-6-2)

21—Henry Godwinn (28-9-4)

22—Bob Backlund (9-3-1)

23—Dean Douglas (8-3)

24—Hakushi (26-10)

25—Bam Bam Bigelow (22-9-1)

26—Diesel (12-5-1)

27—Sid (14-6-1)

28—Razor Ramon (30-14-2)

29—Fatu (14-7-3)

30—Aldo Montoya (12-6)

Top Twenty-Five Singles Records

1—Ahmed Johnson (7-0)

2—Goldust (6-0)

T3—Avatar (1-0)

T3—Xanta Claus (1-0)

T3—Bart Gunn (1-0)

6—Hunter-Hearst Helmsley (25-0-1)

7—Kama (25-1-1)

8—The Undertaker (14-1)

9—Jean-Pierre LaFitte (20-2-1)

10—Bret Hart (19-2-2)

11—Shawn Michaels (19-3-1)

12—Hakushi (25-5)

13—Dean Douglas (8-2)

14—Mabel (13-3-1)

15—Bob Backlund (9-2-1)

16—Duke Droese (15-4)

17—Savio Vega (14-3-2)

18—Razor Ramon (25-7-1)

19—Henry Godwinn (27-7-3)

20—Bam Bam Bigelow (19-6)

21—The British Bulldog (18-6-1)

22—Owen Hart (11-4-1)

23—Diesel (10-4-1)

24—Aldo Montoya (12-6)

25—Rad Radford (10-5)

Top Tag Teams

1—The Bushwhackers (4-0)

2—Razor Ramon & Marty Jannetty (2-0)

3—Owen Hart & Yokozuna (16-1-1)

4—The Smoking Gunns (28-3-1)

5—Men on a Mission (18-3)

T6—Barry Horowitz & Hakushi (1-1)

T6—Sid & the 1-2-3 Kid (1-1)

8—Razor Ramon & Savio Vega (0-3-1)

9—Skip & Rad Radford (0-3)

Top Ten in Televised Match Appearances (Iron Worker Award):

1—The British Bulldog (49)

2—Razor Ramon (44)

3—Henry Godwinn (43)

4—Mabel (42)

5—Bob Holly (41)

6—Owen Hart (40)

7—The 1-2-3 Kid (38)

8—Hakushi (37)

9—Bart Gunn (34)

T10—Bam Bam Bigelow (33)

T10—Billy Gunn (33)

Most Appearances by Show:  RAW-Owen Hart (18); Superstars-Henry Godwinn (19); The Action Zone-Barry Horowitz (12); Wrestling Challenge (for matches not shown on The Action Zone)-The British Bulldog, Hakushi, and Duke Droese (4)

Top Five Matches in December 1995

1—Bret Hart vs. The British Bulldog (December 17, In Your House 5, WWF Championship Match) – ****

2—Hunter-Hearst Helmsley vs. Henry Godwinn (December 17, In Your House 5, Hog Pen Match) – ***

3—The British Bulldog vs. Bob Holly (December 4, RAW) – ***

4—The Smoking Gunns vs. Skip & Rad Radford (December 23, Superstars) – **

5—The British Bulldog vs. Marty Jannetty (December 23, Superstars) – **

Top Five Overall Matches in 1995

1—Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon (SummerSlam, Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Title) – *****

2—Diesel vs. Bret Hart (Survivor Series, November 19, No Holds Barred Match for the WWF Championship) – ****½

3—Jeff Jarrett vs. Shawn Michaels (In Your House 2, Intercontinental Title Match) – ****½

4—Shawn Michaels, Sid, the British Bulldog & Ahmed Johnson vs. Dean Douglas, Owen Hart, Yokozuna & Razor Ramon (Survivor Series, November 19, “Wild Card” Elimination Match) – ****¼

5—Diesel vs. Bret Hart (Royal Rumble, WWF Championship Match) – ****

This marks the end of my year and a half of doing reviews of WWF programming for 1995.  I would like to thank all of those who read the columns, commented, and/or contributed ideas to improve them.  In sticking with the theme of 1995, I will now shift my focus to the other end of the Monday Night Wars by looking at WCW.  Those reviews will begin next Tuesday and will be put out on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday because there will be more WCW programming to review relative to the WWF during this era.  I hope that you will join me for that journey as you have for this one.

If you are interested in getting all of these 1995 reviews, in addition to a timeline for the WWF in 1995, a detailed breakdown of wrestler win/loss records, a listing and ranking of major matches, and an explanation of the year’s angles, you can purchase the e-book on Amazon for $4.99 or buy a paperback version for $26.  The paperback is 812 pages.  If you buy the paperback, you will get the e-book for free.