–Vince McMahon and Shawn Michaels are doing commentary this evening and they are still taped from Palmetto, Florida. The green screen that they are broadcast against is jarring.
–Opening “Mini Royal Rumble” Contest: King Kong Bundy (w/Ted DiBiase) (5-0) beats Mabel (w/Oscar) (3-0) after interference from IRS and Tatanka at 3:12:
This match stems from the Royal Rumble, where Mabel unceremoniously dumped Bundy after Bundy was hyped all week as a Rumble threat. Bundy appears to have demanded a rematch, so this match is billed as a “mini Royal Rumble” where the only way to win is to throw your opponent over the top rope. The only way this kind of contest works is if you have a good little singles match mixed in with attempted eliminations, but this match is just all kinds of elimination attempts between two big guys that are not as mobile. On top of that we do not even get a clean finish as IRS and Tatanka do a run in and help Bundy dump Mabel, whose reinforcements of Mo and Lex Luger arrive only after Mabel has been dumped. Babyfaces seem to have the worst friends. Rating: DUD
–McMahon interviews Bam Bam Bigelow, who says that he refuses to apologize to Lawrence Taylor for what happened at The Royal Rumble and challenges him to a match “anytime any place” as McMahon cannot believe what he is hearing.
–After the commercial break, Michaels tries to justify Bigelow’s behavior at The Royal Rumble by wondering aloud what Lawrence Taylor would have done if he missed a game winning tackle and Bigelow was taunting him at the fifty yard line. Have to say that the man has a point…
–Hakushi (w/Shinja) (3-0) pins Ricky Santana after a cartwheel into a standing moonsault at 3:59:
Santana was a regular for Carlos Colon’s World Wrestling Council (WWC) promotion in Puerto Rico and also worked as an enhancement talent in the 1990s for World Championship Wrestling. Hakushi spends more of this match performing strikes, some of which are business exposing as Santana has to stand there dazed for long than usual while Hakushi performs some taunts before executive the move.
–McMahon and Michaels remind us to buy the encore airing of the Royal Rumble tomorrow night! This takes a while as they highlight what happened in all of the big matches.
–Aldo Montoya (2-1) defeats David Sierra after a springboard flying bulldog off the second rope at 1:56:
Sierra was the old Cuban Assassin, who had a run in the NWA in the 1980s. Sierra was also part of the WWC and teamed with Santana, who was in the Hakushi match earlier, in WCW. I have to wonder if these squashes were a mini-tryout for them. If so, it did not lead to a job, but the WWF was not in a prime financial position to hire new talent in 1995. Sierra bumps well for the much smaller Montoya and Montoya gets back on the winning side of things are losing to Mantaur a day earlier on The Action Zone.
–Ken Norton, Jr. of the Super Bowl-winning San Francisco 49ers tells people that he is going to WrestleMania!
–Bob Backlund is a guest on “The King’s Court” with Jerry Lawler. Backlund says that he is not going to release future chicken wing holds until whomever he applies it to screams “I quit, Mr. Bob Backlund!” and that no one is exempt from the hold, including Lawler. One funny bit here is that Backlund says “including yours truly,” meaning that he could put the hold on himself. As expected, Michaels has a good laugh about that one. Lawler insists that Backlund cannot apply a chicken wing to him, but Backlund puts Lawler in the hold until Lawler quits from a standing position. When Backlund leaves and Lawler says that he did not really quit, Backlund starts coming back to the ring and Lawler bails. This could have been the recipe for a Backlund face turn but this was laying the foundation for his match at WrestleMania.
–WWF Tag Team Championship Match: The Smoking Gunns (Champions) (1-0) defeat Bob Holly & The 1-2-3 Kid (5-1) by referee stoppage when the Kid injures himself on a cannonball off the top rope at 8:33:
Holly and the Kid immediately invoked their rematch clause after dropping the titles to the Gunns on last week’s show. For the Palmetto audience, though, this is the second time that they have seen this match in the same evening so the reaction is more muted. After having some respectful exchanges to start, tempers eventually flare when Holly gets trapped in the Gunns corner. The Kid gets the hot tag but when he tries a cannonball dive at Bart off the top, Bart moves and the Kid crashes to the canvas. He proceeds to shake and roll his eyes in the back of his head and the referee calls an end to the bout. This would be the swan song of Holly and the Kid as the Kid would suffer a neck injury and would be on the shelf until the summer. Holly was relegated to the midcard and would see his status fall further as the year wore on. Rating: **
–McMahon informs us that during the break the Kid was able to get to his feet and walk to the locker room.
–Kama (1-0) defeats Jumbo Berretta via submission to an STF at 3:40:
Berretta is a really big guy who was known as Rusty Brooks on the American independent circuit. He looks like a bigger version of Mario and sure enough, he used that as a gimmick on the independents. This is Kama’s RAW debut and it is rather boring as he spends the match wearing on Berretta with awkward strikes and an eye rake. Kama refuses to release the STF for a while after the match so that clues the audience in that he is going to be a heel.
–Tune in next week to see a six man tag match between Men on a Mission & Lex Luger and King Kong Bundy, Tatanka, and IRS!
And since we did not do a recap of Wrestling Challenge, here are some news items that were swirling around the company at this time. In the future, these will be done after Action Zone recaps since we will not be doing Wrestling Challenge episodes for the immediate future due to lack of availability:
*Lots of fans believed that the Lawrence Taylor-Bam Bam Bigelow angle was legitimate. Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer likened the angle to one that had played out in Japan in the past.
*Hulk Hogan and Vince McMahon were having a war in the media, with Hogan saying that the “New Generation” stars of the WWF were rip offs of older talent and McMahon arguing that Hogan’s ego is why he left the company.
*There was no significant ratings boost to using William Shatner a few weeks ago on RAW as his second appearance netted a lower rating than his first one did.
*The WWF is having Shinja do heel interviews before Hakushi’s matches to guarantee that he gets a heel reaction since road reports are showing that the fans are really digging Hakushi’s offense and are cheering him.
*There were rumors that Yokozuna might jump ship to WCW but he is simply being ordered to lose weight before he can return.
*On-air personality Stephanie Wiand is also in hot water because she keeps messing up. According to reports, she told a WWF Mania audience that “hundreds” of people were buying WrestleMania tickets instead of “thousands.” The consensus seems to be that she is out of her element (something Wiand later admitted after she left the company).
The Last Word: For its time, this was a pretty “star-studded” edition of RAW. Unfortunately, the tag team match was a disappointment when compared to the previous week’s outing, with a curious finish that the bookers probably thought would protect Holly and the Kid from consecutive losses. However, since the team did little of note after this show the company would have been better off giving the Gunns another win so they could have some immediate credibility as champions.
Up Next (on Friday): WWF Superstars from February 4, 1995!