–Todd Pettengill is live from Tampa, Florida from the location of the Royal Rumble. Jim Ross and Gorilla Monsoon are in the booth calling the taped matches which are still from Liberty, New York. As long as it gets Todd out of the booth it is fine with me.
–The intro video package has the old Star Trek theme playing since William Shatner will be in Bret Hart’s corner when he faces Jeff Jarrett in tonight’s main event.
–Vince McMahon and Shawn Michaels are doing commentary and they are still in Houston, Texas. This is the “go home” show for the Royal Rumble.
–Gorilla Monsoon and Ted DiBiase are in the booth.
–After a bunch of rehashed Action Zone matches we get a video package about Hakushi. At house shows around this time Hakushi’s manager Shinja was told to cut promos against the crowds so that they would not cheer for the Japanese talent.
–Jim Ross and Todd Pettengill are doing commentary today and they recap the WWF Tag Team Championship Tournament semi-finals, which were held on WWF Superstars. They still appear to be in Liberty, New York in a high school gymnasium. Although this was not a great financial period for the company I have to envy some of these people that got to attend these smaller shows. I would have loved for the WWF to come to my small community during this time period.
–Vince McMahon and Shawn Michaels are doing commentary and they are live from Houston, Texas. This is the second anniversary episode of Monday Night Raw.
–William Shatner, who is here to hype his new show TekWar, says that he is not scared of appearing on Jerry Lawler’s King’s Court segment and that if Lawler messes with him “he will be out of here at warp speed.” He even admits that he is simply here to do the hard sell for his show and is not going to wrestle.
–Jim Ross and Todd Pettengill are in the booth and they are from various locations since the Action Zone broadcast a collection of matches from different TV tapings. I always fondly remember this syndicated show because it was my go-to viewing after church on Sundays or what I would run to see if going to see my aunt for a family gathering on a Sunday afternoon.
–Vince McMahon announces that the Smoking Gunns are not going to be in the tag team tournament because Bart Gunn suffered a knee injury when his horse fell on him in a rodeo. Yes, that is the best excuse that the company could come up with but it fits the cartoonish product at the time. In reality there was no injury and Vince simply decided to push another team for the tournament and that team is the one that will take the Gunns place: the 1-2-3 Kid and Bob “Spark Plugg” Holly.
–McMahon and Jerry “the King” Lawler are doing commentary and they are taped from Newark, Delaware. The show was taped on December 14, 1994.
Although I have reviewed some of the early Attitude Era action on the Blog, I am going to embark on a new project: reviewing all of the major televised action for the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in 1995. Readers are likely aware that 1995 was a terrible financial year for the company, with James Dixon writing in Titan Sinking that Vince McMahon and Titan Sports lost $6 million. The wrestling industry was in the doldrums in the mid-1990s, reeling from declining ratings; the end of the Hulkamania boom; and lingering suspicions from sponsors about steroid and drug use, which caused the federal government to put McMahon on trial in the summer of 1994.
On a personal note, 1995 was the year that I got into wrestling. Being exposed to the business during one of its worst times did not phase me since I had nothing else to compare it to. I knew nothing of workrate or star ratings and accepted Diesel as the WWF champion. However, it was painfully obvious to me that Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels were clearly the best and I enjoyed their televised matches throughout the year. Little did I know at the time that both men had a significant rivalry behind the scenes and when it exploded in Montreal two years later it would help the WWF regain its position as the supreme brand of professional wrestling in North America.
These reviews will chronicle major WWF programming in 1995. We will go through Wrestling Challenge, Monday Night Raw, Superstars, and The Action Zone. Pay-per-views will also be covered, as will the occasional Sunday Night Slam where warranted. Win-loss records will be provided for talent throughout the year and matches will be recapped, with reflections on the purpose of those matches and how they fit into existing storylines. I will also compile other statistics – house show attendance, drawing power for champions – that I will share periodically. Furthermore, for each week of action I will try to provide a brief calendar of notable events so readers can see the context that all of this booking is fitting into. The reviews will be posted to the Blog on Tuesdays and Fridays going forward.
Last week the blog cast its votes for the top (and worst) wrestlers and moments of 2016. The voting deadline has passed and all of the votes have been counted. Remember, a first place vote was worth five points, a second place vote was worth three points, and a third place vote was worth one point. In case of a tie, number of first place votes was used to break it.
I included the top three finishers for each category below, but if you wish to see the entire spreadsheet and how many first place, second place, and/or third place a choice received, go to this link:
Keep in mind that not all voters cast a ballot with three choices for each category and some voters did not vote for certain categories. In all, though, we had a higher rate of participation this year, with fifty-three people casting ballots (versus thirty-two last year). Winners can be found below.
WWF Royal Rumble ‘89
Live from Houston, TX
Airdate: January 15, 1988
Hosted by Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse “The Body” Ventura
Question to the masses: If a baseball game lasts until 3am on a work night, can we still blame Vince McMahon? Ponder on that while enjoying the show.
Taped from Tampa, FL
Airdate: January 7, 1989 (taped 12/7)
Hosted by Vince McMahon & Jesse “The Body” Ventura
To open the program, the Ultimate Warrior centers his promo on victory. In spite of the promo’s theme, I hope the US military didn’t use this as a motivational tool for the troops.
Date: May 2, 2002
Location: Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Commentators: Michael Cole, Tazz
We’ve got a big match scheduled for tonight as WWF World Champion Hulk Hogan is defending against Chris Jericho. I’m sure we’ll get an explanation for why Smackdown can have a #1 contender when it’s been established that the shows trade possession of that status. Maybe Jericho can carry Hogan to passable tonight too but I wouldn’t bet on either. Let’s get to it.
Monday Night Raw
Date: April 29, 2002
Location: HSBC Arena, Buffalo, New York
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler
The question at this point is how bad can things get. The wrestling has been horrible but the stories have been some of the worst of all time with uninspired main eventers who look like they’re about to collapse from old age. Maybe things can start to pick up soon because it can’t get much worse. Let’s get to it.
We are joined in progress (on a TAPED show?!?), with THE LEGION OF DOOM standing in the crowd, shrieking about Wrestlemania and Chicago. They intend to be at the Granddaddy of them All, but they’ve got some stiff competition to crack to break into that lineup; what with the New Blackjacks, Flash Funk, The Sultan, and The Headbangers all vying for spots of their own. The star power has never been stronger headed into Wrestlemania!