Mike Reviews: WWF Monday Night Raw – 18th of December 1995

Six of the Best for Starrcade in the 90’s will be coming next week when I have some time off work. Until then though, I thought I’d review this show as its only 47 minutes long and features a storyline where poor Balls Mahoney had to play Santa Claus’ evil brother (Which someone actually asked about on the Blog today), so there’s a festive tie in at least.

The event is emanating from Newark, Delaware

Calling the action are Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler

We start out with a recap of the prior nights In Your House pay per view event. You can read my review of it by clicking HERE. If you’ve never seen it, the main event is awesome and everything else most certainly isn’t. The big take away from the show was that Diesel and Undertaker had a face off at the shows conclusion over who deserved the next title shot at the WWF Champion Bret Hart.

Opening Match
“Double J” Jeff Jarrett Vs “Making a Difference” Fatu

Two Hall of Famers collide! Jarrett had recently returned to the WWF after walking out earlier in the year, and had made an auspicious re-debut by smashing Ahmed Johnson with a record case. Fatu was doing a weird sort of inspirational street thug gimmick, where he’d teach the kids about “making a difference” in some undetermined way. Not surprisingly, the gimmick didn’t really go anywhere and he ended up betting repackaged into The Sultan, before finally getting over with the Rikishi gimmick in 1999.

Fatu isn’t impressed with Jarrett’s opening strutting and slugs away, before mocking the strut with one of his own. Jarrett replies with a DDT, but Fatu no sells it via the power of racial stereotyping. He misses a charge in the corner though, which allows Jarrett to hit a spinning neck breaker. So today class we’ve learnt that Samoan anatomy can withstand damage to the head but not the neck. I hope you’ve jotted that down in your exercise books because it might come up in standardised testing. Anyway, Jarett slams Fatu’s head into the ring steps (Which Fatu sells, because I guess steel is Samoan Kryptonite or something?) as we take a break.

Commercial

Back from the break, Jarrett has things well in hand as he works over Fatu with basic stuff. Fatu manages to catch Jarrett with a powerslam, which allows him to hit a back breaker for a count of two. Fatu hits a modified Diamond Cutter, but it looks like it hurt his shoulder in the process, which allows Jarrett to ram him shoulder first into the ring post. Jarrett sets up for the Figure Four Leglock (Wouldn’t an arm/shoulder submission hold make more sense in this scenario?) but Ahmed Johnson runs down for the DQ.

WINNER BY DISQUALIFICATION: JEFF JARRETT
RATING: *

The fact that they decided to protect FATU from doing a clean job in this match should highlight what Jarrett’s actual standing was at this point in time. I mean, bloody hell, Fatu was going nowhere with this gimmick and Jarrett had just returned from a long hiatus, could they not have let Jarrett win clean before sending Ahmed down for the attack? Jarrett flees rather than fighting Ahmed.

Dok Hendrix is with interim WWF President Gorilla Monsoon. They hype that Undertaker will be challenging Bret Hart at the Rumble. Monsoon says that he knows Diesel will be unhappy about this, but he’s a big boy and he’ll get over it. Err, I wouldn’t bet on it Gorilla. Hendrix asks Gorilla to name some Rumble competitors to go along with Jeff Jarrett. Gorilla states that Jarrett won’t be in the Rumble and will instead wrestle Ahmed Johnson instead. Technically this means that neither of them will be in the Rumble. Doesn’t that kind of punish Ahmed when he hasn’t done anything wrong? Man, no wonder Vader whomped Monsoon the first chance he got after he debuted; the man was a terrible authority figure! Monsoon says Rumble competitors will start getting named during the upcoming weekend syndicated shows.

Meanwhile, Goldust states that he and Razor Ramon having a special connection.

Commercial

Back from the break, we get clips of the Undertaker and Diesel confrontation from the prior nights pay per view event.

Match Two
“Nature Boy” Buddy Landel Vs Bob “Sparkplug”
Holly

Prior to this match taking place, Dok Hendrix hocks the console ports of WrestleMania: The Arcade Game. I seem to remember the fourth gen versions of that game not being great due to them cutting out some of the wrestlers, but the PlayStation one was a relatively faithful port if my memory serves correctly. For some reason, the SNES version was $69.99, whereas the PlayStation version was only $54.99. That had to be some sort of promotional deal right? Why the heck would it be cheaper to buy it on the more powerful console? Dok says they’ll throw in the much vaunted “strategy guide” with each purchase. I’m not sure how they were able to fill an entire strategy guide with “just mash triangle” but I’m sure they found a way.

Landel had debuted the night before, perhaps because Vince McMahon thought that a Ric Flair cosplayer would give the WWF the shot in the arm it needed to finally reach the heights of The Hulkamania Era once more? Landel was in just awful shape here and looked ridiculously out of place in the supposed “New Generation” Era. Landel works Holly over with basic stuff, as the crowd prefers to sit on its hands. This is essentially a Landel squash, as it seems like they were actually trying to push him here, which just utterly baffles me. Holly eventually starts no selling some Landel punches and gets a ten punch to wake the crowd up.

Holly hits a rana, but doesn’t go for the cover and instead delivers some clotheslines for two. Landel’s bumps for some of those clotheslines were absolutely awful, and he’d been wrestling for nearly twenty years at this stage in his career. Holly misses a dropkick however, which allows Landel to hit an elbow drop to pick up the win. His finisher was an elbow drop?! In 1995?!?! I mean, if he’d been a scary big guy like One Man Gang or Abdulllah The Butcher I could perhaps let that slide, but an elbow drop?!?!?! Oh dear…

WINNER: BUDDY LANDEL
RATING: *

Boring semi-squash here that sucked all the life out of the crowd.

Commercial

Back from the break, with get the Brother Love Show, as he brings in Ted Dibiase. Dibiase and an evil version of Santa had attacked Savio Vega the previous night on the pay per view. Dibiase reveals that the Santa from last night is actually Santa’s evil brother from the South Pole called “Xanta”, and that he is now in his employ. Oh man, no wonder business was in the toilet during this period if that was an actual storyline. Funnily enough, me and my friend used to always think that Perry Saturn kind of looked like an evil Santa, so we’d create “Evil Santa” on the old Smackdown games and give him Saturn’s face. His finisher was the Atomic Drop, which we’d always call “Sit On Santa’s Lap”.

We get a hype video for “Raw Bowl” on the New Year’s Day 1996 edition of the show. I’ve no idea what that entailed to be honest, but then again I’ve learnt everything I know about the NFL from playing the Madden games, so I’m hardly an expert.

Main Event
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Champion: Razor Ramon Vs Yokozuna w/ Jim Cornette

I just know that Yoko is going to apply an interminably long nerve pinch in this match, and it’s going to perturb me no end. Goldust comes out to watch this match, so that he can continue to mess with Razor’s head. Yoko jumps Razor to start, but Razor replies with some punches to send him tumbling out of the ring. Back inside, Razor tries to use holds like headlocks and arm wringers to try and control his bigger opponent, and when that doesn’t work he tries clotheslines instead.

We get numerous shots of Goldust during the match. I always think they kind of missed the point with this angle, as the whole thing shouldn’t have been that it was bad that Goldust was infatuated with Razor, but that it was bad that he was going about it in such an overtly sinister manner. But then again, wrestling and subtlety have never been two things that have mixed well, especially in the 90’s. These days they’d probably have Razor politely turn him down, only for Goldust to then take it too far, rather than just have Razor be disgusted right from the off.

Anyway, Yoko does indeed apply the nerve pinch, and I indeed get perturbed. Why was that always his go to rest hold? It makes absolutely zero use of his size. If he was applying a camel clutch or a chin lock, it would at least force his opponent to carry his weight and would work from a ring psychology standpoint. The nerve pinch is all about manipulating the anatomy and isn’t enhanced by the applier’s size in anyway. In fact, you could argue that being so large actively works against Yoko in this case, as his fat fingers would make it harder to target the exact part of the nervous system he needed to make the hold work.

If the previous two tangents haven’t already highlighted, this match is pretty dull, although there’s nothing actively wrong with the work itself. Razor manages to fight his way out of the nerve pinch and manages to floor Yoko with a series of punches for two. Razor goes to a hold as we take a break.

Commercial

Back from the break, Yoko is back in control of things, but he looks to be struggling as he slowly works Razor over in the corner. Razor fights back with more punches and bumps Yoko with a jumping clothesline. Second rope bulldog floors Yoko once again, but now the lights start blinking as The Undertaker comes down to the ring with a casket. This causes Yoko to flee in fear, and the referee counts him out. Yoko had teamed up with Mabel to break Undertaker’s face prior to Survivor Series.

WINNER BY COUNT OUT AND STILL CHAMPION: RAZOR RAMON
RATING: *1/2

This was a big bowl of “meh” with a sizeable portion of “what was even the point?” on the side. The finishes on this show have been absolutely awful. Razor shrugs following the match.

Commercial

Back from the break, Dok Hendrix is with Razor Ramon in the aisle way. He asks him about Goldust, and Razor does in fact say that he’s only interested in women but that Goldust is free to do his thing, just not with him. Fair enough, that’s exactly what they should have done there.

To close us out we get a tribute video to Shawn Michaels, as the company were teasing that his career was over following an enziguri from Owen Hart in a match on Raw. This would all build to Michaels going to the main event of WrestleMania XII of course. It was good storytelling to give Michaels obstacles to overcome, but unfortunately they put so much focus on him overcoming those obstacles that they kind of forgot to keep Bret Hart strong in the build-up as well, thus making him look like a bit of a lame duck champion as consequence.

Final Thoughts

This show was bobbins if I’m being honest. Boring matches, teases for rubbish feuds and silly childish characters made this one hard to sit through. I would instead recommend everyone check out the 24/12/95 edition of ECW Hardcore TV instead, which not only features a great match between Rey Mysterio Jr and Psicosis but also some top class comedy from Cactus Jack.

Oh well, regardless of this shows lameness I hope that you all have a lovely festive season and I’ll see you all next week.