–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.
–Opening Contest: Bam Bam Bigelow (w/Ted DiBiase) defeats The 1-2-3 Kid with a powerslam at 8:09 shown:
This match is booked so the company can “preview” the finals of the tag team title tournament at the Royal Rumble. The Kid does what he does best in being a missile for Bigelow to launch around (and out of) the ring at will. Bigelow also pulls out a great spot of blocking the Kid’s standing heel kick with his hands and blasting him with an enziguri. In fact, this is largely a Bigelow squash, as the Kid works in a few hope spots before Bigelow’s girth prevails to put over the fact that the Kid and Bob Holly are significant underdogs at the Rumble. Rating: **¼
–We are reminded that Kama is on his way to the World Wrestling Federation.
–Jeff Jarrett (w/The Roadie) (2-0) beats Walter Slow via submission to the figure-four leglock at 1:45:
Walter Slow is such a weird name for a jobber and Ross and Pettengill spend the opening parts of the match joking about it. Slow takes a nasty bump on his neck out of a clothesline and that is all there is to say about this squash as Jarrett uses his figure-four to stay undefeated on television for 1995. Jarrett is booked to face Bret Hart on the next RAW in what will be Bret’s first appearance since the 1994 Survivor Series.
–Ross and Pettengill hype the Royal Rumble, which will take place next week.
–Bob Backlund defeats Nick Tarentino via submission to the crossface chicken wing in 39 seconds:
As Ross mentions, it would have been humorous if Backlund won the Royal Rumble and had to interact with Pamela Anderson at WrestleMania. Instead he later had to interact with Jonathan Taylor Thomas. Backlund barely breaks a sweat against Tarentino here and refuses to break the chicken wing as referees flood the ring. Eventually some jobbers such as Chris Kanyon make the save only to have one of the jobbers fall victim to another chicken wing when Backlund breaks the hold on Tarentino. The chicken wing was like the Stone Cold Stunner of 1995: applied from any angle and put over as a deadly finisher.
–A vignette hypes the arrival of Man Mountain Rock. Evidently guitar playing skills are supposed to intimidate the guys in the locker room. Why they never tried a Rock-Jarrett feud I will never know.
–Call 1-900-737-4WWF to play the WWF Royal Rumble trivia game and hear an exclusive interview of Diesel facing off with Bret Hart. The call will cost $1.49 per minute.
–Jim Neidhart beats Tim Dyer via submission to a camel clutch at 2:02:
Neidhart never really seemed to click as a singles wrestler and he tosses Dyer around in a squash that was taped before he decided to start no showing events and ended up getting tossed from the company until 1997.
–Vince McMahon’s interview with WWF Champion Diesel, originally broadcast on Superstars, is replayed. What makes this segment weird is that they have Ross and Pettengill commentate over it as if the interview is happening live.
–Mabel (w/Oscar) (1-0) pins A Jobber in Red with a flying body press from the second rope at 2:32:
Between 1994 and 1995 the company kept flirting with a Mabel singles push but always got cold feet about it. For example, he was in the 1994 King of the Ring Tournament, where he lost in the first round, and faced Jeff Jarrett at SummerSlam a few months after that, where he also lost. The booking of this squash is odd as they have Mabel miss his big splash and let the jobber get in a few weak shots before Mabel finishes with a second rope body press – yes you read that correctly – for the victory. Mabel’s string of victories are meant to build to a “big showdown” with King Kong Bundy in the Rumble match as they are both undefeated for the year thus far.
–Footage of William Shatner giving Jerry Lawler a monkey flip on RAW is shown.
–Mantaur (1-0) pins Buck Quartermaine after a splash at 2:10:
Since the company decided to switch Mantaur’s name from the “Minotaur” they mute Finkel’s ring announcing. Mantaur also has his stupid animal head cover as Ross says many managers are interested in him. This would eventually lead to Jim Cornette getting the gig, which Dave Meltzer speculated was a rib because everyone in the company knew how awful Mantaur was in the ring. Quartermaine gives it the old college try but a flying clothesline does not faze Mantaur and he squashes Quartermaine like a bug to stay undefeated.
–Tune in next week to see Bob Holly square off against Tatanka! Also, the official drawing for the Royal Rumble will be held live from Tampa!
The Last Word: This was a serviceable edition of the Action Zone as it had a fun marquee matchup and the squashes put over the big men in anticipation of the Royal Rumble. Wrestling Challenge will probably recycle some of these matchups so we will use the review of that show to also highlight some of the major events happening behind the scenes during this time period.
Next Up on Friday: Wrestling Challenge from January 15, 1995!