Wrestling Observer Flashback–01.30.95

Wrestling Observer Flashback – 01.30.95

It’s ROYAL RUMBLE time!

Hope you like Pam Anderson.

– Random notes from Dave on the show before he gets to the review!

– Dave really likes Todd Pettengill in his hype man role, but he’s awful at calling matches. Dave is also confused how America, Canada and England add up to 148 countries.

– Pam Anderson was god-awful and appeared to have no clue about the storylines or who anyone was. Laughing at Shawn Michaels probably isn’t what they wanted out of her.

– Overall, it was an excellent show, particularly when it comes to disguising all the weakness inherent in the depth issues. Dave is pretty sure that Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart are going to be the guys carrying the promotion moving forward, but the rest of the company comes across like “a bunch of guys named Joe” and the fact that two of them came out of the show as champions pretty much renders those belts as worthless as all the secondary titles in WCW. (Hope Jeff Jarrett has some salve for that SICK BURN.)

– Bret-Diesel was excellent from a storylines standpoint, although not so much from a moves standpoint. And the booking was ridiculous. It’s fine to let the match continue through DQs if you’re building toward not calling DQs, but then the finish was a DQ after all that.

– Lots of people were calling Dave after the show asking if the LT thing was a shoot, so it must have been effective. It was obviously an angle, though, despite all the stuff that happened with it on RAW.

– Not surprisingly, Bret Hart got cheered wildly over Diesel, but it was in no way an embarrassment like happened to Lex Luger the year before. However, it’s still a bad sign for Diesel as Hulk Hogan 2.0.

– Dave says THUMBS UP to whoever was smart enough to cut the Jobber Rumble from 2:00 intervals to 1:00, because lord knows how boring it would have been otherwise. And being the person responsible for making Davey Boy go an hour would be a bad position to be in.

– Although Shawn Michaels is the best performer in the company by a wide margin, Dick Murdoch was pretty good in the Rumble too, while the other 28 guys just came in and did nothing and left. (Sounds a lot like this year’s show.)

To the show!

The attendance was about 10,000, which is much less than the sellout claimed on TV.

A. Buck Quartermaine pinned Brooklyn Brawler in the dark match. ½*

1. Jeff Jarrett beat Razor Ramon to win the IC title in 18:06 total. Jarrett took a lot of big bumps but the crowd didn’t care about the match at all. They even tried a few “clumsy Mexican high spots”! For the first finish, Roadie clipped Ramon’s knee outside the ring for a countout loss in 11:47, but then Jarrett didn’t want the win that way and dared him to continue. Then they did another hot series with Ramon selling the knee, but the crowd still wasn’t into it, leading to Jarrett reversing the Razor’s Edge into an inside cradle for the title at 6:19. ***1/4

2. Undertaker pinned IRS in 12:21. They did nothing early and then the Druids came out for a bunch of nonsense. IRS didn’t get any offense until 7:30 into the match and did his usual stuff, until Taker made his comeback and fought off the Druids to score the win with a chokeslam. And then IRS stole the urn and King Kong Bundy did a lame run-in and attack to set up the next program. *1/4

3. Diesel went to a no-contest with Bret Hart in 27:19 to retain the WWF title. Bret was playing a subtle heel and worked the knee, doing cool spots like using his wrist tape to tie Diesel’s legs together around the ringpost and even then the fans wouldn’t boo him. Dave notes that Bret did “his typical bulldog, leg sweep and backbreaker for near falls followed by the forearm drop off the top”.

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Shawn Michaels ran in to break up the pin after the Jackknife powerbomb, but the ref ordered the match to continue. At this point Bret was supposed to be a full heel but people were cheering Shawn breaking up the pin. Then Bret got Diesel into the Sharpshooter, but Owen Hart interfered and the ref again let the match continue. Both guys were doing great selling and they went “back and forth Japanese style” until the ref got bumped and everyone ran in and Backlund procured the chicken wing on Bret. The two shook hands and hugged afterwards. ****1/4 (Yeah, and Diesel was dead out of the gate, looking like a lame baby kissing loser.)

4. 1-2-3 Kid & Bob Holly beat Bam Bam Bigelow & Tatanka to win the WWF tag title tournament in 15:32. Dave SPOILS the results of the live RAW here, noting that they already lost the belts to the Gunns the next night. The commentary was so over-the-top obnoxious portraying them as underdogs that there was little doubt who was winning. Holly spent most of the match getting worked over, but Kid got the hot tag and then Bigelow did a slip on a banana peel finish, falling backwards on a moonsault attempt and getting pinned. This led to the confrontation with LT at ringside, setting up a Wrestlemania match. ***3/4

5. Shawn Michaels won the Royal Rumble in 38:41. Michaels and Bulldog were #1 and #2 and took great bump after great bump. Rick Martel subbed for the fired Jim Neidhart. Overall they didn’t let any of the weaker workers stay in too long. (That’s not saying much since the entire match was Shawn Michaels and a bunch of scrubs.) It of course came down to Michaels v. Davey Boy again at the end and Shawn put on a show taking bumps for him, but then did the famous finish with one foot on the floor while Bulldog’s music played. Shawn was dead perfect in his execution (although they made sure not to shoot a good view of the live shot in case he couldn’t pull it off). Shawn made the idea of only hitting one foot on the floor like an “incredible athletic move”, but in reality it was very simple.

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(Well obviously HIS were a bit more complicated.)

– The post-match celebration saw Shawn dancing while Pam Anderson looked like she’d rather be anywhere else on earth. ***1/2

– To WCW, as the return of Ric Flair will commence at the Clash of Champions on 1/25, with Flair coming up with the scenario in the booking meeting leading up to the show. He won’t be back for the SuperBrawl show, so either he’ll return before or at Uncensored instead. It’ll probably lead to Hogan & Savage v. Flair & Vader in some form. While it was certain he’d be back in 1995, this is a bit early by any standard. Basically ratings are still down, so TBS is in panic mode.

– Ray “The Crippler” Stevens was hospitalized over the weekend after suffering a stroke, and he’s scheduled to undergo triple bypass surgery on 1/23. (Although he lived through that one, he died a year later from a heart attack.)

– Nu Jack was arrested on 1/21 after a show in Morristown, TN, for getting into a post-match brawl with a 14-year old and two police officers. Apparently the kid was heckling him at ringside for messing up his run-in, so Jack went upside the kid’s head and police officers quickly got involved. He was arrested on two counts of assault on an officer and one count of assault on a minor. (Surprisingly, this STILL didn’t make Jim Cornette think that it was time to cut ties with the team!)

– Also of note for SMW this week, Eddie Gilbert left for Puerto Rico without notice to take an offer as booker there. They had already taped a bunch of stuff with Eddie for TV, although his father is confident that he’ll be there for the Knoxville card as promised. (Sadly, he would not.)

– Dave watched the WCW All Nighter 2, and although the wrestling was off-the-charts excellent, the goofy attempts to make you think the announcers were literally “up all night” watching the matches were ridiculous. Plus they didn’t do anything to actually tie the matches into the current storylines or get anything from today’s product over. Also weird was having Ricky Steamboat all over the show with great matches and no one mentioning anything about him retiring. There was a funny dig at JJ Dillon, who was said to be “last seen at a skycap in Saginaw, MI” after leaving the company.

– WWF and WCW guys were taking potshots at each other in the media this past week, with the choicest irony coming from Hulk Hogan, of course, who said about the WWF “New Generation”:

“You take these cuties, these bodybuilders, these Ultimate Warrior type guys. They break a nail, bruise a rib, they don’t want to wrestle. They’re taking athletes right out of high school, out of college, they paint their faces up and say they’re a wrestler. This new generation of wrestlers is a complete rip-off of the guys from the old school.”

(DOUBLE IRONY, of course, although Dave would not know why this statement would become so funny until about six months later when a certain face-painted Ultimate Warrior-type would debut for WCW.)

– Dave reviews the Antonio Inoki Special aired by New Japan in place of their TV show on 1/4 and HOO BOY was it bad. Although the match from the 1/4/94 Tokyo Dome show against Tenryu was better than expected and the 5/1/94 match with Muta was good and dramatic because Muta is awesome despite how useless Inoki is, the show went way downhill from there. The Inoki v. Gordeau “match” was beyond awful, with UFC guy Gordeau trying to work a fight and looking ridiculous. -** Then we get Sting over Tony Palmora in a “must-see match” that was probably the worst thing out of Japan since Koji Kitao v. John Tenta and if it doesn’t win worst match of 1995 then there’s probably a lot of bad wrestling upcoming in 1995. -****

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(Fear not, Sting v. Palmora did in fact win Worst Match of the Year for 1995 when all was said and done.)

– FMW did a strange angle for their show on 1/17 in Honjyo. Since W*ING is supposed to be a separate promotion, they had Mr. Pogo (who represents W*ING) acting as promoter, and he made a main event of W*ING guys Gannosuke & Niiyama against a couple of young boys and stuck Onita in the opener. However, Onita came out and replaced one of the FMW young boys, teaming with a youngster named…oh wait a second…we got us a…

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There we go. Anyway, Onita teamed with a kid named Masato Tanaka and defeated the W*ING guys. Afterwards, because Pogo was playing the heel promoter, he stiffed Onita on the payoff and only gave him $14 for the night to further their feud. (Still paid better than Paul Heyman and probably in cash as well. Also, this whole thing sounds suspiciously like another famous angle a year later.)

– New Japan’s Satoshi Kojima will tour England as Kwik-Kik Fuji, billed as the cousin of Flying Fuji Yamada (aka Jushin Liger).

– Public Enemy did an interview on ECW TV basically taking potshots at everyone in wrestling, including Vince McMahon, as they thanked him for putting over “The New Generation” because everyone knows they’re the real new generation. (Hopefully Vince doesn’t have a long memory…)

– Jim Crockett’s Dallas promotion is circling the drain, as he came in promising clean finishes and no Global guys and now all the finishes are screwjobs and all the talent are ex-Global scrubs. He can’t find TV and shows are down to 200 people.

– To WCW, where the Steiners are expected back for the 3/19 PPV in Tupelo.

– Mark Madden is in shit again over his 900 line, suggesting that Lex Luger will be coming into WCW soon (absolutely untrue!) and then discussing the possibility of Vader shooting on Hogan at SuperBrawl before brushing it off late in the report. Bischoff threatened him with firing again, but then Mean Gene spread the same bullshit rumor about Luger on HIS hotline so apparently this is just the thing all the kids are doing now.

– WCW will be raising PPV prices to $27.50 after Slamboree to try and recoup some money from Hogan’s cut.

– Bobby Eaton will likely get Jean Paul Levesque’s spot as Steven Regal’s tag team partner. (And to think, Hunter could have been a BLUEBLOOD in WCW as well!)

– More talk of the Warlord coming in.

– Dave watched the live RAW where the Gunns won the tag titles. They’re both athletic with some great moves, but “someone needs to tell them to quit throwing punches because they look awful, particularly Bart’s lefty punches”.

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– They did a rematch for the tag titles the “next week” at the taping, which ended with Kid suffering some kind of fake neck injury and quivering in the ring while his wife cried. Dave is pretty sure it’s a work.

– The show was heavily papered and people were leaving in droves, so in desperation they announced a main event of Diesel v. Shawn Michaels at the end of the night, but everyone walked out anyway after the Undertaker match so they just did the previously advertised Diesel v. Jarrett match instead because fuck it.

– William Shatner came off really “stuck up” backstage and most of the wrestlers were negative on him.

– And finally, Wrestlemania tickets go on sale on 1/28 and Dave is pretty sure that it’s going to sell out awfully fast. (There was a lot of “awful” associated with that show, all right…)