Monday Night Raw (01/16/95)
Arnold Furious: We’re in Houston, Texas. This show was taped after the live Raw the previous week. Hosts are Vince McMahon and Shawn Michaels. The latter makes a load of Gridiron references ahead of the Super Bowl.
The Heavenly Bodies vs. 1-2-3 Kid & Bob Holly
The Bodies were sadly towards the end of their WWF run so, despite Jim Cornette still being their manager, they’re on job duty here. That means there can’t be many more Jimmy Del Ray showcases remaining. A pity as he’s the greatest short and fat wrestler in the history of the business. Holly gets double teamed by the superb Bodies offence. If there was ever a team -other than the Brainbusters- who made their heat fun, it was the Bodies. They show that in spades in the dismantling of Holly. Oh, how I wish they’d been given a proper push. Doctorbomb for Holly but he miraculously kicks out. I do not agree with that, it should have been a Kid save. Tatanka and Bigelow stroll out to watch as they’re facing Kid and Holly for the straps at the Rumble. Given those two choices, how on earth were the Bodies not selected instead? I’m not being biased here; they were fantastic. Kid tags in and gets double teamed too, but Holly spears Pritchard allowing Kid to finish Del Ray with a sweet bridging fisherman suplex. Amazing high bridge on that from the Kid. It might have been a short match, under five minutes, but it was awesome stuff from bell-to-bell. I once again plead with the Time Lords to get rid of that goddamn tag division booking in late ’94 and early ’95 and just put the belts on the Heavenly Bodies. This match alone should have been evidence in their favour. Kid and Holly were a fun tandem, but the Bodies were the finished article and could have a blast against any babyface teams the WWF could dig up to face them.
Final Rating: ***½
Backstage: Vince and Shawn get an interview with Bret Hart and Bill Shatner. Vince asks Bret if he’s rusty but he claims not. Shawn infers that Shatner should watch his back but The Shat is not concerned. Of course not; he’s a robot from the future. He calls Roadie “Roadkill”. The WWF seamlessly switches from this interview to Vince plugging the Raw debut of Mantaur. NO SHAME.
Mantaur vs. Jason Arndt
Jim Cornette somehow got saddled with Mantaur, whose entrance music is a cow mooing. A cow. Mooing. MOOOOO! Why is Mantaur a heel? He moos. Arndt tries hard (as you’d expect, he is the future Joey Abs while he was still being mentored by Matt Hardy). Mantaur’s main source of offence is running his big fat belly into Arndt. One of those finishes when accompanied by a big fat splash. In case you missed him; Mantaur was one of the WWF’s dumbest ideas but he was also terrible in the ring.
Final Rating: ¼*
Jeff Jarrett vs. Bret Hart
Jarrett is cornered by the Roadie. Bret, who’s hardly been on TV since his Survivor Series title loss, is cornered by William Shatner. Bret gets a huge pop. He’s on his way to a WWF title shot against Diesel at the Rumble while Jarrett has a shot at the IC strap. Jarrett brings the Memphis stalling, which on an hour long show is uncalled for. When the action kicks in Jarrett is in the mood to take big bumps while Bret laces in his perfect strikes. Every time Jarrett tries for a move Bret has a counter lined up. It’s a wrestling masterclass from the Hitman, countering slams into armdrags or hip tosses into backslides. It’s beautiful. Jarrett finally gets something with his own counter; a back suplex out of a sleeper. They go to the near fall counters, not quite at the Malenko-Guerrero level just yet but smooth. Jarrett slows things up a touch on offence but Bret is in no mood to let him, so whenever Jarrett stalls too long Bret throws in a comeback. He has enough moves to get the majority of the match and Jarrett can bump around all day. The pace is unrelenting. Jarrett goes to the eyes to prevent the Sharpshooter but he can’t follow up quick enough for Bret’s liking and they run a spot on the ropes afterwards where Roadie interferes to actually change the tide. Jarrett gets the figure four on, but Shatner pushes the ropes in for Bret to reach them. They rock in another near falls reversal and Bret scores the duke this time. Post match Shatner kicks the Roadie’s ass. Awesome. Bret and Jarrett busted their asses in this one. It’s a minor classic. I’m surprised it’s not made its way onto more tape releases.
Final Rating: ****
The King’s Court
Lawler has the whole Million Dollar Corporation on. Ted DiBiase calls the fans “mongoloids”. Not sure that’s a PC term, Ted. DiBiase promises IRS will bury the Undertaker. “The only dead thing I like is Dead Presidents”. Nice. Ted promises the Million Dollar Corp will take the tag straps too. He’s so enthused about it that they’ve already signed a title defence against the Smoking Gunns. The final ridiculous claim from Ted is that King Kong Bundy will win the Royal Rumble. Is he serious with this? Bundy was his title aspiration guy? What he was saying was bullshit, but the way he said it was incredible. Superb promo work from Ted DiBiase.
Mabel vs. Lee Toblin
Toblin looks like Bret from Flight of the Conchords. Mabel plods through his moveset. Whoomp there it is, etc. The moves are impressive from a big fat guy, but the speed he’s doing them at is offensively slow. When Toblin starts whaling on him the difference in speed is really noticeable. Toblin is ok; decent kicks, good bumps. Mabel legdrops him for the win.
Final Rating: ½*
Post Match: the commentators pop up to ask Mabel about the Rumble match. Mabel points out he’s the biggest so he’ll win. King Kong Bundy strolls out to have a word about size. Mabel wants a Battle of the Fat Bastards RIGHT NOW but Bundy is too fat to get in the ring. Shawn claims he’ll win the Rumble while all of this is going on and Vince throws to a Diesel promo video.
THE RAW RECAP:
Most Entertaining: Bret Hart. Absolutely phenomenal in his first TV match since November. He lit a fire under Jeff Jarrett’s ass and they had an early contender for Raw MOTY.
Least Entertaining: Mantaur. Moo!
Quote of the Night: “Nobody needs to watch my back, I can take care of myself” – William Shatner.
Match of the Night: Bret Hart vs. Jeff Jarrett. Brilliant free TV match. PPV quality action from two technical masters.
Summary: Sensational Raw. Two great matches, a couple of decent interviews and very little to hate on. If every Raw had wrestling action this good, I’d have virtually nothing to complain about. Sometimes the hour length can put limitations on the WWF but their product came across really well here. Shame Shawn is stuck at the announce desk for these shows.