Monday Night Raw (01/23/95)
Arnold Furious: We’re in Palmetto, Florida at the Manatee Civic Center. Between this and Houston the WWF looks to be expanding into larger arenas for Raw and wider territories. Vince McMahon opens the show to apologise for the actions of “Scott Bam Bam Bigelow” for his scuffle with Lawrence Taylor at the Royal Rumble. Vince does it in his serious voice to make it sound like a real life incident, not an angle. Bigelow eats an unpaid suspension, storyline, but will end up headlining WrestleMania. Hosts are Vince McMahon and 1995 Royal Rumble winner Shawn Michaels, who gets his own entrance.
WWF Tag Team Championship
1-2-3 Kid & Bob Holly (c) vs. The Smoking Gunns
This is one day after Kid and Holly’s upset title win. That was the final of a tournament after Shawn and Diesel vacated the belts back in November. Originally the Gunns were booked to win but Bart got injured, hence the re-tooling of the tournament for the underdogs victory. Because both teams are faces they start with handshakes and niceties. The Kid seems to be the most popular guy and yet Bart still gets popped for powerslamming him. The crowd are willing to back both teams. Normally the bigger team ends up slightly heel. That’s evident with Billy getting a blind tag and hitting a bulldog on the unsuspecting Holly. The Gunns appear to have superior tag team skills until Holly shoves Bart into Billy up top and the champs hit a double team superplex for two. Billy starts shrugging off Kid’s chops so Kid switches to more effective kicks. The crowd’s responses start leaning towards the underdogs and the Gunns spots start getting popped less. The crowd’s reaction is muted. Kid gets caught with a Rocker Dropper and again the crowd don’t respond. Bart manages to just about get heat on his hot tag. Against the 1-2-3 Kid. The Gunns bust out the double teaming to get heat on Kid. How on earth are they still managing to work formula in a babyface tag? Shawn starts riding Billy Gunn for delaying his pins and not hooking the leg. Holly’s hot tag is decidedly lukewarm as the fans can’t really decide who to root for. They pop spots but not anything else. Holly misses off the top and Billy takes it with the Sidewinder. The crowd pop a title switch but do they actually like the Gunns? Based on this it’s really hard to say. Match meandered a bit thanks to the Gunns moveset being so weak. Compared to the Kid/Holly match against the Heavenly Bodies last week, there’s no comparison.
Final Rating: **½
Post Match, Kid says he’s disappointed and Holly blames a tough match the previous night. Kid asks for a re-match next week. We head to the commentary position where Shawn Michaels announces he’s looking for a bodyguard to watch his back into his WrestleMania title shot.
IRS vs. Buck Quartermaine
Because this match will be completely boring, Vince throws to Roddy Piper via telephone. Piper is on shill duty and claims the 1995 Royal Rumble was the best ever. Shawn and Piper have a nice back-and-forth due to their ability to think on their feet. The match isn’t long enough to cover the phone call as IRS finishes with the Write Off. Piper continues to ramble. He’ll be providing new commentary on Encore Plus for the Rumble re-run and promises an exclusive interview with “that jerk” Shawn Michaels.
Final Rating: ½*
The King’s Court
Lawler’s guest is NEW Intercontinental champion Jeff Jarrett. He offers Razor Ramon a re-match anytime. Jarrett isn’t content with the IC strap though and challenges Diesel to a WWF title match. Vince calls him greedy before proclaiming the British Bulldog as the Rumble winner. Oops. Jarrett’s title aspiration bombshell made this meandering promo worthwhile. Not that anyone considered Jarrett world champion material at the time.
The British Bulldog vs. The Black Phantom
The jobber is David Heath aka Gangrel, who gets in a few nice moves before Bulldog takes over. Phantom takes a few slick bumps off clotheslines and such. Davey lacks imagination though and hooks a chinlock to eat up his time in charge. Running powerslam finishes.
Final Rating: ¾*
Backstage, Bam Bam Bigelow is due to apologise for his actions at the Royal Rumble. However the WWF’s crack technical crew can’t get his earpiece to work so he can’t hear his cue to start talking. I don’t know why the WWF so persisted with the incompetence of their tech for plot points. It’s embarrassing.
Instances in 1995 that the WWF used technical incompetence of their own people as a plot point:
Two. And counting.
THE RAW RECAP:
Most Entertaining: Shawn Michaels. Shawn was on form on commentary, continuously gloating about his Rumble win and criticising everybody else for their mistakes. I’m surprised they didn’t make more of his win on this show, as instead they focused on Bigelow.
Least Entertaining: IRS. But at least they knew he was going to be boring and instead got Roddy Piper to talk over his match.
Quote of the Night: “I have plans up my sleeves. And that’s not easy for a guy who never wears sleeves. That’s just how sneaky I am” – Shawn Michaels.
Match of the Night: The Smoking Gunns vs. 1-2-3 Kid & Bob Holly. A decent title match up. Shame they went with the Gunns, based on looks, rather than a good team to boss the tag division. This is actually the shortest of their three tag title runs, ended for Owen Hart to achieve the first of his golden goals at WrestleMania.
Summary: Nothing dragged and the tag title match was decent, but it’s not what you’d call a good show. At least they set up a tag title rematch for the following week, but the hour showed it had limitations here. If the big marquee match isn’t a stunner then the rest of show can’t make up for it. That really puts the pressure on the marquee match to deliver.