Now that we have covered what the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) was doing in 1995, we will shift our focus to what was taking place in Atlanta with World Championship Wrestling (WCW). Much like the WWF, WCW was fighting against the headwind of a bitter wrestling depression, but it did receive significant publicity in the summer of 1994 when it signed Hulk Hogan. Hogan would subsequently defeat Ric Flair at Bash at the Beach and immediately claim the WCW title, which he still held as 1995 began. Despite drawing an impressive television rating for a Clash of the Champions rematch between Hogan and Flair – a number that put WCW’s events on par with, if not exceeding those of the WWF – WCW was still under pressure to cut costs as it lost more than $3 million in 1994. The cuts were also spurred on by Halloween Havoc drawing a less than expected rating for the third match in the Hogan-Flair series. In that match, Flair was “retired” after losing and although he said the retirement would be permanent, few in the wrestling world believed him. Nevertheless, that meant that WCW was starting the year without one of its major draws in the squared circle. A big question for WCW going into 1995 was how it would attempt to challenge the WWF’s domestic supremacy, and Executive Producer Eric Bischoff’s gamble to launch a new Monday night wrestling show to challenge the WWF’s Monday Night RAW at the end of the summer changed wrestling forever.
Much like the WWF series, these reviews will cover all WCW programming in 1995. All television broadcasts will be reviewed, so readers will see breakdowns of WCW Main Event, WCW Pro, WCW Worldwide, WCW Saturday Night, Monday Nitro, and pay-per-view events. Wrestlers win/loss totals will also be provided for their matches, house shows will be broken down, and at the end of each week a review will be provided of major backstage news that affected WCW booking and business. Since there was so much WCW programming relative to what the WWF produced, I will embark on an ambitious schedule to release three reviews per week on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, so you can check the Blog of Doom for new columns.
If you were unfamiliar with WCW’s roster in January 1995, this is what it looked like (rosters taken from http://www.solie.org/wcw95.txt):
Babyfaces: Hulk Hogan, Sting, Randy Savage, Brian Pillman, Brad Armstrong, Dustin Rhodes, Johnny B. Badd, Dave Sullivan, the Guardian Angel, Alex Wright, Frank Andersson, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Stars & Stripes (Marcus Bagwell & the Patriot) the Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs & Jerry Sags), the Armstrongs (Steve Armstrong & Scott Armstrong)
Heels: Big Van Vader, Bobby Eaton, Arn Anderson, Steve Austin, Diamond Dallas Page, Lord Steven Regal, Ric Flair, Kevin Sullivan, the Butcher, Bunkhouse Buck, Dick Slater, Meng, Jean Paul Levesque, Avalanche, Blacktop Bully, Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray), Pretty Wonderful (Paul Orndorff & Paul Roma)
Notable Enhancement Talent: Mark Starr, Joey Maggs, Tim Horner
And here are our champions as we begin the year:
World Champion: Hulk Hogan (defeated Ric Flair on July 17, 1994 at Bash at the Beach)
United States Champion: Big Van Vader (defeated Hacksaw Jim Duggan on December 27, 1994 at Starrcade)
WCW World Tag Team Champions: Stars & Stripes (defeated Pretty Wonderful on October 23, 1994 at Clash of the Champions)
Television Champion: Johnny B. Badd (defeated Lord Steven Regal on September 18, 1994 at Fall Brawl)
So we start 1995 with WCW Main Event, broadcast on January 1, 1995, but taped in Atlanta, Georgia at Center Stage Theatre on December 8, 1994:
–Footage of Randy Savage teasing an attack on Hulk Hogan with the Faces of Fear (Kevin Sullivan, the Butcher, and Avalanche) at Starrcade is shown.
–Gene Okerlund and Bobby Heenan are doing the studio portion of the show. They discuss interactive television because that chose the match that would air in the next segment.
–A replay of the Sting-Ric Flair match that took place on WCW Saturday Night on July 9, 1994 is shown. Sting won the match by disqualification when Sensuous Sherri ran in – dressed as a man – and attacked Sting when he put Flair in the Scorpion Deathlock. After the bell, Hulk Hogan gave Sherri an atomic drop, allowing for Flair to do a token attack on the leg before Mr. T made the save.
–Call the WCW Hotline at 1-900-909-9900 to hear all the backstage news from Starrcade!
–Fans who missed Starrcade see that Randy Savage did not align with the Faces of Fear and he helped Hulk Hogan attack them instead. Both men shook hands and back in the locker room, Vader challenged Hogan for the WCW title.
–A replay of a Nasty Boys-Harlem Heat match that aired on WCW Saturday Night on December 3, 1994 is shown. The Nasties won by disqualification after Sister Sherri sprayed perfume in Jerry Sags face.
–Sting facing Avalanche on WCW Main Event on November 20, 1994 airs. Keeping with a theme on today’s show, THIS match also ended via disqualification when the Faces of Fear attacked Sting. The locker room for both the heels and babyfaces emptied in response to that.
–Okerlund and Heenan have some casino banter because Clash of the Champions on January 25 will be from Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada.
–Opening (and Sole) Contest: Dustin Rhodes pins Bobby Eaton after a bulldog at 10:03:
Gordon Solie, Dusty Rhodes, and Larry Zbyszko are doing commentary for this bout, where both competitors were in booking purgatory, as Eaton has tried spicing up the tag ranks with Chris Benoit and Steve Keirn and failed miserably over the past two years, while Rhodes spent much of 1994 feuding with Colonel Robert Parker’s Stud Stable. That feud spilled into 1995 as Parker and the Blacktop Bully show up at ringside in the early stages of the bout. Rhodes follows the Randy Savage formula, enduring a lot of boring arm work from Eaton before hitting a bulldog out of nowhere for the win. At least this had a clean finish. Rating: *
–Heenan says fans are dangerous and should not be allowed to participate in interactive television. Okerlund tells fans that the next episode will be interactive as well.
The Last Word: This show was primarily a recap of action in 1994 and the matches chosen were awful. It is understandable that New Year’s Day is not going to draw a big rating, but at least take the effort to put on some good matches from the year to get some eyeballs on the product. The main event showed that Dustin Rhodes soul was dying as his singles push eroded in feuds no one cared about.
Up Next: WCW Pro for January 7!