What the World Was Watching: Wrestling Challenge – January 22, 1995

With a few work-related obligations out of the way for the immediate future that absorbed the last month of my time, we return to the WWF in 1995.  We are less than twenty-four hours away from the Royal Rumble in Tampa, Florida, but before we get there we have “go home” broadcast of Wrestling Challenge.

Gorilla Monsoon and Ted DiBiase are in the booth and are still in Liberty, New York.

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What the World Was Watching: The Action Zone – January 22, 1995

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.

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What the World Was Watching: WWF Superstars – January 14, 1995

Vince McMahon and Jerry “The King” Lawler are doing commentary and they are still in Newark, Delaware.

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What the World Was Watching: Monday Night RAW – January 9, 1995

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.

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What the World Was Watching: WWF Superstars – January 7, 1995

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.

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The SmarK DVD Rant for The Kliq Rules (Blu Ray edition)

The SmarK DVD Rant for The Kliq Rules (Blu Ray)

This feels like we’re really scraping the barrel now, but at least there’s a couple of matches on here that I’ve been anxiously awaiting to be released. And hey, someone bought it for me, so what the hell. Let’s celebrate the 1996-ness of the Kliq, in keeping with the theme of the past few months on the blog. The cynical part of me, small as it is, would suggest that this was thrown onto the market to screw with the Young Bucks by creating a trademark claim on the hand signal.

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Taker loses to DIESEL!

Hey Scott,
 
        Let's get crazy hypothetical here.  You're reviewing the Raws leading up to WM 12.  While we know Big Kev leaves for WCW, he DOES get a ppv main event in April (the awesome Mad Dog's leg match).  If Mick was already debuting in promos before WM 12, AND shows up the Raw after to attack Undertaker, then why not have Mick debut at Mania itself.  What better way to introduce a new character and feud then on the biggest show of the year.  Nash and Taker could brawl, and Mick comes out attacks Taker and Nash wins.  Nash uses his win to go for Shawn, Taker and Mick have insta-feud.  It's weird to think of a world without the streak, but I always wondered why Nash (in storyline) would deserve a title shot after jobbing at Mania. 
 
        Bonus Question: Where else might you have pegged Taker for a loss at WrestleMania before the last few years?  The obvious ones were HHH at 17 which we know now was political, and Orton at 21 in a "legend killing" moment?  Are there any other actual times Taker could've/should've lost?

​Really, there was little reason for Nash to be jobbing at that point aside from imminent departure.  Turning him had really freshened up the character and they could have pushed him again with no problem.  I like the cut of your fantasy booking jib with that one.
As for the second question, I think without question Flair should have won given the ridiculously one-sided beating that Taker delivered leading up to the match and during the match itself.  He basically terrorized Flair's family, for fuck's sake!  AA hitting that spinebuster and giving Flair the win would have exploded the Skydome, but of course it wasn't meant to be.  ​

What the World Was Reading: RAW Magazine – May/June 1996

by Logan Scisco

After having covered an alternative to WWF Magazine last week, we continue that
idea in this week’s column, reviewing the very first issue of RAW Magazine from May/June 1996 (I
wonder if this is worth anything to collectors today).  RAW
Magazine
was the brainchild of Vince Russo, who wished to have a magazine
that would cater to more mature and knowledgeable fans.  This followed Russo’s failed attempt to
launch a newsletter under his magazine personality Vic Venom.  RAW
Magazine
was bi-monthly in its circulation until 1998 and when the WWF
launched its brand split, RAW Magazine
became exclusive to the RAW brand in 2004. 
That was an incredibly stupid decision and was one of the reasons I
finally cancelled WWF Magazine.  Why should you have to buy two magazines to
keep up with one company?  RAW Magazine continued until the summer
of 2006, when it and the newly christened Smackdown!
Magazine merged into a new WWE Magazine that ceased publication in
the fall of last year.

Vader is the cover man of the first issue of RAW Magazine, but the big selling point
was lots of photographs of Sunny, which you can see in the insert in the top
right corner of the page.  The picture of
Vader is taken from his assault on WWF President Gorilla Monsoon the night
after the Royal Rumble, which caused Vader to be indefinitely suspended until In
Your House 6.
You can purchase some Coliseum Video releases of WrestleMania
for $19.95 each, but if you want the greatest WrestleMania of the them all –
WrestleMania XII – it will run you $39.95. 
If you want to buy WrestleMania III or WrestleMania IV, though, you are
out of luck.  That is not the first time
that I remember those tapes not being for sale either so I am not sure what was
going on there.  You can also purchase
“Spring Explosion ’96,” which are the matches from In Your House 6.  I never understood why the WWF felt the need
to brand those shows after the fact
for tapes.  “Spring Explosion” is such a
generic name anyway, but the company has gone back to it with “Fast Lane.”  Parallels to the Dark Ages continue!
Vince Russo’s “From the Editor” piece discusses how he is
happy to launch RAW Magazine so that
he can “can the fluff and get down to the stuff!”  In what could be written about the product
today, he rips the company for catering too much to kids because of
demographics, although he admits that catering WWF Magazine to kids in the mid-1990s paid dividends with improved
sales.  He says that hardcore fans ripped
him for doing so, though, which is why he has launched this new product.
And what will a subscription to RAW Magazine set you back in 1996? 
If you wanted two years you had to pay $19.97.  One year cost $11.97.  What really irked me, though, is that they
make the cutout portion to get your subscription run into the column on the
next page.  That is a bad layout
decision.
Our first piece of RAW
Magazine
is an extended “Informer” column, which is loaded with new rumors.
The Smoking Gunns are unhappy that they were stripped of
the tag team titles in February. 
Evidently, they see nothing wrong with not having defended the titles in
thirty days due to Billy’s neck injury. 
Unfortunately, they did not have the precedent of Brock Lesnar to fall
back on.  The Informer proceeds to rip
the Gunns for dominating a weak tag team division, but it says that they can
earn more respect if they listen to Ted DiBiase, who is looking for a new
team.  It suggests they could be called
the “Hired Gunns,” which would not have been the worse idea in the world I
suppose, but the Gunns would not have saved the awful Corporation stable, which
was going bankrupt by early 1996.
The Informer also lets us know that Hunter
Hearst-Helmsley has eyes for Marlena, laying the foundation for an eventual
feud with Goldust that would kick off in the fall of 1996.  Similarly, we get another piece of
foreshadowing as the piece says Owen Hart and the British Bulldog will team up
more, thereby adding “some life back into the tag team division,” although they
never coined themselves as “The New British Bulldogs,” as the piece suggests.  We also hear that all those “parental
discretion” spots Sunny filmed for RAW made her seven figures.  Like Vince had that money to throw around in
1996!  The Informer says that Sunny is
making overtures toward Shawn Michaels, but if that fails she might buy Vader’s
contract from Jim Cornette.  A
Vader-Sunny pairing would have been such a train wreck and Vince may have been
tempted to make Vader a new Bodydonna, providing us with lots of workout
vignettes from the Mastodon!
Vic Venom then pens an extended “Venom RAW” column, where
he talks openly about World Championship Wrestling.  Of course, since the WWF cannot use WCW
photographs, we get the Huckster and the Nacho Man:
Venom says that WCW is an embarrassment to wrestling, but
he does take some digs at the WWF for insulting his intelligence with the Red
Rooster and Outback Jack.  He rips the
company for having nostalgia for the 1980s by employing old WWF talent,
although he exempts Sting and Ric Flair from that list.  This is probably the first time that Sting
was actually mentioned in a WWF publication. 
For fans watching both companies, there is some fun humor here, with
Venom saying Elizabeth has a “shoe fetish” – a dig at WCW running lots of finishes
involving women’s shoes at this time – and that WCW never told us how “that
Giant [fell] off the roof of the Cobo Arena and [came] back to wrestle 15
minutes later.”  Some of the humor is
juvenile, with Venom calling Eric Bischoff “Eric Ripoff.”  The highlight of the article is that it criticizes
WCW booking, citing how they squandered Razor Ramon and Diesel.  However, by the time that this issue hit
newsstands Ramon and Diesel were on their way to WCW and would help it overtake
the WWF in the ratings by forming the New World Order.
Keith Elliot Greenberg, who typically did the
pay-per-view recaps for WWF Magazine,
handles a cool column in this issue entitled “The Night the Belt Changed
Hands,” that talks about an important title change in WWF history.  The subject for this month is the Ultimate
Warrior-Rick Rude Intercontinental title match at WrestleMania V.  As you can tell by the picture, albeit
obscured by the crease in the middle of the pages, Donald Trump was a fan of
the match.
The article provides a blow-by-blow summary of the match,
as well as its context, which includes the Warrior beating the Honky Tonk Man
at SummerSlam 1988 and Rude picking a fight with the Warrior at the Royal
Rumble.  For such a “smart” magazine, the
recap still portrays wrestling as a real competition, with the Warrior’s loss
pegged to him being too “preoccupied with memories of the attack [at the
Rumble] to concentrate on protecting his championship.”  As a history buff, I did enjoy this feature,
which would reappear in subsequent issues as it provided the context for the
match, what happened, and then summarized what happened after, namely the
Warrior going on to win the WWF title at the next WrestleMania.
Speaking of the Ultimate Warrior, we get a full page ad
about all of the items you can get from him. 
It hypes Warrior University, Warrior’s World, Warrior Workout #1, and
Warrior…The Comic Book.  I remember that WWF Magazine sent subscribers a copy of
the comic book with an issue of the magazine. 
As a kid, who dabbled a little into older comics, I was excited to get
something free, but had no idea what I was looking at when I opened the
pages.  I should have known the quality
would be poor, after all, the ad lets me know that “It’s B…A…D…D.”
A career retrospective piece is provided about the
Dynamite Kid, who it says most fans have probably forgotten.
The article chronicles Dynamite’s British origins, his
Canadian battles with Bret Hart, and his run with Davey Boy Smith in the
WWF.  It is a sanitized view of his
career and his reputation has taken a hit over the years due to revelations in
Bret Hart’s book about his family life and other shoot interviews that talk
about how he was a locker room bully. 
Matthew Randazzo’s Ring of Hell even
blamed him for the Chris Benoit murders, as Benoit emulated Dynamite’s
style.  On a happier note, though, I
still cannot get over how young Davey Boy looks in this picture
Vince Russo then provides his top ten list of best WWF
champions.  If there were any marks
reading this magazine, they had to weep when they saw #10, who Russo says did
not have the “whole package” because they were not a “complete wrestler.”  Not mentioned is the fact that he is working
for the rival company
And Pedro Morales? 
He may not be able to beat the Mountie in the Scott Keith Blog of Doom
Intercontinental title tournament, but he did enough with the WWF title to rank
#4 on this list.  Rankings for the others
were as follows:  9-Ric Flair, 8-Randy
Savage, 7-Ultimate Warrior, 6-Yokozuna, 5-Diesel, 4-Pedro, 3-Bob Backlund, and
2-Bruno Sammartino.  Sorry, but any list
that puts Diesel’s title run, which sank the company’s financials, over Randy
Savage, Hulk Hogan, and the Ultimate Warrior loses all credibility.  Is there any surprise over who #1 happened to
be?  This person probably made sure to
shed a tear.
Our main story is about “A Man Called Vader” or in Vince
McMahon’s case “A Man Called the Mastodon.” 
Thank god Jim Cornette talked McMahon out of that idea.
The article, written by Greenberg, says Vader has never
achieved his full potential because he is out of control, wrecking promotions
and hotel rooms along the way.  It says
that one of the reasons Vader attacked Gorilla Monsoon is that Vader looked up
to Monsoon as a kid, but did not react well when Monsoon told him that he ran a
“law and order administration” and that he would be fired if he got out of
line.  Vader also did not appreciate
Monsoon getting into the ring after he blew a gasket following his elimination
from the Rumble match.  It warns that
Vader will plunge the WWF into a state of lawlessness, but really, all of the
momentum came out of Vader’s push when he failed to win the WWF title at
SummerSlam.
And then we get the real reason people bought this
magazine:

You can pay to see even more today on Skype, but you
cannot invent a time machine and get these types of “Sunny days” back.  Leave the memories alone!
A brief recap piece follows all of that to document Razor
Ramon’s attack on Goldust on a January RAW episode before the Royal Rumble.
A similar feature comes next and it gives play-by-play of
the Bret Hart-Diesel cage match at In Your House 6.  The booking of that match did little to help
Bret, as Diesel was primed to win the title before the Undertaker interfered.
The only real highlight of the article is the last
line:  “While the Hit Man experienced a
victory as his boots hit the arena floor, Big Daddy Cool was experiencing a
much different place…a place that he would never forget…a place some people
would call…HELL.”  Or in the case of
D-Generation X in the 2000s, Little People’s Court.
Keith Elliot Greenberg then questions the WWF’s decision
to install “Rowdy” Roddy Piper as the interim WWF President following the
injuries Vader inflicted on Gorilla Monsoon.
You see, Piper is out of control.  He gave Vince McMahon an airplane spin upon
being introduced as commissioner and, in a nice tribute to the past, it brings
up that “the last time Piper was given a special forum, he transformed into his
personal asylum,” using it to attack WWF superstars such as Jimmy “Superfly”
Snuka.
There is yet another recap of a Bret Hart title match,
this time his In Your House 5 title defense against the British Bulldog.  This was Bret’s only clean victory on
pay-per-view during this title run and it is an underrated bout.  The blade job is one of Bret’s best.
The last time we saw a “Fantasy Warfare” article, it
concerned the 1-2-3 Kid and Bob Holly. 
On this occasion, we get two WWF superstars that the fans would really
like to see matched up:
There were rumors in 1996 that the company wanted to run
Shawn Michaels-Ultimate Warrior for the title, but all we got was the Warrior
feuding with Goldust and Jerry “the King” Lawler.  Talk about disappointing.  The match is framed as Warrior’s power versus
Michaels’ speed.  Both men’s egos are
deemed to be their biggest detriment for a possible encounter.  Unlike Vince Russo, Greenberg refuses to
commit to a winner, saying that it is “too close to call.”  There was nowhere to write my own winner, so
there will be no analysis given from ten-year-old me on this issue, but as a
fan I would have cheered for Michaels.
We the get some exclusive photographs of Ahmed Johnson
being taken to a hospital after wrestling Jeff Jarrett at the Royal
Rumble.  Ahmed received a severe
concussion from the match, but he only missed two days of television tapings,
so he was okay!
And are you SURE you do not want any Warrior gear?

This was a decent first issue.  It had some good content at the beginning,
but after the Sunny photos we just got a lot of mark-type pieces that you would
expect to find in WWF Magazine.  Next week, we will go back to the pages of WWF Magazine and look at its August 2000
issue, which promises to discuss “Chyna’s secret.”

WMXI Shawn screwed Diesel!

Hi Scott,

I watched a Nash interview a while back where he claims HBK tried to sabotage him at WMXI by intentionally running a fast paced match in order to blow him up and make himself look good in the process.

I rewatched the match and basically, yeah, that seems to be what happened. HBK was basically Summerslam '05 it the whole way, basically running at the speed of light and doing every "look at me" bump he could think of. Shawn was obviously wrestling to Diesel's weaknesses and making himself the star.

Not only that, but the match itself seemed laid out to make HBK seem like a total world beater, getting a visual pin on Nash and, never having Sid interfere (Except once or twice which backfire and, thus make HBK look even stronger since he definitely would have won had Sid not been there.)  

What was the thinking here? Did Shawn purposely sabotage the match to get over at Diesel's expense? If so, how could he have gotten away with it when Vince himself was watching the match from commentary (Not to mention Lawler, who definitely would've seen what Shawn was doing).

Was the match actually booked to benefit HBK? If so, WTF? Why sabotage your top star in your biggest event when you plan on making him the next Hogan? Why not lay out the match to have constant Sid interference and have Shawn play Chicken heel like this match seemed tailor-made for him to play? Hell, it would've flowed perfectly into the Sid-Nash feud they were going into anyway?

I'm no Nash fan but, geez, this really seemed like a hack job.

​Yeah, we discussed this a lot in the post-WM 11 RAW threads, and Shawn absolutely backstabbed him in that one, bigtime.  ​Shawn was operating on such a high level as a worker that he was able to make it look like he was putting Diesel over, when in fact he was putting himself over.  It was the same kind of deal in the original ladder match with Ramon, but Razor was a smart enough worker to make sure he didn't get overshadowed like Diesel did.  
That being said, it was all Shawn.  Vince absolutely wanted Diesel to be the next Hogan, but I bet there was a big part of him that respected Shawn for going out and grabbing his own brass ring.  I think Nash has said in shoot interviews that he eventually figured out what happened and doesn't hold a grudge against Shawn for doing it.  Shawn saw his shot and took it, and you have to respect that a little.  

Diesel as champion

Dear Scott,

You recently claimed on your blog that JBL was the "lowest drawing champion since Diesel". This may lead your readers to assume that Diesel did not draw well during his title reign.

I think you will find that Diesel and the WWF/E enjoyed overwhelming success (both creative and financial) during his run as champion. He easily ranks as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, champion in wrestling history. I have included a link to verify this fact, which details the record-breaking profits the WWF/E made during his tenure as champion.


I believe after watching this video you will feel inclined to offer Kevin Nash an apology.

​Wow.  And I mean, if Scott Steiner has taught us anything, it's that math doesn't lie.  Plus Nash had a chart and everything.  Case closed, I guess.  ​

Diesel Power

———- Forwarded 

What was the rationale behind the Bret-to-Backlund-to-Diesel transition?  If the end goal was Diesel getting the belt, why not just have him win the Rumble and take it off Bret at Wrestlemania 11?  They could have done Razor-Shawn II for the IC title too.  With Bigelow-LT drawing the mainstream attention, they could have really showcased their top four guys in showstealing matches.  Did Vince owe Backlund or something?    

——————————-
Yup.  He was basically throwing Mr Backlund a bone for his previous years of service.  Not much more to it than that. 

Assorted April Countdown: 1996

(2012 Scott sez:  It’s kind of tough to do a connecting theme for months where there’s no big history behind them, but there’s been some interesting PPVs in April for WWE, so we’ll give it a go.)
The Netcop Retro Rant for In Your House VII: Good Friends, Better Enemies.  (April of 1996!) 
– Live from Omaha, Nebraska.
– Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler
– This would be the farewell show for both Diesel & Razor Ramon, as they departed for WCW in what was supposed to be a minor defection and ended up turning the company around. Sound familiar? Well, not that the WWF needs turning around these days, but hopefully someone at WCW was watching RAW on Monday night and paying attention to the response for the Radicals got, one that they couldn’t get in WCW due to politics. (Ah, politics.)  Anyway, in the Survivor Series 95 rant, I commented that the Bret v. Diesel match there was Diesel’s second-best ever, and that he had a better one with Michaels. Many have e-mailed to ask what that one was, and herein lies the answer.
Free 4 All match: 1-2-3 Kid v. Wildman Marc Mero.
This is Marc’s PPV debut after jumping from WCW due to squabbling with Eric Bischoff and working most of the internet in the process. Hey, Marc, guess who’s laughing at who now? (I’m pretty sure Sable is laughing at Marc from her giant house in Minnesota as well.)  Karate showboating from the Kid to start. Quick sequence puts Mero in control with a flying headscissors that sends the Kid to the floor. Mero follows with a tope suicida. Slingshot legdrop gets two. Reverse rollup gets two. He goes aerial and gets crotched, then HHH (Mero’s first feud) makes an appearance. Kid hits some vicious kicks to take over as HHH stalks Sable. Mero escapes and goes to confront Hunter, and gets nailed by the Kid from behind. The ref tosses HHH, and Mero mounts the comeback. HHH runs in for the lame DQ at 7:20 of what was looking to be a great match. *** (Future) DX beatdown follows on Mero.  (This would have been pretty late in the Kid’s WWF run, if not the last appearance of him, in fact.) 
Opening match: The British Bulldog & Owen Hart v. Jake Roberts & Ahmed Johnson.
(What a stupid choice for an opener.)  Johnson was getting into Goldberg territory of overness at this point, although his work was stiff and sloppy, a dangerous combination. (So like Goldberg, basically.)  Bulldog had the issue with Ahmed over arm-wrestling (gotta love the mid-90s WWF) so Bulldog hides on the apron and lets Owen handle things. That goes pretty badly for him, as Ahmed tosses him around like a doll and then Jake nearly gets the DDT. Some cheapshots from Bulldog finally allow him to come in without fear of death. (Poor choice of words there, as it would turn out.  Sad face.)  Ahmed plays face-in-peril for a bit, but doesn’t really sell anything and soon tags out to Jake and he gets beat on for a long while. Jake’s mobility is so limited by age and alcohol at this point it’s scary. Not as scary as Heroes of Wrestling, but scary. The match drags on and on. Ahmed gets the hot tag and screams a lot. Jake inexplicably comes back in to finish things, but takes a LOADED TENNIS RACKET OF DOOM to the knee and submits to a lame kneebar at 13:43. Just way too long. ¾*  (I’ve always wondered about the physics behind the loaded tennis racket.  Wouldn’t in fact an unloaded racket be more aerodynamic and thus has more impact?  That’s the whole POINT of the tennis racket, to slice through the air and deliver a set amount of force to a small area.) 
Intercontinental title match: Goldust v. Ultimate Warrior.
You know how some matches are so bad that they’re good? Well, this is so bad that it’s just BAD. Goldust has a knee injury, so the “match” is literally him walking around the ring and stalling for FIFTEEN MINUTES to waste time. Finally he gets counted out to put us out of our misery. That’s all, folks. -***** How hard would it have been to say “Goldust is injured, so Warrior is fighting [x]”?  (This was literally not even a match, so perhaps the full negative monty is a bit unfair.  Not by much, mind you.) 
Vader v. Razor Ramon.
This was Graceful Job-Out #1 on the night, as Razor was wooed by WCW a few months before this. (Funny how Hall was such a problem to WWF around this time and a constant source of embarrassment with the drug issues and rehab, but when WCW made an offer suddenly he was an incredibly valuable part of the team and Vince started crying about tampering and unfair practices.)  Ramon bumps around for Vader to start, as Vader basically squashes him. Ramon punches a lot to come back. Three clotheslines put Vader on the floor. Vader stalls. Cornette’s help allows Vader to continue his destruction of Ramon. Vaderbomb gets two. Ramon gets a vertical suplex to come back. Powerslam as Vader is coming off the 2nd rope gets two. Bulldog gets two. He tries the Razor’s Edge, but his ribs give out and he collapses. Vader goes for the moonsault, but Ramon brings him down the hard way. Razor’s Edge attempt #2, but Vader backdrops out and sits on him for the pin at 14:47. The selling and psychology were sound enough for a good rating, but the match was REALLY boring. ***  (Sounds high to me.  Like Hall.  HEY OH!) 
WWF tag team title match: The Bodydonnas v. The Godwinns.
This was a rematch from the finals of the inaugural “Placeholder champions until Billy Gunn’s injury heals” tournament at Wrestlemania 12. (Man, things were so pathetic back then that the tag title match got bumped to the Wrestlemania pre-show!  How stupid and backwards were the mid-90s.  Thank god things aren’t like that today, and…uh…never mind.)  Zip gets double-teamed to start as Vince says “scufflin’” about 14 times. What the hell is with him and hillbilly gimmicks, anyway? Are the southern states REALLY so much of a hotbed that he has to tailor entire gimmicks for them? The story here is that Phineas is in love with Sunny. Just give her some crack, Phineas, that’ll bring her around. (Tammy actually got somewhat sober again in the new century before seemingly going crazy and attempting to hire New Jack to kill her ex-boyfriend.  Allegedly.  Her Facebook page is a constant source of humor and I’m constantly disappointed that she hasn’t gone on Twitter to work out her crazy yet.)  Highlight of the mostly-comedy match sees HOG pull out an Ocean Cyclone suplex (picture a german suplex, but starting with the opponent face-down on the mat) as the farmers dominate the champs. This whole period for the titles was a trainwreck, as the Bodydonnas were not over and Vince had no desire to help them become so (Cloudy, anyone?) and the Godwinns were, well, the Godwinns. Thank god for the New Rockers to save the tag division in 96. (I think I was being sarcastic there, but sometimes I can’t even tell myself.)  The champs cheat and gain the advantage. Phineas gets all “riled up” (seriously, is this whole gimmick like one big cheapshot at Ted Turner or something?) (Yeah.)  and hot tags HOG, but Sunny had conveniently brought a framed, autographed 8×10 of herself to ringside (which probably wasn’t far from the truth at the time) and uses it to distract PIG while the Bodydonnas pull the switcheroo and pin HOG at 7:12. Soo-ey, that sucked… ½*
WWF World title match: Shawn Michaels v. Diesel.
This is the ultimate blowoff for their long-simmering feud, as Diesel was leaving for WCW and made it known that he was on one final run of destruction before he left. Shawn was hot off beating Bret Hart at WM12 and needed credibility. (And about 5 years’ worth of maturity.)  This is no-holds-barred. Shawn uses his speed to avoid Diesel, then dropkicks him out and hits a moonsault tope onto him. He steals a boot from Hugo Savinovich and nails Diesel for two. Diesel gets pissed and knocks Shawn onto the railing, then tosses him back in and absolutely wallops him. Shawn sells like he’s dead. Diesel keeps shooting evil glances at Vince. Jumping side slam nearly puts Shawn though the mat, then Diesel undoes his wrist tape…and chokes out Hebner! He steals Earl’s belt and lays in some wicked shots on Shawn, then hangs him from the top rope and ties him there. As Shawn struggles to free himself, Diesel calmly grabs a chair and blasts Shawn. Back in for another solid chairshot. Lord, what a beating. One more, but Shawn ducks and Shawn gets the chair. That proves temporary, as a low blow gets two for Diesel. Diesel absolutely lays into him with forearms, sending him crashing to the floor. Vince keeps yelling at Shawn to “stay down”. Cool spot of the year: Diesel starts a long tradition, powerbombing Shawn through the announce table. He parades around with the title belt while Shawn, who is nearly dead, pulls himself out of the wreckage. Vince, his own microphone dead, does his usual awesome acting job, yelling “Just let it be over!” at Shawn. Shawn crawls to the ring, and finds a fire extinguisher, which he discharges into Diesel’s face. Flying forearm puts him down, and Shawn grabs a chair to even the odds. Two vicious shots follow, but Diesel won’t go down, and in fact hits the big foot to the face right away to KO Shawn. He takes too long, however, and Shawn escapes the powerbomb. Flying elbow sets up Sweet Chin Music, but Diesel calmly grabs his foot and rips his head off with a lariat. What is this, All Japan? He tosses Shawn out again and drops him on the railing, then gets inspired. He heads over to the front row and beats up Maurice Vachon, who is seated ringside, and STEALS HIS ARTIFICIAL LEG. Major, major heel heat for that. Shawn lowblows him, however, and steals the leg. He knocks Diesel cold with a shot from the leg, then waits for him to recover, warms up the band, and superkicks him for the pin to retain at 17:51. He didn’t win the match, he SURVIVED it. What a horrific beating and an AWESOME brawl. ****3/4 Shawn’s “in your FACE!” post-match celebration is amazing acting on his part, too, and it really makes the match.  (Yeah, I reviewed this one again recently for Vintage Collection, and it’s truly one of Nash’s best matches ever.  A lot of people think that it doesn’t hold up today, but they didn’t wrestle for internet nerds like us watching 16 years later and it was an awesome brawl for the time.) 
The Bottom Line: Most of the show is pretty worthless, but that brawl is something else and sets the tone for garbage main events to follow for years to come. In the next in my little In Your House series, I’ll look at an even BETTER Shawn brawl from a few months later against Mankind. As it is, I’m still in shock to this day that Shawn won Match of the Year for the Wrestlemania match rather than the Diesel or the Mankind one. As it was, however, this match, rather than the Bret one, was the one that really put Shawn over the top as a credible champion and got him over. I wonder if that pissed Bret off?
Recommended only for the main event.