January 7, 1995
From the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, DE
Your hosts are Vince McMahon and Jerry “The King” Lawler
We learn that the Smoking Gunns have withdrawn from the Tag Team Title Tournament due to Bart suffering an injury knee injury when his horse fell on him and they’ve been replaced by the 1-2-3 Kid & Bob Holly, who will face Well Dunn in the final first round match. Also in action are Bob Backlund
Tag Team Title Tournament First Round Match: 1-2-3 Kid & Bob “Spark Plugg” Holly vs. Well Dunn w/ Harvey Whippleman
Lawler says that Kid & Holly do not have a chance but Vince says Kid has been a champion before with Marty Jannetty and anyone can win in the WWF. Kid & Holly take control early and clear Well Dunn from the ring with double dropkicks. Well and Holly shove each other before locking up as Vince puts over Holly’s racing career. Holly uses a headscissors takedown then works the arm after a flurry of offense. Vince says that Well Dunn have been caught off guard due to the fact they studied to face the Smoking Gunns. Kid tags in but soon after that gets low bridged by Dunn. Kid is rolled back inside and gets clotheslined by Well. We see Well use a flying back elbow smash for two as Well Dunn cut the ring in half. Vince talks about last week’s Headshrinkers vs. Owen Hart & Jim Neidhart match and how the latter were disqualified. Well steals Kid’s running leg drops but only gets two then works a chin lock on the mat. We now hear from Billy Gunn in an insert promo as he talks about wishing Kid & Holly good luck and hopes they go all the way to the titles. Dunn cuts off a comeback by Kid with an eye rake but Kid comes back to take Well Dunn down with a double clothesline. Kid then makes the tag as Holly runs wild. Vince puts over Holly’s dropkick as the match has broken down. Holly runs Well into the post then heads up top and sees Dunn leaning over Kid and punching away so he uses a flying sunset flip and ends up getting the surprise win (6:52) **3/4.
Thoughts: Really fun match and easily the best performance we’ve seen from Well Dunn during their uneventful run with the company. And the best match of the first round. Kid & Holly were being pushed so strong as underdogs on commentary to the point you expect them to at least go to the finals. And Vince even named dropped Marty Jannetty as a former champion with Kid, which was odd at the time since Vince was not mentioning past WWF stars (and really pissed off at WCW) although Jannetty did not appear to be wrestling anywhere at this point. And regarding the Gunns, their being taken out of the tournament in this fashion was the plan all along and not the result of anything else. Also like now the injury was not that Bart fell off of a horse but that the horse fell on him. Only Vince would come up with something like this.
Next week, we will see Bam Bam Bigelow & Tatanka vs. Headshrinkers and Holly & Kid vs. Heavenly Bodies in the Tournament semi-finals.
WWF Live Event News with Stephanie Wiand. This hypes up the Holiday Wish Tour shows in the New York area. I will be recapping the 1/13 show at Nasasu Coliseum, headlined by Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart in a No Holds Barred Match, Diesel vs. Bob Backlund w/ Shawn Michaels for the WWF World Title, Bull Nakano vs. Alundra Blayze for the WWF Women’s Title, Undertaker vs. Tatanka, and Lex Luger & British Bulldog vs. Bam Bam Bigelow & King Kong Bundy.
Bob Backlund vs. Bob Knight
Vince talks about Backlund being part of the Royal Rumble match as well as his corner man for the Holiday Wish Tour, Shawn Michaels. Backlund grounds Knight then taunts the crowd. We now hear from Backlund in an insert promo talking about once again becoming champion after winning the Rumble match. Vince picks either Backlund or King Kong Bundy to win the Rumble match as Backlund slams Knight a few times. Backlund then sets up Knight for the crossface chicken wing and uses that for the win (2:14).
Thoughts: The announcers are still touting Backlund as one of the favorites to win the Rumble. And Bundy and Shawn are also mentioned as possible winners. It also goes to show you the lack of starpower at the time.
After a break, we see Backlund watching the finish to his match on the video wall and yells about everyone loving him and how he will win the Rumble.
Also in action this week are Mabel, British Bulldog, and the debut of Mantaur. Plus, King Kong Bundy as guest on the “Heartbreak Hotel.”
Royal Rumble Report with Todd Pettengill. We hear from Bret Hart, sporting some stubble, telling us he feels 100% better. He also puts Diesel over for being a “jam-up” Champion and they will find out who is the best in the WWF. Bret then says Owen is first on his hitl ist and will appear this Monday night on RAW. Diesel then pretends he is a game show host and does some word association bit that is terrible and makes Diesel look like nothing more than a dipshit. The material he has been given is as bad as what Roman Reigns but to his credit, Diesel delivered the material better. And Kevin Nash is a lot more charismatic. Pettengill also lets us know that Pamela Anderson will walk the winner of the Rumble match to the ring during WrestleMania 11. We also learn that Crush, JIm Neidhart, and Mantaur will be in the Rumble match. One of those guys does not end up in the match, however. Pettengill also hints that Well Dunn might take part in the match now that they have been eliminated from the Tournament.
Mabel w/ Oscar vs. Iron Mike Sharpe
The announcers talk about the 2nd Anniversary “Monday Night RAW” show that features Razor Ramon vs. Owen Hart for the Intercontinental Title, Howard Finkel vs. Harvey Whippleman in a Tuxedo Match, then Bret Hart as guest on the “King’s Court.” Mabel overpowers a screaming Sharpe then puts him away with a leg drop as Lawler claims Pamela Anderson has fell in love with Shawn Michaels (1:43).
Thoughts: Mostly plugs for the RAW 2nd Anniversary show and a tease of a possible Mabel and King Kong Bundy confrontation in the Rumble match.
Heartbreak Hotel with guests King Kong Bundy and Ted DiBiase. Shawn asks DiBiase about the rumors of Bundy being the favorite to win the Rumble match. DiBiase says that he never settles for anything less than the best and puts over Bundy’s size and strength. DiBiase even says that the other 29 imbeciles will not have the strength to eliminate Bundy. However, Shawn puts over Mabel as someone who could eliminate Bundy then says he can win the match too. Bundy runs down Shawn but Shawn says there are no friends in the Rumble. We now see Backlund appear and after yelling at the crowd to sit up straight he then yells about the New Generation of the WWF. Now, we see the British Bulldog get into the ring and says he will clean house in the Rumble and face the champion. Shawn now yells about being the favorite to win and says its “check out time” before ending the segment. This was similar to something you would see nowadays with the interruptions. And it worked a bit better here due to the fact this was not an overdone trope at the time plus the segment itself ended when it was about to drag. The purpose of this though was to show us the favorites to win the Rumble match. Interestingly enough, Lex Luger was not here and even on RAW we saw Bulldog overshadow Luger so it appears that the company really was done with Luger as any sort of top guy.
British Bulldog vs. Mike Khoury
Vince says that anyone is capable of winning the Rumble and lists off several underdogs in the match as examples. Khoury knees Bulldog in the gut to start. Bulldog works the arm then hits a delayed vertical suplex. Vince then says that Bulldog will face Bundy in the return of “Action Zone” this coming Sunday as Bulldog uses a running powerslam for the win (1:39).
Thoughts: More hype for Bulldog as a Rumble match winner favorite. We also learned that Action Zone is back and will have Bulldog vs. Bundy
We get a new Royal Rumble ad with Pamela Anderson as she gets home and listens to the messages on her answering machine, which were all from various WWF superstars.
Mantaur vs. Walter Slow
Mantaur’s theme music are some sort of animal sounds as he comes to the ring wearing a buffalo head. He even charges at his opponent before the match. He then rams Slow into the corner and follows with a few shoulder thrusts. Mantaur makes animal sounds after hitting a belly-to-belly suplex as the announcers once again hype up RAW. Slow fights back and his offense looks as bad as Mantaur’s gear. Mantaur catches Slow and hits a front falling slam then waits forever for Slow to get up and runs him over and hits a splash (his feet didn’t even leave the ground) for the win (1:42).
Thoughts: The infamous debut of Mantaur. Even Bruce Pruchard admits this is easily in the top 5 worst characters in WWE history. His head was ridiculously huge and they cut to the crowd before he entered the ring as it far too big to allow him to enter through the ropes so he had to climb into the ring by going up the top rope. And the match was awful, the jobber was aptly named and the finish was the worst possible thing for a guy who could not jump. No wonder they were trying to shake up the booking.
Another Live Event News segment to hype up the Holiday Wish Tour.
The hosts hype up the Tag Team Tournament Semifinal matches for next week. Also for next week, an interview with Diesel.
Final Thoughts: The big news was we now have the Tag Team Tournament semifinals for next week and the company pushed Shawn, Bundy, Backlund, and Bulldog as four favorites to win the Rumble match. Besides that, however, we had one of the worst debuts in company history as the lack of company stars was glaring. The new babyface champ is given the lamest material to date while relics from the past and new characters continue to flop as a whole.