I finally was able to squeeze in a review as my work schedule has lead to minimal free time as of late.
January 2, 1995
From Liberty High School in Liberty, NY
Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon and Shawn Michaels. Gorilla tells us that Vince McMahon is feeling under the weather. However, in reality, Vince was on vacartion per Wade Keller in the “Pro Wrestling Torch” Newsletter.
We start the show with Jeff Jarrett with The Roadie. Jarrett hypes up his first musical performance by telling us that all the major record labels are in attendance. I guess only the top acts are at the Liberty, NY High School Gym.
Bam Bam Bigelow & Tatanka w/ Ted DiBiase vs. Lex Luger & British Bulldog
Luger gets jumped then the bell rings despite the fact Bulldog is not there yet, prompting Shawn to ask about Bulldog’s whereabouts. Bulldog finally makes it and helps Luger even the score. The match now settles down with Bigelow beating on Bulldog. Luger makes a blind tag and hits a flying clothesline on Bigelow. Luger works the arm after a pin attempt as the announcers talk about the new year. Luger stays to work on the arm as Shawn brings up the tension within The Corporation. Luger hits a few more clotheslines until Tatanka knees him from the apron. Shawn then takes a shot at Luger, asking what would he do without the clothesline then says that you need more than that to make it in the WWF. Tatanka is in now and beats on Luger. He gets a two count after a pair of elbow drops then we go to commercial. The match returns with Tatanka heading up top where he hits a flying chop for another two count. Bulldog rallies the crowd behind Luger as Tatanka kicks away in the corner. Tatanka now targets the back before applying a bearhug. Luger escapes and fires away until Tatanka rakes the eyes. Tatanka then eats boot on a charge and both men now slug it out. Luger hits a back suplex but Tatanka made a blind tag and Bigelow comes in to attack Luger. Bigelow runs over Luger a few times but gets caught with a powerslam as both men are down. Luger finally tags out as Bulldog runs wild on Tatanka then hits the running powerslam but DiBiase pulled Tatanka out to safety. The match then breaks down and everyone brawls outside the ring until they are counted out (8:46) *1/2. The brawling continues as several more officials run out to separate things.
Thoughts: Just a basic tag match here with an ending designed for this feud to continue. With the match starting before Bulldog came down, it seemed more like an error by the timekeeper rather than a subtle hint of a Bulldog turn. However, the action in the middle was lacking and everything I’ve seen so far between Luger and Tatanka has lacked emotion. Comes off like basic, 80’s house show action whenever they face off. On commentary, Shawn took some shots at Luger and that wouldn’t be the first time it happened on this show.
Royal Rumble Report with Todd Pettengill. Same stuff we saw this weekend but Pettengill mentioned we would hear more about the tag match we just watched. And that Duke Droese will be in action next.
The Roadie is shown setting up some equipment in preparation of Jarrett’s musical performance.
Duke “The Dumpster” Droese vs. Mike Bell
Shawn brags about being “knee deep” in “chicks” at the Royal Rumble. Bell lands a chop before Droese skies him with a back drop. Droese applies a chin lock until Bell escapes by using a jawbreaker. Gorilla breaks the news that William Shatner will be on RAW in two weeks as Droese puts Bell away with the Trash Compactor (1:34). Gorilla then says that time permitting, the tag match from earlier tonight will continue.
Thoughts: Nothing here but plugs for Shatner appearing on RAW and Shawn saying he will win the Rumble. Droese’s role is TV filler while the announcers hype the top storylines and plug future shows.
The second Kama vignette from this weekend airs.
The announcers go over the Tag Team Title Tournament as the first round closes out this weekend with Smoking Gunns vs. Well Dunn.
King’s Court with guest Owen Hart. We see Owen still carrying the towel that was tossed into the ring to cost his brother Bret the title at Survivor Series. Lawler says Owen’s acting was better than Tom Cruise and Robert DeNiro at the Survivor Series. Owen says it was all part of his master plan and Bret losing the title was the best part of 1994. Owen laughs at how he played his family. Lawler then says that Owen has a scoop for us as Owen tells us that he will also be the Tag Team Champion, Intercontinental Champion, and World Heavyweight Champion but will not quit like Bret because he is a winner. Owen then guarantees that he will win the Royal Rumble match, as he is now apparently officially entered into the match. The promo was forgettable and long-winded to be honest but we now know Owen will be in the Rumble match. And he is easily one of the favorites of this feeble field of contestants.
An ad for next week’s show, which is the 2nd Anniversary of RAW. We will have an Intercontinental Title match between Razor Ramon and Owen Hart plus Harvey Whippleman vs. Howard Finkel in a tuxedo match. That IC Title match announcement plays into Owen’s promo about wanting to collect all the titles.
Jeff Jarrett w/ The Roadie vs. Buck Quartermaine
The announcers want to know about Jim Neidhart and if he will be in the Rumble match. Gorilla makes a reference of him needing a straight jacket. Jarrett struts around after a takedown then heads outside to wipe himself down. Jarrett then takes Quartermaine down with a flying clothesline then follows with a neckbreaker. Jarrett now uses a back drop then struts once again as Gorilla says he stole that from Buddy Rogers. Jarrett continues to toy with Quartermaine as Gorilla whines about him wasting time. Jarrett hits a superplex then puts on the figure four after telling the Roadie to get ready and wins the match (2:52). Jarrett struts around again after the match as Roadie sets up the ring for the musical performance.
Thoughts: A showcase for Jarrett with Gorilla doing his out-of-place whining that did not hold up in segments like this but its clear they are giving Jarrett a push.
We return from break as Jarrett is about to perform. Jarrett is now holding a guitar and has Roadie check the mic but is still not happy. Gorilla calls out Jarrett for wasting time as Shawn says Jarrett just wants it right as he is the ultimate entertainer. Jarrett then finally promises to sing and wants the lights down and the spotlight on but the spotlight does not come on as Jarrett is pissed. Gorilla then blurts out “where is Kevin Dunn when you need him” as Jarrett throws around the towel as the production has not been fixed. A cheap, dated way to get heat. This did not work with the crowd in attendance nor did it for the viewer at home.
We then hear from Super Dave Osborne, who plugs his new weekly show. We then see a clip of the show, including a stunt that went awry.
Lex Luger & British Bulldog vs. Bam Bam Bigelow & Tatanka w/ Ted DiBiase
We are joined in progress here as Gorilla tells us this match has “resumed.” Bigelow suplexes Luger for a two count then prevents Luger from making a tag. Tatanka tags in and methodically beats on Luger as Shawn tells us that 1995 will not be as bright of a year for Luger and that he has been exposed for his lack of talent. Shawn is tearing into Luger tonight, that’s for sure. Bigelow & Tatanka cut the ring in half then we return from break with them still in control. Luger comes back with a double clothesline that only hit Bigelow as everyone is down. Luger finally tags out as Bulldog runs wild as the crowd is actually showing signs of life. Bigelow breaks up a pin and ends up getting clotheslined outside but Tatanka now beats on Bulldog. Bigelow gets up on the apron but Bulldog reverses an Irish whip and Tatanka collides with his partner then drops on the mat as Bulldog covers for the win (4:58 shown) *. After the match, DiBiase blames Bigelow for the loss as things get heated between The Corporation.
Thoughts: Not much action to this and a weak finish designed to highlight tension in The Corporation rather than put over Luger & Bulldog. You’d at least think they’d mention Luger finally scoring a win against The Corporation, even if it was by fluke. And speaking of Luger, Shawn once again took a lot of shots at him on commentary. And according to Keller, Luger was said to have been extremely upset by these comments. But even bigger than that was Keller reporting that Luger’s contract was expiring at the end of the month. Keller went further to say there were several indicators that WWF were willing to let him go and that there were unconfirmed reports of Luger meeting with WCW later on in the month. So, with all of that, understandable that Luger did not get much of the spotlight on this show.
The announcers plug next week’s 2nd Anniversary show.
Final Thoughts: Not much good on this show. The tag match was not good and the Jarrett segment stunk, as did the Owen interview to be honest. The commentary team of Gorilla & Shawn were alright due to Shawn, who was probably the best part of the show. Keeping him on as a color commentator while out with a hand injury was a smart move.
But the biggest news in WWF at this time took place backstage, with the re-hiring of Jim Ross. It was reported by Dave Meltzer in the “Wrestling Observer Newsletter” that Ross was hired to work in the “booking department” and to produce television due to Pat Patterson cutting down on his workload. Keller added on to this report with the “hierarchy in order of power and influence” before Ross’s hiring and it was as follows: Vince, Patterson, Prichard, Shawn, and J.J. Dillon. Keller also said that Ross was going to slotted high in the pecking order while Patterson would be moved down.
And just below that was a memo reportedly sent off by WWF that told all employees any contact with anyone at WCW would result in immediate dismissal. I remember in an interview, Sean Waltman (1-2-3 Kid) said that as a result of this, longtime friends Jack Lanza and Bobby Heenan stopped speaking.
And times would get more interesting as the year goes on in terms of backstage.